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Awakening Forever - 11. Chapter 11

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Chapter Eleven

I felt blood rush into my head, the veins in my neck constrict and my chest tighten. I suddenly needed air, as if the conference room walls were slowly compressing towards me. My hands started shaking violently and I felt a curious mix of fear and anger. I tried to process what he had said but nothing registered in my brain. It made no sense.

I had had enough. I stood up, fury rising. I was fast losing control and I knew it. I unloaded on Clyde. “Are you crazy? Why would you say something like that? That is the meanest thing you could say to me. My mother is back home in Illinois. And she is definitely not dead!”

Clyde’s face turned ashen white, his eyes betraying his alarm. Sharon watched me closely, but remained oddly unmoved by my emotional explosion. She probably had witnessed more than her share of angry outbursts in that conference room over the years and she was prepared for it, even if Clyde seemed totally uncertain how to proceed. As I shifted my flashing eyes back and forth between them, waiting for an explanation, Sharon looked at me with compassion and love, and maybe a touch of sorrow, realizing I had been hurt by Clyde’s statement. I don’t think either of them had anticipated such a reaction from me.

“Jack,” she said softly, “Of course your mother is still alive. I spoke to her briefly myself last week when we were tracking you down. Try to calm down, baby. No one wants to be mean to you or hurt you, I promise.” Her compassionate voice possessed such warmth and kindness and, as I stared into her eyes, the shock and residual adrenaline faded away. My hands stopped shaking and I collapsed back into my chair, the fight gone.

Sharon looked sternly at Clyde as if to say, “Fix this, mister.” He cleared his throat, looked once more at her and found the courage to try again.

He shifted in his seat. “Jack, my apologies. That was not kind of me. I should have started differently. I know your mother is alive and well. I don’t mean to be confusing or hostile. But Jack, let me ask you a question. Were you not adopted as a baby?”

And with his question, there came an almost audible click in my brain as everything fell into place and started to make sense. Sort of.

Yes, it was true I had been adopted as a baby. This was not news. I had known since I was five years old, if not earlier. My mother had been told she could never have children so, after three years of marriage, she and my father agreed to try adoption. Less than a year later, they brought me home, a perfectly normal two month old baby boy. To their shock and amazement, a couple of months later, my mother was pregnant with my brother Terry. There were no other surprises after him.

I don’t think Terry liked the idea I was adopted. As we got older, I think he came to think maybe I wasn’t his real brother, especially since our relationship deteriorated into nothing. Which of course was due more to his behavior and violence than our mismatched genetics, but he would never perceive such things without help.

Being adopted had never been an issue for me. In fact, I had worn it like a badge of honor when I was younger, until I offended half the third grade with my arrogance. Apparently telling nine year olds you are special because you were chosen, while their parents had been stuck with whatever they got, was not the way to make friends. But that was how I saw it at the time.

Later, as I grew up, it ceased to even be a thought. It really had no bearing on my life whatsoever. Occasionally I would hear about a celebrity searching for their long lost birth parents but it never intrigued me enough to care. To be honest, I think I had just assumed they were dead. I never dreamed they would reappear in my life.

My next thought was of my mother–my adoptive mother. My real mother. I suddenly feared for her, knowing she would feel threatened by this revelation. Imperfect as she was, she had always been my mother. And she deserved her place in my heart. Not some stranger I knew nothing about and who had never done anything for me. No wonder I got angry. She didn’t deserve this.

On the other hand, Clyde and Sharon had gone to a lot of trouble to bring me to Denver to reveal this news. I didn’t want to be disrespectful, so I supposed I should hear them out, even if I wasn’t particularly interested. Or was I? I’ll confess, my sudden curiosity was more of a shock to me than anything else.

I looked up. They were waiting patiently on the other side of the table, stealing apprehensive glances at each other. I took a deep breath and said, “Yes, Clyde, it’s true. I was adopted. So...are you saying you believe Amanda Franklin was my birth mother? I think that’s the right term.” My voice sounded stronger than I felt on the inside but I was recovering.

“Yes, Jack. I believe she was. I can only imagine how this must be a real shock to you. And I’m very sorry you had to find out about her in this way. As much as I have wanted to meet you, I have been dreading this conversation.” His voice trailed off, unsure of how to continue. I shared his discomfort but also felt his true kindness. I believed he really did not intend to hurt me. Mounting curiosity muted the remaining warning bells in my mind.

Instead, my head started to fill up with many questions about Amanda. Who was she? What was she like? How did she live her life? Why did she give me up for adoption? Now that she was dead, I assumed I would never know the answers. I had no sense of any emotional connection to her, but maybe Clyde, or perhaps Sharon, did. I think Clyde had even called her a family friend. I realized this conversation was more difficult for him than it was for me. I never knew Amanda, so I had no sense of loss, but Clyde had lost his friend.

“Can you tell me a little about her, Clyde?” I asked, more for him than to satisfy my own curiosity. He needed to talk about her and had waited a long time to do so.

