Wednesday, April 28, 2010

I started an account. It's free for the first 14 days. I want to find out where bio-dad's family is from. Am I half Mexican? Half Peruvian? Half Guatemalan? So far, I'm not finding much. Except I did find a phone number. The second I saw it, I picked up the phone and dialed the number. I couldn't help myself. It was a Vegas number. I was met on the other end of the line by a seemingly young male voice. I said, "Oh, sorry. I must have the wrong number. I was trying to reach a business." He said, "Okay" and that was that. That sped up my pulse just a little bit.

I can't find any birth records for him or the sister who is closest in age to him. It's possible they weren't born in this country, I guess. I know they grew up here and didn't speak Spanish but their parent's did... so I was thinking they were probably born here (in Colorado to be exact). Although his name is popular, I should know it when I find something. I have bio-dad's date of birth and social security number (thank you, my under cover agent!). That ought to get me pretty far, right? People have stolen identities with less information than that! I just want to trace a damn heritage, that's all.

I don't want to contact bio-dad right now. I don't know what I would be inviting into my life. I already feel a little overwhelmed as it is. Plus, he has a criminal record so I don't know exactly what I'll find. And finding him means finding 4 aunts and a big ole' bio-extended family. It could also mean drama for bio-mom so I'll let it go for now. Maybe revisit the idea in a year. For now, I just want to know, "What am I???" (Keep the smart remarks at bay, huh?)

Friday, April 16, 2010

Wedding Why's

Something I need to keep in mind with all of this drama is that my parents and many other people think of my wedding (and weddings in general) much differently than I do. I don't like weddings, generally speaking. There's just so much excess - over spending, creating tons of garbage. I see so many unsure people getting married because they are caught up in what they "should" do or are just excited about the planning. Plus there's "the show." The showiness, the image, the wedding itself, becomes more than the people involved in it. I know that many times in life, we are part of something bigger than ourselves (no, I'm not suddenly becoming religious, don't worry). It reminds me of Halle Berry's Oscar speech when she said "This moment is so much bigger than me." This is not one of those moments. Our wedding is NOT bigger than Andrew and me. Any idiot can get married... and many do every single day.

I don't view this as a ceremonious occasion. There is no need for ceremony. There is no amount of love or trust or commitment that is missing from our relationship that will suddenly fill our hearts when we say, "I do." I want to get married partially for logical reasons (power of attorney, financial matters are cleaner, fewer issues when we have children, etc). So, why not just have a civil ceremony with just the 2 of us, you ask? Because I'm not a stone-cold bitch. And part of the reason we're getting married is because we want a party (see, I'm not a bitch, I just like to party!). Andrew and I have been together for 10 years. 10 years! Why not celebrate just that? We've seen couples meet each other, date, get married, have kids, fight, then divorce in the time that we have just been "dating." I think I'd like to celebrate the fact that we've not only come this far, but also the fact that we've found someone who makes us happier than anyone else... and who puts up with our respective shit. People celebrate new jobs or new apartments or graduations. So, why not this? It's kind of a big deal!

So considering I view of our wedding as basically a 10-year anniversary party, it would be helpful to keep in mind that my parents, and Andrew's parents, and most everyone else view it as something different. Something ceremonious or a milestone or an achievement. Although that frustrates me, there is not much I can do about it other than organize an event and a ceremony around our ideal, hoping that everyone else "gets it."

The reason all this frustrates me is because some people clearly view our relationship as something less than relationships of the espoused. And I don't mean just grandmas or conservatives or religious folk. People our age too, who (seem to) think like us. Someone told us once right after we said we were getting married that we seemed "different" and even gave us a bit of advice... about something we already knew. This was someone our age who had been married for half the time we've been together, but because of that "marriage" status, was clearly more enlightened than us. It's not us who are different, it's others who are viewing us differently. I've also gotten from my mother in the past (maybe 5+ years ago) the advice that I should make Andrew commit and marry me because he could just up and leave me at any moment and I have invested a lot in the relationship. Uhhh, divorces aren't THAT difficult, mom. Yeah, it's a little bit more arduous than just breaking up with a boy/girlfriend... but commitment is a state of being. It comes from us, not some unseen force emanating from a marriage license. If I was worrying all the time that Andrew might leave me, that is good reason to BREAK UP with him, not rush to the altar! Who wants to live in fear like that? And once we're married, I certainly won't think, "I've got him tied down now!" nor will I feel tied down myself.

