Archive for the 'Family' Category

Painful truths.

The first painful truth I learned about my adoption is that my mother is dead. I did not realize it would be the first in a sequence of painful truths.

Here is a painful truth: My mother gave me up to save a marriage that failed a few years later.

Here is a painful truth: My mother’s life was hard. There were only a few years where she didn’t live paycheck to paycheck, and those years were a long time ago.

Here is a painful truth: My mother had kids that she kept and raised as a single mom. We enjoyed a brief period of correspondence until a couple of weeks before the reunion when they suddenly disappeared, stopped responding, and ultimately never showed up to meet me. I guess I was a painful truth to them as well, a truth they decided to ignore. I hope that changes, but it’s not as big a disappointment as I thought it would be. They came after, and I’m not quite as interested in who or what came after. With one exception, but I’m not blogging about that right now. Later. Secrets and lies, it’s what we’re used to, isn’t it?

Here is a painful truth: The circumstances specific to my adoption put me about a thousand miles from my natural family. We are in the same country but from very different cultures. The life I would have had, had I grown up with them, would have been very different. I don’t know if I would have been very different, but if not I would have had a very hard time.

Here is a painful truth: I can’t honestly say my life was made better or worse because of adoption. If I could say that it was made better, then I could feel good about the choices everyone made. If I could say that it was made worse, then I could feel some justified outrage about my adoption. But while some things are clearly better, and other things are clearly worse, it’s really not possible to evaluate a set of “might have beens” in any meaningful way. I really don’t know what I might have made of my circumstances, or how happy I might have been having known nothing else. This is a painful truth because it positions me as a bewildered object acted upon by unseen and unaccountable forces.

I’m tired of being adopted. I’m tired of evaluating my current life in terms of how things might have turned out otherwise. I’m tired of evaluating my natural family in terms of how the life I might have had with them would compare to the life I have now. And I’m tired of having to just accept what I have since I can’t change it anyway, when doing so lets the people who made all the decisions completely off the hook.

Of course, I really don’t know what the point of keeping them on the hook would be. It’s done, and the key decision maker is keeping her silence on the matter.

Here is a painful truth: I went to my mother’s grave, not really knowing what I would feel but thinking I would feel something. I felt the heat of the setting sun on my face, and the hard, dry dirt under my feet, and the sparse blades of grass brushing my fingers. I felt exposed, I felt like I was on display, I felt like something was expected of me. It was hot, and uncomfortable, and empty.

Graves only say goodbye. Goodbye, again.

Lost and found.

I like my mother’s family, at least those of them I got to meet. They are really nice people. I felt connected to them instantly, too. I am not very much at ease with strangers, even members of my adoptive family who I do not see very often. But although there was some awkwardness here and there, for the most part I felt very much at ease with my mom’s family.

They totally accepted me, too. They told me how much I look like my mother, and it was really good to hear that in person. I was not an adoptee, my mother was not my birthmother. I was a nephew and a cousin. I was a member of the family. It felt good.

I thought this trip would be really emotional for me, that there would be mostly tears and grief, but there wasn’t nearly as much as I’d thought. I don’t know if it’s just that I’m still processing it or what. I think that in some ways it was harder on everyone else. I look so much like her, and they miss her, but I’m not her. That must be hard.

It’s hard for me to write about the specifics of the trip. It’s all so deeply personal I’m just not ready to share it, at least not yet.

I did not feel a closer connection to my mother as a result of this trip. I know a lot more about her, but knowing about someone and knowing someone are two very different things. I do, however, feel a closer connection to my roots. I feel like I have a story, now, of how I came to be, and that really matters quite a lot. I feel connected to the world in ways I never felt before.

My mother remains an enigma. I think she always will be an enigma to me. Imagine if you were completely nocturnal and had never seen the sun, but you knew it existed. Would looking at the sunlight reflected by the moon and the planets give you much of an idea of what it would be like to see the sun rise or set, or know what a bright sunny day feels like?

But at the same time, she is more of a person now, not just a name and a picture. She has a story, and we are parts of each other’s stories. And now I can find bits of her in me. My smile, my face, some of my gestures, and my walk come from her. Little bits and pieces of double helix string that tie us together, unseen but for others who point them out.