Sunday, May 25, 2014

How much does DNA matter?

Lorraine and daughter, Jane, 1982
How twins separated at birth relate to one another when reunited has fascinated behavioral scientists--and me too, ever since I plunged into that group of mothers who would give up a child and later be reunited. Did my daughter and I find many seemingly uncanny similarities? That grew and strengthened as we got to know one another? 

Yes. And yes. Honestly, our reactions to life were so similar that there were times it was as if we had never been separated. One of my fondest memories is sitting in the outdoor garden at the top of the World Trade Center (yes, there was one once) for a half hour, sitting on a park bench, and watching helicopters dance around the Manhattan skyline. Not only were we both not afraid of heights, we sought them out. But I've written about our similarities before so first time readers will have to take this at face value or check out some of the links below. 


What led to this morning's musings before heading off to various Memorial Day weekend parties was a piece in the New York Times this morning about reunited twins, both identical and fraternal. Are they much alike? Yes. Do they want to get to know one another? Yes. Do they expect to become best friends? Yes. Do they? Yes. 

What about biologically unrelated siblings (raised together)--do they show behavioral resemblances? Uh, no. What about genetically unrelated people who happen to be dead ringers for each other: Do they assume they will be friends, do they become friends? Uh, no. 

The author of the Times piece, Nancy L. Segal, author of Born Together - Reared Apart poses the question: How do shared genes result in an immediate sense of connection? She dismisses the possibility that it is purely physical resemblance: 
"A more likely possibility is that a perceived behavioral resemblance is the basis for the sense of connection between reunited twins. And genes do contribute to behavioral similarities: Identical twins raised apart match closely on genetically influenced traits such as intelligence and personality. In fact, identical twins raised apart are as similar in personality as are identical twins raised together."
Jane simply put her arms around me after we sat down. 
MOTHER AND CHILD HAVE ISSUES
Of course, was my reaction. My daughter's adoptive mother said that what struck her so dramatically when we first met was how much I resembled her/my daughter. She couldn't get over it. I think this is one of the hardest things for adoptive mothers in particular to adjust to--how much physical resemblances will be noticeable at first sighting, and the behaviors that follow. I have to say that I did not have any shock at recognition because--mentally, and without conscious thought--I expected her to look like me! And to some degree, act like me. She was my daughter, wasn't she? Let me add that my daughter was raised in not dissimilar middle-class upbringing than the one that I was living when we reunited. Also I had requested that she be raised in the same religion I was--Catholic--and she was. Her parents were observant Catholics, and by the time we reunited, I was not, but we still had a basis of understanding and tolerance that made our reunion smoother than it might have been otherwise.

Though this doesn't mean of course that mothers and daughters or sons will get along as easily and smoothly as twins, particularly identical twins, will. We do know that. First of all, biological/birth mothers and the children they relinquished do not share DNA in the same way that siblings do, particularly identical twins. There is the DNA of a father to be considered. Although people said my daughter Jane and I looked alike--and in physical structure and coloring we were--I could see how much she looked and acted like her father. In pictures I have found on the Internet of one of her half-sisters, the physical resemblance is unmistakable.

THAT SIBLINGS WILL NOT
Secondly, reunited siblings under most circumstances do not have issues. Adopted individuals look at their mothers and how can they not think: Why did she give me away? Why couldn't she keep me? First mothers who long for reunion meet their children and despite the best intentions are swept emotionally back to the time of the great sorrow of their lives. Their bodies and psyche remember the time they had a baby, and were forced to go against the strong hormonal pull to keep that baby, and relinquish her or him. In my head, I carry around the images of my days in the hospital, how it was when I was wheeled out the hospital, how it was the day after.

I say it like this because most of us mothers--even if we consciously make the choice to relinquish our children--were acting against what our bodies were telling us: keep and protect that baby. Knowing how powerful that emotion was when I had my daughter, film of how animals react when an offspring is removed from his mother, or dies, hits a high emotional chord inside me. Think of how a Mama Bear reacts when her cubs are removed--because she is large and can be aggressive her reactions are legend; it is no different for the human species. I see those movies or read the stories, and think immediately of my daughter and having to relinquish her, and how I felt. I know just how Mama Bear feels when she sees someone messing with her cubs.

Unfortunately, my daughter never had the opportunity to meet any siblings. Segal's piece goes on to include the story of identical twins, one of which was accidentally switched at birth with another boy. The parents who raised the others assumed they had fraternal twins. In a twist of fate, the twins met and eased into a friendship described as "natural and effortless." They were friends for a year before they discovered they were twins. --lorraine
________________________________
SOURCE
Gray Matter: The Closest of Strangers

RELATED FMF POSTS
Shared Similarities: Family traits not erased by relinquishment or adoption
Two brothers, one adopted, find each other at the swimming pool
Normal in one family may be seen as abnormal in another

READING
Born Together - Reared Apart: The Landmark Minnesota Twin Study
by Nancy Segal, professor of developmental psychology at California State University, Fullerton
"The identical “Jim twins” were raised in separate families and met for the first time at age thirty-nine, only to discover that they both suffered tension headaches, bit their fingernails, smoked Salems, enjoyed woodworking, and vacationed on the same Florida beach. This example of the potential power of genetics captured widespread media attention in 1979 and inspired the Minnesota Study of Twins Reared Apart. This landmark investigation into the nature-nurture debate shook the scientific community by demonstrating, across a number of traits, that twins reared separately are as alike as those raised together."--Amazon 


Identical Strangers: A Memoir of Twins Separated and Reunited
"In this transfixing memoir, Paula Bernstein, a freelance writer, and Elyse Schein, a filmmaker, take turns recounting the story of how each woman, at age 35, discovered she had an identical twin sister, and the reunion that followed. Despite disparate upbringings, education and work experiences, the twins share matching wild hand gestures, allergies, speech patterns and a penchant for the same art movies. Louise Wise Services, the adoption agency, will reveal only that their biological mother was schizophrenic and unaware of who their father was. Records of the study the agency conducted about them are sealed, so the authors spearhead their own research project by poring over birth records, tracking down their birth mother's brother and interviewing researchers, who claim that twins raised apart are more similar than those raised together. Much of the book is devoted to fascinating stories of other twins and triplets who, when reunited as adults, are shocked by how much they have in common with one another. Bernstein and Schein's relationship becomes extremely close and also fraught with expectation. Once you find someone, Bernstein writes, you can't unfind her."--Publisher's Weekly



 

78 comments :

  1. This is a subject that always fascinated me as well. Not to mention how anyone ever thought that separating twins could be a good idea.....that's another story. But to hear about twins who were raised separately, and the similarities they discover once they reunite, amazes me.

    I have no one with whom I share any physical traits, as I have stated previously. My older daughter has my freckles and hair color, but it stops there. My younger girl is a clone of her father.

    I have to wonder about my first mother. When I received my very vague non-id info from NYS, and she had listed herself as an art instructor, I nearly burst into tears. Here was a connection! While majoring in art in college, all of my fellow students seemed to share that they came from families with art backgrounds. Mom or Dad was a commercial artist, an art teacher, someone who painted lettering on trucks, etc. I had no such story. My adoptive parents have no artistic talent at all. And they never took an interest. As they saw it, I majored in art as a way to get a job. I could have majored in skydiving, and they would have shown the same level of interest.

    So I got this ability from my first mother. I wonder, do I look like her? Are we both petite and very energetic? Are we both compulsive organizers? Do we both have synesthesia....a "condition" that causes me to see colors every time I hear a word, a number, or a note of music. It's a very interesting condition, and makes for a very colorful life. I understand it is hereditary, and I wonder if she had/has it, too.

    I might never know the answer to these and millions of other questions. My internet search for her still tells me she basically disappeared after I was born.

    But I hope somebody somewhere is beginning to understand that non-kinship, closed adoption does not work. It denies the adoptee and the first mother of so many important connections. Connections needed to make people feel whole. The law can't give babies to strangers and wipe the baby's history away. The law can't tell first mothers to walk away and forget. This is wrong on so many levels. The time has come to admit the great social experiment didn't work. It was doomed to fail. And it did.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Julia Emily: If your grandparents had siblings, then your first mom probably had cousins. And their children are your cousins once removed. Finding them--if possible--could be the best way to find your birth mother.

      Delete
    2. Actually, your mom's cousins' children are your second cousins. Her first cousins are your first cousins, once removed. Sorry, I blanked there. But the point is the same. These people might be able to help you find her, or give you information.

      Delete
    3. Open adoption doesn't work either....just sayin

      Delete

  2. My daughter kept first born and her full sibling brother second born have same looks build as their deceased father. My son asked me why he second born was given up.
    My mother had married step thing and he was the one who decided I wouldbe giving my baby up.
    My two adults are different emotionally daughter holds emotion inside like her dad. My son lets his show more.

    G

    ReplyDelete
  3. Lorraine, so many of your posts resonate with me. I so enjoy reading them - Thank you.

    My identical twin girls (a surprise pregnancy at the age of 41) will be 4 this August. Watching them develop has been the most fascinating thing I've ever experienced. The bond they share is something beyond compare. They have their own language, understand each other without even speaking. One will be looking for something in the toy bin or bookshelf, and the other will walk over and hand her what she was looking for, without a word spoken.

    I grew up as the only adoptee in a family that already had 4 biological children (none remotely like me in looks or personality) so it just blows my mind seeing these magical similarities and this connection.

    Makes me wish I had a twin!

    ReplyDelete
  4. Julia Emily -- I've heard of synesthesia but never knew anyone with it. It sounds like a beautiful condition to have, frankly!

    I agree that the great social experiment not only didn't work..it created turmoil beyond measure. We are not blank slates at birth. I hope you find answers soon.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Lorraine said:
    I think this is one of the hardest things for adoptive mothers in particular to adjust to--how much physical and behavioral resemblances will be noticeable at first glance. I have to say that I did not have any shock at recognition because--mentally, and without conscious thought--I expected her to look like me! And to some degree, act like me. She was my daughter, wasn't she?

    I have to say - when I sent my pictures (now, mid-30s, and when I had her) - to my daughter - I think that is why the amom was so upset! I can't believe how much she looks like me and a cross between one of my sisters (who is an identical twin, by the way!) My daughter just posted a picture of herself on FB (yes, I peek & read! - no contact right now she says - that was 5 years ago) anyway - she looks SO like me when I was about the same age - 11 or 12 years old! Oh, how I would LOVE to meet her one day! Lorraine - I love that picture of you and Jane - her arms wrapped around you - I can only dream...

    And YES, I too like to read about identical twins being separated at birth and meeting again, as I said above, my sisters are identical twins. By the way, my daughter knew she could have twins one day - per the social worker's notes!

    Julia Emily - I sure hope one day you will at least get a picture of your mother, since you say she would be in her 90s. I think she "disappeared" somewhere in Europe, Paris maybe, considering she was an artist!! Maybe you can find some "search angels" that deal with Europe - I know that are quite a few that don't charge (but only search in America). It would be worth the try! I hope you keep posting here on your journey!

    And the line above JE that you posted:
    The law can't tell mothers to walk away and forget. Absolutely! I was told that too (BSE era). I did "sort of" - but when I was told I "could" search - you better believe I did! And Lorraine - what you said above - when I found out she was alive and I wrote my first letter to her - WOW! I couldn't even imagine the memories that came back from that time - so long ago... I remembered the song that was playing on the radio when I left her at the Family Services building - We'll Sing in the Sunshine (and I'll be on my way... So many memories...

    Hope you all enjoy your Memorial Day weekend! Thanks to our U.S. military!!

