Adoption~Journey Past Life

This Post was originally written for World Moms Blog. It turned into a 2-part piece, so the 2nd half will post tomorrow. I’m taking a break this weekend, but I wanted to leave you with something.

Have a good weekend everyone.

This is the story of a girl who adopted the world……

Okay, well maybe not the whole world. One baby adopted locally, and just recently traveling all the way to Uganda to adopt another, is pretty close. This picture says it all.  The joy is tangible and brings tears to my eyes.

Deb and I went to high school together. I have had the privilege to partake in the adoption process, albeit vicariously, through Deb’s personal blog. It’s been an amazing  journey for her and her family. And, in honor of National Adoption Month, I wanted to bear witness to this extraordinary love story. While the main focus of this Adoption Awareness Campaign is to encourage adoptions of kids in foster care, I think it should be a time to reflect on all types of adoption.

I’m sure you’re asking yourself why I would be interested in adoption given the quiver full of kids I already have. The answer is simple ~ I was adopted. As an adult adoptee, I am interested in the process. I am interested in the outcome. I am interested in the mindset of someone who searches out a child to make them their own. I am interested because my story is not like Deb’s story of love and adoration.

My story goes back to my Grandmother. Her family was very poor. She met my grandfather when she was 15, he was 21, a Sergeant in the army. The year was 1939. She and her sister slept in the family car because there was no room in their small south-side of Chicago flat. My grandfather came along, married her, and my mother was born a year later.  She never finished high school.  My grandfather was stationed overseas for the first years of their marriage, so she lived by herself, just 16 years old with a baby to care for.

My mother was an only child. She barely finished high school herself. She had one goal in life: to get married and have children.  She never worked. She married my father in 1961. My oldest brother was born in 1962. A year later she had a miscarriage, and 2 years later my other brother was born. They were difficult births. Yet, she still wanted a girl.  She liked frilly little dresses and wanted a little girl she could dress up and show off.

That little girl ended up being me. And I’m pretty sure I am the biggest disappointment of her life.

I know, I know, that sounds very harsh, but considering that my mother hasn’t spoken to me in 7 years,and only intermittently prior to that, I know I’m not far off.  It’s taken me a long time to realize ~ it wasn’t me.

I am not the problem.

I look back at my childhood, and so much of it was isolated. My brothers were older, already in school when I was brought home. Until kindergarten, I was home alone with my mother, no preschool, no Sunday school, no other kids to play with. I remember my mother sitting on the couch everyday and watching soap operas. We lived behind a park and I used go out in the morning and come back in the evening.  My mother never took me to the park. I went alone.

See, I wasn’t a ‘frilly’ kind of girl. I bucked at wearing dresses. I had no interest in watching TV. I hated playing with dolls.  My mind was my own and for that reason alone, we clashed. She used my adoption as a way to break me down, hoping I would cow to her expectations. Evidently genetics are stronger than environment, because the more she tried to break me, the stronger I got.

Things my “Mother” said to me:

“I love you because I have to, but I don’t like you very much.”

“Do you know how much we spent to adopt you?”  “You should be grateful we had the money to spend on you.”

“You’re no better than that B#tch who gave birth to you.”

“I know the name of that B#tch who gave birth to you, but I’ll never tell you.”

“You went to another family first, too bad that arrangement didn’t work out.”

“Don’t you ever shut up?  That B#tch who gave birth to you probably couldn’t keep her mouth shut either.”

“You’re going to wind up just like that B#tch who gave birth to you.”

What I didn’t know until much, much later, is that my mother has mental health issues.  But for me, growing up with the constant reminder that I was bought and paid for, that the woman who gave birth to me was worthless, it was a rough road to travel. I always found it odd that my mother had so much animosity towards my birth mother, which turned into animosity towards me.  I still don’t understand it.

