Originally published 03/10/10
Adopted. The word brings a multitude of images and thoughts. The Chinese babies being adopted by celebs, those touching foster kid commercials about how so and so really wants to go home with you, and packed orphanages full of children wanting nothing but a loving mother or father. The dictionary defines adopted as to take one into one’s family through legal means and raise as one’s own child. To me, it is the word that set off a chain reaction of events that would deeply impact my life.
Before I could even read, I could proudly state that I was adopted. I thought it made me special. I had two mommies. Now granted the one mommy never saw me, but every once in awhile, I would get a phone call or a letter from her. But it almost made something magical about her. She would tell me that one day she would come and get me and we would live together in Tennessee. She told me about my younger half brothers and how we could all be a family.
Now I should probably take a moment and explain why I was adopted or some of the theories.
Christina (my mother) was actually adopted herself by Dave and Rose. They later divorced and truthfully I am unsure of the details of why or custody issues. Dave eventually remarried a woman named Karen and had two girls Kimberly and Debra. At some point, Dave and Karen ended up in Kansas while Christina was in Tennessee with Rose. At some point around 16, Christina became pregnant with me. Now, this is where things get fuzzy. Some claim she was in jail for attempted murder, others for drug use. Even heard a story that Dave and Karen had to have a police escort as Rose wanted to adopt me and was refused so she wanted to kill me. Oh, the stories.
Well, either way, Christina was in jail and called Dave and Karen to adopt me. I was a crack baby and spent the first 3 months of my life going through withdrawal. Now obviously I don’t remember that but I have heard the stories from my parents and my older sister. I guess I should clear that up. As I never really knew my real mother or family I will always consider Dave and Karen as my parents and Kimberly and Debra as my sisters. But they were honest with me and let me know that I did have a real mother.
Back to the visits from Christina. The first visit I really remember about her I was around 8. At this point in my life, I had only heard her voice and seen pictures of her. My mom told me stories of when Christina was visiting when I was a baby and she made Christina seem like a good person. So when I heard she was coming I was very excited. And as any excited child does I told all my friends at school how my real mother was coming to visit.
Really, really bad mistake.
Children are cruel. Up till this point in my life, I had thought of being different as something good. When I told my friends, well, I learned different is bad. First was the confusion. I went to school in the good old Midwest. Not having your real mother raise you was not something that they were used too. Next came the questions.
Them: “Why don’t you live with your real mother?”
Me: “I don’t know.”
Them: “Why does she live so far away?”
Me: “I don’t know.”
Them: “Doesn’t she love you?”
Me: “Of course she does. She just couldn’t take care of me.”
Them: “Well, why not? My mom takes care of me. What’s wrong with you?”
At this I had nothing. And now the last two questions were in my head. Did she love me and if so what was wrong with me that she couldn’t stay. I quickly learned I was the only kid in my class not to live with her real parents. And now what I thought was so special I learned was a curse. That having 2 mommies was not a blessing but that it meant that something was wrong with me. That I was defective. I passed these questions to my mom.
Me: “Why doesn’t Christina live with us?”
Mom: “She lives in Tennessee.”
Me: “But why? Why do I live here and not with her?”
My mom is silent. I can tell she is contemplating this hard. Which, to me, only means something bad. Finally,
Mom: “She just couldn’t take care of you and she wanted you to have a better life than she could give you.”
My childish intuition took over and told me that it was best for me not to push this further. I smiled hugged her and went to my room. But the doubts came with me. My mom’s long pause for an answer made me realize there was something not being told. I could only assume then it was about me. These doubts would plague me for the rest of my life. Even after I learned the truth about my biological mother. But for some reason, I knew I had to keep my doubts to myself. A part of me knew that I would break my mom’s heart if she knew that her love wasn’t enough for me. That I still wanted my real mother’s love. And for all her faults I couldn’t break her heart. And oh the faults.