- Family and Parenting
Adoption - Life As An Adopted Child & How I Found My Birth Mother
I Am Adopted
Real stories about adoption, and finding your birth mother. On this page I will give you information on adoption and tell you about my personal adoption story, my life as an adopted child. I shall not only talk of the emotions of being adopted, but also how I found my birth mother, and the emotional and psychological impact of being in a closed adoption. I have read many adoption stories, that have helped me come to terms with being an adopted child.
My soon to be adopted mum and dad were considering adopting a child. They had already adopted a baby boy, and wanted a little girl to complete their family. Even in the 1970s' there were many children up for adoption, stemming from the social stigma of being a single mother in this period of time , and with many children waiting for adoption, it did not take long for me to be part of a new loving family.
Image Credit: Available to Buy Mother Saying Goodbye to Baby
A Personal Adoption Story - Adopting a child
Finding out you are "adopted" is only the start of the emotional roller coaster ahead. Nothing can prepare you for what is in store.
Over the years I have come across many adoption stories, some are happy, some are sad. It was by sheer luck my story unfolded the way it has.
When I was younger I was aware of being adopted and never really thought much about it. It wasn't until I reached my teens and the rebellion stage, that I really started to question where I was from, who did I get my personality from, my features, all the unknowing started to burn inside.
I rebelled against my adoptive parents too.
I had two brothers, one younger and one older who was also adopted. We had both been adopted at birth, in the 1970s.
I had a different view than brother, I was curious whereas he wanted nothing to do with it, preferring to blank it out and be happy with that. He could not understand why I wanted to find out about my natural parents.So we never spoke about it.
What is Adoption
adopting a child
Adoption is a process whereby a person assumes the parenting for another who is not kin and, in so doing, permanently transfers all rights and responsibilities from the original parent or parents
As a single mother (as at the time of my daughters birth) I cannot comprehend how someone would be able to give up their child for adoption.
But in the 1970s it was still a really taboo subject.
And I have an understanding that life was not as we know it now, so I hold no resentment or anger towards my natural birth mother.
An unplanned pregnancy from a relationship that did not work out.
Split at The Root - What a fantastic Title for a Book about Adoption
A reader told me I should read this book, about a child adopted into a mixed race family. Highlighting issues from the perspective of the adopted child. The authors spends most of her life, searching for her birth parents, struggling to find answers, and how this affects her family. I do not want to write too much about it, as the story is amazing, This book should have won an award.
Searching for Answers, this is an honest, compelling memoir of an adopted child.
Finding out you are adopted - and what to do
After leaving home at an early age, I found myself living in town in my own flat, and working. It was around this time that I wanted to go on holiday, so I asked my natural mother for my birth certificate. She hummed and hawed, and I just put it down to the fact we had recently lost my father and it was a touchy subject for her at this time.
But I needed my passport, so eventually I just applied for my birth Certificate at the Registrar office. Because it was an adoption it would take longer.
A few weeks went by and a brown envelope popped through the letter box. Upon opening, I looked at the information and assumed that they had posted me the wrong form, as these details were not mine?
I took the form to our local Office, and told them they had sent me the wrong form, I was informed that this was indeed MY birth Certificate, however what I should have asked for was my ADOPTION certificate. Silly me I did not know? I had 2 certificates at birth, both which I needed for my marriage ceremony.
So as I waited for the correct one to arrive, I was left staring at a piece of yellowed paper, with a name on it (which was not mine) and a woman named as my mother, there was an address.
If you remember the 192 directory, well I had a name and an address, but it was over 17 years before?
How I found my birth Mother
The phone call
I was amazed to find that there WAS indeed an address, and number and more importantly the name was still the same.
I phoned the number, now this all might sound pretty casual, it was a bit of a blur at this time, not really remembering any emotions that came along. The phone was answered and I asked to speak with the ladies name on the certificate. The woman who answered, said indeed she knew who it was however no longer stayed there. I will never forget what she asked me next "Has she won a prize dear?" Well what could I reply to that, so I just said yes. the woman said she would go and fetch her and get her to phone me back.
I waited and less than 10 minutes later she phoned, She said my name and I asked her "Do you know who this is?" and she simply replied "Yes".
So within 10 minutes I had found my natural mother. Talked to her on the phone and now I was arranging to meet her.
Later in the evening, having time to reflect on this strange day of events that unfolded in front of me, I pieced together that the first woman I had spoken to was in fact MY GRANDMOTHER.
We had arranged to meet the very next day, and as I sat on the train, I never thought about consequences, or the impact this meeting could have on my whole life, I just knew I wanted to know.
