Being adopted can go one of two ways: 1. You are completely content with your adoptive family, and your biological family is just that – biological; or 2. You may or may not be completely content with your adoptive family, but a deeper part of you yearns to meet the woman who gave birth to you; maybe even the biological father; siblings; anyone really who may have sat next to any of them at a family reunion. I have always chosen number one.
I have known for as long as I’ve had a memory that my parents adopted me when I was two weeks old. Over the years I can’t even count the amount of times I have been asked, “Aren’t you curious to know who your real mother is?” I wasn’t. My real mother was in my house making my supper, putting fresh linens on my bed, or watching General Hospital. This concept of a ‘real mother’ was foreign to me. Who was this ‘real mother’ and what could she possibly contribute to my life that my ‘unreal mother’ couldn’t? Nothing.
Once I began having children of my own however, I did start giving thought to my biological family’s medical history. I contacted the social office in the town where I was born and specifically requested my ‘non-identifying’ information with as much medical data as could be found. A small binder arrived in the mail, and in it was the story of the first few days leading up to and after my birth.
As I read through the booklet, I kept shaking my head. The details of this lovely woman who was clearly torn about having to give her child up for adoption were so vivid, I could picture her packing up her possessions as her parents sent her away to live with another family; told not to return until after my birth. I get it; those were the times and thems are the breaks.
But her heartbreak at having to give her child up; the discussions she had had with her priest as to whether or not to go through with this gut wrenching decision – the picture painted of my biological mother was one of a woman who clearly wished she could have kept her child, but due to societal expectations during the 1960’s, impropriety was more significant than a mother’s wishes.
Fast forward to a few years ago when I was diagnosed with mental illness and wanted to find out if it was “in the family.” A few clicks of the mouse on Facebook brought me in direct contact with pretty much my entire biological clan, and my biological mother. So I called. There were no warm-fuzzies during our conversation. Instead I was told very clearly that communicating with me was not possible since she had never told her children (my younger half-siblings) about me.
So much for the image in my head of a lovely, heartbroken young women I had carried since the arrival of the little binder. Not only was I no further ahead in my search for medical info, but, with a lump in my throat, I knew too many people’s lives would be disrupted if I persisted in my desire for answers to my questions.
In the spirit of keeping other people’s lives undisturbed, I decided that some things are easier when the baby is thrown out with the bath water.