"The Open Adoption Experiment" by "PinkBubbler" (age 16)
by "PinkBubbler" (age 16)
originally posted on MSN Groups
Two people fall in love - have a baby and suddenly life changes forever. They are now “mom and dad.” They dream of the first day of kindergarten, the first high school dance, which will also be her first “real date.” They may start saving for a college fund, and dream about the day she gets married and has children of her own. But for some people, these dreams are shattered before they are ever given the chance to dream these dreams, and instead of dreaming, they are grieving.
These are mothers who become pregnant too soon, unmarried, never fell in love, don’t have enough money or they believe that you don’t start saving, but you must have it all in place before she’s born. This isn’t the warped mind of a young girl, but rather the myth that society perpetuates. There are too many couples who cannot have children of their own, there are too many adoption agency owners that need to stop at the bank on the way home and there is only one way to fulfill these needs. As with many things in life, for each profit – there must be a victim; in adoption there are two parties who profit, those who get the baby and those who make the money – there are also two victims. Those who leave the hospital empty handed and empty hearted, and the child, who leaves the hospital – not alone, but still just as empty hearted.
In the 50s, 60s and the 70s, little was known about how adoption would affect the children. Without a voice of their own, society assumed that children would fare well by simply being transferred from one mother to another. Since we have no conscious memory during that time, it must have seemed like a simple solution. They can erase the fact that the “bad girl” became pregnant at age 15, 16 or 17, and a couple who are married and financially secure but unable to have their own children can finally have the family they have always dreamed of.
However, this “perfect solution” failed miserably. In time, the adopted began speaking out. Angry that their records were sealed, furious that their families mistreated them, upset that they didn’t know where their red, brown, blonde or black hair came from, and devastated that they were “unwanted children.”
Thus in the 80s began the “Open adoption experiment.”
What a perfect solution to the problem! No longer will these children grow up and not know their roots. They will know what their biological parents liked to do, what they looked like, their athletic ability or lack of. They will now know that they were in fact loved and that the transfer from one mother to another was an act of unselfish love.
I am a product of this experiment. I was born on December 24th, 1988 and I was soon transferred from one mother to another because my first mother, known throughout my life as my birth mother, wasn’t married to my birth father. She was 16 years old and still in high school. There were dreams that her parents, my first grandparents, expected her to fulfill and of course there was a couple who were unable to fulfill their dreams of having a houseful of children, known throughout my life as mom and dad.
I have been told that December 24th, 1988 was a cold and cloudy day. The black clouds meant much more than a weather forecast of rain to come; it was the day that the lives of four people would be profoundly and forever altered; much more like a forecast of doom, rather than rain. I went home with my new family, my new name and a new life. A life of promises made from one mother to another mother and my first mother went home to her old life; one of high school parties, dates and the prom.
My second mother would begin to write letters to my first mother during my second month of life, updating her on what I was wearing, what I was doing, my sleep schedule or lack of one and to remind her of how thankful she was for the gift she freely gave, ‘the gift’ being me.
I would grow up never having to question who I looked liked, where my strawberry blonde hair came from or where I got my green eyes, because I had a picture of my first mother taped on my vanity mirror. I would also have a photo album full of pictures. Photographs of the time when I was still with her, while she was carried me inside her body, photos of her holding me in the hospital and photos of her handing me to my second mother. I would also have photos of her high school graduation and some of her with college friends holding each other with big smiles on their faces; I would never have to wonder where my smile came from.
The first visit between my first mother and me took place when I was 2 years old. I don’t remember it but I was told that we met at a park and that I was a happy toddler who ran and played carefree that day. After that day, the visits became an annual event. I would soon learn that once a year, I would be able to see my first mother while my second mother would continue writing letters about my progress every 3 months.
By the time I was 6 years old, an increase in our visits were mutually agreed between my two mothers, and my first mother and I would begin a new type of relationship. My second mother would hand me the phone to say “hello,” to brag about my teacher, or what art project I may have made that day, or to tell her about my new shoes, or my new pretty dress.
