gallery Dear Adoption, I Was Never What You Wanted Me to Be

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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

 

30 comments

  1. Thank you for this. It’s good to be reminded of the moments that pile into days and lives. Thank you for letting us see into your days and life. We need to make the world a better place for adopted people, and this post is a battle cry.

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    • Thank You! Yes,the moments do pile up into days and lives. We DO need to make the world a better place for adopted people — that is for sure. In order to do that, we need the voices of the adopted to be heard. This page, Dear Adoption, is truly helping that to happen.
      Annette/Kim

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      • Dear Annette, When we identify someone associated with an adoption, then we know that empathy is one of the most important life skills you can learn because the adoption world is littered with individuals in desperate need of urgent care that could be comforted by a universal appeal for assistance, compassion and empathy. Judith

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  2. Dear Annette,

    Your narrative reflects so well of that is true of many, if not most, adoptees, because many of us will have those abandonment issues until we have no more breath on our lungs-no more oxygen in our blood.

    But I am curious about why you do not accept adoptee-the noun of the verb adopted as a legitimate description of your adult self as it was/is for your childhood self. It is an accurate term for any one of us who were adopted whether in reference to our past or our present. If you type the word adoptee into your browser it pops up with a million or more suggestions … Synonyms are the same as for the verb adopt-including the odious ‘chosen’, ‘ special’ , ‘selected’ … (btw, adoption is not simply for a child or an adult; it is to make something change, like adoption of a rule or a new idea or a road…)

    There is only one way to make adoption better-and that is to repeal every law that allows it, and retrun to the kinder law that provided guardians for th child without parents-no matter how it is that parents at absent from his/her life. Until the 20th century, Guardians were usually family members, and guardianship was the norm. Its benefits are that a child is not stripped of his/her heritage or identity or inheritance.

    Although we can never revise our past nor shed the experiences of having been adopted-nor make the not-so-dear-adoption vamoose or disappear or even go into remission, we can utilize our experience to change the status quo so future adoptees know who they are and where they originated-with no deceptions and no lies-not when they are of the age of majority, but at the outset. We are not children to be dismissed or who need some keeper of secrets they deem to keep of us and from us. We have the same constitutional rights that every child has who remains with the parents who gave them life. Relinquishing parents should have no rights above our own. They relinquished that right when they abandoned us-whether at birth or later on in childhood.

    It was not my choice to be an adoptee in childhood, but nevertheless I am one well into my adulthood. Being an adoptee is just a part of who I am and what in a large part has had the greatest impact on my life.

    On this you , I and a gazillion others share a bond. If we share our stories with legislators, adoptees and non-adoptees, blogs, journalists, in churches, mosques, synagogues, temples, or other places where people congregate we may well finally change the system for the better. Inch’Allah (God willing!)

    Thanks for sharing your narrative.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi! Yes, you are right! It was not our choice to be adopted but yet we are…for life. And, YES! We need to share our stories and fight for our rights to our OBC. A piece of paper that reflects the story of us. I pride myself on my Adoptee Rights Activism both on a state and national level.

      As for the word “adoptee” I wish I could attach a screenshot here. Since I can’t, I will copy and paste what Thesaurus.com brings up when you search the word “adoptee.”

      adoptee
      words-gallery
      * no thesaurus results
      adopt

      Did you mean adopt?

      * adapter

 adopted

      * adapt

ad adept
      * adapted 

a top ten


      Synonyms for adopted child
      noun custody; person in one’s custody

      Synonyms for adopted child
      noun custody; person in one’s custody
      * care


 charge 


child 


client


      * dependent


 godchild


 guardianship 


keeping


      * minor


 orphan 


pensioner


 protection


      * pupil


 safe keeping


 trust


      NONE of those words are suitable by my definition. Just as “chosen, special, Selected” are not suitable. I wasn’t chosen. I was the next in line as were my adoptive (although I hate to use that preface) parents. There was no lineup. It wasn’t like a used car lot, although. I DID have a return policy. Adoptee is a word made up to soften the blow. It is stigmatizing and dehumanizing in my opinion. I, certainly, don’t correct others when they use it for themselves or even to describe me. I just don’t use it, myself, to refer to myself or others. It is a conscious choice that I make.

