Gotcha Day

Everyone’s adoption journey and search is different. Everyone has different feelings towards things. And this is mine. Gotcha Day is a something that I don’t like, agree with, or would ever celebrate for myself. And I’m so glad and thankful that my parents never tried to make that a thing in our house.

Gotcha Day is the day of ‘celebration’ when a new child enters a family, whether the day the new family got the child, or the adoption was finalized. It can be called “adoption day” or “family day”. All depends on the family that chooses to do this.

Well yes I am incredibly grateful that I was adopted into a loving family, a good family. I got to experience things I wouldn’t have other wise, like I got to live in Kenya. Those choices that were made for me before I was born put me on a completely different path, but that path lead me to my ex, and my husband, which gave me my children. And I can’t imagine life without them. But lets get something straight; I got all of that because my life was traded for another.

I lost my name, who I was, the chance to know my heritage, my story, my family, knowing who I belonged to, and where I came from. My name was changed, I was handed to another family, and got sent down a completely different path in life. A new family may have got me, but that day is a day I lost myself.

Adoption loss is the only trauma in the world where everyone expects the victims (adoptees) to be nothing but grateful and appreciative.
And I am grateful and appreciative, but I also suffered a great loss. A loss that I’ve been trying to figure out, process and deal with my entire life. And just when I thought I had, I got thrown a curve ball.

Adoption is so much more than one family building their own family. There is so much loss behind the scenes. As one family is being built, another family is forever apart. The loss of adoption is felt by the adoptee and birth mother and father and their families. As an adoptee I’ve had to grow up missing people I didn’t know, wondering about them constantly. After I actually found my birth parents, I found myself grieving a life I never knew.

I’m in a unique position. I am both an Adoptee and a Birth Mother. I have experienced loss from both sides of this.

I placed my son for adoption, and I did it in an open adoption so I could know him, be there for him in whatever capacity he needed me to be, and so I could answer any and all questions he ever had, and so he wouldn’t be left alone and wondering like I was. I wanted him to have the life he deserved, but to still know where he came from, his story and to know without a doubt that he was loved, wanted, and that I will always be there for him. He knows who I am and he knows who his siblings are, and he gets to have a relationship with us all. It doesn’t take away from his loss at all, he has his own loss from the choices I made for him before he was born. And I can only hope he sees and knows that I do it all for him, and that I did it out of love for him.

The day my son got placed with his new family, his ‘gotcha day’ so to speak, the day his parents hearts swelled with pride and love as they took home their new son. The day their family was completed. That was the day my heart and soul forever broke and would be missing a piece from that moment on. The day their family was put together, was the day that my world and chance at a family together forever fell apart.

As an adoptee with a closed adoption I felt the loss of people and a life I never knew. I was left feeling ever so slightly like I never belonged. Just ever so slight out of place. Always searching the crowed for someone that looked like me. Always missing a piece of myself. Always wondering where I came from. Always wondering why.

As a Birth Mother, my heart and soul forever broken and missing a piece, enduring a pain so deep and raw, that it still hurts to this day. The day my son went to a home that was my home, was the day my heart didn’t just break, it shattered. It’s a day that I will forever remember, for far different reasons than his family will remember that day for.

There is so much more behind each and every adoption story. There is so much more behind the happy new growing family. There is so much more to all of this.

~ Michelle

Lost Connections in Adoption Reunions

The desire to have a connection/relationship to someone you are biologically related to isn’t something someone can understand unless they have been denied that chance. It is so hard to explain. I was adopted at birth, it was a closed adoption, and I was left feeling alone and always wondering. Yet I always felt a connection and pull towards someone, some where, I just never knew who or where.

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My Adoption Tattoo

Now at almost 35 years old I have all my answers, finally. But part of me is still left feeling alone and wondering. 7 years ago I found my birth mother. It should have been a wonderful experience. But it wasn’t. It started off well enough. She said all the ‘right’ things. She said she wanted me, thought about me all the time, she said she loved me, she said she wanted to build a relationship with me. She said she wanted to be apart of my life and my kids. She said she cared. She said she would always be there. She said we were family. She said all the things I wanted and needed her to say. And then something changed. I can’t even tell you what. I don’t know when it all broke down. I don’t know when it turned to hate. I can’t tell you those things, because I refused to see them when they were happening, I made excuses for them, I took the blame for it all. I must have done something wrong, what that was, I didn’t know exactly. I wanted to be the daughter she would be proud of and want. But I just wasn’t. I fought like hell for something that was never going to be there, the connection and relationship that should between a mother and daughter.

