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I don’t understand

September 18, 2020

There are a lot of things I understand and a lot of things I don’t understand. I understand how toasters work and fridges and stoves. How radios or televisions or streaming works, not so much. Quantum physics and why anyone would ever vote for the Tangerine Wankmaggot? Not at all.

One thing I don’t understand, something that has, not surprisingly, been on my mind the past several weeks, is why people who were adopted as babies feel some overwhelming need to find out who they “really are”.

If, say, you spent your childhood and adolescence growing up in a comfortable suburban home, lacking for nothing, with two loving parents and four siblings, that is who you are. That is who you really are. Who the hell else would you be? Oh, and by the way, be extremely grateful that you didn’t grow up in the slums of Delhi or a refugee camp.

I know three people who were adopted. (Okay, four now.)

One is an old mate from my days in journalism in London. She was adopted as a baby by a childless couple in their mid-thirties. She absolutely adored both her father and her mother and had no interest whatsoever in the woman who popped her out in a maternity home. As far as she was concerned, she had the only mother she’d ever want or need.

The second is the adopted-as-a-baby daughter of one of my cousins. He and his wife had three children when his wife started to get broody again. He felt they’d already exceeded by one their responsible limit, so adoption was agreed as a compromise. The baby they adopted was mixed race. She grew up in a loving home with an older brother and two sisters, but anyone could tell at a glance that this mixed race child had not been born into this all white family. By the time she was in her late teens, she had a very strong urge to track down her birth parents, to find a relative who looked like her. That I can understand. Unfortunately her quest did not end well. It seems her white teenaged mother had gone to a dance at a US military base and was there raped and impregnated by a black serviceman. She learned this from her maternal grandfather, who agreed to meet her. Her birth mother wanted absolutely nothing to do with her. This has never changed in the intervening years.

Then there’s my Irish friend Paul, also adopted as a baby. He was in his late thirties when, with the full support of his adoptive parents, he decided to attempt to find his birth mother. Another pregnant teenager, she had fallen prey to the infamous Magdalene laundries, the Catholic-run “prisons” for unwed mothers. She was thrilled that Paul had found her. Raised as an only child, Paul suddenly found himself with two sisters and a brother, along with a second mother and a stepfather. The two sets of parents have met and everyone gets on like a house on fire. (What a strange phrase that is. Why would a house on fire ever be a good thing?)

So, one happy ending.

Obviously, I wasn’t adopted. I grew up with my mother, who was abandoned by her lover when she told him she was pregnant. Should I have abandonment issues? Should I want to find this man? After all, I only know half the story of my DNA. Should I be desperate to find out who I “really am”? Why would I be? I know who I am. I am the daughter of strong, fiercely independent Kay Holmes. What could the prick-who-ran-away possibly have to do with me? As I have previously written, I was in my twenties when I discovered that my “father”, who I’d always believed was dead, might very well be alive. Mum had no idea. That was the only time in my life I have ever had any interest in him. I suddenly very much wanted to track the prick down and make him pay. And by “pay” I don’t mean castration. I mean money, something to make up for the years Mum had struggled raising me on her own. It wasn’t until my editor asked me if I thought Mum would thank me for this intrusion that I gave up on the idea. She most definitely would not have thanked me. At that point I lost all the interest I’d ever had in the man.

Is it possible that somewhere out there I have half brothers and sisters by this prick? Yes, I’m sure it’s quite possible. Do I have even the slightest interest in finding out? No, I do not. None whatsoever. In fact that’s another good reason to never take a DNA test. The last thing I want is another complete stranger tracking me down and attempting to lay claim on me.

As I said, I don’t understand. I just don’t get it.

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