I need to keep all of this in mind because when I'm talking to parental units and many others about the wedding and any situation surrounding it, I could be talking about something completely different than they are. My question is - is there any absolute truth here? Is the truth that our wedding is just a simple celebration? Or is the truth that our wedding is a ceremonious milestone in our lives? Now, I'm not talking about the outlook on weddings in general. The truth is in the eye of the beholder there. But because this is OUR wedding, something much more specific, can't the true nature of it become what Andrew and I make of it? And what others perceive it to be is irrelevant? My problem is, while I can tell people that, I have trouble getting them to FEEL that way about it. For example, my mom telling me, "That day is for us" when talking about her not wanting bio-mom to be there... she's thinking of a different wedding, not mine. I don't know how to effectively communicate that to her.

My dad said something else to me that was pretty annoying. We've been talking about wedding stuff for a while now (obviously). And we met with a florist to get quotes. I feel spending money on flowers is dumb. They just get thrown away. One or two bouquets is fine, but to spends THOUSANDS? No thanks. But I do think flowers are beautiful. To solve this conundrum I found some awesome paper and fabric flowers that I can easily make, then donate after the wedding to live on forever in a hospital or nursing home. And fabric flowers are pretty "me" because I sew. I told my parents this a while back. My dad told me on the phone this week, "Look, about the flowers... we want you to go ahead and get real ones. We want it to be nice. Don't worry about the cost, we'll pay for it." No, I'm not ignoring his generosity. I've always been thankful for it. The problem is and has always been that they use money and "stuff" to show their love or to simply show off. They like name-brand things and live with lots of knick-knacks that are (apparently) big name, collectible china and crystal, and all that blah blah, yuckity yuckity, barf-o-rama bullshit. That's not me. So, my internal dialogue when he told me about the flowers was, "it won't be 'nice' if I make fabric ones?"
What's wrong with these?

Or these?

Or these?

Nothing, right? Except now I'm thinking that I will disappoint him if I make my 'not nice' flowers or he'll be embarrassed by them. Jeez, why is it that no matter how old we are, we still feel like little children when it comes to dealing with our parents? I hate that. I must say though, I'm glad to be dealing with stupid little things like flowers rather than the other issue at hand. I would trade 100 issues like this for that 1 big one.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Another Update

I'm beginning to look like an iPhone app with all the updates here.

I talked to my dad. He had the nerve to say, "You know we would do anything for you." I said, "Not anything..."

I asked him if he really thinks my mom can get through my wedding - a weekend wedding with several events, mind you - and not have that be a worse scenario than just meeting her first and getting it over with. He said, "Honestly, I don't know. But I think so." Sometime during the conversation he also mentioned, "Let's just tell mom that [bio-mom] isn't coming. Then she can just come and mom won't have to worry about it." Oh yeah. Great idea. Let's lie some more as a reaction to other lies. Plus I'll be uncomfortable, bio-mom will be uncomfortable, all my friends who know about her and have met her will be uncomfortable, just to appease 1 person who is being unreasonable. Why didn't I think of that? Brilliant!

Needless to say, I did not respond positively to that. I asked him to please promise me he would try one more time. In a couple of weeks say to her, "You know, maybe we should just meet [bio-mom] before the wedding to prevent any weirdness. It can't hurt." He said he would, but he studdered for a moment. I don't know if he'll do it. He mentioned again, "She's just still upset that [bio-mom] contacted you like that. She wrote me a letter when you were younger saying, 'If you've told her about me, this is how to reach me and if you haven't, I won't bother you.' I still have it. I can find it and send it to you." My response to him was the same as it was before, "Well if we're going to sit in judgment of her for that, then we'd have to equally sit in judgment of you for not telling me like you should have." And no one thinks anymore that you will NEVER tell your child that s/he is adopted. It just didn't occur to bio-mom.

