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My Parents Didn’t Tell Me I was Adopted

Alma Gill | 1/15/2014, 8:51 p.m.
Dear Alma, I’m 48 and single. I’ve had a great life with good friends and loving parents who are both ...

Dear Alma,

I’m 48 and single. I’ve had a great life with good friends and loving parents who are both now deceased. I travel for work, which is why I haven’t settled down, married and had children. Last year, I was home for a family funeral and my cousin asked if we could spend more time together. I said yes, and last month we agreed that I would spend a weekend at her house. She’s married, my age with three teen children. I thought it was a great idea. We grew up together, and it was long overdue for us to catch up. The night before I left her home, my cousin said she wanted to share something with me. She showed me some papers she had found among her own father’s things after he died. These papers prove that I was not my parents’ biological daughter. Her father and my father were brothers. My father has been dead for four years, and my mother for six. I have been walking around in a daze. I was never told that I was adopted. I don’t know who I am. How could my parents hide this from me? I’m so confused I can barely function.

Tina,

Hey now Tina,

Thanks for reaching out to my column. I can’t imagine what it feels like receiving this kind of information, especially after your parents are deceased. Understandably, you want answers and would like to know what happened. I sympathize with you. I know you’re angry, insulted, heartbroken and confused, but please don’t gravitate toward the emptiness of feeling like an orphan. The reality is that you had loving parents. I can’t say whether the decision not to tell you was right or wrong; we don’t know the whole story. But what I can say is your parents evidently thought it was best that you not know. You and I are close in age. We were born in the years of “keep your business to yourself.” That mentality is long gone now. We live in a society where everybody’s business is on Facebook and Twitter all day, every day. My cousin recently posted something from the church pew because she couldn’t wait until the service was over. (Really, Cuz?) It’s sad that discretion no longer has a place in our culture. I’m not defending your parents. I’m simply reminding you of a time when private family matters had their place. If you feel a need to find your biological parents, you should reach out to the Adoptees’ Liberty Movement Association (ALMA). If you decide not, that’s absolutely ok, too. We all have family secrets. Most are carried in deep pockets of guilt and shame. But not all of them were meant to hurt us, which I’m sure is the case in your situation. Hold your head up, sweetie, and recall the wonderful memories you have of your loving parents, who adored you. You know who you are, and you know where you belonged. You were chosen, you were treasured, and you are blessed. Now, please indulge me for a minute. I can’t leave you without touching on the actions of your cousin. Laawd, chile. She was wrong, wrong, bad-to-the-jacked-up-bone wrong and borderline sadistic. It was not her place to make that revelation to you. That was cruel. She horribly overstepped her boundaries, and I’m so sorry her sucker punch will change your life forever. That’s not what your parents or her father, for that matter, would have wanted. Some relatives you need to keep at a distance. She’s one of them.

Alma