I struggled with fears that I would be disloyal to my parents if I was to search for my biological parents. My parents never hid the truth about me being adopted. They didn’t have a whole pile of information but what they knew they told me. I never thought that my parents would fear the fact that one day I would hunt down my natural parents and leave them. I did search for my biological parents and I was never going to swap over my loyalty and feelings I had/have for my real parents. My Mum and Dad had brought me up and loved me unconditionally. My reason for searching was, I was lucky enough to start my own family and was for the first time worried that I did not have historic medical information. If there was any underlining problems I should be aware of? I never really wondered how my parents would feel/react about any interest I would have, with my search for my birth parents. They had asked if I had any desire to locate them but I had always said no. I knew when I eventually decided to try and find them the emotions would be painful and difficult so I did not to tell them of my intentions.
Of course not every adopted person will express an interest to locate their birth family. Some of us become aware that most adoptions occur due to financial and/or emotional reasons. In my case my biological mother was 16 when she became pregnant with me and 17 when I was born. Her family were staunch right winged catholics so having me out of wedlock was not an option. Ironically I learned that my biological grandfather had an affair and a daughter from that relationship exists. Do as I say not as I do!
I was adopted in England so my search began with the little info I had. I was able to track down the institute I was adopted from easily and from there I phoned and was put through to a wonderful nun, Sister Austin. If there are such things as angels she is definitely one. We spoke over the phone and I sent off the documentation I had and from there my journey began. The next step was to travel over to Bristol, have an interview and a psych evaluation. It was explained to me that she may be dead or have no interest in meeting me or they just might not be able to locate her. They were able to give me some information on both of my biological parents which I was able to take away.
This was very strange, as I was in my thirties and I was looking at something a child wrote whom happened to be my birth mother. It made me very emotional and filled me with sorrow. I’m not sure if it was a connection or just the fact I had a 2 year old daughter at home and wanted to protect her and be there for her, no matter what. I have 2 daughters now and I honestly believe this process inspired me to make a lot of changes. Since 2008 I have been front and centre in the upbringing of my girls. In 2013 my marriage ended and I am lucky enough to have 50% custody of my girls. My eldest has no real need for Dad and no matter how cool I think I am, well I’m not. My youngest is very close to having no real need for me except for guidance. In years to come I look forward to hearing whether I did a good job or if I was a complete fail. There really is no way of telling and I wonder if my adoption or experiences in boarding school equipped me with the right tools. Time will tell.
I received a call from Sister Austin and they had found her and she was interested to make contact with me. I was full of mixed emotions, the main one guilt. Had I let my parents down? They had done everything for me and more. Should I just call everything off? I had come this far and I thought back to a young 17 year old girl having to give her baby up. I decided to keep going. As long as my parents never found out, nobody would get hurt!
My wife thought I should be upfront and come clean. I explained my mother would be hurt and I could not do that to her and me. This conversation went on for a long time and in the end I was frank with my decision that I did not want my parents knowing. My wife and I were at opposites for this decision, but I believed it was mine to make.
From conception we develop physically from top to bottom, but really this self development takes place during our school years and we certainly are very aware of it and I was self-conscious of it. Our head, body then legs then feet, fingers and toes grow. Our muscles develop and we can run, hop, jump, catch, carry and even climb. As a child I was kept very busy outside of school and involved in all sports and I believe this helped a lot in my own development and certainly in trying to understand and master the world I was living in. Naturally accidents and failure were a regular feature but this all aided me in the art of problem solving. Divorce was not a thing in Ireland when I was growing up so I was aware that all my friends lived with their biological parents and I understood what adoption meant. This is when I saw a difference between me and my friends.