    ReplyDelete
  6. @ Steve: I am trying to locate anyone I can. I am beginning to think maybe the whole family left the US to go to Europe to hide the shame of an illegitimate pregnancy. I really have no idea, but I can not find anything after the census that I found. Maybe they all left the country?

    @ Mary: Synesthesia is a really delightful thing! Pardon me for saying so, but it is like being on LSD 24 hours a day! Those who have not heard of it, please Goggle it. It is a hereditary condition. I can not turn it off. I had to get it from someone, and if my first mother was the artistic one....maybe it was from her.

    This caused tremendous upheaval when I was a young child. No one could understand what I was saying about my colors flying in front of my face. Why did the days of the week have a color? Why could I not learn to read a clock? Because the colors were missing....and I tried to explain it but no one understood. Every aspect of my life has a color. It is like my brain is cross-wired. When I open a book or newspaper to read....I see colors, like a mosaic, on the page. I always thought everyone saw these colors. And it is definitely hereditary. I have to think that my first mother was a synesthetic. If she was artistic, it stands to reason. My A-father actually came out and said that he thought I was mentally ill. I really was in a world of my own. And I was very upset when he said that. It was a very hurtful comment.

    @ Lee: I can not understand who these lawmakers are....those that decide whether an adoptee can have their OBC. Those that decide whether a first mother does or does not want contact. These people are usually men....who understand nothing, in plain English. And they are not involved in adoption in any way.

    It makes my blood boil.

    ReplyDelete
  7. In college biology I learned about the Minnesota twins study but never considered why the twins were raised apart. Much later I learned from "Identical Strangers: A Memoir of Twins Separated and Reunited" that in some cases doctors and social workers deliberately placed identical twins slated to be adopted in separate homes so the doctors could study the importance of genetics. This book by Elyse Schein and Paula Bernstein is well worth reading.

    ReplyDelete
  8. My deceased first father had identical twin sisters (my aunts) who were 19 when I was born. They are uncanny in how alike they are: finishing things for each other, knowing what each other needs. I think at one point they were Doublemint Twins. Their children are more like siblings than cousins, they are so close.

    ReplyDelete
  9. DNA is important and clearly it can dictate which "family" genes get passed on to future generations, create causal aptitudes, mannerisms, etc.....

    But for me, upon reunion, it was disappointing. I did not closely resemble my biological family nor did I "find" myself upon meeting them. Yes, it did explain the port wine birthmark on my thigh and explain my love of horror movies which does run in the family. The rest? Just not there. Maybe I didn't search hard enough? Or perhaps too much time had passed.

    It's okay though because it freed me to better celebrate and recognize all the things nurture gave me instead. My love of music fostered through parents who both played and supported my MANY attempts to find the instrument best for me; I found it in the guitar and they were my biggest fans! My love of art and Beatles music, travel, especially long road trips with stops at quirky "sites" along the way. Seeing the glass half full and having the courage to try new things.....all from nurture but maybe from my biological family too. Turns out I was one of the lucky one maybe - placed with a family sort of like the family I would have otherwise been raised in if not for adoption.

    As time goes on I expect to find more similarities but in fact have found less. I share this for other First Mothers and Adoptees who might find themselves in the same situation. It was O.K.....I promise. I don't outwardly mirror them genetically (either family really ) BUT a relationship has formed nonetheless because we made it happen.

    And that's okay too.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I don't know your particular situation, Beth, but I wonder if your mother would have the same reaction as you do--that she sees very little of herself in you. I am not arguing with your feelings, but hers--no matter what kind of relationship you have or do not have--might be quite different from yours.

      Delete
    2. @Lorraine, yes, her perspective might very well be different! Ironically though we have joked together that I appear to have been cut from a different branch of the family tree. She too is puzzled by our apparent differences, but again, we have found friendship to build on rather than similarities. At one point she even teased that perhaps I found the wrong bio. family in my search. ( not the case)

      Interestingly though both my Moms DO share many commonalities and I believe my (adoptive) Mom was the most disappointed that I didn't more closely resemble my bio. Mother; she wanted that for me so much!

      @Julia Emily, I'm so sorry to read of your struggles and do wish you peace as you embark on this journey.

      Delete
    3. Your A mom sounds very empathetic to your own needs.

      My daughter's mother faced me in 1981--the dark ages of open adoption. I don't think she had actually considered how much I might look like "our" daughter.

      Delete
  10. I wanted to find pieces of myself in my natural family. I did not find much similarity at all.



    ReplyDelete
  11. Beth: you somehow found the peace that I am desperately searching for. I wish you could bottle it and give me some! I feel a bit better since learning my original name, and finding my first mother's name...but still I am not settled with all of this. I oscillate between feeling OK, and feeling depressed. I feel like I'm trying to climb out of a hole.
    Bjane: I agree. Open adoption doesn't work either, from what I have been reading and hearing. I don't have any personal experience with it, but it doesn't sound like it was the answer a lot of people might have been hoping for.

    And just in general: when I make crazy statements such as "men don't know anything"....I certainly don't mean ALL men. I really am thinking of men like those two judges at the NY Adoptee Rights hearing back in January. I never heard so many ridiculous statements from two people.. yet these two seemed to think that they knew exactly what first mothers think and want, and how adoptees feel, etc. It was mind boggling!

    Sometimes I am also referring to my hubby, but that's another story!

    ReplyDelete
  12. Adoptees who find one natural family need to recognize that they are the product of two families. And yes, as I said, there are issues that come from growing up separate from them. I have cousins who seem foreign to me, as our DNA was diluted and our growing up in different situations diverged. And I have two brothers--one full sibling, one half whom I grew up with. There is a noticeable difference.

    Some adoptees will find more similarities, some less. And remember, the study in the blog post is largely about how identical and fraternal twins react to one another.

    JE: Yes those two judges at the hearing were ...awful. As was the adoption attorney Aaron Britvan, who has been opposing me for decades.

