I remember the day I was adopted. By my mom. The process was unique. The lawyer handling it said she had never heard of such a case. Nor had the courts. I remember the day we went out for dinner, just the two of us, to celebrate. We gave each other small presents, tokens of our love and affection for each other.
My adoption was unique because it happened when I was an adult. I even paid for the process. It happened because I wanted my mom to be so legally. I wanted any legal tie with my biological mother severed. Like the relationship we had. I wanted to be adopted because I wanted to feel that sense of belonging. I wanted to know that my mom was my mom. Forever. That adoption (and the papers I have down in my office) means a lot to me. So much so that even when I was not in contact with my parents, and explored an adult relationship with my biological mother, I kept those papers safe. I did not pursue dissolving the adoption. Truthfully I never even gave that notion a thought.
Symbol for adoption.
I did not speak to my parents for nearly a decade. My family has mixed opinions of why. My youngest brothers hate me for it and cast such harsh judgements it has changed how I look at them as people. My own truth and reasons still do not seem to come in to play for any of them. It seems that they all think because I caused the hurt I do not have the right to feel or be hurt. And while it frustrates, hurts and even infuriates me, I can accept it. Because their feelings and perspective are unique. I am not in the business of denying people the right to their own feelings. But it pains me that no one tries to understand why I (for lack of better words) turned away from my family.
And they me. No one came looking for me or asking me what happened. I had siblings, aunts and uncles, cousins (all grown-ups, mind you) and no one ever wondered (to me) where I was or what had happened. Between my folks and I. And the same occurred when I ceased contact with my biological mother, after this last failed attempt at a relationship. CORRECTION: my second-oldest step-brother sent a brief email asking if I had “unfriended” him on Facebook (I had). When I fired one back thanking him for his concerns and explained that my step-father (his father) had told me I was not to contact anyone in the family if I was not going to speak to my mother. I never heard a word back.
My biological mother grew up in the country. She was athletic, popular and a local beauty queen. She and my father met at university. Married before they graduated. He did. She did not. There are mixed reports as to why. I was born nine years after their union. Followed by two brothers. They divorced when I was about six, I believe.
My memory isn’t what it used to be. Not because of old age but because of brain damage. Anyways. I believe our emotions hold memories. You can think about a person or thing or place and feel the emotions of it. When I do this with my own childhood I can distinctly feel a disconnection, between my mother and me. I can feel a fondness for my father that was not there for her. If I sit for a bit longer I become haunted by her looks of disappointment and disapproval. I went to live with my dad and (now) mom the summer before grade 8. And I never looked back.
My biological mother favoured my brothers. One brother in particular, but collectively they were the prize. I was the…well, I don’t know what I was. In the way maybe. She was cruel and physically abusive at times. Always telling me I should go live with my dad because I was his daughter (so my nine-month residency in her uterus was…?). I was always separated from my brothers. She bought them things, took them places, went on field trips. I just made do.
I can remember a time that is most embarrassing. I am hesitant to even post it but will proceed because I think it illustrates her well. I still lived with her, so I could be no more than 11 or 12 years old. I took dance (that year would be my last). My biological mother is very active and fit. I was active, played lots of sports. But was a bit chunky (turns out my prepubescent weight troubles were a sign). She used to march me all over to dieticians. Made me diet. But never sought out the advice of a doctor. Anyways. Dance class. I had started to lose interest. It was not my dream to be a dancer. I didn’t have friends in dance. I went because she signed me up and drove me out there. It had become overwhelming for me. I was the only plump one and the other girls arrived immaculately dressed, hair done. I looked a mess. Probably showed up covered in paint and dirt (two of my most favourite things still to this day!).
So. Off we went to dance class. My brothers in tow. I enter the studio room (hardwood floors, white walls, giant mirrors – eek!) and gaze out the enormous viewing window at all the parents. We begin with stretching. Everything appears to be going well. Nothing unusual. Until I feel a draft. And not the kind you feel when a door or window is open. A down there draft. My pants have ripped! I panic. I tell the instructor. She allows me to go speak with my mother, who is only half paying attention as she is chatting to other parents and minding my brothers. My darling mother blows me off, tells me to get back in there and finish the class. I am mortified. I explain that I can’t. I do not have underwear on (typical for dance). But she already knew that. As I am sure by this point so did everyone else. MORTIFIED.
I never danced again.
I am an odd duck. I know it. It is totally fine with me. I have never once felt comfortable or like I belong with my family. Perhaps that is why it is so easy for them to forget about me. Or discount my feelings. I have never had comradery or friends. I have tried a couple of times but the outcomes have been disastrous.
My husband alerted me to a quote (he read it off a calendar at work, so I am paraphrasing his paraphrasing) blood isn’t family, loyalty is family. I have always been opposed to the notion that blood is thicker than water and that is largely due to my mom. MY REAL MOM. Not the woman who gave birth to me. But they loyalty? I don’t know if that’s the case either. Though it is with my family. My husband is the only person who I feel has been loyal to me in the way the first quote suggests. In that sense he and I have been family since day one.
I am glad I have reunited with my parents. Being a part from them was one of the hardest things I have ever had to do and I have done PUH-LENTY of hard things. But it was also a crucial and very difficult decision. Made when I was very young. And I stand by it. I honestly believe we would not be where we are now if I had not.
And this is where I want to be. I want my son to have grandparents. I want to know that there are people around to look after him should something happen to me (or my husband). Those people should be present in his life. To love him and guide him. Protect and support him. He deserves that. More than anything. And he will always have it. As long as I have anything to say (or do) about it. His happiness reigns supreme in my world. And his grandparents bring him a lot of joy. He adores them.
For those who think I am using him as a pawn be warned. You will never know his beautiful spirit. Or the light he holds within him. To make such a comment is disgusting. And renders you undeserving of his magic.
Mom is the Word
I never expected to become a mother. I was told at a young age it was not possible. I had feared from a young age that if I did I would turn out like my biological mother. There was no way I would subject a child to what I had been exposed to in my youth. But my mom changed a lot of that.
For a few years she was my dad’s girlfriend. Then my step-mom. Then my mom. The turn came in my mid-teens. We had always been close (shared good times and bad, but who doesn’t?), even when I was really young. She did loads of fun things for us when we were kids. Never tried to replace our mother yet loved us the way a mother should.
In my life as a mother now (and even before we reunited at the start of last year) I have often found myself doing mom things she did. And I am proud of that.
I hope she is too.