Essentially at this time I struggled with the meaning of being adopted, felt sad and even a bit lost. I wondered was there something wrong me and why wasn’t I wanted? These emotions had nothing to do with my parents they were always there for me just as a Mum and Dad should be. But it did not stop me from thinking why would my birth Mother give me away? Looking back I probably felt abandoned and was angry. This might explain some of my behaviour especially when playing sports. Loosing was not an option and I was motivated. From the age of 14 I became very self aware and I remember I had told someone in school that I was adopted and had sworn him to secrecy. However for some reason he told the other kids and I ended up breaking a chair on him. Safe to say that was the end of the friendship and my parents were called in to the school to give an explanation and they stood by me. I day dreamed a lot, a hell of a lot trying to figure out and work through my identity issues and worried that my Mum and Dad would take off and leave me. I never asked for reassurance, I was in boarding school so I had to sort these emotions out on my own.
I don’t make friends easily and probable have a lot of trust issues. My first profession was in Hotel Management and I learned how to pretend, I was on stage. Put a suit on and I could pretend to be anyone and I am really good at it. I would get home after a long day at work and collapse into the comfort of myself. I continually questioned what people thought of me and often socially would leave in the middle of a party. I am sure I lost friends over this as they thought I was weird or just did not care but the reality was I was exhausted pretending not to be me.
I am convinced I have a mild form of dyslexia but have never got tested, I do tick most of the boxes, Google is a great tool for self diagnosing. One of my closest friends swears I am on the borderline of autism, Google agrees but again I was never diagnosed. The one thing I definitely was, was hyper to the point of manic. School was tough, I had the concentration span of a goldfish and needed to hear things being repeated which never happened so I lost out and most of my teachers lost interest in me. I found it hard in school and this in turn led to this stage of my life, difficult and confusing.
During my teenage years I did wonder about my genetic history and thought how different life might be if I hadn’t been adopted, would there be similarities or what differences would exist? Where did I belong and where would I be? All of these feelings I kept to myself, my private thoughts.
Of course this is my story and each adoptive child differs throughout their childhood developmental stage. Adopted children view adoption differently but our emotions are very real and live on with us.
I think I was adopted at about 6 weeks of age, so it is safe to say I have absolutely no memory of it. For me my adoptive parents have always been Mum and Dad, and I have been extremely lucky to have been loved all of my life. My parents worked hard to give me every opportunity in life and have supported me through my up’s and downs. I understand now how hard it is to be a parent but I also know what unconditional love is and that is the best reward life can give you.
Time and experience in life gives me great hindsight and at the tender age of 51, I know who I am and for once I own my identity and like me. It has taken me this long to see myself and be comfortable and even at times like what I see. In many respects being adopted as an infant led to me being affected by adoption all my life. I experienced issues of attachment, self-image and loss. Of course this is just my experience and my thoughts and my Mum and Dad were wonderful. These emotions I never spoke of and reflecting back may explain some of my behaviour. I remember being told I was adopted and I think I was around 5 years of age. I was confused but understood and remember trying to work things out in my mind and come to terms with having birth parents and adopted parents and somehow try to marry them together.
I would imagine children who are adopted later on in life have a very different experience and come to terms with it at a different stage of their developmental life. I have never understood why I grieved the loss of my biological parents after all I didn’t know them and I have fantastic parents. But I did. Transracial, cross-cultural and special needs issues will also affect a Childs adoption experience. To explain what I mean is some time ago I met my biological Mother and she was disappointed to learn I was Irish. There are no words to describe what flashed trough my mind as I listened to that comment. Mum and Dad brought me up well and I always open my door, mind and heart to any human no matter who or where they come from. They can be pink or blue, rich or poor a human is a human!
I have been lucky enough to work with children in a professional capacity and it was the best job I have had to date and has motivated me to write about my life experiences. As a child you will attach yourself to and bond with the primary caregiver. The temperament and the atmosphere of the home will affect how the child integrates and adjusts. Then the preschool age, my favourite age. My imagination ran away with me, cowboys were al the rage and even the odd superhero. What a fantasy! I didn’t understand how children were made but my mum somehow explained to me in such a way that I understood another lady gave birth to me and it was the same way as any other child was born just she didn’t give birth to me. I had no concept of time or space but knew mum was mum and another lady gave birth to me. I was good go and time to jump back on my horse and catch the baddies. I am sure this opened the door for my parents to introduce the language of adoption and start the story of my journey. It was this opens on my parents part that lead to a degree of comfort about talking about my adoption.