      Annette/Kim

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  3. Dear Annette, The sharp pain of knowing, and the dull pain of not knowing that goes on forever, are unique to the adoption experience. The emotional pain many adoptees are forced to endure in solitude is so intense in the long run that it is deemed to be outside the range of natural variability for healthy living. Judith

    Liked by 1 person

    • As a woman who at 14 relinquished my son, I don’t feel I have the right to look for him which causes more pain everyday. I have been reading the comments, and I would like to ask, would it be selfish of me to look for him. It’s been 40 years…

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      • Dear Paula,

        There are many individuals associated with adoption that could be comforted by sharing their thoughts with others to rid themselves of the shackles of secrecy and lift the awful burden of guilt from their shoulders. Sentiments that trigger our emotions and feelings of tenderness, sadness, and reminiscence aren’t always about what we are feeling today. Some memories of the past are hard to forget, while others remain deeply hidden in the darkest folds of the primitive brain. Feelings of being estranged and lonely triggered by a nostalgic yearning for someone who is missing, and a longing to be home, are difficult to overcome. Those who experience the grief of separation have difficulty understanding the reason for this lifelong punishment. The eternal sadness of not knowing is complicated by a clash of choices and voices ranging from the potentially intensely hurtful pains of self-discovery to the dull pain of unconsciousness that lasts forever.

        The emotional need for a curative and breakthrough reality that finally makes sense out of the disrupted life stories of adoptees has had a significant effect on the adoption community, with an increasing number of adoptees expressing a desire to communicate with birth parents in recent years. I believe that an adoptive search in adulthood, when guided by sufficient balance and understanding, can enable a Seeker to become well in this age of post-traumatic stress and anxiety. Many adoptees have an emotional need for a curative and breakthrough reality that would finally make sense out of their disrupted life stories, knowing that they are not “permanent children” in need of lifelong supervision and protection by adoptive parents. They eventually become responsible, mature adults, fully capable of making their own decisions about search and reunion. To birth mothers who grieve, I send assurances that not everyone has forgotten them, especially not their children, many of whom when grown, often think of them with growing wisdom and in the spirit of forgiveness.

        When information about biological antecedents, family medical history, and a desire to meet biological family members is invoked, adoption registries are a good place to start. They provide a formal mechanism where adoptees and their birth family members can be reunited. Registries may be free or charge fees, be facilitated by non-profit organizations, government agencies or private businesses. Some reunion registries are based on mutual consent and do matches from the information provided by the registrants. Others, run by governmental agencies, have access to the original documents identifying a birth family or adopting family. DNA results include information about your genetic ethnicity identify potential matches, linking you to others who have taken the DNA test.

        Judith

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  4. I appreciate your sharing all this. Please don’t take this the wrong way—I don’t mean to minimize your experiences—but you got your reunion. That’s something some of us will never have probably. In my case, just the thought of conducting a search in a foreign country where I don’t speak the language is discouraging.

    Anyway, thanks for your activism and speaking up for us.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi!

      I didn’t expand too much on my reunion because I may write about it in the future. Long story short- my mother had ALS when I found her. She vehemently denied being my mother then died three months later. I am in “reunion” with her raised son – my brother – who is 12 years younger than I and knew nothing of me. I put the quotes around the word because I don’t really refer to my relationship with him as a reunion since we never met or had any union. It was a rough go but we are truly siblings now. My father – he didn’t confirm or deny being my father but he did lie about a ton of medical information. Just a few weeks ago, I met two of his six raised children. They are all older than I. Again, I use the word reunion loosely there as well. But — GOD — do I remember being immensely happy for and simultaneously jealous of anyone who found their parents. If I’m being honest, I still feel that way when I see the videos of mothers and children reuniting. The tears, the hugging, the kissing, the getting to know one another. I was robbed of that; we were robbed of that. Maybe it’s a hazard of being a Baby Scoop Era Baby. Maybe it was the ALS. Maybe she just really didn’t want to know me. I’ll never know and that brings me the same sadness that not finding your mother brings you. If I could give you any (unsolicited) advice it would be to NEVER give up. Take breaks but don’t ever quit.