    ReplyDelete
  13. Sometimes there are lots of similarities but I think it is important that adoptees don't assume that they will find their birth mother is just like them in many ways. Mine wasn't but it was still an important relationship for both of us.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I do so agree. It is the shared history and the relationship that matters most to me.

      I think it is important that mothers - meaning not only birth mothers, but ALL mothers - keep in mind that their children aren't just facsimiles of themselves, that they are independent people who are the product of their own experiences as well as endless generations who came before them.

      Delete
    2. I agree too. I'm sometimes really astonished when I look at my son and see very clear echoes of my dad and myself, in both looks and temperament, reflected in him. But I also see things that have uniquely arisen in him. The unique mix of him is just wonderful.

      I think Lorraine's post and some of the comments here are important though in counteracting that constantly sounding drum that insists those who reunite are STRANGERS to each other. My son and I never were. Nor was the rest of his first family. We just all got each other straight away. 'Like peas in a pod' said my son, of him and me.

      I think pressing the idea that relatives separated by adoption are strangers is a tactic to try and deter or frighten people from seeking their original kin. It may also be a tactic to try and dilute what each are to the other (which ultimately is for themselves to decide).

      My Brother-in-law is a huge science fan, and has no truck with anything fluffy. He thinks dreams are meaningless nonsense, and won't have anything that can't be proven. But he is stumped as to how, in his words, 'connected' my son and I are and have always been since the first moments we met again. He cannot account for how, after three decades of not knowing or even seeing each other, we knew and got each other.

      Delete
  14. Julia Emily said:
    I am trying to locate anyone I can. I am beginning to think maybe the whole family left the US to go to Europe to hide the shame of an illegitimate pregnancy. I really have no idea, but I can not find anything after the census that I found. Maybe they all left the country?
    I feel a bit better since learning my original name, and finding my first mother's name...


    Oh, so you know her name!!? Have you tried Ancestry dot com? I know they have a list of people entering the U.S. (I found my name and family!) - don't recall if they have "out-bound" people. Worth a try!!

    My sisters joined that Minnesota Twin study, Jane. They gave them all kinds of tests!

    Mary - my sisters are the same as your twins. Know when the other is in pain, finish each others sentences, etc. My daughter also had a child at 40 years old.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Lee, that must've been a real trip watching your sisters' interactions as you grew up together. It is just incredible, the identical twin relationship. A mystical "we're from the same blastocyst" mental/emotional connection.

      And your daughter got a post-40 surprise, too? I was shocked, and then went in for a first ultrasound and heard, "Wait...there's another one!" She said us older gals were more prone to fraternal twins but identicals are just a fluke of nature. Not hereditary (that's fraternal, too) either. They've been a joy, though. After a bad adoption experience and secondary rejection from first mother, it's like someone sent a tremendous (heart-healing) gift. Hope your daughter - and you - are enjoying her surprise bambino, too.

      Delete
    2. Regarding your last sentence ^^ unfortunately, she wants no contact (as of yet - going on 6 years now) :( But she has posted on FB his pictures, so I can what he looks like!! Enjoy your twins!!

      Delete
    3. Oh - Sorry, Lee. I was thinking it was a daughter you raised who had the child. I hope she opens her heart and mind one of these days to connect with you. You seem like a very kind and caring mom. Take care.

      Delete
  15. Lee, I am sorry to hear that your daughter wants no contact. What's even sadder is that she is denying her child contact with you, his grandmother. I wonder how he will process this some day in the future and how your daughter will explain it to him. You are the grandmother and that can't be changed regardless of anyone wishing it otherwise.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. My son's adoptive mother actually named and numbered his son's grandmothers.

      One was her.
      One was the little boy's mother's mother.
      One was the little boy's mother's father's second wife.

      Three. Just the three.

      My son was so angry but felt unable to say anything, then berated himself for being 'weak' in not standing up to her and asserting my reality as his son's grandmother.
      I told him I recognised the immense amount of pressure he was under, and I do.

      But Gail, you are right.


      I also sometimes look at my little toddler grandson, and wonder if he senses what a maelstrom of other people's mess he has been born into (just as his father was) and will no doubt encounter as he grows up. I already hope that our absence at his birthday parties isn't interpreted as us not caring - an echo of my absence in my son's life and how that was probably portrayed/perceived.

      All so my son's amother can have the world as she wants it.
      So selfish.



      Delete
    2. Cherry: I just read this, and all I can say is Yikes. Blind spot.

      You are THE grandmother. All the others need modifers in front of their names.

      Delete
    3. Thanks for saying that Lorraine. Deep down I know that but it's still nice to hear.

      Being sidelined in this way is peculiarly potent though, as it reflects my experience of being a mother in a closed adoption. There is the echo of being deeply and directly connected to a child whose life you're excluded from. And also having the nature of your relationship with them erased.

      So although I know what you and Gail say is true, I also feel as though I watch my grandson's life through a window. I don't know whether that window is as a result of being largely excluded from my little grandson's everyday life, or whether it's something I've created to protect myself from how painful it actually feels, this echo of my son's adoption.

      It's difficult also not to really loathe my son's amother for adding so much pain to that which already exists, for me and for my son. I try to hold her humanity in my mind, as it's so easy to create cartoonish unreal figures in adoptionland. It's difficult though sometimes, and that grandma episode didn't help..

      Delete
  16. My daughter and I a very much alike.... similar in even the way we hold our heads, talk, the need to touch each others hands to validate the physical reality of the other.... at least that was my feeling.

    Here basic personality is very much part of her biological family... it is only the learned behaviors that make it difficult for her to fit in completely with the rest of the family. While I find them odd, there is the other part where I revel in her differences and hope they make her happy.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. '... the need to touch each others hands...'

      Oh Lori, I found that so moving.

