One woman's personal story as an adopted child...
A Readers persepective:
Here is one woman's journey of growing up in an adopted family and her search to find her roots.
I knew I was adopted for as long as I can remember. Mum used to tell me the story of how I came to live with her. It was a beautiful story, and I loved hearing it. I can remember when I was 4 or 5 years old I would beg her to tell me how I came to be adopted. She would tell me that the woman who carried me in her tummy wasn't able to give me all the things that I would need in life. She told me this woman who gave birth to me loved me so much she gave me to a family who couldn't have their own children and could give me the things that I would need.
So it was really normal for me to grow up as an adopted child. However in our family it was kept as this big secret. I wasn't allowed to tell my friends, it was just a family secret. I think that's probably the only thing they did wrong. Making it a secret made it seem wrong. I was a very open child, so it was difficult for me to understand why they didn't want anyone to know. My curiosity about my biological mother continued to increase as I grew. I think my family always knew I would try to find my biological mother when I reached adulthood.
When I turned 18 I started the search. Luckily for me it wasn't difficult, I was adopted through an agency, so they had all the information. I friend of mine who was also adopted had problems when he tried to locate his mother, he had to do the search himself, which meant chasing birth certificates.
At the time my adopted mother, who I will always refer to as my 'real mother' had cancer, however for as long as I could remember she'd had cancer. I think it started when I was ten. So when she got sick again it just seemed normal, as she always got better. Except this time it was different. The cancer was terminal. I stopped the search for my biological mother. My 'real mother' was very supportive of my need to contact my biological mother. But I thought at that time it would be unhealthy for me to find her while my Mum was dying. I didn't want to behave like I could just replace one mother with another. The adoption agency called off the meeting with my biological mother, but never told her why (she found this out 6 years later).
My Mum died when I was 19 years old. I didn't cope with it at all well and had started to use drugs which I unfortunately felt would ease my pain. I fortunately got off the drugs, and restarted my life. I went back to school, completed year 12 and went off to do a University degree. I began to wonder whether I should recommence the search for my biological mother. Five years had passed since Mum had died, and I had felt I had put my life together enough to do such a life-changing thing. By this stage I was mature enough to realize what a huge decision it was. In hindsight I think 18 would have been too young to meet her. So I rang the adoption agency thinking it would take a while for them to actually track down my biological mother.
The agency said they would send a letter to my biological Mum immediately. I had no idea it would be so quick, I thought there would be more paper work, but it seemed there wasn't. I told my father I had proceeded, and his attitude was not to get too excited in case my biological mother needed some time to think about it.
My gut feeling was that if she wanted to meet me, she wouldn't want to waste any time. I think it was about three days later I got a phone call saying "Annette" (my biological mother) wanted to see me. The agency asked me "would the next week be fine with me?" I started to panic at about this stage. The whole thing was pretty surreal.
When you are adopted and curious about your biological roots, you wonder your entire life about what your family history was like. I had been a migraine sufferer all my life, and when I had seen doctors they had always asked about my family history of headaches, I was obviously never able to answer. I felt very detached to the fact that I even had a biological background. I remember driving to the agency and hyperventilating in the car, saying to myself "Oh my god, do you know what your doing? You're about to meet this women who gave birth to you." It felt extremely unnatural and as though I was in some kind of movie.
When I got to the agency I thought I would have at least ½ an hour to compose myself. But when I let them know who I was, they told me Annette was upstairs waiting. Everything started happening a little too quickly for me.
I had always tried not to have any expectations about the day I would meet this woman. But nothing can prepare you for something like this. I guess I kind of envisioned this sliding door opening and there she'd be under lights and we would know instantly that we were related. That idea was far from the truth.
They took me upstairs, saying "Annette is just in here" and walked in.
There was Annette, a young looking woman to have a daughter of 24 years. We were introduced.
Annette began to cry and hugged me. I felt nothing and wished I could start crying on queue as she was.
Then she spoke. "You are so beautiful" I could have left then. If there was anything I ever wanted to hear from her, it was approval. Approval that I had turned out okay, approval that she was glad I was alive. It's hard to describe, but what she said was the most perfect thing she could have said.
After that we went for coffee. We both admitted to each other what a nerve wracking thing meeting each other was. Knowing we were as both as nervous as each other helped to "break the ice". We talked for about three hours. I found out she fell pregnant at 18, and that her mother had made her give me up. She told me how she was sent away to QLD, so that none of her friends or family knew about the pregnancy. When she gave birth to me Annette didn't want to sign the adoption papers, she said she hated her mother for making her do it, and that due to us meeting she was finally able to forgive her mother for what she made her do, 24 years ago.
I had never really thought about what it would have been like from her perspective. For me being adopted was not painful. I loved the family who brought me up- they were my family. However, for Annette the whole experience was nothing but painful. She had married only a year later and had three boys within the space of 7 years. She was devastated that she had not given birth to a girl. She chased the idea of replacing the only girl she had who she had given to another family. Eventually she fell pregnant again and gave birth to a girl. She told me that was the only time she felt something beginning to heal inside of her.
It was strange meeting my half sister and half brothers. They had no idea that I existed until I met Annette. She had kept me a secret their entire lives. My youngest brother was very angry and didn't want to know me for about a year. I visited the family very infrequently. Annette and I felt the whole matter was a very delicate one for all of us, so we took things very slowly. I was worried about what my half siblings would think as I didn't want any of them to feel threatened. Especially my half sister, who had always thought she was the only daughter her mother had given birth to.
Things went smoothly for a few years. We then had a massive falling out and didn't speak for two years. We are now speaking again, and taking it very slowly. I will never see her as my real mother, she is more like a sister to me, and we talk more like sisters anyway. I have never for one moment regretted meeting her, even after our falling out, as I knew I would do this all over again if I had the choice. The only thing that breaks my heart is that Annette never got the opportunity to meet my real Mum. I believe they would have both loved each other.