Thursday, January 26, 2012

Where do I Belong?

If you would have asked me at any point in my closed adoption journey if I had any regrets, I would have said, "No way." This has been the party line to myself and others for a long time. And it's not a lie. Placing Katie with her family was the best parenting decision I could have made for her and myself at that time given that set of circumstances.

Until recently, that was as wide of a circle that I put around 'regret'. That's since changed. I have begun to realize that I actually regret a lot of things surrounding the adoption.

One thing I have struggled with is belonging. I had the same group of friends for years growing up. We went to school together, played in the band together, went to extracurricular classes together, and considered each other friends. When I got pregnant the summer between my freshman and sophomore years of high school, I was literally there one day and gone the next. My parents forbid me to keep in in contact with any of my friends, and I complied. They didn't want anyone to know where I was or what was going on.

After my pregnancy and adoption, I did return home, but only long enough to pack up our house and move across the country. I started a new high school my junior year and graduated with that class at the end of my senior year. But since I had moved to a small town and a small school, those kids had been together since kindergarten. Though I tried to blend in, I just didn't.

So I no longer belonged to the graduating class in my hometown because I didn't graduate with them. And I didn't belong to the class I graduated with because I hadn't grown up there. So a part of me feels like I don't belong anywhere.

Not a big deal, but one I have wrestled with as my husband's class reunions come and go. And as my friends talk about going to their reunions. I've never been to one of mine because I'm not sure where I would go and belong.


  1. "So I no longer belonged to the graduating class in my hometown because I didn't graduate with them. And I didn't belong to the class I graduated with because I hadn't grown up there. So a part of me feels like I don't belong anywhere"

    You've summed up how an adoptee feels being born in one family and raised in another.

    1. Hmmm JJ.. interesting parallel. Is that really true? You don't feel like you fit in with your family? Even though you have a lifetime of memories and things that connect you?

  2. "You don't feel like you fit in with your family? Even though you have a lifetime of memories and things that connect you"

    I could also ask you why you didn't feel like you fit in with your former class, despite the years of friendship? However, I am assuming that you feel that you don't belong anywhere because you are caught between two worlds, you are neither here nor there. Perhaps I should have been more clear and explained that when one does enter reunion, that is how one feels - you are in two worlds and trying to tie them together, knowing you have to deal with it yourself.

    Btw I didn't say the above due to any resentment or anything like that - I know why my bmom placed me and I fully understand. However, knowing that your child is going to be of two families - one nature, one nurture, is just one of the factors for a mother to consider when placing her child. I am not saying this to stop her from placing, just as a factor to consider.

  3. Btw the main reason I said the above is because I have done an adoption counselling course, checked out adoption agency websites, read unplanned pregnancy "help" blogs and pretty well all of the act as if "giving one's child a better life by placing them" is a simple case of "trading up" with no effect AT ALL on the child. However happy a child may be with their adoptive parents (and the majority of us luckily do have good lives growing up), the child does still have to do something right from birth that not many other people have to do - they have to make sense of the situation that they have 4 parents. That is why so many adoptees dismiss the fact that they have bparents, because it can be a lot of work amalgamating ones two sides (i.e. nature/nurture) - it is much easier to just concentrate on the nurture side. Again, this is not being said to "put anyone off" placing, just stating that agencies/counsellors need to just let their clients know that it is not a simple case of "giving one's child a better life". The child may well be getting a better life but they do have to make their own compromises because of it.

    1. Thanks for your comments JJ. I have struggled to understand my birthdaughter's not wanting to have a steady relationship with me. But this really helps me see her side more clearly. Thank you again. Any other thoughts you'd like to share with me?

  4. Hi Terry, sorry I've taken so long to reply. I thought I better read all your past posts to see what your situation was - I see she is now in her 20s.

    A lot of it can be to do with age. Being in her 20s, she may not feel emotionally ready yet to have a relationship with you - even when your relationship is with extended family only (like mine, my bmom died young), it can still be like a rollercoaster. Also, even though you "remember" your baby, to us, our bparents can be like an abstract concept - eg it is like you as a bmom are returning to a country you once knew, for us adoptees, it can be like we don't even know what country we are in and sometimes we have to sort that out first.

    Has she ever said anything to you about why she doesn't want a relationship?

    One thing I found before I made contact with my bfamily is that I was pretty OK about everything. However, when I saw how nice my bfamily is and how lovely my bmom seems to have been, I found that my heart needed to know answers. I have done a lot of research over the years and do understand how it was for women in the 60s and that has helped me to understand how it was for my bmom. I know that a lot of adoptees don't realise how it was for many bmoms and that may be the case with your daughter. I know you didn't relinquish until the 80s but from reading your past posts, it does sound like you didn't have a lot of family support so you did what was felt to be the best thing for her at the time given the options you had. I remember a bmom saying the following about a friend of hers that worked with adoptees and despite what agencies may tell you about a child being glad they were placed with other parents to raise, there is a lot of truth to what her friend says:
    This woman's friend said that "the one thing most adoptees want to know is that their birthmother exhausted all her options to keep them together."
    Even when you read AP blogs, you can see that when their child does ask about why they were adopted, they often do want to know that their bmoms would have liked to have parented them if things were different - and the nicer the bmom, the more the above is the case.

    If I were a bmom, even if I felt I had done the only thing I could have done, I do think it is important to put in a timeframe - so even if a bmom feels she has done the right thing, it is best to say that she did what she felt was the right thing AT THE TIME. Sometimes when the adoptee hears "I did the right thing", it can come across the wrong way - it can sound to some ears like the bmom was more than happy that she placed her child for adoption knowing she may never see them again - even though that really isn't what the bmom meant (as I said, normally she means that she did what was best at the time). The adoptee may also feel that when her bmom says "I did the right thing" that her bmom mustn't have missed her that much. Again, this is why it can be hard for those with nice bmoms - because they see their bmoms with their lovely families and wonder why they needed to relinquished - again, this is where I feel it is important to point out that it is due to circumstances, options and advice given at the time.

    Actually, it is very easy to say the wrong thing - even with my reunion with my relatives, I am sure that I have said insensitive things and there are times my relatives have said things that I am not sure how to interpret. One just has to think about the motivebehind what is said and that helps put the "difficult words" in perspective - I know my relatives mean well as did I.

    Anyway, I don't know if the above helps at all but just thought I would throw a few things out there.