Clyde cleared his throat. “Yes, of course. Amanda was first and foremost my friend, long before she became my client. She and her husband, Phillip, were longtime good friends with my wife, Shirley, and me. We spent a lot of time together: dinners and golf at the club, ski weekends, concerts, theater. The usual. The girls would go shopping on weekends a lot. I knew them for more than twenty years and I miss them both very much. Phillip was probably my best friend.” His eyes went a little misty as he talked.

He told me the story of meeting Amanda for the first time, how head over heels in love his friend Phillip had been. Clyde was asked to stand up in their wedding, and his wife Shirley, a real estate agent, helped Amanda and Phillip locate their dream home in the hills just outside of Denver. Phillip and Clyde were avid golfers and, together with two other guys were a frequent foursome at the country club they both belonged to. Being Denver, golf was not exactly a year round sport so, when the weather was good, they played as often as they could.

I interrupted him at one point to ask the unspoken question. “Was Phillip Franklin my birth father?”

Clyde looked pained at the question and he looked over to Sharon again, perhaps for direction on how to answer.

She gave him a look. “Go ahead, tell him the truth,” she said. He sighed and looked across to me.

“No, Jack. Phillip was not your birth father. As far as I know, he never knew anything about you. None of us did, you see. Amanda never told anyone she had had a child, not until about four months before she died. By then, Phillip had been dead for nearly two years. She and Phillip never had children. To be honest, Jack, I don’t know who your birth father was, or is, or if he is alive now or not.”

My heart started racing. I had a father. Was he still alive? If so, could I find him? Would he be shocked? Would he want to know me? Would he love me?

Copyright © 2017 Jack Schaeffer; All Rights Reserved.
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My heart broke for Jack in this chapter. What HSE went through with his 'family'. Sharon is a woman I would I've to be friends with but wouldn't dare cross

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He knew he was adopted, but gets all angry when someone tells him who his birth mother is? 

I am not buying that he reacts like this to defend his 'mother'.

Or even because he effectively forgot he was adopted.

Growing up with this pathetic excuses of a mother and brother he would have remembered himself every day that somewhere out there are his real parents (and siblings)...

 

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On 6/9/2017 at 3:03 PM, Freerider said:

 

He knew he was adopted, but gets all angry when someone tells him who his birth mother is? 

I am not buying that he reacts like this to defend his 'mother'.

Or even because he effectively forgot he was adopted.

Growing up with this pathetic excuses of a mother and brother he would have remembered himself every day that somewhere out there are his real parents (and siblings)...

 

Were you adopted as a baby/child? Just curious. I was, and it can be a little weird at times. Believe it or not, the family you know (as awful as it can be) is still preferable for many than a fantasy birth family. I now know my birth parents, and while my adoptive family was no picnic, the birth family was (and is) a disaster. I'm slowly building a relationship with my birth father (he's now almost 80). He's pretty cool, but there are hints of a not nice guy lurking under the surface - qualities he freely acknowledges. So it's a mixed bag. Not always rationale, for sure.

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As a parent of two adopted children (who were very young infants at the time) I can tell you that they both have very mixed feelings about their birth parents.  Neither of them has tried to make contact with them because I think they are somewhat terrified to find out about that part of themselves and they are both well over thirty years old.   My daughter is especially protective of her relationship with her "real" mom who adopted her and has made that very clear to her daughter, my granddaughter who at fourteen is somewhat curious about her mom's birth mother....

 

The line:  "Apparently telling nine year olds you are special because you were chosen, while their parents had been stuck with whatever they got, was not the way to make friends"  rings absolutely true as I was informed by my son when he was in Cub Scouts....

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7 hours ago, Daddydavek said:

The line:  "Apparently telling nine year olds you are special because you were chosen, while their parents had been stuck with whatever they got, was not the way to make friends"  rings absolutely true as I was informed by my son when he was in Cub Scouts....

Thank goodness I'm not the only one. At that age, there is a sense of being "special" in a good way. Later it can morph into something else. For me, finding my birth parents AFTER both my adoptive parents passed away was the right sequence. I wasn't caught between two people. And having my birth father sort of in my life is very much like getting a second chance.

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I appreciate your comments, but I get the feeling that my point is not coming across. He is growing up in a family where he is NOT loved. No feeling special, etc...

So this family that he does not know will probably be a preferable alternative. In the mind of a little boy, needing to feel loved, won't he hold on to the thought of this alternative family? 

Even if he doesn't, I can not see him getting to the point where he 'forgets' being adopted.

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On 6/11/2017 at 7:02 AM, Daddydavek said:

As a parent of two adopted children (who were very young infants at the time) I can tell you that they both have very mixed feelings about their birth parents.  Neither of them has tried to make contact with them because I think they are somewhat terrified to find out about that part of themselves and they are both well over thirty years old.   My daughter is especially protective of her relationship with her "real" mom who adopted her and has made that very clear to her daughter, my granddaughter who at fourteen is somewhat curious about her mom's birth mother....

 

The line:  "Apparently telling nine year olds you are special because you were chosen, while their parents had been stuck with whatever they got, was not the way to make friends"  rings absolutely true as I was informed by my son when he was in Cub Scouts....

