Saturday, July 20, 2013

How does your mother feel about you searching?

One of the extra fun bonuses about being adopted (and especially for those of us who speak out about it), is that other people (mostly non-adopted) believe they have the right to ask silly questions such as "how does your mother feel about you searching"? (referring to my adoptive mother).

Within some of these questions are hidden meanings such as "you should feel guilty" or "how could you be disloyal to your mother like that?" among other messages that give me a headache to even contemplate.

So today I will answer this question once and for all . . . . .

I have no idea.

She has never directly told me how she feels about it.

She has said this:

"It hurt me when your birth mother did not ask me about your childhood"

It took her seven years post-reunion, for my mother to admit this to me.  This is a touchy, sensitive topic between my mother and me.  It was so difficult for me to tell my mother when I found my birth mother, that my husband actually broke the news to her, because I could not.  Why?

The loyalty/guilt factor becomes so overwhelming during the search.  In hindsight, I can easily say I had every right to search, but during the actual search, I was still unable to completely own that it was my right to know where I came from and that my mom's feelings were her responsibility -- not mine.  I felt I was doing something wrong against my mother -- like, my searching somehow meant I didn't love her enough.  That in some way she was inadequate as a mother because I needed to find my first mother.  That somehow this was a personal attack on her motherhood and who she was as a woman.

I sense the non-adopted believe these assumptions as well.

"There must have been something wrong in that family if she needed to search".

"That adoption must not have gone very well".

These are false assumptions.  I can tell you my adoption went very well. I had a wonderful childhood.  Did we have problems?  Yes, absolutely.  The problem was not the adoption per se.  The problem was the "secrets" surrounding my adoption and my lack of understanding as a child about where I came from. There was not open communication within my adoptive family (like many families) about our feelings.  I have since tried to cure myself of this, and can freely say I am in touch with my own feelings (some days I wish I could turn them off!) but I can't say my other family members are at this same place.

When people ask questions to adoptees about somebody else's feelings (their mother's), it is just one more way to take away power from the adopted person.  Trust me, most adoptees felt powerless at some point in their lives --at a minimum because they had no say in what happened to them as children  -- and then after they've pulled themselves up by their boot straps, taken risks, spent money and faced their fears, why are they then expected to explain somebody else's feelings about this monumental thing they just did?

The proper question is this. . . .

How do you (adoptee) feel about searching?

How do I currently feel about searching?  I feel frustrated, annoyed, angry, sick and tired, and in disbelief that people still think it's o.k. to hide my personal information from me.

How did I feel before I embarked on the search for my birth mother?

SCARED AS HELL!!

F (Fantasy)
E (Expectations)
A (Appearing
R (Real)

I have talked to many adoptees who have already written the book before they even started their search.
They fear that their birth mother didn't love them because she hasn't found them yet.  They fear that there is some horrible secret that is better left buried.  They don't believe they can actually handle the truth.  They don't believe they are entitled to the truth.  They have bought into the myths that something must be wrong with the family they grew up in if they search.  And something must be wrong with them for not being satisfied with the family who raised them. 

My adoptive mother bought into these same myths when during my search she said,

"Your birth mother must not want to know you if she hasn't searched for you."

Her assumption turned out to be untrue.  I have explained to her that when my name changed, that information was sealed from my birth mother as well.  My adoptive mother's fear that my birth mom would show up on her doorstep was  unfounded.

However, her fear that I would one day want to know the woman who bore me did come true. 

How does she feel about that?

You'll have to ask her.


 



18 comments:

  1. Girl, boy did you nail this one today! I searched for my parents who made me twenty years apart (talk about dragging things out!). I knew my father's name and number for TWENTY years and was too fearful to call. Fear totally and completely stinks but I still feel it every day.

    And, I am so sorry and mad for you that these "people" continue to keep the "father secret" from you. More fear. Not fair. It seems like so many of adopted people I know right now are going through this. I am hopeful that someone will step up....

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thank you Julie for your encouraging words. FEAR stops people from going forward absolutely. Fear of never finding out about my father has stopped my search temporarily, but if somehow the universe gifts me this information (via a dna match or a little bird), I will be back on the trail!

    ReplyDelete
  3. I know both of my parents (yes, they are my real parents), but I am still so intrigued with DNA that I did a test on 23andme. I found a 2nd/3rd cousin who has the same last name as my father's mother. Pretty cool, let me tell you. I am so hoping that you have some luck with your DNA tests.

    Just wondering, what year were you born in? I found that some of the people most passionate about all this were born in 1966 (like me). Just an observation...

    ReplyDelete
  4. Hi Julie G, I just love the dna testing we have today for so many reasons. I was born in 1965. Thank you for the luck!

    ReplyDelete
  5. Totally true.

    I was 31 when I found out that I was adopted. A cousin finally spilled the beans to my asister and she wasted no time in telling me - for which I am truly thankful.

    So how do the NON-adopted react to this story? Do they ask me how I felt when I learned that I'd been lied to all those years? Of course not.

    "Your cousin didn't have any business telling you if your parents didn't want you to know."

    "It doesn't change anything. You are still who you are."

    "Your parents did what they thought was right."


    But not this:

    "OMG how could they LIE to you?"
    "Wow, if that were me I'd feel like the whole rug was pulled out from under me."
    "Did you confront them about their lies?"
    "That would mean that your whole family medical history was bogus."


