The Life She Never Lived

This week I received a wedding picture; my parent’s wedding picture.


I’m so thankful for my cousin who finds these treasures for me. I’d love suggestions on how to thank the woman who gives you back your family. She insists I owe her nothing, but it surely doesn’t feel that way.

Speaking of feelings.

I know, I should have warned you this was turning into an adoption blog. I promise to go back to my mildly irreverent talking about whatever catches my eye, soon-ish.

Now, on to important matters, this week’s inner dialogue. I have to talk about this somewhere. How about with my captive audience? Hey, that’s a good idea! They have to listen, and if I don’t want to hear their opinions I can just shut off comments. It’s a win, win. Okay, it’s a win for me. 

Something that has surprised me, no one in my house really cares about all of this, not even a little bit. I mean, I’m used to being ignored, but that’s because I’m usually just being mom. This, this shit is going down in real life! I’m talking about my parents, a brother, a niece, a metric ton of information, and they’re all like, (looking over my shoulder) Is that your brother? Cool, can I borrow a 20?


Yes, as a matter of fact, you should be glad you aren’t my brother. I can hear you out there breathing a collective sigh of relief that I’m not going to try to corner you and talk about it, either. It’s gotten so bad, this week I put myself on a strict training program. I call it, LEAVE THE POOR MAN ALONE FOR A MINUTE. I failed miserably, every single day. I messaged him last night at 1:45 A.M..

What’s that?

Impul-say Con-ter-ol, is that French or something?

What were we talking about? Oh yeah, feelings.

So, this picture was exciting to see. I can hold it in my hand. I texted a copy to my brother ( see, a legitimate reason to message him) and asked if he’d ever seen it. No, he hadn’t. Cool!

Then suddenly, from some previously undiscovered cranny deep inside me, erupted this behemoth of bitterness and unfettered animosity. She was not happy. I had to stop messaging, drive to the store for Macadamia Nut Chocolate Coconut cookies, take a long bath followed by a longer tear filled shower before I could present myself in public as a human again. Even then I didn’t chance it. I just went to bed, exhausted.

The next morning I felt like I’d had five too many Fireball n’ Coke’s. What the hell, people, this is supposed to be the good part!?

There are things that rational me knows. The behemoth doesn’t give a shit about that. She wanted to grow up in California with an annoying little brother. One annoying little brother. She doesn’t care that the wedding picture would never have happened if she’d stayed in California. Neither their apparent happiness nor knowledge of how their life would play out, placate her. She wants to hear their voices saying her name, bury her face against their shoulders. She wants to know that comforting smell. She could not care less that there’s a brother (I do, I care!). She wants a mother.

After I’ve fed the behemoth cookies and water has put out most of the fire, she goes back to her corner. She leaves the door open, though, so she can see what I’m doing. I go about my business, no one knows she’s there. Yes, I’m going to have to take her somewhere and let her talk out her side of the story. I will. I’ll let her cry and rage about the live she never lived.

0 thoughts on “The Life She Never Lived”

    1. Thanks, Liz! There are certainly days I don’t know if I’m coming or going. But I do know it hasn’t been my birthday yet, lol. I’m getting a new book on my birthday! Woot!

          1. that tiger tattoo? it’spretty cool and I put it on there lol his real tattoos are on his other arm.

  1. Is it a problem that “she” wants what she wants? I know there’s a lot of pressure in our society not to have regrets but if you were going to have one, this one is entirely understandable. it’s huge — I can’t imagine the resentment, anger, grief, frustration that “she” is using the cookies to deal with. (Hugs).

    1. Good question. At this point, being in contact with the brother, and knowing what I know, it feels selfish. Nobody gets everything they want in life. Why should she be different?

  2. Even if some problems are objectively worse than others, I don’t think we can usefully compare the individual’s experience of sorrow. I wouldn’t classify this particular issue as a “first world problem,” in any case. All I can say is that in almost every situation I’ve observed personally or read about, the child would have preferred to stay in its family origin, all other problems notwithstanding. The parent’s problems have to be frighteningly severe for a child to prefer a different arrangement when push comes to shove. It’s a normal thing to want. The feelings and experiences of people who have never been required to make this sacrifice should not be used for purposes of comparison.

  3. I feel so much for you right now. I’m both happy and sad for you. While I understand your feelings, there is one thing you may not be thinking of. I’m certain that you were given up for adoption as a result of the most difficult decision your mother ever made. We will likely never know exactly what she was thinking but I would prefer to think she gave you up out of love and a desire for you to have a home she couldn’t give you at that time. She could have made an easier (though still extremely difficult) decision and aborted the unknown fetus. She chose to give you life. I have known a couple of women who gave up children for adoption and at least one who aborted their baby. All three express real regret all these years later. Embrace your new found family. But remember how valuable you are to all who know you. I only know you through this medium and yet your specialness has infected me. I care about you and want only the best for you. I’m not always good with words and I’m not sure this is saying what I’m trying to say, but I wish you nothing but the best.

    1. Thank you, Michael. I do understand what you’re saying.
      I’d be curious to hear from other adoptees re: Roe vs Wade. It was 1973 when the decision was finally rendered. I would guess there wasn’t a week of my life that my adoptive parents didn’t bring up that ruling, emphasize how lucky we were, and how much our mothers must have loved us. As a child, it was as confusing as it sounds. How lucky we were to not be growing up with our original families. Please understand, this is being seen and felt through the eyes of a five year old girl. Try as I might , I have yet to convince her that she is better off where she was. My rational adult brain knows the difference, understands the consequences, the sacrifice, the luck. It’s the limbic brain that wrote this piece. The fight or flight, the hide in the shadows, the put a pretty face on, part of me that lurks under the surface and in the shadows.
      I do understand and appreciate what you are saying. Difficult decisions were made, life was chosen, all without really understanding the damage being done. She was trying to make an untenable situation survivable. Like so many decisions parent’s make every day, hoping they dont damage their child to much. I do it too.
      Thanks for the reminder that we aren’t only what our parent’s made, but also what we make of ourselves.

      1. It is never easy. My own sister is going through a lot of what you are experiencing. I can only tell her that I’m so glad she’s part of my family. From what I know of you I would be proud to have you in my family too. Good luck wrestling with the demons. I hope you’ll be able to put them to rest!

      2. It’s such an insane thing to say to a kid. (But apparently it happens all the time. One of my high school friends had a poor relationship with her mother, and they fought all the time, and one day her mother said “you should be glad I didn’t abort you.” It wouldn’t have been a legal abortion, of course, but what a horrible thing to say to one’s own child.) So much of what you’ve said about what your parents said to you all about your adoptions suggest that they were massively insecure.

        1. Well, when you think about it, the one thing married couples are supposed to be able to do without thinking twice, get pregnant, completely eluded them. Even my maternal grandmother had children after mom dad had been married for years. Her sisters and brothers married and had children without problem. I’m sure it was a waking nightmare for them. They even blamed being to closely related from time to time, then denied it, then brought it up again.
          They also grew up in towns of less than five hundred people and hadn’t been exposed to anything like their own situation before. They were clearly in over their heads.

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