single mom

Before you open the box…

I knew going into my adoption disclosure that it wouldn’t all be sunshine and rainbows. 

Life, you see, is ugly sometimes. Messy. Unexpected. And every now and again, shit hits the fan and you’ve gotta deal with it. Nobody is exempt from that, it’s just part of the reality that is living in this big old world. There’s no sense fretting about the past. It’s unchangeable. It is what it is. Even if I could totally change the way things played out, I wouldn’t. Thanks to a series of what some people might call “unfortunate” events, I was put up for adoption and came to have the fantastic life that I have today. 

And yet, I needed to know. 

I don’t know why, but I struggled every day of my life with a sense of inadequacy. The bizarre idea that I hadn’t been good enough. If I had, she wouldn’t have done what she did. If I had, I wouldn’t have been taken away. She was my birth mom, and the idea is as crazy as a bag of snakes. There’s no reason there. No logic. Just confusion, the unknown, the unanswered. Curiosity, as it were, killed the cat.

I dreamed for years of finding out, but lacked the proverbial balls to do it until the day I put my request for disclosure in the mail and actually almost threw up on myself. I felt my heart stop when the phone rang and the voice on the other end announced that my birth mother had been found. That it had been an emotional phone call. That my letter and my photos were on their way to her. And then it unfolded faster than you can “genealogy” and the next thing I know my biological father’s telling me to climb back into the hole I’ve been living in and I’m meeting my maternal grandfather on his deathbed. It’s the stuff of soap operas and yet it’s also the shit you just can’t make up. It’s that thing called life being unexpected and messy and unpredictable and amazing.

But there’s no putting it back.

It’s like when you receive a box of stuff and you take it all out to look at it, but no matter how hard you try you can’t fit it all back in perfectly, the way it had been. No matter how much you try to stuff it in, not even if you sit on it and try to zip that baggage up, can you ever close it again. Because once that box is opened, it’s opened forever. You can’t tuck it away neatly until next time, There’s no “pause” button. 

I’m not sorry I did it, but sometimes I wonder if I really understood that this was a lifelong commitment. There’s no undoing it. There’s no forgetting the moments that we all waited years to have. There’s no wiping the slate clean, either. I can’t unlearn what I’ve learned, un-read the social worker’s reports or the doctor’s notes. I can’t unsee the photos. I can’t undo the things I’ve done. I can’t erase the sadness of spending time with Granddad knowing it was all I’d ever have, I’ll never forget the hurt that came from the rejection of my biological father, and I’ll forever cherish the opportunity to get to know my family.

If you’re considering adoption disclosure, consider talking to someone first. Be it a therapist or a social worker, talk to someone so you’re prepared for what you might uncover. Make sure you’re ready. Once that box is opened, there’s no repacking the contents. It’s open forever. 

For more about my adoption, you can click here or here or here or even right here

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