Wednesday, September 5, 2012

My Adoption Mystery Continues

It doesn’t really take a therapist to diagnosis me at this point.  I have always known where my issues stem from.  A friend called after I posted the first segment of my adoption story.  As we recollected 20 years ago, she told me that I never really discussed it with her.  Apparently, whenever the conversation was approached at some point I became terribly upset and we dropped the subject.  It’s funny how our minds block out the bad memories and era around it.  I guess it’s our body’s way of not reliving the past over and over.  Unfortunately, this has never really been my scenario.  I can remember everything about that day; it’s the details surrounding it that are sketchy. 

Upon finding out the truth, it was never that I wanted a new mom and dad. It was more, or less wanting to know my background details.  I have the perfect mom and dad.  When I say it destroyed me and cut out my heart finding out that the life I enjoyed up until that point doesn’t mean I wanted to throw away my current family and go on some major search for my birth family.  I felt deceived by the ones I love for not telling me the truth when the opportunity arose.  Maybe, even a little agitated that the truth came from someone else and apparently everyone knew the whole time.  When I say everyone, I mean like anyone close to our family and a good bit of the towns members as well.   My life was like a big old secret that no one was willing to share. To this day, it’s still a great big old secret. 
Over the years, I dreamt of what my mother looked like, whether or not I had siblings and what their lives were like.  The biggest thing that occupied my heart was wondering whether or not they knew about me and why no one ever came forward to make contact at some point.  As I previously stated, that day did change me and how I feel toward people in general and has probably affected my relationships over the years.  People always say, “you need to move on,” but I am here to tell you that you can never move forward until you are at peace with the situation.  By saying, “at peace” I mean comfortable and without questions and lingering thoughts. 

When my daughters were born, the thought did cross my mind whether or not they resembled my birth family.  It was a brief thought.   About the time I found out about the adoption at the early age of 17, a very dear friend actually worked in the courthouse sealed records department for the county in which I was born.  As faith would have it, her position ended about a week prior to this knowledge being released.  Otherwise, I may have been able to get the answers I have so desperately been searching for over the years.  Adoption boards aren’t really effective and in the even the records are sealed from the birth mother there is no way to obtain access.  However, there is a loophole.  If there are arising medical conditions present you can petition the court to give you the medical history but yet the birth parents names are still not revealed unless they agree.  

When I was 23, I had a brief battle with Cancer, which took away my childbearing options.  I nearly died from blood loss after several surgeries and procedures were ineffective.  Come to find out the doctors were amazed that I was able to have two children.  By the time I turned 30, I had severe back complications due to degenerative disc disease, which basically means my disc are detraining and collapsing.  So cough up another medical problem.  About a year ago, my daughter was diagnosed with Epilepsy, which unless there is some head trauma or complication from birth is an inherited trait as well.  After some digging, we determined that her Epilepsy was passed down from my side of the family.  Wonder why I am giving you a medical history?  This is one more important reason to be honest with adopted children.  Adoptees need medical histories.  If I would have had a complete family medical history, when the doctor misdiagnosed my daughter 10 years ago, we would have seen the signs, been able to get her the treatment she needed way before now.  Without the history, basically doctors are helpless and looking for direction by testing for everything under the moon.  

Over the years, I have questioned all the secrecy.   I know there are people who still know the truth about my situation, yet are determined not to come forward.  So as my everyday struggle continues to await the next major life-changing event, all I can do is pray and know that God has a plan for my family and me.  All will be revealed in time and maybe, just maybe some of the folks that are holding onto their secrets so tightly will come around. 

I have a theory about my birth parents; it’s just a theory.  However, it makes perfect sense to me and everyone I explain it to.  I will tell you that my mother is completely in the dark.  She wanted a child so badly and was unable to conceive.  My parents tried endless to adopt on several occasion and unfortunately back in those days, special education kids were not allowed to be placed within an adoptee parent’s home. My mom was heartbroken on several occasions due to the fact she had so much love to share and felt like she continued to hit a dead end road.  Maybe she felt like God was punishing her or maybe she just couldn’t take the thought of another failed adoption.  My father loved my mother very much and was quite determined to give her the child she so desperately wanted to fulfill her life.   There were no boundaries involved when it providing a child for her.  My mother purposely requested to be left out of the loop because she couldn’t handle any more disappointment.  