Only one of my brothers still has contact with my mother.  She divorced my father after 42 years of marriage and moved to Las Vegas. My son, Jacob, was a year old when we finally broke contact. She has never met Jonathan, Zachary or David. My older kids no longer have contact with her either. Apparently, they are too much like me.

I do not hate my mother. I wish her the best and I hope she has found comfort with her new life. I often think of my birth mother, as well. I do not know if I am strong enough to search for her.  I find my story is not typical, for which I am thankful. I know adoption can bring peace and acceptance. This picture confirms that.

What are your thoughts on adoption? Do you think I am obligated to contact my mother, regardless of our past? What about searching for my birth mother? Please feel free to comment.


Categories: Life | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 15 Comments

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15 thoughts on “Adoption~Journey Past Life

  1. I think adoption can be a wonderful thing. I have my own adoption story. I gave a child up for adoption when I was younger (an open adoption).

    Given the history, I don’t think you should feel obligated to contact your mother. As for your birth mother, if you have questions about who she is/was and she made the choice she did, then you can search for her.

  2. Amy, as a fellow adoptee, this story touches me to my soul. I consider myself one of the lucky ones: fate brought me into the best family I could have asked for. I met my birth parents maybe 15 years ago, and when I look at how their lives unfolded, I know that I had a much better life with my adopted parents than I would have with either of my birth parents. It’s not to say I have anything against them – I’m still in touch with them today – but I wouldn’t trade my Mom and Dad – the people who raised me – for anything in the world.
    Are you obligated to get in touch with your mother? Hell, no. Honestly, from reading your story, I don’t think she deserves you. She has no idea what an amazing person you are, and that is her loss.
    As for your birth mother – there is certainly no obligation there. But if your heart tells you that you would like to seek her out, you should listen. If you ever do make that choice, you will have the support you need through people who really do care about you.


  3. I am so sorry to hear that you grew up that way. My own mother made many mistakes in raising me also. I know the pain of hearing your mother say “I love you because I have to, but I don’t like you” very well. It just plain hurts for a child to hear that. It is awesome that you find it in your heart to love your own children so much, even without an example growing up of how a mother should be. As far as being obligated to contact your mother you are not obligated. It is for her to step up and make up for HER mistakes. If it hurts you not to have contact and you really think it would benefit you go for it. Just don’t give her the power to make you feel like a disappointment to anyone!! My own mother had an affair with my first husband, and after 13 years she has found it in her heart to apologize and live a better life. I enjoy the relationship we have today. She had to change her ways not the other way around.
    I don’t really have any advise about contacting your birth mother. If it is something you really want to do you should. You may find a great relationship is born out of the effort. Good luck in what ever you choose I am still praying for your family.

  4. CB

    Oh Amy, I have no experience with adoption, but as far as contacting your mother–unless you want to I say no, don’t contact her. In my case it was a hateful (and abusive) grandmother, and not having contact with her was the best thing under the circumstances. And, FWIW, she passed away about a 2 years ago and no, I have no regrets.

  5. Heather

    I’m so sorry that your mother was so cruel. You wrote ” more she tried to break me, the stronger I got.”, I don’t know if you’ve ever read The Strong Willed Child by Dr. James Dobson, but in it he talks how God gave the child such a strong will because he knows that the child will need it later in life.
    Your strong will and your struggles as a child have all brought you to where you are today. You are one of the strongest people that I know of, even if you don’t feel very strong.
    God Bless.

  6. I cannot in a million years fathom having a child and treating them so cruelly. Mental health issues indeed. I am so sorry you had a mother like that, but glad you found the strength to resist, and eventually the wisdom to understand that the problem was her, not you (although I’m sure there are scars that never go away).

    You have absolutely no obligation to contact your mother. Do so if YOU want to, but if she is still toxic? I would suggest staying away. Save your energy for your own family where there is free-flowing love abundant, and much need of you.