We don’t talk anymore. I know things happen for a reason. I know sometimes we just have to let go of people, despite the pain it is best for us. I know you can’t force a relationship with someone. I know all of these things, but I also know, that all of this hurts. I still grieve over this. What could have been. What should have been. What I could have done, should have done. How could I have been the daughter she would want. What I lost. What my kids have lost. What she has lost. All of it. It is such a mix of emotions, some days I don’t know how to sort them and process them.

This woman gave birth to me. She should want me. She should love me. She should be here for me. I should feel a connection to her, and her to me. But she doesn’t. I’ve tired to work through this, process this, and I tried to move on. But here’s the thing; how can I fully move on from this, from the person that gave me life? Nature, biology, genetics, cosmic pull, whatever you want to call it, it is a strong force. Now when I feel that desire, its surround with grief and so much pain. It is always there. Sometimes its quiet, so quiet I can’t feel it, other times its screaming so loud my whole body hurts. Why would I, how could I, want someone that so clearly doesn’t want me? Why do we put ourselves through such pain? And how do you explain this to anyone else? Unless you have gone through this first hand, it is so hard to explain and have someone else understand.

Despite everything, she’s still there, in the back of my head. When something happens, on holidays, birthdays, milestones. And it hurts. I don’t want the grief, the guilt, the shame, the feelings of intense pain of being rejected every time I think of her. It shouldn’t have happened this way, but it did, and I don’t know why.

~ Michelle

 

Finding My Place In The Family Tree

Finding myself. Finding my place. Finding where I belong.

I never imagined I would be almost 35 and still trying to figure this out. I spent my entire life wondering, dreaming, day dreaming, wishing and hoping. My entire life I felt out of place. Any time I was out I was scanning the crowds for someone, anyone, that looked like me. Searching for a hint of something familiar. Where did I belong? Who did I belong to? Where did I come from? What was my story? What is my family’s story?

I spent nearly 10 years searching for my answers. And when I thought I had them I felt more lost than I ever had. I accepted my fate that I would forever feel lost and out of place, something was missing. I vowed to myself that I would move on. And I did. I let go of my hopes and dreams for a happy reunited family. I let go of the idea that I would find some magical place that was right for me, where I belonged, where I was finally free to be me, to know me, to truly know me. To know where I came from, who I belonged to, and what my story was. I gave up and I moved on. I made my own happy little family. Forever missing a piece of myself, but I was happy, and content. The aching was still there, but it was a dull hum, no longer a loud thunder following me around.

And now here I am. I have my answers. My truths. My absolute truths. I’m learning my stories. I’m learning family stories, my family stories. But here’s the thing; I still don’t know where I belong. What if I never do? What if I am forever feeling split and missing.

I got sent a family tree. My family tree. And it was amazing. It was beautiful. It was absolutely stunning. It was the most wonderful thing, and it completely ripped my heart apart and took away my breathe. This was the family I was robbed of. This is the family I missed out on for the last 35 years. This is the family I lost and I am now just learning about and grieving.

For the first time in my life I could see in writing where I belong, where I came from, my family line, my family legacy. I was able to look back to see MY Great-Great-Great Grandparents. And you know what else I saw, no one I knew and no one that knew me. I saw family connections. I saw family stories. I saw a family legacy. I saw love. But I didn’t see where I actually belonged, beyond where the DNA told me I did.

My entire life all I have ever wanted was to feel whole, to know what it was like to know who I was and where I came from, to know who I belonged to. And now I do, but at the same time, I feel lost. Maybe its because this is all still new. Maybe its because I’m almost 35 and I’ve missed out on so much. I wish I knew. My heart, my soul, my mind, my body are all so tired, it all aches. It aches and longs to know where I belong. To for once, not feel out of place.

