Month: October 2008
On Saturday, our family received sad news: my son’s uncle had died. This was Uncle Peter, my “ex’s” younger brother. Full of life, and only 38, he died very suddenly from complications of leukemia.
Peter had been diagnosed with leukemia last year, and had spent several weeks in the hospital receiving treatment. The diagnosis was sudden and unexpected. Since then, he had been having regular radiation treatments, and we had been reassured he “was doing fine.” Last Saturday, the phonecall from my son’s father to him, was a shock.
I have not seen Peter for ages. Since the loss of my son to adoption, I have always felt like “persona non grata” in that family. The “girl” who had the audacity to at age 16 actually have a serious relationship with their eldest (against his parents’ wishes). I know that they pressured “X” to break up with me — he told me this afterwards. They thought we were “too serious,” and he never told them of our plans/intentions to eventually get married after high school. Likely this pressure was the reason why he never told them of my pregnancy, my incarceration in that wage home, or the birth of our son, until my friend Darcie threatened that if he did not tell them about our newborn, she would. And knowing the “force of nature” that was Darcie, she would have too.
So, the last time I actually saw Peter, he was a tall and broad-shouldered pre-teen with bright blond hair, probably no more than 10 or 11 years old. But the birth of M. bonded together our two families. And, like adoption, the events that transpired split us apart. So, the family of my “ex” has always been present, yet not present, in our lives. A family related, bonded, yet so far apart.
But because of this bond between our families, I cannot help but think of my son’s uncle as being a sort of “former brother in law” to me, or that the father of my son is “my ex.” Having a child together formed a bond as solid as any other type, even if no emotions remained between us after “X” and I went our separate ways (other than, perhaps, anger). We share a child, who is so much like both of us. I see his fathers’ face and hear his father’s voice every time I look at him. I am certain that his father, “X,” sees me in our son’s smile and his long curly hair. And our families became permanently “bonded” by the existence of our child, related to both of us, belonging to both families.
When i found my son, almost 9 years ago, he found he had an aunt, Leslie, and an uncle, Peter. He and Peter shared a love of large machines, and M. had always hoped to find time to spend with Peter to learn how to use his excavator.
Nine years later, Peter is dead. I sat on M. ‘s bed when he told me the news. And I admit, the second thought that came into my mind, after the huge shock and sense of loss and disbelief was “I am SOOO glad I found you so you could meet him.”
If I had not, if open records did not exist in B.C. or if I had waited until M. had “come out of the adoption fog” and searched for me, he would never have known his uncle. He would never have known this part of himself, his family.
So I dedicate this to Peter. Your lost (and found) nephew loved you. And I am so glad that he was able to get to know you.
Rest in peace. You are truly loved and will be missed, by more people than you will ever know.
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Postscript: Peter’s obituary was published this morning, written by M. ‘s father. In the list of aunts, uncles, in-laws, and other family members and relatives (including an adopted cousin), M. ‘s name as Peter’s nephew was never mentioned. Adoption hurts. When asked, his father said that he “forgot.”
p.p.s My son says this is a good post and is officially “M. -Approved.” : )
This is the first time i have “come out” about this on-line. Last summer, one year ago in 2007, i adopted-back the son who was stolen at birth for adoption from me when I was 17.
I say ‘stolen’ because the coercion that was used on me left me with no choice at all but to surrender him — it is not a “choice” or a “decision” if there is only one viable option given or allowed. To say i “placed” him denies the reality that keeping him was NOT an option I was given and thus there was NO choice. I loved him, I wanted to keep him, and i never wanted to lose him. I was NOT unfit! But unwed mothers where i lived, in 1980, had babies removed at birth by hospital staff if they were unwed minors with no family support for keeping their babies (I have plenty of testimony from other mothers that it was done to them as well). It was truly a form of rape — just as traumatic.
Looking back, I felt so powerless at the time, so much without choice, that I had no way of fighting what they were doing to me. Plus I was entirely naive. I had no idea that nurses taking and withholding my baby from me was not what was done to all mothers. It was only when I “woke up” from the medicine-induced fog I was in, several days later, that I realized they had not brought my baby to me, and that this was not right. I was allowed to see him (but not touch) for about 5 minutes, under the gaze of hawk-like nurses (but I found out much later that they then moved him to another hospital to prevent me from finding him — he told me he had been picked up from the Jubilee, when I had given birth in St. Joseph’s). And I now now first-hand that only when a mother has given birth, has fully recovered from birth without her baby being taken from her or coercion being applied, can she make any decision about adoption.
My 62-yr-old Fundamentalist parents made it clear that they considered it rightful punishment for the sin of fornication, and the social worker had a waiting list of clients she was under pressure to provide babies for — i was forced to sign papers in her office under blackmail that unless i did, my baby would be indefinitely held in foster care. I was not told about welfare or any other resources and my abusive parents (they would use the belt on me if i so much as “talked back” to them) made it clear that i was not allowed to bring my baby home.
After 19 years of searching, i found my son again, and we hugged for the first time one day before his 20th birthday. It was the first time I was allowed to touch him.
His adoptive parents first told him that they supported our reunion — but he found out as time went on that their view was that “reunion” meant a one-time or limited-time event, that his curiosity would be satisfied and he would say “thanks and bye” to me. Their attempts to control him, to force him to end contact with me, escalated into abuse — culminating in 4 hours of confinement and torture (his words) one night when he was 21 yrs old. He eventually left their house one New Years Day on the advice of the Victim Services units of two police departments. He was so traumatized by this that he could not speak at all until one year later.
We began talking about me adopting him back. After several years of discussion, and after the complete breakdown and ending of the relationship between him and the people who raised him, we decided to go ahead with it.
So we did it. And we have not looked back. It is a dream come true for both of us.
Reunion can go places beyond what one first expects. It can restore a family which has been involutarily torn apart.
But separated families reuniting again shows that the bond between mother and child can endure past the worst of separations. And it also proves that anyone who is promised by an agency or other adoption business that adopting an infant will provide them with a “life-time guarantee” of “a child of their own” should sue their broker for making false promises. No-one can make promises on behalf of another human being, especially an infant who cannot speak for themselves.
But the best thing of all is that we are back together again, and both of us have reclaimed what was taken from us