Thursday, April 9, 2009

Spin Cycle: My Ultimate Meme

This week, the Spin Cycle assignment was a wild card. Any topic we can think of is fair game.

You may know by now that I love memes. Love. Them. I love to read ones that other people have written, including total strangers, and I've posted a few myself. Generally though I fill them out in my head, while grinning madly to myself, and that's the end of it.

Having been given a pass to go wild though, I decided that when you have something interesting behind your origins, sharing it is the me-me to beat all memes.

I was adopted as an infant. I've known about it for as long as I can remember and I grew up proud of it. I used to share things about it for show and tell in elementary school. I'll happily talk about it long after you regret having asked. This post topic gives me a "print" format to share some thoughts I've had about it recently.

Plus, I turn 30 this year. I actually turn 30 on June 30th, making this my Golden Birthday year, which adds weight to the significance of jumping up a decade. At least in my view. It seems to have some kind of symbolism which makes me feel more even more sentimental about this aging business than I would normally be, and turns me back to all kinds of things in my past. And somewhere out there is a woman nearing 50 who holds a lot of answers for me.

This is my beginning: My birth mother was 16 years old. She went into the 11th grade and met my father. They immediately fell in love and conceived me that very same September. Even though they were madly in love, they were too young to get married and too young to keep me, so they gave me up for adoption because they wanted me to have a better life. My birth mother had dark wavy hair, like my mom (aka my adoptive mother, aka my "real mom"), and was about 5'5" or 5'6". She sang and played the piano, loved to read, and liked school. My birth father was also brunette and was a jock.

At least that's what I believed for at least 20 years, through a combination of childish imagination and lack of information (it was a closed adoption).

About 5 years ago my dad (aka my adoptive father, aka my "real dad") kindly requested as much "non-identifying (all that is available) post adoption information" as could be had for me, since he knew who to call, and I didn't. I had finally gotten curious. Something about considering parenthood yourself makes you wonder a bit about your roots. Sure, I "knew" about my birth parents, but what diseases was I going to die of? What would the adoption agency even tell me about my birth parents? I had heard somewhere that a lot of adoption records from around the time I was born had been destroyed in a fire (no idea where I heard this), and I wasn't really expecting to find out anything. Boy was I wrong.

Even in its very limited state, it is completely different from what was in my head.

Here it is, verbatim. Well, almost verbatim, I've made the tenses agree. This seems to be a current summary of the past interview and I think whoever wrote it was having some consistency issues. My comments are in italics:

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Birth Mother: The birth mother, 17, stood 5'8" tall, and had strawberry blond hair and blue eyes. Her racial ethnicity was Caucasian and she had German, English, Swedish (this possibly explains my cheekbones) and Irish ancestry. The birth mother was single and was attending the 11th grade. She was interested in tennis, sewing, horseback riding and color creativity (what the heck is color creativity? Is that like interior decorating? Or like being into makeup?). Her social activities centered around dating (heh. yes, apparently so. read on...). She came from a family that consisted of her brothers and her mother and father. Her relationship was closest with her father.

Pregnancy: The birth mother lived with a foster family for three months during her pregnancy (I frequently wonder if it was the same foster family that took care of me for the first 2 and a half moths of my life. I did get into contact with them at one point, but it never occurred to me to ask that). The birth mother had a good relationship with the foster family. The pregnancy was normal and uneventful. The birth mother received regular medical care during the pregnancy.

Delivery: The delivery was normal with no unusual complications or findings. After six hours of labor (this totally explains where I get my fairly quick labor and deliveries, although mine were 8 and 4. Maybe with a third child I would hit 6), the child was delivered at full-term and was reported by the attending physician to be healthy and normal (Apgars of 8 and 9, thank you very much!).

Relationship with the Birth Father: The natural mother stated that she had relations (edited slightly to prevent myself from showing up on certain google searches) with more than one person and did not know for certain who the father was (!! Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine that my birth mother slept around).

Feelings About Adoption: After weighing the alternatives and consequences, and after deliberations with her family and her counselor, the birth mother made the decision to place the child for adoption (not quite the sweet discussion I imagined her and my birth father having).

Birth Mother's Future Plans: The birth mother intended to return home to her family and resume her academic efforts. She enrolled in summer school after delivering the baby.

Health Information: Good physical health, RH factor, smoked cigarettes (! I weighed 8 pounds 12 ounces! If smoking during pregnancy causes low birth weight babies, how big would I have been? Of course, maybe it didn't stunt a baby's growth back in the 70s), one time drug use (leading me to believe very unpleasant things about my conception. Drugs? Not sure who the father is? aieeeeeee!).

