Does my medical history explain my problems?


Does my medical history explain my problems?


your avatar   Alix

I was adopted at birth. I have some information on my birth mother, but limited information on medical and nationality background. I know I have two half sisters and that I was the product of an affair. I have always wanted to connect with my birth family but also don't want to unearth any pain for her and I highly understand privacy issues.

I have suffered with addiction on and off for years. I was diagnosed with ADHD two years ago and am currently going through a divorce and I have three delightful kids. I have also been involved for almost two years in an affair with a married sheriff SGT. I have many questions and do have some insight on hereditary issues. The addiction and ADHD I know are linked. Please let me know how I can research this further. I'm not sure what backround info. you need from me exactly but I'll do my best. There was no history of cancer or heart problems, my nationality is Irish, Welsh and Dutch. My half sisters were approximately 2-6 years, they were blond haired and brown eyed, my Mom was blond and blue. Not at all my likeness, however.

As of yet, none of my children seem to be ADD or ADHD. I had doubts about my oldest daughter being ADD because she seems distracted or hyper-focused much of the time at home. However this entire school year she has turned on a light, is overflowing with high self esteem, has made the honor roll each semester and has made all stars in soccer and softball! My other two are equal achievers.

As far as my education goes I attended private schools all my life Carlthorp in Santa Monica for elem. The Brentwood Academy and Marrymount for Jr. High and I attended Pacific Palisades High . However I didn't graduate, I attended SMC. while still in high school. Later I took classes at UCLA, Glendale Community, and the past two years at UCSB with only two units left to get my certification in drug and alcohol counseling. I have been sending for my transcripts so I can either qualify for my high school diploma or take the GED.

As a child I didn't exhibit any form of disruptive behavior, wasn't hyperactive, and was a decent student , achieving honor roll status at Brentwood School . I started drug use in 7th grade with smoking pot and drinking on occasion. In High School I tried several things no more than two or three times such as reds, qualudes, tuinal, mushrooms, LSD once and angel dust once. I smoked pot a lot and fell in love with cocaine in 1981. I used it often at friends and became addicted to it by 1982 and quit cold turkey when I met my future husband in that same year. I never went back to it.

Then after I married in 1985 I was introduced to Methamphetamines by a brother-in-law and cousin of my husband. Several of his family members used-- both brothers, several cousins and my step brother's wife too. We lived within a mile of each other and it was readily available because they dealt it. My husband didn't use drugs at all although he did do 'meth' in tablet form on a few occasions prior to our marriage. He never knew I used for 4 years and at the end I was using up to a gram a day. His grandfather was an alcoholic and his dad, one of 5 boys, is an alcoholic, and two other brothers are too. The oldest of them is not and owns a treatment center bearing our last name in the San Gabriel Valley. In the following generation , in my husband's immediate family, two of four kids are drug addicts. My husband lucked out as did the oldest (a girl) and she is mentally disabled. Each of my former father-in-law's brothers has kids and one or more has dealt with alcohol and/or drug addiction. How is this for case in point on hereditary proof!

I am currently going through a divorce, and have been separated since Aug. 1997. We dealt with major drama over my addiction once he discovered drugs in a drawer. Our marriage was nothing to rave about from the start, but addiction didn't help I surely know! In part I numbed the pain and I fixed a disorder I didn't know I had. Meth didn't seem to effect me the same as it would others I used with. I actually engaged myself in finishing things that I hadn't in the past. As any good addict would, I got to a point of spinning wheels and lack of sleep. It worked great in small doses for a long time, though.

Today I take 20mg of Ritalin a day and it works for me. Also as typical of addict behavior I have relapsed a few times even on a recently with all the knowledge I have. When I first relapsed while living here, going through a nasty court custody trial due to a positive drug test, I went to see a sheriff I had become acquainted with for help. I wanted to be tested randomly, and needed to be called to do so. Any way this helped me to stay clean in LA back in 1995 and it was my idea. So I blazed a trail through my friend's office and told him my dilemma. Ultimately he didn't do the testing, the court now allows my ex-husband to test me anytime he chooses.