      Much love and peace to you..to all of us.

      Annette/Kim

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    • Edyjournal, I am an adoptee from a closed adoption. I knew nothing about my relatives, ethnic background, or country of origin. Taking a DNA test proved my genetic connections to relatives living in a foreign country. Some of them have reacted positively and enjoy communicating using computer translations. Judith

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      • Maryleesdream, The way home is a pilgrimage of the road and an ethereal journey of the mind for many adoptees—a trip of a lifetime to hallowed ground they are forced to make alone. If only reality could account for itself, we would launch a vision quest to comprehend with empowered insight a surreal vision from God that empirically solves the riddles of the labyrinth and the reasons for our birth. Judith

        Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah–we were actors from the get-go. We should have our own awards show. We were forced into a role early in life and told to act the part with no script having been given to us. So sad. So terribly sad.

      sigh…

      Annette/Kim

      Liked by 1 person

      • Dear Kim, Many adoptees face a lifelong adjustment process between two shifting realities, a life “that is” and an imaginary world that, “could have been”. They have difficulty weighing the differences between the prosaic and unimaginative paint-by-numbers traditional role assigned to them by their adoptive families verses something unknown that is deeply profound, and mysteriously hidden within them. They are forced into playing a role on the stage of life that isn’t really them—a matinee idol assigned the staring role as “the chosen one”. Judith

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  5. I am so glad yo have found a new generation of adult adopted folk. I am 3rd in a family of 4 adopted kids. I can so relate to your voice as a chikd griwing up untethered. Watching my cousins who looked or acted like their parents. When I married at 25, 4 minths pregnant my AMom was pissed, refered to my beautiful boy as “the mistake” when she’d been drinking. My Adad died when I was 12 & suddenly being adopted was not my biggest hardship. I finally found my Mama bear vouce by the time my son was 2-3. I told her if she ever referred to him as The Mistake again, she would never see him again. 25 years since she used that phrase. I had 2 more. Imdren in between 5 miscarriages. Again my real life was harder than just being an adoptee. My reunion was hellish and my husband had warned me it may be a Pandora’s Box we could never close, he was right. I’m grateful and do not take my opportunity for granted. It may be a brief oart of my life story. I wish each of us could write a new story, could find a good adoption counselor who. An help us heal ourselves, a friend who will listen or st least try to hear our realities. Find peace, practice mindfulness, learn to meditate, finally love ourselves for who we are even if we may never fully know WHO that is. I am willing to fake it til I make it. I hope you are too, we all deserve happiness.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I will be that friend? I will listen and validate you. I will
      Love you. Cuz now. Your my sister. And sisters help sisters. I want to help us all heal. I want to make out wounds heal. And to help us speak so folks can learn and do better by children. Our lives are set in a way. But our experiences can change it for other children. And I feel that is a way to heal
      Ourselves. Change it. Speak out. Speak up and educate folks with our stories. Come and speak freely at my blog. I’ll
      Back you up. And I’ll take those ignorant cus’s that don’t know shit about adoption and educate the crap out of them. I am proud of you. I am proud of your life lived without all your things. I am your friend. And friends stand up for each other. What we deserve is our lives back. Our families healed from
      Brainwashing. And a true reunion. Xo.

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  6. Amazingly put. It’s taken years for me to find my words and put them together. Adoption silenced my throat for years. Adoption took my voice like the little mermaid. It’s time we take our shell with our voices back and sing the song. So folks can see what Adoptions doing to us all. God bless you sister of mine in this adoption nightmare. Xo. May we speak. So all can see the light we shine on a dark thing called Adoption. Xo

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  7. Thank you so much for this essay. So many people, who know nothing about adoption, just assume that it is always such a lovely and happy experience. Wonderful if it is, but for many of us that was not the case. I think that keeping adopted children from their DNA is one of the greatest lies practiced today.

    Like

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