Baby Bird Found?

Hello all!

I’m back, after a hiatus. The summer days are almost over, my autoimmune disease is relatively under control and I have some amazing news! Can you guess from the photo and title of this post what it might be?

A while back, I decided I’d had enough of the dithering. Name of my biological mother in hand and an idea of the community where she might live, I found two possible addresses that could be her. My daughter and I bought two blank note cards and in each, I put a short note saying I was adopted and looking for genealogical information about my biological family. I put in an email address where I could be reached and thanked both recipients for their help in advance.

When they were ready, my daughter and I walked down to the post office to mail them. Once we got there, we turned around to go home, as I realized I was no nervous I’d forgotten them on the table. Another walk to the post office, and they were in the mail.

A few weeks went by, no response.  I was feeling a mixture of anxiety mixed with rejection. I took it as an indication that I had been right all along. No mother could love or want a child conceived in the circumstances I was. I was sad, but it was about what I’d expected.

Then it happened. I was having coffee and getting ready to start work for the day when I got an email form an address I didn’t recognize. I opened it and started to read.

By the time I finished the first line, I knew I had a half sister. She sent me a long letter and told me that our biological mother had gotten my note and I would hear from her soon. I can’t say how I felt at that moment, as I really can’t explain it.

A few days later, I got another email. It was from my biological mother! She wrote me a long letter and told me about herself, a bit bout her family,  details about her pregnancy and why she chose to give me up. She didn’t know I already knew about my genetic background, and not wanting to overwhelm her, I didn’t tell her I what the DNA testing I’d had done had revealed.

Over the summer, I have learned more about her through her emails. I also have a half brother, and it’s been interesting to see the similarities between my biological family and I. She told me how she hadn’t really realized she was pregnant, but her school nurse did. Once her family found out, she was promptly sent to a maternity home. After I was born, she was allowed to care for me for a couple of days in the hospital before she had to go home, and the last she ever heard about me was when I was four months old and she had to go to court for the final adoption hearing.

She said she had never stopped thinking about me, and had spent many hours wondering where I was, how I was doing, what I look like and if I was happy. She’d even tried to find me, but had no luck. 

I didn’t want to ask about my biological father, but I figured she had to know the question was coming, so I asked as gently as I could.

I know now. She was abused by a brother. My father is also my uncle. There is no doubt about where I came from. I also know my biological mother loved me, and that is huge.

More about this is my next post.

Is the really how society sees us?

Well, just when I thought I couldn’t see a more hurtful attitude, it was in an article that I learned about today. It had been shared by an individual who didn’t seem to agree with it and who was trying to encourage conversation about adoption and donor insemination.

I’m all for that. Openly discussing a topic is a wonderful thing.

What I didn’t agree with was the piece’s attitude towards those who are adopted or conceived through donor insemination. The author implied that the adoptees or those who came about due to an anonymous donor should be grateful that they merely exist and have no real right to want to know about their biological origins. How dare they want to invade the life of their biological mother or father?

Even worse, is the idea that if men or women think their future progeny may try and find them at some later date, they may not want to get involved in the process. While I can see that would be a very unsettling prospect, especially for the company that may stand to lose financially,

It’s as if they should just sit there and shut up. I take great offense to that attitude.

Why are we seen as different?

Many people have a desire to know their biological origins, whether they are adopted or not. Just look at the popularity of DNA testing and genealogical sites. I do believe this is part of human nature. A desire to understand ourselves and our place in the universe.

Lots of people brag about a famous relative or a relation who has done something special. That’s really normal and gives people a sense of who they are. As an adoptee, I don’t really get the chance. While I am very proud of my adoptive fmaily, I’d still like to know and understand my roots.

That’s so normal, but why, as an adoptee, do some feel I should be made to feel ashamed for wanting to know what most others take as a given? Is it really that bad? Is it wrong to wonder why I’m autistic, why I like to write more than speak or even why my hair is so damned curly that I look like Art Garfunkel every time the humidity gets high? Is it wrong to wonder where one of my kids who had her first book published at 12 got her talent for writing fiction? Why shouldn’t I know why I have a disease that is slowly taking away parts of me and may well lead to the end of my life?

Why shoudl I feel ashamed for asking what is seen as almost a basic human right for everyone else? Why am I made to feel like a beggar, hoping to be tossed a few scraps of information?

The right for privacy

All of this being said, I can also understand a person’s right to privacy. For some biological mothers and fathers, that is paramount for a variety of reasons. For some, giving up their child was such a difficult time that they don’t wish to be reminded of it. They were told they would soon forget their child and go on to live the rest of their life. They took that to heart and pushed it down so they wouldn’t have to deal with it.

One woman I spoke with told me that she had given up her son and gone on to finish school, get married and start a family. Her husband didn’t know about her first son, and she was able to bury his memory really deeply, but it did come out. She told me how, after her first child was born she couldn’t stop crying. Her husband wrote it off as “happy tears”, but the reality? She was mourning for the baby she never even got to see, let alone hold, tell him she loved him and say “good bye”.

For her, the only was she could cope was to pretend it had all either never happened or at least that it was so long ago it didn’t matter. She also said she would like to know how he’s doing, but a relationship with him would be too painful.

For others, the conception of their child was really traumatic, and seeing them may well bring it all back. I think that’s the boat my biological mother is in. If she sees my face, she’ll also see her abuser. I’ve seen a photo of her on a site for her local newspaper, and I look just like her. I don’t know what my biological father looked like, but I do look a lot like her brothers ( as would be expected if one of them is my father).

In the case where a spouse gets pregnant from an affair, there could also be a desire to keep the child under wraps as they are walking, talking proof that they slept with someone else.

Underneath all of this, there is an undercurrent of shame, at least for people my age and older. Many people forget how there was so much stigma about being an unmarried pregnant teen or woman. You were a “fallen woman”, and many ended up go to a maternity home to have their baby, give them up and then go home as if nothing had happened. They would tell friends they were going to visit a relative or make some other excuse, and then return a few months later.

It’s not like that so much today. Bering single mother isn’t seen as being terrible. It’s not ideal, but it’s nothing to be ashamed of either. Up until not that long ago, it wasn’t like that.

Some NPE who were conceived using donor sperm or eggs feel they are in the same boat as an adoptee. They may know a few facts, but they still want to know more. I can understand that, and to be frank, shouldn’t they have the same right to know where they came from as anyone else?

Looking ahead…

One of my kids is in law school, and in one of her classes, they briefly touched on the future of DNA testing, privacy issues and the laws as they currently stand today in my country. The laws that exist to directly address this are scant to non-existent ( although it may fall under general privacy and adoption laws in some ways). This is an area that may very well see some signification changes as the laws catch up to the technology.

As an adoptee, biological parent, adoptive family, NPE or a member of the public, you have been tasked with a great responsibility. You have the power to help drive laws and public policies and positive create change. I issue you the follow challenge:

Inform yourself. Do lots of research and look at the issue of adoption and privacy from all sides. Put yourself in the shoes of each of the stakeholders and try and look at the situation from their point of view. Share and discuss your opinions and if you feel really passionate, contact you politicians and lawmakers. This time, maybe society can get ahead of technology.

Many times, laws are drafted to be black and white, free of emotions. In this case, the emotions of all parties should actually be the driving force.

Adoptees, NPE and other in a similar situation didn’t ask for the hand they were dealt. We just want answers to one of the most basic of human questions… where did I come from?“. Surely, there is a way ahead that benefits all parties involved.

An angry day

Last night, I was working on a guest blog post I had been asked to write about my NPE experience and how I was dealing with it. I wrote a piece, tried to be as informative as I could, had one of my adult kids edit it for me and sent it off. It was chock full of positive language, and when I wrote it, I really did mean every word of it.

Today, I feel like a hypocrite. I am not okay.

I’m sorry if this post is somewhat scattered and angry. It’s just been a bad day.

Are you my mother?

I am 95 percent sure I found my biological mother on Facebook, along with some of what are my aunts/sisters and uncles/brothers/father(?). I bit the bullet and sent messages to each of the profiles that are my biological mother’s ( she has about five of them along with profiles under a different first name. Oddly enough, it’s the same first name as my adoptive mom) along with friend requests, and I also did the same with two of her sisters. I never said why, just that I was looking for this particular person.

