Apr 6, 2008

I wonder if she did.

A day after my birthday I was talking to a friend on the phone. She said something that has been stuck with me for a while.

"I bet your birth mother thought of you."

Most parents go though a vigorous process to have a baby. Nine months of labor the mother goes through hellish mood swings, hemorrhoids, bizarre eating habits, and what I imagine to be a painful delivery. My parents had to go through a screening process, then wait until the day they got a phone call from the adoption agency telling them they have a baby to come pick up.

I don't remember how old I was when I my folks informed me of the fact I'm adopted, but I was very young and didn't give it much thought. I was an infant when they brought me home for the first time so I only knew them as my parents. The extended family till this day always treated me as if I was blood so my life seemed like any other child's. It wasn't till I got older that it became an issue for me.

I was seventeen at the time and dating a girl for about a year. She finally asks me about being adopted and if I had questions about my birth family. I told her I didn't as it's a foreign concept to call anyone else 'family'. She then asked me if I ever thought about us possibly being family.

I went silent for a couple minutes. While the likelihood of us being related was slim, the fact that it could be a possibility was a horrifying thought.

Fast forward to over three years ago. I'm on a date with a girl who I've seen a couple times before. We were in my car and talking it up getting to know each other. I ask her about her family and after some time she states that she has a long lost brother that her mother gave up for adoption.

I quickly pull the car over.

"What's the matter," she said.

"You were born and raised in Portland," I say. "Right?"

"Yeah," she said seeming nervous at my strange behavior.

"I'm adopted," I said. "I was born and adopted out by an agency in Portland."

She stares at me with a horrifying look. I'm sure mine couldn't have been much better. You could tell the wheels in her head were spinning, but then she figured it out that he's a few years older than me.

We both breathed a sigh of relief. I get back onto the road and after a few moments of silence we laugh about the incident.

Now that I'm getting older I'd like to know my medical history. It's annoying seeing the doctor and filling out the forms and leaving blank any family history of heart trouble, cancer, etc. I really don't know what issues I'll face as I get older and that bothers me. If I ever find someone willing to have children with me I think I owe that information to them.

I don't fault my adopted family for this mind you as back then agencies weren't open about giving the birth families information, possibly by request.

I still think of what my friend told me and why it's stuck with me still. Does my birth mother think of me and the circumstances that brought her to place me up for adoption? What does she imagine my life to be? Is she even alive?

I never made an active search to locate my birth parents as I've accepted the fact that I may be the product of something bad. Whether it be a bad relationship or God forbid something worse I never wanted to contact her and reopen old wounds. I always felt it would be strange considering the people who share the same blood as 'family' for reasons I can't explain.

As I get older though the desire to know more about my physical history and to know if I have any sibilings groes stronger. For the sake of my own health I may have to track down my birth mother if she's even still alive. She may have died in childbirth for all I know, but I do need to figure out what issues I may face in my "golden years".

Regardless if my birth mother is alive or not or has no wish to even remember me at all I will remain forever grateful that she made a choice to give me a chance at this thing called life. I'm not a parent, but I can't imagine how difficult her decision must have been.

"I was an adopted child of my grandparents, and I don't know how I can ever express my gratitude for that, because my parents would have been a mess, you know." - James E. Jones


rawbean said...

If you decided that yes you wanted to know more about you medical history - how would you go about finding out more? It seems like medical history should be a right to an adopted child. Are there agencies out there to help you?

You have a healthy attitude about your adoption and birth parent btw.

whatigotsofar said...

I'm sorry, but as I read the part about you on a date, I couldn't help but think of that scene from Joe Dirt. It's wrong and insensitive of me, but that's how my sick mind works.

JLee said...

I didn't think of Joe Dirt, but "Nip/Tuck"! ha

Seriously though, my husband was adopted as an infant and had been taken from his parents for some type of abuse/neglect. He once tried to find out some history for health reasons and turns out the hospital had burned down, along with it's records. Very mysterious. We think there were some shady adoptions going on at that time, but regardless, I agree with the quote because his parents were great and always treated him as one of their own.

Anonymous said...

I understand your concern for your possible health issues as you know my mother's health is a fucking NIGHTMARE and I am now experiencing similar issues. This is why I went and saw a dietitian who basically told me eats lots of fruits, veggies, whole grains and soluble fiber. Eat every 3-4 hours and try to get at least 30 mins. of exercise a day.

I think that as Americans, we all will suffer from a lot of issues if we continue to live our lives the way we do. But I digress..

I hope that you can find what you seek without opening anything painful. If you need anything, EVER, you know I am always here for you.

BTW: Jlee's comment makes me think of the movie The Omen.

Grace said...

I learn something new about you every day. If it were me, I'd like to find out who my birth parents were. It would drive me nuts not knowing...

Other than that, I'm sure your birth mother does think of you often, considering that it must have been a very difficult decision for her to make.

SareBeth said...

Your a strong man, Erik. You handle this so well..

Wiwille said...

Rawbean - Under current Oregon law the agency must make a search effort for such records and contact information for birth family. I submitted a request with the agency I was adopted from to locate such recently.

WIGSF - I've never seen Joe Dirt and no I won't review it.

Jlee - That's a sad story about your husband. That must be hard not knowing what he may face as he gets older.

PK - I appreciate it.

Grace - It at times drives me nuts, but like I said I don't want to reopen old wounds for them. You have to accept that you may be the product of something bad when you're adopted.

Sarebeth - Thank kid.

Miss Ash said...

I know people that have been extremely grateful for being adopted once they met their biological parents :)

I also agree that it is very important to have your medical history so you do know what possibilities lay ahead. I also think that PK had some great advice that really goes for everyone, try to stay as healthy as possible.

Regardless of what you may find out ( ie history of cancer, heart attacks etc) those things may never touch you. My family is riddled with cancer and yet both of my grandparents have lived into their 90's and one is still going strong.

Claire said...

This post was amazing,sweetie. I think it's astounding how many people are adopted and how it affects them. I've always called my birth mother and adoptive father mum and dad, but sometimes I am curious about my birth father (I'm half-adopted - confusing, much?), sometimes in a practical way (oh, I hear you on the medical history), sometimes in a more emotional way. It's a funny old thing. Thanks for sharing.


Mattbear said...

A brave step, actually looking into it, and one I think you'll be happy to have made when all is said and done. Of the adopted folks I've known, probably about half found their birth parents, and I don't think any of them regretted it.

Oceans said...

I stumbled on your post and WOW it was really great. I'm a birthmom (from the "closed" era) and can't wait to meet my son someday. I just wanted to say not to worry. Most of the bmoms I know would love contact. Those (very few) that don't are at least happy to provide medical info.

You deserve your history. Don't worry about your birthmom... She'll be fine - and yes - I'm sure she does think of you!

Best of Luck!

amyd said...

My birth mother found me about 15 years ago, and it has been a great thing for the whole family. She went thru WARM http://www.warmsearch.org/, I'm sure there is a similar org in Oregon.

I had many of the same thoughts that you wrote about, and yes, one of the first things my birth mother said to me was, "We always celebrated your birthday." WOW.

I have tons of adoption stories for you--both good and bad--if you ever want to touch base, have Alec put you in touch with amyd.