As I sit here staring at this family tree, trying to find my place, and realizing just how many family trees I am connected to and apart of. I don’t just have a family tree, I have a whole damn family orchard, and I’m getting lost among the trees.

~ Michelle

Silver Linings Necklace

I’ve been getting so many messages with questions about a new necklace I posted on my social media. So instead of replying individually again and again. I’m going to take this time just to write a post about it and share with all of you.

My adoption search, journey, whatever you want to call it, it hasn’t been easy. At times it defiantly didn’t feel worth it. At times I wished I had never even bothered with it. One time I even gave up with my search. I thought my searched ended 7 years ago. I closed that chapter and walked away from it.

In February everything changed. You can read about it Here and Here. Needless to say, it’s been a whirlwind of a few months. I am still trying to process it all and wrap my head around it all. It’s truly been so surreal.

Just before my 35th birthday I can finally say that I truly do know my roots, where I come from, and who I look like. And can I just say I still find it completely weird and surreal to actually look like someone else? To see pieces of me in other people?! Its so weird, and so wonderful. I never realized that seeing people that look like you could bring you such comfort. Like I said, it’s weird.

These last few months have been so emotional on so many levels. I can’t even properly put it all into words. Everything happening at once, learning that the family I thought I was part of I wasn’t, trying to figure out where I belonged, doing a DNA test, meeting my bio Dad for the first time and then put into lockdown and isolation. It has all been a lot.

So, that brings us to my new necklace.

My silver lining. Get it, because its a silver bar necklace. I know, so clever, right?! So here’s what my necklace is and why I got it. Its a silver bar necklace with the date of the first time I met my bio Dad, and on the other side are the coordinates to where we first met. This entire lockdown has been stressful and emotionally draining all on its own, mix in not being able to see these amazing new people I just found out I’m connected to, and its been a whole new level of hell for me. So I got this necklace. This necklace holds several meanings to me. It’s my silver lining. That, even though my adoption search was complete shit, that it was so hard and ended so badly (or so I thought) that there is a silver lining to it all, I found him and his/my family. That even though I can’t see my bio Dad at least I got to meet him once before all this, and that means more to me than I can ever express. Its for the first time I met him and my whole world changed, the first time I felt like I belonged and felt complete. It’s my silver lining, knowing that I can’t see him now, but at least I know who he is (finally), and will be able to see him again. It represents and holds meaning for all the things I can’t put into words yet, all the things that have changed for me. That day was so much more than just simply meeting someone for the first time. Everything changed for me that day, I was effected in ways and changed in ways I never thought possible. And it all comes down to that day and that place.

Who would have thought one small necklace could mean so much? Pretty crazy, huh?

For the people messaging me and asking why, because I already got the adoption tattoo. I got my adoption tattoo long before I even found my birth mother, let alone my bio Dad. So yes, well he is automatically represented in my tattoo, I felt something else special needed to be done to recognize the date I met him and for everything else that changed for me. And honestly if the world was open I would have ended up with another tattoo, which I will probably still get at some point. But for now, I have my necklace.

So stay home, stay safe. Wash your hands. And hopefully soon we will be able to be with friends and family again.

~Michelle

Finding The Final Pieces

I think its safe to say my adoption search for my birth parents is finally over. 17 years after my search first started. 7 years after finding my birth mother, I finally know who my birth father is. For the first time, at age 34, I can finally answer the most basic questions, who’s your birth father and who do you look like.

See, two weeks ago shit hit the fan. You can read about that here.

The last two weeks are a blur. In two weeks everything changed. I lost the family I thought I had, and found a whole new one. I’m still trying to process it all. What it all means. All the new connections I have, all the new family members I have.

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My Adoption Tattoo

How can you even begin to process all this?

I know there are adoptees and birth parents and adoptive parents that read my blog and reach out to me. And how I wish I had some words of wisdom here. But the truth, I have no freakin idea what to do, how to process this, what the next steps should be, how to handle them.

I have so many conflicting emotions, all the feelings, its hard to sort them out and see clearly. I don’t know which to follow, which will subside, I don’t know what to embrace and what to let go.