      Delete
    2. We have only had a few actually meetings, none of them just the two of us. In the first one we held hands for hours. Touched each other lightly on the arm or hands alot. The last one she floated around me, as if she was afraid if she touched me too much either we would vanish or she would explode or something. But she lingers in my space as if she is searching for something. I fear touching her, even though I would give my left arm to be able to stroke her hair or hold her face in my hands like when she was small, because I fear that she will take it wrong and we will start the cycle over too soon.

      It hurts all the time.

      Delete
    3. I'm so sorry Lori. x

      Delete
  17. Lee: I am also sorry to hear your daughter wants no contact. What a shame. It will accomplish nothing.

    Beth: Thank you for your kind words. Someday I will find the inner peace I am looking for.

    The whole thing is so complicated. And as I go through this, I see how insecure my AP's, especially Mom, really are. Since this is off topic I will be brief. Over the holiday weekend I brought up the passport issue. I presented it as my needing documents, since my final decree is no longer acceptable. They were "OK" with me asking, but they have no other documents. They always thought that piece of paper that they gave me years ago was my "birth certificate:.

    Without going into detail I will say that they did have my original name. And that of my first mother. They have had it along. I was not supposed to see the piece of paper with that information. Dad did not offer it to me, he put it on his desk and kind of forgot it was there. But there it was.

    The name and person I found on my own on the internet are correct.

    Had they not been so threatened by this subject, I could have just asked them.

    And the saga continues......

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I hope you feel the huge amount of support for you on here, Julia Emily.
      Thank you for sharing this part of your life here. You describe your thoughts and feelings so clearly, and I feel honoured to be a witness to them.

      Delete
    2. JE: You have come so far since you began writing here--and I am stunned that your parents had the name all along. Perhaps your Dad left it on his desk for your to find because he cannot bring himself to talk about the subject. I have found that in some cases, adoptive fathers are more understanding of the need to know than mothers. In any case, the name was doubly confirmed, and now you just have to move forward and find relatives. Have you done anything this ancestry.com? That might be a place to start.

      And how is your family dealing with this? Your husband? Do they know how much this information means to you. The art connection I know, meant a great deal to you.

      Know that we are all rooting for you on this journey.

      Delete
    3. Yes, I thought the same thing that you said, Lorraine--perhaps her Dad left it on his desk for her to find...

      Delete
  18. Sorry, everyone....it was very early in the morning when I wrote my post, and I don't remember if I put my name on it!

    Anyway, just as a side note, my A-parents do not know that I know my original name and that of my first mother. And it will stay that way...that is obviously what they want. Dad did not realize that he left the paper with that info on his desk. Mom had disappeared while this conversation was taking place.

    Thanks for listening!

    ReplyDelete
  19. Why wouldn't twins ease into a relationship and get along-they are the same person. FROM THE SAME EGG spilt in half. Not that that means much today in the PC Frankenstein world or to greedy adoption agencies and whiny infertile women.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Anon 9:16 AM, only identical twins develop from the same egg. A fraternal twin is one of a pair of twins, not necessarily resembling each other, or of the same sex, that develop from two separately fertilized ova. But I don't think fraternal twins ought to be be separated either. Or any siblings really. Half siblings too deserve to know each other and have some sort of social relationship growing up - unless there's some extraordinary reason why they would need to be kept apart, I suppose.

      Delete
    2. Of course twins ought not be separated. Even adopters seem to know this nowadays. But these same people don't seem to have a problem dividing mother & child... ~lisa j

      Delete
  20. How much does DNA Matter?

    Well, without that there is nothing, so I would suffice to say that it matters more than adoption agencies, their paying customers and the children caught in the middle trying to appease their adopters will ever admit or cop to.

    Of course, when it comes to THEIR DNA it sure seems to matter.

    ReplyDelete
  21. Thank you Mary, Gail, and Julia Emily for your kind words. I think it's the Amom's problems with me appearing out of the blue... oh well!
    I do have a letter I was going to send her on her 45th birthday (May 14th), but I held off! Don't want to push her away too much as she is now. I "might" save and send it for her 50th. It includes medical updates on me, my mother's death (2011) and asking if she would like a picture of her bfather, as I found a bunch of pictures of him when I was doing Spring cleaning.

    Thanks again, at least I have a "place" to vent my frustrations! LOL!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Lee, I am just sad when I read stories like yours. And as most of you know, my daughter was mostly in my life after I found her, but sometimes ... out. And my "found" granddaughter decided to take a powder from me and my family...so think about these words:

      The people who want to be in your life will be; you don't have to go chasing after them.

      That may not help much with a son or daughter, but perhaps it will help you think about your daughter in a new way. One of my friends said: We lost them the day we gave them up.

      Delete
  22. I'm not surprised your DNA post got some comments along the lines of ... "I found my b-family and I'm nothing like them. Heck, I don't even look like them (right!). I don't fit in with them at all." I guess in some cases that's true, but I do believe that most people are a lot like their blood relatives but for some adoptees, imo, it's just too hard to go there (brings up too much loss).

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Robin, you said what I was afraid to.

      Delete
    2. Robin, maybe I am missing something but I don't see any comments along the lines of "I don't fit in with them at all".
      Some commentators have put their emphasis on the value to them of the relationship that they've formed with their found parent or child, but that implies a certain amount of "fit".
      I think Kitta has a good point about how people respond differently.

      A poem by Maya Angelou, "Kin":
      http://www.poetryfoundation.org/poem/178944

      Kin
      BY MAYA ANGELOU
      FOR BAILEY

      We were entwined in red rings
      Of blood and loneliness before
      The first snows fell
      Before muddy rivers seeded clouds
      Above a virgin forest, and
      Men ran naked, blue and black
      Skinned into the warm embraces
      Of Sheba, Eve and Lilith.
      I was your sister.

      You left me to force strangers
      Into brother molds, exacting
      Taxations they never
      Owed or could ever pay.

      You fought to die, thinking
      In destruction lies the seed
      Of birth. You may be right.