I spoke to my sister last night too. She thinks my mom is just using bio-mom as a scape-goat. She doesn't want to blame herself for any of this. She says she's not strong enough to face the conflict and have some real self-reflection and look at her own mistakes. And she can't be mad at my dad about it, because he just does whatever she wants, so no ammo there. And there's no reason to be mad at me about it. So, that leaves bio-mom to channel all of her anger and upset at. My sister thinks like my mom and behaves like her sometimes so it's good to get her perspective.


Last night I told bio-mom about the discussion with my mom. I didn't give her ALL the gorey details. But she got the jist. She didn't seem that thrilled with the outcome. Neither am I the more I think about it. Bio-mom says she doesn't want to upset my mom and if that means not going to the wedding, then she won't go. But she'll leave it up to me to tell her whether or not she should go. Honestly, my mom is VERY good at pretending things don't exist. She hasn't spoken to her father in many many years. He sends birthday and Christmas cards. She won't acknowledge them or call him. I don't know why. She probably has a good reason... but she refuses to deal with whatever conflict there is there. I have a brother with a dark, nasty past. She doesn't talk about him. She has a grandchild that was put up for adoption - a baby my sister had when she was about 20 or so. I don't know if she ever thinks about that.

I'm not dumb enough to assume that just because she doesn't talk about things, she doesn't think about these things. She might. I'm sure she has plenty in the past and maybe now she's done dwelling on it/being depressed over it. But sill, she is an enigma. I cannot relate to her, the way she responds to life's challenges. Not one bit. Bio-mom said she can't see how she can be at the wedding without my mom thinking about it the entire time and wondering who she is. I'm not really sure. Maybe my mom can and wants to do that. It's a possibility. I decided I will talk to my dad about it today. I don't always trust his judgment or agree with his decision making but he is the closest person in the world to my mom. There's plenty of value in that!

So, I'm a little upset at this point that now bio-mom feels uncomfortable and I didn't get the outcome that I feel is best for everyone. And I think that she can trust my judgment for once. At this point I'm catering to my mom... still. She has had her way for 30 years of my life. She was in control of my reality for 30 years! And bio-mom's reality too because I would have looked for her and gotten to know her sooner if I had the chance. Don't you think enough is enough now? She had all that time, took it at the expense of what I would have wanted. Her time is up.

Clearly I'm beginning to question the, "Who am I to ask my mom to change?" motto. I'm her daughter, that's who. Supposedly a very important person in her life, right? And we're talking about my life as an adult. It's so easy to fall back into the child role with parents. But I can't anymore. I have made adjustments for them, done things I didn't want to do. I never spoke about difficult things going on with my brother and sister because they didn't want me to. I lied for them as a young child ("My brother moved away"). I still lie and cover things up for them because it will make them uncomfortable if people know the truth. Now she can do something difficult for me. I'm going to give it another try - get her to suck it up and meet bio-mom. I'm not sure how yet, but I'll figure it out. I am 100% certain that once she meets her there will be a weight lifted. Things will be easier.

This is a very good example of my reasons why I don't like to talk about my feelings. Because I often go through this process: gut reaction > question it > change my mind > feel uneasy about that > go back to my gut reaction. If I just work through this process on my own, I won't look so wishy-washy to everyone. But oh well. I guess I'll just have take my own advice and "suck it up."

Monday, April 12, 2010


I'm getting some feedback on the post below from my most trusted advisor (Andrew). He thinks that maybe I should tell my mom some of the things I've said here but have not said to her. That I should let her know I'm disappointed. After all, how long can this go on, her just pretending bio-mom doesn't exist? And my response to Andrew, "You know... this is why I'm pro-choice. Sometimes abortion can be the best for everyone."

Relax, it's a joke! I'm not being morbid or self-loathing.

Okay, I'm not entirely kidding either.

