What adoption means to me 23



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Adoption did not mean a lot to me at first. Apparently Mum told me I was adopted but I really did not remember or know what it was until I was about 12 years old. Someone at school told me I was adopted and I went home and asked my mum. She told me she had already told me before.

I had been adopted at a number of weeks old, from a small hospital in Wynnum, which at the time only had about 12 beds. When I went home to my new parents I was put in a home for a few months as my new mother had been very sick for two years after she had had toxemia of pregnancy and a heart attack when my sister was born. She took a long time to learn to walk after her illness.

So it was my dad who looked after me and did my nappies at first. He had been busy boasting to the relatives he had adopted a child. My aunt would not touch me (Dad told me), but my uncle actually told Dad that I was not a child, I was now his daughter. From that day until the day Dad died my treatment was equal to that of my sister and he has always been my role model and my treasure. Mum took a great interest in everything I did from ballet, costumes, holidays, sewing, nature, and my homework and she was an absolute gem.

I was a bit of a tom boy so Dad taught me to mow lawns, fix roofs, change a tyre, and I generally watched all the maintenance activities he did around home. My sister did a lot of cooking with Mum. I was sent to a private girls school and given every opportunity to excel in everything I did. When I reached 21 I found my adoption papers in the false bottom of Dad’s deed box. It was rather a surprise as I had really not given the adoption much thought over the years. I had been given the name of Lindal Lee at birth (which was new to me) and I got a quick look at the hospital name but nothing else. I got married three weeks later.

It was not until I was 27 years old, I decided I would like to try and find my natural family. I contacted an organisation in Brisbane (Jigsaw International) and registered my name as looking for my parents. The woman asked me where I was born and said she might be able to help me but she would need to check the books. It was a few days later she rang and said she had my mother on file looking for me and would I like to meet her. Wow, what a shock!

I arranged a meeting for a few days time. Now everyone had warned me of emotional blackmail and problems letting strangers into your life. So I arranged to meet her in a public area at a shopping centre and did not let the agency tell her my name or anything about my life. I never realised the stress levels attached with meeting your natural family. I did not want my mum and dad to know that I was meeting her so I said nothing to them as I had a wonderful life. I was a mess…..!

The day arrived and I went to the shopping centre dressed to the nines. There she was a little plump lady standing in front of the shop with the biggest bouquet of flowers, so big it was over three feet long. She was very nice, and alongside her was my full brother. We went for coffee and I do not think my brother let go of my hand until about three hours later when I left.

What I found was she had given me up for adoption as she was in between marriages and did not want to lose her first two boys. She had got pregnant soon after with my brother 11 months later to the same father. She was not telling me the whole story of “how many children” and I was not telling her “who I was”. It was quite some time before all the stories came out of the woodwork. Actually one of the sisters, who was not good at reading, saw my picture in the paper in the social columns, so they did eventually find out.

One thing I did realise when meeting my natural family was that they were really strangers with a lot in common. My family were the people who brought me up and gave me a wonderful life, changed my nappy, took me to the light opera, taught me to use a grinder. My family spent time with me teaching me to mow, cook and sew, change tyres, and they lived their life with me. My family included my sister, who used to teach me to put make up on, climb trees, hold snakes and even have midnight picnics. My real family were the people who loved me throughout my life and and enjoyed every moment with me.

I do stay in touch with my natural siblings, but my natural mother and father have since passed away.

Tell us, has adoption touched your life? Share a story with us today.