      I will remember silent walks in
      Southern woods and long talks
      In low voices
      Shielding meaning from the big ears
      Of overcurious adults.

      You may be right.
      Your slow return from
      Regions of terror and bloody
      Screams, races my heart.
      I hear again the laughter
      Of children and see fireflies
      Bursting tiny explosions in
      An Arkansas twilight.

      Maya Angelou, “Kin” from And Still I Rise. Copyright © 1978 by Maya Angelou. Used by permission of Random House, Inc.

      Delete
    3. Anonymous:
      why be Anonymous?
      We are considering ending the whole
      "anonymous" function here.

      What if the whole blog were anonymous?

      Delete
    4. Robin said: "..I do believe that most people are a lot like their blood relatives but for some adoptees, imo, it's just too hard to go there (brings up too much loss)."

      In my case it was my first mother who insisted we were virtual strangers and I shouldn't have any interest in knowing "her" family members. She was okay with a brief initial contact (in secret) and then expected me to go back to my other life with no further interest. My attempts to ask questions or form a friendship were thwarted. OMG, the things she said...She was downright mean! So confusing. It helps to see that most of you first moms from those times (1960s) are nothing like that, and have love, concern, and feelings of connection for your lost children. Wish I'd found a mom like that.

      Delete
    5. @Mary,
      I am so sorry that your first mother responded like that and that she did not want any further contact with you. It sounds to me as if she is acting out of shame over the pregnancy and relinquishment, but that is of course an issue that the first mothers should address, not me.

      I was referring, though, more to similarities between blood relatives rather than reunion, per se. But, perhaps, your mother also doesn't want to go there because the similarities (physical characteristics, mannerisms, etc.) would be too overwhelming for her to face. I doubt my n-father would have wanted a reunion with me either. But I most certainly inherited many traits from him. First of all, I am the spitting image in a female version. Secondly, my father was bilingual (self-taught, not because of growing up in a bilingual home) and I have always had a tremendous facility for learning other languages. He also loved to swim and was good at it. When I was a child, my a-mother used to joke that she didn't know if she was raising a child or a fish! And on and on it goes.

      I do agree with Kitta that some people can see resemblances more easily than others. I actually think I am somewhat impaired in this area and have wondered if that is more common for adoptees than for those raised in their blood families. It also seems that in bio-families there is frequent mention of shared physical characteristics, talents, etc. and who got what trait from whom.

      On another note, has anyone seen the recent pic of Carly, the daughter of Catelynn and Tyler from "Teen Mom"? OMG, she is the spitting image of Catelynn, a total mini-me.

      Delete
    6. Robin,

      Why the double standard? How come you are allowed to have valid feelings and see things through your own lens but no one else?

      I shared my thoughts, openly stated that I have an ongoing meaningful relationship with BOTH families in my life but simply do not see "myself" genetically in my bio. Mother. No harm or foul, except.....

      when others try to impose their standards on my experiences such as yourself. No need to qualify or read more into it; it just is and I have made my peace with it.

      Is that so threatening that it needs a deeper agenda or meaning? Is that how desperate some First Mothers are?

      I shared my piece because maybe others would find it resonated with them and turns out it did for some....and not for others.

      And that's okay too.

      Beth

      Delete
    7. Beth: I don't think Robin meant to denigrate your reaction to your natural family; but I think her point is that adoptees might have an unconscious emotional reaction to not see themselves in the genetic family--even though they must share traits and looks. As I said, I was primed--assumed--I'd see similarities. I don't know how my daughter felt in the beginning, but we certainly found and enjoyed many common traits. Later on I realized she had kept in her mind a litany of them.

      Delete
    8. Thanks, Robin. Yes, shame and tight-held secrecy for sure. And when first mothers take it out on their relinquished kids the shame and anxiety are contagious. Yuck.

      On a brighter note, I find it amazing that you inherited from your father the ability to easily learn other languages! That, along with invisibility, would be my chosen super power(!) What a great gift. How many languages do you know? It must be fun to travel with you.

      Delete
    9. I really wanted to see myself in my biological family. It was important to me. But, I really don't see a lot of similarities. So, at least for me, it isn't that I don't want to see something. I really wanted to find the commonalities.

      Sure, there are a couple, but I've been underwhelmed by them. I waited my entire life to find people who looked like me, and while I found my people, I found that I didn't really look like anyone.

      But, overall, I'm so very different from them.

      And, both my mother and father agree that I don't look like them.

      Delete
  23. I think that some people cannot see likenesses.Don't know why that is. Other people are able to discern resemblances.

    My husband could see the resemblance between my (reunited) son and my relatives. My granddaughter could also see it, but my son could not see it. He did, however, notice the personality traits that we shared.

    Oddly enough my own parents could never see any resemblance between themselves and us...the 5 children they birthed and raised.

    ReplyDelete
  24. Hi to everyone, and in response to Cherry, Lorraine and Lulu I will say that Dad certainly did not realize he had left that paper on his desk. Remember, he is in his mid 90's and is becoming quite forgetful. And his desk is a mess. He probably realized it after we left that day. Or, it is very possible he never realized it and threw it out with his newspapers that evening. Many things have been lost that way over the years!

    Sadly, my own family does not know that I found my birth name and that of my first mother. My husband, totally lacking understanding about these things, is clearly not interested. I tried to get him interested. Even with the trouble I will have getting a passport, he says there are ways around it and that I shouldn't worry. Everything is black and white to him. He is incapable of understanding what this all means to me emotionally. And I hesitate to tell my girls without letting him in on the "news."

    So here I am. I also feel I have come a long way since joining FMF. I am enjoying the fact that people understand me here, and I know I'm not crazy altogether! Thanks so much for that!!

    I will keep you all updated as the plot thickens.....

