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An Adoptee Shares… Finding Me

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To all those over the years who told to me that I must feel lucky, I do. I wasn’t aborted. I was given the chance to live and make mistakes. I was given an opportunity to believe in dreams and to fulfill them. For this, I must thank my birthmother. However, for my life, my being, and for the person I became and am today, I must thank my mother.
I was 2 days old when my parents adopted me. My brother was 3 days old, adopted from a different family, 4 years before I was born. Our parents never hid the truth from us. The tales that our mother would tell to us about the adoption held our young attention spans for endless amounts of time. “You two are very special children,” she would say. We were special because we were wanted so badly. We were special because we were bought and paid for after waiting for years for a dream to become reality for our parents. I would sit and daydream about being in a baby line-up. There would be a row of babies with wet diapers, teary eyes, and drooling mouths. My parents would view all the babies from a different room and point to us. “They’re the ones we want, those two there,” they would say smiling. It was a nice dream, unfortunately, we all know, it’s a little more difficult than that to adopt a baby.

Let’s enter the adopted life, at least mine. I grew up having a very normal childhood. I had all the toys I wanted, all the clothes I needed, and many friends that helped make memories. I didn’t have a bad life, the one fear I’m sure that is on the minds of some women, and men, who have given children up for adoption. I was fortunate enough to have a good life, but like with all children, whether they are adopted out or not, some have a less then joyous upbringing.

I would think that the hardest part of being adopted rose out of the reaction other people would sometimes have towards me. The word “adopted” was almost taboo at that time. It gave off a wonderful exciting feeling for some and for others, it was something that should be hushed. I remember responses from some people when I would tell them that I was adopted. I would get the long extended gaze and endless questions: “When did you find out?” “How do you feel about it?” “You mean you know this?”

Now, after many years, I would like to ask some questions of my own. What is so fascinating? Are we, the adoptees, from another planet? Do we hold some kind of mystery of the Universe? We are just adopted, and we are human. I can understand that it must be a little intriguing for some, but the dumbfounded, stunned look should really go. I was one of “the adopted.” To say it this way makes it sound like a horror movie title or a break out of a plague. In truth it sometimes felt that way. I can recall back in high school, two boys wanted ever so subtly to explain to me the delicate topic of my being adopted. They wrote this long sympathizing note to me, telling me that they were sorry, but that it was okay. I read the note, looked up at them, and said, “Yeah, so?” Their mouths fell open and their eyes widened. “You mean you know?” they asked. Replying that I had known since I was able to understand the concept, they began to jabber some jumbled words and back away from me down the hall in confusion.

All the facial expressions that you will see through the years of relating to some people that you were adopted. I’ve had many tell me that it would be fine, I’d grow up normal. I wanted to ask them if I had a fatal disease I did not yet know about. Of course there were a few that thought it was just the coolest thing in the world. Their reaction was wonderful, and those are the people that make you happy to be who you are. To share the intimacy of all the details of your life with them was awesome. They would travel with you through all the journeys of your years as you told the stories they asked about. To them it was fascinating, almost as if it gave them a new purpose to be alive and a new meaning to fulfilling their goals in life.

There were so many questions that I had inside me while I grew up. So many questions that my parents and grandparents could not answer. I wanted to believe that my birthmother was some famous woman, inspiring, beautiful, sophisticated. I wanted to believe that she was a teenager and this was the best choice she could have made. Nevertheless, that was it, I wanted nothing to do with her or her family. In a sense, I resented her for not keeping me. I lived with the belief that I was an embarrassment for her. On the other hand, I wanted to meet my natural father in the worse way. I felt that I could really connect with him. I hoped that he would be a man that held magical powers to answer all my questions and take away all my fears and sadness.