The end result? I got the rejection that is the deep down fear of many adoptees. The friend requests sent to her sisters were rejected, the messages never read. I don’t know if the requests have been seen by my biological mother or not.

This leads me to the two feelings that I have found to be the most difficult to deal with. The sadness and the anger. Neither is rational, and I am disappointed in myself that they are there.

Sometimes, I feel just like this little bird…

What’s wrong with me?

I know there is no logic to it, but it’s hard to deal with this feeling of rejection. Heck, the one person in the world we are supposed to know loves us is our mother. Before I received the NPE result, I assumed mine loved me. She loved me enough to allow me to be born and then to give me up. I know the paradox of giving a child up equating to love, but in this example, it really does.

I don’t think my mother loved me, and that is incredibly sad to me and hard to write. The logical side of my brain tells me this is to be expected. Her whole pregnancy and me being born, let alone having to see me was just a big reminder of her abuse. She may well have been told to hide what really happened, and it could be that’s the origin of the fairy tale I was told. I wonder if she even started to believe it herself?

My friend who was also adopted, had a similar experience to mine. The difference is, her birth mother was attacked by a group of men and has no idea which one is the father. Right now, my friend is coping with her own difficulty, as she’s had a DNA test done and some biological brothers and sisters have popped up. She’s struggling right now with what to say to them to explain why they have a newly discovered sister in her 50’s.

I know it’s not fair to compare the two women, but it’s hard not to. Why is her mother able to have a relationship with her, but mine can’t with me? Does she imagine I’m really that horrible?

I know, in the rational part of my mind, that this may simply all be too much for my biological mother to cope with. I also know it’s not “me” she’s rejecting, it’s the situation. Even so, it’s still a blow.

I hate to admit this

If I look deep down and am honest about it, there is also a lot of anger about my situation. I hate that it’s there. I don’t want it to be, but again, it is what it is.

Why am I angry? There are several reasons.

First, I’m angry that I have been lied to by so many and for so long. I’m not even sure where and when it started, or even why. If I’m in a charitable mood, I think it’s to protect me from an unsavory truth. If I’m feeling low, then it becomes a whole lot darker. Was the lie of my origin crafted to protect my mother’s abuser? I expect knowing that I was to be bundled off to a foster home once I was well enough to go home from the hospital was actually a huge relief to my biological father, not to mention the rest of the family.

Secondly, I’m angry that I’ve been made to feel like I’m a beggar, pleading for information, both medical and genealogical. Again, in a charitable mood, I paint this as being due to a desire to protect me from a painful ( and let’s be honest, for my biological fmaily, embarrassing) situation. I understand that, but who asked anyone to do this? For goodness sake, I’m in my late 40’s and am able to weight the positives and negatives of a situation and determine what is best for me. I don’t need a stranger, or group of them, to decide this for me.

If asked what one of the most unsettling aspects of all of this is, while it’s hard to pick just one, it’s this odd feeling like I am walking evidence of a crime. I wonder if my mother’s abuser ever had to face justice for what he did to her?

A few final thoughts

I apologize if this post was sort of all over the place and rather whiny. That’s not my intention. One of the reasons I started this blog was to write about my feelings and experiences, as it helps me to work through them and maybe, it will help someone else too. As usual, please feel free to comment and share your own story.

It really does help.

Baby bird lost…

(this post may be very upsetting and even triggering for some. It’s just me working through some feelings, and while it may be dark, there is a proverbial “light at the end of the tunnel”)

When my kids were small, I used to read to them a lot.One of their favourites was a book named “Beaky” (sp.?) about a baby bird of paradise who falls from his nest as an egg and doesn’t know who he is. He tries being several different animals, including a fish and snake, before he sees another bird of paradise like him and realizes who he is.

I know it sounds silly, but right now I feel like little Beaky. Who am I? I keep thinking that, at age 47 I ought to know, and up until a few weeks ago, I thought I did.

Who am I?

I’m lots of things. I’m a mom to some amazing young adults who I am proud to now be able to call my friends as well as my kids, I’m a wife to a great guy whom I really love and I’m also a writer, as a hobby and by trade. I love to garden, look after my pets, travel and volunteer. I try and “do good” in in the world. I have fantastic parents ( although my mom passed away several years ago) and a brother, aunts, uncles and other relatives who I’m close to. I have a couple of undergraduate degrees and was a “military spouse” for many years until my husband retired.

