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My Adoption Story

In honor of my birthday today, I decided to post my adopt story.


I was born on Homestead Air Force Base just outside Miami, Florida. My mom couldn’t have any more children after some complications from my sister’s birth, but she and my father wanted more. My mom’s obstetrician knew my parents were considering adoption and he happened to be the doctor that delivered me.


I don’t know much about my birth parents. My birth mother didn’t want to meet my parents and she didn’t provide much information in the adopting paperwork. The nurses said my birth father was there when I was born, but that’s really all I know about him. I don’t even know their names.


After I was born, my mom’s obstetrician, who knew my parents wanted more children, called my parents to let them know there was a healthy baby girl he delivered that was up for adoption. My parents immediately contacted a lawyer and the adoption was set in motion. They visited me in the hospital while I was in the nursery and the nurses had to work to keep them separate from my birth mother who also continued to visit me. She was adamant about not wanted to meet the people who adopted me.


My parents were able to take me home from the hospital, but for the first 6 months we had to live in West Palm Beach with my grandmother while the adoption was being finalized. My family was under the constant scrutiny of social services and my birth mother could change her mind at any time and take me back during that first year. My family lived in constant fear of losing me. My 5-year-old sister figured out the conversion of the U.S. dollar to the Canadian dollar and packed a suit case so we could run away to Canada in the event someone came to take me away. My mom was terrified that if I got sick, social services would think she wasn’t taking good enough care of me. When I was a couple of months old I came down with a nasty respiratory infection that turned into pneumonia. My mom sat with me in the shower, under the hot water, breathing in the steam for the entire night. She was terrified to take me to the doctor in case social services was alerted. Obviously babies get sick, no matter how attentive parents are, but my mom was overly sensitive to any scrutiny that may fall on her since it could result in me being taken away. She did end up taking me to the doctor, nothing happened, and I got better.


My birth mother never came back for me, and my family and I went on to live a normal life. I’ve always known I was adopted. I don’t have a memory of being told, because I think I was always told, from the very beginning, even before I could understand. It was always an open subject in my family. Plus, it was pretty obvious. My parents and sister have dark hair. My mom and sister are both around 5 feet tall. I was born with white-blonde ringlets, and outgrew my mom and sister by 5th grade. My sister used to tease me that my parents found me in the trash can and I used to tease her that they went shopping for me because they didn’t like her. My being adopted was never a taboo topic. We make jokes about it constantly. I’m always amused when people treat it as a touchy subject and are cautious to ask questions. We have always been open about it.


The interesting thing is that my mom and I are incredibly similar. My sister and dad are basically twins personality wise, and my mom and I are twins in the same way. I do however have very specific personality traits that no one else in my family has. I have to wonder if I got that from nature, and the rest is nurture.


Words cannot express how thankful I am to my birth mother. Aside from my parents, she gave me the most selfless gift a woman can give. She gave me a chance at a life better than the one she could provide me. She gave me life, visited me every day in the nursery, then walked away, knowing it was the best thing she could do for me. I cannot imagine having to make such a difficult choice. I honestly doubt I would be able to do it.


I know a lot of people who have met their birth parents and most have told me not to do it because of their disastrous experiences. If I do, I would never do it expecting a relationship. I know she has a life now, and the people in it may not even know I exist. I’d just love to be able to tell thank her.


I wish I knew who I looked like. I know that may seem silly, but it’s something I have always wanted to know. I’d like to know where I come from. They are simple things people take for granted every day.


While I am eternally grateful to my birth mother for giving me the chance at a better life, I’m even more thankful to my family for giving me that life. I grew up always surrounded by love. I couldn’t imagine a better childhood, a better mother, a better father, or a better big sister. I was given every opportunity in life. My parents have sacrificed so much for my sister and I to give us everything we needed and most of what we wanted. I have never had to take a step in life without the support of my family and I truly thank God every day for making them my family. I honestly believe I am one of the luckiest people in the world.


