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Old 09-28-2012, 11:03 AM
 
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Back in the time when I was adopted, adoptive parents were often selected purely based on the fact that they resembled the natural parents physically. That's how Catholic Charities determined who my adoptive parents would be. Both of my fathers are 6'4" with light hair and blue eyes. Growing up, people would constantly comment on how much I looked like my father. If I dared to point out that I was adopted, I'd the get the "death stare." I was allowed to know I was adopted but still had to pretend otherwise to appease the insecurities of adoptive parents.

My natural dad was the first person I ever saw to whom I was biologically related. I am his mini-me. I look just like him. My personality is just like his. We shared the same major in college. I work in the same field as him. Making this discovery was mind blowing to me. And it wasn't until AFTER finding out these things about my identity that I was able to even begin processing how much not having it had affected me.
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Old 09-28-2012, 11:59 AM
 
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So many poignant stories - I am so sorry that you never met your grandfather, Mirren, and that he never met you. But I am glad that you learned more about him and who he was. I never met one of my grandfathers, either, as he died before any of his grandchildren were born, but of course, we had photos and family stories. Interestingly, I recently met an older gentleman at a family funeral who remembered my grandfather well, and shared some stories about him that I'd never heard before. Perhaps someday you will also meet someone who was friends with your grandfather, and can add to your knowledge of him. I do hope so.

gcm, meeting your father must have been quite surreal. I hope you and he have developed a warm connection and are spending time together.

Unless the biological parents and extended family members of a child who has been adopted are known to be abusive, criminal, mentally disturbed, etc., I cannot understand why adoptive parents would fear their child's meeting them, unless their own relationship with the child is so fragile that they fear it would be shattered by such a reunion, or if in turn, the adult child is so fragile emotionally or mentally that they might be further harmed by such a meeting.

To me, love, mutual caring and consideration are the keys to all of these intertwined connections.
If everyone involved has those qualities and feels those emotions and intentions towards everyone else, then forging new/old relationships can only be a positive thing for all concerned.
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Old 09-28-2012, 11:59 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gcm7189 View Post
Making this discovery was mind blowing to me. And it wasn't until AFTER finding out these things about my identity that I was able to even begin processing how much not having it had affected me.
I agree. We function as we can, not knowing what the losses mean, because we cannot know. Some adoptees never have this opportunity to learn more about themselves from their biological families, and some are never even told they're adopted, but feel that they don't fit in (or are made to feel that way in unspoken ways).
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Old 09-28-2012, 12:41 PM
 
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Originally Posted by CraigCreek View Post
gcm, meeting your father must have been quite surreal. I hope you and he have developed a warm connection and are spending time together.
Thanks, Craig. We have been reunited for 14 years now. Because of losing me (I was placed against his will and without his consent), he decided that he could not bring any more children into the world. I'm his only child by birth and we are very close.

You are so right about love, mutual caring and consideration being the key success factor to these intertwined relationships. My adoptive parents still struggle with the fact that I have a relationship with my natural family--even after 14 years! They have said some very insensitive things to me. My adoptive father has even told my son to remember that his mother "belongs to us" referring to my adoptive parents. They are making it near to impossible to have a relationship based on love and mutual respect.

*sigh*

Adoptees. We're damned if we do. Damned if we don't.
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Old 09-28-2012, 02:39 PM
 
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Originally Posted by thethreefoldme View Post
Did you have access to the photo while growing up, Nim? I wonder if the photo & the little bit of information you had helped you feel less "removed" from your physical appearance. I was raised by parents with very similar backgrounds & often had people tell me how much I looked like my mom/dad growing up, but I almost always felt the need to remind those people that I actually didn't look like them, because I was adopted. Then I was left to wonder who I did look like which could be emotionally exhausting.

I was aware from a very young age that I looked as much like my parents as any other white person (except maybe gingers ). I imagine photographs would have helped. When I saw my sister for the first time in person, someone who actually does share many of my physical features, I almost fainted it was so overwhelming. Of course my father was there too, saying that he could tell from far away it was me because I looked exactly like my mother. When they showed me a box of photos of her, I couldn't argue this time around -- I did look just like my mother.
Yes, I do, and I carry it in my wallet. When I show people, they are floored by how much we look alike. On a slightly amusing note, she has her eyes closed in the photo and I close my eyes too, so she really does look like I do all the time. Lol.

I never felt the need to drive home the fact I'm adopted, unless we're talking about medical records or something like that. For example, once my eye doctor told me that I inherited one of my eye conditions from my father, and then I politely reminded him that I'm adopted.

People tell me I look like my parents and sister too, but the fact we're all white and my mom and sister and I all have brown eyes is enough for them to think we look the same. I think it's safe to say most people who are of the same race with the same eye color look enough alike to pass as family.

Last edited by nimchimpsky; 09-28-2012 at 02:48 PM..
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Old 09-28-2012, 03:13 PM
 
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Originally Posted by nimchimpsky View Post
Wow, kaykee, thanks for posting the article about how important touch is for infants. Reading that article was an earth-shattering experience for me. It explained so much.
Just gettiing back to this thread today.

yes, isn't it? earthshattering, I mean.

When I think back, this explains so much for me, too. How I'd always have a startle reflex - jump in the air when someone came up from behind me. Once, as a child, I was sleeping on the couch and my Mom bent close to my head and whispered, "It's time for dinner." I was so scared that I jumped and waved my arms to fight off "an attacker", even though it was just my Mom. I think this has something to do with me being in an incubator for 6 weeks after birth. So, yeah, I don't think I was held much before being adopted.
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Old 09-28-2012, 09:21 PM
 
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Originally Posted by kaykee View Post
Just gettiing back to this thread today.

yes, isn't it? earthshattering, I mean.

