Posts Tagged ‘ birth parents ’

Letter to my ‘Prince of Wales’

Hello Rob

I am glad I am able to address you by your name. It’s about all my birth-mother knew about you; that and the fact that you were a Welsh naval cadet (when I heard you were from Wales there was a fleeting moment when I wondered whether you were the Prince of Wales). She also knew your surname, of course, but wasn’t sure of the spelling. She said she couldn’t remember the name of your ship that docked in Durban‘s harbour around September 1963. It had to have been then because that’s when the two of you conceived me.

After you found out she was pregnant you left, and she never saw you again. Which suited her as she didn’t want anything from you anyway. Not even financial support, although legally she was entitled to it. But that would’ve required her to name you on my birth certificate and she refused to do that. Unfortunately, naming the father of one’s illegitimate child wasn’t a legal requirement in those days.

I wish it had been. Because then I would have been able to conduct a state-assisted search for you, officially request a DNA test and finally fill in the missing piece of my life puzzle. I know nothing stops me from initiating my own private search , but for some reason I am hesitant to do that, although I think about it often. Almost every day, in fact.

Mostly, I wonder what you look like and whether I resemble you at all. And I wonder what personality traits, if any, I have inherited from you. When I was younger I wanted to join the Navy as a diver (yes, it’s true), until I found out that women weren’t allowed on ships but only permitted to do office administration work, so I discarded the idea immediately. Today I wonder whether there is any connection between you being a naval cadet and me wanting to join the Navy. But maybe that’s just me indulging in fantasy.

I wonder other things about you too. Like whether you ever think about the child you conceived all those years ago. Do you wonder whether you have a son or a daughter and whether my mother kept me? Would you be pleased to know that you have a daughter? And would you like to meet me? Would you like what you see?

Would I like what I see were I to meet you? I cannot help but have my doubts about someone who gets a girl pregnant and then leaves as soon as he is told about it. But, like my mother, you were young then, and not ready for the responsibilities that go with raising a child, so I guess I can forgive you for that.

The question is, are you still the same today? If you had the opportunity, would you change anything? If you had stuck around for my birth and perhaps laid eyes on me even for a few seconds, would you have changed your mind about not wanting to have anything to do with me?

I like to think of you as someone who, as a young man, had an adventurous spirit (like me) which led him to visit foreign countries. One of these was South Africa, where I happened. Of course, the thought has crossed my mind more than once that you may have had a girlfriend in every port and I may be only one of numerous illegitimate children.

But, as most young and irresponsible adventurous types do, you matured with age and went on to enjoy an illustrious career in the Royal Navy. Eventually you married, had children and now live quietly as a retired naval officer somewhere in the Welsh countryside where, on occasion, you allow yourself to reminisce on the days of your youth, when you stole young women’s hearts and indulged in all sorts of mischievous deeds for which sailors are so notorious.

Today I imagine you as a witty, lovable old rascal, who still has a keen sense of fun. Someone with a limitless number of thrilling stories to tell of his days at sea in the Royal Navy, but who also harbours a little sadness and regret behind his twinkling eyes. And I like to think that the sadness is for me – the child you never knew but dearly wished you had.

This letter is also featured on the blog 100 letters to you.

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An adoptee writes to the birth-mother he never met

I was so touched by this letter from Kevin to his birth-mother, who he never got to meet, that I had to share it. I am sure there are many adoptees who have not reunited with one or both of their birth-parents and can relate to the emotions he expresses…

30 Seconds

November 16, 2010

A year has passed since I found out my birth mother died in 2003.  I never got to meet her and talk to her and over this last year I have had mixed feelings about that.

Part of me was relieved that I didn’t have to bathe in the tub of emotions that that meeting would’ve stirred up, and part of me is saddened that I didn’t get to hear from her what she was thinking and feeling all these years.

Recently, I was watching the Dr. Phil show and there was a woman on the show who lost her parents at an early age and she was dealing with so much years and years later.  Dr. Phil suggested she write a letter to that parent and share her feelings both good and bad as a way to deal with the emotional powder keg that was contained behind her rib cage.

I sat there and wondered it that would help me.  I wondered if writing a letter to my biological mother would help sort out some things for me.  Below is that letter.

**************************

Dear Helen,

I call you Helen because calling you mom just doesn’t feel right.

On October 24, 2009, I found out from an adoption angel via a text message that you had died in 2003.  Sitting on the cold metal bleachers at our local high school watching a football game I found out you died in May of 2003.

I searched my heart to find the right emotion to feel and couldn’t find it.  To that point, you were a stranger to me and I wasn’t sure how I should mourn the death of a stranger.  I really didn’t feel sad.  I was more disappointed than anything.

Over the last year, I have had some time to sort things out,  but the right emotion still doesn’t register.  When I think of my wife or my boys, I immediately get powerful emotions that fill my heart.  When I think of you, it just goes blank.

Part of the reason I think I was so hesitant for many years to look for you was because I feared being rejected by you…again.  I think even in death I still feel that.  I feel rejected because you never spoke about me to ANYONE.  When I ask your daughter/my biological sister, or your best friend what you said about me, they both say the same thing.  You never talked about me.

It is my understanding, your death was not a sudden death.  I can’t help but wonder why in those last months, weeks, and days, you didn’t speak of me.  How come you didn’t leave a message for me or tuck away in a private place something that you wanted me and only me to have.  How come you didn’t take 30 seconds to tell someone that I mattered?

