Adopted? My Story Of Reconnecting With My Natural Family
Mom, Paul, Me & Celia At Our First Thanksgiving Dinner Together
I Was Privileged To Be Adopted!
I guess you could call me an adoption success story... I was adopted as a 6-week-old infant and I had a very happy life with my adoptive parents.
My parents told me I was adopted when I was about four years old, so it never seemed strange to me. But as far back as I can recall, the curiosity about my natural family nagged at me.
I did meet my natural brother, Scott as a kid. We lived in the same very small town but we were always kept in separate schools so we wouldn't run into each other. Well, Scott had a bicycle and somebody told him where I lived... so he came by to visit! My adopted dad was furious! He never wanted me to have any contact with anyone from my natural family. I suppose lots of adoptive parents feel that way, perhaps from fear? Whatever the reason, Scott was forbidden to come back and we didn't run into each other again until we were in high school. We just kind of always knew one another existed, and that we looked a lot alike, our birthdays were one year and one day apart, and that was that. When we were both in our 20's and had families, we did visit one another a couple of times and we had a great time getting to know each other and our children. Tragically, Scott died in a car accident in 1997. I still miss him.
The meeting with my natural mother, Norma, was far more dramatic, and it happened when I was 10 years old. That was the year we had our first real Christmas tree, and I always smell pine when I think of that meeting. We were getting the tree ready to decorate when the doorbell rang. On the other side were two very pretty women with a little girl about 5 years old dressed up in a beautiful red and white dress. It was very obviously upsetting to my parents, but they invited them all inside. I can still see my mom sitting on my piano bench across the room in her beautiful black dress. I can't remember the details of the conversation, but I do remember taking the little girl to my room to show her my dollies. She was a nice little kid.
They didn't stay long. There was a brief conversation where I was officially introduced to my natural mom. Seeing how upset my mom and dad were, I think I told her I never wanted to see her again for their benefit. It would be about 25 years before I saw Norma again.
Things Aren't Always What They Seem.
When my sister and I would talk about Mom, there was always this huge disconnect. She couldn't reconcile the wonderful Mom she grew up with to the mom from the horror stories of my adoption. Well, as I grew to know Mom, I was experiencing the same disconnect! This wonderful, sweet woman did not seem like someone who could have done such awful things to a baby.
During the good years shared with my natural mom Norma as mom and daughter, we enjoyed hundreds of great conversations. But I'll never forget the night she wanted to talk about giving me up. She started crying, and said she wanted to explain what happened. I told her that no matter what she told me, I loved her and nothing could change that. She told me everything, including the story of how Pete had forced her to ride in a boxcar on a train, 9 months pregnant with me, all the way from Arkansas to Kansas City. I cannot imagine what she went through.
The story I had always been told as a child about how my arm got broken had always painted Norma as abusive, that she had yanked me up out of my crib to shut up my endless crying from colic. Well, as it turns out, husband Pete was trying to grab me to shut me up, intending to hurt me. Norma grabbed desperately at me to get me away from him to save me.
I think Mom needed me to forgive her for giving me up, and I made certain she knew there was nothing to forgive. She had done the best thing she could to save my life at the time. I needed Mom to forgive me for being so hesitant to get to know her. Something about this talk made Mom and I a lot closer. After that night, she was just my Mom.
Photo: Mom with my sister's beloved Maty Dog, in 1994 when I re-met her.
Should Adopted Children Contact Their Natural Relatives?
Nobody Looks Like Me...
One of the fascinating things about meeting my natural mother, sister and brothers was finally seeing myself in other people! It was an indescribable feeling of connection.
Searching For Natural Relatives?
- How to Find an Adopted Relative | eHow.com
How to Find an Adopted Relative. The process for locating adopted relatives will vary based on where the adoption took place. While open-adoption states allow adoptees and birth parents to access adoption records at their will, some states require th
- Adoption Search - How to Find Your Birth Parent or Child
Start the search for your birth family with these step-by-step suggestions for locating birth parents, children, and other adoptees. Includes tips for researching adoptees in your family tree.
- Find My Family Adoption Reunion Registry
Find My Family Adoption Reunion registry is a place for adoptee and birth family members to find each other and reunite.
The Story Of How I Ended Up Being Adopted
Weird, But True!
Stay with me...this gets a bit confusing! My aunt Norma would have been my aunt Norma whether I had been adopted or not!
