November is Adoption Awareness Month. As an Adoptee and Birth Mother, I can talk forever about this, so lets talk again. Remembering that it doesn’t matter if you are an adoptive parent, birth parent, know an adoptee, read a book, or anything else, unless you are actually an adoptee, you will never truly understand. So please for the love of all that is holy, stop telling Adoptees how to feel, that their feelings are wrong, that they are over reacting, or anything else like that. Adoptees have every right to feel everything they feel, all the conflicting, hard to understand feelings, they are all valid. Just because you dont understand something, does not make their feelings wrong.
So lets talk about belonging. Its a strange thing. We simultaneously belong to multiple families, yet dont fully belong to any. We are forever an option. In our adoptive families we struggle to belong, we dont look like anyone, we dont have the same mannerisms, traits, we struggle to fit in and blend in with our families. We notice all the questioning looks we get by people trying to figure out our connections to each other. We have even had to deal with strangers comments and questions. Our adoptions are constantly pointed out to us, when people compare looks, especially at family events. We are constantly referred to as the “adopted children”. When we go to the doctors and asked for medical history, there is a big blank spot, or adoption is simply written there. In school its pointed out every time we are asked to do a family tree, learning about genes and asked to go back in our family tree with eye colour, hair colour and such. We are constantly asked if we will ever look for our families, then guilted as soon as we decided to do it. We are asked what its like to grow up in a home with strangers. We are referred to as being “chosen” or “picked out”. People ask us how much we cost for our parents to ‘buy’ us. When people do family trees there is constantly a symbol next to our names for adoption. More times than people care to admit, adopted children are placed for adoption again because they didn’t “fit into the family”, or some other issues came to the surface. We are considered an option. We are told we will be sent back. When we get in trouble, we are told in must be in our genes and what a burden it must be for our families to deal with us.
Then if and when we are able to find birth families, we are treated an as option. We have to wait to see if our birth families will accept us or reject us, again. Always an option. IF we do get accepted, we rarely ever fully get accepted. Our lives before they met us dont matter because they never knew us. We are never truly the first born, second born, third , or last born, because we weren’t there. When people talk we are separated in speech, like “my kids and you” or “my boys and you” its always “them and you”. There is always a subtle separation in speech. We are told to wait till kids are older to be told about us. We are told to wait because older generations can’t hear about us right now. We are kept secret from some members of the family. We are told to wait till their kids are fully grown before they will consider spending holidays with us. We are told they have their own traditions and things they love, and they won’t grow and evolve those things to include us. We are told that to involve us in traditions would be the same thing to them as throwing away years of family traditions with ‘their family’. Always the separation in speech. Never fully accepted. We aren’t considered ‘close family’ when it comes to family events, birthdays or holidays. We are told that people need time to adjust to our existence. We are told that people that are supposed to be our family need time to figure out if they want to ‘try to be friends and see where that goes’, instead of truly accepting that we are family and include us as such and work towards building relationships that way as sister/brother/cousin/son/daughter or whichever it is. We are always treated as an option. Someone that belongs, but not fully. We are welcome, as long as we stay in our little corner over there, and dont mess with their family setting and traditions. If we dont fit in just right, we are again abandoned, because we will forever be an option for people. An option they can walk away from whenever a single issue arises. We constantly walk on egg shells out of fear of being abandoned again. Many times adoption reunions fall apart after a couple years.
We belong to multiple families, yet not fully and truly. Its a weird sense of belonging, being on the outside looking in, longing for acceptance, longing for connection, feeling at home, being surrounded by family, being loved and accepted, and still feeling alone.
November is Adoption Awareness Month. As an Adoptee and Birth Mother, I have a lot to say on the subject. This is however a subject that only Adoptees can truly understand. It doesn’t matter if you are an adoptive parent, birth parent, know an adoptee, read an adoption book, or anything else, unless you are an adoptee, you will never really understand. And every adoptees journey is so different.
Being an adoptee is complicated. We are constantly told that we should be grateful, feel lucky, and be happy that we were “saved” or “chosen”. And here’s the thing, we can feel grateful, we can feel lucky, we can be happy with the life we did get, we can love our life, we can love our family, and at the same time we can still feel angry, hurt, sad, abandoned, long for a biological connection, we can mourn for a life we never had, mourn for the loss of all that could have been or maybe even should have been. And we can experience all of these emotions at once, and not have it take away from feeling grateful, or happy, or hurt, or abandoned. It is so hard to put into words that will ever truly explain what it is like to be an adoptee. To live with such drastically different feelings conflicting with each other all the time.
