It’s hard to explain to the non-adopted what it feels like to be the only member of a family. There is nothing behind you. Others can look at their parents and say, Oh, I see that I got my hairline from Dad’s family, or My temper comes from my mother’s side. I have nothing. Just questions. Where others have history, ancestry, I have a void.
The abandonment is something that I’ve never gotten past. I wish I could explain it, because even typing the words I know that they don’t make sense. I was an infant, unaware of myself or anything else. I also know that not all adoptees feel this way. But it’s real to me, and no matter how much or how hard I try, I have not been able to deny it. I have not “gotten over it,” so to speak. But over what, exactly?
The relationship between a mother and her child is one of the strongest, most visceral bonds in the human experience. When I became a mother, I was completely unprepared for how entirely, utterly, completely and fully I wanted and needed my babies. The moment that my firstborn was put into my arms is the first moment that I understood, at a cellular level, absolute connection. I cannot imagine severing that bond. I cannot imagine what it must have taken for my mother to allow a stranger to take the baby from her arms, knowing that she would never seen her again.
My mother rejected me. That knowledge makes me both deeply sad and deeply angry.
How could she?
Why didn’t she want me?
My mother, from what I’ve been able to piece together from the shreds of evidence left to me, did not want to be a mother. She’d already had one child she didn’t want. A second one must have felt like the end of the world to her. And yet…how do you give away a human life? One that you nurtured inside your own body for nine months?
She never told anyone about me.
She never officially named my father, as far as I know.
But she gave me a name.
She gave me a name. Maria Luisa.
She told a friend, years later, that she had a recurring nightmare in which she is cradling a baby, a little girl, and someone comes along and tears the baby from her arms. She screams and begs for the baby back, but the person just walks away. Maybe, after some distance from whatever circumstances caused her to relinquish me, she felt remorse. Maybe she missed me. Maybe she wondered who I was, if I was okay. What became of my life. If she made the right decision.
She gave me a name.
The most puzzling part of the entire story.
She gave me a name.