Now here is a question for hereditary issues: I have been having an affair with this Sheriff SGT. for almost two years now. Like mother like daughter?! It still blows my mind that the cop and the addict got together but I love and trust him with my heart and life! He's a perfect motivation to be clean too! There has been a lot of huge drama scenarios both with my husband and also in my relationship with my secret love.

About my adoptive family: When I was born we lived in Pacific Palisades. My mother had taught school prior to my birth and my father worked for Aero Space Corp. He's an expert electrical engineer. In the 1950's he and my mother briefly lived in New York when my dad worked in television broadcasting. He was then moved to California for his work. After receiving his security clearance he found himself at the famous Skunk Works Plant in Burbank, Ca. where the U2 spy plane was being designed in the highest of secrecy. His job was to design a electromagnetic receiving system to fit into the planes cockpit. The crew was sent to the good old 'DOESN'T EXIST' military base in Nevada, AKA Area 51. This base was conceived for the purpose of the U2's project. The CIA had all clearances to the project, and thus started my fathers working for the CIA. Over the early years of my youth I didn't know what my father did exactly. He spent a lot of time at the Pentagon in Washington, and later when he worked on spy satellites that gave us the resources during the cold war, he would fly to Hawaii to retrieve film that was ejected from the satellites into the ocean back in those days. You might say he had an interesting life!

My parents divorced when I was 8, and my mother and I continued to live in the Palisades until she remarried when I was 17. Then we moved to Brentwood. My parents had owned two apartment buildings that my mother managed, so after the divorce she took one and as the years went by she acquired a huge industrial complex in San Diego. She was very successful in real estate and continues to be. She and my step dad live in Rancho Mirage today, My father and step mom are in San Luis Obispo. My parent's ages now are dad, 83 mom 71. If you wanted to know why I was adopted it was because my mother had a tubular pregnancy that led to a hysterectomy.

My relationship with my parents is like this: I have really never been close to my father. We get along fine and I speak often with him. My kids and I are going to Hawaii with he and my step mom this Tuesday for a week. My dad never did the 'kid' thing very well. You might say he was not able to relate intellectually with me. He is no doubt the smartest man I know and I suppose I have felt at times that I have let him down especially in the education dept. You see, in his family, my grandfather and his only niece were Harvard grads. Barbara got her MBA when I was in 9th grade. I guess my dad may have expected me to follow as well being he made sure my college was paid for before I knew what college was!

Any way mom and I were much closer, I can tell her anything even though she may totally disagree. She is a very strong, independent force to be reckoned with. She has taught me by example that women can and should be independent. She (as well as my dad) is very supportive of me and had been supportive with all my recovery issues. My mother is a very controlling type person and I remember how I felt in my teenage years when she was stressed and yelled a lot. It was like walking on eggshells. Funny, that's how I felt in my marriage. Today she is very involved with my kids, she visits often and is a wonderful fully engaged grandma! She still tells me what to do and its never fast enough for her liking but I've learned tolisten and do things on my time and thank her for the advice.

My questions are, what are the best methods of finding a birth mother? How likely is it that a birth parent would give information on family issues of addiction, ADHD, etc.? How can I get more information on these topics and on adoption in general?


    Kasey Hamner,

Dear Alix,

I was intrigued by your story and I will attempt to address all the issues presented, as there are many. First of all, congratulations on almost completing your alcohol and drug counseling certification. I wish you the best as you help other recovering addicts. In your writing you described many classic signs of an adoptee who was trying to not feel the feelings. You did not clearly mention how you felt about being adopted, but it is my guess that you would have preferred to have had a different hand dealt to you. It is not normal for 7th graders to be so heavily involved with drugs unless there is some inherent sadness that one is attempting to cover up. You have been abandoned by your birthparents, your adoptive parents divorced when you were eight, and your adoptive father emotionally abandons you whenever he makes you feel that you have let him down. Children should not feel that they have let their parents down. Especially not for the reasons you described. Considering these facts, this does not excuse your drug use, but it helps explain the pain surrounding it.