A Conclusion

I finally spoke to my mom about this "inviting bio-mom to the wedding" fiasco. It took a bit of time. My dad's passive aggressive, ("How important is it for you to have her at the wedding?") phone call came the week before I was leaving on a 10-day trip, during which they were watching my dogs. And I just didn't want to deal with the bullshit. I wanted to go on my vacation, enjoy it, come back, get caught up on school work, pretend to be "normal" (whatever that is) for a week, and then deal with it. So, my time was up. I sucked it up, closed my office door this afternoon, ignored the pressure in my chest and shortness of breath and made the call. My first thoughts:
Wow, I'm really nervous. Is there a doctor in the house? CRAP! Chapman doesn't have an MD program. Maybe I should have waited to call. A Ph.D. in Accounting is the wrong kinda doctor - he can't help me with an anxiety attack! Too late. She answered.

C - Hi mom, it's me.

M - HIIIIIIGH! What number is this you're calling from?
I remembered that I was calling from my office phone. She doesn't have that number programmed into her cell. I can't help but wonder if she would have answered if she knew it was me. 60% of me thinks yes, she would have answered my call. Maybe that makes me a bad person for not giving her more credit. But oh well. You see them from my point of view... walk a mile in my shoes and then we'll have a good discussion about it.

Anyway, right off the bat I'm a little saddened. She copes with things so poorly. She did stay on the phone with me, didn't try to change the subject, and we came to a resolution. I'm happy about that. But there was some small talk at first (she's not dumb, she knew what was coming). And she was giving me such a phony voice. It was her, "I'm going to pretend like everything's hunkie doorie and I don't have a care in the world" persona melded with this Avon-lady, phony pleasantness... the pitch of her voice was WAY too high. Now, don't get me wrong here. I appreciate that she's trying to be pleasant even though she anticipates an unpleasant discussion coming on. I imagine it's for a few reasons - it's just her habit, she doesn't like to be up-front and face things head on, plus she is trying to be pleasant FOR ME. But the thing is, I feel bad FOR HER! I don't want her to feel like she needs to put up some phony front. That's just so exhausting. And honestly, it makes me feel like I'm some random person on the street that she needs to try to create an image for rather than her daughter who knows her relatively well.

So, I chat with this phony cheerful voice on my receiver for a few minutes. Small talk. She asks how wedding planning is coming. Blah blah blah. My dad is in the car with her. They are running errands. Then I just say it:
C - We also need to talk about the issue of [bio-mom] at the wedding.

M - [silence]

C - I spoke with dad and he asked how bad I want [bio-mom] there. It's not that I want her there SO badly. But I already told you that I did want to invite her and her daughter. And I feel that dad's question was his way of saying, "We don't want her there." So, if that's it, just tell me and then we can talk about that.
I'm not going to defend my choice to invite her. I'm just not. I feel like it should be obvious why I want her there. It makes me feel isolated and stupid that they can't think of 1 reason why I would want to invite her. Even if they were to think of a reason and it's not the right one, at least they would be trying! I just want to cry out, "Why can't you understand my point of view? I have worked very hard to understand yours! Why can't you give me that same courtesy?" (I feel the same way about political conservatives... but that's a different blog.) Not to mention that I don't want to seem overly defensive of bio-mom. She is not on some list: "10 People Who Must be at My Wedding or I Will Not Walk Down the Aisle." She is not some shining beacon of guiding light in my life. I just want her there for the same reason I want other friends there. And I don't think I need to defend it. So, I won't. If they have a specific question about it, I will answer it.

So my mom responds to what I said:
M - [crying] Christina, it's just very hard for me. Whenever I think about her being there, it really upsets me. That day is for us [don't know if she just meant her and my dad or "us" meaning Andrew, me and parents... it's not important].

C - Which part is upsetting? Just her being there? Her being in my life at all? Because I hope you know, I don't think of her as a mom. I want to be able to address any issues you have and hear what you're thinking.

M - I know you can't think of her as a mom. I had all those years, she didn't and she can't ever get those back. It's just facing her. I'm still upset that she contacted you the way she did. I feel like she broke a promise to me. I'm upset [or maybe she said "mad"] at her for that. I took care of you and loved you and then she broke a promise to me by contacting you. I feel she went about it the wrong way.

