Can of worms…

17 Jan
For many years I held to the saying of “Not Opening Up a Can of Worms” to protect my mother.  Reflecting back I do not believe it was ever spoken of to me by mom and dad in regards to my adoption, simply it was how society viewed any skeletons in the closet and the ramifications of going there.  People did not speak of skeletons in their family that needed to stay locked away in the closet – whether it was mental illness, suicide, criminal activity, out-of-wedlock births…it just was not done.  Everyone clearly understood all families had skeletons but if they stayed firmly locked away from sight – all was good – nothing to see here – move along.  People understood that going there broke families apart and caused immense shame, and those skeletons would then find their way to become public fodder to the detriment of the family.
So in my effort of “Not Opening Up a Can of Worms” I only did passive searching.  There was no way I was willing to hurt my mother.  Thoughts of what if she never told her husband?  What if it ruins her life?  What if’s that never involved what if I find bad news about my conception ever entered into the thought process, it was solely focused on me protecting her.  My passive searching started first through the newspaper where I would go to the Personal Section each birthday – hoping for some cryptic message from my mother.  Mom and dad tried through a link to a link and I got a couple of basic questions answered but the question on would the actual link to my mother send a letter from me, was answered as no. 
Then when the internet came along and I started searching for any connection to my birth date or hospital among the bulletin board postings or any other likely site.  Then posting my search on the new message boards and databases.  All produced zero results.  This passive searching was not daily or even every weekend, sometimes months would go by but something always pulled me back, and I would spend a couple of days combing sites looking for any clue, and those around me knew I was in my ‘sad’ cycle.  I could be fine for months but the wistful haunted sadness would always come back.  I wanted to know my mother.  I wanted to know my family, my siblings.  I wanted to know everything.  I did this passive searching and cycling through my sad days for 30 years. 
Then I got sick and that changed everything.  My doctors were concerned on two fronts.  Protecting me against other diseases based on the damage already done to my heart, and the fact that my disease was unknown to most family doctors and knowing about the disease in their family health history may protect them.  That second reason finally gave me a reason to overcome my fear of “Opening Up a Can of Worms” that could hurt my mother.  The thought of her going through (and maybe not making it) what I had just gone through, or one of my siblings, scared me worse than the thought of an angry husband divorcing his wife.
Mom petitioned the courts to open my records while I was still too sick to do it myself and the judge granted the petition.  Sadly my mother had already passed away…I was too late…turns out her husband knew about me and if I had contacted her she would have told my siblings about me too…

Posted by on January 17, 2011 in Uncategorized


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8 responses to “Can of worms…

  1. Amanda

    January 17, 2011 at 4:26 pm

    Thanks for sharing this. I am so sorry about your health issues and everything else 😦

    I am doing a blog entry on why adoptees are silent, trying to quote as many adoptees as I can. Can I quote part of this entry?


  2. Amanda

    January 17, 2011 at 7:58 pm

    Thanks 🙂


  3. Von

    January 17, 2011 at 9:37 pm

    You know the can of worms never seems to protect us or our mothers in reality, the contents are rarely worse than not knowing.


  4. Campbell

    January 17, 2011 at 9:51 pm

    “There was no way I was willing to hurt my mother. Thoughts of what if she never told her husband? What if it ruins her life? What if’s that never involved what if I find bad news about my conception ever entered into the thought process, it was solely focused on me protecting her. My passive searching started first through the newspaper where I would go to the Personal Section each birthday – hoping for some cryptic message from my mother.”

    This is very much how I was too.


  5. The adopted ones

    January 17, 2011 at 10:48 pm

    Von – you are right but the risk was very real back then…

    Campbell – funny how things are similar at times.


  6. cb

    January 18, 2011 at 9:26 am

    Like you and Campbell, I did the passive search thing as well. I did actually have my OBC from NZ 23 years ago but didn’t want to disturb my mother’s life as I assumed she was happily married with lots of children and thought I would leave it up to her to make contact. Because her name was so common, I thought it would be impossible to find her myself. I do remember having a quick look in the phonebook for the area in country NSW where she was born and seeing a large number of people with her surname and thinking there were too many people with that name. The funny thing is, despite there being so many people with her surname in that area, I have now discovered they are all related and would have known my biological family very well lol. Having said that, if I had asked them if they had heard of my mother, they would have wanted to know why and I don’t know what I would have said. Also, if I had called in 1987 and someone told me that she had died 7 years previously, I don’t know how I would have taken the news. I actually didn’t do anything about it for almost 20 years (just went on with life, didn’t really think about it at all) until I got the internet. I think I looked once and found nothing and then the next time was 2 years later when I found her cemetery record (along with her parents) and I was then able to work out that I had the correct person via obituaries and electoral rolls, and then it was still another 3 years before I made contact. I do think part of the reason I was reluctant to make contact was that, because I was born overseas, I did have a fair idea that I would be a secret which turned out to be true. However, I don’t regret contacting the family as they have mostly been very welcoming and it has been nice to hear what a lovely person my mother apparently was. She is also just as I hoped she would look like as well. Sometimes I wish I had made contact in 1987 because I may have got to meet my grandmother but at other times I think now was the right time. At least I can comfort myself in knowing that this 23 year delay didn’t mean I missed knowing my mother, it would have been too late back then anyway. I think if I had discovered she had died only 10 years ago, I would be kicking myself that I didn’t even try but would be asking myself why she didn’t try (I do now know that many mothers didn’t know that they could ).
    Anyway sorry for the long comment!


  7. The adopted ones

    January 18, 2011 at 6:18 pm


    I also think it may have been a common thought process amongst adoptees of our era that the mother should be the one who searches…and of course mothers thought we should be the ones who searched…Protecting each other first and foremost…no way we did not care when you look deeper.

    I struggle with knowing I was too late…



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