It’s always been there. It’s like a shadow, always following me. I don’t think about it all the time, but when things get quiet, it comes to the front of my mind. It’s my adoption.
When I was growing up, I was told that it was of no consequence. Just a different way of forming a family. Nothing to even think or talk about, because it was just so normal.
If it bothered me, well that was my fault, because see above, just so normal.
That was how it was. I rarely spoke of it. I didn’t know what to think of it. I tried to believe what I was told. When you’re very young, you don’t know that adults can be wrong. You believe everything they say.
Dealing with the suppression of my reality was exhausting. No one seemed to notice or care that I was struggling. Maybe I just hid it well. I know my adoptive parents did not want to hear about it. No one did.
Not that it’s much different today. Most people don’t want to hear that adoption causes pain. They don’t want to know what it does to people. People prefer the happy story.
I went on vacation a few weeks ago. We rented a trailer at the beach for 7 days. My husband, myself , our 4 adult children, one boyfriend and one granddaughter were there. One daughter left after 5 days to attend a wedding, and the one with the baby only stayed for 3 days, at the end of the week. It was a wonderful, sun filled week, where I could forget the problems at home for awhile. It was all possible because of my natural family!
My adoptive mother has been on a downward spiral. She fell at the end of May and fractured her shoulder. This required a hospital stay, followed by 2 months of rehab at a nursing home. A-mom is 90, and lived in an apartment in my home. She’s lived with us for 23 years, since my youngest was a baby.
She was a widow, living alone and did not drive. We had just had our 4th child, and money was tight, so we combined households. She paid for the renovations to expand our home, and build an apartment for her. She used the proceeds from the sale of her coop apartment to fund the project. She was working full time then. Neither of us were really happy with the idea, because we really don’t like each other, but we did it anyway. Both of us got something out of the deal, but we both lost something too.
A-mom’s insurance decided she was ready to be released. My heart sank. It had been so nice while she was at the nursing home. There was no visiting, because of COVID. My family and I were perfectly happy not to see her at all. Of course, this makes me feel like a monster, because what kind of person doesn’t want to see their mother, ever? She’s done so much for me! Raised me. I guess I’m that kind of person. It’s not just me. My kids don’t like her either. She did a lot for me, but there was always a price. I guess I’m just ungrateful, but I never asked for any of it. I’ve always wished she had never adopted me at all.
A-mom was released on August 1. Our weeks vacation was scheduled for August 16. There was no way we could take off for a week and leave A-mom here alone. She’s very hard of hearing. There were aides and nurses coming and going. She was unable to make her own meals. We also have 2 dogs and 2 cats who needed care. I was scrambling for ideas.
My own natural family came to my rescue. My dear Auntie S, Mom’s youngest sister volunteered to come help. If you’ve read my blog, you’ve met Aunt S before. She came to take care of my mother when Mom passed in 2015. I haven’t seen Aunt S since we put her on the bus back to her home state nearly 5 years ago.
We paid for her plane ticket. She came a few days before we left. The dogs and cats loved her. She took care of A-mom with kindness. She had to clean up bad messes with both animals and humans. While we were gone, A-mom soiled herself, stepped in it and tracked it throughout the apartment. My family, whom I was never supposed to know, ended up helping take care of my adopted mother! I cannot get over this fact. A-mom has a niece and some nephews, but none of them could help, or even called while we were gone. I could never have imagined this would happen.
We came home, tan happy and refreshed. A-mom and the animals were doing great. Aunt S was glad to see us. It had been a hard week alone with A-mom. We came home on Saturday, and Aunt S’s flight back was the following Friday, so we got to spend some time together. I took a 6 week leave of absence at half pay from my government job to take care of A-mom, so I was home all day with Aunt S and A-mom.
The nursing home had suggested we get a transfer bench, in order to get A-mom in and out of the tub, It’s a long bench, and one set of legs goes inside the tub, and the other outside. You sit on one side, then while seated, lift your legs one at t time and get them in the tub. Then you slide your bottom over, and you can bathe, while seated. It’s a great system.
Since A-mom hadn’t been washed for weeks, Aunt S and I decided we should get A-mom in the tub. The bath aide had tried to bathe A-mom while we were gone, and it was a disaster. The physical therapist was supposed to work with A-mom and teach her to safely get in the tub, but A-mom refused physical therapy. We were on our own. Aunt S did a dry run. A-mom used the transfer bench while fully clothed. Then she took off her clothes. When she got her pants down, Aunt S saw what had been going on. A-mom was not cleaning herself, at all. There was caked mess all over. The small was awful. Somehow, she had been hiding this from everyone.
