My a-parents’ haunted house.

I told my a-parents yesterday. They were very supportive and genuinely cared about what I was going through. Honestly, it felt like the first time in a long time that they really listened to anything I had to say. I didn’t feel like a ghost in their house.

Don’t get me wrong, my a-parents really are decent folks. I don’t always understand them–okay, I rarely understand them–and they don’t really understand me, but I really can’t say how much of that is due to the lack of a genetic connection, the fact that adoptees generally don’t connect well to others, or just the fact that parents (adoptive or natural) don’t always “get” their children and vice versa. I suspect it’s a combination of all three. In any case, they were always truthful about my adoption and gave me every last scrap of information they had when I became an adult. They were genuinely interested in what my natural family is like. As much as I hate the way adoption works, especially the way mine worked, I don’t resent them for it.

That said, interacting with my a-family has always been a little weird and I often felt like they were just dealing with me or handling me rather than actually listening to me. But yesterday they were really listening and they treated me like an actual person to whom they were close, who needed their love and support. I do not think it’s “adoptee gratitude” for me to say that I was glad to have it then.

We visited my a-parents again today to celebrate my dad’s birthday. I felt more comfortable around them than I had in a while. I think one reason I always felt weird with them is that I never really knew where to place myself in the family dynamic, but actually knowing who my natural mom was and having contact with her family seems to help me relate to them better, too. Or, more cynically, maybe they just knew I was going through a lot and refrained from doing all the things that push my buttons. But I usually feel like a ghost before they say anything, and I didn’t feel like that at all today.

I think it’s me. I’m different. I can locate myself in the family space now. I know how I got there. I didn’t just float down out of the ceiling to join the family at dinner.

My a-parents also get coolness points for using “your mother” and “your father” to refer to my natural parents yesterday. One time my mom even said “your real mother” in reference to my n-mom. Wow. When I told my wife about it, she thought I must have found that rather upsetting at first, as if it implied my a-parents were shutting me out. But no, that definitely wasn’t the case. They know they’re “mom and dad” too. I explained to her, it’s like you can say “my aunt” and still have more than one aunt; the others are no less your aunts. And there are plenty of kids at our church (we’re UUs) who have two moms, neither one being less a mom than the other. So she was surprised but I think she understands now, and it amazes me that my parents understand this intuitively.

I wish I could have told my real mom how respectful they were of our bond. That they respected her, and that they knew they were raising a boy that somebody else loved, too.

I’ve been starting to feel sad again. I still haven’t written my aunt. I’d like to put a letter and a few pictures in the mail early tomorrow morning.


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