I am not an adoptee.
My mother met my father in Job Corps. They started carrying on and soon they were “expecting”. At first my father didn’t even think I was his. Apparently, it caused a HUGE row between them. Nevertheless they carried on.
They say that as soon as I was born my father knew that I was his. We both have fat cheeks, dimples, and eyes that get swallowed up by our smiles. My parents got married. My father joined the Air Force. We were stationed in Biloxi, Mississippi. My favorite toy was a Pink Panther. My father was feeling the stress of being the breadwinner for a young family. My mother was feeling the stress of caring for a young child far away from family and friends. There was fighting. There was drinking. They were divorced by the time I was three years old.
My mother showed me photos of my father and told me stories of him walking with me, playing with me and loving me. So … why didn’t we speak? After the divorce my mom chose not to keep in contact with him. They both drink and have mental health issues so I can see why it might have been a good idea not to stay in touch.
We searched for him when I was a teen, but we couldn’t find him back in the days before the internet. When I was put into foster care, he was found. We talked on the phone. I didn’t hear from him again.
While in undergrad, one year I came home and found a message on my answering machine. It was from a doctor at a mental institution. It was about my father.
I made the trip to visit him. It would be the first time I’d seen him in more than twenty years. I wanted to like him. I hoped that he liked me.
We met at a bench on the grounds of the mental institution. He was quiet. He smiled. We sat and talked for about an hour. It was a good visit. We found that we’re both into cars and sci-fi. We’re both private people. We’re both chubby and hairy. I left and went back to my life.
I didn’t speak to him again for almost five years.
This all just came up for me again this morning. I was reading an article about a Korean adoptee that found his birth family. His story talked about how when he met his mother she wailed and ran to him. She hugged him and cried, “You’ve come home! My baby is home!”
That would have been nice.
It was nice to be in touch, but I didn’t feel an especially profound bond. It was “cool”. It was “okay” and not much more.
About ten years later I met my sister. After my father broke up with my mother he got with her mother. She grew up with him playing with her, watching her, feeding her … and from what I can tell she was even able to spend time with our grandmother. As soon as I saw her I knew she was my sister. We look just alike. One of us dark (me) and one of us light (her).
After our initial meeting we had dinner at a little restaurant and brought our photos. She told me about the night my father found out that I was in foster care. He became so upset that he started drinking, borrowed her aunt’s car, and crashed it.
Can I tell you how happy I was!?
Of course, I wasn’t happy that he did some destructive things. I was happy that he cared. I was happy that he hadn’t forgotten about me. I was happy that he was hurt. THAT was the wail I had wanted to hear at our first meeting.