By ANGIE MADDISON
All we knew of my birth mother was typed on a small sheet of paper: Dutch Australian; blue eyes; 5’’3; fair complexion; 18 years old; Catholic.
Her age and religion coupled with the time into which I was born leave no doubt as to why she did not, could not, keep me.
Of the many parenting obstacles that saw my mum and dad stumble, the adoption thing was not one. They managed to make me feel that the way our family had been formed was both completely normal while simultaneously giving me the sense that I was special and so very wanted.
It was not that my birth mother didn’t want me but that she couldn’t give me the life I deserved. The decision to give me up signified that she was a good person. The adored second child in a loving family, I was never plagued with feelings of abandonment (although at around the age of 7, I took pains to point out our genetic mismatch whenever aggrieved – No lollies before dinner time? You’re not my REAL mother!).
It was only as I got older and viewed my adoption through the eyes of others that I began to question it. For a teenager, one is not so much ‘special’ as they are ‘different’ and the things that served to mark me as different became the things that caused embarrassment and shame.
But even as I sought to hide this piece of my history from my peers, it never poisoned how I felt about my birth mother.
I romanticised her. She was much younger and significantly cooler than the woman I called Mum. I was just like her, small and fair. Mum imagined her as a tiny but formidable figure in high heels and shoulder pads (it was, after all, the eighties).