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Archive for the ‘Adult Adoptee’ Category


I’ve been reading both “The Primal Wound” and “The Girls Who Went Away”.  I’ve also been talking to adoptees and birth mothers from around the world since starting this blog.  It’s amazing how one thing leads to another, to another, isn’t it?

One of the topics we were discussing on a Facebook group I belong to was memory – Is it possible to remember being born?  Is it possible to remember the first months of your life?  You would think not at first, but could it be possible?  Here is a link that was posted to an article discussing this:  http://www.guardian.co.uk/notesandqueries/query/0,,-2899,00.html

I was visiting my parents today and asked them for more details about myself as a baby.  Something my mom told me stopped me in my tracks.  When I was very small – maybe 5 – we had a conversation where I told  her “my mother has black hair” (and my birth mother did).   Isn’t that odd?   I feel as if there’s “something” buried in my memory.  I don’t know what that something is, but the feeling is getting stronger.

“The Primal Wound” discusses the repercussions of a child being taken from their mother.  It got me thinking.  Birth mothers went through horrors of which most of us can’t fathom – and they carry it with them for the rest of their lives.  Adoptees suffered trauma by being taken from their mothers, but they, of course don’t remember their birth and relinquishment.  But it’s got to be buried in there somewhere – doesn’t it?

Our adoptee group discussed hypnotism – would it be possible to access these memories?   What would happen if we did?

I have lots of other questions.  What was it like being a baby living at St. Joseph’s?  Who took care of us?  I’ve contacted St. Joseph’s to find out more.  I will be blogging about these questions and more in days to come.

 

 

 

P.S.

It annoys the crap out of me that everywhere you type in the word “adoptee” it’s unrecognized as a word.  Type adoptee and it’s underlined in red.

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I will be turning fifty on September 15th.  Age hasn’t bothered me much, – okay – fifty is a bit hard to swallow!  I remember 25 being difficult too for some reason – 30 no problem and 40 was okay as well.

This year, I was secretly (well maybe not so secretly lol) hoping that somehow we could do something which would be “surprising” – something fun and different.  I realized that probably wouldn’t happen unless I just did it on my own, but that would defeat the “surprise” factor.  I just felt I wanted a “surprise”.  I can’t explain why.

I have found through the years though and looking back, that there is a pattern with me when it comes to my birthdays.  Usually around the very end of August or the beginning of September, I start feeling “off” – sort of down, and blah.  It increases as my birth date approaches.  I’ve always thought it must be because this time of year marks the end of Summer, and before you know it,  it’s Winter which I don’t particularly care for.  But since blogging about my adoption, and thinking more about things, I’m considering there may be another reason.

Could it be because I’m adopted?

I recently started reading “The Primal Wound” – which is a book about “understanding the adopted child”.  It seems to be a very polarizing book within the adoption community – many adoptees do not think it has ANYTHING to do with them – and, many think it has EVERYTHING to do with them.  I think I fall somewhere in between.  In a nutshell, for those of you who don’t know about the book – the theory is –  that being separated from your mother at birth is so traumatic, that you are “primally wounded” – whether you know it or not.  It is an interesting theory.

As a mother, I cannot imagine the horror of losing your child.  As an adoptee though, how would I remember how I felt when I was an infant?  I do believe that there would have to be some sort of damage done to a child who was separated from their mother and put into an institution for a few months before being adopted.  I just never really thought about it before.  But – what if?  What if being adopted has shaped my life in ways I have never realized?  It is certainly something to consider and look at.

There is a sub-chapter which covers birthdays and birthday parties.  The book claims that “there seems to be a memory built into the psyche and cells, an anniversary reaction (often also felt by the birth mother), which sends many adoptees into despair around their birthdays.”  Wow.  Okay – well this is something new to consider isn’t it.

So, surprise or no surprise – I have a wonderful family for which I am grateful for.  This year, the “feeling” seemed to be building up, but thankfully it has abated somewhat, and possibly, I am coming closer to understanding why I feel the way I do, and in understanding, there may be peace.

