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.

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.

So what now?

If you’ve been following my story up to this point, you’ll know I was adopted, had some health problems and am in the process of trying to find my biological family, I found out my parents are either full siblings or a parent and child. As I’m sure you can imagine, this wasn’t what I expected. I had no idea what to do next.


When you use the Genesis “are my parents related” utility, one of the pieces of information it provides is a contact email for a geneticist who helps people who have found out their parents are indeed related. I contacted her and did some more looking online.

It didn’t take long before some very kind people reached out to help. I’m not sure what I would have done if not for them.

A lifesaver

One of the people I contacted was CeCe Moore, and I also read Kitty Cooper’s blog , which was really informative. I also messaged her, and before long, I had heard back from both. Thanks to Ms. Moore, I was put in touch with some online support groups, while Ms. Cooper and the people who work with her volunteered to help me figure out my family tree.

It wasn’t that long before I had (potentially) had my biological mother’s name, the community where she lived and a lot of details about my biological family, all of it frompublic records I had the information, but wasn’t sure what to do next.

Where to go from here

Now that I had that information, I had some decisions to make. Would I try and contact her? What if she hasn’t been able to face what happened to her? What if hearing from me really hurts her or ruins her life? What if it would actually be really healing for her? Does she have any children besides me? Is she married? How will this news affect them if they don’t already know she had a child when she was very young? Did I even have any right to seek her out?

I admit I am still somewhat stuck here. To try and get some idea of what my biological mother may have gone through, I asked the mods of a forum for women and men who have been sexually abused if it was okay for me to join as ask for input form its membership,

Pretty near all of them said in my biological mother’s shoes, they would welcome the contact. I’ve taken that as a positive sign to move forward.

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.