I’m autistic and that does colour the way I see the world. I also have several serious chronic illnesses, but they are being managed well and other than being in pain most of the time ( and a bit cranky too…lol) , I’m able to function quite well.

This is me. There’s nothing spectacular, just average. Ordinary. Not really an outlier…until those few weeks ago. Now what am I?

A stranger to myself

That NPE result for me was just a few words. A few words that changed a lot. It’s not just a belief about myself that changed, it’s a whole lot more. It’s hard to explain, as really, it is only semantics. The problem is those semantics carry a huge weight.

Many times, if you ask about adoption, people think of a child who’s parents died, or maybe their mother and father were kids, too young to care for a baby. Either way, the new life was conceived in love, or at least a moment of consensual enjoyment. Many wouldn’t see how that could possibly taint the child.

Now, consider a baby conceived in circumstances like my mother’s. Sadly, there is a negative stigma attached to that baby. It is a child of incest, sexual assault and these words have no positives ( nor should they). Who hasn’t heard a joke about cousins who got married, etc.?

If all that is bad, then what does that say about me?

A dark place…

When you get right down to it, I suppose one of the parts of this whole “saga” is the fundamental feeling of rejection. I know there is no logic in that, but it’s hard not to feel that way. We’re always told how mothers love their children and will want to know they are doing well.

I don’t think mine does. If I am being completely honest with myself, I can understand why she couldn’t love me. What am I to here but a 47 year old reminder of her painful past. Would I feel any differently? I’d like to think I could, but I don’t know.

We’re also told our family will always be there for us. I don’t think mine will.
I don’t think I’ll ever see my biological mother or be held by her. This is something I think every child deserves, whether or not we stay with our biological mothers.

There is light in the darkness…

Just when I’m feeling really bad, something happens to let the light in. My dad calls to see how I’m doing and to talk. My kids come home from school or university and tell me about what they’re doing in their classes, my husband comes home and gives me a hug, my aunt calls for a chat, etc.

Those moments help bring clarity. I am very much loved, I do have a fmaily that cares and I was held by my mom. My real mom. The one who was there for me when I was sick, when I was growing up, when I was pulling the nonsense I did as a teen. She was there when I graduated high school and university, when I got married and when my kids were sick. I was able to be there for her at the end of her life.

I don’t even feel like I have a biological father. I just have a “sperm forcer” ( I can’t even call him a “donor”). My dad , just like my mom, was always there for me and still is.

That’s what really counts, and when I look at it form that perspective, I have been held by my real mom and dad.

As for who “I” am ? I am still the person I was before, and while I am not going to say I didn’t wish the circumstances of how I came to be weren’t different, they are what they are. I can choose to have the grace to learn to accept them, or I can choose to continue to be hurt,angry and fundamentally sad. Those are my choices, and the patch ahead is relatively clear.

For now, I’ll probably keep “riding the roller coaster” of the ups and downs of my NPE experience. My hope is that I can learn and grow from this and maybe even help someone else who is struggling.

And, of course, I would still like to meet my biological mother and family one day. I do think they’d be proud.

Another wave

I don’t know about anyone else who has received a finding like mine, but if they are anything like me, the feelings about it come in waves. There is no consistency. Just when I feel like I’m okay with it, I see, hear or think of something that brings back all the bad emotions, only worse.

Last night’s trigger

I’m a mom, and my older two are in university and writing their finals. Last night, I was sharing tea with my older daughter, and we were talking about an incident at her university where a student was followed home by a guy and had to run to the nearest building for help. We were discussing how frightening an experience that may have been, and I thought for a minute how I would feel if it had been one of my kids who had been in that situation.

I thought about how frightened I was be and also how angry at whoever it was that had hurt my child. I also thought about how terrible it would be for her.

Then it hit me. My biological mother may well have experienced something just as bad, and, truth be told, it was probably even worse. I can’t imagine what it would be like to have been assaulted by a member of her own fmaily. I know it sounds awful, but in some ways, I would rather believe she and a brother were innocently “exploring”, and it went too far. The other possibility is awful.

