Happy (or Weird?) Mother’s Day

Mother’s Day is hard for some people.  I’m one of them. I don’t need sympathy, just acknowledgment that Mother’s Day can be quite a conundrum for many people—not just for adoptees like me. Some people have lost their perfectly perfect (or perfectly imperfect) mothers—that’s hard, too. To all of you boys and girls and women and men who have a difficult time knowing what or how to celebrate on Mother’s Day—I SEND YOU ALL A VIRTUAL HUG!

virtual hug

I would love to be able to celebrate my adoptive mother on Mother’s Day. But I find it hard to scratch around in the old noodle for memories of good times or happy mother-daughter moments. She wasn’t abusive or mean. She was, however, an alcoholic who basically “checked out” during the formative years of my life. Don’t feel sorry for me. I became a fiercely independent young woman, determined to find my own way using friends’ mothers as role models, vowing to be the opposite kind person that my mother was. Whatever that meant. I do miss her sometimes . . . I find myself thinking of her and wishing that we could have had a better relationship. She passed away in 2003. I think about this on Mother’s Day.

I would also love to be able to celebrate my biological mother on Mother’s Day. But I don’t know her.  Don’t get me wrong–I know her identity. I know where she lives and I know some of her family (my family!). I also know and understand who she was in 1963 when she gave birth to me and relinquished me for adoption. I’m not angry or hurt that she gave me up for adoption. It was her only choice. It was the right choice. What I don’t understand (and what hurts a little) is how after over fifty years, she can’t reconcile with reality and get to know another adult human being. A human being who happens to be so closely related to her. At this point, however, I think maybe she may not be the kind of person I’d want to get to know, anyway. I think about this on Mother’s Day.

There are highlights—it’s not all dark and stormy. I do love it when my kids honor and celebrate me. One year, my little son Zach (he’s now 26) made me breakfast in bed.  He made me an omelet—and called it a “momelette.” I cried happy tears. And I gobbled up the momelette, even though it really wasn’t that good (I think he used some expired feta cheese—oops!). And when my youngest, Garrett, was just a toddler, Guy took both Zach and Garrett to breakfast early one Mother’s Day, so that I could sleep in. That was total heaven. We all celebrated together in the afternoon with a picnic and a lot of silliness.

But still, it’s a hollow feeling that I’m left with when everyone else is celebrating Mother’s Day. It does fill up, though, when my boys celebrate me. Whatever you may be thinking about on Mother’s Day, I hope you get to celebrate some of the good stuff.

happy-mothers-day

I’m looking forward to Father’s Day, by the way. I hit the jackpot with both my adoptive Dad and my biological Father. It’s a totally different kind of feeling. Can’t wait to share it with you!

HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY!

 

Baby Girl ____________________

This is the beginning of my story.  The part where I enter the world.  It’s a condensed version–a quick introduction. I hope to share more details as my blog grows.  If you haven’t already, check out my “About Me” page to get an idea about what makes me tick and why I’ve decided to share my story.

I have changed some of the names in order to protect certain individuals who fear their privacy will be invaded by the telling of my story.  But seriously, I doubt that any lives will be torn apart by my mere existence in this world.

Baby picI was born on December 15, 1963. At the time of my birth, Margaret, my birth mother, was 18 years old and serving a 10-year sentence in the California Institution for Women (CIW), a female-only state prison located in the city of Chino in San Bernardino County, California. She was incarcerated on a felony drug conviction.  I was also led to believe that my birth father was also arrested.  According to the “story,” the two strung-out lovebirds were arrested together and both were convicted. At the time of Margaret’s arrest, she claims she was not certain that she was pregnant. She had not told any of her family members about her pregnancy. She did not tell my birth father that she was pregnant. It was her dark secret.  She was determined to keep it a secret during this tumultuous, uncertain time in her life.

I was identified as “Baby Girl Michaels” on my adoptive parents’ legal papers. Michaels is Margaret’s last name. When I started this journey, I had no identifying information about my birth father. My guess is that he was probably never told of Margaret’s pregnancy, my birth and subsequent relinquishment to the county adoption services.

Margaret served about 4 years of her sentence and was released. The adoption records were sealed—it was the law in California. Margaret was promised “privacy” (I have a real problem with that word in this context) and secrecy in exchange for choosing adoption. She was certain she was walking away from this dark time in her life and, if she tried real hard, she could all but forget the whole experience (the drugs, the arrest, the conviction, prison, birth of a baby . . .).  She was, in her mind, “reborn” as an adult and started a new life.

By this time I was a toddler, now named Laureen, running around barefoot in my cozy home in San Bernardino, California. Henry and Lilouise (known as Hank and Little by their friends and family) were doting parents. All was well in my world. I even had a big brother. Little could not bear any children of her own and so she and Hank had adopted a boy two years before I entered their lives. Tommy had red hair and freckles. I was a brunette with brown eyes, like Hank and Little. I was often told I looked like Little. I always thought that was funny, but it made me feel warm and fuzzy anyway.

By all accounts, I had a normal childhood.  Little was a stay-at-home mom and she tried her best to do what she was supposed to do–raise her kids.  Hank worked at the phone company.  My brother was in the Boy Scouts.  I tried to hang out with the Girl Scouts for a while, but I really didn’t fit in.  We went on family vacations, sometimes camping–The Grand Canyon, Yosemite, the Giant Sequoias up north. My brother and I fought all the time.  I had two best friends that I met in grade school.  We are still friends to this day.  Normal, normal, normal.  Right?Collage

When friends or acquaintances find out that I am adopted, their first question is usually some variation of, “When/How did you find out that you were adopted?”  I think they’re looking for some kind of drama  . . . but it wasn’t like that for my brother and me.  We just always knew. And we were fine with it. We were chosen. I remember my mother used to sing to my brother and me:

I see the moon, the moon sees me;

The moon sees the one I long to see.

God bless the moon and God bless me;

And God bless the one I long to see.

It seems to me that God above

Created you for me to love.

He picked you out from all the rest;

Because he knew I loved you the best.

[Lyrics adapted from Jim Brickman’s “I See the Moon.”]

For a child, this explained it all.  And it was all good.