Wednesday, June 3, 2009


For love to be freely accepted there must be trust. For this child who was adopted there is always the lurking fear that rejection is around the corner. Commitment is always being tested all the way through parental love, familial love, friendship and spousal love. 

For the child who was separated from her mother at birth or soon after, there is a physiological separation; but the psychological separation is a more difficult one. The realization of the effects of that separation may not surface for months or even years. There is a constant retesting of love and commitment. Allowing yourself to love and be loved is too dangerous; and you almost cannot trust that you won’t again be abandoned. Where does this fear originate? Is it possible that the trauma of separation at birth is written on the subconscious? If the first few years of life are the most important, why are the first moments of life not counted in those most important formative years?

If I subconsciously realize that I have been rejected by my biological parents, should it be surprising that I test the love and commitment of my adoptive parents and those around me? The problem is that behavior does nothing to alleviate the fear. As the demands for acceptance are increased, this behavior is increasing less acceptable and the very thing that is feared is the outcome that is obtained. It becomes self fulfilling prophecy. It’s as if the need for rejection is as strong as the need to test for acceptance but you keep up the guard by knowing the rejection will ultimately occur.

There’s an important history during that 40 weeks. I could feel when my daughter first moved. When I spoke to her she would move or kick. She and I have a bond that was developed from conception. After she was born when she was taken to be cleaned she was crying and when they placed her on my chest she immediately quieted. Why? She knew me. She trusted me and she knew where she was. Without that an infant’s sense of self is diminished and the domino is tipped over and starts the ripple effect.

Even though my adoptive parents say you were “chosen” or are “special” you have the experience of another mother to whom you were once attached. That attachment can never be ignored. The desire of my adoptive parents to have me cannot compare with the desire of my birth mother to let them. It’s still perceived as abandonment. Even though you may be told early on to avoid the trauma of finding out later in life, people still forget one thing. I was there. Whether I was a few days or a few months old there is still somewhere that you perceive that the person with whom you were biologically, genetically, historically, psychologically and emotionally bonded was gone.

Adoption isn't a concept that is learned. It is a real experience about which, whether consciously or subconsciously, there are recurring conflicting feelings. These feelings are in response to the most devastating loss you are ever likely to have; the loss of a parent. As long as I can remember I've always had the feeling that I couldn't count on anyone. I’ve lost the sense of security and well being. Couple the fear of being abandoned and alone with the fact that for the first three months of life I was alone.

I was in an incubator fighting for life. I was born at 7 months and weighed 2 lbs. I was fed through tubes, I could not be touched or held for the first months of life. The nerve endings of a premature baby are so close to the top of the skin any touch is like being on fire. Being held for too long now, is still uncomfortable. Babies are held and nurtured. They know the smell of their mother. I have no recollection of that comfort. Wanting it and needing it but uncomfortable getting it.

My behavior has always been diametrically opposed. Provocative, aggressive and impulsive and then withdrawn, compliant and quick to acquiesce. I repeatedly test commitments. Not quite believing they will always be there. Why? I came to my family because of a loss. It wasn't their fault but there was a child who had experienced grief that was placed in their arms. It cannot be erased. I was grieving for a face I never saw. I was searching for a heartbeat that was my original sense of security and it was different than the one I heard. They never knew and for a long period of time I never consciously knew; but it was there waiting to emerge. Little cracks in the surface sometimes appear but you are determined to keep that part of your buried and hidden from others.

Why have I always on my birthday made it “happy birthday to me?” Is it because I've never wanted to celebrate the day I was given away? After my father died, this feeling surfaced radically. I was so medicated and grief stricken that I lashed out and threw the ring he’d bought for me before he died. I screamed at my adoptive mother that my dad was the only one who ever loved me and that they didn't. I told her she was never my real mother and that she never loved me. Did I mean her? Or did I mean my birth mother? I remember finding out at 14 that my birth mother wasn't dead like they’d told me, my father dying, my marriage breaking up. Everything I know says that nothing is permanent.

