It was a Tuesday afternoon in the summer. I was 17 and my mother had just died. My father sat my 15-year-old brother and me down and told us that we were ADOPTED. My brother was angry. I was. What was I? I was relieved. Not angry. Not sad. Yes surprised but mainly relieved.
You see I never felt like I’d fitted into my family and now here was the explanation. I wasn’t going mad, there was a very good reason I never felt part of these people. It was because I wasn’t. I think its fair to say that my relationship with both parents was not good. My mother was emotionally ill equipped for kids and some years later my father confessed that he only adopted children to keep my mother happy. Both parents were very neurotic with a mad obsession to turn the lights off when we weren’t in a room in case we couldn’t pay the electric bill and ‘they turn us off’!
Now you may think the normal thing to do would have been to go find my real family. I certainly enjoyed the fantasy that they were out there ‘My princess mother and heroic father’ I would imagine. Maybe they were ‘arty’ like me. But I did nothing. For around twenty years. Why? Because I told myself it didn’t matter. I could live life on my own. I’d just become a Christian and I told myself God was enough. But I was just in total denial. I feared the possible rejection and disappointment of actually finding my family. Eventually I came out of denial after I’d heard yet another conversation about friends and their families. I realised where they had family I had a void. An empty space, so I went looking for my family.
I’ll write about that adventure in another blog. But another thing happened that really woke me up from my numb state of denial. My father, who was a sweet man but not the most emotionally intelligent, gave me a birth certificate he’d found when clearing out his bookcase. He thought I might be interested as it had my original name on it! My birth mother had given me the name Andre and all my life I’d been called William or Bill. I loved Andre as a name and a few years later changed my name by deed-pole to Andre. I really felt I was reclaiming something precious. A lost fragment, from my past. And more than anything my name keeps me aware of the truth that I was brought into the world and named by another mother.