What was it like for her?

I feel terrible for what my biological mother may have gone through. When she found out she was pregnant, how did her mother react? If it was just consensual “exploration” with a brother, did the rest of her fmaily know the truth? What did they do when they found out that she was pregnant with me?

If she was being molested, did her mother know? Why didn’t she put a stop to it? How did she react when she found out what her son or husband had being doing? Their fmaily was really big, so I wonder how this impacted her siblings? Was she made to feel guilty and like it was her fault?

How would I feel?

After I went to be last night, I did a lot of thinking. How would I feel if it had been my daughter who became pregnant this way? How would I feel about the baby? I’d like to think I could somehow separate the child from their origin, but maybe I couldn’t? Would I be able to see or even think of them without the connection with how they came to be?

Reconciling ( sort of)

I plan on exploring the impact this #NPE finding has had on me as a person in a later post, so I’ll be brief on the topic.

Trying to reconcile who “I” am with how I came to be on this Earth is taking time. Intellectually, I know what happened to my biological mother isn’t my fault, but I can’t help feeling guilty. Quite frankly, it’s upsetting to know how much pain I caused for so many.

I know that, after a while, I’ll be okay with this, but it’s going to take some time.

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.

Let’s talk about it

Until about two months ago, sexual abuse was something that had happened to other people. I knew what it was, even had s couple of friends who had been abused as children, but I had never been impacted by it personally.

That has all changed.

Down through the years…

When you think about it, my situation, and those other NPEs have experienced goes to show how abuse can have such a huge impact on future generations. Now I now you may be asking how we could be hurting due to events we never experienced, but we are.

Many of us feel a range of emotions. Sometimes, we feel okay and we accept the situation. Other times, we feel a mix of shame, guilt, sadness and we mourn. We mourn the fantasy family and happy reunion we will probably never get to have. We mourn the loss of who we thought we were and we mourn the loss of who were really are at a fundamental level. It’s hard not to fele ‘tainted”.

Why the guilt?

That’s a really easy one. Sexual abuse of children has likely been going on since people first walked on two legs, but it was often hidden and kept in the dark. In recent years, people have begun to talk about it, and we have learned just how devastating it can be to a boy or girl, even on to their adult years.

How can we not feel guilty? While it’s certainly true we never asked to be conceived or born, we also know the pain our existence may well have put our mothers through. Many of the NPE people I have talked to expressed a sense of guilt. I can’t imagine how painful it may have been for my biological mother. She had been abused, gotten pregnant, and from what I can tell ( but I could be wrong) she was shuffled off to a maternity home, where she had her child in secret. How can I not feel some guilt over that? Maternity homes back then were not known for being the kindest of institutions, and I imagine she may well have been made to feel guilty, like some sort of fallen woman, even though she was completely innocent. It was her abuser who was at fault.

In an odd way, some of us even begin to develop protective feelings towards our biological mothers. We want to take their pain and shame away, even though we have never met them and they are strangers to us. It’s strange, but the parent/child roles can sort of get turned on their heads.

Shining a light in the shadow

One of the feelings that I have about all of this that I really don’t understand myself, is the sense of shame. I have done nothing wrong, but let’s be frank. I am the product of incestuous child abuse. It makes my skin crawl to type that, but it is what it is. I can accept that. I can’t change it, even though I wish I could.

It’s the shame and embarrassment that really sticks in my craw. We’ve all heard the “inbreeding” jokes at one time or another. They really are not funny. There is so much stigma attached to discussing familial sexual abuse, and I think that’s wrong. I also think it’s wrong that we don’t talk more openly about some of the potential fallout, beyond how it impacts the abused. While that is one of the most important pieces of the discussion, it is not the only one.

I’m a hypocrite ( I admit it)

I know how hypocritical it is of me to talk about how the stigma around discussing sexual abuse in families while I hide behind an anonymous user name and blog. How can I do that?

The answer is both simple and complex. I’m not exactly a “socializer” and a lot of people don’t know who I am. If it was just me, I might be more willing to use my actual name, but I don’t want to put my kids in that position. That would be so unfair to them! So instead, I hide behind my username and try to get the word out as best I can. Perhaps one day I will have the courage to be more open.

