Dear Adoption, I Was Never What You Wanted Me to Be
You have been like tumor in my life for as far back as I can remember. You’ve gone into remission and then erupted more times than I can count. You wanted me to be a blank slate but I wasn’t. I knew what you did to me. I’ve always known what you did to me. I KNEW, I just KNEW. I was NEVER what you wanted me to be.
Kindergarten: It was the first day of school and I clung to my mother’s leg crying “Don’t leave me! PLEASE don’t leave me.” But my mother DID leave me. She left me at kindergarten with children I didn’t know and a teacher I didn’t know. She left me as my other mother had left me when I was a baby with people I didn’t know. I cried and cried and cried. I wondered if this mother would come back for me. My other mother didn’t come back for me. I wondered if I cried when my first mother left me? You see, Adoption…I KNEW. I cried until I vomited and they had to call my mother to come pick me up. She came to pick me up and you…you went into remission.
1st Grade: A classmate had been a foster child and was being adopted into her “forever home.” Our teacher, a nun, made cupcakes to celebrate the occasion. I cried. When Sr Ann asked me why I was crying I said “Because I’m adopted and no one made cupcakes for me.” You see, Adoption…I KNEW. The school called my mother who was waiting for me at the door when I got home. She asked why I told people I was adopted. I said because I was and no one made cupcakes for me. The next day, Sr Ann had cupcakes for me and you…you went into remission.
2nd Grade: I was to make my First Holy Communion. I had my beautiful dress, veil, and shoes. Communion is a big deal in Catholic school. Our parents were to send in our Baptismal Certificates. I handed the teacher mine in an envelope like everyone else did. Only mine wasn’t a Baptismal Certificate. You took my original Baptismal certificate, Adoption. You took it and locked it away. I was left with a “Certificate of Blessing” because you can’t be Baptized twice in the Catholic church. My mother had to call the agency and the hospital to get an altered version of it. A version that listed my adopted name with my mother’s cousins listed as my Godparents. I almost didn’t get to make my First Holy Communion because of you. It was then, in 2nd grade, when it hit me that I was someone else before I was me. I wan’t really Annette; Aunt Lily and Uncle Pete weren’t really my Godparents. I was someone else who had different Godparents. You see, Adoption…I KNEW. I made my Communion and I wore my dress and you…you went into remission.
3rd Grade: One of my classmates started to mock me for being adopted. I’d go home from school crying and repeating what she had said “Your own mother didn’t even want you.” My mother told me to say “I was chosen; your parents got stuck with you.” Chosen? I was chosen? Was there a lineup Mom? Did you actually look at other children and pick me? Like Magilla Gorilla in the window? You see, Adoption…I KNEW. I was told my birth mother loved me enough to give me a better home and my parents chose me while other parents got “stuck” with their children. Why didn’t my mother want to be “stuck” with me? Did I cry too much? Was I too fat? Too ugly? Why do we give away what we love instead of holding it tight and protecting it? Surely, I did something wrong. I cried for what seemed like years and then you…you went into remission.
This cycle continued for years and years and years. I’d sit in my bedroom; staring out the window, singing “Maybe” from Annie. I’d cry and cry until my face burned from the salt in my tears. As I got older I’d say things to my mother like “You’re not my REAL mother” and “If she knew how this would go she’d have had an abortion.” My mother would say things like “We were supposed to get two boys. I wonder what happened to those boys? Maybe we should’ve stuck with them.” After each verbal sparring match, I’d cry and cry and cry some more. You see, Adoption…I KNEW. I also knew that, eventually, you’d go back into remission.
Every birthday. Every Christmas. Every Mother’s Day. EVERY day that ended with “y”. You were always there lying in wait beneath the surface. Waiting for something to spark an eruption. Sometimes, you’d erupt for what seemed like no reason at all. Just, all of a sudden like a freight train: BAM! There you’d be. Sometimes it was when I’d notice how much my friends looked like their parents. Sometimes it was when I’d notice that my sister’s fingernail beds were identical to our cousins’ fingernail beds, but mine were different. Sometimes, it would just happen. But you would ALWAYS erupt. You’d never lie dormant for long.
July 1985: I turned 18. I thought my original birth certificate would be sent to me. I was told it would be sent when I turned 18. I waited and waited and waited. I checked that mailbox every single day. Like Charlie Brown looking for his Valentine from the Little Red Headed Girl, I checked that damn mailbox. It never came. You took that from me, Adoption. You took my original identity and you locked it away. As was the norm for the cycle, I cried until my face burned from the salt in my tears again. You see, Adoption…I KNEW. I also knew you would go into remission.
1999: I was getting married. My future husband and I had to meet with the priest who asked us questions and wrote our answers in a book. He said that if we ever needed to get an annulment, they’d refer back to these answers. The first question was “To the best of your knowledge are you related to the person you are going to marry?” Oh. Dear. God. I’d lost sleep over this very issue for most of my adult life. What if I had sex with a relative or worse—my brother?! What if I was going to marry a relative? I tried to explain to the priest I didn’t know. That I couldn’t possibly know because you, Adoption, took that from me. The priest said “I need a simple yes or no answer Annette.” But it wasn’t that simple. It was NEVER that simple. I sighed and replied “No” and you…you went into remission.
The eruptions and remissions have continued for the past 18 years. They’ve continued through my search for my biological family and through my reunion with them. They continue through my adoptee rights activism and through the assistance I provide other adopted people who search. You’ve branded me, Adoption, you’ve branded me with the word “adoptee.” It’s a made up word; no different than “supercalifragilisticexpialidocious.” Completely fictitious. There is absolutely no synonym for it in the English language. A Google search “synonym for adoptee” yields the result “did you mean adopted child?” No! That’s NOT what I mean!! I am no longer a child. I LOATHE the word “adoptee.” I am NOT an “adoptee” I am an “adopted adult.” Nothing was nor will ever BE simple because you took it from me, Adoption. You took innocence and simplicity away from me when I was a newborn baby and I never got it back. The worst part is that I KNEW. I wasn’t the blank slate you wanted me to be and I ALWAYS KNEW……I was NEVER what you wanted me to be and I will NEVER be what you wanted me to be.
Annette O’Connell – Birthname: Kimberly Sue Saxen
NYS Adopted Adult Denied her ORIGINAL Birth Certificate. Found biological family in 2014, Adoptee Rights Activist for unfettered OBC access for ALL Adopted Adults, Adoption Search Angel