Maybe if this journey had been spread out, and I had more time to deal with the feelings as they came on, instead of everything happening in one day.

In one day, everything changed. Then I had to wait two weeks for results from a paternity test. The longest two weeks ever. It was torture. I was talking to a stranger, spending hours every day talking to him, getting to know him, not knowing what the DNA test would say. I was mad at myself every day for getting attached to this person that could potentially turn out to have no connection to me. Then we got the results. We match. We are without a doubt Father and Daughter. And now here we are. Here I am, trying to process. Trying to figure out what I want and need, while considering everyone else. Yes this is my story, my journey, but it doesn’t just affect me. It affects my kids, my husband, my family, my birth father, his wife, his family. My circle just got so much bigger, and I want to take care of it, and do right by everyone.

Everyone keeps asking how I am. And I say fine, good, alright. Every answer, but the truth. Not because I’m lying, but because I don’t know. I honestly can not tell you how I feel. Part of me wants to run to these people, part of me wants to hide, part of me is happy, part of me is scared. So very scared. Scared something bad will happen. Even scared something good will happen. Figure that one out? If you do, let me know, because I can’t explain that one. You get the point. Every conflicting feeling, I have it right now.

The last time I found a birth parent, it didn’t go well. I thought I had all my answers. I thought I had all the dots connected. And I was ready to close the book on that chapter and leave it behind me. I basically did. I had walked away. I had gotten on with my life and came to terms with it. I was not prepared for all this. I never dreamed this was even a possibility.

And through out all of this, all I can think of is the damn song from Frozen 2: “Into The Unknown”. And also “When I am Older”. Because maybe one day this will all make sense and I will understand why things happened the way they did. Why I had to go through so much pain first. Why I had to wait till I was 34 for answers. Why it happened this way.

~ Michelle

I took a DNA test and found out that my adoption journey and search isn’t over yet 7 years after I thought I found my birth family.

If you have been following along with this blog you will know that adoption is near and dear to my heart. I am adopted, you can read about that here and I am also a birth mother, you can read about there here. I even have an Adoption Tattoo.

Adoption

I knew my entire life that I was adopted. There was no moment that stands out as “the moment” that everything changed and I found out. My family talked very openly about it. When I turned 18 I began the legal search for my birth mom and hoped that she would lead me to my birth father. As my birth father was not aware of the adoption, or me, he was not on any paper work, or at least thats what my paperwork said. It took nearly 10 years to track down my birth mother (Don’t even get me started on the government and the stupid ways they handle adoption and records). That was about 7 years ago. She was able to tell me about my birth father. Finally I would get answers and learn about my roots and where I came from.

Finding out about my birth father was a hard pill to swallow. Finding out that he did in fact know about me my entire life and wanted nothing to do with me was hard. Dealing with that rejection was hard. But at least through him I did find a half sister. We bonded and got to know each other. For the past 7 years I’ve talked to her off and on, watched my nephew grow. I’ve talked to other relatives, aunts and uncles and cousins. Then my birth father died. I had never once talked to him or met him, but still I mourned his death. I was so angry with him for so long. For years I held so much anger towards him.

And then last year my son I gave up for adoption did a DNA test on one of those sites. He was curious to see what his ethnicity was. Because even though he knows who his birth parents are, both of his birth parents are actually adopted as well. So even though I am in my sons life I can not give him certain answers. A few months later my sons mother offered to buy me a DNA test on the same site so that we would be able to determine which side of the family comes from where. So I did. I didn’t think anything of it really. I didn’t expect much out of it. I figured I knew. I was doing it for my son.

So I got my results. I didn’t really check the DNA matches since I figured I knew what would be there. But then I noticed something as the matches started coming in. No one had the same last name that my birth father had. So I searched through the over 6000 matches on the site, no one had his last name. It didn’t even show up in peoples family trees as a distant relative. The truth started to sink in. The man I believed to be my birth father, the man I had been so angry at, the sister I had gotten to know, they weren’t actually related to me at all. She’s not my sister. He’s not my birth father.

A part of me didn’t want to deal with that. A part of me just said “hey maybe no one in that family has ever signed up on this site. Thats possible. They all know each other, so why would they.”