I’ve lived my life with people telling me how I should feel. Telling me my feelings are wrong if they have ever been anything other than grateful. I’ve had people be mad at my existence.
I’ve been called selfish and ungrateful, rude and mean, for wanting to find my birth family.
I’ve even been called selfish for wanting to then spend time with the people I found after spending my entire life apart from them.
I’ve been told I was never wanted and that they never wanted to ‘waste’ a name on me when I was born.
I’ve been called a home wrecker, intruder, and worse, because I found my birth family.
I’ve had people separate me from “real” family, and put in a little corner off on my own.
I’ve even been told I am too old. When I found who I believed was my birth father, thats what he said to me. This man believed I was his daughter right from the start and even tried to find me when I was 2 years old so he could fight for custody of me. But then when I was almost 28 years old, I found him. And he didn’t want anything to do with me. One of the many reasons he gave me, my age. He said I was too old now. He said I took to long, and I was too old now, and none of it mattered, and I was too old to celebrate anything, too old to care, too old to start building a relationship. He was so angry at me that I took too long to find him. He had other choice words too say to me over the years, but anyway, that was the first time someone complained about my age, used my age against me, told me i’m “too old” for something, but it wouldn’t be the last time. Throughout my journey other people have told me the same thing and used my age against me for various reason.
I’ve mourned the death of a man I believed was my birth father, just to find out years later he wasn’t.
I could go on and on about the things said to me. The way people treat me as an after thought, as an option, mad at my existence, and more.
But here’s what Adoption gave me, besides trauma, abandonment issues, heartbreak and more, it gave me a beautiful family that has loved me so fiercely. It gave me two parents, that at 36 years old I can honestly say they have always been there for me, never missed a holiday, from Valentines Day to Christmas, never missed a birthday, never missed a school event, been there for every milestone in my life, the birth of each of my children, they were there and visiting the hospital every single day I was in there. They have been there for each of my Mother Days, especially my first after my oldest son was born, which I couldn’t have gotten through without them. They even celebrate my wedding anniversary. Always there for me. And in turn they have always been there for my kids. Every birthday, every holiday, every school performance, every event at school, they were there. I’ve lost count of the amount of cakes my mom has baked with my daughter every time she says its a dolls birthday, or a stuffed animals birthday, it doesn’t matter, my mom is there to celebrate with her and make it special. Family trips all together. When my kids were/are sick, my parents were/are the first people I called, and my Dad would sit up with me during the night and the kids while they had croup, or an ear infection or whatever, my parents were there. Because of the parents I got, I was able to live in Kenya. The people I met there, amazing friends that have become family. Not to mention I met my oldest sons birth father there. Without living there, I never would have met him and had my son. And I can’t imagine a life without him. And my husband, who I met through a cousin on my Moms side. And now I have 3 more beautiful children, and an amazing man in my life. And I wouldn’t have had them, met all the people I have, lived in all the places I have, done all the traveling I did, if life hadn’t put me down another path, if someone else didn’t make one of the biggest decisions in life for me, a choice I didn’t make or was given a say in. And I am so incredibly grateful the life I have had so far, the people I have met, my family, my friends, my husband and my four kids. There is no way I could wish that away. But having said all that, I still mourn for what never was. I still feel sadness over missing out on years with so many other people. Its a complicated thing. It doesn’t make sense. And it is so hard to mourn for something that you never even had. But all while feeling grateful and loving the life you did have. So I dont know what else to say in this ramble. Other than its Adoption Awareness Month, and being an adoptee is complicated, amazing, beautiful, trauma filled, beautiful, and every other mixed emotions.When an adoptee tries to explain their story, share their complicated conflicting emotions, dont try to correct them, dont tell them how they should feel. Let adoptees feel what they feel, and not be shamed for it. Listen to what adoptees have to say, even if you dont understand it.
One year ago my world got flipped all around. Everything changed and nothing made sense. Yet somehow it all made sense. A year ago I wrote this post about a DNA test I took on one of those sites, I thought nothing of it, because you know, I already had all my answers from my 10 year search. But turns out I was wrong, so very very wrong. And the man I believed to be my birth father wasn’t, and I had to start all over. This time however it only took 17 days. In 17 days I messaged a stranger on Facebook, took a paternity test, and met my birth father. All in the span of 17 days my world changed forever. And then you know a global pandemic happened and put all plans on hold and made it impossible to meet people, family, and spend time with them.
