Okay, well maybe not the whole world. One baby adopted locally, and just recently traveling all the way to Uganda to adopt another, is pretty close. This picture says it all. The joy is tangible and brings tears to my eyes.
Deb and I went to high school together. I have had the privilege to partake in the adoption process, albeit vicariously, through Deb’s personal blog. It’s been an amazing journey for her and her family. And, in honor of National Adoption Month, I wanted to bear witness to this extraordinary love story. While the main focus of this Adoption Awareness Campaign is to encourage adoptions of kids in foster care, I think it should be a time to reflect on all types of adoption.
I’m sure you’re asking yourself why I would be interested in adoption given the quiver full of kids I already have. The answer is simple ~ I was adopted. As an adult adoptee, I am interested in the process. I am interested in the outcome. I am interested in the mindset of someone who searches out a child to make them their own. I am interested because my story is not like Deb’s story of love and adoration.
My story goes back to my Grandmother. Her family was very poor. She met my grandfather when she was 15, he was 21, a Sergeant in the army. The year was 1939. She and her sister slept in the family car because there was no room in their small south-side of Chicago flat. My grandfather came along, married her, and my mother was born a year later. She never finished high school. My grandfather was stationed overseas for the first years of their marriage, so she lived by herself, just 16 years old with a baby to care for.
My mother was an only child. She barely finished high school herself. She had one goal in life: to get married and have children. She never worked. She married my father in 1961. My oldest brother was born in 1962. A year later she had a miscarriage, and 2 years later my other brother was born. They were difficult births. Yet, she still wanted a girl. She liked frilly little dresses and wanted a little girl she could dress up and show off.
That little girl ended up being me. And I’m pretty sure I am the biggest disappointment of her life.
I know, I know, that sounds very harsh, but considering that my mother hasn’t spoken to me in 7 years,and only intermittently prior to that, I know I’m not far off. It’s taken me a long time to realize ~ it wasn’t me.
I am not the problem.
I look back at my childhood, and so much of it was isolated. My brothers were older, already in school when I was brought home. Until kindergarten, I was home alone with my mother, no preschool, no Sunday school, no other kids to play with. I remember my mother sitting on the couch everyday and watching soap operas. We lived behind a park and I used go out in the morning and come back in the evening. My mother never took me to the park. I went alone.
See, I wasn’t a ‘frilly’ kind of girl. I bucked at wearing dresses. I had no interest in watching TV. I hated playing with dolls. My mind was my own and for that reason alone, we clashed. She used my adoption as a way to break me down, hoping I would cow to her expectations. Evidently genetics are stronger than environment, because the more she tried to break me, the stronger I got.
Things my “Mother” said to me:
“I love you because I have to, but I don’t like you very much.”
“Do you know how much we spent to adopt you?” “You should be grateful we had the money to spend on you.”
“You’re no better than that B#tch who gave birth to you.”
“I know the name of that B#tch who gave birth to you, but I’ll never tell you.”
“You went to another family first, too bad that arrangement didn’t work out.”
“Don’t you ever shut up? That B#tch who gave birth to you probably couldn’t keep her mouth shut either.”
“You’re going to wind up just like that B#tch who gave birth to you.”
What I didn’t know until much, much later, is that my mother has mental health issues. But for me, growing up with the constant reminder that I was bought and paid for, that the woman who gave birth to me was worthless, it was a rough road to travel. I always found it odd that my mother had so much animosity towards my birth mother, which turned into animosity towards me. I still don’t understand it.
Only one of my brothers still has contact with my mother. She divorced my father after 42 years of marriage and moved to Las Vegas. My son, Jacob, was a year old when we finally broke contact. She has never met Jonathan, Zachary or David. My older kids no longer have contact with her either. Apparently, they are too much like me.
I do not hate my mother. I wish her the best and I hope she has found comfort with her new life. I often think of my birth mother, as well. I do not know if I am strong enough to search for her. I find my story is not typical, for which I am thankful. I know adoption can bring peace and acceptance. This picture confirms that.
What are your thoughts on adoption? Do you think I am obligated to contact my mother, regardless of our past? What about searching for my birth mother? Please feel free to comment.
This has been an original post for World Moms Blog by Amy Hillis of Ohio, USA. Amy would like to thank Deb Steiner and her beautiful family for letting her write about their adoption journey. Both photos were used with Deb’s permission.