Empty Cereal Box

Views From Inside an Adoptee

April 03, 2006

My story, Part 2-Post-adoption

Thanks again to those who commented on my words. I really, really appreciate it. Yes, I agree that in order to begin to heal, I first have to write out my history that began with abandonment. When you cut the tree trunk from its roots, there's a withering and death. It may not show to casual glances, but it's there.

There is too much separation and isolation in this world. I know that it all comes down to the lifeforce of the roots. But since adoptees were cut from their roots, I guess we must find the connection within ourselves. This connection is so close, but I can't feel it yet. Some of the stuff I'm writing seems ugly and twisted. I don't mean for it to be. I'm just getting out feelings and memories the way I remember them. I mean no disrespect to anyone, not even to my parents (all three are dead--I'll never know about my bdad). The photo above is baby me at around two years old, two years after separation from my bmom. I haven't worked my way through the imagery yet, but somehow I think I'll always feel stuck inside my baby body. My body grew, but my baby self got stuck in there somewhere for dead. I know it sounds gruesome, but it's the best way I can describe the emptiness, the lost-ness, the permanent disconnect, the visibility--what it is to feel apart from the rest of the human race. I know many adoptees have worked through their feelings and come out the other side. I applaud and support them. I haven't gotten there yet, even as old as I am. That's part of the reason for the process of this blog.

A few years ago I did find a book that's really helped me to understand why I feel these things. It's called ThePrimal Wound by Nancy Verrier.

Anyway, on to Part 2 of my saga. So, like I wrote earlier, there's these huge gaps of information, but when it was time for my birth, my bmom checked into this private hospital for mothers to deliver their babies. The doctor connected her with an older, infertile couple who wanted a newborn white baby and would do anything to get one. They went through a long period of visits from an adoption agency to make certain they weren't axe murderers, drug traffickers, or illegal aliens. After all the exhaustive papers got signed and the money exchanged hands (nowadays I understand that adoptions run in the five-figure category), they whisked me off to live with them in Wyoming, where the adoption papers were finalized and filed. So while I was born in California, I was adopted in Wyoming, only my parents never said a word about it. I had to find it out on my own a half-century later.

After a year or two, they moved back to Bakersfield into my a-mother's parents' house until they could find a place of their own. The photo of me above was taken on my grandparents' front lawn. Most of my memories as a toddler took place at their house, since my a-father's job had him transferred every six months to a year to a new city. I need to add that my parents and grandparents comprised my only family. My a-parents were old enough to be my grandparents, and my grandparents old enough to be my great-grandparents. So besides no blood ties, there was also a huge generation gap between us. Also, all their relatives were dead already, or had never been born. I had no sisters, brothers, aunts, uncles, or cousins to bounce of off. And moving around all the time, I never kept any friends very long. So I grew up very, very lonely. Books and pets became my best friends. They were always there for me to escape into.

From Bakersfield, we moved to the Los Angeles area, where I went to kindergarten through third grade, every grade in a different city. No friends. No social skills except for the manners my mother taught me.

My a-mother always mentioned how much I looked like my a-father. We both had dark, curly hair and brown eyes. But my a-mother had light brown hair and blue eyes. Still, she displayed me proudly to friends as her own child. I certainly didn't know any better. She was very protective of me. I was under her microscope 24/7. And with the protectiveness came possessiveness and a heavy-handed control, most of it covert and unspoken, like the soap and water enemas she gave me regularly, which for me at such a young age were violations I couldn't express or understand.

I think my rebel streak (which I like to think I got from my bmom) began to show at a very early age. Like the time at five five years old I pretended to be a dog and stood naked on a trash can to look over the neighbor's fence. As usual, I got sent to my room, then the silent treatment as punishment. Like the time a girl in indergarten made me mad, so I spit on her, and another in third grade teased me until I tore her dress off. I think I have my aunt's temper. I was the little trophy for my mother to show off like a doll. She was so proud to finally have a child to take places so she could feel fulfilled. I'm sure she did the best she could to try to smooth over any gaps. She told me I was adopted as soon as she thought I could understand. But beyond that, she controlled what it was I could know. It seems strange that she kept every legal document she ever had but conveniently "lost" my adoption decree. There was always an unspoken secret in the family that if I ever tried to look for my blood family, I would crush my mother to death with sorrow. Of course I would never do that.

Everything that surrounded my roots remained hazy, foggy, confused in my mind. Various details like names and events changed each time she told me. I still don't understand why she kept things from me. I guess I feel sorry for her, that she felt so insecure. I guess everyone in the triad feels insecure in closed adoptions. Makes sense. But she smothered me with material goodies and kept a secure home for me to live in. I can't complain about the physical comforts of my life. Still, I never learned how to share or how to fight my own battles. She smothered me with her protective insecurity. As if my wings got glued down to my body as I changed from caterpillar to butterfly. I had no one to bounce off of. I did have dogs and cats and books. Without these I fear I would have become a psychopath. At any rate, there was something stifling and pathological about my relationship with my a-parents that has left an indelible scar on me. A sort of disconnect with the real world along with my own roots.

My elementary and high school years are a blur of painful memories. I was always a loner and outsider. I had few friends and didn't know how to make any. I became a prime target for bullies and spent plenty of time with my own private grief and confusion. I also spent plenty of time in the principal's office. When teachers told my parents that I wasn't performing to capacity, they sent me to private and parochial schools, where I got into trouble a lot. My grades were below average and I had no motivation to do anything. I always felt like there was something horribly wrong with me, that no one would ever accept me for who I was, that rejection would always be waiting for me like a gangster in the alley. I had no dates, no boyfriends. I was rarely invited to parties. I always felt as if people whispered about and berated me behind my back.

When my father was transfered overseas to Iran, I was sixteen, a senior in high school. The first person to ever make me feel good about myself was my English teacher, who encouraged me to write poetry, and who introduced me to radical writers and thinking. It never ocurred to me to disobey my parents or to rebel against them, but I felt the urge subconsciously, I know now.

Part 3 tomorrow will cover the nightmare of the birth of my first child, my divorce, the growing terror of rejection that almost consumed me. Thanks again to anyone who reads this. But even if no one does, it's a good way for me to finally get it all out in words.


Anonymous Libby said...

Thank you for sharing your story. I am listening, and looking forward to hearing more from you. You are a wonderful writer.


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