On Facebook, nobody hears you cry.

7 Nov

Or at least I hope so.

I have an adopted family (who I consider my “real” family) and my biological family. I was given up for adoption as an infant by a teenage mother.

When I was 18, my biological family found me.

It was a crazy time. I received the call shortly after Christmas, during my last year of high school. At first I was happy-I finally would get to know who I looked like, who I took after, why I have these giant eyebrows.

But with time, came confusion. Resentment. Weirdness. The summer after I graduated from high school, my biomother wanted me to stay with her for a few months. I had just fallen in love, I couldn’t think of anything I wanted to do less. I didn’t fit in with this family. They were all clean cut, sports loving Nike wearing preppy people. I had green hair and army boots. These people who were my people, were not my people.

I didn’t stay the summer. And things only got more and more strained. When I was married the following April, the entire family came for it. And yet acted like it was a huge imposition on them to do so. I appreciated the gesture, but if it was done because it “had” to be done, I would have rather they didn’t do it at all.

Later that year, after sporadic, halting conversations, I received a birthday card, unsigned from my biomother.

After that I gave up. It was obvious to me that contact was not desired.

The worst part of this was that I have a sister, a half sister. A sister who was absolutely thrilled to have a big sister, who obviously adored me. And I kinda liked her. She was a cool kid-curious, bright, smart. Hanging out with her was pretty fun, despite her being only 10.

Not being able to explain to her why I no longer called or wrote bothered me. But I figured my biomother wouldn’t let me communicate with her anyway. From time to time I’d think of her, wonder how she was.

When I was pregnant with Vivian, my brother managed to make contact with my family. He mentioned I was pregnant with their first grandchild. My grandmother called me, and we spoke. She was excited. Everyone was doing well.

3 weeks after Vivian was born, my grandmother died of cancer, cancer which she knew about, and said nothing when I spoke with her.

I again had sporadic contact with my biomother, but she was so absolute in her grief-and I understood this. In a way, she understood me better too. She left her phone number, but I never could call. I just didn’t have it in me. All the hurts, and hopes, all the things I tried to block myself off from. They’d come back on the phone.

So once more, we drifted apart. I hear from my aunts occasionally, and my grandfather sends money for the girls, but other than that, I have no contact.

But then one day on Facebook, I find my half sister. My finger hovered over the “Add as Friend” button for awhile. The worst I figured, was that she’d ignore me, deny me.

She didn’t.

For the last few weeks, we’ve been having a slow moving, cautious conversation. Two people who should know each other, but don’t. Two people with a history that differs on each side.

Today she told me she’s being careful with me because it hurt so much when she was a kid-one day I was there, and then I wasn’t, and I hurt her.

I hurt someone. I hurt my sister.

I can tell her that I’m sorry. I can tell her how fucked up my life was then, how I was only 18, 20 years old, and confused and lost. I can tell her how hard it is to watch someone who is your mother not be your mother, as they cuddle and hug your sister. I can tell her again and again that I’m sorry.

But it won’t remove a hurt I caused almost unwittingly 10 years ago. She was so excited to finally have a sibling-my biomother told me that she was always begging for a sibling, and that I was her wish come true.

I wish that had meant more to me at 20.

I want to make this up to her. I want her to be in her nieces life, to know them. They are part of her. More, I want to know her. I want the relationship that the fucked up mess of whatever with my biomother prevented. She says her mother was protecting her from what went on, and I’m left wondering what she thinks that is.

Sometimes, I think not knowing, and never finding out, is preferable to answering some questions.

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14 Responses to “On Facebook, nobody hears you cry.”

  1. marcelarhodus November 7, 2007 at 10:06 pm #

    knowledge is power, power to make decisions and change routes to reach different places.
    knowing is good, having answers is good, even when the answers are not what we wish for.

    you have this fresh opportunity, not to undo the past, but to start a future.
    Embrace it!

  2. landismom November 7, 2007 at 10:39 pm #

    Wow, that is a pretty amazing story. I’m glad that she and you are able to be, at least cautiously, honest with each other now. It seems like it could lead you to the relationship that you couldn’t have then.

  3. mercurial scribe November 7, 2007 at 11:07 pm #

    It’s weird how we get in contact with people through the internet – how life has this way of cycling them back into our reach. I hope things move along nicely with your sister and at a pace you find comfortable this time around.

  4. Marcy November 7, 2007 at 11:24 pm #

    You can’t erase, but you can help heal. I think it’s great that you two are getting back in touch.

  5. radical mama November 7, 2007 at 11:33 pm #

    But not knowing also means no opportunities. This is interesting coming after your “I never wanted a sibling” comment. Is it different that this is a sister? Just thinking.