    ReplyDelete
  25. I am still unsure of exactly why some adoptive parents are in denial of the importance of genetics, and how some people, adopted or not, feel a deep connection or longing to where they came from. Perhaps it stems from some insecurity. Or perhaps to people who do not feel any great connection to their roots cannot understand why it may be important to others. Several months ago, I read a recent study putting forth the theory that empathy is actually genetic. Some people are not wired to be empathetic.

    Anyway, I am very interested (as is my husband) in our daughter's genetic connection to her first family. It is a large part of who she is as a person, as human being, and that is important to us. Perhaps it is because both my husband and I are scientifically minded by education and vocation, but we frequently notice and comment on her inherent genetic traits that she obviously displays. When she gets hot, the bridge of her nose beads with sweat. I know who she got that from. When her mood swings from happy to furious in the blink of an eye, I know that it is more than just toddlerhood, it is a personality trait from her mother. She is currently fascinated by a certain sport and musical instrument, both things she noticed completely outside our influence. I know where those interests come from, and I enjoy sharing about them with her other parents, too.

    My daughter wasn't dropped in our laps from the sky. She came from a beautiful and long line of ancestors who have each given her something of themselves. Those traits have combined to make one amazing little girl, and I take joy and pride in her personality traits, her funny little quirks, her tenacity, her facial expressions, the shape of her nose and eyes... everything that makes her who she is and is a legacy from two families I wish she could know better.

    Genetics and ancestry shouldn't be feared by adoptive parents, and I do believe there are many who are like us and accept and respect that their child came from different roots. All of us are part nature and nuture, and you can never try to simply sweep one or the other away if it makes you uncomfortable.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Because it scares the hell out of them and reminds them of their own issues. Non adopted people take their genes for granted, they usually have some knowledge of their relatives/ancestors. It's a basic need - 'Maslow's Hierarchy of needs' - belonging.

      Delete
    2. Your post was beautiful.

      Delete
  26. Julia Emily - the fact that your parents had your original name and your first mother's name this entire time, and that they were not going to share it with you ever, even after you asked for info to get your passport, fills me with rage and sadness for you. I am thankful you are sharing your story here. I wish you the best as you process all of this.

    ReplyDelete
  27. Mary, I am sorry to hear that your mother was mean. It breaks my heart when I hear stories like that and I always hope they're the rare exception. We all deserve to have a warm, loving mother. Shame on yours.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Gail - I do think it's a rare exception - most first mothers seem to have a nurturing instinct. Intellectually I know she has unresolved issues or is one brick short of a load; however, emotionally it simply stinks having your own mother kick you to the curb. She's missing out on 3 fantastic granddaughters, too.

      Delete
  28. Lorraine said: "Secondly, reunited siblings under most circumstances do not have issues. "

    From what I have seen, many reunited siblings do have issues, but they are different from those with mothers. Many who thought they were the firstborn feel displaced when the real firstborn shows up. Sibling rivalry is alive and well in many cases, even though it begins in adulthood with reunited sibs. Some raised siblings resent the attention their mother gives the newly found one, and take it out on the adoptee. Some adoptees are jealous of the raised kids. Identical twins are their own thing, sharing the exact same DNA. Other siblings are no more likely to be alike and get along in reunion any more than siblings raised together. Adoption and reunion are difficult and everyone has their own issues to a greater or lesser extent.

    On the subject of family resemblances in general,heredity is very complicated, and anyone searching to find a clone or a mirror is likely to be disappointed, not to mention the pressure this puts on the found person to fill a role already written for them. Imagine being valued only for how much you resemble a relative, not for your own uniqueness. Yes, many of us find delightful similarities, all the more so when they were not expected or required. But some, like a few who have commented here, really do not closely resemble their bio parents or family members, and we should give them the respect of believing them. It is not an insult to be unlike others to whom you are related. Why should those who have a different situation of finding great similarity cast doubt on those who did not find that? They can still have a relationship and be glad to have found the truth. Are we all so very similar to all our relatives and instantly close?

    ReplyDelete
  29. If DNA is meaningless and adoption is so wonderful then why isn't basically every child given up for adoption? Surely, most people can find someone who is more financially secure, more stable and has a more fortunate set of circumstances to give their child a 'better' life. I mean, why shouldn't every new mother just take whatever baby she wants from the newborn nursery? Maybe she wanted a girl but gave birth to a boy. Maybe she got a single but wanted twins. Why didn't Duchess Kate just take any ole baby and he or she would have been in line for the British Throne?

    Why does all of this sound preposterous? Because we all know that DNA, biology, blood, ancestry, whatever you want to call it, MATTERS. And it matter A LOT!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, that identity bracelet that's fixed to every newborn in every hospital indicates that the relationships between it and the family it has been born to are significant, right from the start. That these tiny people are already part of something.

      Delete
    2. There have even been lawsuits when hospitals had a mix-up and babies went home with the wrong parents.

      Delete
  30. Robin: I happen to, for whatever reason, enjoy following the goings-on of Britain's Royal Family. And I often think exactly what you said....if the Duke and Duchess had adopted little George, would the whole country be ecstatic like they were when he was born? The whole world was watching because of lineage, heritage, genetics. George is descended from all these interesting people! And it is very interesting.....so why are adoptees not allowed to know our lineage and heritage? Can anyone answer this for me?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I doubt an adopted child would ever be in line for the throne. That is all about bloodlines, period. In a way, the same thing happens in families not royal, only it is usually not so obvious and celebrated. But I know some families with rather high-falutin' pedigrees, and trust me, the stuff that is being passed down, in legend and real goods, would make a detour around someone not blood. The cousin in the family who gave up a child has removed herself from the family in a major way. Never shows up for family events and remains close to only one of her cousins--the one who got an abortion around the same time.

      Delete
    2. An adopted child would certainly not be eligible to reign. And while we're on the subject of royalty, Princess Charlene of Monaco is expecting her first child at the end of the year. He or she will be next in line for the throne. The current Prince, Albert, is already the father of 2 children, a girl and a boy, born out of wedlock. Due to their 'illegitimate' status neither is eligible to inherit the throne. I have read, though, that both are being provided for handsomely by Albert. Actually, I think they have it better than this baby on the way. They get to enjoy the vast wealth of the Principality but will never have the responsibility of being members of the Royal Family and will be able to live their lives without the constant press intrusion. Go Bastids!