To know who I looked like, where did I get my love of sewing from, my personality traits, one being very headstrong.
Meeting my natural birth Mother for the first time
A Mirror Image
As I approached the meeting place, I spotted her immediately, she had her back to me but I just knew it was her. When I tapped her on the shoulder as she turned it was so surreal. It was like looking in a mirror.
Blonde hair, blue eyes, high cheekbones, even down to the raised mole on our left cheek. Unbelievable. I think we stood there both in the same shock, about the only difference is our height, she is about 5ft 2 inches and I am 5ft 8 inches.
After the initial hugs, tears and ramblings, we decided to go for a coffee, where we could really chat.
I found out that my grandfather was a man of the cloth, and to have had a daughter who was unmarried and pregnant was just too much for him, so my grandmother and he packed my mother off to an Aunties. I listened as the man responsible handed Â£400, to help assist with "getting rid" of me.
He had turned out to be married with his own family. (I have never had any inclination to find this man)
There were not many choices available in the 1970s and it seems that the only options available was adoption or abortion, and even that was taboo.
As my natural mother relived this part of her life that obviously was so traumatising for her, she kept apologising. I could understand how hard it must have been, having the child you have carried for 9 months taken immediately from you, she was only allowed one quick look, and the papers were signed. Deal done.
I told her I was adopted at 6 weeks old and about my adoptive parents (well some of it...I can add this in later, I wanted to comfort this woman and say I had been placed in a loving home)
I found out she was married now and that I had two half brothers. But they did not know anything about me.
It was at this stage that reality kicked in, I had my mum to think about, she had just been diagnosed with Breast Cancer, suffered the loss of my Dad, I just could not tell her or my two brothers just now.
So I told my natural mother, I understood she had her life, I had mine and I was in no way here to rock the applecart, understanding if she preferred that after this meeting, that was that.
We'll meet again..
Not letting go this time
Through the tears, she said she had let me go once she could not let it happen again, even if it meant her "other family".
Oh my goodness this is NOT what I expected, this woman was willing to stake her whole existence on ME, and the uncertain future we could or could not have.
What if it didn't work out, what if her husband left her...what if, I don't think even I knew what other ifs' we should have thought about, I just knew that our lives as we knew it were about to change.
I already knew about my grandmother, I also had an Uncle who knew nothing about me.
i explained about my adoptive mum and how I did not want to tell her just now as it would have been too much for her at this time. And felt as though I was being disloyal to my own family.
We agreed that for the moment it probably was the best idea, and we left each other at the train station with the promise of Jean, phoning me when she had told her husband.
Questioning who I was and everything I knew
and what if they don't like me...
I sat on the train home, stunned at the events that had taken part that day, excitement that I had another family, but dread filled me too. I continued my life day in and day out waiting for another phone call from Jean, when that call came, she told me she had told her husband Jim, and her two sons.
Her sons were excited to find out they had a big sister, but her husband had taken it harshly, and had had to leave for a few days to work it out in his own head. And now he had returned and wanted to stay with his wife and family and meet me, perhaps this was the daughter he had always wanted.
The introductions went well and I was embraced by them all, this was a strange time for me, as here were 2 young boys 10 and 12 who were excited at having a sister, here was me at 17 by now, and having to deal not only with 2 younger brothers but also my "other" brothers, who I still met and spent time with too.
So here I had a secret family, I remember going to a family barbecue of Jim and Sheena's, Nephew and it was there as you could say the skeleton really came out of the closet.
This was awful, as I felt like a little island, and all these people who were relations just staring at me. I don't know how I managed to get through that night. Don't get me wrong nobody was horrible to me, very welcoming, but you know that way, the raised eyebrows, the hushed voice with a head nodded in your direction. All eyes on you. But I held myself together, was very polite, and thought . I had nothing to hide, or be ashamed of.
With all life brings...Just
Over the coming years the visits were sporadic, I was pulled between two families.
When I was Twenty-one I ended up in intensive care, with blood poisoning, and my birth mother mother new nothing about it, although I had 24 hour vigilance from my adopted mum, there was no family medical history to give the Doctors.
At this time I met my daughters father, and I remember being asked to my little brothers 18th birthday party, once again it was all eyes on the "daughter no-one knew about," whispers, pointing fingers close friends in shock and disbelief.
However a really weird thing happened at this party, my brothers Jim and Sheena got on the stage and got ready to cut the cake. I was at the back of the hall sitting on a seat, whether conscious or not keeping out of the way of the staring eyes, but I always remember this as I was sitting next to my Grandmother, who never really spoke with me, There is a picture taken at this time.
Myself my birth mother and my grandmother, the three of us, it is in fact the only photos I have.