There are days when I think the separation from me was just too painful to talk about and I try to spin it in a positive light.  Then there are days when I think, that you just didn’t care.  As a father, I can’t understand that.  I can’t conceptualize how that is possible; how you can have a child roaming the earth somewhere and not care or think about them.  I have no evidence that you did and more evidence that you didn’t.

In this past year, I have struggled with telling myself over and over that I matter; that I am important; that I am worthy.  I artificially construct and build up my self esteem that could have been raised to an all-time high if you would’ve taken 30 seconds to whisper to someone your regret.  Instead, I am left to do as have always done from as far back as I can remember; fantasize.

My imagination fills in the holes created by you that you were meant to fill.  My creative mind tells me you suffered in silence and thought about me on my birthday, and on Labor Day, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day, Memorial Day, The 4th of July, and again on my birthday in August.  Reality tells me I have nothing to support this fantasy.

Like a child on Christmas looking for that one special gift that isn’t there, I still wait and hope in some chest, some book, in your personal belongings somewhere, someone will find a letter written to me that kills reality and awakens fantasy.

These are the feelings, that surround me today and guilt drips from my fingers as I type these words.  As an adoptee, I have learned really well to protect others around me often at the expense of my own feelings and thoughts.  So I wrestle with guilt and push it into the nearest closet so I can express what I need to to protect me.  I needed only 30 seconds and I have a right to those 30 seconds.

Kevin

Kevin’s blog can be found at: http://mymindonpaper.wordpress.com/2010/11/16/30-seconds/

Interview on Adoption Journey Into Motherhood

Mary Beth Wells chats to Aurette about her discovery as an adult of her closed adoption, and her journey of healing.

If my father had seen me, what would he have done?

So I’ve been following this TV soapie (we all have our weaknesses, and this is mine). In it, a woman (let’s call her Jane) has a relationship with a man (Dick) and falls pregnant. After much soul searching she decides to keep the baby, even though Dick  doesn’t want her to, and even offers to pay for an abortion. 

Enter a good friend of Jane’s (who, in true soapie style, is also secretly in love with her). He (Tom) not only offers to marry Jane, but also publicly accept responsibility for fathering her baby. He also negotiates an agreement with Dick to adopt the baby. So far, so good.

Until the baby is born. It’s a girl. Dick goes out of his way to avoid visiting mother and baby in hospital, but then something comes up and he has no choice but to go. While there he gets to see his child and even hold her for a few minutes while Jane takes a call on her mobile. Father and daughter share a bonding moment.

Later, Tom presents Dick with the adoption forms, but is taken aback when Dick asks for more time before signing them. Reluctantly, however, he agrees. While perusing the forms Dick reads the following line: “the parent shall relinquish all rights to the child”. A light goes on. He realises that he cannot sign away all rights to his daughter. While Jane was pregnant with her he was able to convince himself that she was an abstract entity. But since holding her in his arms, everything has changed. He finally decides not to sign the adoption papers.

Watching all this unfold on my television set I felt my chest slowly begin to constrict until eventually I had to rub it in an attempt to ease the tightness. It’s what usually happens when an adoption issue touches me on a personal level.

When my birth mother told my biological father she was pregnant with me, he left her. She never saw him again.

I often wonder whether he ever wonders what happened to the girl he got pregnant back in ’63. Does he wonder whether she had the baby? Whether it was a boy or a girl? Or did he forget about the whole episode, as my birth mother told me he probably did? I have asked several men if they would be able to forget about an unplanned pregnancy they had been party to and the answer is always an unequivocal no.

Back then it was not uncommon for men not to want to face responsibility for an unplanned pregnancy. South African birth mothers were not legally required to name the father of their baby, nor was the father’s legal consent required, as it is today, for the baby to be given up for adoption.

But I can’t help wondering… If my father had stuck around while my birth mother was pregnant and then visited the hospital where I was born – would the sight of me have caused him change his mind?

Would he have wanted to know me, perhaps even to keep me?

Would he have wanted his name on my birth certificate?

Or would he have decided to walk away anyway?

A fundamental human right

It’s hard to believe that in some American states adoptees are still being denied access to their birth records. This sad fact was recently again brought home to me when one of my Facebook friends (and a fellow adoptee) published a link to a young woman’s petition in which she asks for help in finding her birth mother because the state of Texas sealed adoptee birth records when she was born. 

That certain states in a first world country such as America continue to enforce such archaic legislation a decade into the 21st century is mind-blowing. What is their rationale? Who are they trying to protect? Certainly not the child. To know who fathered you and who gave birth to you is a fundamental human right and it should be up to you to decide whether you want access to that information or not. For legislators to make a blanket decision on adoptees’ behalf is a far cry from democracy and a violation of adoptees’ dignity.

The justification that to keep the records sealed is ‘in the best interests of the child’ has long ago been found to be wanting. Thankfully many countries, mine included, are trying to correct this grave mistake. In South Africa the records were unsealed in 1987, enabling countless adoptees to finally obtain at least some answers to the many never-ending questions they have about their birth. Today the Department of Social Development formerly assists adoptees in their search for the birth parents, provides psycholigical counselling where needed and facilitates the reunion process.

 To deny human beings access to information about their birth is nothing short of barbaric. It creates a wound that cannot heal, but only continues to fester, often to the extent that it invades all aspects of the adoptee’s life. Yes, the information that lies within the folders of one’s birth records can lead to painful disclosures, but I speak from personal experience when I say it is better to have a painful truth to deal with once and for all than to contend with ongoing speculation and fantasies. Sometimes the only way to heal a wound is to throw salt on it.

I wasted no time in signing Kim’s petition. If you’re reading this blog, regardless of whether or not you’re an adoptee, I hope that my words will compel you to sign it too.

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