As a child I wrote stories, all with the same theme. "The Lost Daughter" and her victimized mother are reunited and live happily ever after. Those stories always magically disappeared as my adoptive mother found them and disposed of everything I would write. But I held on to those stories in my mind, and when I was a 22-year-old mother of two young children, my fairytale ending happened when I found my mother and her family.
“I totally understand!” I said that a lot back in 1986 when I reunited with my first mother. I repeated it many times for the following 15 years. I said it until I believed it. And she believed it too. All was forgiven. “Times were different back in those days”, I told myself. Rationalizing everything, I convinced myself she didn’t really mean to give me away to a woman who resented me, one that I never bonded with and shamed/belittled me every chance she got.
Desperate to belong, I immersed myself into my biologic maternal family. Their acceptance and approval was what I lived for, what I breathed for. It would fill the hole inside my soul, and I’d become magically “un-adopted” right? Wrong.
I lost myself in my desperation to fit in.
Life crisis often force us to take a deeper look at our relationships and ourselves. Trauma and pain can force the fog out, and give us the choice to see things as they are; or to find ways to bury our heads back into the sand that we assumed we were safe in.
Like many of us, life does not go as planned. I went through two divorces after finding my family. The last one was devastatingly painful. I needed emotional support, to know someone cared even if they didn’t know all the details. That didn’t happen, and my process of facing reality began to set it.
All of the trigger sentences happened: “You take everything so personal.” “You seem so needy.” “You have such a chip on your shoulder.” “Why can’t you be like your sister?” (You know, the one who was good enough to keep). These trigger sentences came from various sources, not just family. Upon moving into my own apartment alone - the first time I’d ever lived alone in my entire life, I received a letter from my half-sister. I was so happy, I just knew she was writing to pledge her support and love to me during this trying time. Instead what I found inside that envelope was a lecture. I should do things like her and her husband do. I threw the letter into the trash, furious. Little did I understand that my fury was actually pain. I felt judged and abandoned all over again. The fog was just beginning to clear out.
Quite a few years have passed, and through some great losses and wonderful gains, my biological family has been fairly absent in my life. There are the logistics of distance, busy family lives and the usual things. All these things can be rationalized, as I often find myself doing. But the truthfully, I am not part of the tribe. I have accepted that, determined to see things without the fog of my heartache. Coming from a very different upbringing and life circumstances, there really is not a lot that I can relate to with my siblings. There are no fond memories of growing up together that most siblings share. We don’t have that commitment and connection to one another that result of sharing a childhood. I will always the odd one out and nothing…. not even a reunion can change that.
I am still adopted. But I’ve reunited with myself.