When My Mom Was an Astronaut
November 21, 2014 8:44 PM   Subscribe

Thanks for this amazing find! This is a wonderfully written piece, a gorgeous rollercoaster of emotions and ideas. I really appreciate out of the box concepts like this, because they really open us up to all sorts of insights that you couldn't get any other way.
posted by theartandsound at 9:32 PM on November 21, 2014 [6 favorites]

Be back, hugging kids.
posted by Joe in Australia at 4:28 AM on November 22, 2014

Wow, that story is so familiar to me, up to and including the fact that my birth parent's (in my case birth mother's) name was Smith, which made her pretty hard to track down. I too went through the childhood stage of being really really certain that a given person (who was really unlikely) was my birthmother, and fixating on tiny physical details like the weird fingers.

I knew (as all adoptees do) that "you aren't even my real parents" was the nuclear option. I think I managed to never say it.

I was just talking with my brother the other week (also adopted) about the weird many-worlds feeling you get sometimes. I went on holiday with my birth family for the first time a few months back (to Disneyland. Oh god, she wanted to take her kids all to Disneyland, even though it was 30 years overdue...) and the whole trip felt like I'd quantum tunnelled to one of the other universes where I'd grown up with them.

And sometimes I look at my original birth certificate ( which I was legally allowed to access once I turned 20) and wonder about the me with that other name (first middle and last) and what her life in that other universe was like. Who she ended up being. Not me, I think. Some sort of twin.
posted by lollusc at 5:15 AM on November 22, 2014 [3 favorites]

The flip side of this is the fear. That you're a product of terrible humans or terrible circumstances. I wrote a short story a few years ago where I track down my biological father and find out that he had changed his last name, and it was originally Hitler.

I have also recently found my birth mother, although she passed away a few years ago, and thankfully the story doesn't seem to be especially traumatic -- an ill-timed pregnancy with a man who may have been married at the time. But the strange thing about my biological mother is that, without knowing it, I seemed to be chasing her through history. We worked at one and possibly two of the same newspapers, we went to the same college, I even owned one of her books and a book by one of her husbands without knowing it.

That's the thing that I had not considered in both my biological parent daydreams and nightmares. I had considered that she might be so alien, or her experiences so alien, or so terrible, as to be something I would not want to know. I had not considered that we would be so very much alike.
posted by maxsparber at 5:15 AM on November 22, 2014 [6 favorites]

That was such an amazing piece. Thanks for posting this. I know my mom was quite heartbroken when Peter Jennings passed away - so I often think that I could be his son in another parallel universe.
posted by McMillan's Other Wife at 6:21 AM on November 22, 2014

My secret parallel universe dad was Dan Fogelberg, who was a high school student in the town where I was born, in the year when I was born. It literally only just now occurred to me that...um...you know...he looks nothing like me. Ha! So much for that fantasy. I think growing up adopted (and perhaps especially growing among all adopted siblings) you just don't have a strong association between family resemblance and actual family, you know?

On "real parents." I never deployed that nuclear option because I think on some level I always understood that, a la velveteen rabbit made real through love, my adoptive parents were my real parents. So that just leaves you with "you're not my BIOLOGICAL PARENTS!"...to which the logical response is... yes, and your point is? So the fuck what?

It also literally only just now occurred to me that while I was raised about 120 miles from the hospital where I was born, my adoptive sibs both grew up and live to this day within about 10 mile radius of the hospitals where they were born, in a fairly modest sized metro area. I'd say there's a high probability that they've crossed paths at some point or other with bio relatives and never knew it.
posted by drlith at 7:42 AM on November 22, 2014 [2 favorites]

I don't ever remember admitting the parallel universe hypothesis into wondering about who my biological parents were, and my identification with my adoptive parents is very strong - there's never been any question in my mind who my 'real parents' are, to use the inadvertently pejorative term we all deal with.

However, now that I’m in reunion with my birth mother, I have been reflecting on how adoption has shaped my personality and have sought out an adult-adoptee support group. Granted, these are folks actively interrogating their adopted identity. One question that came up was the extent to which the group members identify strongly with their adopted families as their primary family, as the people and social environment where they feel most at home, where they feel a sense of belonging.

Out of about ten, two of us feel that way. I am one of the two.

It should be noted that the other folks in the group have had adoptive bonding experiences of mixed success, often due to disrupted parenting on the part of the adoptive parents (substance abuse, bad pedagogical practices associated with immediate postwar adoption, economic difficulties, and international adoption seem to be contributing factors).

Now that I am in contact with my birth family, it's totally obvious that I never gave any thought to what it would involve. My adoptive family is fairly cool and restrained in familial interaction and we live far away from one another. This appears to be a pattern that goes back at least 150 years. My birth family all live near to one another and have done so for a well-documented 350 years. So my family psychology is *very* different from theirs.

That said, I'm committed to trying to meet their emotional needs and expectations, as surprised as I was to realize they would have some. Their emotional response has been far more complicated than I anticipated, if I even thought about it at all. I don't know what I was expecting. My reunion search did not stem from a recognized emotional need on my part, but from a possibility of gaining dual citizenship with an EU county, a possibility which did not pan out.

I really owe Bunny a call on this, as it was a casual remark from him here on MeFi that led me to open my reunion search. It strikes me I should point out to him that if his birth mother had Irish citizenship it's possible he may be eligible for an Irish passport, if Ireland's citizenship rules follow the UK and UNCHR CRC model with regard to adoption and birth identity.
posted by mwhybark at 10:54 AM on November 22, 2014 [2 favorites]

Er, EU *country*, missed the edit window.
posted by mwhybark at 12:31 PM on November 22, 2014

« Older The honest alternative to Kickstarter   |   ಠ_ಠ Newer »

This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments