Bio: Every day I am grateful for the smallest things in life and in awe of the world. I love gardening, especially growing many varieties of wild and domestic blueberries and lavender, also kayaking and being outside. Recently I retired from working as a pediatric nurse practitioner and now am busy volunteering in Public Health due to the Covid pandemic. I live in the Pacific Northwest and am looking forward to the old normal and to spend more time visiting my daughter and 4 grandchildren.
Before I started kindergarten when I was 4, my adoptive parents told me I was adopted. My father who was always brutally honest told this story: My older brother was their biological child, and they had tried for another child, but were discouraged after my brother was born blind and a second child died soon after birth with many problems. When they decided to adopt and went to an agency, they gave three reasons they wanted another child. First, they felt they wanted a sibling for their son. Second, they wanted someone to help with all the work around home. They felt their son would not be able to help much due to being blind and his wife had insulin-dependent diabetes with all that entailed, and they had a large yard and garden to maintain as well as cooking and housework. Third, they felt that their son would not be able to care for them as they aged. The social worker listened and told him that she had not heard any reason that was for the benefit of the child, so to go home, think about why they wanted to adopt and come back for a second meeting. They did that and came back and said they could offer a child a home and love. He would laugh while telling the story. They were correct about the home, but they had not considered that they would not be able to love or even accept someone else’s child as their own. My father may have loved me in his own way, but he was abusive. My mother was also abusive, but that wasn’t the hard part. She told me that she couldn’t accept me as her own and didn’t love me. That didn’t even need to be said, as it was quite clear from her actions. Just to be sure I knew, after she died, one of the first things my father said to me was “Did you know your mother never loved you?”
When I was 17, they told me my room and board would be $150/month when I finished high school. I got a full-time clerical job which started on the Monday after a Thursday graduation in preparation to pay this. All three in my adoptive family had gone to college and my brother’s tuition was paid by them. It seemed unfair. I found a room to rent for $50/month sharing a house with 3 other young women. I was much happier, but now had to be emancipated, because I was 17 and, in my state, the age of majority was 21. Working and saving I was able to go to nursing school after a year and a half.
When I married at 25, and at 26 we had a baby girl. Then I realized no one would forget having a baby, so about 2 years later I contacted the adoption agency. They tried to locate my first family for 6 months. They spoke with one of my aunts, but she would not give any information to the social worker. A friend suggested using a woman who did searches for birth families for a small fee. I knew my name at birth, so that helped her search.
The phone rang the next day and she said she had found and spoken to my maternal grandmother. She gave me her phone number and name. My heart was pounding when I finally got the strength to make the call. A cheerful voice was on the line in the same city I lived in. She wanted to meet in person, and discuss family health and my first mother’s life. We met soon after and she shared that Dee had a difficult childhood, and rarely spoke. She had been evaluated at a university clinic as a child and they did not have a diagnosis. Later it seemed that she was autistic, but that wasn’t a common diagnosis at the time. To complicate things, as a young adult she had been diagnosed with schizophrenia. She had difficult years, homeless, sometimes living in supervised settings, getting electroshock treatments and was even committed to a state hospital at least once. She was married for many years, but her spouse also had problems and they lived in a group home together.
It turned out that there were 5 of us siblings. Over the years we have all met each other and bonded. I am the oldest and lived with my first mother for a few months. All of us were removed from our first family and adopted except our brother Frank. He grew up in foster care. He had a seizure disorder with an intellectual disability and was always joking and humble. He died of a seizure when he was 38. Two sisters were removed together, placed in foster care, then adopted together. Finally, the youngest was born and soon went to an adoptive family.
It took us all time to adjust to the idea of coming from such a big family not knowing of our sibling’s existence, and then sharing stories of our adoptive family and life. It might be a coincidence or not, but one sister and I are both nurse practitioners. And all of us have a strong love of creating art. One sister did a painting that is a book cover. One studied art and is a teacher. I went back to art school later to study illustration and have 2 children’s books, one about belonging. We are so similar. It’s been an amazing journey.
We also have Native American heritage and were invited to a Welcome Home event for adoptees connected with a certain tribe. Only two of us went. It was a very healing time. Finally, I belong to a family, extended family, and feel I belong. I’m so grateful to have this big family and feel love. – Mazi
Thank you, Mazi for so bravely sharing your story with us!
Please help us support Mazi in the comments below.