My adopted mom Izzy had a sister, Norma.Norma was married to Jesse, who had a brother Pete, who was my natural father. Pete was married to my natural mom, Norma.
So Pete, a Vietnam vet, never landed quite right after returning home, turning into a drifter and not-quite-law abiding citizen at times. He married Norma and they had two children, my brother Scott and me. Mom already had an older son, Paul, from her previous marriage. At the time my mom gave birth to me, she was stuck in an apartment with three little kids, no job, no money, and husband Pete was in jail. Back then, there weren't the kind of assistance services there are nowadays. She was desperate. She entrusted the care of all of us to a relative while she tried to find work.
That arrangement wasn't working out so well. Husband Pete had returned and fights ensued. In one particularly bad one, Pete tried to grab me, a 6 week old baby, intending harm. Mom Norma grabbed me away from him, resulting in my arm being broken. The relatives weren't feeding me properly or otherwise caring for me, and I was about to lose my young life.
My aunt Norma found out about the situation, and she told my adopted mom Izzy what was happening. Well, Izzy and Harold wanted to have a child but couldn't. Norma brought Izzy over to the house where I was, and the relatives simply handed me to her saying, "Here, take the little heifer." I'll never forget my mom Izzy telling me that story. The doctor, after setting my broken arm, told my mom and dad that I had a far better chance of surviving if they kept me at home rather than being in the hospital. So that's what they did. It was a long process of getting my stomach to accept any kind of food, as I had been fed things like the water used to boil potatoes. I was, in short, a mess.
But survive I did. Getting the adoption papers signed was a bit tricky, as daddy Pete was trying to extort money from Harold in exchange for his consent. He was back in jail, this time for setting his car on fire and trying to collect the insurance. They must have worked something out, because the adoption did finally go through. Thus began the next chapter in my life, a much happier one.
In an adopted child, there is an empty space that only recognition of a familiar face can fill.
Finding Norma Again...
It wasn't easy!
After I had my own children, my curiosity about my natural mom kicked into high gear. I had questions about my medical history in addition to a whole lot of plain curiosity.
In the state where I lived, adoption records were sealed. No help there. I finally found one clue from my original birth certificate, which listed the hospital where I was born. I was able to find bits and pieces of information from the hospital record. I learned that I weighed the exact amount my daughter did, and that my mother had pre-eclampsia, same as I'd had with my son. One fact that totally fascinated me was learning my real birth name! I had always been told as a child that it was "Marion." Well, as it turned out, it was actually "Marianne." I had named my daughter "Carianne." Both being rather odd spellings, I found that totally intriguing!
One day my mom Izzy, who lived with us, came upstairs holding a newspaper obituary. "You should be able to find her from this," she said. The obituary listed my natural mom Norma as a surviving relative. Within 5 minutes, after one call to 411, I was speaking to my natural mother on the phone! The bombshell news I learned in this call was that my younger sister, Celia (the little girl in the pretty red dress from the visit when I was 10) lived just a 15 minute drive from my house, and had been there for many years! I learned that I also had a nephew, Sean, who was the same age as my Carianne. WOW. Mom and I exchanged contact info and she was very glad to hear from me. And thus began yet another chapter in my life. It was one of the best gifts my mom Izzy had ever given me. She understood how much I needed to know about my "other family," and by this point of my life didn't feel threatened by it. Thank God. Here is a photo of my mom Izzy and me, taken in 1988.
I Was Lucky To Have Two Moms!
What Do You Say?
What's Your Perspective On Adoption?
The first time I spent Thanksgiving at my sister's house with Mom and my brother there, it felt like I had finally arrived home. It was an unforgettable and always to be treasured memory.
My Brother Scott
Mom Norma's First Visit To My House
It took me a couple of years to get up the courage to meet my mom Norma in person. We had talked on the phone and written many letters, but seeing her in person changed my life forever for the better.
Favorite Pic Of Mom Norma
Lunch With My Mom Norma
For Adopted Kids Only...
On Contacting Your Natural Relatives...
My Sister, One Of Life's Greatest Gifts!
I simply adore Celia. The minute we met, we were like peanut butter and jelly.
My Beautiful Sister, Celia
My Big Brother, Paul
Paul cracks me up every time I see him! He's such a sweet, funny guy and I love him.
Both of my moms are in heaven now, and I miss them so much. I was privileged to have both of them in my life.
My adopted mom grew to understand that my need to connect with my biological mom had nothing to do with my feelings for her. It was simply a need she could not fill.