May 22, 2011

Looking Back

What if everything you were told was a lie?
All of my life I have been held hostage to the notion that I was all alone. My parents signed emancipation papers for me when I was 16 years old. Even my blood sister I grew up with seemed like a stranger to me and remains so to this day. 

What if everything you believed was a lie? My parents never liked to talk about my adoption. When my blood sister and I found out that we were adopted, naturally we had our own questions.
"Who am I? Who are our parents?"
These were some of those first questions that came up. They were ones my sister asked. She is 21 months older than me and at the time those questions were not anything I ever thought about. When she asked them my parents froze and they immediately set up a wall. From that time forward any questions that were asked were like much guarded secrets. The subject was taboo.
At the time I was too busy growing up and being a kid. I was in the back yard climbing a ladder so that I could jump off the roof into the deep end of the swimming pool. I was busy climbing our 40 foot flag pole to see if I could touch the top. And all I got from that was a blistered butt when my dad got home. He took punishment pretty seriously.
My sisters questions drove her crazy. So crazy that she ran away from home when she 12 and ended up in a group home. We would drive over and see her on the weekends and she would always refer to our parents by their last name. It was all kind of sad really, watching a child disown her family.
"Who am I?" I could hear my sister asking this in my head.
What kind of question was that? You are the same person you were before you found out that you were adopted. Nothings changed.
Later I had my own questions. All I ever wanted to know was who were my natural parents, what were they like and whether or not they loved me.
My mom could never talk to me about my adopted parents, at least not until we met later in life when I was in my 30's. And even then it was a sketchy story. She said that my mom had given my sister and I up for adoption at a very young age. We went into foster care and were passed from home to home for a couple of years because nobody wanted us. She said that all she knew was that we had it very bad according to the case worker. But there was always an indication that maybe my mom knew something she didn't want to share. Her voice would always change when she spoke to me. She would physically shudder as she spoke about it. This from a woman who endured life in Nazi Germany and had horrible memories and scars from there. As much as I wanted to know about my adoption, I could never bring myself to push her too hard. And besides that, she had a firm line she would stand on and if you tried to cross it you would lose. She could be a lot more stubborn than me sometimes.
So I am talking to my sister on the phone a month or so ago and she is almost screaming, "That adoption was not supposed to happen. Those names on the court records are made up names. They weren't going to let it happen. Dad had to fight to get it to happen."
And you really have to know my sister to get the whole effect, "Sweety," She says, "Dad told me what happened. He had to get some Senator in Arizona to push the thing through. Barry something or another. The whole thing was a whitewash!"

"Wait a minute," I say, "Are you talking about Senator Barry Goldwater?"

"Yes!" She screams, "Barry Goldwater."

 Now she's talking to her husband in the background.

Sister: "Honey. It was Senator Barry Goldwater wasn't it?"
Sister's husband: "Yes, I believe it was."

 I am hearing a story that I have never heard before and I am suddenly having an out of body experience. I hand the phone to Lois and we pull off in a parking lot because we are driving and I say, "You have got to hear this."

 Twenty minutes later.

 "That is insane!" Lois says.

 "Is it?" I say.

 "Well what do you think?" She asks.

 "Dude, I don't know what to think anymore."

 One month later.

 My wife calls to tell me that we have finally got my original birth certificate.

"You are not going to believe this. This is unbelievable!"

 "What?" I ask.

 "This birth certificate shows two different names than what are on the court records."

My whole life I always believed my natural mom was a minor and that because she was too young to take care of us so she gave my sister and I up for adoption. I believed this because this is what I had been told.
My birth certificate showed that my moms name was entirely different than what was on my adoption records. It also showed that she was 29 years of age at the time of my birth; instead of a minor. It revealed that I had other siblings. And that my birth fathers first name was also different than the adoption records said.
After we received the adoption records and I did the math while considering my mom was a minor when she had me, I figured she would be in her mid-sixties right now. But this new age of 29 would bring her to around 77-79 depending on birthdays.
I don't know if we will ever find her but I still hold out on hope. Today I miss her. Today I wonder what happened back there. Today - like so many others - I still don't have my answers.

~September, 2009


Laoch of Chicago said...

The need to understand is strong but sometimes knowledge will bring pain along with enlightenment.

There is some kind of balance I believe between the two, but I am not sure where that balance is to be found.

Bitter_Angel said...

"Today you are You, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is Youer than You.”

I cant imagine how frustrating it must be, looking for answers about yourself yet not being able to find them. To have huge gaps in your past.

But my thoughts are, what would you hope to get learn from finding the truth?

I believe we become the people we are due to our personalities and the things in out life that have happened to shape us. You seem a pretty happy kinda guy, right levels of emotion and such. I would guess that your birth mum would have had little to do with this.

I dont know. I know its easier said then done, but I guess I would want to say, celebrate who you are and how you got there, instead of where you came from and the bumps in the road.

I do hope you find some closure to this.

Debra said...

Oh Beaux, I can feel the emotion and the frustration behind all of this convoluted history and my heart aches for both your sister and you. What is it that makes us want to inherently KNOW where we came from and who our ancestors were? There is some unique connection between us and the souls who came before us which causes us to almost crave the knowledge. Funny creatures we human beings are.

In some ways, this is part of the reason that I am keeping a blog. It is sort of a letter to future generations beginning with my own children, about who I was and where I came from. It will also be even more important for my nieces when and if they come back to find me. I was thinking about the journey of life this morning and how we really would not learn anything important without the obstacles and roadblocks which are placed in our way. That doesn't make things any easier, just more understandable. Whatever you decide to do and however far you take this, I pray that you find some peace within your soul knowing that you have a beautiful family who you are creating a history with that future generations will be proud of.


LauraX said...

This is such an incredible story Beaux. My sister gave up a child for adoption when she was 17. He recently found her and they had a lovely reunion. He thanked her for her choice, because he had a wonderful life with his parents and understood that she made the best decision she could so that he would have a good life. (He's in his early twenties now). He even facebooked me and his birth cousins. But times are so different now. I'm sorry that this was such a difficult situation for you and your sister growing up. It must be very hard to imagine what the circumstances were that led to your birth mother's decision.


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