Adopted – what does it mean?
I do know that I will ever forget about the moment when I was informed I was adopted. I don’t remember how old I was, somewhere between 8-12 years old I would guess. I do remember the absolute devastation of discovering that parents I knew as my parents were in fact not my birth parents. Now that I am older I wonder why I felt so devastated. Maybe I thought I was being told in preparation to be sent to someone else. I really don’t know why it was such an emotional blow to me.
Part of the internal turmoil I experienced might have had to do with the fact that after I was told, I was also sworn to secrecy. No one must know for whatever reason. I struggled with the idea of having been adopted for much of youth I would have to say. It wasn’t a subject for discussion or questions it just was something I had to learn to accept and understand on my own.
Please don’t think ill of my parents who raised me. This was all new to them too! In their generation (both of them were born in the 1940s) you just didn’t talk about things like this so really I am grateful that I was at least told. There wasn’t an instruction manual available to them on how to go about informing me so they just did what seemed right to the best of their understanding.
My parents who raised me created me in so many ways and giving birth to me wasn’t necessary for this evolution to transpire. They gave me morals, values, ethics, love, joy and wonderful environment for that evolvement.
As I grew older I came to think of being adopted as having been chosen rather than having been gotten rid of.
The circumstances around my adoption involved my birth mother just not being old enough to care for a child. Her boyfriend’s parents had considered adoptiong me from what I am told but that didn’t work out. Years and years later, in the 90s, I was given the information regarding her maiden name and I managed, with the help of a friend in the police department, to locate her under her new married name.
It took me over a year to have the courage and the words to know what to say, to write to her at the address my friend had provided. I did not want her to feel like I wanted something from her or that I was mad at her but it took me over a year know exactly what to say. Finally one day, I just started writing. I wrote here a thank you letter. I thanked her for giving birth to me and to providing for me by way of having put me up for adoption. I told her of the great parents I have and of the life of adventures I had experienced with both growing up in the caribbean island of Grenada and the career the US Navy had helped me launch by training me as an aircraft mechanic.
At the time that I wrote the letter, I was in college. I had taken a leave of absence from Delta Airlines to go back to school and get my degree, I wrote to Dana, my natural mother at the begining of our winter break as I recall. After I wrote that letter, all the stress or baggage I had carried around this topic just really dropped from my thought. Once I sent the letter, there were no more questions, no more wondering. I was done I don’t remember everything I said in the letter but at that point I knew that even if I didn’t ever hear back from her, it would be ok.
About a week after sending the letter I was at friend’s apartment on campus. I had forwarded my phone (we didn’t have cell phones back then) to their apartment. This was nothing like me. I never cared if I got a call or not and certainly voicemail would have worked for most things I could have imagined. For whatever reason though, I had forwarded my phone. You guessed it, she called me that night on this forwarded phone. I was surprised to receive a call from someone and when she introduced herself as Dana I had no idea who she was or even a thought that it would be my natural mother on the other end of the line.
We wound up talking for at least 30 minutes. After a few more conversations it was decided I would go to their place for Christmas. This was a very hard thing to do and to tell my real parents. My parents were living in the Caribbean still and would have loved for me to have been with them over the holidays. This wasn’t feasible since getting to Grenada especially over the holidays was no easy task!
Christmas with Dana and her family was very enjoyable and quite the experience. I met members of my family I never knew I had. I have a half-brother and a half-sister as well as cousins and all sorts of other extended family members. It was really a very memorable and special experience to meet everyone.
I learned that Dana had been raised in the same religion as my family, Christian Science, and so it was her desire to have me placed in home with similar religious beliefs. This is how my parents wound up with me. Another thing I learned was that Dana kept me for a few days; not typical when the child is to be adopted. There is also a portrait of Dana in her home which she says was painted of her when she was pregnant with me so she has had me in her home in a sense, all these years. The terrible thing I learned was that this had been a secret her entire life. Her previous husband (not my father though of course my father knew I existed) was the only person besides Dana’s mother who knew about this secret of my existence.
Apparantly when she was starting to show signs she was sent to live in southern California with a friend and the rest of her family thought she was in some fashion school or something in New York. My letter meant that if we were to meet she had to inform her kids and current husband. It seems that everyone was excited about the whole thing. My half brother and sister both told me that they always felt that there was some sort of secret their mother carried with them and this was like a sort of new birth for everyone to have this out in the open.
I had the hardest time with liking Dana’s mother. I never did get to know her very well but my challenge with her was the way she was instrumental in having Dana sent off and instilling in Dana the need to have and keep this secret about me from everyone else in her family. I really had no place to be upset over this but that is something of what I felt regarding Dana’s mother. Everyone who knew Dana’s mother considers her one of the nicest most lovely people so this was my personal shallowness and in no way should it project on the image of Dana’s mother I am presenting. The funny thing is, Dana’s mother and my parents are in the same age range so my grandmother by birth was around the same age as my parents. This being said you can be reminded that like my adoption secret that I had to carry with me for so long, Dana too had to carry a secret because this is the way people of my parents age thought. Secrets, and silence on subjects that are not necessarily comfortable to talk about.