An Adoptees Obsession

Gift giving….an Adoptees Obsession

What is it about us and the need to keep trying? Gift giving is like an addiction! Years ago my AM proved every sentimental gift was lost on her. From the expensive framed MUM and DAD pictures made up of hand picked photographs of natural things shaped like the letters. Each middle letter was a heart fashioned from leaves or an etching in sand. I carefully selected frames and to my mind they were gorgeous . Her reaction on receipt. “Hmm too graphic for my taste, can you use them yourself!?” Like how? I was as usual paralyzed by sorrow. I refused to take them back. They’re for Dad too I explained. Her own brother hung them in her kitchen. I guess they liked it at least hey!

Saddened that yet again I’d tried my best and again spectacularly failed. I recall finding many years worth of similar well thought out gifts in a big box ready for either the tip or the charity shop. Often she would give me first dibs 😜 The pain would shoot through my heart like a hot poker. Squeezing my eyes shut to hide the tears that appeared from nowhere…I’m lying…they weren’t from nowhere…they were from deep down, deep within my already broken inner child. That inner child who cried silently almost all of the time. The inner child who had never healed from her earliest subconscious memories of abandonment. The broken soul who still remembers being fed and named by one Mother and handed over to another. All those gifts were me trying. Just trying to recover. To get back what was lost. To be loved unconditionally.

For much of my career I’ve been a writer on the side of my day jobs. I wrote for a local magazine for a while. A column called Dating Perils. Hilarious episodes of my alarming experiences between marriages. The dates from hell that I could somehow spin into comedy . I also had a regular article in a Mother and Baby magazine , chronicles of the reality of miscarriage,early pregnancy through to early motherhood. From stretch marks to baby shit ,from haemorrhoids to one sagging tit..and everything in between!

The year I supported National Adoption Week by raising funds for local adoption charity Families For Children. Bringing together around 28 local traders in my then industry .All selling mother and baby goods in one place. There were traders with prams, clothing reflexology massage, all manner of baby goods. Opened by Mark Tyler, a patron of the charity and a donation of profits . Alongside I was interviewed by Western Morning News . The piece was called “Love is Colourblind”. To highlight that even in transracial adoption love is unconditional. Say no more on that…

Anyway the article was published in time for National Adoption Week as promised and of course I presented the copy to AM. Her only response ” They’ve spelt your surname wrong!?”…they hadn’t..they’d used my then married name and not my maiden name…in reality I thanked my lucky stars for that unintended fuck up…She read it or skimmed most likely, in silence. My warts and all honesty scares her. It was all narc fodder if I’m honest and another fucking undeserved gift of love from a desperate and needy inner child.

You’d think I’d learn but nope..I pressed on..

I’d taken her all the magazines, articles and everything I had ever written …at this point I’d dug them all out to photocopy to gift to my newly found BM . As I felt guilty that my own mother hadn’t seen them I gave her the originals .

Now here’s the contrast. At the risk of comparing people I’m comparing both women’s reactions

My BM rang to say she was reading one a week to savour every word I’d written as it made her feel she was living in my world. Extreme but sweet ♥️

My AM never mentioned them and I actually forgot she’d had them until I next visited. The brutal reminder was when I found the entire pile of magazines etc…in the bin. I didn’t even retrieve them as it hurt so bad. Wish I had now but have to let them go along with so many other pieces of my soul that she’s sullied over the years.

I’ve many other memories of pointless gift giving but won’t bore you. You get the point.

Adoptees have this self destructive force within us that keeps trying over and over. Trying to get that spark of emotional validation. As we run out of confidence to show physical or even verbal affection, due to it not being reciprocated , we put out efforts into gifting. From flowers to wine to sentimental gifts.

During Dad’s illness he lost the ability to shop for gifts from him to her. One awkward Christmas he got her nothing and probably should have shopped online. As you know it’s also my Birthday so an already emotional day was made more uncomfortable. Pots and pans were slammed around in the kitchen. Brothers remained mute and I just wanted to disappear from the scene. From that year on I secretly planned to shop for my Dad for her and did so for her Birthdays, Valentines, Christmas and even Anniversaries. Christmas being the most her anyway. I’d visit boutiques, Christmas markets and put together what I thought to be beautiful gift baskets for him to give to her. I’d label them with love from my Dad. She knew they were from me so they’d make the cardboard box by the New year . It would be funny if it weren’t so fucking tragic!

From the year I decided it wasn’t working I got her Gin. You can’t go wrong with Mother’s ruin. Oh the irony . First bottle with her name on then subsequently didn’t make more effort than a litre of Gordans Dry from Morrisons

By this time my Dad was too sick to care but bizarrely, I still did. And why? Because I was still bloody trying 😂

Gifts from her were usually cash with a list of caviates as to how I was to spend it . On my husband, my family, generally ensuring if I spent it on myself I should feel guilty. I did . She was successful in that . Invariably I’d end up spending it on a food shop or other mundane bills

So now I have a dilemma. Over a year ago she had given me a box of broken jewellery. An excuse to show at least slight interest in my current jewellery making business. She’s literally never mentioned this since . Mostly plastic 1970s gawdy beads not worth fixing.

I came across the box this week and picked through it. Vaguely thinking maybe something could be salvaged from the junk. In the bottom I found a gold locket with a broken chain. I looked closer and saw it engraved on the front with “Loved” Already welling up I recalled how this seemed so alien between me and her for as long as I remember.

All I wanted was to feel truly “Loved” If I’m honest until reunion with my siblings I don’t think I’ve ever known what that really felt like. Up until now this includes pretty much every relationship I’ve ever known

On opening the little locket I’ve found early photographs of both my parents. From a time before the stresses of raising children and forging careers. By now I’m in bits. They did love each other unconditionally. I’m kind of envious of that. There in that moment , in the gloom of my extension come darkened stock room 😉I cried. I cried pretty damn hard. For my beloved Dad. For my Mum and the person she was that sadly I’ve never met. For my parents as a couple who again I rarely glimpsed growing up. I’m crying now, this is a hard reality that I really never knew the loving wife and woman who is lost within my AM. And now it’s too late. I know her behaviours guarantee I’ll never meet her. I’ll never feel I am enough. Never hear she is proud of me or my achievements. I’ll never know that woman who was sentimental and in love enough to cut teeny photos for her locket.

The chain is broken and I can’t fix it exactly as it was myself ,so I’ll get it fixed professionally. I will return it to her. I am unsure she even remembers it . He reaction might surprise me . We will see. Anyway it’s here and she needs it back. I feel guilt that it’s sat her waiting to be mended. Its valuable to her in a way I understand. I’m not giving her a gift, I’m returning it to where it belongs. I would like to think she might bequeath it to me but who knows. I can never second guess her .

Either way I’d like to think getting it back might trigger something akin to real emotion. Even if it manifests itself behind closed doors I hope for her it gives her some healing and some peace.

I am a closed book when I have to be around her , I can no longer share anything deep or with meaning. I’m her daughter , it’s the contract isn’t it. She owns that, but I own me ☺️

Thanks for reading

Black Sheep xxx

Read my book Black Sheep Sweet Dreams Adoption Journal


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