When I was 18 years old, my mother suggested that I try to find my birthmother. “Why would I want to do that?” I would ask. Bringing up many reasons that at the time held no worry to me, I would still shake my head no. Then one day after numerous conversations, I unexpectedly agreed to try to locate her. My mother gave me the address to the doctor that delivered me, that was the only information that we had, and I wrote him a letter. I was informed a few weeks later that the doctor had passed away about one week before my letter arrived. Fate was telling me to let it alone and I heeded the warning.

After I was married and got pregnant with my daughter, I started to dwell on the reasons for my mother believing that I should find my birthmother. I needed medical history, both the mid-wife and I were a little tired of wondering what should or shouldn’t be checked. I began my own search for this woman and with no luck gave up after a 10-month search. When my daughter turned 2 years old, I again re-started the search. I came closer to finding my natural mother at this point, but not close enough. I was given a number to a convent where a nun that was a relative to the family had lived. I called the convent early one morning and spoke to the nun briefly. The conversation went very well up to the point when I told her who I was and why I was trying to find my birthmother. At this point, she got very cold and the telephone conversation ended. I was very disappointed and didn’t try again until my daughter was beginning first grade.

One day my mother recommended that I place an advertisement in a local newspaper down where my natural mother was from. I placed the ad, which coincidentally ran on my natural mother’s birthday. Within a few days we were on the telephone with each other. After the first telephone conversation I felt like I was starting to know me. I remember giving my birthmother the 3rd degree to every question that she answered and every statement that she made. I wanted to be sure that she was who she said she was. The feeling could only be expressed as incredible. After all these years and all the time I spent, not to mention a friend of mine who helped with the search at one point, to finally talk to this women. She became tangible. She was real. I really wasn’t from Mars.

The days that followed I was flooded with telephone calls from my brothers, a cousin, and my grandmother. I was beginning to feel a little over whelmed. We decided to set up a meeting between us. My three half brothers and my birthmother live in another state. Since she came from the state where I live and we had never been to the state where she lives, we decided to make the trip to her turf. I can say that I am glad that the trip was an 8-hour drive, to me this was just a perfect amount of time. I had enough opportunity to try to relax my nerves that by this point turned into Jell-O and enough time to focus on what I would say.

As I approached the driveway of her home, I watched her bound out her kitchen door, tears running down her cheeks, and trembling hands clenched to her side. I noticed my younger brother standing next to the porch, waiting for his turn to introduce himself properly. I could feel my heart racing by this time. Slowly I got out of the car, as if in shock, and before I knew it, a total stranger embraced me. I felt a connection because of who we were to each other, but I was too numb to react to the situation. The next few days we shared story upon story. The emotions ran from happy, sad, excited, worried, angry, and curious. The total rush of everything and the frustration of wanting to know so much in such a short time drained both of us of all our energy.

We developed a pleasant relationship. I was not looking for a mother. I had one. I was not looking for a friend. I had plenty. But I was content with the aunt/friend/confidant relationship that developed. Because of this woman, I was able to meet someone I wanted to meet all my life, my natural father. Although they did not marry, she had information that led me to my meeting him, my uncle, and my grandfather. I felt no prejudices from my uncle or grandfather, but I must say that there was some tension between my natural father and me. Unfortunately, I have two half sisters that to the best of my knowledge don’t know that I exist. However, I did get to meet someone I longed to find all my life, and I am thankful for that.

My daughter and my birthmother started a wonderful relationship for some time. My daughter was the first grandchild she had. After I was born, boys were only born to her so she told me she felt thrilled to have a part of me to watch grow up. The few years that followed were filled with intense happenings. There were many highly emotional times that I felt we were there for each other on.

Then one day, my middle younger brother called and announced that I would be an aunt. I was a little disappointed, but deep down I was bursting with happiness for them. My husband and I have been trying for years to get pregnant again with no luck, but now this baby, I felt could give me an opportunity to hold an infant again, one that carried my bloodline. I have nieces and nephews, but this would be a blood niece or nephew. I was filled with anxiety.