And, that – is a gift.

Hey – maybe I surprised myself… 🙂

 

 

 

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I haven’t talked to Jeanne in 13 years.  Life went on.  Nicole is 16 now, and I have a wonderful husband and life.  Yet – I’ve felt something missing, and I’ve never attributed it to being adopted.  Being adopted was just something I was – like being female, or being funny. 

Writing this blog has seemed to open things up for me that I’ve never considered.  It’s made me think more about the circumstances surrounding my being and it’s making me realize that all might not be as it seems.  Maybe there’s something to the “primal” theory – that a person is irrevocably changed when removed from their mother.  That a mother is irrevocably changed when forced to give up their child. 

Being a mother myself, I cannot begin to imagine how my life would have been ripped apart if my daughter was taken from me at birth.  How could a person ever recover from that? 

Women – especially women “back then” – didn’t even get to talk to anyone about their pregnancy – they were shamed and sent into hiding.  Who could they talk to about their feelings?  My birth mother, like many – was “sent away” – as a young girl – to experience pregnancy on her own, and forced to “behave” by not even crying.  They went through one of life’s most changing experiences – alone, and then were expected to just go home and get on with living. 

There is a book called “The Girls Who Went Away – The Hidden History of Women Who Surrendered Children in the Decades Before Roe vs Wade”.  I intend to read it. 

I believe now that something that happened to you at birth, of which of course you have no memory of, can have effects of which you won’t understand – unless you try to understand – if that makes sense.

I have been having conversations with my sister – Jeanne’s daughter, which has made me realize that Jeanne never recovered from her experience as a young woman.  I don’t think Jeanne realizes it herself.  I will talk about these conversations with my sister in another post.

Maybe, in trying to understand Jeanne – I am trying to understand myself.

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Nicole, my brother Kevin, and Jeanne in the background

I haven’t spoken to Jeanne in 13 years. Surprised? I am too, but I know my reasons. I just didn’t know Jeanne’s reasons.

I have been reading about adoptions extensively since I’ve started this blog, and  I’ve discovered a few articles and studies that would explain why and how a birth mother feels. Whether she knows it or not. I don’t believe Jeanne realizes the implications of what happened to her almost 50 years ago.

It is interesting this information that I am reading, yet most of us haven’t even heard about. There are millions of adoptions, and nobody talks about what really happens to a woman (a girl, really) who has relinquished a child and what it does to them. Young women left to deal with the aftermath. How it carries on throughout their lives and the effect it has on their future relationships and their families. I’d like to understand it better and I’d like to hear other’s experiences.

My beautiful daughter Nicole was born in 1994. Jeanne and her husband came out for the christening. Nicole wore my christening gown, and it seemed everything had come full-circle. Except, Jeanne was very – uh – disassociated for lack of a better word. The one thing that stands out in my mind most is her lack of wanting to hold the baby, as you would expect a grandmother to want to do. Especially since she lived in Michigan and we live in Pennsylvania. Nicole’s godmother had a party at her house after the christening, and she had a ferret. Jeanne walked around the entire time holding that ferret and making a fuss about it. Really?

As time went on, Jeanne would call me – often. And she didn’t want to talk baby talk. She wanted to talk about Jeanne. Incessantly. I couldn’t get off the phone with her. Jeanne seemed to be undergoing a transformation of sorts. She had decided that to become highly educated was her answer. So that’s what she did. And that’s what she wanted to talk about.  For  hours.  It didn’t matter if the baby was screaming in my arms.  She seemed not to notice.  I would practically have to hang up on her to just get off the phone.   And Jeanne didn’t approve that I didn’t have the same drive as she did at the time. I was raising a baby and she just didn’t seem to “get it”.

I had hoped that even though we were clearly very different people, that she would be happy that we were reunited, and accept me as I was. That we could enjoy a friendship. But it didn’t work out that way.

So, I stopped answering the phone.

We haven’t talked since.

