The lie always finds the light in the end

20 Aug

The road to this post is sort of long, please bear with me. Mom’s parents immigrated from England to Canada back in the early 1900’s, if memory serves they knew each other in England before they immigrated. They married in Canada and lived out their lives there; this story takes place after they were all gone. Back then, trips home to England were few because you had to go via ship, but they stayed in touch with family through regular letters written in ultra-small script filling every inch of the page. So, mom grew up knowing her cousins, aunts, uncles, and grandparents though letters and stories told. When travel got easier (airplanes), mom visited several times over the decades, she would spend several days with each family, they also kept up the letters so everyone knew what was happening in the family. 

Now to the story…

In our family, Thanksgiving Dinner at mom and dad’s was the mandatory holiday growing up, even as an adult excuses usually didn’t cut it, you showed up, relatives close by were expected to attend the family dinner and did. The particular Thanksgiving Dinner this story unfolded was like most other dinners, a fire going in the fireplace and people sitting around it passing time until we were called to do something or that dinner was served, then a return to sitting by the fire. I usually was the one who helped mom as I knew how she wanted things done, and she didn’t need to hover over me, and then end up doing it herself if someone else helped.  After chatting with those around the fireplace I would go into the kitchen to help. I don’t know if it was before or after dinner (think before because I was the one that always cleaned up after), but I remember walking into the kitchen and saw the stunned look on mom’s face and her brother standing there with his arm around her.

I thought someone had died.

And if you think about it, it probably was to some extent like a death. You see, that was the day mom found out her family members weren’t who she thought they were. The day she found out what it was like to grow up being told a lie about who was who, and who she really was to them. It shattered her reality and turned it into just an illusion. She got over it and adjusted because that’s who she was, but the lying by many in her family bothered her for a long time.

I’m also sure mom was thankful she’d never given into the temptation to pretend anything different from they adopted us.

That Thanksgiving Day, mom found out that her dad’s parents weren’t her grandparents, that his sister wasn’t his sister and her aunt. That instead, her grandparents were her great-grandparents, and her aunt was her grandmother and her uncle was her dad’s father, her grandfather, and the children they’d had after they’d married, her cousins, were really her aunts and uncles, her dad’s brothers and sisters but born legitimate. Mom also realized that her mom and dad lied to her, that her aunts, uncles, cousins lied to her, all done to keep up the pretense to make sure no one knew of the shame of her grandmother being pregnant out-of-wedlock, and that it must not be talked about, even in the family.

I remember mom telling me later that at least it explained why her dad always addressed his “sister and brother-in-law” as Mr. and Mrs., so obviously her dad had some deep feelings about the situation, but he kept his familial duty in keeping his parents secret and stayed in touch, but on his own terms, by standing stiffly on the outside looking in.

It also makes me wonder if the decision to immigrate to Canada wasn’t influenced by being a secret.

Secrets always come out and light wins over darkness, but the impact on the one the lies are meant to protect, costs them dearly, and that cost can extend for a long time and to future generations.

This story is probably one of the more benign adoption stories, but it still left an impact on mom. It hurt her deeply. Adoption and lies don’t mix. The truth always comes out in the end. Tell the truth from the beginning so you never need to find a good time to tell that never comes.


Posted by on August 20, 2018 in Adoption, adoptive parents


Tags: , ,

13 responses to “The lie always finds the light in the end

  1. My Perfect Breakdown

    August 20, 2018 at 5:23 pm

    Such a timely post, as this came up in our house this weekend. I’m actually planning to share the conversation on my blog – hopefully tomorrow.
    I’m sorry your mom experienced this in her life, it must have been so hard for her to come to grasps with such a change in her life as she knew it. Needless to say, I agree – share the truth now because it will come out later. And, I’ll add, share it respectfully as to not accidentally foster feelings of shame or embarrassment.

    Liked by 1 person

    • TAO

      August 20, 2018 at 5:27 pm

      Very true – don’t cause shame or embarrassment. I think the hardest part for mom was that she was raised to always tell the truth, an honor thing, but all along they never told.

      Liked by 3 people

  2. Paige Adams Strickland

    August 21, 2018 at 10:54 pm


    Liked by 1 person

  3. beth62

    August 22, 2018 at 1:21 pm

    I second that Wow. I’m glad it didn’t teach your Mom that kind of lie was okay to tell to everybody, especially to those living closely connected to the lie, for your sake.

    Liked by 2 people

    • TAO

      August 22, 2018 at 1:33 pm

      Mom didn’t find out till long after I’d been out of the house. She wouldn’t have changed, her (and dad’s) moral compass didn’t allow for any of that nonsense.