When I think back, this explains so much for me, too. How I'd always have a startle reflex - jump in the air when someone came up from behind me. Once, as a child, I was sleeping on the couch and my Mom bent close to my head and whispered, "It's time for dinner." I was so scared that I jumped and waved my arms to fight off "an attacker", even though it was just my Mom. I think this has something to do with me being in an incubator for 6 weeks after birth. So, yeah, I don't think I was held much before being adopted.
I have this reaction all the time too. Every time someone touches me. On the metro if someone accidentally brushes against me, I start shaking, every time. For me it's my PTSD though. Have you ever been screened for PTSD kaykee? That's a classic symptom.
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Old 09-29-2012, 03:40 AM
 
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Originally Posted by nimchimpsky View Post
I have this reaction all the time too. Every time someone touches me. On the metro if someone accidentally brushes against me, I start shaking, every time. For me it's my PTSD though. Have you ever been screened for PTSD kaykee? That's a classic symptom.
I wonder how many adoptees have lived with PTSD symptoms for so long they aren't even aware there's a problem. I was screened for PTSD due to past abuse, but according to my amom I had many PTSD symptoms as an infant (insomnia, anxiety, hyper-vigilance, etc) she just didn't recognize them as symptoms at the time. Doctors just told my parents I must be precocious, or a difficult baby.

One example: I can't remember ever not having insomnia. Had it as a baby, all through childhood, & it got especially bad in junior high/high-school despite being incredibly athletic. I played on two different soccer teams, kept up with school work & other extracurricular activities, & still would somehow go days without sleeping til I literally passed out. Didn't realize it wasn't normal until it got that bad & I learned that "normal" people are able to sleep for up to 8 hours? Psh. I wish.
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Old 09-29-2012, 06:58 AM
 
10,452 posts, read 10,605,391 times
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Originally Posted by thethreefoldme View Post
I wonder how many adoptees have lived with PTSD symptoms for so long they aren't even aware there's a problem. I was screened for PTSD due to past abuse, but according to my amom I had many PTSD symptoms as an infant (insomnia, anxiety, hyper-vigilance, etc) she just didn't recognize them as symptoms at the time. Doctors just told my parents I must be precocious, or a difficult baby.

One example: I can't remember ever not having insomnia. Had it as a baby, all through childhood, & it got especially bad in junior high/high-school despite being incredibly athletic. I played on two different soccer teams, kept up with school work & other extracurricular activities, & still would somehow go days without sleeping til I literally passed out. Didn't realize it wasn't normal until it got that bad & I learned that "normal" people are able to sleep for up to 8 hours? Psh. I wish.
Same here. My therapists have always told me I have C-PTSD (chronic PTSD). They tried to tell my parents but my parents are the kind of people who think that schizophrenia and bipolar mean the same thing, and think that bipolar and manic depression are different things (based on a direct quote from my mother). The adoption specialist I went to say I will probably always have a baseline of anxiety. I may or I may not. I don't like to think in terms of "will always", because anyone can change in ways they never imagined possible.

I always had insomnia and recurring nightmares growing up. I started having more detailed flashbacks at age 13. I have a long history of abuse post-adoption as well, so I don't know what is abuse and what is orphanage and think that in my brain, it probably all blends in together anyway. I still live with massive amounts of anxiety to this day, but it has gotten A LOT better than before. I used to get several full-fledged I am going to die panic attacks a day. Now I get panic attacks but I know they have an end and know how to breathe my way through them. I still get flashbacks cause I was being severely abused until 2011. I can't remember the last time I slept 8 entire hours. Lol. I am extremely hyper-vigilant. It has actually served me well in some ways. I'm extremely aware of my environment at all times, often to the surprise of other people, which has afforded me high levels of independence as a blind person. I hear every little sound. I feel every little vibration. I smell every little scent (which has led to some rather embarrassing/amusing moments). I can feel when people are in my personal space, especially behind me (from the change in air pressure and air temperature). I piece all these things together and know who is where and what objects are where and can usually navigate my environment pretty well even without my cane (which is a good technique to have since I've had my cane taken from me). I get extremely nervous if people are walking behind me, particularly in a pacing manner. I've always been like that. I thought it was a blind thing till I met other blind people and realized it's a nim/PTSD thing.

I don't know if I had those symptoms as a young child. My parents wouldn't be a reliable source cause they're not tuned into that sort of thing. I know that I had a lot of advanced dissociative behaviors growing up, and that I had some other behaviors that were very atypical and probably a result of the orphanage. I also know that if I ask my parents, they will remember I always had several nervous ticks growing up, and still do to this day (scratching my head, picking at my skin, rubbing my eyes, fluttering my fingers, etc.)

I don't say all that to be like "poor me" but it's just how life has always been. I don't know any other way.

Last edited by nimchimpsky; 09-29-2012 at 07:08 AM..
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Old 09-29-2012, 06:10 PM
 
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Nim, some of the "nervous ticks" you describe might also be a form of "stimming", which is common in neglected children who do not get adequate stimulation from other sources. Many of the severely neglected children who are now starting to be adopted from a notorious Bulgarian orphanage "stim" - it can also be confused with autism, and is sometimes termed "institutional autism", which is quite different from other forms of autism, though the behaviors may look identical.

For lack of anything else to do or anyone to interact with, a child will often use moving their hands in repeated patterns as a way of passing the time. Self-rocking, head-banging, hair-twisting, scratching, rubbing, jerking parts of the body are all common forms of stimming in children who've been deprived of adequate human contact and toys or any other form of activity, particularly if they've also been confined to cribs for hours upon end, day after day...it can be heartbreaking to witness such little ones, trying desperately to give themselves some form of stimulation in their bleak existence.

From what you've told us, I'd guess that your ticks actually got their start when you were a small child, living in the orphanage.
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