Once upon a time, an unmarried girl hid her pregnancy for 9 months, travelled to the north of England and gave the baby up for adoption. It was 1975. She also hid the secret from her family and friends for 20 years until, the child, now a fully grown woman, found her mother. I was that child.
Although at the time I was asked to write a piece to benefit the experiences of other adoptees and adoptive parents, I felt that the subject was too raw. Even now the situation remains unfinished. Will it ever be? I don't know. Out of loyalty to my adoptive family I was hesitant to commit my thoughts to paper as I knew that they may be hurtful. In our case, time has not healed.
The book that opened my eyes to many of the events in my life is called The Primal Wound. It was given to me by my adoptive mother and I highly recommend it. It describes the bond that is forged between the baby and the natural mother during 9 months of gestation and thus the wound that is created when this bond is broken before the natural course of the child's growing independence. At 8 days old my natural mother was replaced with an adoptive mother with whom I had no history and who was desperate for a child and envisaged me as the answer to her unsatisfactory life. She was a stranger.
As a child, I excelled in her passions, in academic work, music and drama although it was she who provided the discipline while studying by my side, pushing me forward with a fearsome omnipresence which dominated and suppressed my developing character. As such I barely remember my father who only supplied the financial means and the occasional argument to the running of the household. My presence exacerbated the existing disharmony in their relationship and my parents divorced when I was 11 years old.
The divorce, a serious car accident and my mother's strong love heightened the rebellion of my teenage years. I created a personage who dramatically contrasted with the daughter she had tried to mould during childhood, in an effort to precipitate a rejection scenario which I felt was an inevitable consequence. I was someone with whom she found it impossible to live and someone who found it impossible to live with her. During these years I picked up every violently disapproved habit I could, running away on a periodic basis, drinking heavily and smoking. Promiscuity was also high on the list - searching for an unconditional love to assuage the insecurity resulting from both the adoption and new facial scars - a legacy from the car accident - as well as to combat the dislike and rejection at home. Our love was painful - only joined together by the scar tissue of many arguments. Finally I went to boarding school and then to my father's house which culminated in further arguments. I left home whilst still at school.
The fact that I now have a loving relationship with my natural mother does not make up for the hole left by my adoptive one. Two women took the role in my life that is normally considered to be the role of one, neither replacing the other and both playing a part in the person I am today. Until the discovery of the second one, I was effectively in teenage limbo although legally an adult at 20.
My discoveries were more important for what was missing. I found no real answers. I could no longer blame the upheaval in my life on the fact I didn't know where I came from, because now knowing my origins I had no more excuses on which to lay my behaviour. Having solved the equation for "x" I found that the only solutions lay within myself. Only I could decide what kind of person I wanted to be and what kind of future I wanted to build. I feel that in experiencing the "not knowing", I am able to better appreciate the "knowing".
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