I stayed out of the bathroom, at first. A-mom responds better to Aunt S than to me. I could hear them in the bathroom. I started hearing banging noises after about 20 minutes, and I realized things were not going smoothly, so I went in.
“What is that smell?” I exclaimed when I went into the bathroom. “It’s her!” said aunt S. A-mom was naked, in the tub on the transfer bench. Her back was pressed against the bench, her arms were gripping the bars she has in her tub, and the banging I heard were her feet, rhythmically going up and down. Her body was stiff and she was flailing around. She was in danger of sliding off the bench and hurting herself. We tried to get her to calm down, and get her feet out of the tub, but she was unable to control her body. We’re in a tiny bathroom, 8 X 5 feet, tub included, and it’s hot, and smelly. Aunt S, who is 62 years old, and on disability for a bad back, gets in the tub by A-mom’s feet, and I grab her under the arms, and we get her out of the tub and onto the floor.
Now, A-mom’s on the floor, naked and still unable to control her body. Her legs are splayed out, on either side of the toilet bowl, and we can’t get her out. We try for a time, covered in sweat, then realize we’d better call EMS. This happened once before, 3 weeks prior. She had one of these attacks in my living room. She was fully dressed then, and we had to call EMS. When she got to the hospital, both times they can’t find anything wrong. When it happened the first time, my daughter said don’t take her back home, but I did. I thought we could take care of her. I now realize we cannot.
A-mom is still in the hospital. I got her into an assisted living nearby, and we’re waiting for the paperwork to be processed. I don’t want to bring her home, even for a day, because I’m afraid she won’t leave. I really think she’ll be happy there. She’s not happy or safe here with us.
Aunt S went back home, and I miss her. She would tell us stories about her mother, and my mother. They’re both gone, and she’s the only person we can talk to about our family. On the day of the bathroom incident, there were 7 women in the house, 6 of us related! My daughter and her daughter were visiting, myself, Aunt S, and my two younger daughters and A-mom. My youngest said when she came down the stairs, the police officers eyes bugged out. She thought he was thinking, another one? Where are they all coming from!
Hopefully, this will be the end of my 23 year sentence with A-mom. I’m 58, and maybe I can finally be free!
I was always sent away for the summer. Mom and Dad had to work. There was no one to take care of me, so I had to go. It was so scary living with other families. I never knew what to expect.
I was 6 the first time, sent to Mom’s sister’s house. I remember the fear. What would my cousins do to me? Why was I alone, with no one to love me? What did I do to deserve this?
I never said a word. Next year, back to Aunties. I guess i finally said something, because the next years, off to Dad’s sister’s. That was better. The cousins there were not cruel. Still living with a strange family, but a lot less fear.
Eventually I was sent to summer camp, for 4 summers. I know summer camp is supposed to be fun, but I hated it. Hated sports. It was a kosher camp, with Friday night services, and I wasn’t Jewish. I had trouble fitting in.
It was 50 years ago, but I still feel for that little girl. I don’t know why they bothered to adopt.
So much big stuff has happened. It took me awhile to sort it all out.
First, the pandemic. Everyone is all scared and upset, but for me, it’s been like a little slice of heaven. Best of all, I didn’t have to go to work, for 73 days. I got my full pay for all of them. I work for the state. My husband worked from home for much of that time. I deep cleaned the entire house. I planted a garden. I loved being home so much. I’ve had the deep blues since I’ve had to go back.
My adult daughters, who live at home have been getting unemployment. It’s more than they’ve ever made in their lives.
I had a granddaughter. My first. It’s so powerful to see my line carrying on. This little girl will be alive long after I’m gone. It’s a very comforting thing for me to know this.
The bad part of the pandemic, for me, was not being able to be with my daughter during her labor and delivery, and not being allowed to visit my granddaughter in the hospital at all. My DD suffered a great deal. She had a long and hard labor, and maybe I could have made it a bit easier for her. My knowledge could have helped her.
But, mother and baby are home, and doing well. I haven’t told anyone in my father’s family, because, why should I? They never share anything with me. It’s pretty clear to me they do not care at all about me, or my children, or grandchildren. I’m tired of trying to matter. It’s never going to work. Dad’s going to be 80 this month. Maybe he’ll have a party. Who knows?
