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And yet another turn...

Wednesday, March 24, 2021

Well... in less than 12 hours we've moved from a preponderance of doubt, to near certainty.

It does very much look as though my mom did secretly have a child 63 years ago, a child she gave up for adoption. The woman who contacted us regarding the adoption provided us with copies of partially redacted documentation that leaves very little doubt as to the truth of her claims. "We" are reserving final conclusions until we receive our own documentation from Post-Adoption Services.

"I" seriously doubt any DNA proof will be required.

Equally true, and like most long-kept secrets, this one engenders many, many layers... layers which have been exacerbated and complicated over the years, and not in good ways.

While it's a shock in some ways, I take no issue with my Mom having had a baby out of wedlock so many years ago. I don't think less of my Mom, in fact, I like her better (the social worker who oversaw the case wrote delightful, deeply human and complimentary depictions of my Mom, then 17-years-old). I don't see my Mom's teenage pregnancy as a terrible/shameful mistake. I bear no malice toward anyone who has kept the secret.

I take no issue with 'Khloe' contacting us and wanting to know... more?... something?... I don't know what the right word is... anything? which might bring a greater measure of peace and understanding to her own life. I don't begrudge her any and all curiosity and longing... in fact, I appreciate and understand it... I live every day with similar feelings in relation to my Mom. Seems to be the ultimate irony between us. Perhaps it's a beginning point.

Yet... while I understand and have great compassion for my Mom's predicament and decision to give up a baby born at such a tender time in her life, I have many issues with her having maintained that experience as such a well-concealed secret over all of these years.

Nobody besides myself seems to see it yet, but so much damage has been done to so many, simply because this event was kept a secret. Every relationship my Mom has had since she committed herself to The Secret has been damaged by it... because my Mom herself was damaged... not so much by getting pregnant at 17 and giving a baby up, but by carrying that baby as a phantom all the rest of her life... by trading life and courage and joy and freedom for a shame-filled secret... by bricking up a part of her heart and leaving it where it could not remind her of her humanity... by denying her own truths... by bequeathing upon family and strangers alike a legacy of shame, confusion, mistrust and rejection.

That picture above? Where one of the birds is not like the others? I'm the black and blue one.

Until I just now described that bird, I didn't recognize how apt the depiction is... GRAPHIC... of just how black and blue I actually feel. Bruised. Battered. Weary. Hurt. Other than. At times, resentful. Obviously different. Too visible with nowhere to hide. Alone in a crowd of feelings, circumstances, challenges, snarls and tangles... none of my own making... yet and somehow, I must be accountable for and to them.

I've never felt truly a part of my family. Eventually I stopped trying to fit and I instead used my energy to heal and worked hard to get to a place where my reality within my family ceased to matter to the rest of my life. I found belonging and hope and joy and richness. I grew strong. I had adventures. I laughed deep full-from-the-belly laughter. I learned to fill my rightful place in the world, and to not apologize for doing so.

...and then my Mom died. Out of a sincere desire to be, in the midst of death, alive... more... better... I've done all I could these last ten months to also be the best oldest sister possible, a good daughter, a daughter of whom my Mom might be proud, a living testament to my Mom's legacy.

Occasionally, I've succeeded. Sometimes others have even almost noticed. Now, on top of everything we, as a family, are faced with yet another situation where I could contribute greatly. I'm the one person in the family who is uniquely prepared for such a surprise. I'm the one person in the family who isn't afraid of our humanity, or of the truth. The thing is, it's impossible to lead, when there is no one willing to see you for who you are, recognize your worth, and follow. It just makes me even more separate.

These last ten months have been the loneliest of my life. I thought maybe the emotional/physical shift my Mom's death precipitated would make room for me to finally have a sincere place in the family. I was wrong. If anything, there seems to be even less room, and this new challenge makes it all even more obvious. My sisters are circling the wagons and closing ranks against certain truths (written in black and white on official paper)... and I'm on the outside. Still. Always. Probably forever.

I thought I'd become immune to the sting. I was wrong about that, too.


My sisters are at war with reality. I am moving resolutely toward peace... a peace which surpasses all understanding... for myself, and for my family. I am clothed with strength and dignity, and I laugh without fear of the future.

