I turn 35 in a little under one month. The funny thing is, I don't feel at all like an adult. I've heard tons of other people my age say the same thing, but in my case I think it's because I lost my innocence at a very early age and have always felt the way I do now.
It probably started when I was 5 years old when my parents thought I was old enough to understand what being adopted meant. What they said: some other woman carried me in her tummy, but then they rushed to find me as soon as I was born. What I heard: wah, wah, wah - kind of like Charlie Brown in school.
My mother (the one that I grew up with) continued with this type of talk for many years after this - going so far as to say I was so cruel to leave her as a fetus (!) only to have to have her fly all the way to Kansas to get me back. What kind of parent talks about adoption in this way? Not any other adoptive parent I've ever met.
My brother, three and half years older than me, was told about his adoption at the same time. Not because we were adopted as brother and sister, but because it was time to tell him about his adoption and I guess while they were at it, my parents figured they may as well get mine over with too. Gotta love multi-tasking the difficult parenting topics.
I guess my brother must have figured out at some point in the next couple of years that this meant that I wasn't really his blood relative. This spelled nothing but trouble for me.
It appeared as if, in his mind, not being a blood relative was an open invitation to start molesting me.
I don't really remember how it started, probably something along the lines of "I'll show you mine if you show me yours". You know, normal stuff. I was probably around 7 or 8 years old. But, somehow, it turned into something so awful. It got to the point where he got our best friend (a girl) involved and he was molesting us both. I'm pretty sure I didn't lose my virginity to him, but I did lose my chance at a fairly normal childhood.
This went on until I was 13 years old. Not once did I tell my parents, they never believed me when I said anything anyway. They always took my brother's side. So, why would this be any different - that's what I thought at the time anyway. Also, I guess in some weird way, I thought all brother-sister relationships were like this since I didn't know any different.
At some point during the 8th grade, I must have told another friend a small amount of what was happening (it was either that or, she figured it out on her own). I'm pretty sure that if I did tell her I would have begged her to keep it a secret, since at that age I knew it was wrong. At that point I didn't want my parents finding out because my brother was also violent, and I knew he would have made my life even more miserable if they were to find out and confront him with anything. Unfortunately, my friend told her mother who told someone at school. When the school called my parents in to talk to them about it, their response to them was that I was lying. They even took me to a shrink to find out why I would lie about such a thing. I didn't say a word to the shrink. Why bother, was my opinion. To my knowledge, my parents never asked my brother about it, probably because they were so convinced of my lie that they didn't want to upset him with it.
A few months after I got married, I got the courage up to tell my new husband all about what went on between me and my brother. He was furious! A few years later he brought it up to my mother, and again my mother said I was lying. She said that my brother had admitted to doing it with our best friend, but swore up and down he had never done anything to me. As far as I know, my mother went to her grave believing him and not me.
When deciding when to have children of my own, I always had this nagging fear that I never told my husband about. When I was pregnant with my first, I was sad to find out that it was a boy. I was so afraid that if I had then gone on to have another baby that turned out to be a girl, that the same thing would happen to her. It terrified me.
It terrified me so much that when I finally did get pregnant with my second child I did not want to find out what I was having before it was born. In my mind, if I didn't know beforehand I wouldn't have to worry about it until the kid was born. Shockingly, this way of thinking only kind of worked. However, I was so relieved when the baby was born and turned out to be a boy. Now, I know that doesn't mean nothing can ever happen to him - I'm not that naive. But, I do hope that it means it will be far less likely than if I had had a girl.
Now, whenever people ask me whether I'm going to try for a girl, I always joke and refer to the snip. But, deep down I think to myself "No way! I don't want that girl to go through what I went through."
I haven't spoken to my brother since I was 13. And, as you can imagine, I don't really ever talk about him. But, I said something yesterday at dinner about my brother - even though it was just yesterday, I can't remember what it was about - but it prompted my oldest son to say "I didn't know you have a brother". Oops. I guess I either should've told him sooner or kept my mouth shut. I managed to brush it off and told him and my other son that my brother was not a very nice person and that they would never meet him.
But this leads to an even bigger question - what do I tell him (and eventually his brother) about why I my brother isn't a very nice person? And, when will he be old enough to understand adoption so I can tell him that I have three half-sisters I only met when I was 30? I hate that I have this past I can't really be open about with my kids. It feels like a secret I never wanted to have to keep.