There was never a time I didn’t know I was adopted. I expect that my parents told me about it around the time they brought my brother home. I have recollections of a story about me going with them to pick out my brother which I know can’t possibly be true!
I was 27 months old when my brother was born. That’s how parents talk about babies, right? In terms of months? That’s the likely time that I learned about being adopted and what that meant. I’m sure the description had to do with telling me that I grew in another mommy’s belly and that I was meant to be with my family. It was also a good way to prep me for the disruption of my life known as my baby brother!
Obviously, when I was 2 years old I was not prepared for nor desirous of a search for and connection with my biological mother.
It would be a decade or more before I really felt the absence of the woman who gave me birth. We’ve all been adolescents and teenagers and experienced the depth of emotions that come as a side dish to the entree of hormones. Those hormones threw me for a loop.
My memory is that I was always a relatively good and happy kid. I made connections quickly and would be very sad when they ended or changed. One of my next door neighbors was a girl 3 years older than me. Proximity brought us together as playmates for the several years before the neighborhood filled out and I adored her. Imagine how upset I was on the day she went to kindergarten and I had to stay home! I can still remember feeling sad and confused.
Of course, I didn’t make the connection between my reaction to that separation to my feelings about my separation from my biological mother – I was too young!
Something was brewing from that day forward.
I had great friends in my neighborhood and at school, I adored family gatherings and I genuinely had an enviable childhood, filled with love and fond memories.
Yet I wasn’t shocked when one of my oldest friends told me, “you were always a little bit angry.” We were sitting in her dining room in Hoboken, drinking a beer and talking about life. I’m not sure what we were talking about, but when she said that, I just stopped and looked at her. Feeling in my bones that she was right and still not quite able to see myself as I was.
The anger lived under the surface for decades and I didn’t ever name it. I didn’t want to hurt anyone and as a result, I was hurting myself. I didn’t think of it as a spiritual journey. I just saw myself as not enough to be kept by my birth mother. So, therefore, I was certain I was flawed. Which made me angry.
You’ve got to know that the anger can live with you, but it isn’t you. When I first recognized myself in her statement was the beginning of my journey to healing it. (That sounds so sanctimonious and I don’t mean to sound that way) Still, I needed to get to the anger that I’d buried deep in order to stop feeling crappy and making lousy decisions in my adult life.