      Delete
  31. Robin, I agree with you that DNA matters a lot; however, many others apparently don't. I heard on the news yesterday a doctor talking about early adoption which he termed "embryo adoption." Apparently, there are about 550,000 frozen embryos waiting to be "adopted" by infertile couples. Supposedly, this will take care of the "as if born to" myth since the female adopting the embryo gives birth which I guess then will eliminate bonding issues, grieving first mothers, and the controversial primal wound. I wonder then if the birth certificates will be considered real and sealed certificates eliminated.

    ReplyDelete
  32. Robin, not sure who your comment was directed at, but I have not seen anyone here say that DNA is meaningless or that adoption is wonderful. If you have extrapolated that from my comment, you are sadly mistaken. DNA is of course very important, it makes up a good deal of who we are, talents, ills, personality. Adoption is seldom "wonderful"; sometimes it is horrid, often it is not necessary and it is coerced. Sometimes though, adoption is necessary and it is not the worst thing in the world for everyone.

    Yes, DNA matters a lot, and sealed records are a denial of adoptees' civil rights, and that should be changed. Most children should not be given up for adoption, but that does not make adoption always wrong or the worst choice. Why does everything have to be so black and white?

    As to the royal family, my opinion is that the genetic contribution of the beautiful and generous Diana have luckily come through in her sons and grandson. Things would be less lovely if Prince George who is a gorgeous baby resembled grandpa Charles or Queen Victoria:-)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. @Maryanne,
      My comment was a general one. It was not directed at you or anyone in particular. I fear that our culture is moving more and more in the direction of "DNA doesn't matter". My comment was meant to be sarcastic and facetious to illustrate what I believe is the logical conclusion of "DNA doesn't matter" when taken to an extreme. I agree with you that adoption should be a last resort but is sometimes necessary.

      In my first few conversations with my first mother, I kept thinking that the only person my NPs could have created was me. The similarities are remarkable.

      @Julia Emily,
      I also enjoy reading about the Royal Family and feel even more of a connection to British culture since learning that my missing heritage is English and Scottish.

      And I believe that your a-father leaving out the paper with your n-mother's name on it was a freudian slip.

      @Mary,
      I also wanted to mention that even if you learn the reason for your natural mother's rejection, I realize it probably won't make the rejection any less painful for you. {{hugs}}

      Delete
  33. Hi Maryanne:....believe me when I tell you it was no Freudian slip that made my A-dad leave that paper on his desk. I know him inside out. I know his body language, and I know what he thinks. He did not think this letter was of any importance. When I asked about any documents my AP's might have, so I can obtain a passport, he pulled out of his desk drawer the same envelope he pulled out 40 years ago. At that time, I needed a BC, and he gave me what he believed to be the BC.....but it was my final decree. Useful at the time, but no longer. This time he pulled out the envelope, threw the paper on a pile deep in his desk, and handed me the only other document in there.....the birth announcement printed with the wrong date. The paper was still folded. I quickly saw that it was a letter from their lawyer, saying that the date for the finalization had finally been decided. They had received a signed affidavit from (my first mother's name). We were to meet in NYC at such and such a date and time. The adoption of said minor (my original name) would be finalized at that time.

    I am sure he had no idea that the paper was even in there all these years. And, as I have stated previously, it may have been thrown away that very evening.

    The little birth announcement card was the only other piece of paper in the envelope, and that is what he deemed worthy to actually hand to me. A-mom has said that they printed and sent out very few of these. Probably because there started to be a delay, and they did not know if I was going to remain with them.

    I am very upset that they had this info all along. That they never offered this tiny envelope of information to me. But, on the other hand, I have ascertained that my name, and that of my first mother that I found on the internet are correct.

    I can proceed as I so choose. They will never know....

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. JE,
      I'm the one who made mention of a Freudian slip, not Maryanne. I am glad you are proceeding with what you need to do for you, even if you never share your findings with your APs. Wishing you the best of luck.

      Delete
  34. Robin, I think that the casual, positive conversations in the media relating to the benefits of embryo adoption confirm your fear that our culture is moving more and more in the direction that "DNA doesn't matter."

    ReplyDelete
  35. Julia Emily - I'm just curious, didn't you ever go snooping among your parent's affairs when you lived at home? I did. I turned over every bit of paper and letter I could find and would return several times over the years to re-read things. Should have been a detective.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. JO: Good gracious, No! I never would have gone into my father's drawer looking for anything! I was, I guess, unusual in that way? They tell me I never even opened the refrigerator looking for a snack unless I asked first!

      Can I hire you? You sound like a great detective!!

      Delete
  36. Sorry, everyone, for mixing up names!! As you can see, I usually post very early in the morning. Having a lot of trouble sleeping.....too much on my mind!

    I will update as other things (hopefully) start happening. And I'll try to remember everyone's name!!

    ReplyDelete

We welcome comments from all, and appreciate letting us know how you relate to adoption when you leave your first comment.

COMMENTS ARE MODERATED. Our blog, our decision whether to publish or not. We are trying to find a way to end the endless anonymous comments, which drive many of us crazy. Pick a name! Any name. Choose the NAME/URL selection. You do not need a URL. Your name does not have to be your name IRL though we appreciate those who do, and we understand due to the sensitive nature of our subject, many will prefer to use a nom de plume. Okay with us, but the endless Anons are tiresome for everyone. If you post as "anonymous" you run the risk of not being posted.

We try to be timely but we do have other lives.

For those coming here from Networked Blogs on Facebook, if it does not allow you to make a comment, click the "x" on the gray "Networked Blogs" tool bar to exit out of that frame and it should then let you comment.