My biological mom called me occasionally which would put me on cloud nine as I have already described here. During these calls, she would always promise more frequent calls, letters or visits. She had good intentions, but unfortunately these promises rarely came to fruition. I became disheartened because there were important questions I had for her. No matter how many times she disappointed me, I would always believe with 100% certainty that she would deliver ‘this time.’ I wanted to prove my adoptive mom wrong about the things she was saying and the anxiety of being unable to do so, would ultimately cause sadness and depression as the days would go by and I realized each time that I had foolishly believed Gabriella again. In addition, anger was becoming my standard emotion; however, my adoptive mom didn’t allow the expression of anger. Her parenting style of squashing emotions resulted in my anger increasing (to the point of rage) and being directed solely at her.
Since I wasn’t able to ask Gabriella my questions, I once again asked my adoptive mom.
“So you got me at the hospital?” I wasn’t the best at getting into these conversations delicately sometimes.
My mom explained, “I got you at the hospital and we brought you home. I didn’t have a crib for you. I made a bed out of one of the dresser drawers and you fit perfectly.”
Immediately, I was angry. She didn’t even get me a crib.
Before I could start complaining about that though, she continued her story. “You lived here for three months and then Gabriella came back and got you. She said she was taking you with her to New Mexico so you left to go live with her. When you were 9 months old, I received a letter from Gabriella saying that if I wanted you, I could come and get you. This time I took papers with me for her to sign so she couldn’t get you back. I drove out to New Mexico in the middle of a snowstorm to get you. Gabriella’s husband’s mom, Helen, went with me.” She then launched into a detailed description of the snowstorm she had driven in.
I couldn’t believe she was focusing on the snow storm when I was being told I had been given up by my mother. TWICE.
I hoped there wasn’t a third time, but if there was, I wanted her to tell me now.
“I’ve been here since then?” I asked trying to find out if I was given up any other times.
“Yes,” she stated like she was baffled as to why I would think I hadn’t lived here since that point. “When I brought you back, you would play in the floor with your toys and it was cute because you played with one eye on your toys and one eye on me and if I walked out of the room, you would start crying. You definitely wanted me wherever you were.” She laughed about that.
“Why did I cry like that,” I asked.
My mom said, “I think they mistreated you. If you were eating a cracker, you would use the tip of your finger to pick up every last crumb of it. I don’t think they fed you enough because you always ate like you weren’t going to get any more food. They probably just left you alone in the bedroom most of the time.”
It seemed like a bad situation to be in for that baby. I didn’t see myself as the one that had gone through that. Also, I still didn’t understand the part about driving to New Mexico to get me. “Why did Helen go with you,” I asked.
My mom said, “Well, Gabriella’s husband, Jack, told her that that if he was going to stay with her, she had to give up the baby. He wasn’t your father and it’s not normal for men to take care of other men’s babies.”
“So she chose to be with her husband instead of keeping me,” I stated.
My mom said, “You shouldn’t feel that way. Your ‘real’ mom did what she thought was best for you so that you could have a good life.”
I thought about what she had told me. For the first time, I felt like I got more answers to explain what I was doing here, even if the answers weren’t pleasant. My mom wanted me but I was left with this thought: What had I done so wrong that my ‘real’ mom didn’t want me. Twice. I tried not to dwell on it, but obsessive thoughts came easily to me and these two thoughts kept competing for my attention, I had been wanted but not by my ‘real’ mom. It also made it harder to forgive the smaller things my ‘real’ mom had done such as not calling, writing and visiting more often.
Adoptive parents sometimes mistake what information adopted children can handle. What we can handle is hearing about how and why we came to be adopted. If you know the story, tell us when we start asking. (But do not make up details you are not certain of to fill in the blanks.) Stop worrying about what we can ‘handle.’ We are adopted. We were there when it happened and deep down, the memories are still there. We know that it’s not the fairy tale everyone wants. It’s not going to shock us that the events that led to our adoption aren’t a sweet happy story. What we cannot deal with is new details and secrets that come out slowly over time.
How being adopted is like sex
If your four year old asks about the moon, you go buy books on the solar system to read him, search for information on the internet about moon facts, buy a solar system model to build and hang in his room and brag to all your friends about how advanced your child is.
If your four year old asks about his adoption story, you advise each other to only answer the question asked and NOT to provide any additional information. It’s the same reasoning with sex. What message are you sending when you do this? Are you telling him that his adoption story is something to be ashamed of and that he cannot ‘handle’ it? Are you are saying that being adopted should be whispers and secrets.
What is more important, the solar system or his story?