A-mom fell. She lives with us, and we heard a crash. We went in and Hubby found her lying on the floor. She had been walking around holding onto the furniture for awhile. We told her, over and over again that it wasn’t safe. We begged her to use her walker, but she wouldn’t listen. She tried to get up from the sofa using a rickety folding table, and it toppled over. SHe was dazed and bleeding on her arm. Hubby got her up, and gave her her walker and she toddled off to the bathroom.
She didn’t come out for awhile, and I finally went in and saw she had soiled herself, and the whole room. It was very bad. I cleaned her, and we let her lie down for awhile, hoping she was just in shock, and would feel better with some rest.
She woke up a few hours later, and couldn’t get out of bed, so we called the ambulance. She didn’t want to go with them, but the EMT talked her into it. As they were wheeling her away she said, “I guess you want to get rid of me”, and “I guess I won’t be seeing any of you again”.
It’s all true. I’m very happy that she’s gone. I haven’t seen her again. There is no visiting in the hospital, or the nursing home where she’s gone to recover from her fractured shoulder. When she fell, her walker and other assistive devices were only a few feet away, but she choose not to use them.
We cleaned her whole apartment, and it was very dirty. I’m so happy that she’s not here, and dread the day she comes back. I even think of moving away, and not telling the home. I feel guilty for these thoughts.
I was adopted to do a job. I am supposed to be a loving daughter. If I’m not, there is something wrong with me. It is not supposed to matter that she’s not really my mother. I’m not supposed to even notice that.
I hope she never comes back, but I don’t think I’m strong enough to keep her away. I know I’ll cave in and take her back, and I’ll hate every minute of it. Non adopted people don’t understand. They tell me she’s my mother, but I know she’s not. I’ve been trying to escape for as long as I can remember, but I’ve never been able to.
I have 4 weeks off, due to the corona virus. My adoptive Mom said, “I’d like to be able to use you”. I don’t want to be used, by her, or anyone. Just because I’m home, it does not mean I’m now an inanimate object, to be used by anyone.
I will help her, but I’d like to be asked. Maybe this has always been the dynamic between us, and the reason we’ve always been at odds. She thinks I’m a thing, to be used, and I think I’m an autonomous person, with free will, and needs and desires of my own, apart from her.
Stay safe, everyone. Draw close to the ones you love.
I finally got my original birth certifate. This is a BIG DEAL to adopted people. I truly thought I would not live to see this day. I was taught that who I was, and who I was born to was none of my business. I was taught wrong.
There were no big surprises. I know who my parents are, I know how old they were, I know where I was born. The surprises were small, little jolts that hit like soft punches to the gut.
The certificates are so similar, but so different. On the amended, false one there is no mention of the ages of the “parents” at the time of my birth. The OBC has 15 fields, but the false one only has 11. So many details were omitted, I suppose to make the new “parents” forget that I was born to another woman. It’s labeled a Certificate of Birth, but there is little mention of birth on the certificate.
One big surprise was the OBC was mailed to my mother’s address at the time of my birth. I never knew where she lived when I was born. My mother’s sister was 4 when I was born, and she remembers the apartment. She said it was a basement apartment, very dark. My parents were hiding out, growing a baby they were planning to get rid of. They were hiding the pregnancy, even though they were married, so they didn’t have to explain to anyone why they didn’t have a baby.
My oldest daughter is due to have a baby girl in 2 months. I’m very, very happy. I love babies, and can’t wait to meet my little granddaughter.
Of course, this wonderful news brings up feelings about my birth, and adoption. I’m estranged from my father’s family. I don’t think they know anything about my daughter’s pregnancy, unless they somehow heard through social media, or from someone in the neighborhood. My half brother, Mom’s son lives in the same area as many of my father’s relatives. He owns a house with his half brother (same dad, different mom). My cousin E rents an apartment in that house. E is my late mother’s half sisters son. I invited E’s preteen daughter to my daughter K’s baby shower, and she said she will attend. She will be the only blood relative of mine that will be there, aside from my 3 daughters. The only member of my adoptive family that will be there is my adoptive mother.
Luckily, my husband has a big family, so my daughter will have blood cousins and aunts there. Only my side will be lacking. I have a sister, sister in law and many female cousins and aunts, but they are not part of my life, and I don’t think they ever will be. My father will be a great grandfather, but I have no idea if he would care about that. My mother did not live to see her great granddaughter. My half brother will be a great uncle. My Dad’s kids, will also be a great aunt and uncle. They are 31 and 24 years old.