My father passed when I was quite young, I can’t even remember spending time with him as a young child.  Up until recently, I had never seen a picture of the two of us together.  Apparently, he did spend some time with me but felt like it was too much after he separated from my mother.  After all, by this time he had a new family and baby on the way.  Maybe it was his wife’s choice to not continue the relationship.  At this point, who can be sure?  

I have lived with pure hatred over the years wondering why he never visited me or injected some of his time into my life in some form or fashion.  After all, just because people separate doesn’t mean a child has to suffer.  I have even been to his grave to take flowers.  Occasionally, I find myself yelling and screaming at him for being so selfish that he left me in this predicament when it could have all been laid out on the table.  Some times the truth does hurt, however like a friend told me once, “if I know the truth, I know what I have to work with, without the truth, it just lingers”.  I believe in forgiving it’s the forgetting I have the most problems with.  How do you forget your father abandoned you after you were born, when so many people went to so much trouble to make sure you had a good home and great family?  It’s hurtful and sometimes just down right damn painful. 

Not long ago I found a letter my father wrote to my Grandmother while he was traveling.  The letter was way before my mother was in the picture.  I’ve held on tight to the letter because it’s the only thing I have that he wrote.  I also have a bracelet that my mother gave me not long ago with his name on it.  My great grandmother gave him the bracelet and he use to have our pictures inside.  It comforts me to have that bracelet on and feel like I have a part of him with me at all times. 

An everyday love can surprise you and take your breath away.  I remember the stories my mother told me about how my parents first met.  He would walk to the end of the world for her and it’s hard to imagine what could change that.  I guess there is always someone else right around the corner just waiting to take your breath away.   So was it love? I will always believe it was.  After all, the extremities that my parents went to in order to have a child shows the depth of a man’s heart and one true love.   Circumstances arose and things changed but that is clearly unconditional love. 

I have debated writing this segment of my life for quite sometime.   Last night, I just had an overwhelming feeling that maybe if I shared my history with you, I could find it in my heart to put a lot of this anger and sadness in the past.  After all, why pay a shrink who is constantly asking, “How do you feel about that?”  I am aware of how I feel and I know how my mistakes are constantly ruining my life.  I don’t blame them on my past. Although, I am looking to move forward as a new clean-hearted person ready to take on the world, new relationships and work on the issues I have that linger. 

The story isn’t actually over; I have some more juicy details.  However, it’s hard to get them all out at once.  My fingers just can’t type them all with my mind running a million miles a minute.  Your past does affect your future, but only if you allow it too and from this point I am determined to re-write my future.  