One morning I woke up to a message “Hi, it looks like I’m your cousin” and she proceeded to fill me in on so much family history that that was clear that she was not related to my birth mother and no possible way to be related to who I had believed was my birth father.

I tried to talk to my birth mom about it. She insisted that he was my birth father, until I told you about the DNA test site. And the truth came out.

And now here I am, at the age of almost 35, and after 10 years of searching, 7 years of accepting what I thought were truths, getting to know people, mourning a death, I am back to square one. I have no idea who my birth father is. I never thought this would happen. I never thought I would search for so long for a family just to have them taken away again and start all over.

So apparently my adoption story is not over. Not even close. My journey continues.

And now I deal with trying to find my actually real birth father, and possibly being rejected again and going through that all over again.

Michelle

The Tea Girl Of Hummingbird Lane – Book Review

I recently read The Tea Girl Of Hummingbird Lane by Lisa See, and I just have to share it with you.

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I was drawn to the idea of this book because it is about adoption, which as an adoptee  and birth mother, adoption is a huge part of my life. I was scared of this book when I first got it, I didn’t know what to expect. I didn’t know how adoption was going to be shown in this book. I scared that this book would completely break my heart. I was scared that this book would show adoption as something horrible – which it is not, not always. This book surprised me. This book made me laugh and it made me cry, for many different reasons. This book is beautifully written.

The Tea Girl Of Hummingbird Lane is an amazing story about family, traditions, love, family separated by culture, and great distances, adoption and the love a mother has for her child. Li-yan’s mother for her, and Li-yan for her daughter, and her daughters adoptive mother’s love for her adopted daughter. A mothers love is strong and never ending.

Lets start the with the premise of the book. The book is about a girl named Li-yan and her family. They live in the tea mountains of China. They live a quiet life in their village away from the rest of the world. They are very much about traditions, traditions set long ago. The way Lisa See describes it all, the village, the forest, the tea, you can see it all. You can taste the tea, you can smell the tea. Lisa See paints such vivid pictures of Li-yan’s life you are left feeling as if you actually knew her and visited her. The way she goes into Li-yan’s family traditions, so much detail. I was left feeling like I had actually met all these people from the book, and was sad when I finished the book. Thats how you know a book is good- when despite the ending, you are sad its done.

But it was not the talented writing that drew me to this book and kept me reading, it was the story of adoption. If that makes sense. I was so invested in finding out what happened to Li-yan and her daughter.  It was being able to connect so strongly with two very different characters. I felt so many emotions reading this book. I could relate to two special characters on so many levels throughout this book.

From a birth moms, and mothers, point of view my heart broke for Li-yan during her pregnancy and as she gave her baby away, and all the days after that. From an adoptees point of view I could relate to her daughters story. I felt the struggle of both of them. I felt the heartache of both of them. I felt the longing of both of them. I couldn’t help buy think of my own story while reading this. When Lisa See describes Li-yan watching her daughter get taken away, I couldn’t help but remember the day I walked out of the hospital and watched someone else hand off my son to his new family. When she writes about Li-yan’s daughter returning to China for the first time I remember my first time going to the city where I was born. My own adoption is considered local, so I could not relate fully to the cultural differences that Li-yan’s daughter experienced. But I still felt her struggle and feelings.

Adoption is tricky to write and talk about. Not everyone is happy about it. Not everyone likes it. Not every one agrees with it. Yes this book was one of the best books I have read about adoption. Could parts have been improved on? That depends on who is reading it and their point of view on adoption. To me, the book was beautiful. The whole book, not just the adoption aspect of it. The background story, the detail, the other characters. The writing was fluid, the writing was beautiful.

This book left me wanting more. I actually spent some time researching China, tea making, adoption in China, the tea mountains in China, the history that Lisa See talked about in her book. I started this book strictly interested in the adoption story line in it and left loving every part of this book.

I will say the ending upset me! I won’t tell you what happened, as I don’t want to spoil it. But I could have kept on reading. I wanted to keep on reading. I needed more. I’m sure the author, Lisa See, left it that way so you could paint on your picture, write your own story. But I didn’t want to, I wanted to keep reading her story.