    I did not become a mother until my 40’s. If the IVF had not taken (we have twins) I, too, would have adopted. But we did not need to, so I have no first hand knowledge of these things. So as to contacting your birth mother? I think if it were me, I would want to, my curiosity would be impossible to not feed. But we are each different. I have been told that these days with the internet and social media it is much easier to find a birth family then ever in the past.

    Whatever you decide will be a fine decision, because it is yours to make, and do let yourself be at peace with it. You deserve nothing less than peace.

  7. Jean

    Your mother treated you dreadfully. I wish that I had know and done something to help. No child should have to grow up feeling unloved. (Plus, it just wasn’t safe for you to wander the park alone there. My brother had strangers try to lure him into their cars with candy a couple of times.) I would like to say “I wouldn’t get in touch with her” but it is hard not to love your mother even if she is abusive or neglectful. I would not do so for a long time, however, if in your shoes. I have another friend who lost their little boy. (He had inoperable brain cancer.) Her husband described their loss as having a bucket of white paint that all of the sudden turned black. Over time, drops of white are added, but the paint will never be totally white again. Wait for some light gray days before reaching out to her. I hope she is healthy enough mentally to contact you some day, maybe even with an apology. I would be curious to learn who your birth-mom is. I would also be curious to know who your birth-dad is.

    I have another friend who adopted 2 children from Russia. She and her husband were unable to make babies but dearly wanted them. They celebrate each one’s adoption day as the day they chose that child to be theirs and to join their family. They could not love them more, even if they birthed them.

  8. patty

    This just infuriates me!! How could someone adopt and be so cruel??? You would think the mental health issues would have prevented it. I would not want to put myself through the possibility that she hasn’t changed. If she comest you, that’s a different story.
    I’ve always thought curiosity would kill me wanting to know who my birth mother was, but you are the only one that can make that decision. I’d want to at least do some research, but think I would be an onlooker before I jumped all the way in. I can’t imagine getting hurt by two mothers!! Keep us posted. We’re here for the journey!

  9. Wow, touching post, thanks for sharing. I know many adoption stories that work out well, and some don’t, unfortunately. Just like birth families, I guess. I havent spoken to or seen my parents in several years, which is both sad and a big relief. Some relationships are not healthy.

    This touched me and made me think. Thanks. Keep writing more!

  10. sharon

    When I was seven and my sister was four, my family adopted a 6-week old baby girl. I say my family because it was a family decision and we all went to the Court when time came to finalise the adoption and both of us had to tell the judge how we felt about our new sister. We all had a very happy childhood and there was no differences shown between us. All three of us were/are all our own people with our own likes, dislikes, foibles, triumphs and failures. My sister has known from a very young age that she was ‘chosen’ to join the family and has always been ok with that. When she was in her twenties and pregnant with her first child, she did make an attempt to find her birth mother but was blocked by a no contact request while the birth mother’s parents were still alive. It would appear that they were strict Catholics knew nothing of the birth and subsequent adoption which was in the early 1960s. The birth was outside of marriage and the birth father had run as soon as he knew about the pregnancy. Many years have passed since then and, at 50, my sister is again trying to contact her birth mother. The information she now has is that the mother is still alive and that there are other children but still, so far no contact has been made. We all hope this will change, if nothing else she surely has the right to meet with her siblings. In the intervening years both my natural sister and I have suffered breast cancer. Sadly, although I have survived two separate primary cancers, my younger sister died within a year of her first diagnosis. This means that my youngest sister will possibly have no siblings to grow old with (my outlook is dubious to say the least) unless the birth mother’s second family can be found. There has been no way of tracing my sister’s father.

    If I were you I would make the effort to find my birth mother as it could open up a whole new chapter in your life. You too may have siblings. Maybe it won’t be easy or have a happy ending but, for me, it would be worth a try.


  11. sharon

    Forgot to add that I would leave your adoptive mother alone. She has made her feeling abundantly clear and you don’t need any more salt rubbed into the wounds she inflicted during your formative years. Should she at some time in the future change her mind and get in touch with you again, I would still be very wary.


