From the moment I left that Florida hospital and was placed in the arms of another mother, my life was forever changed. The life I was born to live, the life that would have started then with my natural parents, would never happen, and I would never be able to get it back.
When my father refused to marry my mother and insisted that I be given away, my life was sent on a different path and I could never get the original path back. Once an adoption takes place, that’s it. Neither the parent nor the child can ever go back and live the life they would have had if the child had been kept. And a mother, such as my own, who never had any other children can never go back and have the experience of parenting a child. Even if a first mother has subsequent children, she still can never go back and raise the relinquished child. Just as my first mother could never get back the experience of raising me. The adoptee can never get back the experience of growing up with blood relatives; the people he or she looks like, probably acts like and whose talents and interests she most likely shares. As an adoptee you will never get the chance to grow up with genetic mirroring, and your parents will never get the chance to watch you grow and see themselves reflected in you and discover the ways in which you differ.
Some children given up for adoption are truly unwanted, although not as many as the adoption industry would like us to believe. I was unwanted by my father, so I can never get back being raised by, loved, and cherished by my natural father. I will never be a Daddy’s girl to a biological father. Some mothers won’t even tell their relinquished child who his or her father is. So there are adoptees who can never get their father or the paternal side of their family back at all.
If you are an adoptee troubled by not looking like family, by not being accepted fully as a family member in your adoptive home, by not fitting in or feeling like you truly belong, or feeling like you’ve lived the wrong life, even if you find your first family you will never be able to completely erase those disquieting experiences. If you are estranged from your adoptive parents and think you can become one with your original family again, that most likely will never happen. You will most likely have no family other than your own spouse and children. There are a small number of people who do become fully integrated into their birth families, but they are few and far between and certainly not the norm. And even then you cannot get back all the time you’ve lost. You can never fully repair what was damaged by adoption separation. For most of us, what was lost in adoption is lost, and you can never get it back.
I searched for my original family because I wanted to be a member of my family again, as if I’d never left; although I didn’t admit that even to myself at the time. But reunion can never ‘cure’ the adoption separation. Reunion can help. But reunion also can and often does cause more pain. Reunion can never erase what happened, give us back the years, or completely take away the pain. In my case, at least, it did lessen the pain and gave me some measure of peace about being given up for adoption. I prefer an imperfect reunion to the alternative of living my entire life never knowing who my natural parents are and where I come from, and on a practical level, never having a medical history. I come from two different religions and two different parts of the country with different values, but I will never have the chance to integrate my background as easily as I would have if I had grown up in my biological families. And even though an adoptee can move back to their original hometown or country, take back their family name, and contact as many blood relatives as they can find, they can never get back the life they would have lived.
You can even try being the good adoptee. The one who always says he or she is ‘just fine’ with being adopted, whether you genuinely feel that way or not. It is uncomfortable to express one’s true, difficult, and complicated feelings when it seems that it’s the good adoptee who gets all the praise. They are the ones, after all, who are usually described as mature and well-adjusted. It is easier not to rock the boat when one’s feelings about adoption may be confusing and contradictory in the first place. But reserving accolades for only those adoptees who are ‘just fine’ with being adopted is akin to telling suffering first mothers that they are just a handful of malcontents. That most ‘birth mothers’ are at peace with their decision. In my opinion, it is a sign of mental health to be in touch with one’s feelings, even if those feelings include being angry and bitter.
So if you are an expectant mother facing an untimely pregnancy and considering adoption, or the grandparent, or the father to be, I ask you to not think twice, not think thrice, but to think a thousand times before you give up your child. And I implore you to let this sink in for a while…YOU CAN NEVER GET IT BACK.
And the loss is overwhelming.