Birth Father: The presumed birth father stands 5'9" tall, weighs approximately 140 pounds and has brown hair, brown eyes and a medium skin tone. The birth father had used some illicit drugs (yes, I strongly suspect that I know the scenario of my conception).

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So, I have this little bit of information. And on one hand, I'm thrilled! The only thing that could top it would be having pictures of them at various ages. And maybe finding out if I have brothers and sisters out there since I am currently an only child. But on the other hand it's got me asking questions that never even occurred to me when I had my little adoption fairy tale in my head. Like, just how many people did she sleep with? Did anyone else catch on to the physical descriptions of these people? I'm 5'4", ghostly pale, with gray eyes (that sometimes humor me by looking blueish), and hair that my mother would nicely call honey brown, but I would normally call mousy brown if the stupid Florida sun didn't make me look like I spend all of my free time in salons getting highlights. The sun hates me, but I wear sunscreen so it has to settle for trying to eat my hair. It is not a good thing. With skin this pale I am not meant to be a blond. At any rate, except for my possibly Swedish cheekbones and the potential paleness of my birth mother, I'm not sure I'm the child of EITHER of them. And I really wonder how sure she was that she had the right guy. Was she sure, but he denied it? Why was I in foster care for 2 and a half months? From the little bit I've researched I think it was to give time for a birth father to step forward before the parental rights were terminated, since he was unknown, but I'm not sure. Now that I have had children myself and am aware that pregnancy is actually 10 months, not the advertised 9, I figure I came to be during an end-of-summer fling in August of 1978. Yes, the song Summer Lovin' is going through my head too right now. But of course I don't know that either. I pretty much still don't know anything.

Most likely you are wondering if I have a point to telling you all this, besides just the chance to subject you to a super personal meme. Shockingly, I kind of do.

I like knowing the some of the truth. I like it a lot. But it has made me greedy for more. Kind of like how I read a new blog, get fascinated and then go back and read the entire archives and pretty much absorb the person so I have context for future entries. In this case, it's like getting to read someone's super intriguing profile, and not getting to read single one of their posts.

I was a social work major. I know all the reasons that so many adoptions used to be closed. I also know why so many these days are open, and I applaud it. All the reasons for adoptions to be closed, no matter how well meant, end up kind of selfish, since they don't consider for a second the last person of the triangle. Someday the baby grows up enough to wonder about their origin. It's not very nice to the poor kid to not tell them anything. What I had growing up, besides two very loving "real" parents, was knowledge equivalent to someone who has been left on the steps of a convent with like, only a locket to give me a clue to my origins. But at least I made up my own genealogy. I had it all worked out in my head and I was content.

Now that I've had a little taste of reality though? Oh yeah, I'm hungry for more. I'm also paralyzed into inactivity from the fear of what else I might find out. What if I do have sisters? Eek! What if I find out that more family medical issues have developed over the last 30 years? What if I'm the smartest member of my family? What if I'm the dumbest? What if I somehow got in touch with my birth parents and didn't like them?

Apathy is much more comfortable.

So that's the lengthy tale of how I came to be. To read more spins about anything under the sun, visit Sprite's Keeper, and think about submitting a post yourself sometime.

All the cool kids are doing it...

7 comments:

Sprite's Keeper said...

This is beautiful, Rachel. I'm glad you found out what you did, but your parents are still top in your heart and hold that coveted spot of "real". I think your birth mom showed how much love she had for you by making it possible for your real parents to find you. This story is bitingly sweet, sweet because I know the wonderful person you are and biting because of the significance it holds for so many others. You're linked!

MB said...

I'm very glad to read this (both, as your friend and an adoptive mom). It just makes my commitment to open adoption even stronger. I've always meant to ask you about your birth parents. I'm glad you've found some answers. One of my friends (who is MUCH older than you) has been told that the city records from his adoption were burnt in a fire too. I'm not sure if that's just what people say when they don't have records...(?)
And, I'm VERY glad that I know you. You're an infinitely interesting and fun friend

D.M. Wright said...

I am glad you found this out as well. It is good to know as much as you can. I have the same issue with my father. My mother kept me but wasn't sure who the father was and the guy who she thinks it was might have been here illegally and nowhere to be found. I always have to wonder how many siblings I have and what he is like. Thanks for sharing :)

Pseudonymous High School Teacher said...

I think this is the best first time visit I have ever had to a blog. Absorbing, well told story. Your honesty and sweetness shines through.

Cameron said...

Good read. Funny how our imaginations can shape our thoughts and ideas.

maureenlynn said...

Hi. Thanks for stopping by my blog. This is really a fascinating story. Thanks for telling it.

HeatherPride said...

I tried to comment on this post on Friday but Blogger was acting up and wouldn't take it. I loved your story!!