|Edie holding me in 1957|
By Trace L Hentz
Someone asked me recently what had adoption cost me personally.
What a loaded question, I shot back in my email. I said I needed to think about it.
Obviously I didn't ask to be adopted!
This situation was thrust on me by a damaged 22-year-old small-town Wisconsin girl who loved Chicago night-clubs and partying too much. She didn't want me after my 28-year-old father (also a big drinker) kicked her out. He moved back to his Illinois farm-town and found a new wife. She went to an unwed mothers home in Minnesota and signed me away.
If my soul wanted a big test this lifetime, this was clearly the route to take. Finding out neither would ever look for me? That painful discovery cost me.
What kind of man would desert a woman carrying his child and who would tell a woman she cannot keep her own baby? Who made them this way? Belief systems, religions, social workers, neighbors, parents, judges, priests? Even your own family can be so damaged, it's risky to find them. There are times now I wish I had never looked but I had to know why I was adopted. Taking risks to find out the truth cost me years.
Being told by my natural mother to never contact her again? That rejection cost me.
I made all the moves, made all the calls, did all the travel and took all the risks to find both parents. I put myself out there to join a family who didn't even know I existed or cared that I did. That hurt cost me.
The adoption trade in babies was booming in the 1950s. In my opinion my adoptive parents were not carefully screened. Despite his raging alcoholism and their marital discord after two miscarriages, Catholic social workers still qualified them to be my parents. Very young I was sexually molested by my adoptive dad. That betrayal cost me.
I had to pretend for years I was alright when really I wasn't. I tried to live up to their expectations and be the baby they lost. That impossible situation cost me.
My adoptive parents didn't know adopting kids won't fix a marriage and might even make it worse! I had to suppress my shock and disappointment in them for too long. It took me years to get therapy and counseling that worked. This delay cost me.
My lack of trust and being able to love someone cost me a marriage.
Many years later I was shocked to learn my ancestry. My father, who had the Native blood, didn't intervene to keep me. How did that make me feel? Betrayed.
I had no idea what to think about being Shawnee/Cherokee since there was no one alive to reconnect me to my tribal culture. That cost me.
How can you measure cultural loss when there is no dollar amount or apology that can undo what happened? There is no way to get that back.
What did adoption cost me? Everything.
What did adoption give me? The strength to persevere.