It always amazed me when people told me I looked my mother. I supposed it was because people just say that to children. I wanted to say: I’m adopted so I can’t look like my mother. Or maybe I had picked up mannerisms of hers? Was that what they were seeing? But she always thought it was some secret we shared and thought it was cool. I guess for me it kind of ticked me off.
My mom and I were different in many ways and this became really apparent to me as I got older. Especially in my teenage years. I suppose every teenager feels that way about their parents, but an adoptee feels the sting of this even more so. Being an only child also, I tended to want to be in the company of other people a lot. And I also was a talker and shared a lot about everything-something my mother didn’t appreciate. She was much more private and still is to this day. Our styles were different and our emotional selves completely opposite.
She adopted me as a toddler and it was a bold move in many ways when she did it. Owning her own business at the time and married to a man who wasn’t in favor of the idea of adopting a child. But she plowed ahead with the idea anyway. She is a strong woman and had great support of her family, my wonderful extended adopted family. They all participated in the whole ordeal from naming me, to running out and buying clothes, to baking food when the state social worker finally came to see if her home was suitable. Yes, things were not like they are now back in the 50’s!
Her marriage collapsed and all she took from it was me. That’s all she wanted-not the business, house, car or money. I wondered over the years if she ever regretted that decision with all the grief I gave her! But she went on to carve a life out and married a man much older. He was a wonderful step dad to me for many years.
Our relationship through the years was always interesting. She’s a brilliant and creative woman. She is strong and taught me to be a strong woman. I find myself quoting her all the time these days. But she’s stubborn and there were things she wouldn’t budge on–at least not for years. For instance, I begged for my adoption story, but she claimed not to remember it. I found that doubtful. Not until I was 50 and got her at a vulnerable time did she finally put all the scraps together and pasted a picture together. It was one I should have known many years prior! And I was very sad she hadn’t given it to me sooner.
But in my later years I have come to grips with many things about her and us. Like any mother, she did the best she could. She may have had her reasons for not telling me. She may not have understood how critically important it was for me to know. It may have been too painful for her to tell. I’m trying to forgive the not telling. She has not participated much in my children’s lives much either. I can’t understand this. I’ve wondered recently if it’s because the attachment was only to me and she just doesn’t really see them as an extension of me? It’s has hurt me and I know it has hurt them. And she surely has missed out on something beautiful. But what is done is done.
My mom also holds grudges sometimes I think which I also don’t understand. She said something to me today about something that happened 18 years ago and I know it was still bothering her. It made me think this contributes to why she hasn’t participated in my kid’s lives. So sad. Maybe I’m wrong–but either way, the time has passed now and they are all adults and they barely know her. I only know I don’t want this to happen when my children have children. It’s an example I won’t follow.
In the end though, I am very grateful for what my mother gave me. She took me off the streets and gave me a life. I’m sure I never would have had the opportunities I have now without her. We are not blood and we struggle to figure each other out and some days it’s difficult. But the love is there and I would do anything for her. I wish some things had been different, but hey, most families feel that way. So we keep trying. If she only understood that my need to know my story of my birth never diminished my story of my life and love of her.