From whence we came, and how it ain’t the same

I think a lot about the pre-adoption experience and how it so permanently affected and formed my brothers and I.

ist2_2206982-birds-in-a-cageMy older brother, Dulce, and I came from the same orphanage and spent our first 3-4 months in the bins, those hopeful, isolated little “waiting rooms”. But my other brother, Lemon Pledge, came from a convent where he’d been dropped off at birth and reveled for his first several months in far too much attention. Dulce and I had little human interaction in those oh-so-important first months (I took early Childhood Development 101, I studied this) and as a result we were both really sensitive and insecure, yet independent and adventurous. Lemon Pledge had dozens of “mothers” who, according to legend, fought over who got to feed and hold him, and when we got him he was pretty much obese and this was alarming to the family pediatrician.

ist2_786886-where-s-the-loveFor LP there was never enough maternal love and as a child he would delight in his tireless and endlessly running joke, “I am the favorite, I should have been an only child.” which might have been funny were it not true. That LP came with health problems earned him the Invisible Sympathy Protection Order and so he could say mean things to us and cheat at Monopoly with full sanction. Those of us outside that invisible fence could not even decline a game of Monopoly and, being ordered to play, would indifferently move shoes and thimbles around the board and simply yawn as LP, always the Banker per Executive Order, won every game with a little help from another of his selves, Mr. Embezzlement.

But still I loved LP and spent far more than I should or could on him at birthdays and Christmas, and one year even handed over my $500 cash bonus from work because money meant so much for him and because I too, always felt sorry for him. Didn’t matter that I was always short, always in debt to myself via credit cards, always struggling to pay rent and bills, and that he always hoarded and had a huge stash and lived rent-free at the parents’ house (where Dulce and I were only welcome for weekends regardless of dire need, not having that ISPO) until the taunts of his friends spurred him to get his own place in his 30’s.

Maybe I thought I could earn extra love credit by joining in the worshiping of poor LP. As an adult I realize that my parents felt sorry for him and I don’t envy being the object of that – twistedly it makes me feel even more sorry for him, but a child does not understand this; a child can only really see the Most-Favored-Nation status, the Diplomatic Immunity that allowed him to say mean things and cheat at Monopoly, where we’d have been punished for that same behavior and knew better than to try. And a child does not know better than to envy this.

ist2_5539348-sad-faceI can see more clearly now, I can see how that status, that sympathy, must have actually been severely damaging. I think he was more fucked up than we were, as a result. To grow up knowing people feel sorry for you and as such are treated differently; to grow up as the object of pity – well, that must have hurt and demeaned. Maybe that’s why a hugely debt-ridden (due to a bad accident without health insurance), struggling girl would hand over a desperately-needed pile of cash to a completely non-struggling, rent-free living, cash hoarder. I don’t know. I am still trying to figure myself out as well and I am well aware, and have always been so painfully aware, of how ‘bad’ I am.

He was touched by the note in the envelope and had to leave the room. But now, maybe a decade later, I wish I had that money. Now that he has appropriated my half of the money left to us by our grandparents with the words, “I was the good one, I stayed” because I’d moved a few hours away for work and yet still came home nearly every weekend and used numerous vacation days to watch my mother as they went on also-much-needed vacations, now I regret that generous gesture which was so much more than a gesture for me given my own financial need.

ist2_4415349-money-bagI think to him the money was about achieving a respected status because he does not have another arena in which to amass so much, save for his very holiness; I think it is about having that proof that he was the favorite, because one mother was not nearly enough for the little child who initially had, and lost (and loss is excruciatingly painful) dozens of adoring “mothers”; I think I am paying for that very brief period of stealing that limelight with my most-exalted status as washer, changer, feeder and just-be-there person. For, when my mother was dying he was suddenly working 60 hour weeks, an avoidance tactic likely born of desperation, likely born of immense love, and one which I thought would come back to bite him – not knowing I’d be the one bitten.

And I think I am paying for his guilt for that one time he watched her as we went out for a quick bite and he could not bring himself to change her. Those minutes must have ticked away so slowly and terrifyingly in his conscience and he must have felt real crazy pain and embarassment when we walked back in the door to find her sitting in a soiled diaper which had clearly been soiled some time ago. I think that’s when I lost my inheritance to him. I think at that moment I knew I’d soon be banished forever, for I had a feeling of dread and premonition that was so intense that perhaps only Raymond Carver could put it to words and explain the intricacy of it’s origin. And I don’t feel angry any more. I feel very, very sorry for him.

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Explore posts in the same categories: A shaky family support system, adopted family relations, Being adopted, Feeling isolated, Fitting into your adopted family, Rivals for adopted mother love

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