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I have asked a few questions on this forum over the last 3 years while taking care of my parent's issues. It has been very helpful reading all the answers to mine and other's questions.
As of last week my last remaining parent passed away. I am sad they are both gone but also relieved that the toll it took on me is now over.
Now the catch. While cleaning out my mom's room at AL I came across some hidden papers in her dresser. They were rolled up and doubled bagged in her sock drawer. I almost just threw them out with all the other items I was getting rid of but decided at the last second to open the bag. It turned out they are adoption papers for me and my brother. I am 57 years old and never once had any idea that I was adopted.
I'm not mad, not sad, not happy, not anything. I'm just numb. I don't really expect many answers on this forum for this particular subject since it's not really care giving related but I just had to get that out.
I did want to say thanks for all the help over the years.

Oh WOW!

I have a friend and colleague (also 57, by the way) who had a cousin's child visiting recently from their home country.

The cousin's son (an adult) said, well, it's really nice of you to let me stay here seeing as how we're not really family.

My friend said "come again?" The guy said , well you're adopted. Wait, you didn't know that?

No, my friend did NOT know that.

He's taking it well; immediately went ot 23 and Me to get his DNA done. Is researching possible relatives, to see if he can find out who is bio parents were. But he says that he had the best possible adoptive parents (they apparently realized he was gay before HE did; loved him unconditionally and allowed him, always, to be who he was. Protected him from bullying by children and teachers (he says "I was always a little fairy") and launched him into the successful human being that he is.

Just big (((((((hugs))))))) from me. I hope that you can find your way through this; if you find yourself having difficulties, please seek out counseling; there is NO need to suffer this revelation alone.
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mikejrexec Apr 5, 2019
Thank you Barb. Very good advice. For now I am just letting it settle and taking my deserved rest from care giving.
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I think being numb is a normal response. If I were in your shoes, I would wonder if she intended to destroy those papers or show them to you eventually. Sadly, you will never know. That generation was so stubborn and proud. For a lot of us, they were more worried about what their friends thought than what their kids thought.....Maybe she never got up the courage to tell you.

Now that you are free of caregiving, do not let this be an anchor around your neck. Now is the time to take care of YOU. Seek the counsel of a good friend, counselor or pastor. I have found a few weird things when cleaning out paper work as well, but I have decided to shred it and move on....as we cannot fix the past. We can only work on today and tomorrow. Hugs to you.
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mikejrexec Apr 5, 2019
You are so right. I am definitely not going to dwell on it right now and I am the same person I am today as I was last month. Thank you for reminding me about that generation. It may have been some advice they got from a doctor or someone to not tell us. It's in the past and I had a great childhood. I need to remember that.
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Sorry for the loss of your parents. I have two daughters. Oldest one is 30 and the other is 23. We had fertility issues but I always knew that I wanted to adopt a child. We adopted our oldest daughter and were planning to adopt a second.

We had planned a trip to New York and just before leaving I was going to mail the final paperwork for our second child. I didn’t have a stamp and figured as soon as we returned home I would mail it.

We were in NY for 10 days and we attended mass at St. Patrick’s while there. During the prayer intentions I prayed that we would be able to adopt another child soon. I have no idea why I did this, absolutely no idea! I stopped in the middle of my silent prayer to God and told him that I was not going to limit Him, that if He wanted me to have a baby, no matter what I had been through medically (I went through hell and back, told I would never have a baby) that I was open to an adoption or biological child. Then after mass I burned a candle in church as I always do.

Absolutely loved NY, had so much fun but later became very irritable in NY! Nothing tasted right, smells got to me, etc. My brother was living there and suspected I was pregnant because I wasn’t acting like myself but didn’t dare tell me knowing all I had been through.

Came home, my friend came over to visit and told me that I looked awful, exhausted and so forth. She is a very close friend so she is comfortable being honest with me. I said to her that I was tired from the trip. She looked me dead in the eye and told me I was pregnant! I thought she was crazy. She insisted I go to the doctor. I bought a pregnancy test, was pregnant and was in shock! 7 years of fertility issues! I remembered my prayer in mass. I feel God was preparing me for being pregnant. I was already 3 months along when I went to doctor.