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We came back from Michigan, and now we would discover what our “settling in” period would be like. There is a “honeymoon” phase that you read about with adoption reunions, and I think Jeanne’s trip to Scranton and our trip to Michigan were a part of that phase. There’s so much excitement in the beginning, and uncertainty, and emotions – it’s all sort of a whirlwind.

We lived far away, and this was before the internet really took off. So, we talked on the phone. We exchanged gifts for holidays, birthdays, etc.

I came back from Michigan armed with (finally) what my family medical history was. I wanted to become pregnant, and I knew now that I (and my then-husband) would have to get genetic testing. I won’t say why – maybe I will in future postings, (I’d have to find out if it is okay) – but not now.

Luckily, everything turned out okay, and I was able to go ahead and try to become pregnant. It was a long road – so it seemed at the time, and after 10 months of trying, I was thrilled to find out I was finally pregnant.

I don’t recall a lot of phone conversations with Jeanne at this time. I was, of course wrapped up in my life, and being pregnant.

I think it was then that I noticed that Jeanne was a little – “off”? For lack of a better word. She seemed very self-absorbed in this phase of our relationship, and that seemingly self-absorption would only increase as time went on. Things were very superficial, and I didn’t understand why. I was learning a bit more of her own family dynamics, and I remember at the time, being grateful for being in the family that I was in.

My birth mother didn’t seem “connected” – with me, or my pregnancy. This seemed surprising to me. And, as time went on and my delivery date drew near, this surprise would only deepen.

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It was time to meet Charlie – my birth father.  I had no clue what to expect.

We were to meet at a restaurant – my (then) husband, myself, Charlie and his wife. 

It was – awkward. 

I didn’t really know what to expect, so I expected nothing.  My birth mother, I could sympathize with – my birth father – well, was just that.  Someone who I shared genes with.  I knew nothing of him, except that he was tall.  And that he had disappointed Jeanne. 

I couldn’t exactly fault him for that.  Unexpected pregnancies happen.  It’s the women (or teenager) left to deal with the consequences.  Which Jean did to the best of her ability.  They were both young.  Stuff happens.

He was nice, and he was pleasant – he seemed to feel awkward as well (as I believe the picture shows!)  We made small-talk.  I apparently had a half-sister and a half-brother who knew nothing about me.  Charlie wanted to keep it that way.  He told me about them – where they were at in their lives, and that was about it. 

He also shared medical information with me – and that was important.  I realized that I would need to get genetic testing done if I wanted to have a baby myself one day (which I did).  What he told me that day stayed with me, and played in the back of my mind for years.

So, we spent about an hour together.  We took a few uncomfortable looking pictures, and we said our goodbyes.

I wouldn’t speak to Charlie again for 18 years.

Charlie & Me - Hmm - Awkward?!

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Jeanne and I first met in Scranton, as I have written earlier.  Our first meeting went quite well.  My parents were sweet and welcoming to her.  My mom always said she felt thankful towards Jeanne, and she gave her a special gift.  We all got together several times, Jeanne met my family – my brother, aunts, uncles and cousins.  Jeanne and I exchanged gifts.  She also brought me a photo album of her past and her family.  She brought me a pin that was her mother’s.  Things went as well as anyone could  have hoped for. 

I then travelled to Michigan to meet Jeanne’s family.  Her husband, son and daughter as well as her brother – my Uncle Leon. 

Michigan was great – as was meeting everyone.  Jeanne loved cats and had two beauties :).  My brother and sister, Tracy and Todd and I hit it off.  Everyone was so nice!   

Here are a few photos from our trip –

Meeting Tracy and Todd for the first time 🙂

Tracy, Jeanne, Me, Ray, Uncle Leon, Todd and Jack

Jeanne and Uncle Leon had also arranged for me to meet my birth father, Charlie during this trip.  We would meet the next day at a local restaurant.  Time to get nervous again!  I had no idea who, or what to expect.  As a woman, you can sort of relate better to what your birth mother went through.  I had no clue whatsoever how Charlie was feeling about all of this, but he HAD agreed to meet me – so that was a good thing – right?
 
 
 
 
 

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