This has nothing to do with Panama, bugs, new experiences, or the usual subjects of this blog. It’s a very personal thing, and since this is my blog and I feel like writing about it, here I am. I won’t be offended in the least if any of you just click on by. The next post will be more about the teak harvesting going on in my neighborhood, so stand by.
I happened across this article today – “Please don’t tell me I was lucky to be adopted“. The writer is talking about some of the difficulties of being an adoptee. One line really struck home – “Can you imagine being the only person in the world you know you’re related to?” Yes, I can. That was my reality for many years of my life. I felt like I had been dropped on this earth by aliens with no connection to anyone in it.
I am one of the lucky ones. I found my birth mother when I was 27 and we have shared a very warm and happy relationship ever since. We are now connected on Facebook and it is possible that she will see this post. The last thing I want to do is make her feel any guilt or responsibility because she deserves none of that. I was born in 1952, and in those times unmarried teen mothers were treated very differently. The decision to relinquish me was made for her, not by her and I think she suffered a lot because of that. She feared I would hate her for giving me up but that thought never crossed my mind. I have thanked her every day for the genes she gave me which I believe have kept me mentally and physically strong throughout my life.
But yes, it is a different experience being adopted. Except for my younger sister, I didn’t know any other adopted children. I had no answers to questions about my nationality. My sister and I look very different which caused many comments at school. I felt no connection with the parents who raised me. That mother was a very unhappy women who subjected us to emotional and physical abuse. I didn’t see much of my father who was also emotionally abused by my mother. It was a difficult and lonely time, and I was comforted by the fact that I shared no genes with those people.
Of course every adoptee has their own unique experience. Some, like me, are driven to find their birth parents. Others seem to have no need to connect with their origins. Some seem fine with the situation, where others feel like a piece of themselves is missing. I imagine it can be even more difficult when you are racially different from the parents who raise you.
For me, it all worked out well. I have been increasingly happy over the years. I have a good relationship with my birth mother. I have even met my birth father and though we don’t keep in touch, our couple meetings went very well. My children have also been able to meet both of my birth parents. They don’t seem to suffer from the voids on my side of the family history, and I think this was helpful. I went to counseling which helped me put my childhood in perspective, and reassured me that I could be a different kind of parent.
Maybe it was karma, or luck, or the universe knowing I needed this, but my first daughter looks very much like me. It was amazing to look at that little face and meet the first person I’d seen who resembled me. Less than a year after her birth I met my birth mother, and though my other daughter and my grandchildren don’t look like me, it doesn’t matter because I was and am in a different place. There were and are other family who needed to physically see their connections also. I know we are all blood related and for me, that’s more than enough, quite amazing in fact.
I still feel the voids in my family history though. I recently did one of those DNA tests and am awaiting the results. In the US, except for the Native Americans we are all immigrants. What is my heritage?
An aside – a Panamanian neighbor was chatting one evening and I don’t know how we got on the subject of adoption, but he was very amazed that I knew. According to him, that fact is never talked about or revealed to anyone. One day I’ll have to ask around to find out if this is the common way of thinking in this culture. Thankfully my parents were given the good advice to tell me before I heard it from someone else, so I can’t remember not knowing. It would be a heck of a shock to find out later!