Saturday, January 8, 2011

Lost chances

The trouble with being adopted within the family you were born into, is that if it's kept secret (as it was in my case) from the child but not the rest of the family,  there is a huge burden imposed on everyone to keep that secret from that child until he or she knows.  

In my mother's family this meant forever.  It also meant that I was subtly kept isolated from relatives  as I grew older,  including my birth mother, who I grew up believing was my aunt.  I was never encouraged to write to anyone, aunts, uncles,  cousins.  Mother was terrified, I think,  someone would slip. 

I had three remaining cousins, with whom I have over the years lost any contact with. Last night, out of curiosity, I opened up the SSDI site, and found my cousin Jimmy had been dead for seven years. His brother Jack died a year later. Where cousin Marie is I have no idea, since I never could remember her married name. And this morning I finally understood that those three people were what I leaned against, knowing  they were out there, somewhere. Missed opportunites, lost chances, all the way. I feel sadder right now about that than anything else.

8 comments:

  1. If it would brighten your day, my friend, I will be your cousin.

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  2. you are my friend, having you as a cousin just makes it all the brighter. And I will be yours.

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  3. My parents kept a big secret from me until I was 50 years old. I have a half brother someplace in England that my Dad created during WWII. I made good efforts to locate the half brother but never had any success. Perhaps some things are better left alone. I also am guilty of hiding things from my kids, things they dont need to know.

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  4. I think we all do that, Harvey. But the motives behind it are the important thing, arent they. If they (or you) feel that some things are private, and none of anyone's business, that's all good. But when the secrets become so all encompassing that it begins to affect someone else's life, then you have to wonder why.

    Some secrets protect (for good or ill, as a shield or a wall), some harm. Some do outright damage for years.

    I remember you telling me about your halfbrother, long ago. I have (or had, at this point, as far as I know)three half-sibs. Like you, i tried to establish contact some years ago, but never got any response. And, yeah, somethings are better left as they are.

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  5. Quite a life.

    Don't think about all the you could have done but didn't. That only brings misery. Think about the things you actually accomplished.

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  6. You're right, Laguna. But truly, 'could have' doesnt enter into it at all. Its about choice, and about the choice someone else made (as in Harvey's case too) that determines much of your own life further down the road.
    So the sadness is not about my lost chances,
    but the loss of choices in the first place.

    And to take it a bit further, if you don't look back now and then, you never know how far you've gone. *s*

    And it's nice to see you here, as always

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  7. I know what you're talking about, here. In my adoptive family, the secret wasn't about me, but it caused Mom to not want either of her boys to try to dig into the family history for fear it would come out.
    And, since I was adopted, I was prevented from knowing both my birth origins and the story of the family that was raising me. I think my feelings of rootlessness are justified... and I married into a family with an oral tradition that goes back to dynastic Egypt, so...

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  8. In hunting for my birthfather years ago, I joined, every so briefly, a local adoption group. From the stories they told, both the adopted and the women who gave them up at birth, it seems (and the statistics bear me out) that no one's life is necessarily improved by adoption. Everyone suffers, in some way, either guilt, or regret, or anger or all of them.
    And no matter what they told your parents at the time, no matter how much they truly loved you and you loved them, the mother/infant bond is real, and it does count. I mourned, as a child, for something I had lost, and never knew what it was. an adopted child often has separation issues, dislikes change, and can suffer depression without anyone being aware of it.
    you do feel rootless, and have no idea why.

    I read an article some time back that said that of all the people who are under psychiatric care, 75% of them are part of an adoption--either the birth family, the adoptive family, or the child. Chilling.

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