It sounds like your children are being loved! :2thumbs:

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3 hours ago, Freerider said:

I appreciate your comments, but I get the feeling that my point is not coming across. He is growing up in a family where he is NOT loved. No feeling special, etc...

So this family that he does not know will probably be a preferable alternative. In the mind of a little boy, needing to feel loved, won't he hold on to the thought of this alternative family? 

Even if he doesn't, I can not see him getting to the point where he 'forgets' being adopted.

I don't know what it's like for someone who knew their birth parents early on, then were adopted elsewhere, but when you have NEVER had any contact with the birth parents, there is no family to long for or wish to be a part of. It's not real. You can fantasize, and I know in my life when my adoptive parents divorced (very ugly) when I was like eight, I longed to be somewhere else - anywhere else. I always knew I was adopted, but it was never an option. Even when I was older and on my own, much like Jack is in the story, I mostly assumedmy birth parents were dead. I don't know why, I just did. I also never felt like I fit in with my adoptive family - I was very different in many ways. But it's all I knew. As children we can only work with what we have - we are at the mercy of the parents life deals us. Only later can we discover "family" can be a choice.

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13 hours ago, Freerider said:

I appreciate your comments, but I get the feeling that my point is not coming across. He is growing up in a family where he is NOT loved. No feeling special, etc...

So this family that he does not know will probably be a preferable alternative. In the mind of a little boy, needing to feel loved, won't he hold on to the thought of this alternative family? 

Even if he doesn't, I can not see him getting to the point where he 'forgets' being adopted.

Maybe a close correlation mentally would be people that stay in relationships that they realize are damaging or destined to fail because it is the reality they have created and accepted for their life. Without any other reference point children that grow up as natural offspring to abusive or neglectful parents continue to have difficult emotional attachments to their families rather than cutting all ties and walking off to find their bliss as adults. In my experience friends that were adopted have much more turbulent emotional reaction to family - be it adopted, birth, or created - because it seems to be far more of a conscious, ever-present thought than it is for those of us that lived all our lives with our birth families.

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19 hours ago, Jack Schaeffer said:

I don't know what it's like for someone who knew their birth parents early on, then were adopted elsewhere, but when you have NEVER had any contact with the birth parents, there is no family to long for or wish to be a part of. It's not real. You can fantasize, and I know in my life when my adoptive parents divorced (very ugly) when I was like eight, I longed to be somewhere else - anywhere else. I always knew I was adopted, but it was never an option. Even when I was older and on my own, much like Jack is in the story, I mostly assumedmy birth parents were dead. I don't know why, I just did. I also never felt like I fit in with my adoptive family - I was very different in many ways. But it's all I knew. As children we can only work with what we have - we are at the mercy of the parents life deals us. Only later can we discover "family" can be a choice.

 

9 hours ago, phoenix_0826 said:

Maybe a close correlation mentally would be people that stay in relationships that they realize are damaging or destined to fail because it is the reality they have created and accepted for their life. Without any other reference point children that grow up as natural offspring to abusive or neglectful parents continue to have difficult emotional attachments to their families rather than cutting all ties and walking off to find their bliss as adults. In my experience friends that were adopted have much more turbulent emotional reaction to family - be it adopted, birth, or created - because it seems to be far more of a conscious, ever-present thought than it is for those of us that lived all our lives with our birth families.

 

Good explanations, thanks!

I am beginning to see where he is coming from and why his reaction is the way it is.

 

 

 

 

 

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16 hours ago, phoenix_0826 said:

Maybe a close correlation mentally would be people that stay in relationships that they realize are damaging or destined to fail because it is the reality they have created and accepted for their life. Without any other reference point children that grow up as natural offspring to abusive or neglectful parents continue to have difficult emotional attachments to their families rather than cutting all ties and walking off to find their bliss as adults. In my experience friends that were adopted have much more turbulent emotional reaction to family - be it adopted, birth, or created - because it seems to be far more of a conscious, ever-present thought than it is for those of us that lived all our lives with our birth families.

Totally agree with your assessment about struggling with connection to family. Family is a much more fluid concept to someone who was adopted, even if they were adopted in a totally loving and supportive home. The rules are different - the game is changed for us, in a way. It's a challenge to trust and make "permanent" connections, because people can always choose to reject us and walk away.

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21 minutes ago, Jack Schaeffer said:

Totally agree with your assessment about struggling with connection to family. Family is a much more fluid concept to someone who was adopted, even if they were adopted in a totally loving and supportive home. The rules are different - the game is changed for us, in a way. It's a challenge to trust and make "permanent" connections, because people can always choose to reject us and walk away.

This is almost word for word the way a friend of mine explained her feeling toward family and even friendships. She has a wonderful, massive adopted family yet she always feels as if those connections with other people can be blown away at any moment. She had been living with her partner for over ten years before she finally married him (and that was only to get him onto her health insurance without financial penalty!)

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I don't know much about adoptive family dynamics, but there's an old saying "better the devil you know than the devil you don't."

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