If you read this book, which I recommend you do, please share your thoughts and feelings of it with me. I would love to hear your thoughts on this book.

~ Michelle

*I received a copy of this book from Simon and Schuster, all thoughts are strictly my own. 

I Met My Birth Mom. What It Is Like Two Years Later.

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Roses my Birth Mother gave me 2 years ago

Two years ago I met my Birth Mother and Birth Grandmother for the first time.
Two years later and honestly I still feel just as confused as I did on that day.
On that day I could not find any of the right words that even resemble what I was feeling or thinking. I just could not seem to put this into the right words, and I still can’t. This is not an easy situation, it is a lot more complex and confusing than I would have ever thought possible.
So please bear with me through this.

I met my Birth Mom and Birth Grandmother.
This should be a happy moment. Right? Cloud 9. Jumping up and down. Happy dance. All of that right?

Let me back up a little bit. I spent my entire life, for as long as I can remember with certain beliefs about my birth mom. I knew it was silly, and I shouldn’t assume things about someone I knew nothing about, but I also felt I was right. Something I knew in my heart to be true. Like we had a connection or something. As I grew older and heard horror stories about Adoption Reunions I knew to always “expect to the unexpected” so to speak. So I tried my hardest to expand what I believed. There were just certain parts that I could not let go of. My heart just told me they were true. I hoped for the best and prepared for the worse.
My first mistake was thinking my search would be easy. Of course she would be looking for me. All of them would be. Of course there would be an easy trail for me to find. Turns out it was not easy, or quick. My search took nearly 10 years.
Then reality came knocking on my door, more like destroyed it actually. Out of the 100,000,000,001 scenarios I thought of none of them were true.
I realize this was fully on me, I only have myself to blame. But after believing for so long in something, trusting your heart for so long, and realizing it was all wrong, to have your beliefs’, hopes, dreams, thoughts, all crushed… It was hard. I had to re-evaluate everything I thought and believed about myself, about her, about everything connected to my Adoption. That connection I believed I had, that I was somehow special because I felt this, was gone.

Throughout this I did, and still do, feel so blessed and lucky that I have been able to actually find my birth mom. That’s the important thing here. I actually found her. I am one of the lucky ones. My search was finally over. A whole new journey is before me now.

When it came time to actually meet her, I didn’t know what to think. I didn’t know what to feel. I was confused before she even stepped foot in my house. Which took me by a giant surprise. I thought I was ready to take this step. I thought I knew what I wanted, how I felt, everything. I thought meeting her would be the next natural step and everything about it would be natural and free-flowing.

As I looked into the eyes of the person that gave birth to me, as I looked into the eyes of my birth grandmother for the first time, my blood…. I don’t know. In that moment in time, I didn’t know what to feel, think or expect. I was shaken to the core from this meeting.

I looked into their eyes and it really hit me, there is a whole family history there that I’m connected to it. But I don’t feel connected. I should feel connected, right? Should it be an instant connection? We are blood after all. There should be a bond? Something small there at least? Where did that connection go that I thought I had with her growing up? Was that really gone? Or was it just my beliefs that were gone? I thought it was just my beliefs. For sure some connection should remain?

I never thought I would be this confused, I never thought I would feel like this. I never dreamed the emotional roller coaster this would be. I never dreamed it would go on for years.

I want to be able to tell people that this meeting was what dreams are made of. That it went perfectly. That it was wonderful. That it left me with no questions at all. I want to say that we had a connection and are now involved in each others lives. I want to be able to say that, because a part of me wanted it to be like that.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m glad I met them. It was a good experience. I wouldn’t change it for the world.

But the truth is here I am 2 years later after meeting them and I am just as confused and lost as I felt on that day.

Our relationship has not progressed the way I thought it would, and honestly I am not sure where that leaves us, or what it means.

I spent 28 years without her, I spent 10 years looking for her, I realize a relationship will not be built overnight, related by blood or not, this is going to take a lot of work. A lot more than I thought would take for people related by blood, for a daughter and her birth mother.

Thanks to all those who have supported me throughout all of this! Your love and support means so much to me!
~Michelle