I am a late discovery adoptee; I discovered I am adopted through a ‘chance’ meeting with a stranger, rather than through my forever loving family, who colluded together to maintain the secret. At 43 I was the last to know.
I was separated from my mother at birth and had no contact with her. For the first month of my life, I stayed in the hospital’s nursery for ‘babes for adoption’. After being assessed medically as free from disease and defect and suitable for adoption, I was placed somewhere unknown to me for an additional ten weeks, until the 12 months my adopting parents had been given to add a room onto their house, had elapsed. It was not an ideal start to life for any infant.
I remember vividly the moment I was confronted by the possibility that the adoption process could involve trauma. I was attending a Professional Development workshop on Trauma and raised my hand to ask the question burning within me, quite oblivious to others in the room “you mean my being separated from my mother at birth was trauma?”
It’s the only explanation that makes sense of the difficulties I experience in my life. Yet if I look through support websites and texts on trauma, I find no mention of separation at birth for adoption as one of the adverse early life experiences of children, or describes the adoptee as a survivor of trauma.
Trauma continues to be the main issue for me as I deal with being triggered, my thinking brain ambushed by my ‘baby brain’ and the delay in being able to make sense of the event and move forward. My recent writings are about my commitment to analysing, or autopsying recent events that have been traumatic, and to work out a way forward.
How I found out I am adopted
On a fateful day in Sydney I met a woman I knew only as a name, a beneficiary in my father’s will. My quest was for information regarding my son who has Asperger’s syndrome; her agenda was to prove to me that she knew my father intimately by showing me the love letters that justified the benefits she received after his death. ‘Not my concern’ I thought, ‘What’s done is done and it was never about the money’.
We said our farewells and parted. She continued to add tit bits of information on life with my father: ‘The lady next door said that your father had said two of the children were adopted’. This was third hand information but the seed was planted and this information relevant to me, demanded to be proved or disproved.
Letters sent, suspicion grew regarding my Particulars of Birth certificate which did not contain my parents’ details. Research on adoption stated that adopting mothers were reluctant to talk to their adopted children about their pregnancy and birth.
I tested this on my mother and was astonished by her text book dismissal of my question about her pregnancy and my delivery was “Oh it was all so long ago” but she happily recounted details about two of my brothers who were her natural children. My heart sank and all that remained was the letter dispelling or cementing my fear.
In October 1998 I received the letter that informed me that I was adopted. I was forty three years old. It confirmed the suspicions that had only sprouted during the last couple of months. Throughout my life I had never suspected I was adopted and that my understanding of myself, was anything other than what I had believed.