      Liked by 2 people

  4. Cindy

    August 23, 2018 at 10:45 pm

    At least she was raised in her biological family, but oh the lies, the stinking lies, all because mommy didn’t have a ring on her finger. I don’t know how your mom’s grandmother kept any semblance of sanity. The, “I’m your sister / aunt, never mommy / grandma” mind mess. Talk about twisting the truth. Having to live that lie forever has got to play havoc with a mother’s mental state.

    What really ignites my disgust and horror is that mom and dad DID marry. How soon after the baby was born? Why in the world continue the lie that bred generations of lies? Just because their marriage certificate was dated later than the child’s date of birth? You don’t have to answer. I know how soul searing the unwed mother shame was, and for many of us, still is. Even today it can rear it’s ugly head in certain families, organizations and churches when an unmarried woman finds herself “in the family way”.

    Liked by 1 person

    • TAO

      August 23, 2018 at 11:03 pm

      Cindy – we’re talking about the 1800’s in England…as bad if not worse than the era the BSE was.

      Liked by 1 person

      • beth62

        August 24, 2018 at 3:50 pm

        Yikes :/
        I think everything was scarier in the 1800s, everywhere. Especially for women. Yikes.
        Our, now huge, family reunion officially starts tomorrow. There is a scheduled day to explore historical family secrets, one of my favorite days 🙂 We tried including the secrets during explanations and talks about the branches, but it made it all confusing. So the secret is mentioned while people are getting a good picture/understanding of the known history (that may not be true), but not explained until Secret Day recap. The secret makes more of an impact that way, a better understanding of how it went down. Plus it attracts more interest and people to participate in secret day.
        Every year new secrets are found, so many now it takes hours to tell about them all. Last year, with all the new DNA tests all sorts of secrets were proven, and new ones found. This year, I just happen to know, thanks to my spies, there will be many, many more secrets to learn about, some BIG ones. And a couple of our new old secrets should show up this evening to prepare to meet their families tomorrow. I’m happy, excited and nervous for them. Angry too. Lies and secrets are thieves, not gifts.

        The ripple effects thru the generations are often upsetting. People who thought they were related, or related in one way, but now in another, or not at all… It can make quite a mess of things. I’ve seen some disturbing moments, some exciting ones too.

        It’s shocking to me how many lies there are in our blended family tree. As if it’s a normal and accepted behavior for families.
        I hope this is the century that these sad family secrets can end, and no new ones will begin. Wouldn’t that be something.
        I have little hope for that tho, will likely get worse due to embryo transfers, etc.. At least we have DNA tests now. But I don’t really think so many see that kind of family secret as a bad thing, when it’s told to supposedly save some from other bad things… kinda like Adoption and closed records. It baffles me how so many people I’ve talked to think closed records are fine, just how it’s done, no real big deal, some even say necessary.

        Liked by 1 person

        • TAO

          August 24, 2018 at 5:20 pm

          Yeah – the embryo, egg, sperm donation will send shudders through many families, struggles to understand. And while mom was the ever understanding and got it, the not knowing really bothered her.

          Liked by 1 person

  5. beth62

    August 25, 2018 at 2:17 pm

    No matter how well you handle the news, I’d have to question anyone that wasn’t bothered deeply by hearing a secret like that about themselves, plus their family members. That’s a lot to process, would be hard not to rethink everything, and everybody, throughout your entire life. Not nice, not fair.

    I have a secret in my kitchen, he got here last night. I have to keep the secret (that I’m not supposed to know about) until wednesday…yeah, not gonna happen. He was a second cousin, this year he’s a big brother, a full brother.
    Some of them want to wait to tell his brother, our adult son, on secret day. I think that’s an awful idea, so I’ve decided we are Not going to do that 🙂 They can save the secret as a surprise for those that aren’t that close to it. I can’t stand it another second, every trigger I have is going off, I wanted to call and tell him over the phone, but in person while not driving sounds safer… they shouldn’t have told me. All that is going to go down privately between those directly involved. In about an hour when brother gets here. He’ll see it in my face that something big is up, I know I look worried, bothered, upset. I am. I can’t lie/omit/trick him for 1 minute about this, let alone for days. Now is the time.

    Liked by 1 person

    • TAO

      August 25, 2018 at 5:38 pm

      Big hugs Beth – I know you can find the right words and be there in the way he needs you to be.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Lara/Trace

    May 2, 2022 at 1:55 pm

    Wow! This reminds me of Eric Clapton who had a sister but it was actually his mother. He never fully recovered from that. Living a lie is so hard!



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