C - Well Mom, she did write you guys a letter when I was a teenager and she could have interrupted our lives when I was little and she didn't.

M - I know.

C - I don't like the way I found out either. But it could be said that you guys did things the wrong way too by not telling me.

M - That's true.

C - You guys did what you did
and you had your reasons. It's over, I can't change it now - I can let it go. So why can't we just say the same for her? I don't know how you felt over the years. And we
[saying "we" to keep it in the 'I'm on your side' tone] don't know how she felt over the years. We can just chalk it up to that. If I can not be mad at you guys, then you can not be mad at her.
What I really wanted to say was, "WHAT? YOU are still mad at HER? Dad had a phone conversation with an emotional, 16-year old, pregnant girl, telling her "It's okay. Give us your child. We'll tell her about you when the time is right." And that's all that the teary-eyed teenager had to cling to over the years. Oh, but wait. You don't know about that. Because Dad spoke to her behind your back so as not to cause you any stress. You guys have created your own mess. Now fucking deal with it! Not to mention that you yourself have admitted, 'Yes, Christina - I knew you would want to know about her and meet her.' That clearly indicates that you knew what I wanted and you still did the exact opposite of that. And not just when I was little. Not just when I was a wild, crazy teenager. For 11 years when I was a stable adult too! How does that play into the 'What's best for you' argument? I have never been an emotional wreck of a person. I don't have a life that teeters on the edge of some dark path. There was NO logical reason to not tell me I was adopted. There were only the emotional ones. You say, 'We did what was best for you,' but it just so happens that what you felt was best for me, was also best for you. Admit it! I know you love me but you were selfish too! And I completely forgive you for that! Do you not value that at all? Are my efforts completely unnoticed? You're really mad at bio-mom for telling me something that I would have wanted to know? Yeah, maybe she was a bit selfish in reaching out to me as well. But you want to be upset at her for atrocities that you will easily dismiss when it's you who commits them? You will stand with your, 'Don't judge me' button on your lapel while sitting in judgment of her? This is NUTS!

I don't say this stuff. Because I don't want to be emotional and thoughtless. And what good would it do anyway? But I think I did an okay job of being clear about where I stood. I was proud of myself for being calm. I wasn't pacing in my office. I wasn't on the verge of tears. I wasn't feeling like my heart was going to pound out of my chest. I'm getting better. And to answer the question, "Why are you so stressed out when you talk to her about this?" It's because I'm so afraid of upsetting her. I've been conditioned to not upset her at all by my father. Plus it's a lot of work not getting emotional - saying what I want to say, but doing so calmly and not using harsh language like, "fuck off" can be tough. Or not bringing up crap from the past and saying something like, "Well, you lied about x, y & z over the years so how can I trust you now?" That stuff does little to promote real dialogue and I don't want to go there.

This is how the conversation ended:
M - I just can't face her. Not yet. I'm too upset over it still.

C - That's fine. I won't blame you for that. But if it's just sitting with her and meeting her that's difficult for you, what about this.... there's going to be plenty of people at the wedding you don't know. What if I just invite her and her daughter anyway and maybe they'll come. They will blend in with the rest of the crowd and you don't have to even acknowledge it. There won't be any difference in the course events whether she is there or not so you'll never know the difference. What about that?

M - [short pause] I think that could be fine.
So basically, what I did here was say, "Alright mom. You like sticking your head in the sand. Who am I to demand you pull it out? Let's just call it what it is and go with it." And that's that. So, I'll talk to bio-mom tonight on the phone and let her know about the situation. I'm sure it will make her feel a bit uncomfortable. Like me, she doesn't like ignoring the pink elephant in the room. She feels it's best to talk about it and get it over with. But my mom likes to play the pretend game. Whatever. I'm a little frustrated that I'm going to have to play this game with my mom for the rest of my life. What happens when Andrew & I have children? They will know bio-mom and they will know who she is to me. But will I have to tell them, "Now, let's not tell grandma that you know about bio-grandma because it will hurt her feelings"?? I cringe at the thought. I guess I'll just cross that bridge when I come to it.