I learned of my adoption at an early age. My parents handled my closed adoption in exactly the way all of the professionals back then prescribed. I can actually recall two different conversations in which it was revealed to me that I was in fact adopted.
I was born January 7, 1971. For the first year of my life my legal name was “Baby Boy Robinson.” I wouldn’t actually know this much detail until I was 30 years old. Mine was a closed adoption. My biological mother was told she was not to ever look for me or interfere in any way. She was not told this, but if she changed her mind within the 1st year of my life she could have had me back. She was intentionally not made aware of this.
When my parents told me the first time, I don’t think it quite sunk in. We were driving to vacation somewhere and I remember my parents explaining it to me in the best way I could understand, and I remember them reassuring me (to an extreme) about how they love me just the same as my older brother who was not adopted. My parents went to great lengths to make sure we were treated exactly the same.
My parents did not believe in spoiling us, and they maintained a fairly healthy lifestyle when it came to food. This probably comes from the fact that they both grew up in very modest apartments where food was not a luxury. That is to say that when the ice cream man would come around, it was very rare that we were afforded the opportunity to partake. We did, however, get allowances and it was clear early on that my brother was a saver and I was not. I remember bursting out the door one day with my allowance in hand at the sound of the ice cream truck. When I returned with an orange ice in hand, my mother immediately took my brother over there to buy him something. It was that important that he and I were treated equal. I don’t think his ice cream came out of his allowance though.
As I got older, I heard stories of how adopted kids would be furious with their parents when they found out. I didn’t understand this. Does it really matter? Clearly your parents have been taking good care of you. They obviously love you. I guess these kids felt like they had been told a big lie.
I was more inclined to be mad at my biological parents (if anything) but my parents also did an excellent job of assuring me that while they were not made aware of the specific circumstances, usually it was because the biological parents were not able to take care of a baby at that time. They further assured me that this couldn’t possibly have been an easy decision. All in all I was ok with it.
I did still wonder. What REALLY were the circumstances surrounding my adoption? Why COULDN’T they take care of me? Was I that much of a burden? I would fantasize that they were actually incredibly wealthy people who got pregnant out of wedlock and they would eventually come and give me millions of dollars. A child’s grandiose imagination to be sure – I still carry much of that with me, but I use it very differently today.
Into High School I had a hard time fitting in. By the time I graduated I was voted most unique. I like this now. I embraced the idea that I was different. Was it because I really didn’t care what other people thought or did I love the attention that got me?
I had many more questions about my adoption by the time I was 30. About 2 years clean from drugs and alcohol, I wondered if that was something that was in my biological family. It certainly wasn’t in my adoptive family. What WAS my biological nationality? What about other health concerns? My parents assured me when I was young that any relevant medical information was or would have been shared, but in 30 years a great deal more can be revealed. Who was I? Where did I come from? What was I doing on this planet? Looking back, I realized as a kid that I never really felt like I belonged anywhere. I looked different with my platinum blonde hair which grew darker as I got older just in time for me to begin to appreciate it. I was a lost soul and apparently an old soul according to my older and wiser peers. Was I lost because that was my DNA or was it because I was adopted?
At 2 years sober, my sponsor told me it was time to find my biological family. I resisted. “What for?” I queried. I made it 30 years without knowing. They didn’t want me, what need did I have in finding them now? I chose my sponsor well. He knew how to hit me over the head with the purest logic, and he knew that would appeal to me. Zachary explained simply to me that there would come a day when it would be too late to get questions answered and then whether I wanted to or not, I couldn’t. Zach further pointed out that it could only help, and that for all I knew they were hoping all these years just to know that I was ok. That I did in fact wind up with a very good family.
Zachary was right. He usually is, and I love and hate that about him. I did find my biological mother that year. She was still living in Tucson, AZ where I was born, and I flew out to see her. How I did it, well that’s probably the subject of another blog post, but let’s just say the internet made it easier while it was not without struggles and extreme persistence on my part. I suppose that’s the addict in me – once I make a decision to do something, nothing is going to stop me.
As soon as I saw my biological mom, a ton of questions were answered before we even said hello. I could see my face in hers. At the same time, it was awkward. Should I hug her? On one hand she’s my biological mother and on the other at 30 years old and having never known her, she was a complete stranger to me. Fortunately, feelings and sensitivity have always been one of my strong points (although at times I thought they were weaknesses). I gave her a hug and spent the weekend getting questions answered.
Biologically I am German and Irish. My biological father barely wanted to acknowledge me. By the time Barbara learned she was pregnant with me, he had gone off to war. It was 1971, so that makes it Vietnam. She had written him but he never responded. If he had been MIA, she would have gotten a letter back to that effect. She didn’t. About 5 years later, she ran into him and he showed no interest according to her. At this point I felt no need to pursue him. Being in the military, he would probably be easy to find, but what for? I got my questions answered, and it doesn’t sound like he wanted anything to do with me. Oh well. His loss.
Zachary was right again. Barbara was told she could never go looking for me but she always just wanted to know that I was ok – that she had made the right decision. Turns out it wasn’t her decision really. She was 21 and living at home with her parents who had her and several others to raise. Barbara couldn’t afford to raise me, and her father already had his hands full. It was my biological grandfather who insisted that I be put up for adoption.
I met a good portion of my biological family. Apparently I was the spitting image of one of my would-be uncles. It made my 1st cousin cry when she first saw me.
I hit the jackpot. Everyone was right in the end. My biological mother did the right thing. She gave me up so that I could have a better life. My parents were right to explain it to me several times as I was growing up. They took care and went to incredible lengths to make sure that my brother and I knew we were loved. They were also strict. They raised us with good values.
Would it have been better if my biological mother were allowed to be involved in my life? I honestly couldn’t tell you. I can see where it would be awkward. Would I have been more or less inclined as a kid to view my biological mom or my adoptive parents as my parents? Could I as a kid get used to the idea that they are ALL my parents? Possibly. I know it is done more and more often this way these days. At the same time, I have no concept of how that works. When I did find my biological mom I think it may have made my mom feel a little awkward. I made sure to do for her what she had done for me. I reassured her that I love her very, very much and that I needed to get some questions answered.
It has now been more than a few years since I spoke with my biological mom. We stayed in touch for a while on the phone and eventually drifted apart. She knows I am ok. I heard more from the other family members for a while. They mentioned she had a habit of being reclusive and only came out for holidays and such. Without a strong foundation, it can be hard to maintain an on-going relationship. I know she gave birth to me, and that’s important, but 30 years without knowing a thing about her, it’s like meeting someone for the first time. It really was meeting her for the first time. Maybe even after meeting and getting to know me a bit she is still honoring the agreement she made, not to intervene.