I was 26 by then, my 18 year old brothers girlfriend was pregnant.
I always believed that my Grandmother never really wanted me back on the scene, and I should have stayed away, she was always very cold towards me, and I just think that was the generation she was from, and nothing to do with me personally, she was polite and pleasant. And I never expected more.
After that party I never saw much of them, and I don't know whether that was just coincidence or meant, I had a very demanding but successful Career, my mum's Cancer returned with fury and we cared for her 24 hours a day. Bringing her home in her last few months.
I had split up with my partner, daughters father, and was a single mum.
This time of my life I have spoken about on another Article on Domestic Abuse
When you do find your birth mother
Before my adopted mum had got too ill with Cancer, I had to tell her, she was happy for me and it had worked out, and said she always new this day would come. Due to her illness, she never got to meet Jean. I wish she had.
My brothers had different reactions my younger brother Mark, said "That's cool." (He was my adoptive parents Natural born son) However my elder brother Gavin, threw a spanner in the works, and demanded I never see them again, how could I have done this to our mum?
Eh....I was the adopted one, I had the right to find out about my beginnings in life, and he was adopted so surely he would understand, no this was not to be.
I could not understand how Gavin did not want to find out like I did. So this caused a rift, myself and Gavin were always close, and he had always looked out for me, especially after my dad had died he took on my fathers role, and I just guessed he was put out.
Keeping every one Happy
Is one hard Job
I wanted Gavin and Mark to understand that, yes I have found my natural mum, and she has a family and I have another 2 half brothers. But THEY were still my family, who I grew up with, who I had memories with as a child. Gavin still wouldn't get it, choosing to ignore it.
I didn't want one big family, I just wanted acceptance of who I was and my situation.
By this time my 1/2 brother Stuart was settled down with his girlfriend and had, had a baby. And I too had fallen pregnant at this time to my partner.
My daughter was 1 when mum passed away, it was an awful time for us, Mark especially as he was the "baby" of the family, however. the rift between Mark and Gavin grew, with me in the middle.
My other family moved to another area and I went to visit them, more frequently. My brother Stuart had his own flat by then, and I had worked out enough that he resented the fact I was there at all. It became an unsaid understanding.
I respected that it must have been hard being told as a wee boy you had a big sister, but that big sister couldn't carry out her duties as a sister because she lived with another family. and he had always been the oldest until this person was dumped on their lives, not by my choice or his. Don't get me wrong he was never horrible to me, it was the same feeling I had got from my grandmother. Distant.
I have always had a closer bond to my younger brother, he is laid back and nothing bothers him, when I used to visit we all would go out to the pubs and have a great laugh. Over the years have now built up a great relationship, but that has taken time and effort on both sides.
My brother Gavin has only ever met Jean once, and Mark visited one time the family were down for my daughters birthday.
As the years passed, my Gran passed away too leaving my Uncle who still lived with her, He is deaf.
My Uncle was at first hurt and angry that he had a Niece and never new about me, it had been kept a Secret from him too. But my uncle is wonderful and I love him very much, he has accepted me for me and that's all I can ask. He can sit and tell me about his old time stories and I sit and listen as if i am still a small child.
Everything is still going great, Papa, my stepfather as at this time, (now referred to as Papa, more as a term of endearment by myself). Had 4 granddaughters, Stuart 2 Andrew 1 and my own daughter, so he loved having his "Girls" around him. I had met my now husband and we had got married.
I still had regular visits from Gavin, and Mark had started his own family at this point. Great. i was content and this was probably as good as it was going to get.
The summers and holidays were full of fun, mostly the grandchildren demanding to stay with Nana and Papa. It was so great to see, and they were all the best of friends.
We had decided last summer to spend at least 3 weeks of the holidays with Nana and Papa, on the last weekend, I took Rebecca and one of her friends to visit, staying over. We all went out to a local fair, but Papa was not feeling well.
He had visited the Doctors that week and been told he had pulled a muscles in his shoulder/arm. He certainly did not look well.
My daughter and I returned home, and the next morning sent my Daughter into school for her new term, I picked up the phone around lunch time and was told my Papa had been rushed to Hospital, so I arranged for my daughter to be picked up and I headed to the hospital.
A Special poem for my adopted mum
..... Looking Back, Mom Until I became much older, Mom, There was just no way I could know, The sacrifices you must have made, As you watched your children grow. I didn't consider how tired you were, At the end of every long day, Or appreciate the meals you cooked, I was clueless, I guess you could say. I never thought of the time you spent, Tending to all of our needs, Putting us first each step of the way, And that's how your life story reads. Now, without question, I understand, A phrase that still rings in my ear, "There's a special place in heaven for Moms," Looking back...makes it all the more clear!