Horrible high risk pregnancy, I almost lost the baby, I almost died but we made it!

I volunteered at highscools to speak about adoption. I served on my local auxiliary board for years with an adoption agency. I allowed the students to ask me questions after my presentations. I wanted them to feel comfortable with me. I told them they could ask anything they wanted to ask.

Great questions from those kids! One girl said, “My aunt is 40 and having a baby. Isn’t that too old?” Haha! I was 40 but have never looked my age. I giggled and told her, no! and that I was 40 when I gave birth to my child.

But the best question that day was from a young man who asked me if I loved my biological daughter more than the one I adopted.

At first his question crushed me, (I didn’t show him his question hurt) because love is love to me and there is no difference if a child is adopted or not. I love my kids the same. I was so glad that he asked me that because I had the opportunity to share that with the class. I told him it was a smart question and I was glad to tell him the answer and that I appreciated that he wanted to ask me instead of assuming or wondering.

I miss my outreach work. I also worked with birth mothers and had them tell their side. It was healing for them. They were comfortable with me because I knew both sides, adopted a child and gave birth to a child. My love is absolutely the same for both!

You sound like an amazing son and I am sure your parents loved you. I told my daughter very young. I wish you and your brother had been told.

A long time ago some adoptive parents did not know how to handle it. People are better educated now.

I had a closed adoption because open adoption wasn’t legal then. I would have welcomed an open adoption and told my daughter if she wants to meet her birth parents that I would never see it as a threat. We are secure in our relationship.

There is no right or wrong here. Follow your heart. Be at peace.
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AnnReid Apr 5, 2019
Your story is incredibly sweet to me. Thank you SO MUCH for sharing it.❤️
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Omg what a shock, no wonder you feel numb!

I'm fairly new here and don't know your story with your parents, but I'll assume unless you say otherwise that they were good and loving parents. I'm sorry for your loss, but glad the toll of caregiving is over.

I wonder if your mom kept those papers because she intended to tell you one day?

Did you tell your brother yet?

I don't know what to say except to offer you a cyber hug, and remind you that adopted families are real families. Your parents chose you and your brother with the desire to love you and raise you. They will always be "your parents" just as you were always their child. Nothing changes the love you all shared for a lifetime.

Please be extra kind to yourself during this time of grief and shock with this news.
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mikejrexec Apr 5, 2019
Thank you very much. Yes we had a great life and I agree that they are "my parents" no matter what. I have not told my brother as he comes in and out of my life for long periods of time. I will the next time I hear from him as I feel he deserves to know. As for whether mom intended to ever tell us I think not. I do guess that by leaving the papers where they were found she was leaving it up to fate whether I found them or not.
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I am 56 and adopted. Both my siblings are also adopted. Thankfully my parents raised us knowing we were adopted. They always told us, we were selected, not expected. Every year on our official adoption day, mom celebrated our "happy day". She made our favorite meal and cupcake with a candle in it. So to me, my adoption was no big deal. I can't imagine how you must feel now. Maybe your mom was afraid of telling you and siblings this, thinking maybe one day you may want to find your birth mother. The thought of that, may have scared her. To her, all of you were HER children. Please think of it that way. Think how you might have felt if unable to give birth to your own child. She must have loved you all so very much, that she feared losing you one day. I've never tried finding my birth mom, knowing how it would hurt my mom. My adopted parents are my mom and dad, period. Back in the 50's and 60's, my mom said it was common to never tell about the adoption. I hope this helps you sweet heart. We're selected, not expected.
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jacobsonbob Apr 8, 2019
I knew someone who had a similar experience. His adoptive parents explained this to him when he was very young and told him they had chosen him. His family had a store or similar business, and he said he was so proud of being adopted he announced it to all the customers!
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Hmm...I’m thinking from a mom perspective. You go through your young life playing with dolls and dreaming of being a mom only to find that when the time comes you can’t. Maybe she lost a baby, or more likely several babies. My aunt lost three, named and buried them all. She later adopted two children.