I don’t know if my cousin, who lives in the house my brother owns told my brother about the baby.
I want to tell everyone, so much. I want them to all come to the shower. I want my granddaughter to be marveled over. I want my family to say who she looks like. I want us all to be part of their lives. I don’t want to be treated like a monster. I don’t want to be hated and feared.
But, what I want doesn’t matter. I’ll love my granddaughter. I love my children.
I still wish we could be part of my family, though.
Everyone has an origin story. All the superheros do. Even supervillans do. I have a few.
According to Mom (I consider my mother to be my natural mother)
Mom was a tortured soul. She was sexually abused from before she could speak. Her first memory was of her mother, holding a shotgun on her grandfather, after catching him molesting Mom while he held Mom on his lap. Later on, when she was 5, Grandma sent Mom to live with her father. He put her in informal foster care, with a pedophile who molested her for the 6 years Mom lived with him.
Mom returned home to her mother. Grandma had had a bunch of other kids while Mom was away, and their care often fell to Mom. Mom was poor and ragged. She was ashamed to go to school. Dad was a rich guy from the neighborhood. Grandma told Mom to “go for him”. Grandma thought he would be a good catch. She didn’t sleep with him right away, and this kept him interested. Eventually she did, and she became pregnant.
Dad arranged for an abortion, using the same abortionist Grandma used. Mom was 16, and abortion was still illegal. It was another traumatizing experience for Mom. Mom and Dad continued to bang. Mom got pregnant again. This time, Dad offered to marry her. They got married, and were going to live in an apartment off his parents big house, when something happened.
Mom saw a sign outside a church, offering help with unexpected pregnancies. She went in and asked about it, and was introduced to the idea of adoption. She went home and told Dad, thinking he would reject the idea, but instead he embraced it. They moved a few towns away, and Mom waited out her pregnancy away from the family. Dad worked on her every day as her belly grew, telling her I would have a terrible life if they kept me. A life even worse than hers. She didn’t want to give me up, but she began to believe him, and agreed to the adoption.
I was born. No one was told. Mom took care of me in the hospital and held me on the ride to the agency. I stared at her the whole way. She cried at the agency. She cried for days afterward. She cried everyday for 10 years. It would overtake her suddenly. While on line at the bank, when buying groceries. Then she stopped crying. She waited for me to find her. She didn’t want to look for me, because she thought my adoption might be a secret to me, and she didn’t want to be the one to tell me.
According to Dad
Mom got pregnant. They had relationship problems. They liked group sex and drugs, and Mom wouldn’t give those things up, so Dad decided the only solution was to give me away, so I could have a better life.
According to A-Mom
My parents were too poor to keep me. Mom had to raise her younger siblings and didn’t want to raise any more kids. My parents told their parents that I died at birth. My parents were married, and A-mom could not understand how a married woman could give her baby away. No one held a gun to her head. She was a cold heartless woman who did not want me. A-mom knew my name at birth, but would only tell me the first name. A-mom lived in terror that I would be taken away.
The holidays are upon us again. It’s a time of joy, but also a time for sadness for many. All of the positive images of family and love can make people long for what they don’t have. I’m one of those people.
I have a wonderful family. Husband and 4 grown children. My eldest daughter is expecting a daughter in April. This makes me so happy! I cannot wait to meet the little one. K, my daughter is 32, and not married to the father. In fact, she only knew him for 4 moths before she fell pregnant. In the old days, she’d be a great candidate for adoption. Not in my house though. Never, never ever. We will love that baby, and my daughter and do everything we can to help and support them. Granddaughter! What a beautiful word.
I was born November 13, and relinquished on November 18. This is always a trying time of year for me. I was in a foster home, somewhere for my first Thanksgiving. I don’t know who I was with, or what name they called me. Was I Marylee, what my mother named me, or did they just call me another name they made up?
I arrived at my adoptive parents house on December 13. Just in time for my first, terrifying Christmas. Why terrifying? I didn’t know these people, and my A-mom was always rather terrifying to me.
I have no idea what my natural family does for the holidays. Do they still gather as a large group, or do my aunts and uncles celebrate with their own growing families of children and grandchildren? I will never know, because I will never be allowed into that family. They say it’s because of the way I behave, but I think it’s because I was relinquished. I think they can forgive one of their own, if they behave badly, but I must be shunned if I do. And, the extent of my bad behavior has been my anguish over my adoption.
Every holiday, I still foolishly hope I’ll get something from my family. I never do. I never will.