Hi, there I am Fiona I’m an adoptee. I have committed to writing this blog about my experiences for a year. I was adopted at 8 months old after being in two different foster placements and 2 hospital stays. I have my great-niece from the family I was adopted out of on a Special Guardianship Order. Unusual I know but it’s working well.
Do I look like my biological family?
For so long I yearned to look like my brother and sister, no matter what I tried it wasn’t going to make any difference. I just looked different. My teeth were squinted, They both had straight teeth. My eyes were squinted, and no they didn’t have squint eyes, not even bad eyesight! I had thick specs to wear. Just lovely and because my name was Cochrane I got shouted at fairly often ” Hey Coaky Joe” The Scottish banter, you just can’t beat it!
I knew I was different. I knew I was adopted. I so wanted to be like my brother and sister – they were very well behaved in comparison to my behaviour. They were very clever too, which probably had a lot to do with the fact that my Mum and Dad were clever. Our Grandad got a Dux at school in Maths. I wasn’t stupid by a long chalk but could not concentrate in classes and ended up always just being on or below average.
I felt that it was always me sitting in the living room or the kitchen getting my lecture on using common sense, trying harder, doing the right thing, managing my temper and on it went. I often wondered if my big sister was like me. I knew that I had an older sister that had been kept by my Bio Mum. I thought a lot about how much did I look like her? Did she have squint teeth? Did she have squinty eyes? On it went year after year tormenting my own brain with the completely unknown. Making up fantasy meetings and what we would say to each other when we did finally meet.
On a recent zoom meeting with some other adoptees from my group, one of them said this that we imagine when we meet our biological family that it will be like this, their arms flung wide running towards each other and throwing each other around in utter joy. The reality was nothing like that for me. It was fairly awkward, to be honest.
Unfortunately, I can not remember what season of the year it was when we actually met. I was 22 and in such a mess emotionally. I had decided to find my “Mum” to see if that would answer the health issue I had. Thinking also that it would bring some kind of peace to my mind by getting a million answers to the million questions I had. The first thing was to get my birth certificate for clues, like her name, address anything that would help me in my quest to find her.
I went into Somerset House in Edinburgh city centre and was ushered into a room that to me seemed very big and dark. I felt scared at that moment. I knew everything was going to change. My heart was beating hard as the door opened and the guy walked in with the folder or book with my certificate in it. Wow, there it was, I was Helen Kirkpatrick, born to Margaret Kirkpatrick her address was a very small village on the borders of Scotland. No Fathers name – I felt upset about that. It was a picture but not the full picture. The time was up, I was asked politely if I wanted to buy a copy of the certificate. No thank you I said as I floated out the door. My brain was melting.
Getting home from Edinburgh seemed to take forever on the train. My Dad picked me up from the station and drove me home. My mum had wanted to come with me but I insisted on going by myself. Why? I really don’t know. I think I felt it was just mine, my thing for me to do and see. I filled them in with the details of what was on the certificate. My Dad said straight away that he knew the village and it was a forestry commission village maybe my family still lived there. I certainly hoped they were still there.
I was frazzled, my brain was frazzled, my heart was hurting I was feeling deep sorrow for what had never been. I vividly remember being in tears for this woman who had given up her baby for some reason. It was never something even with the insight that I managed to understand.
I spent the evening talking to my Mum and Dad about the details in the birth certificate and about how we all felt about being on the brink of finding out where I came from. Or more so who I came from.
I went to bed thinking all sorts of things. I was feeling scared, feeling excited, I wondered what my Mum and Dad were feeling. They were happy to support me in finding my bio Mum. But how were they really feeling? Looking back now from a place of having someone else’s child in my care, they must have been feeling very afraid that they were about to lose their little girl.
Thank you for reading my blogging journey so far. Next Monday I will be sharing more on meeting bio family.