The search does not begin for any adoptee until they discover that they are in fact an adoptee. In that moment of discovery, a door appears within the self of the adoptee and it is closed. What may be hidden behind that closed-door? One can only wonder and imagine, unless one decides to open that door… Some will never open that door. Most will open in cautiously and proceed carefully. Others will kick in down and run in. The reality is that there is no wrong way to handle your own door. It’s yours. Do what ever you want. You take the risks, bear the responsibility, and will pay any and all cost incurred. I can only offer the following statement for advice. “Be careful what you wish for.”
Most people tend to forget things as they get older. Things can fade because they get less meaningful and significant to you over time. Some things we’d rather just forget, so we do. If you’re an adoptee doing a search, you’ll have to keep this in mind. You can’t force yourself to remember, any more than you can force someone else to. Something else you will find is that stories change over time. People edit, alter, add, delete, much of what they recall. This is human nature, and it’s done whether intentional or not. If you search, you’ll end up being a pretty good detective of sorts. You usually have to be in order to succeed.
I was a young child, pre-school age, around 5, when I discovered that I was adopted. There was a day when I was playing with some neighborhood kids. Some were around my age, some were a little older. I had been playing with them all for some time. Over weeks, months, and just recall typical kid stuff. Nothing unusual or extraordinary stands out. Then came the day when they told me that I couldn’t play with them any more because I was adopted. They shut me out, avoided me, sent me away. I went home that day and told my mom what had happened, then asked her if I was adopted. She told me I was. Of course she then went on to tell me how “special” that made me. I didn’t believe her, didn’t want to believe her, and didn’t want to be special if it meant I couldn’t play with my friends. I insisted that she call one of my 3 older sisters on the phone, so I could ask her too. On the phone, I asked one of my sisters if I was adopted and she told me, confirmed that I was. It was a pretty big shock at the time. That’s when I found “my door” within me. That day is when my search began.
Beyond my door, there was only emptiness. Except for a few “fluffy stories”, which were well-meant I’m sure, there were no real answers. Once I got past the threshold of my door, my “radar” kicked in. Without realizing it, I became hyper-aware. Being attentive to details may have naturally been part of my traits to begin with? But once I started being open to clues or any kind, I believe it elevated even more.
When I was being registered for school, my birth certificate was required. I was curious, so I asked to see it and was allowed to. While I was looking it over I noticed something. I had three older living sisters, and one brother that died as a child. The brother that had died as child was between my two oldest sisters, so he was way before my time. The the birth certificate listed my adoptive as my parents, which was correct and no surprise. In the box where the number of previous births is listed for my mom, it should have said four. Instead, it said two. Hmm… I can’t remember how I eventually dealt with this. But, I did find out that I had two older brothers because of this error. Or at least, that’s what I was told. Not sure of when I was told for sure. Could have been any time between first and fifth grade.
It seemed like every other kid I ever knew had at least a brother or a sister, and often more than one. Siblings. I had three older sisters, none of which was close to my age. They are roughly twenty, fifteen, and ten years older than myself. Closer to having two extra moms and maybe an aunt, rather than three sisters. It especially felt that way to me when I was young, even in to early adulthood, because the difference in age percentage wise is so great then. When I was a kid, I knew I had two brothers out there somewhere. In my reality, my parents were more the age that grandparents would be. In grade school, when we had parent and teacher conferences, I recall being asked several times, “Why is your Grandma here? Why didn’t your mom come?” Then, me having to explain, this is my mom… I didn’t take offense at kids asking that. I didn’t resent that my parents were “grandparent age”. Things were as they were, even if they were not always comfortable. Growing up, it was as if I was an “only child” being raised by my grandparents, in most ways. I think that’s how most of my peers saw my situation too.
Most people, even a lot of adoptees, feel uneasy about an adoptee deciding to search, ask questions, look for answers. Over the course of my experience, I encountered a lot of people, both adoptees and parents who had surrendered a child. If you aren’t one of us, I’d like to say that there is no “typical” situation. No formula, no guidelines. Anyone who searches will blaze a singular path and travel on a unique journey. No two searches are alike. What ever the outcome may be, the search itself becomes a significant part of you that will never fade. The search becomes a part of your character. It alters the way you perceive and feel everything . It alters you as well.
I wanted answers to my questions. I needed to find myself, discover who I was, who I am, where I came from. Looking for what is, and not what could have been. I wanted to be able to look in to a mirror and recognize the person looking back at me. There are still days now and then, when I look in to a mirror, and I’m still not too sure who that is looking back… This search, it’s been a wild ride. Would I do it again? Absolutely.