I must be a mushroom…

My dad is a retired professor, and when I was younger, he would sometimes take me to the university with him. I would wait in his office while he was lecturing, and on his wall, he had a poster that said ” I must be a mushroom. Everybody keeps me in the dark and feeds me bullshit”( he had a background in mycology).

While that may not be the most eloquent way of framing how I feel right now, it’s actually quite an apt description.

The lies we were told

I was adopted back in the early 70’s, which was the tail end of what some call the “baby scoop era”. While I have no way to know for sure, I think the theory was that it would be easier for a mother and child if they never saw each other. Some birth mothers never even knew if they had a boy or girl, and a few were even told their child had died during the birth process. Most never even got to hold their child. They were whisked away with the assumption the mother would soon forget them and it would be easier.

From what I understand, it was absolutely heartbreaking for some of these women, and the fathers too, although I doubt that was the case for mine. He was probably thrilled I was going away, as I was tangible proof of what he was doing.

I don’t know what my biological mother was told. She could have been told I was okay and doing well, or who knows what. All I know is what I was told by the agency that facilitated my adoption.

Such a nice story

When I was adopted, my mom and dad were given a new birth certificate and a typewritten sheet of what was termed “social history”. This was basically just some information about both of my biological parents.

I have to admit it’s kind of a sweet story ( someone’s imagination must have been working overtime when they came up with it) that was , in a way, comforting. The sheet explained that my biological mother was a teenager with lots of brothers and sisters. It indicated she was intelligent but shy and quiet, a bit about what she looked like and that she wanted to be a nurse. The final commentary was that she had been hanging out with a group “experimenting with drugs” but she stopped when she found out she was pregnant and felt really guilty.

The man who never was

The information about my biological father was even more of a fabrication. According to my “social history” he was American and in his early 20’s. Again, there was a bit of a description of what he looked like and some details including his parents had separated when he was very young and he was mostly raised by his older sister. He was described as a nice young man and a good listener.

None of this is true.

At the bottom of the paperwork, there was an expatiation that they had broken up before my biological mother found out she was pregnant. She knew she couldn’t care for a baby on her own, so she gave me up.

Why the lies?

This is part of my experience that I am finding it really hard to get my head around. Why lie? I understand not wanting to say “your mother was molested by her brother or father, and now here you are!”, but why make up such a lie? Most adoptees I have talked to were given little to no information about their father. My adoptive brother was adopted two years before me, and he was given no information at all.

Why make up such an elaborate “backstory” when it wasn’t necessary?

It could be that somebody thought it would be easier for me. Back then, the idea of people being able to test the DNA all on their own so they could find their biological origins wasn’t even on anyone’s radar. I expect the idea that someone could find out their parents are related through a relatively simple DNA test would have been seen as sort of science fiction. My guess? At the time I was adopted, no one ever thought the truth would come out.

It has.

Dream a little (daydream) of you

While I love my adoptive parents ( to me, they are my real mom and dad) I used to daydream about why my biological parents were like. My mom and dad would even talk to me about what they might be like and why they gave me up.

I built up this fantasy in my mind of who they were. It wasn’t anything special, just that they were average people. I believed my biological father didn’t know I existed, and I was okay with that. When I started trying to find them, I had this picture in my mind of him being happily shocked to find out he had a daughter he never knew. I thought my biological mother would be happy to know I had a good life and turned out okay.

I can’t explain why, but there was a sort of comfort in that.

Abuse, lies and worse

So here I am today with just the stark truth of my situation. I am the product of incest, and as if that’s not bad enough, I don’t even know the full depth of the story. I doubt I ever will.

This brings me full circle back to the lying. There was so much of it. Even my original birth certificate is a deception, the crowing touch of which is that the name listed as being my biological mother’s isn’t hers. It’s close, but not the same, and from what the records indicate, she is the one who signed that name. Why?

Through all of this, I really wonder if the lies were meant to protect someone, and if so, who? I sure don’t feel “protected”. Was it to protect my biological mother? Was someone trying to protect her abuser ( my biological father) so wouldn’t be held accountable?

Why would it have been so bad for me to know facts like I was born premature, had a heart problem and was very sick when I was born? That I had a problem with my eyes? That there was an increased risk of genetic abnormalities because my parents were related?

Did the doctors/nurses/ other care providers encourage my biological mother to lie? Did she even know what was on my birth certificate? If not, who made up the story and why?

Did they think no one would want to adopt a baby who is the product of an incestuous relationship? Is that the root of all of this? I have no idea. I wish I did.

The truth? You can’t handle the truth!

This is part of what makes me so, well, angry. I don’t like that I’m angry, but I can’t help it. It’s not the people that I’m angry at so much as the deception and assumption that it was better for me to live in ignorance, no matter what impact it had.

I’m not made of glass. I will not break because of my background. Sure, it’s a very unpleasant situation, but it doesn’t define me. Why was I not given the permission to figure out for myself what it all meant? I’m the one who would be impacted the most, but my right to know was soundly taken away from me. That is a very bitter pill to swallow.

In closing, I return to the mushroom comparison. It’s puts me in mind the pretty “Destroying Angel” aminita. Nice to look at, but underneath that, there is the poison of lies. Honestly, I would rather have no information at all than the falsehoods I was given.

3 thoughts on “I must be a mushroom…

      1. Adoptees are displaced persons by definition. They feel the pain of the refugee, disconnected, alienated, separated and emotionally stranded from their roots. Seeking only mercy on an intrinsic and primal level, regardless of the depths of humiliation they may find, they long to pierce the surface reflection to see what lies in the depths below. Solving the complex mystery of life’s labyrinth to find the way home without a GPS, a roadmap, or a guide to follow is a daunting task most adoptees must undertake in solitude. If only reality could account for itself, most adoptees would launch a vision quest to comprehend with empowered insight a surreal vision from God that empirically solves the riddles of the labyrinth and the reasons for their birth.


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