Ending the stigma may help break the cycle

While I wasn’t sexually abused myself, I’d like to think I can help to break the cycle, at least for someone out there. As a society, this is a topic that we really need to address openly, honestly and without fear or shame. It’s the shame and fear that allow it to keep on, often generation after generation. Isn’t it high time we said “STOP!” and started talking about it more openly?

As many abusers were abused themselves as a child, making sure that child ( and adult) victims have timely access to mental health care, counseling and support is also so important. While there can be no guarantees, making sure these measures are in place may just help break the cycle from continuing on, and on and on and on ad nasuem.

In closing I would like to issuer the following challenge ( don’t worry, it’s an easy one). I ask everyone who reads this to talk to just one or two people about sexual abuse in families, NPE and how more and more people are finding out that, like me, they are the end result of this crime. To borrow a phrase from Amnesty International, it’s “better to light a candle than rage at the darkness”. We can all make a difference.

Where I’m at today

So now you know my story. It’s not exactly pretty, but it is what it is. I found that out about a month and a half ago, and since then, I have been on the damned emotional roller coaster, which I can’t stand. It’s so confusing. Sometimes I feel like my genetic background doesn’t matter, and sometimes, I think it does. Most of the time I feel empathy and sadness for my biological mother, but every so often, the anger creeps in. I don’t want that. It’s not so much anger at her as anger at the whole situation.

Medical and health details please…

A big part of why I want to find my biological family is that I’m sick. I have a several serious autoimmune diseases, and the medical information could be really helpful. I could send away to the Ontario government, but from what my doctor told me, it tends to be loathe to release much information, and even if they release the scant medical information they have, it wouldn’t help. No one knew to look for these types of diseases back then.

Aside of knowing this information for myself, I would like it for my kids. For example, if I had known depression runs in my family, I may have been better prepared to watch for signs of it in my children, and my oldest wouldn’t have spiraled down the way she did. I would have known to watch for the signs of an autoimmune disease in my younger daughter, and she could have started treatment before the damage was done. She wouldn’t have been accused by an ER doc of using drugs and we could have gotten her treatment started sooner.

But you have some background already!

No, what I have is a sheet full of false details. I wasn’t born at 40 weeks gestation like my redacted birth certificate says. I was born two months premature. I was smaller than my redacted BC indicates, and the name of the women listed as my biological mother is also a lie.

The social history ? Why even bother. It’s nearly all made up. A fantasy either crafted to protect my biological mother, her family and maybe even me, although I doubt my feelings were high on the list of considerations. The story of a teenage romance that ended before my mother found out she was pregnant may sound nice and maybe even a bit romantic, but who does it help?

No one. That’s who. Why even bother saying anything at all?

The search begins

For anyone who would like to know, yes, I have started trying to find my biological family. I admit it’s both for medical reasons and curiosity. Ms. More was able to help me track them down and she and her team were even able to make me a family tree. It’s actually ironic in a sense because I, the unwanted child that many in the family/extended family don’t even know exists, know a whole lot more about the family and it’s genealogical background than many of them do.

Some might say that should be enough, and it could be that it will have to be.


Some of you may be asking why I feel this need to know my genetic heritage (for lack of a better term). My honest answer is that, aside of the medical information, I really don’t know why I want to know. I already have my adoptive fmaily whom I love very much. They are my mom and dad. My biological mother, right now, is nothing to me. She’s a stranger.

As for my biological father?

In the ‘social history” prepared for me and my adoptive parents when they adopted me,my biological father was dating my biological mother. He was a nice guy and a good listener, but was a bit older than she was ( a couple of years). There was a physical description of him as well as his age and the country he lived in. I used to joke he came up this way as a draft dodger. Boy was I wrong! The porblem became the lack fo information beyond this allowed my mind to build up all sorts of scenarios, some good, some bad. I never thought the truth woudl be what it was.

When I was in university, I took a sociology course, and one of the topics covered was serial killers. The assigned reading was a text about the psychology/social development of a psychopath, and in the back of my mind I would wonder, ” what if one of these men is my biological father…what would that mean for me? Will I end up like him?”.

