This is the first instalment of my belated attempt to make sense of my background as an adopted child… looking back from the life experience of a 65-year-old, yet still feeling like an abandoned child, leading a disconnected life.
This is a true story, but by the time you have finished the second sentence you will be thinking, “Is she for real? Surely not!”
Here’s the second sentence: I ruined my mother’s life and then I killed her.
Wow! That is pretty heavy shit. Have I got your attention now?
To put this story in the time frame of its early origins, we have to wind the historic clock back. Such a heavy spring – it is like cranking a truck.
And the truck that features in this prologue is the one my mother was in, snuggled up beside her new boyfriend, possibly named Eric, being driven down the Hume Highway in rural New South Wales, Australia, in July 1952, fleeing from Canberra and heading for a new life in Sydney.
How can I be so specific? Because my mother told me herself – in 1998. Well, she didn’t tell me the date, just the circumstances, but I worked it out for myself, because I know I was born in April 1953. I am numerically challenged, but that is 9 months after July 1952, right?
Get this: my mother told me I was conceived when she was running away from her husband with her new lover, in a truck on the Hume Highway when the road was flooded during a thunderstorm! What mother tells her daughter such appalling details?
I’ll tell you: a mother who did not want to be a mother, let alone to be a dutiful wife, sequestered in domestic suburbia and suffering deprivations of her adventurous spirit, in pre-pill 1950s.
(However, I was rather pleased to discover a possible reason for why I love thunderstorms!)
If I had grown up with these facts and had a close relationship with a loving Mum, someone with whom I had shared laughter and tears, then maybe this kind of information would be a bond of connection and humour. But here was a complete stranger, someone I had just met (my own mother, for God’s sake!), telling me a tale of infidelity and sexual abandon. With abandon being the key word. Having become pregnant, she couldn’t wait to abandon me to an uncertain future: being adopted out.
But I remain eternally grateful for that decision of hers: to let another couple raise me. And I guess I can be grateful that she caused me to be alive in the world in the first place. Meet Marie, my DNA birth mother.
The photo depicts my mother, Marie, at far left, with her work colleagues from inpatients office administration at Parramatta Hospital, Sydney, in 1958. I was five years old and living in Canberra with my adoptive family, having been adopted as a baby in 1953.
Normally, it would be my instinctive response to gallop full steam ahead into this story, but the wisdom of years has given me a more reflective viewpoint, and for that reason I will eke this story out to a few chapters, with a lingering ponder between postings. Who knows, perhaps there is a book in it.
In the next posting, I will tell you more about when I met my birth mother, Marie, for the first time twenty years ago, and something of our brief relationship, reconnected as mother and daughter.
Eventually, we will get to the part where I am 'responsible' for her death on 8th March 2019. Since our last meeting, 19-and-a-half years ago, I have been coming to grips with how our lives intersected as strangers. Her recent death has prompted me to write about these feelings.
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