I have been thinking a great deal about adoption in 2012. This was the year that I took the bold step of actually finding my biological parents. I had a great deal wrapped up in this process although if you asked me at the time I would have said I was prepared for any eventuality. During my childhood, I did not think about what my biological father would be like. I was fairly convinced that he didn’t know or wasn’t interested. After all I was a pretty smart kid, questioning the existence of God at age 6, so I got the lay of the land young. It was clear to me that it was women who bore the responsibility for raising children. Husbands and fathers may be there for a time but they don’t always live up to their responsibilities in a meaningful way. My adoptive family was female-centered with very few male role models. It is no wonder I came to the conclusion I did.
I did think about her a lot. I imagined that she had been forced to give me up and that she would be desperate to find me at some point. The only point of reference I had for what she may be like was myself. I knew that I could never give up a baby of mine so how could she? I would dream at night of her showing up to rescue me from the years of abuse physical, emotional and sexual; the perfect trifecta of harm. She would kiss me and hold me and tell me how sorry she was and that it would all be ok now that we had been reunited. She would tell me how some nefarious person had ripped me from her arms. As soon as I was old enough to know what personal ads were and when I knew my first and middle names, I would look through the for the days preceding my birthday and those after. I was hoping against hope that there would be some kind of message there for me from her. No such message ever appeared.
At 18 years of age, age of majority in Alberta, I registered with the Post-Adoption registry. This registry is referred to as a ‘passive’ registry where adopted children and birth parents can register and if both parties agree to a reunion then they are given contact information. I was so excited to do this as I was sure she had to be looking for me because that was what I would do. I registered and she had not. She never did register. I checked in every couple of years; I kept my address updated; I waited. Every once in a while, they would inform of some small change to the laws. One year I learned my birth last name but not her first name. Armed with that little bit of information I hoped I would be able to find her. Then in 2005 the archives of adoption records in Alberta creaked open and I was given all of the identifying information. I then did absolutely nothing with it for 7 years except for the odd Google search.
Over the 7 years I had the information, I knew I could hire someone to search and they would be able to find my biological family. Yet I did nothing. I was never really sure why I didn’t act on the information, I guess I just was not ready. Facing mounting health issues, I made the decision in January that I was finally ready. I told myself I was ok with the outcome and that all I really wanted was health information. I was lying to myself and everyone else. I wanted the mother I never had. I wanted her to embrace me. I thought she would want to learn as much about me as I wanted to learn about her. I should have known from the beginning that things were not going to go as I had hoped when her first response to me was: “I knew I would have to account for this one day.” I was shocked. I was so relieved to have found her that I assured her that there was nothing to account for and that I was not angry at all. I told her I understood and that it must have been a very difficult decision for her. I just wanted to have a relationship with her and to get to know the rest of my biological family.
Our first meeting was good. Looking back, I think it went well only because she was jet lagged and her guard was down. She seemed genuinely happy that I had found her. She told me the situation she was in that made her give me up. She relayed how she had been depressed for all of her 20s due to grief at losing her baby. The first meeting was really positive. Both Deb and I prepared to welcome her into our family. She was alone, she has no siblings and her parents were dead. She was married once for 6 weeks. Her only connection to humanity seemed to be one good friend.
After the first meeting she became very cold and quite difficult to deal with. She only wanted to meet in restaurants. Apparently she does not allow people to come to her house as she says it is a mess. We are pretty sure she is a hoarder at this point. She came out once to see me at my house, her main comment was how long it took her to drive. After that we went to a few more restaurants but that seemed so superficial to me. I wanted to hang out with her, cook with her. I wanted to get to know my mother.
Must board the plane now! Check back for Part 2 next week.