  12. Amy,
    I have a post or two regarding my own pre-adoption life. I had a lot of reports and my own memory and I have ZERO interest in the woman who put me here on this earth. Even though I was adopted, and I am greatful for being removed from the life I was experiencing, I think my adoptive father was over bearing both verbally and sometimes physically. I was fortunate, that my birth mother didn’t want me anymore. I don’t know what your pre-adoption story is, but I do think you have plenty on your plate for now.
    Feel free to ask me any question (privately) about meeting my birth father. I do believe every experience is a private and can be meaningful, but I throw caution at the wind. Give yourself some time and grieve – I can’t pretend to understand your relationship with your “adoptive” mother, but having a child with mental health issues I KNOW it is very challenging to try to have a relationship.
    Rather engaging in a relationship, maybe seek understanding her illness and accepting that (I am not asking you to embrace it and go forth in repairing), but rather stand under the same tree she is. I should be so gracious to take my own advice, LOL.
    I have to raise my child to understand his own illness, maybe if you can understand and accept hers some things can have closure. I don’t know if I would engage your children in that process (at least not at first), because being mentally incapable can be so unpredictable (depending on the diagnosis and medication) and it isn’t easy to understand for the patient or the family. Just when you think you get it, the cycle of the disease changes and everything changes.
    Try to remember you are not the person that “caused” things – you just were experiencing them. Note to Amy: remind me of this when I am down, LOL.
    Give yourself some much needed time and then rethink this. This part of your life will never go away – finish grieving before picking another painful topic to mull over. I wish the best for your family – I love following your topics. It gives me an idea of what to write about tomorrow – my adoption. I was planning on giving back the gift of “adoption” – I guess you have to read my blog if you want to know more. It may not be published until Monday (we just go in from a short vacation). Be well my friend. Blessings, Diane

  13. My sister was adopted from Korea at birth and we’re very close. My brother was adopted at age 4 from a nearby foster home. He was born addicted to drugs and had a lot of psychological problems. He committed suicide at age 19. Adoption is not always perfect, and our family was not the most warm one to come into (although my parents loved us, they were young parents and didn’t have a happy marriage to boot). I spent time in Africa working with orphans, some of whom didn’t make it. When I started having children, I was surprised to find how much I loved having my own, as I was always sure I would adopt. The rules of adoption are much stricter here (a separate bedroom for every child, etc), and it’s costly to travel to the States. But it’s not out of the question.

    And you are darling dear and cherished daughter of God.

  14. Adoption, in its purest form, is a beautiful thing: A woman realizes she cannot care for the child she is carrying and selflessly decides to entrust her child to someone who can. Adoptive parents realize they have more love and resources than children, so they decide to care for most vulnerable and most valuable commodity in our society–a child without parents.

    But when people adopt for the wrong reason, it becomes a cruel, tragic experience, like yours.

    Amy, I’m so sorry that you endured that kind of childhood. Mental illness is a terrible thing–made worse when children and innocents are involved.

    You are a strong, courageous, gifted person, and that is testament both to you and to the God in heaven who has never taken His eyes off you and who has surely shed many tears himself over how you’ve been treated.

    I know He has a wonderful plan for you. Your life is a complex mystery, a beautiful piece of art that may appear rough around the edges until the Master Artist completes his work in you.

  15. Wow, that is such a sad story. I’m so sorry to hear that you were treated like that 😦 I don’t think you owe your mother anything. If you are happy with the break- then leave it alone.. As for searching for your birth mother.. I think that is something that only you can decide. Perhaps you can reunite and have a relationship, or perhaps it will only end in more pain for you. I wish I had the answers.

    I definitely believe in adoption overall. I think it is a wonderful thing. I have adopted 4 children from fostercare and it really pains me to hear how your mother treated you. My 4 adopted are loved just as much as my 2 biological. They are a part of me and always will be.

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