Here we are, one year later and I am still trying to wrap my head around everything. Its been a lot. And today is a lot. I have all the emotions fighting it out for dominance. So many big, giant, conflicting emotions. A lot has happened in a year. Relationships have changed, which I guess is a totally natural thing, one way or another, good or bad, relationships change. I still can’t figure out the right words, or emotions to describe the last year. Yet I’m going to try, for my own sake, I need to get this out. I need to make sense of things.
This past year has been amazing. It really has. It has been so wonderful, magical even. Things have just clicked. There are these things, these little moments, these little things about myself, that just make sense now. Things I have kept to myself my whole life, parts of myself that I always kept just for me, because it didn’t feel like it was right to show them to the world, that no one around me would understand or connect, and now, it makes sense. The connections are there. And its weird, it feels foreign, I don’t understand it most of the time, but it all feels right at the same time. One of the strangest things has been to meet people that I look like, you know, other than the tiny humans that I created and birthed myself. Like being able to see myself in other people, and not just looks, traits, habits, beliefs. Its been such a shock to me, and I just don’t know how to explain what that is like after 34 years of life to finally experience that. Something that is just so common to most people, that it never crosses their minds, something so common that its not a big deal to people. And here I am completely crying and falling apart about it.
Can we also talk about how weird it is to find these people, essentially strangers, but they are family, and you feel a connection to them, but they are still strangers, and having to build friendships/relationship with them. Like we are strangers, but I’m their daughter, sister, aunt, cousin, granddaughter. But despite being genetically connected, we are still strangers. Who just happen to look alike, be related, and have things in common. But still strangers, and still family, all at the same time.
Also I need to mention that for the first time in my life, for my 35th birthday I got to spend the day with a biological parent. I still think about that day, and I am still in shock about it. That day meant so much to me. It was and still is such a big deal. Something so simple and easy that a lot of people never give it a second thought. And yet I had to wait till my 35 birthday to have that happen. Its unreal. That day was simply amazing.
Despite all the good and wonderful things, there has been so much fear and anxiety. And overwhelming amount of fear and anxiety. A big dark scary cloud that just follows you around constantly, threatening to ruin everything in the blink of an eye. Because sometimes adoptees get rejected by their families. Sometimes families decide they dont want them, they aren’t a real member of the family, they dont belong, and a whole list of a million other reasons. Sometimes adoptees are the ones to change their mind. But in my case, after 10 years of searching, 7 years after finding my birth mother, and 1 year of this, I know I’m not going to change my mind. I know what I want. But these people I just found, these strangers who also happen to be family, I dont know what they want. They never knew about me, never knew there was even a chance I was out there, never waited for me, I was never a thought for any of them. I was a total and complete surprise. My first reunion of course didn’t go well. So that fear of rejection, that fear of things going badly, was/ is all too real for me since I have already experienced it. And a year later, it is still there. Some days are better than others. Some days its a dull hum in the background, other days its front and centre. I hoped by now, a year into this, that it would be gone by now. Maybe one day. Hopefully one day. Hopefully soon.
I’ve also had to heal from the last reunion I had, the last 8 years with my birth mother. The guilt I have for believing her for 7 years. The pain caused from the man I believed was my birth father. The anger at myself for it all. The anger at her for her choices. There has been a lot of anger and guilt and pain I’ve had to try to heal from. Some days are better than others. It has been a slow process. I dont know if thats just a normal thing, or because it is mixed in with so many other things going on. Some days its hard to separate my feelings from the joy and happiness I feel, and the pain.
Having the chance to know my story, my real story, get real answers has been amazing. Yet in a way it has also been heartbreaking. That I can’t explain, even though I badly wish I could. Even just to myself. But I can’t and it is driving me crazy.
So really how do you even begin to describe a year like this? A year of finding your truth, your family, your connections, and followed right by a global pandemic. A global pandemic that has its own fears, anxieties, hardships, stress, depression, and is keeping you apart from some of the people you want to be with the most. Its been so hard, and heartbreaking. To know these people and have to stay away. Its soul crushing and destroying. The timing of all this. It makes it so hard. I believed my birth mother for 7 years, thats 7 years I lost with these people, 7 years without a global pandemic that I would have the freedom to know and meet and spend time with these people. But nope, that didn’t happen. I had to have all this happen right before and during a pandemic and global lockdown.
So here’s to a better year, a year with less fear, a year with more connections, a year of building better relationships, getting to know people, and hopefully being able to see them and spend time with them. Heres to a year where my emotions aren’t so raging and out of control. Where things make sense, where I can explain my emotions.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
I recently read The Tea Girl Of Hummingbird Lane by Lisa See, and I just have to share it with you.
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.
*I received a copy of this book from Simon and Schuster, all thoughts are strictly my own.