So you know God gave you this gift but not the conventional means to express it. Now, it’s the 60s. Adoption was not like it is today. As parents they were probably desperate for this outlet of love and just followed the advice of adoption counselors, family, etc. they didn’t have the same idea of psychology at that time either. I would guess “telling children they’re adopted could result in....”(add something that would have terrified your parents).

So they finally get this wonderful baby. They are overjoyed. They take great care and cross t’s and dot i’s, and their mission in life is to love you and never ever lose you because they have already lost too many children.

Fast forward through the years and they love you as flesh and blood the way any good parent does. You never notice a difference. Maybe they talk about “Should we tell them?” From time to time but fear holds them back. We might lose them! I have children. I can imagine the fear of them growing up, loving their in-laws more than us (closest thing to other parents I can imagine) and then growing farther away.

But.....your mom took care. She ensured their safety from the elements by double bagging them? Those documents signify the happiest days of her life. The day she was finally a mom. From this mom’s perspective, it was her treasure. You and your brother are her precious treasures. She kept them because they were special to her and she wasn’t ashamed but she wanted to hold on to the lie that “I am their mom. Just me. I love them, I always wanted them, and no ones going to take them away from me.”

Fast forward to more current times, she probably realized that adopted children might need or want to know about their biological families, so she kept them too, so you would have the truth and be able to do what you needed to do when the time came. I’m sure the weight of “an I doing the right thing,” and the weight of the fear of losing you was just difficult.

I can’t understand how you feel. But I am a mom. And from this perspective, you were fiercely loved. How blessed you are! :)
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Rosses003 Apr 9, 2019
Wonderful and likely very factual answer Granddaughter12!

I think you right-guessed all these parents feelings, thoughts and concerns.

And dear mikejrexec, although I know this is naturally a shock, I think having given care for both of your parents is the greatest shock there is! (Definitely not an easy path) so at this point, if I were you, I would likely just move on, because you were indeed your parents child, the chosen, the desired, the blessing from God! as your sibling was too.

If you are curious you could attempt to find out who your blood relatives are...yet at this point, when you are so tired from all you’ve gone through, would it be worth it to put yourself through more emotional distress? Only you can answer that and decide.

But as far as who your parents were, which family do you come from, and which love covered you and your sibling as only parent’s love can, that is clear with no doubt, the two parents that raised you, who you took care of until the end and who loved you until the end, those as your parents and always will be. I think you both were the most precious gift for them.

A hug and God bless!
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Multiple hugs to you mikejrexec. It is a wonderful thing that you never worried about whether you were adopted and a sure sign that you were wanted and loved.

I “lost” an adoption when her birth mother decided to give her to another family, and the loss was like a death to me.

Breathe easy, Good Child, and cherish memories of those who loved you!
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mikejrexec Apr 5, 2019
You are so sweet. Big hug for you.
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Just wanted to let you know I'm sorry for your loss. Being a caregiver is a very stressful job from the first day to the last. Take time to grieve your loss now. I'm sorry you had to find out about the adoption in the manner that you did. Your mother must of had her reasons for not telling you were adopted. Nevertheless you loved your adoptive parents as they loved you very much. When the time is right address your adoption issue as it will always be in the back if your mind. You will never know under what circumstances you were adopted unless you investigate it. I am married to a man that was adopted at birth. Although he knew he was adopted from the time he could remember. A fear his adoptive mother had is, if he ever found his biological family he would form a bond with them and she would be forgotten. It was her insecurity. So my husband remained loyal to her but in the back of his mind it was not the bio parents he was so interested in. It was who and how many sibling's did he have. To make a long story short, I set out to find any sibling's he could of had. I eventually found a brother who for many year was looking for him. His bio brother never knew he had a brother that was put up for adoption . He found out from an old family friend. When he confronted his Aunt about the brother who was put up for adoption, she said yes and we were sworn to secrecy not to tell. We had a wonderful reunion with his bio brother and family. The news media came to our house to capture the meeting and share their story. We developed a friendship with his brother and his family. That was over 25 years ago. Adoption is a beautiful arrangement. My one daughter adopted 5 beautiful children that I am proud to call my grandchildren. I can't even imagine where these children would of ended up if they weren't adopted into our family.
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mikejrexec Apr 8, 2019
That is a great story. I was not really thinking about the possibility of having siblings out there. Right now I'm actually thinking more about my biological mother and if she needs to know what happened to me. But my emotions change daily.
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mikejrexec;
Condolences on your losses. It is certainly not the best time to get blindsided by this revelation, but take time to grieve and take care of yourself first. Care-giving takes a toll, and loss takes another. There is time later for you to digest the "news".