Another death in my family...
I remember that drive, so vividly. As i neared halfway, to the hospital, I was crossing a large bridge, the sun had just broken through the rain shower, with the colours of a rainbow developing, I did not feel too good, I had to pull in to the side of the road, and take a few moments to gather myself, it was as though something was waving over me, and I actually felt as though I could have passed out, and felt very sick. I took my time the rest of the way, and never thought it unusual I could not get anyone on their phone, as they were probably in the hospital.
On my arrival I was taken straight through to a small room, having experienced something similar twice before, I knew what was coming, but not wanting to think like that, I burst into the room trying to smile, but as I looked at Nana's' face and could tell we had lost Papa.
He had collapsed in the bathroom that morning, and received medical attention at home, being transferred to the hospital as they tried to revive his Heart. He died on the way.
Life went into a bit of slow motion, but I realised I would be looked upon to carry out the arrangements, which I did. I had done it twice before so please excuse the blunt approach.
But I also had to be considerate to my 2 brothers feelings and wishes, the eldest taking himself off to grieve in his own way, the younger helping me with the arrangements, I felt it important to inform them both of the procedures and happenings.
I accompanied them to the hospital, so as Papas' body could be released, I facilitated the arrangements for the death certificate, but mostly allowing them to be a part of it, if they wished.
On the day of the funeral, while Nana, myself and Andrew went in the car with Stuarts girlfriend, Stuart took Papas' girls to the funeral in his car.
Everybody was so kind, the children were so good, and they even let 4 bright pink balloons go in the garden, so they could float up to the sky with their Papa. Just as we did that oddly enough, a rainbow appeared in the distance and god bless the youngest who said " If you hold your head upside down, that's' Papa smiling". so we all smiled.
I had decided to go home that evening Nana had a lot of people around her, and I could get home as I had not been at home for nearly 3 weeks by now.
My adopted brothers (gavin and Mark) knew what had happened, and were worried I was okay.
And I was okay, I was more worried about Nana and the boys.
As my husband and I went to bed we phoned to make sure everybody was okay. I went to sleep and slept the best night of sleep ever, reflecting on the lovely send off we had given Papa. Until I was woken by the phone ringing, and ringing...sleepily my husband went to answer, and I had followed him down the stairs, I had a gut feeling something had happened.
What I was about to hear next, was Not what I was expecting. I was thinking maybe one of the boys had went out and got into a fight...
My brother Stuart had died in the night with a fatal Asthma attack. Not even having time to collect my thoughts i jumped in the car, I had not even unpacked it, and headed up the road again, taking my daughter with me.
On arrival everyone was in stunned silence. I stood trying to take in this information, I could not even go to speak with Nana, who had, had to be sedated by the doctor.
Again I took charge, sending people to bed, who had not had a sleep, trying to scrape together what had happened.
I had only just received a text from him, that he sent at 11pm to say thanks for everything and we would see him at the weekend?
Stuart has had Chronic Asthma all his life, once he was in hospital critically ill, but pulled through. So we were all a bit used to his sporadic asthma attacks, however that night his girlfriend had woken to find him on the floor struggling to breathe, and had first aid, shoufollowed the automatic drill, but Sturat was not responding, eventually, realising this was a serious attack and calling for an ambulance The ambulance, first response unit and police had arrived (unbelievably the SAME crew who were on duty who attended the very same house when Papa had collapsed.) I still do not know who was in more shock, them or us. i remember going outside to find a young constable sitting crying.
They tried in vain and even with the difibulator, as they had with Papa, but to no avail. Stuart died, reason given fatal heartattack, brought on by his asthma.
Nobody knew what to Say
It was awful, they had lived in a small village, for a long time and a part of the city where they had many friends, I don't know how I got through that time, Again myself and Andrew went to arrange another family funeral, when you met people they did not know where to look and what to say.
I received a Phone call at this time from my little brother Mark, concerned as someone had phoned him to say that they had heard that one of my brothers had died, and was it Gavin. That was funny because it struck me then that actually I did have, and lead two lives.
I never bothered to broadcast it around the place I was from, my close friend new but that was it.
So I told him the story. He said he would deal with it down in our hometown, I was grateful of that.
It wasn't my Choice
The funeral was held in town and was jam packed, I remember sitting at the front with Nana, the Girls and Andrew, again that feeling of whispers "Who's that" pointing, nodding etc. It just did not bother me. I was secure in the knowledge I was an accepted member of this family.
