All the recent talk about open versus closed adoptions got me to thinking again about my own adoption and how things have changed over the years.
I was, what would have been called an accident that resulted in the fabled shotgun wedding in the very late 1960s. I can't remember not knowing that, I mean I can't remember when I found out, it just seems like I always knew but not in a way like it was a bad thing, I just knew like I knew the sun would come up every day and my mom would always love me.
I do remember the day I found out I was adopted which in a way is kind of strange since I always knew. My parents were divorced when I was two years old, my mother remarried when I was three and my stepfather adopted me right away. I was even at the adoption proceeding. I don't actually remember the adoption but I do remember driving there and my parents coaching me that the judge was going to ask me some questions like did I like my new daddy and that sort of thing.
Jump forward two years, I'm five and asking questions. I remembered a man in my life that was no longer there but not who he was. I don't know why, but I asked my Aunt who he was (probably because she happened to be close to me at that moment). She told me he was my "real daddy". Now before you all freak out, this was the mid 1970s and that's just how people talked. I remember going and questioning my Mom about this new development and even now I can remember the look on her face. She was angry with her sister for telling me something she really had no place telling me about, she was afraid of how I would react, and she was dreading having a conversation I think she had hoped to put off for a while.
So we sat down and she told me the whole thing. How she had gotten pregnant while they were still in high school and since they were already engaged they just got married sooner than they planned. How neither of them was really ready to be a parent and even though they tried, they couldn't make it work. When my mom remarried my "real father" suggested to my stepfather that he should adopt me and that's exactly what he did. He wanted to erase any hint of my "real father" so he even had my birth certificate remade with his name as the father. There were a few pictures Mom had saved for me of him and his family and we looked at them that day too.
After that there wasn't much talk of him. Every once in a while he would come up in conversation and oddly enough, even though I never saw him and had no contact at all, he was always referred to as my "real father". My stepfather was Dad or my Dad in conversation and only referred to as stepfather when clarifying my history.
I don't know when it changed but eventually "real father" completely disappeared. It changed to biological father for a while. I would like to say it changed when I grew up and realized how much I was hurting him but I can't. I think it changed because the terminology changed and you just didn't say it like that anymore. (By the way, he and I did talk about that years later when he was dieing and he assured me he knew I didn't say it in a negative way)
When I was 18 I searched out my biological fathers family. I was curious about his sisters and brothers (really had no interest in him). I found them, we talked a little but I think too much time had gone by, I had no tie to them anymore. There was nothing but curiosity about what kind of people they where. One of the siblings told him I called and he took it on himself to call me. Fast forward through an odd conversation, I go to see him at his home in Michigan. I spent a week with him and his family feeling like a fifth wheel in the worst way. It's not really necessary to go into the entire trip but suffice it to say, we did not connect. I went home and told my parents all about my trip. My father was waiting so nervously, fearing that I was going to drop a bombshell like "he's great, I'm going to go live with him now" or something like that. I found out that night that he had lived in fear my whole life that he would raise me and love me and I would forget all about him. I assured him that that was not going to happen and "biological father" was changed to his first name that day. I sometimes think I was a little too hard on him that week but then I remember how he let me leave after telling me repeatedly how much he loved me and never contacted me again.
Fast forward 27 years and for some reason I thought of him again. I don't know what pushed me but I just had to find him. After a little work I found his obituary. A little more work and I found his wife on facebook. We talked a little about my half brother and half sister and what happened to their father and that was the end of it, we went on with our separate lives.
I "lost" my whole life with my "father" and I don't care. The adoption was firmly closed and I am fine. I am mentally balanced and have no regrets. In my house an open adoption would have been a very bad thing. My father hated my "father" and it would have been too much confusion for my family. Maybe I'm a bad person for feeling this way but for me and my life, the adoption that we had was the best for all of us. I had a great life with two parents who love me and that's the most important part of the whole thing isn't it? To raise a happy, healthy, well balanced adult.
Written By Bonnie
Retail Business Owner
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