    When you find out that your husband is cheating on you - do people ask "So how does your husband feel about this?" or say "You must not have had a good marriage." ?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Gaye, thank you so much for sharing these compelling examples of the lack of empathy adoptees receive when sharing their stories. Not only were you in shock upon learning that you were adopted and everyone around you lied -- you had to deal with the minefield of loaded, assumptions that people were throwing at you. I wanted to cry when I read your comment. Cry for you -- that adult whose sister (thankfully) told her the truth. I cannot imagine how betrayed you felt. You truly have my sympathy for being in that position. And you have every right to feel angry with the secret keepers, even if they were good people and meant well. Hugs:)

      Delete
  6. WOW!! Girl, you nailed it!!! We never talked about "feelings" in my adoptive family, still don't. So people see me and my amom and make all sorts of assumptions about our relationship that probably are not based in reality. That said, my aparents DID help me in my search, because apparently I was asking questions about my birth family, although that is lost, like so many other memories, in the "fog". People asked me how my parents felt about me changing my last name after finding bio family...yep, they did....and I had no idea, because I was nearly *40* years old when I did it, so why should I have to ask? SMH. I did ask them, later, since people asked me, and they said they just wanted me to be happy. I do understand that fear factor, especially if you've gotten some pretty nasty rejections at the other end of a phone...it can make you pretty reticent to do it again. I was shaking when I reached out to my sister-in-law via FB, and had prayed about it a good bit, after finding out I had yet another niece that no one bothered to tell me about....her father doesn't even know I exist, and he has 3 brothers, so, you want dysfunction, it's definitely in my bio fam. I was both shaking and crying when my SIL and her daughter/my niece accepted friend requests from me. That shouldn't be such a huge deal, should it...And yeah, about those "friends" of your bm who are holding her secrets for her...I just wanna slap somebody into tomorrow. 'nuf said. Love you, girl!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Dorothy . . thank you for sharing your thoughts and stories on my blog. I really get so much insight from each one of them. You are a pretty fearless adoptee! I think that is why we are friends -- we look fear and the face and say "bring it on!" . . . .

      Not discussing feelings in a family is a classic example of a dysfunctional family. Some of it is generational -- some of it in adoptive families is a way to not have to face or accept differences from bio families. ("If we talk about Lynn's birth family, then it becomes real -- so let's avoid that discussion") This is the mentality I was raised in. I choose to raise my daughter differently, with empathy and understanding toward her feelings. Hopefully her identity will be better integrated than my own when she is an adult.

      Delete
  7. Nicely put Lynn. DNA testing has really great potential to uncover the lies that so many people buy into :-) . It is so totally unreasonable that your father is still a secret. What I have always wondered is how all of these people are going to feel when you find out who he is.
    David

    ReplyDelete
  8. Thank you, David. That is a really great point. How they feel is not important to me anymore. It used to be but no longer. Clearly, they are not concerned about how I feel. If it wasn't for DNA, I would have never known I was Native American and of Spanish descent. I'd still be walking around thinking I was 100% white. LOL

    ReplyDelete
  9. I searched for (& was successful in finding) my birth father back in '07. I had been looking online for a few years but nothing had turned up. I finally caught a break when I accidentally misspelled his name in a google search and, low and behold, there he was! I was 34 at the time. Anyways, I created http://www.findfamilyafar.com to help others who are in the same or similar circumstances. Please feel free to take a look. FFA is unique in that it creates a great "exposure" piece that is very useful for those persons (ie parents) that may be searching for you right now. Use of the site is totally free and there is no obligation. Hope this helps and perhaps will see you on http://www.findfamilyafar.com. Good luck!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I have a question - my son is adopted, he was born in 1980 and we have no records of his biological family. He is wanting to find out about his biological family and his medical records. With the new bill that has past he should be able to better search, but my question is is there anyway of finding out this information now instead of waiting until next year? I want to help him search for his biological family just don't know how to go about doing it. I definitely have mixed emotions about him doing this but in all honesty I just want him to be happy, and I know he has struggled with who he is so hopefully this will help him. I would appreciate any insight that you could give us. Thanks

      Delete
    2. This comment has been removed by the author.

      Delete
    3. Thank you Gina -- I appreciate the tip and very glad to hear you found your father. Anon--if your son was adopted in Ohio, you can research the Birth Index at Vital Stats for his birth information. A good search angel could find this information for you within a a day or so. Medical records? I've never seen one medical record on myself, however, depending on the age of your son and if his mother possibly kept the medical records, he could access these. I know very few adoptees who have medical records. The only way I know of getting medical information within a closed adoption is to find the birth family(ies) and start asking questions about medical history of the family. I would also suggest your son put his dna in Family Tree DNA (my personal favorite) DNA company. Good luck!

      Delete
    4. This comment has been removed by the author.

      Delete
  10. Anon-23 and me DNA testing company used to offer medical information; however recently suspended these services while they get FDA approval. I learned quite a bit about my health sensitivities through 23 and me. I would highly recommend your son test with that company when the services are again available -- hopefully soon.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Lynn for the information, I did a little research but I'm afraid until next year in March we are going to hit a dead-end regarding his birth certificate. He was born in 1980 and that falls in the time frame of the closed adoptions. We went through the Wyandot County, Ohio Social Services and he was actually born in Toledo, Ohio, the only thing we were told was his mother was very young. This is all so confusing to me but I want to keep trying for his sake. Again I want to thank you for taking the time to answer me and if you have any other suggestions please let me know and I will keep you posted on how this is going.

      Delete
    2. Hello again, Anon! Yes, it's true that to get his actual birth certificate (the sealed copy), you will have to wait until next year. Remember that the sealed copy is only sealed upon finalization of adoption. The birth index at Vital Stats is maintained separately and has no special rules applied to adopted people. It is in Columbus, Ohio at Vital Stats. Since I'm assuming you know you son's birthday, you can match up his birthday and time of birth to the Vital Stats information. If you don't want to go to Columbus and do this work yourself, many search angels have the Vital Stats information on their own computers. Best wishes to you! And I'm impressed that you will do this work for your son. This gives me hope and made my day!

      Delete