Who I Should Have Been

Growing up, I had an image of a face of a young woman looking down at me, sometimes smiling and sometimes crying. When I found my natural mother when I was 18, I realized that it was her face I had remembered for all those years. The time she spent time with me in the hospital and at the infant home, up until the final papers were signed when I was two or three weeks old—it left an imprint on my soul.

Just in the last few years, I remembered my natural father from when I was less than 24 hours old. I recalled him looking down at me, holding me close to him, telling me that he would always love me and would always be my father. There was so much pain in his eyes. He didn’t want to give me up and would not sign the adoption paperwork.

I was born in Washington D.C. A few days after my birth, I was taken to St. Ann's Infant Home, where I spent two months. It was this infant home used by Catholic Charities who arranged my adoption. My adoptive mother was a teacher and dad an engineer. I was adopted in 1977 when I was two months three days old. My new parents also adopted my two younger brothers, twins who were born two years after me.

I was six years old when I was told what adoption was and that I was adopted. Even at this age, I felt a bit out of place; now I knew why. My entire life after learning this, I was a square peg trying to fit into the round hole of my adoptive family. I love them, but I still have that feeling of not fitting in. I came to the conclusion, many years ago, that it would always be that way.

Currently, I do not have a relationship with my natural mother. I’m very close to other maternal family members, but not my mother. There has been too much rejection on her part. 

As for my father, he passed away in 1979—two years after I was born. He never got over my adoption. I’m very close with his family, who I just reunited with in 2011. In getting to know my natural father’s family, I got to know more about who I really am.

Let me back up …

I was adopted in 1977, in the day of typewriters. The paperwork we were given by the caseworker is, I have been told, more than most adoptees receive. There was a letter, written by my natural mother on her personal letterhead that had her initials on it. I knew her first and middle name (along with her mother’s name), courtesy of the paperwork. In that paperwork, there was also information that gave clues as to where she lived. My adoptive father had only to look in our phone book to find someone who had my grandmother’s initials and lived across the street from a place she had mentioned in the paperwork. After that, for years, my dad tracked them in the phone book. When I was 18, it was as simple as a phone call.

Initially, there was a pretty welcoming relationship.

We got together.

She met my son when he was a week old.

I met her mother.

There were holiday and birthday cards.

When Facebook became a thing, we befriended each other early on. 

Eventually, I pressured her to give me my father’s last name and about being open with her kids regarding me. She gave in about my father, but then I didn’t hear from her as often. I believe this was because she knew that truths were coming out and it would be proven that she’d been lying about some things.

The final rejection came when I got tired of waiting for her to tell her kids, my half-brother, and half-sister, about me. I’d kept quiet for 18 years (they were now 24 years old); I told her that they deserved to know about me and that I would tell them if she didn’t. Her sister even read what I was going to send to them and felt what I was saying was very well-written and that I deserved what I was asking.

Since then, I have not heard from her. I am, however, familiar with my two aunts (on her side) and am getting to know my cousins. When I got married, the children of one of my cousins were even in my wedding.

My mother was 15 years old when she made the choice to sign the paperwork giving me up for adoption. I have no idea how the adoption was legal without his signature. Even the paperwork that I have indicates he never signed the form. More than two years after my adoption was finalized and my natural father had passed away, his mother was still receiving the form for him to sign.

When my natural mother gave me my father’s last name, I learned that he’d passed away, but I was able to look up his family. I sent them a letter, connected, and now have a very close relationship.

I’ve had a lifetime of issues as a result of my adoption. I have a hard time forming solid, healthy relationships, as trust is an issue for me. Yet, when I connect with people, I crave a relationship. It has only been in the past few years that I have been self-evaluating and I am proud of the woman I am becoming, now that I am embracing who I should have been.