Turns out, the reality isn’t much better. While my biological father may not be a killer, he’s still a pervert ( i don’t know the correct term for a man who molests his daughter and gets her pregnant or a brother who molests his sister and gets her pregnant, so I’m using “perv”. While I’m no “perv”, I cna’t help but wonder what all this means , long term for me and my kids, two of whom are now adults.

So what now?

So here I am, stuck in the middle of trying to come to terms with all of this and also attempting to figure out what to do next. I have made a couple of small attempts at contact, but I’m not sure what the best approach to all of this is.

If you’re reading this and have any advice, I’d be more than happy to hear it. Right now, I can use all the help I can get.

Why so glum?

The day I found out about my NPE is one I don’t think I’ll ever forget. I had been looking around on several research sites, and found Genesis, I uploaded my raw data and waited to see the results. I had no idea I was taking the lid off Pandora’s Box.

What’s with all the red, green and blue?

One of the utilities I could try was ” AYRP” . Without paying much attention, I uploaded my kit number and waited the two or three seconds for the results to appear. At first, I had no idea what all the green, blue and red meant. All I know is there sure were a lot of those colours.

Why are my blocks so big?

What the utility presented to me was my pairs of chromosomes and whether or not they showed what are called ” long runs of homozygosity “. Areas on the chromosomes that match show up as green and if they are long areas that match, they show up as blue.

For most people, the colours are mostly red with tiny sections of green spread out. There is no blue at all. Mine were so different! There was a ton of green and an awful lot of blue.

What did that mean? I got my answer at the bottom of the page.

What the @#$% ?

As I read through the results, I wasn’t making heads or tails from it, but at the bottom there was the explanation that would be my NPE surprise.

There, in plain, dry black and white language was the answer.

My parents are related.

Needless to say, I freaked out. What did “related” mean in this context? Were they cousins or even closer? Had my biological mother been sexually abused? If I did try and find her, what would I even say to her? Would she hate me? What did that mean for my health and the health of my own children?

I had no idea the roller coaster I had just bought a ticket for and how much it would teach me about institutionalized deception, abuse, the adoption process and also that there really are an awful lot of really kind and generous people in the world.

An open invitation…

As I have mentioned already, I welcome input from anyone who is going through their own perosnal NPE experience. Whether r you are an adoptee who found out your biological parent aren’t who you thought, you have experienced an unexpected paternity result or you have been impacted by an NPE in some other way, please feel free to share your story as a guest poster.

I’d also love to hear form a woman who has been in the same ( or similar) shoes as my biological mother. Your story needs to be heard too.

Surprise! Your beginnings aren’t what you thought they were

Now I had my DNA test results in both interpreted and raw forms. I had my birth certificate, such as it was, but I was really no further ahead. I joined a couple of online support groups, but they were full of people in the same boat as me. We had information, but just bits and pieces, and for a lot of us, it wasn’t enough to find our biological family.

I thought there must be more I could do.

Opening Pandora’s Box

I write for a living, and one of the largest components of my job is research. I put those skills to work, chasing down information and trying to put it all together. Since many of the DNA testing and research sites allow you to upload your raw DNA data for free, I did so, hoping to find more relative matches.

I didn’t. It was almost always the same people. I couldn’t figure it out. Other people had lots of matches, but mine were sparse. That made no sense to me, especially considering that, according to the information I’d been given, my biological mother had a big family. One site gave me a lot of helpful health information, but there were still no concrete answers. What was I doing wrong?

Then I found another site that let me upload my data so I could run in through several different utilities. As expected, no matches, and a lot of details I didn’t really understand.

The lid is off!

At that point , I was more confused that ever. Each of the sites gave me slightly different racial group, but it was all similar. I knew my maternal haplogroup, that I have a whole slew of genes that result in a range of autoimmune diseases and a couple that are believed to be linked to autism. This makes sense, as two of my kids, along with me, are autistic.

I began to feel like I was spinning my wheels but getting nowhere, which is a feeling I’m sure a lot of adoptees feel when they are searching for their biological family. I went through pages of documents online, contacted “matches” on DNA testing sites, networked with other adoptees to share search tips and did my best.

Then it happened.

I found the utility program on a site I had been using. It would turn my world upside down.