There was a feeling of starting over when my father died. I felt like an orphan again. I never could figure out why I felt that way, after all I still had my brothers and my mother, but I did. I felt absolutely alone. Left again. My mom did the best she could but our hearts never seemed to connect. I felt like we were ships passing in the night. I don’t know why I connected with my father. It’s possible that he was my biological father. There were too many things that could point to that, but even if he wasn't the connection was there. I watch the old movies and I wanted to be like him and I wanted to be validated and approved by him. It wasn't as important to me to have my mothers’ acceptance but it was of utmost importance to have my fathers.

 I remember when I was 4 ½ years old, I tripped and fell into a glass bowl of potato chips I was carrying. My head was bleeding and my parents couldn't be sure if I had glass in my eyes. My brothers say I wanted to sit up and have them take me to the mirror so “I could see me bleed.” Also, when the doctor came I need stitches and they wanted to take me to the hospital. I guess when they said hospital I went crazy. I refused to go. He said he could do the stitches on the table but it would hurt and I’d have to be still. I imagine he thought that would frighten me enough to go to the hospital. My brothers said I laid down on the table and didn't move. When he stitched up my head I didn't cry or move a muscle. My brother told me what he remembers most about that night was that I was never out of control. He thought my dad was going to pass out, my mother was crying, there was chaos everywhere but I was totally calm and in control. He can’t remember a time when I was little when I was ever out of control. He told me that whenever I got hurt I would hardly ever cry and maintain absolute control over the pain. They thought I was brave. Somehow, I don’t think that’s what it was. A few months after that I fell again and I was so frightened by what my dad would think I remember hiding behind his chair. Did I think, really think that if I wasn't perfect that he’d send me away?

The need for control, the people pleasing, polite, charming and good, but locked inside is the unacceptable baby that would come back to life if you’re not vigilant. It was better when they lied and told me that she died at birth. When I found out that it wasn't true, the betrayal was even greater. There is a fear of connecting, the need to be perfect so that there isn't a feeling that you failed your first mother. It’s almost as if you have to be perfect so you can remain; so they can’t get rid of you. The walls you build around yourself are high. There are walls of perfectionism, walls of control, walls of self-sufficiency. You believe that you can do it yourself – all by yourself.

You resist the very thing you need. You get very insecure about the meaning of love. Because my birth mother loved me and wanted the best for me she gave me up. This tells me that if one is loved, one is ultimately abandoned. You desperately need love but love is dangerous. You distance yourself from really bonding because bonding brings pain. Maybe that’s why it’s always been easier to open up on the phone than in person. The phone gives me the security to say what is in my heart. I can allow the intimacy as long as I’m not threatened by the physical presence of someone asking that I open up to them. You push against the inevitable and guard against it.

How do you heal and merge the true and false self? It’s a strange thing, not knowing who you really are. You’re faceless in the mirror. There’s no past to draw on. It’s truly present tense and it’s not enough. There’s nothing there to bind you to anything. There are no links in the chain. I wonder if she ever thinks about me, if she’s alive. I wonder what she thinks every August? I know she’s seen me. I know she knows who I am. Why didn’t she come forward? Why did she give me away? It’s possible she didn’t want me and that I truly was given to people that wanted me but there are still questions. What does she look like? What is she like? Who do I look like? Who am I? There are questions I ask, questions I may never know. I’ll probably have to give up one day and accept it for what it is.

I wish I knew my medical history. Not just for me but for my daughter. She has no idea what heredity plays in her life on her mother side. I know I’ll continue to try to find out. I’ve started and now I don’t want to stop until I find out who she is and what she was. I want to know if she had other children. I want to know what she looked like. I want to know what made her give me up. I don’t know if I’ll ever know the answer to that question but I’m going to try. I need to do this for me and for Danielle. I need to feel complete and whole not a fragmented person.

I’ve always been attracted to people that wouldn’t go forward. Is it possible the fear is from me? I keep these people close because I expect them to go away. That way I won’t be surprised when they leave. If they don’t I send them away. Either way, they must leave because if they stay I run the risk of losing my heart. 

That’s a risk I don’t know if I can take.


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