UGH, I think I'm one of THEM........  

Friday, November 14, 2008

While having a casual conversation with a dear friend of mine not too long ago, the topic of reunion and families came up. She is also an adoptee who searched and found her roots. Good, bad or ugly, she finally had some answers in her life.

As we chatted about nature vs. nurture, the importence of just knowing and general rights we, as adoptees, are denied, I made a passing comment about my daughter. A comment that would lead to a huge revalation for me and haunt me.

Let me give some background, so you can understand.

At the ripe age of 17 I became pregnant with my daughter. I was a senior in high school and was college bound-or so I thought. Her father was a quiet one, a far cry from my outlandish and loud personality. It wasn't exactly love at first sight-to be honest-it wasn't even like. I actully didn't care for him much. He was too quiet, too brooding, too mousey. But as I got to know him I found his true personality and was slightly smitten. We dated casually for some time and I became pregnant. I was scared but was determined to keep my baby. I called him to break the news. After a 15-20 minute conversation-I delivered the blow. He became quiet....he stammered a little....then he said it "ummm, WHO is this? I think you have the wrong number, I don't know anyone by that name. Sorry" >>click<<>

So it has now been 18 years. I have never attempted to contact him, I did not push for him to be in her life. I couldn't, what if one day he grew angry with her over me? What if he resented her and treated her poorly? I would not take that chance.
Years passed, and every so often I would see his name in the paper for some crime he commited. Drunk driving, larceny, wasn't often, but enough to make me catch my breath each time. He sent word via a mutual friend that he had moved to another state, but there was his name in black and white in our local paper.

Over the years my daughter would question. She was hurt, curious, angry, confused, everything most of us are when we have a huge piece of our lives missing from the puzzle. I tried to keep the conversations light and not voice my anger toward him. It was not my place to form a poor image of her 'father' when she didn't know him. Hell, I didn't know him any more, how could I assume what he was?
Finally when she turned 16, I think, things were becoming increasingly hostile with her. She blamed most of this on the fact that she didn't even know his name. I finally broke and gave it to her.

Now this should have been a weight off my shoulders, but it wasn't. In fact it was the exact opposite. I found myself more vocal of my distain of him. I made snap judgements of what I figured he had turned out to be. I did everything in my power to keep her from searching for him. He could be very toxic to her. He may not have grown up at all. He may use her to gain for his own personal issues.

He may hurt her. He may shun her. He may deny her. He may DESTROY her.

So while friend and I were in this discussion, she stuffed my own personal blank slate of a past, in my face. She reminded me of the emptiness I had before I searched and found my mother and father. She waved the fact that my own father had a 'past' too, that he was a different person back then. I ALREADY KNEW ALL THIS. I knew because I went through it. I remembered the anger and pain I felt when I was met with closed doors at every turn during my search. I remember the questions, the gaping holes in my genetic history, the constant, nagging "what if....."

It really made me understand another side of the triad of adoption. I was doing everything I could to protect her, and I didn't even know for sure she needed protection. I was taking on the role of adoptive parent. I was battling the unknown of biology and it scared me. I was willing to deny her what I so desperately fought to attain for myself. KNOWLEDGE. I deserved to know, it was my roots and I wanted them. I was entitled to them. But when it came to taking a backseat and watching a potential train wreck with my daughter-I put on the brakes. I forgot what it was like to be the one in the dark.

I was ashamed of myself.

But with shame came a newfound respect. I thought of how my aparents must have felt. The fear of having to pick up the pieces if the reunion went sour. The worry of her liking or loving him more than me. The panic of potentially losing your child to a stranger.

I was willing to put it all out there when I was the one doing the looking. But to think of her being the one out there with her heart was almost too much to bear.

I got a heaping dose of 'humble pie' that day. I realized what I had been doing and the possible backlash of it. I realized I was the thing I hated most during my search-the one with the answers that refused to talk. The person that was single handedly robbing her of her roots.

I have a new perspective on this now. Granted its easy for me to say now, she is in a place in her life that does not involve searching. So I am safe-for a while. But I have vowed to have as much info for her as possible when the day comes. And I know it will come. I would rather give her the chance to know, then to allow her to have a lifetime of wondering. Even if its a farce reunion, she will be able to say she knows. Any adoptee can relate to the idea that knowing is usually better.

So, to you Dear Friend, thanks. I know you had no idea how much our conversation affected me. You slapped me with the reality stick and brought me back down to earth. I appreciate your honesty and understanding, but most of all I appreciate your gentle push in the right direction. I will do the right thing and help her when the time comes. Even if I hate every second of it-it not about ME, its about HER.

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