I Got To Tell Her I Love Her

For those of you that don’t know, my grandmother is steadily declining and the doctors said she could join the angels any day now. My parents have been by her side for two weeks now, but I have not been able to go up to New York and see her. My mother has been adamant against me doing so because she wants to save me from having to see my grandmother in her current state. She also doesn’t want me to miss work because I am low on money since my project ended last month and just started a new one. Like everyone else, have bills to pay, and when I’m not at work I don’t get paid. Of course none of that matters to me, but after numerous discussions with my mom and I’m staying in Atlanta instead of sitting by my grandmother’s side. My failure to be there has made me feel guilty, selfish, and like I am being cheated out of saying goodbye. It has made me feel guilty because I can’t be there with her and say good bye or that I love her.


Fortunately today, while I was at work, my mom texted me and asked me if I wanted to Facetime with my grandma. She has be unconscious and non-responsive for over a week now, however since it seems the end is getting closer, my mom got past her attempt to try and protect us. She had already Facetimed with my sister and while my sister was talking to my grandmother, she opened her eyes. For the first time in over a week. When I got the text, I immediately clocked out, ran downstairs, and called my mom so I could Facetime too. Seeing my grandmother like that was absolutely devastating and heartbreaking, but I got to tell her how much I loved her. And she opened her eyes when she heard me. It was wonderful, as wonderful as anything can be in this situation. I felt like my heart was going to explode with love and happiness. I got to tell her how much I loved her, and it seems like she heard me


Letting Go

My grandmother ism’t doing well, and I feel the need to write about it in the hopes it will make me feel better or at least feel something. I didn’t know it was possible, and you probably won’t understand but I feel both numb and completely broken inside at the same time. This post is going to be raw and depressing, so if can’t handle that, I don’t suggest you stick around to read it. Today of all days I need to write for me and not for readers, so if you are offended by this post, I’m sorry. I’m not writing it to seek out pity. I am writing simply to get it all out.


This week has been a roller-coaster of emotion. We heard on Friday, from my Uncle, that my mom’s mom had taken a turn for the worse. The Parkinson’s Disease had finally started to claim her body. It had claimed her mind and memories years ago. She hasn’t known who I am since 2010, but that has never been what mattered. It has never been hard for me when she didn’t recognized my face when I visited, or my voice when we spoke on the phone. It’s not about me. The torture is seeing someone you love, trapped in their body. She has been a soul trapped by her body for years, living in a world of fear, misunderstanding, and despair. There hasn’t been a light in her eyes for a few years. She used to have moments of lucidity, but those and her speech vanished some time ago. Now she is a shell of a person.


Letting Go


Initially the doctors told my mom on Friday that it could be days or weeks. She could fight the infection, she could recover. But she never really can recover. She will never be the loving warm person I knew. Yesterday as I was driving back to Atlanta from my parent’s house, my mom called to tell me that my grandmother’s doctors had called to say they need to get up there ASAP, they thought my grandmother only had a few days left. She had taken a turn for the worse.


In reality it is a turn for the better. It may seem callous, but I’ve seen her life, and it is no way to live. It is no way I would want to live. When she is conscious and present, she is in constant fear. We once took her outside and she panicked that the Nazis were coming to get her and we had to go back inside until the war was over. Periods of incoherent consciousness, unconsciousness, or fear. That is her life.


For her to pass would be a blessing, a freeing from the body that has trapped her, but as much as I know this, letting go and accepting it isn’t any easier. But again, this isn’t about me. It’s about her. And I want her to have peace at last after such a fear-filled life.


I feel such anger at the suffering she had to endure. We all have hopes for what our lives will be, and although I am not a mother, I know we all have hopes for what the lives of our children will be. The hopes my great-grandparents had for my grandmother dissolved with the start of WWII. My grandmother and her family fled Poland with the invasion of the Nazis. We are Jewish after all. They fled to Russia, ending up in Siberia where my great-grandparents worked in one of Stalin’s work camps. My bedtime stories as a child from my grandparents were always about the war. I was exposed to the brutality and hatred of mankind at a young age.


