Feb 27, 2017

"Write Your Greatest Hits" - Excuse me, WHAT?

As almost everyone knows, I am an adoptee. My parents adopted me when I was around six weeks old (kind of like a puppy), and I've always known I was adopted. It was just part of the description of me: I have a big mouth, brown hair, brown eyes, and am adopted. It never bothered me; in fact it was one of the few things that made me feel special.

BUT... As an adoptee you get asked a lot of questions. 

Do you know who your "real" parents?
Yeah, they're my parents.

Why didn't your parents want you?
They did. Are you sure your parents wanted you?

Is your brother adopted too?

Were you a set?
What, like salt and pepper shakers? Buy one get one?

My mom was always pretty open when I asked her questions about my biological parents, but being a closed adoption, there wasn't a lot of information. She understood that I wasn't asking because I wished she wasn't my mom, I was just curious. It was such a mystery. Who do I look like? Where did my curly hair come from? Were they tall or short? Thin or chunky?

When I went through my rebellious teen years, I never had this fantasy that I would go find my "real" family because they would understand me and accept me. My father was Gary - the guy who worked overtime to pay for my braces, and my mother was Pat - the woman who baked me a pink cake and made me lasagna every birthday. I was an asshole teenager because teenagers are assholes, not because I was adopted.

As I got older, the depth of my personal history mystery became more obvious. When you start having regular doctor's appointments, and are filling out medical history forms, I always had to write "Unknown - adopted". Which made things super fun because doctors then had to test like I had a family history of everything because I didn't know.

If I had to pick the one and probably only time that my being adopted deeply affected me, it was the day Quinn was born. I remember holding him in my arms and staring at him and it hitting me - this is the first blood relative in the world that I actually know. That feeling was enormous. Indescribable really. I finally had a person.

I can't speak to how adoption feels for everyone. But for me, it always felt a little like, "Andrea - party of one."  Sure, I had loving parents, and a tolerant brother, and a nice house, with food on the table every night, clean clothes, good opportunities. I have nothing to complain about whatsoever when it comes to my childhood. It's just that - there's just you. You can't say, "I have my grandmother's eyes" or "I look like my great Aunt Meredith" because you don't know. There's just you. Everyone else seemed to have connections; they had roots. I was the string of a balloon, floating off into the sky.

It can be lonely. It can be isolating. Maybe not for everyone, but it certainly was for me. My therapist (of seven years) has tried to say I have abandonment issues, but I don't really think I do. It doesn't feel like I do. I'm just not very comfortable discussing me.  Ask me what I think about some thing, I am free with my opinions. Ask my feelings on a particular topic, and I can give passionate support or dissent about it. Ask me how I feel about... me? I clam up. No thank you, next question.

Attachment issues, yes. Abandonment issues, not so much.

Anyway... my father called me this weekend. After three voicemails, two texts, and several back and forth calls, we finally spoke with each other. He had a letter from the agency through which I was adopted. It had my name, my date of birth, and the letter said something like "we understand you're her father. Please call."

Our conversation went a little like this:

Me: What? It says you're my dad?
Him: Yes.
Me: And they want you to call?
Him: Yes.
Me: Why do they want you to call?
Him: I dunno. I assume it's something about you.
Me: Why wouldn't they just call me?
Him: Maybe they don't know who you are.
Me: My name is on the letter... how do they not know? What does it say again?
Him: [reads letter]
Me: What?

Continue like this for 5-10 mins.  Finally I just asked for the guy's name and phone number and said I'd call him.

Which I did. Today.

My biological mother's name is Kathy. She lives in Northern Michigan. She's been married for 40 years. She was a seamstress. I have two siblings (whole or half - I don't know). She's been wanting to find me for a while, but finally worked up the courage. The social worker wasn't sure what the impetus was - he was on vacation and didn't have his files with him but called me back so as to not leave me waiting.

Holy. Shit.

The social said some other things, but I can't really remember what they were because somehow, an entire swarm of bees entered my brain and I ceased to have the ability to hear.

Holy. Shit.

The social worker asked what I thought. I told him, honestly, I don't know. This is a... surprise. Shock. Bombshell. This was... holy shit.

He said let's take things slow. That he would give me more information when he returned to his office. In the meantime, he wanted me to write down some of my "greatest hits" - the story of my life. Some things I would want her to know.

Um... what? Oh my gosh. I don't know. I don't know! Then, suddenly, the bees cleared for a second and I said breathlessly, as if I wouldn't have a chance to get the words out, "Please tell her thank you for making the selfless decision to put me up for adoption. I know it couldn't have been easy and I want her to know, I harbor no ill will towards her and never have. What she did was courageous. All in all, I had a pretty good childhood and any struggles I had had nothing to do with being adopted. She shouldn't feel guilty - my life has turned out pretty okay."

The social worker sounded like he was smiling. He said he would tell her. He said he had a really good feeling about this. And he said he would call when he had my whole file in front of him.

And now I'm supposed to write the story of me. Holy. Shit.

So, dear Reader. I need some help. For reals. Tell me a story of me. A memory. A moment. Tell me something. Because - I don't know. Tell me the good, the bad, the ugly. The happy, the sad. The helpful or the hurtful. Tell me. Because I need help here and y'all know I don't ask for that easily. This is a journey I never imagined I would go on.

Holy. Shit.


  1. I remember not long after we became reacquainted after 20 plus years, you showed me an act of kindness that, despite everything you have done for me, have never forgotten.
    It was when Scott and I came to visit you all. All 3 of us were having a conversation about nothing in particular, when I went to stand up and I winced because my back hurt. You asked me if I was okay and I said it was no big deal... "just my back". I proceeded to explain that I probably needed to drink some water as I had discovered the more water I drink, the better my back felt. I never thought anything more about it.
    The next day, when you had to run me to the store to get a phone charger at Target, you proceeded to buy me a water to drink (I didn't know you had done that). When we got back out to the car, you handed me the water and said "here you go". I probably looked dumbfounded as I didn't understand why you were giving me a bottle of water. "You said water helps with your back and I can tell it's bothering you right now". I honestly couldn't believe that you even remembered that conversation as I certainly hadn't. It made my heart melt that you showed that kindness to me and it is something that has stuck with me to this day. I love you.

    1. When people are thirsty you give them water. It's not complicated. :)

  2. While I could say something about now and what a wonderfully fierce mama you've become... I think I shall go back to our first meetings in high school. We weren't the best of friends, but you were a Force of Nature (yes, caps for that) You were loud, funny, always ready to goof around... but still, there were moments when you saw someone was hurting or sad or whatever and you'd do something small... a nudge of the shoulder and smile... an attempt to make a joke to get a laugh... stuff like that. You probably thought no one noticed... or you might not remember doing things like that... but I do. And I'm glad we're better friends now. :)

  3. I thought I was pretty invisible so no, I don't remember doing that and I wouldn't have known anyone noticed. Thanks Natalie. 😊

  4. Back in high school I remember you always went to the best of your own drum. You didn't follow the crowd. I love that. Also so pretty and stylish.

    As an adult you helped me grow and run my business. You made the mundane stuff I dreaded almost fun. You taught me a lot and barely let me pay you. You were so generous with your time and knowledge. I took what I learned and applied it to a great position that has let me travel the world. I owe you a lot and miss working with you.

    Michelle Allard

  5. You know... I'm pretty sure I was copying your sense of style and joie de vivre in high school!!

    I loved working with you and I miss it. And thank you.