"" Writer's Wanderings: Adoption--Bonding13

Sunday, August 21, 2005


At the risk of confusing you, I need to jump back and forth a bit here to explore the genes/environment issue. When Cheryl turned 18, she hit a breaking point in her emotional problems that had built up through the teen years. She determined to leave our home and seek out her "real" parents. She felt this would be an answer to all that troubled her.

In the process of "finding herself" she met a guy, got pregnant, and then got married. Just as I was beginning to think that she was settling down, she announced that she had found her real parents. She invited us along to meet them for the first time. The place we found them in was a relative's home that looked just like the place described to us by the social services when they took Cheryl and Don.

The rundown house sat in the middle of an automobile graveyard. I skipped over the first step on the porch for fear my foot would go through the rotted wood. Inside, the floors looked like they had not seen a vacuum in years. Boxes of stuff--newspapers, old junk, ????--were piled up agains the walls. A small computer desk sat in one room amidst the boxes and a large screen TV was in the living room across from a dirty looking couch.

The house was filled with a dozen relatives, all of whom seemed happy to ignore Cheryl, her husband, and us--even the baby. Don had chosen not to go. It confused him to think that he might have a second set of parents.

We met Cheryl's biological mother and I could see where Cheryl's physical features had come from. Then we met her father. When he spoke, I recognized Don's speech pattern immediately.

I had put together a book of pictures showing significant times in Cheryl and Don's lives. I tried to include pictures that didn't have Bob and I in them. There was no need to remind them that someone else had been there instead of them. They set the album aside and were much more interested in showing Cheryl the pictures of when they were little and living with them. It was good, I told myself, Cheryl needed to see pictures of herself as a baby.

We left before they were about to serve cheese sandwiches. I'm sure they were good but they came from a kitchen that was full of trash and grease and...well, you get the picture. Cheryl and her husband stayed on. I was later to learn that they spent the night. I shuddered.

The obvious learning disabilities and retardation that the social services had reported to us during the adoption process were there. The conditions of the house were the same. But Cheryl's head was to be filled with stories of how the children's services unfairly took them and the authorities were lied to by other family members who were trying to stir up trouble. Later Cheryl would find out from another relative these stories were fabricated and she eventually lost faith in her "real" parents. The strange thing was that she never gave us credit for telling her the truth.

As the relationships within the biological family unfolded, we were surprised at the similarities between Cheryl's life and that of her mother. Genes? Coincidence?

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