My adoptive father died in Roswell Park Cancer Hospital in 1982. At age 67. At that point, I was in a reunion with my natural father, 4 older siblings, 2 step brothers, 2 step sisters, a younger half brother, lots of aunts, uncles and cousins. The reunion began in 1974, when I was 18 and still in high school. By the time Dad died, we had 8 years of reunion behind us. Unlike most of his family, Dad was not only apologetic for lying to me, but he readily accepted my natural family back into my life. He spoke with my natural father with joy in his eyes and voice and a smile on his face. My two fathers had mutual respect for one another.
I had been worn thin, not much time to devote to all of those people, plus, resolving my internal identity struggles, plus coping with anger and rage I felt at the entire adoption system, not to mention the constant bickering I faced from relatives and strangers who didn’t approve of my reunion or my activism. I barely scratched the surface to develop relationships with the key people in my life and reshape relationships with my adoptive parents. I was just a kid myself. I had no guidance, no real support systems to carry me through the adoption stress. I sent away for ALMA (Adoptees Liberty Movement Association) newsletters, joined a local adoption support group in 1976, attended my first adoption conference in 1980, and began writing about adoption in 1975 in newspapers.
When my adoptive father died of brain cancer in 1982, I lost my Daddy. I was raised an only child. I wasn’t living at home when he died, so Mom drove by herself to the funeral home. I drove myself there on the day we buried him.
As I stepped out of my car in the funeral home’s parking lot, I was dry-heaving, choking at saying goodbye to Daddy.
One of my adoptive cousins, DA, waddled her fat body up to me and snorted, “You OPENLY declare you have two fathers, therefore, you must not love this father. Your other cousins and I don’t want you here.”
I don’t recall if I said anything to her. All I remember is feeling shocked that this fat thing I shared a childhood with could be so cruel to me. And,who were those other cousins who hated me so much? They never identified themselves.
I sat next to my adoptive mother, feeling unwanted.
My natural father stayed away as he held in his own grief; funerals were tough for him. He buried his wife of 10 years, my mother, three months after she gave birth to me in 1956. He died in 2011. Three months later, my adoptive mother died.
And, for the record – my natural father IS/WAS my father, and my adoptive father IS/WAS my father, too. Just because certain people can’t understand my reality, does not give them power over me. Go to hell DA!
My hope for all adoptees is that you can feel love for two mothers and for two fathers, and step parents, too, if you have them. Don’t listen to the cruel remarks of ignorant souls who don’t know your feelings, your life, or your truths.