THANK YOU, so very much to all of you who are here reading. I appreciate it greatly. It's comforting to have a place and people where I can simply be. I thank you, too, for sharing your stories and insight. Reminds me to be mindful especially of those truths we can't readily see... that no matter how anyone looks on the outside, you can never really know what may be going on within.

May today and every day bring to you a ridiculous abundance of whatever you need. May you find peace within and all around you. May you not forget the infinite possibilities that are born of faith and desire... a desire which even itself issues from God. May all your concerns, struggles, anxieties and fears fall like ashes as you rise on eagle's wings, SOARING above all that would hinder you along this tremendous adventure of being and all you are created to be. May you answer your call and use those gifts that you have received to pass on the love that has been given to you. May the presence of God settle into your bones and allow your soul the freedom to sing, dance, praise and love beyond your wildest imagination. May you be overwhelmed by the grace of God as it simply "overtakes" you moment by moment... rather than being overwhelmed by the cares of life!

{{{{{{{{{ HUGS }}}}}}}}}

"I have the nerve to walk my own way, however hard, in my search for reality, rather than climb upon the rattling wagon of wishful illusions."
ZORA NEALE HURSTON, letter to Countee Cullen

...today, I can breathe... as LOVE reclaims the atmosphere:

Burlap to Cashmere: Love Reclaims the Atmosphere

I'm staring at the mirror
As the shadows plague my room
In every risen hero there's a choir that resumes

I used to be a soldier but a painter I became
I used to walk on water but now I fan the flame
Oh the busyness of traffic as her garden starts to wither
She opens up her violin so the darkness can forgive her
And today we'll crucify the fear
As love reclaims the atmosphere

There is guidance in transition when the body starts to rust
The earth begins to rumble and the particles of dust relay
That message of decay
Oh the busyness of traffic as her garden starts to wither
She opens up her violin so the darkness can forgive her
And today we'll crucify the fear
As love reclaims the atmosphere

Be honest in transition when preparing for the feast
Send blessings to your critics and careful with the least of these
Release the prisoners free

"When the waves close over me, I dive down to fish for pearls."

FOOTNOTE: I'd like to add a cautionary note about companies like AncestryDNA/23 & Me, etc.. From my very recent conversations with companies testing DNA for reasons beyond simple curiosity, DNA is not as completely reliable as one may want to believe... especially the further removed the biological connection becomes. DNA beyond the immediate biological parent/child relationship is diluted very quickly. Yes, testing is becoming very common, and readily available, but the process is also becoming very commercialized as well. If you have a truly compelling reason to consider DNA testing, I encourage you to go through a reputable company that will be honest with you AND which will protect your privacy. Most commercialized companies sell your information to other places for a wide variety of reasons. That's how they make their money.

DNA testing won't really help us in this situation. The living people involved in our scenario share too little DNA to make testing credible. It's called Half Avuncular Testing (aunt/niece - avuncular - with different paternity on each side - we only share maternal DNA and maternal DNA is much more easily diluted). At best, with niece/aunt, and different fathers we MIGHT share a maximum 12% DNA, likely less. Testing can potentially tell us only that there's a chance we are genetically related, but it cannot tell us, with any certainty, that we are. Equally possible is that the DNA test could come back indicating that we aren't at all related based on DNA, but we still could be. Each of the three of us (my sisters and myself) could get a different result when compared to the woman in question. If we were able to test my Mom's DNA against that of the mother of the woman making contact, we could get a definitive conclusion but, because they are both deceased, we would have to employ Forensic DNA Testing, which is extremely expensive... though, if it seemed critical to do so, and we could get credible samples (bone, hair follicles, skin scrapings), we would pursue this.

Fortunately, doing DNA testing in this instance, would be like looking at an orange, and deciding to test the peel to determine that it really is an orange.

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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    ...And when feeling bad, count your blessings: your Wonderful and Real Family: your Beloved Husband and Daughter, the Divine Miss O! You are such a beautiful person who has worked so hard to be where you are now. Do not let anyone harm you, please!
    19 days ago
    Ramona, you always have been a source of inspiration (and information), to us. You have helped so many with your blogs that I feel so bad reading that you’re suffering. Thoughts and prayers are not enough. What can we do for you? Please, be careful!
    19 days ago
  • SPICY23
    Empathy, Ramona

    The painful ironies of families. What is 'family'? Is it the clan we are born into or the clan we are raised in? For every adoptive family that tries to convince an adopted child that they are more 'family' than others because they 'chose' that child rather than being stuck with it through birth, there are families where a natural born child wishes they could discover that they had been adopted because they feel they don't truly belong. Why are some children treated differently than others within a family? Why can some 'do no wrong' while others can 'do no right'? Why bother to ask why? It doesn't change reality.

