Friday, December 21, 2007

Adoptee Third Option: Escape!!!

When your adoptive parents can't - won't - allow you to ask questions about your adoption, you are being denied the most fundamental thing about you. Where you come from. Denied this most basic of information, your very reality, you can't be real. So you fake it. As best you can. A sort-of person. Not like the rest. The only way to deal with that is what I did for decades. To tell yourself and anybody who asks, "It's okay. I don't really want to know, anyway. My adoptive parents are my real parents. Actually, I'm happy to be adopted! " This is commonly referred to as, "the fog." I've also called it brainwashing. Maybe it's self-preservation.

But this state of repression is so difficult to sustain, especially around adoptive parents who insist you be something you are not, that there is a third option: Getting away. As far as you can.

The minute my feet touched down in Berkeley, 400 miles away from my adoptive family, I found freedom. To be somebody who may not have yet been authentic, but at least I didn't have the burden of playing the dutiful, passive only child who was forced to caretake her emotionally needy adoptive parents, who's only accepted role was to listen and provide support, without expressing any opinion or needs of her own.

The danger in getting away, after being the prisoner of such controlling parents, is that it's all too easy to fall into the clutches of other controlling people, like boyfriends and friends. And I did. It was the only kind of relationship I knew. Still, I was free to experiment with relationships. And myself. To explore the who and why of me. This isn't easy to do when you don't know much about your first family and what you were told was a bunch of lies.

It's only after finding my first mother and getting my backstory 1.75 years ago that I finally feel like I'm a real, bonified person with two feet on the ground instead of hovering, ghostlike, several feet above the surface.

But getting away was the third option. That state in between staying away from my adoptive parents and running away from searching for my first family. In between, I moved seven times and lived in five different states. My adoptive dad would shake his head and call me a, "gypsy."

I have lived in the same house for seven years, which is a record. I've been thinking back to that time of moving, moving, moving. It was much better than playing Obedient Daughter to an unappreciative audience. It was less, well, foggy. I wasn't thinking much about adoption back then. Hardly at all. Still, it was nowhere near as good as life after finding my first mother, as painful as it has sometimes been. Our reunion is far from fabulous. Although, it's better than some. She was thrilled I'd found her!

I am really amazed at how utterly empowering search and reunion is, even when you end up not liking your first mom all that much. It's hard to explain to somebody who isn't adopted just how fulfilling it is to finally, finally, get some facts about where you come from. To see the woman who gave to birth to you, at least once. Not that it's easy. I'm still reeling from the shock of it ten months ago!

Before reunion, I was starting to feel restless again. Like I wanted to pick up and move. (Although I wouldn't, my kids were becoming teens). But since reunion, I am happy where I am. Perfectly content. That's saying a lot, because for those of you who've read my older posts, my poor mother carries major baggage and I've done my fair share of moaning and groaning. But as the Holidays approach, I'm celebrating I found her. Baggage and all.

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15 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have often felt restless but mostly depressed around the holidays. I was "given up" at 15 months of age around the holidays...think there's a connection?
I am so glad that you have become happy where you are. It's a wonderful gift that comes with reunion....a sense of place,of"family", of belonging some place in this world.

Happy holidays!!!!!!!!!!Hopewaits

5:09 PM  
Blogger Nina said...

Hopewaits,

Well, no wonder if you experience depression around the holidays. Fifteen months is quite old and even though you might not remember the details, no doubt you can remember the feeling. The time around my birthday is always a gloomy feeling and I was placed at one month, so I can only imagine the despair that you must experience.

I hope your Holidays are peaceful.

9:01 AM  
Blogger Celera said...

Hi Nina,

It's true that even in the best reunion scenarios, there is baggage, there are imperfections. Society tends, I think, to romanticize reunions (or demonize them) when the reality always is that the bparents you find are at best ordinary, flawed human beings.

Of course, all the people in our lives are ordinary flawed human beings. As are we. And especially around the holidays, sometimes the best you can do is just to love them anyway.

1:44 PM  
Blogger Elise said...

Hi Nina,

By adopted brother found his birth family about 10 years ago. It's particularly good that he did so at that time, because his birth mother died a few years later.

But it's been a great thing for him. Very grounding. He is in close contact with his birth half-brothers and half-sister, and I've met his half sister (now THAT was a trip! We ended up having a great time, and she and I double-teamed him when he acted up!).

Particularly given the challenges presented to him by his adoptive family (I'm the only one left that he's really in touch with, since my parents are both loony and my bio brother is quite difficult and distant, even when he doesn't mean to be), I'm so glad he did the search.

Thanks for another great post ---

Elise

5:24 PM  
Blogger Nina said...

hey Celera! Happy holidays!

I think you are right about reunions..maybe because they are so high stakes...and they is something sort of primal and mystical about them that is frightening to others.

8:35 PM  
Blogger Nina said...

Hi Elise,

Well, sometimes feeling grounding is enough. More than enough in some cases! I think it's so cool that he did this and you were there to support him afterward.

8:37 PM  
Blogger Suz said...

powerful. so powerful. as always, reminds me of someone else I know.

2:12 PM  
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