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Adoption and Child Separation at the Border

On June 1, 2018 Rebekah Henson published an important thread on Twitter critiquing the hashtags #FamiliesBelongTogether and #Ke...

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Adoptees - Twice Lost

Adoptees - Twice Lost

I read the “Ask An Adoptee” question about adoptees feeling given away, and finally have my own response to it.  I’m having a tough time with feeling unwanted lately, and lost more than usual.  Dealing with multiple debilitating health issues is hard enough, especially without any family.   It’s not the first time and it won’t be the last.  I’ve been down this road before and walked the path of despair and I know the way out.  It’s through coping tools and mechanisms like writing, adoptee support groups, allowing myself to feel emotions and not deny or allow them to come out in some unhealthy manner.  Ok, except for screaming at random objects left on the carpet I trip over, or the cats in my way, or my son’s failure to take out the trash when asked three times. But, I know it’s really not about the tripping, or the cats, or the trash.  It’s about adoption.

I have no real relationship with my adoptive parents and I haven’t for a very long time.  Although we’ve come to the point of not rehashing the abusive past they have apologized to me for, the rejection continues.  The lack of my adoptive parents visiting has been blamed on me living so far away.  But, many families live far apart and see one another when they can.  It’s a five hour drive at most.  It’s Arkansas to Texas for God’s sake not cross country.   There are planes, trains, and automobiles readily available.  There are telephones, and email, and regular mail for communication when travel is not possible.  I know, I am the one who uses them to visit and contact them!

Neither of my biological parents can step out of the veil of secrets and lies that cover up my very existence.   I have had the times and circumstances explained to me over and over.  I get it!  I grew up in “those times” of shame and stigma in unwanted pregnancy and girls sent away.  But, this is not about “back then” it’s about now.  

The truth is it’s a sad, sad, sad, story about two people who gave up their child for adoption and went on with their lives, and adoptive parents who couldn’t bond with these children, and then had a biological child they did and went on with theirs.  But it’s not just about my personal situation with adoption it’s SO much larger than that.  It’s about the system of adoption that failed us all.  We are genetic beings created from our heredity and biology, not generic interchangeable family parts.

The whole truth is that the system of adoption lied, and is continuing to lie, to us and to the rest of the world about the realities of all of this while they continue to profit.  I wonder and think about the brothers and sisters I was told I have out there who don’t know about me, and may never know because of closed adoption records.  I am still on my fourth petition to the adoption courts over the last thirteen years.  My pleas and cries still fall on deaf ears, hearts, and minds.

The final truth for me is that the system of adoption has left me in the dust without either adoptive or biological family.  And that’s a tough life sentence to be given especially when the only crime you seem to have committed was that of being born.

Meet And Greet

My natural mother and I continued to email the next few weeks after my natural uncle's death.  We got to know each other better and often we'd have several email threads going at once because one or both of us would think of another question we had for the other.  (Our in person conversations are much the same...we're both Geminis and tend to flit from topic to topic..lol).  We'd joke about meeting secretly for the first time, just the two of us, to "get the butterflies out of the way", but then we'd drop it and keep writing for hours about other stuff.

It was in the middle of one of those marathon email sessions, while I was at work, that she slid in the following:

"So I was thinking that maybe Cate and I would come out your way tomorrow night and take you to dinner....just a thought...too soon?...forget it, I was just being impatient...all in due time...so, how's work?"

Ummmm.  I think my heart stopped.  Did she just say TOMORROW?  She wrote back, asking if I was okay.  I replied that yes, I was fine but I was going to call my adoptive sister to see if she might be able to come with me the next night.

You'll all be wondering why I thought I should have someone else with me for the first meeting.  Honestly, I think I've watched too many Lifetime movies and assumed that was just what one did when meeting your natural mother and sister for the first time.

My adoptive sister put me at ease though.  She said that of course she'd come with me, but would totally understand if I wanted to go alone too.  It was completely my decision.

Go...alone?  I told her I was scared and terrified but in my heart, knew she was right.  I had to do this alone.  Full circle and all that.  So I wrote back to Chris and said that I'd be able to meet them at the restaurant at 6:30 the next night.  You could almost sense the relief on the other side of the email. 

Work dragged by the next day.  I was anxious and tense and my manager finally took pity on me and told me to leave...and have a fantastic night.  When I got home I found my baby album.  Pictures of me from 1974 through 1976.  My adoptive mother was snap happy and I have several other albums, each in two year increments...that was the first time I appreciated her putting those together. 

I left the house and drove to the restaurant.  My hands were shaking and my stomach was twisted in a knot.  What if I wasn't what they were expecting?  What if I wasn't good enough?  The internal tapes played over and over inside my head. Pulling into the parking lot, I saw them at the same instant they saw me.  And they were beaming. 

I don't remember all that we talked about.  Just that we talked for hours, both inside the restaurant and later standing next to our cars.  I was surprised there weren't any tears.  Just laughter. 

Chris loved the album.  The first picture was me as an infant.  Only a few weeks old.  "That's how I remembered you.  So little.  So delicate.  So beautiful".  She ran her fingers over the picture, lost in her thoughts.  I brought out two gift bags, presents for them that I'd picked out on my lunch break that day.

I'd gotten them silver necklaces, with a butterfly charm.  Instead of chasing the butterflies away, I wanted to honor them..to honor the specialness of the evening.  To acknowledge that we were all nervous but that we were finally together as family.