I was okay up until we lined up at the door to shake everyones hands, I stood at the end, not by choice by default of getting the kids organised etc. When people came out they shook everyones had, but it was obvious the ones that did not know who I was and walked on by me, I accepted it the first few times, but then I found it too difficult in the end, walking off through the graveyard for some peace and quiet of my own. I had never felt so "alone" before. Not knowing where I belonged
I think that is the ONLY time I have ever felt a resentment about being adopted. and it was something I had no control over.
We went to the place where we were having our tea and people were introduced and again it just built up inside, my god there has been this double tradgedy in our family and all they can gossip about is me, there were great aunts and uncles there who STILL did no know about me, so I hid away in a corner with the kids. I just thought it better to, and I could be with my own thoughts not thinking what people were saying about me.
There was a speech at the end of the gathering, everyone but myself was mentioned, that hurt too, myself and Stuart were not close, through no fault of our own, but he still came to me if he needed help and he was after all still my brother.
I found out a lot about families this day.
The best one is the uncles who have just lost a brother and a nephew, say "If the family need anything you know just to ask". It did not take me long to work out there is no help if you need it. And they soon disappear.
Where are we now...
Making new Memories
Well we have slowly started to put our lives on track, and we have got back to a little bit of normality.
For me, I have decided NOT to live the two separate lives anymore, but will freely discuss things I have done with them. I don't see why I should be the one to suffer, or keep everyone happy all the time, I can tell it causes resentment.
I took my mother-in-law (who rocks') to London for a holiday, and went to stay with Gavin for a few days, I sent postcards to Nana, and uncle Tommy, from us. I think nana was a bit put out I never took her.
But I cannot keep trying to please everyone and then I end up the unhappy one.
We have in front of us our futures' and now its time to make our own memories, and not dwell in the past, accept each other for who or what they are.
I phone Nana every day, and visit as often as I can, health depending on my part, My daughter goes to stay with her Nana on her own and I am glad as it is a little piece of me.
Losing another member of my family
You must understand that whilst accepting you are adopted and finding your adoptive parents, you will always come to situations in your life where you are emotionally challenged, its not as clear cut as "This is your mum" and this is "Your Adoptive Family"
Last year I sat in the Hospitals Intensive Care Unit, beside my adopted big brothers bedside for 49 days willing him to pull through from a nasty chest infection. Eventually the pneumonia beat him. and I lost him.
I was angry, angry that once again I had to go through this. Why was I losing everyone around me.
Was it because I was adopted?
It certainly felt as though someone was punishing me somewhere. The loss of 5 of my family members has been devastating, in every sense.
But losing my big brother has affected me the most, losing him was so traumatic. Because we did have the strongest bond, we were both adopted, and although never spoke about it, as he was so anti-adoption, he hated it. But whilst going through his affairs I found evidence he had tracked down his birth other, as to whether he made contact. I have never found it out. Was he rejected y his Birth mother? And was this why he was so bitter about me finding my birth mother? I will never know.
But I do know that my big brother was resentful of the woman who gave him up.
I am not a psychologist however I do believe there was deep rooted psychological issues in regards to how he viewed the woman in his life.
He was very jealous of any relationship I had and believed me to run off and desert him. His behaviour, erratic at times, and I was always there to pick up the pieces.
I had to always assure him he was my brother, my family the one I grew up with, who got into trouble with and would always be my brother, nothing would replace that "bond" whether or not it was by nature or by nurture.
He was my brother.
I do believe, after everything I have been through, witnessed, loved and lost no matter what nurture not nature is definitely the strongest.
And as a mother who gives up their child for adoption you must be realistic to that fact.
Open or Closed adoption
I had a closed adoption
"Closed adoptions began in the late 19th century and remained popular until the early 1980s. They protected biological mothers and adoptive parents from the social stigma that surrounded adoption at the time. Biological mothers who pursued adoption were often viewed as social outcasts by society. Many adoptive parents were also seen as outcasts due to their inability to bear their own children. This led to the popularity of closed adoptions, which protected the identities of both biological and adoptive parents."Resource Wikipedia
From personal experience I think an Open adoption, where although the parental rights of the birth mother are terminated, the parents know who each other are, although no guarantee is given for contact to continue, between the child and its birth parents after the adoption.
from the child perspective is the way it should be. Allowing the child to identify with its natural mother, and grow up with a secure knowledge that the decision was made for the benefit of them.
As for closed adoption, I believe too many people are hurt in the process.
At one time two people came together and made a child, that child did not ask to be made, it happened. In all due respect if you have decided on Adoption, then surely you would want information on how your child is doing.
I love it when readers give feedback, and perhaps I can add comments and suggestions to my next articles.