My World

Yours by choice.. a story of adoption

 

The title of this post comes from a book by the same name. 'Yours by Choice...' by Jane Rowe. It's a book that my mother had in her drawer for years and she gave to me when I was old enough to understand. The book is basically an old-fashioned guide book for adoptive parents. It sells the idea that adopted children are chosen children. This is not necessarily how all adopted children feel and if this is the case there may be other issues at play. Also it is not necessarily how those outside the immediate family unit feel about adoption or adopted children. Some put the idea down as “you won't feel the same way” or “you'll get someone elses problem.”

 

You see, I belong to a decent sized club of people who rarely, if ever, talk about their membership. This point was made by a bloke i met recently at work. Turns out we're both members of this club but there was no handshake or membership card exchanged, not even a t-shirt. We were the kids who were adopted, those who were raised by parents who chose to adopt them. We might have started life as an accident and were given up by our biological parent/s but we were then selected and raised by adoptive parents.

 

You have probably heard people say “I'd rather be adopted” or “I think i was adopted” usually because they can't believe they share the same genes with other members of their families, maybe they have an annoying sibling or something?? Well, it's no joke for me but no secret either, i dont go around shouting it from the rooftops though. For me, i was raised knowing that i was adopted and told as much as my parents knew about my background. As a result, i didn't seek out my biological footprint, instead it sought me out in my mid-twenties. Apparently my biological mother had been sending cards and little gifts for years on and off via the government department responsible for adoptions. They finally decided to notify me that they were holding these items but first wanted to know if i was aware that i was adopted.

 

I was notified by letter and responded to their enquiry positively. I didnt know where my biological trail would lead, i didn't know where my biological parents were or whether they had passed away. I imagined all sorts of things initially but the reality has been somewhat positive for both sides as we have gotten to know a little bit about each other. It was not one of those emotional reunions you used to see on episodes of Oprah, not even similar to the fiery ones on Jerry Springer thank goodness.

 

I know that i said i would talk about my overseas adventures previously but i think you will find this post leads there... so stay with me. Subsequent to being notified by the department and given an address I began communicating with my biological mother by letter. You see, she's in the UK, though she gave birth to me here in Australia. My parents were supportive of me communicating with her and we sent a bunch of pictures and she sent a few pictures to us mainly of my biological half-brother. Thats right.. i discovered that i have a half-brother who is several years younger than me and who was also born here in Australia.

 

In 2005 i met them at their place in England. I was travelling with my dad and we decided to take a train from London to see my biological mother, her ex-husband and my half-brother. It was not the Oprah moment, just meeting people you had never met before followed by a long conversation. After a few cups of tea and an overnight stay, dad and I returned to London and continued our trip. We have continued to communicate, albeit by post or email. I do intend, at some point, to visit again and take my partner to meet a part of my biological story.

 

I said, in a previous post, I am of mixed heritage... i am half English and half Italian but born and raised here in Australia, it is the English part of my heritage that I have met with and communicated with. My mother was not a teenager when she had me but a woman in her early thirties. The truth is, i don't know my biological father... all i do know is he is Italian, he was a house painter by trade out here and his name was Giuseppe... yeah, no problem tracking him from those details then??!! I have the original birth certificate but he is not named on it and I have no other means of follwing this up, even if i wanted to. I believe he might have been a married man and probably didn't want this coming out. This was a time when single mums were not the norm, in fact it was a shame and a woman with child was actively encouraged to give the child up. However, I don't consider myself a member of the 'lost' or 'stolen' generation.

 

Though my parents were always supportive and truthful about the adoption, other members of the family on both sides have been less supportive. Occasionally it has felt like I was the outsider because of the adoption. It has come in several forms but i will lay down an example... This story was related to me by my mum and following on i felt a certain attitude early on in life. One of our relatives told my mum in no uncertain terms that “you never know what you're getting when you adopt!”. To which, my mums response was “you never know what you're getting with your own biological child!” This female relative had a number of comments aimed my way over many years growing up. Luckily we didn't see a lot of her. I remember often feeling bad after trying to get close to her. It has only been in my adult years that the relationship has developed.

 

Whenever i felt the scorn of someone in the family with regards to being adopted, the least i could say is that “thank goodness, i'm not blood related to them?!” I guess that was my defence mechanism, for an only child whose only connections were the adults around. I must say that this attitude is in the minority but a lot goes unspoken. Frankly, it is hurtful to those of us who are adopted, we have done nothing but be born into situations out of our control. I think the attitude needs to change and we need to stop this taboo from being behind closed doors. It is not some silent epidemic, some dreaded thing we need to hide away, it is 'Adoption', that very loving thing that some couples do usually when they can not have their own offspring.

 

My mum and dad raised me, they were the ones who fed me and clothed me and looked after me when i was sick just like any decent parent would. I very much appreciate this, they weren't perfect but neither am I and I don't believe any human being is. Let's just get on and stop the negativity surrounding adoption. There are a lot of kids out there looking for loving homes and why shouldn't we give them that if we so choose?

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Jane Gray | Reply 02.12.2013 22.40

Lovely to read about your experience and see your appreciation for your parents! love cousin Jane

juliet fenner | Reply 15.10.2013 09.45

As someone who doesn't know my blood father, I was adopted by my stepfather and had an horrendous life with him. I will never know my blood father either.

Anthony | Reply 14.10.2013 22.44

Well written!

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Well, come back the TOG you old git. We will love you unconditionally there.

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