    You are in a unique position to choose your way with this potential 'niece'. If this person truly only wants information and a sense of connection, what do you have to lose by sharing memories of your departed mother? Perhaps you may discover someone more like yourself than your siblings. Perhaps relating rich stories about your mother will further the grieving process, or it might exacerbate feelings of anger and isolation; only you can know. Trust yourself. You are reliable.

    I relate very much to your observations of Leadership; it only works if people 'follow'. As recent Top administration has shown, people will follow some outrageous leaders with profound fanaticism, rather than solid balanced thoughtful folk. May you find the path forward that is best for you. Your heart will guide you.

    Peace and Care

    29 days ago
    emoticon emoticon Wow. this is a lot to deal with. I'm sorry your mother couldn't ever bring herself to tell you. Sounds like you have been doing some hard thinking and processing. Take your time with it. Wishing you peace and comfort during this time.
    40 days ago
    Sounds like you are thinking clearly even with your emotions having run the gamut. Keep moving forward!
    43 days ago
    i read your blogs(2) today... one thing came to mind... u have been preparing for this for your whole life... u are ready...
    you are you and no one can be you'er than you..
    45 days ago
    Ramona, You are moved by a very powerful grace. emoticon
    46 days ago
  • JUSTME29
    I'm so sorry that you've spent so much of your life feeling "other than", and I'm so happy for you that you've built your own little family in which you fit perfectly. I guess the question now is whether you want to invite this new person into your nest and take the risk that invitation might pose. There could be a great reward in getting to know this niece, and there is a great risk that she might not be the sort of person you want in your life. It's scary. No matter what you choose Ramona, it will be the right choice.
    46 days ago
  • BJAEGER307
    emoticon emoticon My heart goes out to you. I know you are still trying to process all of this, and I wish you all the best.
    46 days ago
    OH you are the epitome of compassionate. I can understand that woman's desire to 'belong', to find out more about her family. My kids are both adopted and there is ALWAYS that hole about who they are.

    You are embracing with grace and dignity the situation your Mom was in back long ago and respecting the choice she made.

    It is painful, and confounding, too, to be confronted with such an unexpected truth.

    HUGS and prayers to you. God's blessings. Peace.
    46 days ago
    I can't imagine what you are going thru. With the popularity of DNA testing in the last few years, I have all sorts of new family members coming out of the woodwork. 3 in 3 years, 1st cousins. It's a difficult situation for all involved.

    Sending prayers to you and your family as you deal with this.

    46 days ago
    emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon
    You many never know what other family members had to do and say to affect your mother's decision. There may have been pressures of which you are unaware. Giving up a baby back then was a "forever" parting. No other choice. I hope you have good friends that are closer to you than your sisters, whom you can trust and enjoy.
    46 days ago
    You are doing the very best you can. What a terrible burden your mother had to bear, and your compassion and understanding as you learn more about all of it are just shining through. You will figure out what you want and need to do and it will be just right because of that compassion and that understanding. This is such a remarkable opportunity also to learn and to consider more deeply what family -- your family of origin, your present family -- mean to you. What matters most.
    46 days ago
    Ramona, I wish I could give you a hug. Sending lots of them, and lots of love as you work through this new challenge.

    I am so sorry that your mother didn't feel she could share this secret, and (remember, I'm the adopted child who decided not to contact my birth mother's other children), I think your thoughts are helping me forgive my birth mother. Because she was in her 20's when I was born, I've always thought that she could have found a way to keep me... now I realize I should not be judging her.

    As an only child, I can't understand how you feel about not fully being part of your family. I always wanted sisters and brothers, and thought it would be like "Father Knows Best". Of course seeing the difficulties among my own children, I know that things don't always work out that way.

    Take your time deciding what to do about this new person. Just do the best you can. Don't be too hard on yourself.

    Lots of hugs,
    Gail emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon
    46 days ago

    Comment edited on: 3/24/2021 10:14:24 AM
  • -POOKIE-
    Your words about the acceptance and reality of this situation are beautiful, the compassion you are showing towards your Mother's actions in the past are so kind, loving and what an amazing example you are to your own daughter. The thought of her having spent a life hurting over a secret is a lot harder to bear, and I am sorry that you have had these thoughts introduced into your grieving process.

    You spoke to me of being ourselves, of staying true to who we are, to be different, to march to the beat of our own hearts. You will find a way through this. You are an amazing human whom I have I grown to greatly respect.
    46 days ago
    Sorry, I only just read your previous blog before "finding" this one.

    You've come a long long way in your thought process from the last blog, and I am so proud of you for reaching the place you are now, a place of peace and acceptance with your Mum and the situation. Your sisters may make you feel like the odd one out as they struggle and battle to face this new reality, but what makes you "different" to them is your openess and strength to face hard truths, your understanding, sensitivity, perceptiveness, sympathy, and empathy, your wisdom...all qualities that your life "not fitting in" has installed in you.

    Did you not see that the odd one out in every single photo was the most beautiful one too? Just saying....

    emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon

    46 days ago

    Comment edited on: 3/24/2021 10:05:06 AM
    Oh sweet chica, soOooOooo much. Processing here. Gonna take some time, I used to jump right in without thinking things through. Just know, you are more than enough. Leaders lead, they lead by their example. Because others are unwilling to follow, well...it’s on them. You are precious beyond measure. I believe our Moms were of a generation that denial ran so deep, they buried so far, they forgot. Mine has. I’m sending love, prayers, and the abundance of blessings that spring and Jesus bring...may it bring a semblance of serenity and peace.
    emoticon emoticon emoticon
    46 days ago
    I can't tell you how much I admire you for putting this all down in such a thoughtful way.

    I believe that many adopted people feel driven to find a place where they "belong." What they don't realize is that you don't have to be adopted to feel that way. You said yourself "I've never felt truly a part of my family."

    You also said this revelation made you like your Mom better. It's wonderful that you can find a way to appreciate the influence of this disruption on your life. Take all the time you need to process this and please allow your sisters to do the same. Don't let anyone (including your inner voice) tell you there is anything urgent about this situation.
    46 days ago
    A secret is a terrible burden for anyone to carry...It was a different time and place..may you find peace and forgiveness,,in time as you process this...“Forgiveness is giving up the hope that the past could have been any different, it's accepting the past for what it was, and using this moment and this time to help yourself move forward.”
    ― oprah winfrey

    This quote has helped me heal the pains of the past. I pray it will bring you peace as you ponder the words
    46 days ago
    Ramona, believe me when I say that you are not the "ugly duckling". Families are sometimes very strange collections of characters that never seem to meet. I had only one sibling, a sister who was 10 years my senior. She always made me feel inferior and it wasn't until I headed off after high school that I felt like I was out from under her shadow. I can count on one hand the number of times that we were together again until her death at 83 two years ago. I am happy that you have accepted the realities of your mom's early life, that you have accepted the woman's desire to reach out for probably nothing more than vital information and hoping that you can reconcile the situation with your siblings. Focus on your own family; you, your DH and your divine Miss "O". They bring you love and peace that you in turn give back to them. Remember the goodness that your mom shared with you and let the rest go. emoticon
    46 days ago

    Comment edited on: 3/24/2021 6:16:36 AM
  • BERRY4
    So much unfortunate truth in the sharing: "...by carrying that baby as a phantom all the rest of her life... by trading life and courage and joy and freedom for a shame-filled secret... by bricking up a part of her heart and leaving it where it could not remind her of her humanity... by denying her own truths... by bequeathing upon family and strangers alike a legacy of shame, confusion, mistrust and rejection."

    IMO secrets have potential for great harm, both in the present as well as the past. So much has been built upon and around the "secret" that seems nigh onto impossible to discern all the nuances and layers that have since been added.

    So very sorry for the difficult place you have found yourself in, in relationship to siblings, your mom, your family, extended and otherwise. -- This may sound very trite, and doesn't even begin to touch the deep bruising felt, but your experiences have made you the woman that you are. The woman who can lead strongly in spite of the STORM of Life. The woman who can pass on a legacy to her daughter of what grace in the midst of adversity can look like.

    It is in the "cracked pot" that the LIGHT of God's glory can shine through. You are His SPECIAL ONE. The one who can shine brightly through the pain of separation, mystery, secrets, sorrow, bruising, and all the other painful experiences of life with your family.

    47 days ago
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