- Family and Parenting
Tribute to my Adoptive Parents
I found out I was adopted when I was 41, 7 months after my adoptive father passed away (my adoptive mother passed away when I was 23). When I was sorting through his stuff, I found my adoption papers buried among old documents in a cardboard box that was under the desk in his study.
The moment I read the papers, it was as if I found the missing piece of my life's puzzle. I'd realized I was part of a Soul Family, a band of kindred spirits.
My adoption papers include the names of my birth mother and (to my surprise) birth father. Because they have different last names, I assume they were not married. It looks like this was a private adoption, no organization or third party was involved. That's all I know about my humble beginnings.
My adoptive parents were 42 years old when I entered their lives. They were both previously married. Mom was a widow and Dad was divorced when they met. People often thought they were my grandparents. When we explain that I'm their daughter, they'd look at us in disbelief.
I have a sister 19 years older than me, we've never lived together. She was adopted by my mother and late husband. Her family history was not kept a secret. She was 2 years old when her birth mother passed away, her father remarried shortly after that. Although her father and relatives did not want to raise her, she kept in close contact with her siblings. Because we didn't grow up together and the age difference, we're not close but we do keep in touch with each other, more so after my Dad passed away. Being adopted is what we have in common though the fact that I was adopted never came up.
Stumbling across my adoption papers was a pleasant surprise but not a total shock. When I look back in hindsight, a few weird moments finally made sense.
When I was about 8 years old, one morning out of the blue a boy in my class turned around in his seat and said to me, "You are adopted." I didn't know how to react, so I said nothing to him. When I saw my Mom at home that night I told her what he said. She immediately dismissed the thought, "No, no, no. You're not adopted. Your sister is adopted. He means your sister is adopted."
The boy's family are close friends of my family, he may have overheard his family talking about me. My Mom must've lectured that family and others because no one ever mentioned anything about adoption to me from that point on.
There were occasional heated arguments between my father's cousin (Aunt B) and my Mom. I remember the last argument she had with Mom, she repeated the words, "You are a liar." As Aunt B was leaving our house, she said to me, "Your mother is a liar. You should ask her why." When she left, I asked Mom what the arguing was about, she simply replied, "It has nothing to do with you. It's between us."
When I was about 19 years old, I had my first full-time office job. I had so much fun with the ladies there 10 to 15 years older than me. Jokingly I told my parents that they were my office mothers. Mom almost had a meltdown when she heard what I said. I've never seen her so upset. But when my Dad said to her, "She doesn't know" she calmed down. I thought that was strange.
The whispers "She doesn't know" were often in conversations over the years, usually at gatherings. Once I asked my Dad what they meant by it and he'd say, "I don't know".
As you can see, I did sense something was going on whether or not it was about me. I felt out of the loop, I was definitely excluded from some conversations.
Certain memories will stay with me forever.
I remember the most lavish birthday parties as a child. My parents didn't hold back. My Mom had fun planning for months. The house was decorated with fresh floral arrangements and tons of balloons.There were usually 3 different types of cakes, beautifully decorated -- and a dozen hot dishes that took days to prepare.
In his declining years Dad and I had talks over dinner at home. Most of the time I didn't understand the point he struggled to get across, but it seemed very important to him so I'd listened attentively. I felt he wanted my assurance that I felt loved and wanted. At times I felt he was preparing me for something.
My adoptive parents went to great lengths to hide the truth. They were the type of people who wanted to do the right thing, so if they were told to keep this a secret from me they did so with the best intentions. No one discussed any of this with me, but from what I've observed Mom may have been heartbroken that she couldn't bear children of her own especially since she was an only child and her mother died in childbirth. Mom told me that because my adoptive sister did not feel belonged, she got married young, quickly embraced her new family and thereby distanced herself from us. Mom must've felt she messed up there.
So when I came across my adoption papers, my feelings about my life didn't waver. My family doctor explained that it's not necessary to find my birth parents for medical history purposes, tests would be enough to determine any health issues. I therefore had no need to seek out my birth parents. What would be the point of dredging up the past anyway.
I don't have emotional scars to deal with. I just wonder if my birth mother or my birth father got married and had other kids. I have wondered what they look like, where they might be living now, and if they've ever thought about me. It'd be neat to know that I have a relative out there somewhere who looks like me, or have personality traits like me. These are only things that would satisfy my curiosity, not important to make a difference.
I'd like to believe that my late parents' spirit live on and they can still communicate with me. It'd be nice for them to know that now that I am older and wiser and I understand the world a little better, I'm beginning to see things the way they did. I couldn't ask for better parents, our personalities are perfectly matched as if it was meant to be.
To be showered with such enduring care is a wonderful experience. I feel exceptionally blessed. I hope you've been able to get a sense of what this feels like from this hub.