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Posts Tagged ‘adult adopteee’


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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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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re·linquish·ment n.

    Synonyms: relinquish, yield, resign, abandon, surrender, cede, waive, renounce
    These verbs mean letting something go or giving something up. Relinquish, the least specific, may connote regret: can’t relinquish the idea.
    Yield implies giving way, as to pressure, often in the hope that such action will be temporary: had to yield ground.
    Resign suggests formal relinquishing, or acquiescence arising from hopelessness. Abandon and surrender both imply no expectation of recovering what is given up; surrender also implies the operation of compulsion or force: abandoned all hope for a resolution.

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Two weeks after giving birth, Jeanne had no choice but to surrender all hope, and it was decided that I would be relinquished to St. Joseph’s.

She went back to Michigan with her mother, and life went on. I don’t know, nor can I imagine her heartache.

I was in St. Joseph’s from October, until December 22nd. Which is where my story began. I was adopted by my wonderful parents. Merry Christmas Mary Christine! They had applied for adoption in August, and surprisingly, they got their baby four months later.

I have pictures of the day I was adopted – red-haired baby bundled up in my grandmother’s laundry basket, where we were visiting. I will look for them, and post them here. I will also post pictures that pertain to individual parts of this story:)

Jeanne and I parted ways in early October of that year, and we wouldn’t meet again until 31 years later….

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Jeanne had avoided going back to St. Joseph’s. She gave birth to me at a hospital in Scranton. After a few days, she and her mother and I went back to their apartment in Clarks Summit. It was still her hope that somehow, she’d be able to keep me.

She had me baptized at a beautiful church in Clarks Summit – “Our Lady of Snows”. The gown I was christened in is the gown she would keep for 31 years. The gown she gave me when we met. It was the gown I had my beautiful daughter, Nicole christened in.

She had named me too – Veronica! (I will say, I’m happy my name didn’t stay Veronica! lol)

Jeanne kept me for two weeks – all the while hoping that she’d somehow be saved. Hoping that my birth father would come through. She knew her time was up and decisions would have to be made.

One day, Jeanne was holding me and was going downstairs. I guess an argument with her mother ensued, and her mother pushed her on the steps while she was holding me. I can’t imagine what she must have been going through all these months, feeling trapped, hoping she wasn’t in this alone.

But she realized she was. She was a 19 year old girl, with a baby and no support system. Her mother apparently wasn’t the answer. My birth father wasn’t going to come through.

With that push on the stairs, Jeanne knew it was over.

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Jeanne was left with no alternative but to tell her mother. I don’t know much about that conversation, but I do know Jeanne was “sent away”. From Michigan to St. Joseph’s in Scranton, PA. The “home for unwed mothers”.

We drove to St. Joseph’s together and sat and talked. It looks so institutional there.

She described a desolate place filled with unhappy girls and strict nuns. You could go out for a walk – if you were “good”. Being good meant that you sucked it up and didn’t CRY or show emotion. Very Christian place. So, you’d cry at night after the lights went out, and hoped that you weren’t caught “being bad”.

Jeanne begged her mother to get out of there. She couldn’t come home, but her mother agreed to come to Scranton. They got an apartment together in Clarks Summit. This is where she waited out the rest of her pregnancy.

In the meantime, she held out hope that my birth father would somehow come to her rescue – you know – “do the right thing”. I believe his parents were supportive of her, and I imagine, but am not sure, that they would have encouraged him to step up. She told me they were extremely nice people. So, she held her breath, and waited.

I was born on September 15th.

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