There is that old saying that all good things must come to an end. A little at a time and before I knew it, for some reason I can only speculate, our shared times ended. There were no bad words, no cruel intentions, just a lapse of connection. Proving once more that even when family reunions are arranged, dinner parties are set up, and any other “let’s meet the family” gatherings are thrown together, when all the gleeful moments are taken away, we, the adoptees, are still not part of the family that we all would like to believe we are.

I am neither disappointed nor happy with the outcome. I just wanted questions answered and I got that. Although in the deepest, most private corners of my innermost being, I was hoping for a long-term relationship with my brothers or possibly a friendship of some sort with the woman who gave birth to me. However, this is not going to bring me down or ruin my future. The time we had spent sharing some years, experiences, and emotions will always touch a part of me that no one can change or take away. The most important part of this whole experience was the knowledge I gained. A part of me feels that filling the emptiness of my life did fall in my natural parent’s hands. Now that is filled, I have the majority of questions answered and I can move on, strong and steadily towards the rest of my days with few regrets and many memories. I truly feel that if I had found this woman when I was eighteen or even a few years after, I wouldn’t have been able to relate or converse with her as well as I did. When you’re young, you tend to hold onto more anger and resentment than when you grow older. I believe now that fate intervened for a very good reason.

Through it all, my mother stood, waiting and hoping that I would not leave her in the blank, dark spaces of my mind. She didn’t say a word, but I knew she worried. I, being a mother, know that this was one of the most unselfish acts you can do. To freely help your child find someone or something that could possibly take them away from you brings me to cherish my mother’s faith that she has in me. I thank her for her support and her help in locating my birthmother. I’m glad she felt confident enough to share her information with me and to never hide from my brother or I the fact that we were adopted.

I admire those parents that risk it all by telling their children about the adoption. I knew a girl that when told she was adopted, was totally crushed by the news. The constant thought of what else did they hide from me all these years tormented her day and night. There were feelings that since there was no blood connection she could walk away at any time with no regrets, this is not true. I believe that not only adopted children but also natural children feel strong emotions throughout their years to reach adulthood. One woman, who is now a mother of three, as a teen felt her life was terrible. After finding her birthmother, she accepted an invitation to move in with her for awhile. This did not work as well as planned. The decision that she had made back then is not regretted, it gave both her mother and herself a chance to breath and recapture their relationship; which today is stronger than ever. As far as her birthmother, she hasn’t had contact since she was a rebellious teenager.

An adopted child shares two worlds. Sometimes it’s hard to grasp our lives, emotions, and thoughts. We have so many questions, so many guesses, and so many assumptions. My suggestion is so that every woman who chooses to adopt their child out, please write a brief note or letter. State in it your medical history and any other information that you feel is necessary. Having an address or telephone number would also be very helpful. It doesn’t mean that the child will come looking for you some day, it just means that you are real and you gave us the opportunity to choose if we want more information or not.

For anyone who has adopted, I beg you to tell your child. Don’t hide such vital information. For anyone who has told his or her child; don’t worry, your child won’t forget you. I want you to know we cannot forget our childhood, our dreams, our mistakes, our experiences, our grief, our discipline, and our life. To you who gave us life, thank you for the chance to live. For those who showed us life, thank you for teaching us to live. For those who are adopted and are finding it difficult to live, there is no where that you will find whom you are except from within. You can search and sometimes find what makes you look like you do. You have to remember though that we come from a class of people that have been given an opportunity to live in one environment and to have the DNA of another. This makes us more unique then all of science can ever imagine. To teens that think the grass is greener, it’s not. Your youth is just blinding you to believe that. This is something you will feel no matter if your adopted or not, all teens think there is something better.

All those who exclaimed to me that I must feel lucky, I do. I think that luck should be defined, as I wasn’t aborted. I was given the chance to live and make mistakes. I was given an opportunity to believe in dreams and to fulfill them For this, I must thank my birthmother. However, for my life, my being, and for who I am today, I must thank my mother.

Donna M. Condida
Archbald, PA 18403

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