I remember the day that I found out my first mom was having a baby. I was barely nine years old, and confused because she wasn’t married. I worried that my little brother or sister would have to be given up for adoption and I asked my mom if we would get him or her. When she explained to me that my first mom would be raising the baby, more confusion set in.
When I was still 9 years old, my biological sibling was born. My little sister. It was just before Thanksgiving vacation. I went to bed knowing that by morning, she would probably be born. I would be woken up in the morning to the news, but what they didn’t know; I was awake until almost morning crying into my pillow and praying that she would arrive safely and unharmed. I think I cried myself to sleep. The next day, I fell asleep at my desk and was sent home by the school nurse.
I was unable to see my little sister until she was 10 days old. My second mother took me shopping to buy her a present and I picked out a small, brown stuffed hippopotamus. My second mom was less than thrilled with my choice and wanted me to choose something else, something cuter. After begging, pleading and pouting, she decided on a pink bunny for the baby, and agreed that I could have the hippo for myself. Today that hippo is my favorite possession and he is kept on my bed, maybe someday I will give him to his rightful owner.
Throughout my life, there have always been separate family vacations, and separate birthday parties. We would celebrate my birthday at home with my adoptive family and then get together the weekend after with my first mother and my sister. Family vacations were confusing for me because either I wasn’t invited or allowed, to go with camping with my first family, something they did on a regular basis. I can recall the feelings of jealousy vividly.
At about the age of 12, I started becoming an out of control pre-teenager. I would test my both my first mother and my adoptive parents constantly. Because I was given so many things, there were so many things for my adoptive parents to take away due to bad behavior. I would lose my video games, my cds, and my phone privileges. Eventually I would start losing my visits with my sister and because by nature I am a fighter, I would lash out and make things worse. I was unable to see first family from the age of 13 until the winter of 2004, age 16. But every year, like clockwork, a basket on Easter, a present on both Christmas and my birthday would arrive.
Last year I finally learned that if I truly wanted something, I would have to keep my emotions tucked inside and play by the rules. It’s still working.
I look at the photographs of my childhood and I can see the big smiles, and all the gifts under the Christmas tree. I can see how most people would look at me and see a happy adopted 16.5 year old girl. Most people would think I am lucky to have two families, other adopted people may think I am fortunate to know my genetic history, my heritage and where I came from. But what I see is different from what other people see; I can plainly see the pain behind the smile.
My memories are more than just visits with my first mother and my sister. My memories are of a constant battle between happy appearances with an inner turmoil.
My memories take me back to that cloudy and dreary December evening. The day that my life would drastically change and the person I was meant to be would never be.
My memories take me back to the day that I was a ‘happy’ toddler running around the park, laying my eyes upon my first mother for the first time in two years. I must have learned very early. My memories take me back to that horrible night, etched into my brain is the memory of pure terror that my little sister would die, or I would never see her, or she would be given away. I will never forget those tears in my pillow and all the prayers said that night in fear.
My memories take me back to being a little girl who fell in love with an ugly hippo and wanted desperately to give it to her 10 day old sister, but was unable to.
My memories take me back to the feelings of jealousy and inner rage, each time my first mother would pull out of the driveway with my sister in the truck. We would stand on the porch and wave. Damn that hurt.
My memories are of missing my sister’s Kindergarten and first grade graduation.
My memories are built around being what some refer to as a chosen child, but I call it being broken at birth.
My memories are of fighting feelings of being unloved and unwanted, even though I was constantly told how much they loved me.
My memories are of sitting on the same fluffy pink vanity chair and staring at her picture, the picture that was still there, throughout all those years, while trying not to allow the tears to smear the makeup I was putting on.
My life is not a solution to a problem or the fix for another problem. I am angered that I was a part of a failed experiment and that my life was devalued by trying to prove that it could work.
On Friday June 10th 2005 at 11:15 am, my little sister will graduate from the second grade. Of course I won’t be there.