  6. nursemyra November 8, 2007 at 6:14 am #

    I was adopted too and met my birth mother when I was 30. found out I had two sisters and a brother.

    it was all kind of weird and wonderful. wish I’d grown up with my sisters but it wasn’t to be

    you can still develop a great relationship that works for both of you. and don’t beat yourself up about what you did when you were twenty…. x

  7. thordora November 8, 2007 at 7:42 am #

    RM-I never wanted one, but lo and behold, one was waiting for me with my birthfamily. It was an odd adjustment, and still nothing I’d think of in the traditional term of sibling.

  8. Netter November 8, 2007 at 10:00 am #

    She’ll forgive you thor. She’s only in her early 20s. We’re all still pretty self-absorbed at that age. I was 17 when I found out my mom had given up a daughter her senior year of high school. She’d just turned 18 and had wanted to find her bio parents (particularly since her adoptive father died before she was school age). My younger sisters were 13 and 12. We didn’t meet until five years later. We’ve tried to make a relationship, and she’s in a lot of contact with the younger ones. I have a hard time with some of the decisions she’s made in her life and I’m horrible at the distance relationships (just ask all my old friends). I’ve gotten used to calling her my older sister, but I’m not as open with people about it because I don’t want people to judge my mom.

  9. Mad Hatter November 8, 2007 at 10:28 am #

    It sounds as if the potential relationship is worth the work. Tell her what you have told us. It may take her a long time to understand…

  10. Bon November 8, 2007 at 2:46 pm #

    the way i see it, the fallout from dealing with that level of shock (ooh! a biofamily!), especially after you’d spent your teen years without your mother, dealing with that grief and absence, absolves you of bailing out of the lives of people associated with your birthmother.

    it doesn’t mean that it didn’t hurt her, or invalidate that hurt. but it does not make the hurt your responsibility.

    at twenty, you were not responsible for how your ten-year-old half-sister coped with the shock of having a new – and uncertain – older sister, no matter how much she’d always wanted one. her mother was responsible for that, for helping her through that.

    where you two go from here, though…that’s on both of you. she has a right to her self-protections, and you probably have your own. but i hope you find your way. i too am getting to know half-siblings in my adulthood, and while they’ll never be siblings the way Vivian and Rosalyn are, or the way i hope Oscar gets to have a sibling, they’re still cool people…if profoundly different from me. they’re worth the effort.

    i hope that’s true for you and your sister too.

  11. Hannah November 8, 2007 at 3:15 pm #

    My biofather recently made contact with me after 20 years of silence. He has three other daughters – one is only four – and a stepdaughter. The whole situation has been traumatic and painful for me, because I’m still resentful and hurt that he left so abruptly, and I don’t want to forgive him just yet for that. It’s the stepdaughter (half-stepsister?) that I feel bad about. She’s been abused, she’s slower to learn than her peers, she’s desperately lonely, she’s 12, and I know she wants me to be her “big sister” but I just don’t have as much as she needs.

    Yes, your actions hurt your sister all those years ago. But she’s talking to you, and she will try to make this work, as you will. I wish you both all the luck in the world as you build this tentative friendship.

  12. allyo November 8, 2007 at 4:27 pm #

    I had a period of time when I was 19-20 during which I froze out my dad and step-mom. I was mad at them, didn’t want to face them because they were hard to talk to, and because, unfortunately, my grandmother enabled me, lying to them for me, etc. During this time I missed my (half) brother’s birthday, my stepmom’s birthday. My brother was all of 8, my sister, two years older.

    It was years before those relationships were repaired. Even after we resumed contact, my dad let me keep myself distant, telling me to not worry about coming over for my weekly sunday visit when I called, hungover from a night drinking on campus. Or they would be too busy with the normal weekend activities that come with two school-aged children.

    It took me a long time to realize how much that hurt my brother and sister, my siblings who, while I never lived with them, had always identified with as real, true, siblings. And yet, they weren’t in reality, and while I love my stepmom, she’s not my mom, and my dad, well, he’s not my dad in the same way he is to my sibs. It’s messy, and complicated, and i’d say it’s just the past 3 years – since Jamie’s been born – that we’re all comfortable around each other again.

    And you know what? There’s not a damn thing I could have done to change it. THEY were the adults – my step mom and dad. They could have chosen to talk my brother and sister through it, and they didn’t. They fucked up. You can’t blame a 19 year old for acting selfish, especially when it’s spurred by pain and rejection. That’s bullshit, and do not beat yourself up.

    I hope you and your sister are able to build a relationship. I’m so glad that me and mine are friends again. But I’ll be damned if I bear the blame for what’s past. If I could have handled things better, imagine how much better the real adults could have.

  13. thordora November 9, 2007 at 11:10 am #

    I haven’t heard back from her, and part of me thinks her last message was a “leave me alone” one, since she was all like “I need to protect myself and my family”

    sigh.

    Why do I feel like I’m never allowed to protect me?

  14. Marcy November 9, 2007 at 1:35 pm #

    I’m sorry. The whole letting down of defenses and having to put them back up in a hurry is no fun. I still hope you guys keep working at it.

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