My "sister" is my mother
Hello. I am Marylou. I have been diagnosed in the past with severe clinical depression. The drug I am taking this year is 20mg of Prozac. I am a 23 year-old female in a long-term relationship with my boyfriend. I also drive a nice truck and live in a nice house and I like my job, (most of the time) but I am still never happy.
I was adopted by my grandparents and have had a troubled relationship with my biological mother, to whom I refer to as my sister. I have never met my biological father. That man on my birth certificate has always remained at arm’s length from me, even though my biological brothers are living with him. I call my maternal grandmother and maternal step-grandfather, Mom and Dad. Have I got you confused yet?
Growing up? That is not such a quick and short answer. I was a child star in my local community and never had a chance to be a “real” child. I couldn't go swimming during the summer, because I might get a tan line and I had to model during the weekend. I lived out in the middle of nowhere, just outside of town. Nobody's parents wanted to drive all the way out there, and my parents didn't want to drive into town. So I didn't do too much socializing when I was a child.
I have never thought of my biological mother as my mother. She has been and always will be my sister, even though she gave birth to my brothers. My mother told me I was adopted when I was 7 or 8. I remember crying and crying. What hurt was the fact that my mommy and daddy were not who I thought they were. But over the years I have come to learn that they were the best parents they could be. They gave me everything I needed, even though they were possessive and strict. As for my sister, growing up I always defended her. She got pregnant when she was 15 and gave birth to me at 16. She was the youngest of 6 and the only girl. A friend of the family fell in love with her and married her to give me a name. By the time she was 18 she was pregnant with her 3rd child. But that didn't matter to me while I was growing up. I defended her. To my parents, my friends, her friends.
Shortly thereafter she had a breakdown and hurt the youngest boy, who was only 30 days old. Then that youngest boy came to Austin for a spell, and got to meet her. She was too honest with him and told him that he was an unwanted child and the only reason he was here was that she didn't have a ride to the abortion clinic. I went to confront her about what she said to him but she didn't want to be questioned. She throw me out of her home by my hair. We didn't speak for three years. In 1995 she gave birth to her youngest child and he is in foster care now and my parents are once again trying to adopt him. When he was first taken out to the home, I made it a point to tell CPS (Child Protective Services) about her history of child abuse. I had to protect that baby. Not only is he my brother, he is also my nephew and I am his godmother (depending how you look at it.)
Recently, she and her now ex-husband had their parental rights taken away from them and that was the first time I spoke to her. While the hearing was going on, I was outside smoking, and a couple of her friends came out to join me. We were talking and they told me stuff about her that I didn't know. And it was all good! She really has stopped drinking and doing drugs. And she actually talks about me! That is what shocked me! She talks about what a great person I am and what I am up to. She takes out my childhood pictures of the “child star” and shows them off. And that really affected me. I didn't think she thought of me at all.
I have made a GREAT deal of progress all by myself (with a little help from Prozac), since I have been with my current boyfriend. I don't hide in the closets anymore and I answer the door when anyone knocks. But I still can't seem to be “normal”. I want to get into therapy and I know it would help me tons! However, there is a problem, (isn't there always?) I do have health insurance, but I am unable to pay the co-pay on counseling. I have a nice house and truck which are expensive and my boyfriend and I are working our way out of debt, so some weeks I barely have money to eat. But I know I must get help. I know, I think, what is wrong with me. All I need is direction or a new way of thinking. I am unsure what to do. I want to make forward progress and I know I can, I just need a little bit of help.
How can I get better? I want to see rainbows again. I am starting to think they were just a figment of my imagination. Know what I mean? Thank you in advance.
* The following is Kasey Hamner's opinion only. Please take what you want and leave the rest.
In your question you ask me to advise you on whether or not you should get help for your depression. I will tell you that help is out there and you don't necessarily have to pay for it. Have you thought of joining a support group for members of the adoption triad? I am sure there are resources near you since every state and country has a listing of groups and resources. Go to my web site, scroll down to the bottom of the first page and click on RESOURCES and EXCERPTS. Click on the icon for National Adoption Information Clearinghouse. They have nationwide listings that you can access at the touch of a button.
It appears that the Prozac is helping you, in that you are not hiding in closets anymore, but you may still have many unresolved issues. Remember that adoptees deal with abandonment and identity confusion. You may be experiencing abandonment issues surrounding the fact that your biological father is living with your biological brothers. If you truly want a relationship with your father, and do not have one, it is going to hurt. Of course it hurt you to learn that your mother and father were not who you thought they were. Children live in a fantasy at times that their parents are the most perfect and wonderful people in the world, and when they let you down by telling you that they weren't your real parents, it was devastating. You may still be feeling some of that devastation as an adult. The only indication that our circumstances are affecting us as adults is when we act out or have emotional problems. Depression is often a red flag that there are unresolved issues for the adoptee.
I want to address the issue of your mother. Again, I see abandonment written all over this situation. You refer to her as your sister, but don't forget, no matter how the cookie crumbles, she is your mother. I realize that you may never have a mother -daughter relationship with her, but the fact remains that she gave birth to you. It sounds like she was a very irresponsible lady. Having three children by the age of eighteen is about as irresponsible as it gets. She was abusive to your brother, and her youngest child is in foster care. Why did you defend her? What is to defend about abusing a child? It is very typical for adoptees to defend their mothers. Adoptees want to be loved and the love of mother is the most important to an adoptee. Remember, you don't have to defend her anymore. I am glad to hear that you are now defending the appropriate person, your youngest brother. It does not surprise me that she did not want to hear from you when you confronted her about the abuse. Perpetrators generally don't want to hear the truth.
Have you confronted you biological mother about how you felt growing up knowing that she was your mother? Have you told her what it was like for you thinking she was your sister but was then told she was your mother? How does she refer to you? Does she view you as her daughter or sister? That is not normal. I feel that you should discuss all these issues with somebody who understands the intricacies of adoption and then discuss these issues with your biological mother. How about your grandparents, the ones who raised you? Have you been able to talk to them about your feelings? How about your boyfriend? You say you have been in a long term relationship with him. Does he know about all the convolutions in your family?
I am sorry, but I strongly feel that referring to your mother as your sister and thus referring to your brothers as your nephews is unhealthy for all involved. Each family member is related to you in only one way. There is no choice in the matter. Your brothers are your brothers, not your nephews. I get confused just thinking about it. Adoption is plagued with secrecy, and as an adult, you have the power to break through those secrets.
I hope this helps.
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.