Remember that adoption is predominantly based on secrecy. Unfortunately, you carried this secrecy into your adult life in the way of substance abuse and adultery. You hit the nail on the head when you said, 'like mother, like daughter' in regards to the affair. It is absolutely uncanny how adoptees repeat the same actions of their birthparents, often without even knowing it. Many adoptees act out sexually and may get pregnant out of wedlock and give up their children. The fact that you knew that you were conceived during an affair, and repeated that cycle is interesting to say the least. My opinion on adultery is pretty unforgiving. I do not condone it and do not respect it. However, given your story, and the fact that you are adopted, I can see the attraction. Many adoptees do not want to attach to people, places, or things. Intimacy for adoptees can be a frightening prospect.

On that note, I am puzzled by your description of your adoptive family relationships. One the one hand you say that your were never close with your adoptive father, but in the next sentence you stated that you speak often. Also, in regards to your mother, you stated that you are very close to her, yet you used to 'walk on eggshells' around her and still find her excessively controlling. Your marriage was described as 'nothing to rave about'. Having an affair is a sure fire way to ensure that commitment and true intimacy are impossible. It is extremely rare for the adulterer to leave his/her spouse for the 'other man/woman', and it is even rarer for the relationship between adulterers to work following the break up of the marriage. And even though you feel as if you trust and love your 'secret love' with your 'heart and life', I cannot possibly see how. He is cheating on his wife. How can you trust this man to not cheat on you in the future? I am also concerned when you wrote that he is the perfect motivation for you to stay clean. Your health and life should be your motivation for staying clean. Nothing is worthwhile unless you are doing it for yourself.

Now onto the search issue. You stated that you do not want to unearth any pain for your birthmother. My response to that is, search for her anyway. It is your birthright to know where you came from and the specifics of your relinquishment. You need to start looking out for yourself and stop worrying about how other people are going to react. You have suffered with addiction and intimacy issues, and have been diagnosed with ADHD. Having said this, I think that it is imperative that you locate every member of your family. They have the right to know you, and you have the right to know your medical history. Remember, knowledge is power.

Now to your questions:

There is not a perfect way to find your birthmother. If you have her name and birthplace, great. If you have her birthdate, even better. My recommendation is to contact an independent search consultant in your area. They specialize in private searches that remove the frustrating middlemen that are predominant in the closed adoption community. Never give up.

Every parent is different as far as revealing medical information. Some adoptees have to fight for the information while others receive it without any barriers. Again, never give up. Medical history and family/heredity issues are your birthright. Never let anybody convince you otherwise.

I will be releasing my own book soon, my publication date is set for April of 2000. In the book I share my story of closed adoption. I begin at my relinquishment and end with post-reunion. Consider is a case study for the adoption community, from the adoptees perspective. Check out my web site for updates and order information. Also, you can join my mailing list, which is on my web site. As far as my studies go, I am a credentialed School Psychologist and I am currently studying for licensure as a Licensed Educational Psychologist. I work with children from preschool through the 12th grade and enjoy every minute of it.

I recommend that you read, if you have not already done so, "Primal Wound: Understanding the Adopted Child" by Nancy Newton Verrier. It is the best book out there on the affects of adoption on the adoptee. Reading her book prompted me to write my story as a way of illustrating what she describes in her book.

Good Luck.

Kasey Hamner

This question was answered by Kasey Hamner. Kasey Hamner has a Bachelor of Art degree in Psychology, a Masters of Science degree in Counseling, a Pupil Personnel Services Credential authorizing her services as a School Psychologist, and is a Licensed Educational Psychologist. She specializes in adoption related issues including search and reunion, abandonment, self-esteem, substance abuse, depression, and relationship difficulties. Also amongst her specialties are children's issues including adoption, abandonment, ADD, special education and so on. Her approach is eclectic and is adapted to suit the individual's needs.

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