Gill Johnston

  1. Wow I could have written this story .. only changes born NZ and adopted by my Uncle xxx. Well written thanks xx

  2. I too ws adopted though never traced family as we emigrated and it was difficult,all three of we kids were adopted and we always knew but I was about 5 before I really connected what it meant,there have been various times when asked for medical history or just looking for some sign of being connected physically to someone that it has bothered me and I think as my parents wouldnt let us tell anyone it felt a bit wrong ,a black secret,the fact is life is what you make it,my sister had issues that surfaced late and caused much grief to us but my brother was the best and I loved and adored him ,he died recently and will forever be saddened by that,but I was lucky to have him,he used to say we are the sum of our choices, and whoever gave birth to me I wish them happiness and thank them for my gift of life but my family are the people who loved and raised me

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  3. Great story. Over the last few years I have found a full sister and brother, met our birth mother but she had died before we all met

  4. I found out I’dbeen adopted when I was 46 (1995) big shock! – But I was fortunate to be adopted into a loving family – trackeed bi-mum, did not meet her – my choice – tracked a full brother, and many hyalf siblings – all up I’m one of 16-17 (from bio mum & bio dad) – many of my half siblings wished they’d also been adopted out – but times were very different, and patterns seemed to run in the families – thankfully now those patterns are no more. Life is a mystery at times!

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    • I too was adopted but didn’t find out until I was 30 after my parents had passed. After a initial search with hospital records I found out the situation, years later got a copy of the original birth certificate. Checked the dictionary and found the meaning of mother and father to be those who mothered a fathered you. My adopted parents had done both very well. So I didn’t bother to look, and didn’t think my husband need a mother in law!. I give my thanks to my birth mother and my parents, . People have forgotten everyone in the situation were doing the very best for the child. Times were very different. Now I have two blood relatives. my girls, who are treasured.

    • Christine Hanna , yes I sure agree with you re the dictionary meanings of mother/father – I feel that way too- so many facets to adoption, I liken it too it’s all part of the “tapestry” that is me & what has made me who /what I am – I thank my bio-dad (dec) for traits of his, as well but I guess it comes down to the old “nature or nurture” – and the nurturing is soooo important.

  5. I to was adopted as a baby, I grew up with great Mum and Dad, sister, aunts and uncles, and cousins. At 30 I felt I needed to know, so traced my birth family. My bio father was still alive, mother had passed away. I found I was one of 7 children and the second to last born. Many unanswered questions there. No one else was adopted. They are all great people but we have little in common. The people I have grown up with are the one I relate to as true family.

  6. I have had this experience as well, feel close to real brothers and sisters but not my blood mother. My mum and dad will always be the important people in my life, who chose to teach me everything, but my Blood Mum is my birth mother and therefore important In another way. I do not feel emotionally involved with my birth mother at all? As I have nothing in common with her I also found it difficult to ask for the reasons and the name of my father, but it has never been forthcoming. Thank you for writing such a great article. I could not have done better.

  7. As someone whose eldest sister was adopted and traced some 50 years later, when we discovered her existence; I agree that your adoptive family are your family, but so are the biological family. Every family is different, but please don’t think the family which lost you don’t count. Jigsaw told my brother he had no hope of finding our sister, but he did. Fortunately for us she was open to getting to know us. She had moved to NZ. Her parents and sister were dead. Our mother was dead and we really wished we had answers for our sister regarding why she was given up for adoption. As she was Mum’s second child we can only assume it was pressure from her circumstances or authorities which made her let our sister be adopted when she was 3. Our eldest brother had medical problems, so was not adopted. When a sister became an unwed mother, her baby was kept. I don’t think Mum could bear to see this sister go through the heartache we know she must have experienced when she relinquished our sister. We tried to make her feel part of our family, because she was. We had 20 wonderful years of contact with her and we hope that she realised we loved her dearly. When she needed a new wheelchair those of us who could afford it chipped in and bought her one. I’d like to think that she and our mother have been reunited in death. I also have a niece and nephew who are siblings and were adopted by my youngest sister, so I have experience of both sides. Do I feel any differently about them to any of my other nieces and nephews, hell no. When they were young I was made their guardian should anything happen to my sister and brother-in-law. If either one decides they want to find their birth mother our family will support them 100%, because without her, we would not have them. Adoption causes both heartache and joy for the people involved.

  8. A beautiful poem that says it all…Not flesh of my flesh, nor bone of my bone, but never forget for even a minute, you did not grow under my heart but in it.

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  9. I found my son 3 years ago who was adopted out in 68 at the instructions of my girl friends mother. Have met his parents who are great people and we have a great relationship

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