My Adoption Story

In life it’s a general assumption that most families fight, love and endure a lifetime.  General conception is that smaller families are close.  Raised in a very small family for majority of my life always made me wonder what the love of a big family meant.
It was later in my life that the truth of my background was unrevealed. Not exactly the option my parents chose originally.  I found out I was adopted at the ripe age of 17 just before I married my high school sweetheart.  Apparently, he thought it would be in our best interest to get the truth on the table.  Everyone always inquires, “How did he know?”  It’s simple, I’m from a small community and it’s not uncommon for everyone and anyone to know everything about everybody.  I can still remember the exact words he spoke gently as we rode to Florida on that afternoon.  “Tracy, how would you feel if you were to find out that your family isn’t actually your family?” I can remember the brief pause as I changed the radio station and said, “do what?”  He proceeded to tell me that I was adopted into my family and everyone had kept it from me over the years to protect me.  I can smell the air even today as I type this and Guns N Roses, “November Rain” started to play on our FM Stereo.  Up until this point, I was a very calm and quiet individual who mainly just kept to myself.  In that moment, I felt like I was going to throw up.   I asked if we could pull off interstate and I went into the bathroom overwhelmed with the news I had just been told.  The first call I made was to my Grandma Allgood who spoke softly and with authority as she began to give me a few of the details of how my existence came to be in this family.  The voice of my Grandma always seemed to sooth my soul and at this point I was terrified to call my mother to inquire the details.  Grandma Allgood stated, “no matter where you came from you are an Allgood and always will be”.  After hanging up the payphone, yes a payphone back then you actually needed quarters and a lot of them.  I called my brother.  Our relationship has never been very close, mainly because apparently we have the same father but different mothers and grew up in separate households.  It was assumed growing up that I was to stay clear of him and he was advised the same.  I could never understand why, but the details of our relationship are revealed later on.  When I called him I am not sure what exactly I expected to gain from the conversation.  I always felt close to him even though we have lives in different universes.  He talked to me for about ten minutes and confirmed what my fiancé told me but wouldn’t relay any of the details.
As I climbed into the truck that day to head south to Tampa, I remember vividly the colors of the sky and the shapes of the clouds and Guns N Roses kept coming on all the stations I flipped the radio to while my fiancé drove us.  It was such an empty feeling.  As if someone cut my heart out.  In that brief moment someone made a decision that would change the remainder of my life.  My plans were to stay in Tampa a few days and prepare for our new home after we married.  I drowned my heart with wine and beer the entire trip hoping to find something to relieve the pain of this newfound knowledge.
At this point, I had not spoken directly to my mother.  As a young girl, my mother petrified me to no lengths and the thought of calling her scared me to no end.  I’m not sure if it was because the call would confirm this news or destroy our relationship that made me so nervous.  So I prolonged the issue and waited until I arrived home.
After my arrival home, the conversation didn’t go quite as I planned.  My mother denied the adoption and we became quite angry at each other.  I moved out for a while and lived with my fiancés mother.  It was a short period of time.  Thus began my issues with trusting people to tell me the truth.  Everyday I would call my grandmother and cry and moan as to why my mother couldn’t just be honest with me and tell me the truth.  The secret of my adoption was larger than just a white lie to protect me.  A lot of people where involved and a lot of people mislead about my situation.  At one time, I heard the adoption was under the table.  Another time, I heard my dad was a doctor having an affair with a nurse at the Houston Medical Center, and then I heard my mom was working at a bar and it was a one-night stand.   Once I heard my dad was actually my dad.  That’s actually the closest story I believe considering my brother and I look very much alike.  I’m pretty sure I have pinned down my mother but I can’t prove it.  However, pictures don’t lie and that’s a story for another day.
A lot of friends and acquaintances have always wondered and pondered whether or not to ask me what they should do regarding the adoption of their children.  The manner in which my adoption information was released was very damaging to not only myself but my family as well.  I have carried it for years and I probably always will.  My father died when I was very young and it was his wish that the adoption be kept private.  Everyone in my family agreed to follow through with his wishes.  Seems really selfish to me, but that’s my opinion.  I’m one of those people who would rather you sit me down and lay out all the facts as to why things happened in a certain manner then to be left wondering.  Now here I am 38, and still no answers.  My adoption is like a revolving door full of secrets and mischiefs.  Whether or not my birth mother ever surfaces is totally irrelevant.   After all, it’s been 38 years and if she has not investigated to see how I turned out or even if I am alive isn’t very comforting.  I do sometimes wonder if there is someone out there I look like or have a close resemblance to.  Sometimes God answers prayers in mysterious ways and your answers come in unconfirmed ways.  I do believe a mother cherishes and loves her child to no end.  She raises her child to know right from wrong and even when it hurts disciplines her child in their best interest.   A mother is so much more than the person who became impregnated and carried a baby to term.  I have a wonderful mother and father that have cared for me through thick and thin and never bailed.  They did without, so I could have and made sure that I was loved and prepared for a life full of adventures, the good, the bad and the ugly.
So my answer to anyone who is debating when to tell their child about their adoption is simple.  Don’t put it off; yet don’t tell them too young.  Make sure your child is ready and can comprehend what it means to be adopted, “The Chosen One” as I call us.   I’m sure there are some circumstances that will prevail and allow you to obtain the answer you need to this question.  Every adoption is different.  I will tell you that living without understanding or even being able to get the full story will absolutely drive you crazy.  It causes depression, anxiety, trust issues and can make you isolate yourself from others mainly because you are afraid.  In that brief moment one September day in 1992, my life changed forever.  Everything I knew to be true felt like someone erased my past and made me feel like I had lived a lie. Even today, I am scared to get close to people because I am afraid that I will wake up one day and everything I believe to be true will be gone.  I’m scared to death to let new people in and when I do I am a nervous wreck.  I don’t necessarily feel rejected maybe a little abandoned by the truth.  So I spend my time waiting for people to leave.  After all, People always leave.
I appreciate the fact that a lot of my friends ask me about adoption and how to handle their situation.  My answers may not be the ones you are looking for but this is the truth from the life I have lived, all I can be is honest and tell you how this affected me over the years.  Protect your little ones, love them and always be honest with them.  One day they will appreciate your honesty and know you have protected them and loved them with your whole heart.  After all, it’s not the bloodline you come from that makes you a part of the family.  It’s LOVE. ~Tracy~