Many have chimed in to provide care and support, including those who are also adopted and/or related stories about adoptions. Many people feel they can be open about adoption, others not so much. Since they are gone, your parents cannot provide a reason for not revealing this sooner, but I would suspect it was more fear of losing you both. So many people, especially those coming of age around the same time as you, wanted to find out or already knew and had to go off to find those "birth" parents. Some have happy endings, some not so much. Some resulted in breaking from the adoptive family - not everyone is secure in themselves or their upbringing. I would think that might be an adoptive parent's worst nightmare/fear. Then there is always when is the right time to tell the kids, if they feel they should be told. Perhaps that right time just never came for them.

Although several mentioned that adoption was a "secret", and it certainly may have been for some, it was much more of a stigma for the birth mother giving up the child, especially if born out of wedlock. Perhaps if it was a family member giving up the child it would need to be kept secret. Perhaps it was required by the adoption agency. Who knows. The mindset was certainly different "back in the day."

The MOST important part about adoption is that you are CHOSEN and LOVED for who you are, not for where you came from! You stated that you and your brother were well treated and loved, THAT is what is important. So many children today are raised in families where they are not loved unconditionally, or even abused (happens with adoptions as well!) All my cats are adopted and loved for themselves and their special quirks! I do tell them they are adopted, but they don't seem to care. ;-)

I read through the comments and selected the following from them:

polarbear
"The real parents are the ones that raise you and love you, not the ones that gave birth to you."

Midkid58
"Yes, there is your DNA, which makes you who you are, but your true parents are the people who raised and loved you."

Liz1963
"We're selected, not expected."

Worriedspouse
"You can speculate all you want but what you experienced is what counts because that was reality: They loved you and you loved them."

BeckyT
"My way of thinking is: Your parents picked you and gave you a wonderful life. Think of all you would have missed if you had never known them."

Jannner
“you grew not under my heart , but in it!”

These all sum up what I might want to say.

Your parents cared enough to perhaps protect you (or themselves) from heartache if either of you chose to seek out your birth parents, yet were wise enough to keep the papers in case you might ever want to know or need it (medical information could be needed.) Take your time now to reflect on the great relationships you had and remember all the good times. If you so choose to seek out any "birth" family, there are many ways to do it, but you need to be strong enough to handle what might come your way. Could be great finding new family, could be not so great. Wait until you have come to terms with it all so that you can sort through all of this.
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mikejrexec Apr 10, 2019
What a great post. I love all the positive quotes. Yes for now it is just one day at a time.
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mikejrexec - I am sorry for the loss of your parents and glad that your caregiving days are over. Now is your chance to focus on your life and do what you want.

I heard a very wise woman once said: "The real parents are the ones that raise you and love you, not the ones that gave birth to you."

From the view of the parents, I think there is a fear that the child will not love them as much once the child finds out he/she was adopted. Perhaps, your parents had this fear and didn't want to tell you.
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mikejrexec Apr 5, 2019
I had not thought about my parent's possible fear. Thank you for that insight. We were very very close. Perhaps they did not want that to possibly change.
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