I remember stories of how they lived in a mud hut in Siberia, how her and her brother went to find food for their starving family in winter and stole a horse from a farmer to eat. As they were leading the horse back through the woods to their hut, a pack of wolves picked up their scent and chased them. My grandmother and her brother spent the entire Siberian winter night up a tree out of reach of the wolves. The horse fled and fell through ice on a river where it drowned. My grandmother and her brother went through it all for nothing, and went home empty handed. I also heard stories about how her beautiful sister had to have her legs amputated while they lived in that hut. She always cried when she told me that story.


You may think it cruel for an adult to tell such stories to a child, but she wanted my sister and I to know what happened to our people, to remember.


After the war my grandmother met my grandfather and they got married. He was the lone survivor of his family. They had all died in the death camps. My grandparents lived in Poland, had my mom, then had my uncle. They moved to America, smuggled on a boat in the middle of the night in 1963 when my mom was 10. We think my grandfather was involved in some illegal dealings in Poland, and had to get out right away. He had spent time in jail there before. He was a tough, pugnacious man who did everything he could during the war to fight the Nazis. He left home, fought in the Red Army, worked with the Austrian Underground to smuggle Jews to safety, and was also involved in Oskar Schindler’s endeavor to save Jews from the death camps. He continued in similar activities after the war in Poland where anti-semitism was still high and Jews were unable to work certain jobs, making it difficult to earn enough money to support your family. So my grandfather, not being the type to cow down without a fight, did what we suspect to be illegal business, whatever it may have been, to get his family by.


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After coming to America, my grandparents who knew no English got jobs working in factories, and supported my mom and uncle. The had a nice little apartment in Brooklyn, and by all appearances seemed to have achieved the American dream – a fresh start, and the ability to succeed if you worked hard. However, they never really adjusted to the American way of life. My grandfather until the day he died (I know because I was there that day), lived with anger and guilt for being the only one of his family to survive. He also lived with fear. He kept a stockpile of vodka and rice under the sink for when the Russians came. We couldn’t throw it away until after he died.


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Where my grandfather felt anger, my sweet gentle grandmother felt pain and despair. She was depressed most of her adult life, and really who could blame her? She would watch the news, see war in Bosnia, and call my mom hysterical that it was happening again. She still lived in fear. When she was with family however, she was truly happy. She always had a loving hug for my sister and I, always had some fun crazy antics or games for us to get into. Some of my fondest memories from childhood include her. She, my sister, and I would have battles with rolled up socks from the upstairs to the downstairs, chasing each other around leaving balls of socks in our wake. She would put us in the center of a blanket when we were little, grab all 4 corners and drag us around the house while the dog chased us. To us she was the most fun adult we knew. More importantly, she was gentle, loving, and kind, in spite of all the pain and horror she experienced in her life. I know my writing of her in the past tense may seem cold, since she is still with us, but truly, we lost her long ago when the dementia took her mind.


I have always considered myself to be a strong woman, but I look at my tiny, frail, weak little grandmother and realize I’m not strong. I’ve have an extremely easy life. I was born in a country where I have never had to worry about war, I have never had to wonder where my next meal was coming from. I had a childhood free of worry and responsibility. I haven’t had real struggles like she has. She is a truly strong woman who has fought so hard to survive, during the war, after the war in Poland, and now against her Parkinson’s. I don’t want her to have to fight or fear anymore. I want her to finally know peace. I want her to be happy. I want her to have the childhood and life she deserved instead of the one she had. I’m so angry at the injustice of it all on her behalf.


All I want for her is to finally have peace. The peace she never truly had in life. I want her to be in a place where she no longer has to fear. I just want peace for her. Finally. And I want her to know how much I love her. I hope that deep down inside, in the place where there is no dementia, she knows.