April 5, 2013

And Then There Were Two
Guest Post: Lee H.

Today’s guest post comes from someone I met here at Adoptee Restoration. Lee is an adoptee and  frequent commenter here who has become a treasured friend.  She has never written an actual blog post about adoption before this. I have been encouraging her to step out and share her heart and her experiences of life as an adoptee. She is getting braver and making many changes in her life regarding her adoption. One of those she is going to share with us today in the post. I'm really proud of her and I know you will come to love her just as I do. ~ Deanna

My name is Lee H.  That is not really my name, but when I write about things related to adoption she is kind of my soul sister.  I write using her name because I still have this overwhelming desire to protect the people that I love and care about.  My story is still emerging, and even though I could come out and be the person I am in my day to day life this just feels safer for everyone right now.

Words come out differently on different days and at different times of day.  This post will not be the same as it would have been had I written  it on the day of the experience or a week ago or tomorrow.  It is not more or less valid, depending on the day.

If we could all put our adoption story into a nutshell (which we can’t) here is mine:

1) Conceived by unwed parents.
2) Mother realizes she is pregnant.
3) Father’s parents never tell him their son fathered a child and pay for maternity home for child’s mother.
4) Child is adopted at 2 months of age by infertile, wealthy couple.
5) Child grows up and has a baby of her own.
6)  After years of knowing and searching, child meets original mother.

I met my original mother when our son was 11 months old.  We had a pretty good relationship for about 9 years or so, but it was not what I had thought it would be when I fantasized about my “real mother” growing up.  When I sat with her and she played with my kids it was like having a family friend come visit, a friend of your mother’s.  I remember I used to talk to myself in my own mind and tell myself over and over, “I grew inside of her.”  It was something I told myself over and over, but it never really felt true.  It just couldn’t be true.  I thought my life had started in the story I was told of when my parents brought me home from the adoption agency in the tiny clothes that still have a place of honor in the box in the basement.  Could it really be true that I actually had a life before April 14, 1966, the day I "came home"?  

When I searched and found my original mother, I kept it under wraps, fearing my adoptive parents' response. Things got extremely tough when my secret relationship with my original mother was found out by my adoptive parents. My adoptive father was furious but he never actually talked to me about it. Instead he chose to scream at my husband, "Lee has had the best mother ever!!” How could she possibly have a relationship with this other person??!"

It became overwhelming emotionally. 

I had four children I was raising, in-laws, adoptive parents, and my original mother who had no other family and wanted  so much to be one of us.  But, it was too much.  I was crumbling under the weight of all those people who “loved” me.

So I cut out the last person on the scene.  
I cut out my original mother, swiftly and surely.  

I told myself I felt bad about it, but I didn’t feel guilty.   
But I did feel guilty.
It was the most confusing time ever.

This year I was finally able to see my entire adoption file and get copies of it to keep.  My life before I was 2 months old was chronicled there.  Mysteries unfolded.  I clutched that file like another new baby.

Photo Credit: Lee H.
The day I read my file I drove to the unwed mothers home where she had lived.  She had arrived in December, 7 months pregnant and an outcast from the little family she had.  I walked up the walk. What I know now is that I walked up that walk not only like my original mother had, but I WAS my original mother. 
Photo Credit: Lee H.
I saw the “Welcome” sign that had to be there in 1965.  Little octagonal tiles lined the foyer and as I held the knob on the bannister and my knees buckled.  “Please, oh please," I thought..."don’t let anyone come in and see me sobbing…they will think I am crazy or dying!”  I felt like I was going to die of sadness right there on the spot.

A few months later my husband started to see a counselor.  He called me from outside the building.  His appointment was actually in the building that was once the unwed mothers home! I had never gone upstairs.  He described it to me, but I just had to go there the next day. I had to see it and experience it for myself.

It was as if time had stopped. 
It was all the same with little dormitory rooms converted into therapy suites for counselors.  Little tiny rooms…which one had been my mother’s in 1965-66?

I walked around for an hour.  On one floor it was a women’s counseling practice and an old window on the wall displayed their photos and bios.  

Photo Credit: Lee H.
 Above it was written, "HALLWAY OF HOPE."

I had my adoption file with me, and I sat in one of the little kitchens at the end of the hall and read every word.  And I looked out the window, I saw the hospital where I was born.  She stood by this window… I know she did.  She knew she would have a baby there and have to leave it.  She couldn’t know then that I would be a tiny girl with blonde hair.  

 I was sad.  But the difference this time was that I was ME…I was me who was sad for both of us.  We had become two people in that moment and I believe I stopped carrying the shame that I had carried for her for so long, the shame that society and her family had put on her so unfairly.  I had no idea that I was carrying that shame on her behalf.

I have never held any anger at my original mother or father.  Ever.  And I never will.  

It is such an incredible relief to finally get to know the real me.   

Maybe now I can try again with my original mother. 

I know now that I WAS BORN.  I read it in those words in that file all the time and it has made me real.  My true self, not this manufactured one I have had to be my whole life.

I hope to be brave enough to tell my original mother what has happened. 
I am still really scared. 

I told my counselor that all this is like climbing Mount Everest.  Sometimes the air is just too thin and you cannot breathe.  

 So many other miracles have unfolded for me, and I have to stop and rest for a while.  

I so want to keep going, but for now, resting and breathing is all I can do.