My Birthday as an Adoptee

I’m the weirdo of the adoptee world, but I’m going to say it anyway. I like my birthday. I liked it as a kid, and I still like it as an adult. So far, aging doesn’t bother me. (Ask again in five years, and I may tell you something different!)

As a little kid, I got toys, clothes, and dinner out. I was allowed to choose the venue, within reason. My favorite type of cake was, (and still is), spice cake with caramel icing. Sometimes Mom bought some Duncan Hines mix and a box of Jiffy icing and whipped one up. Sometimes she ordered from a local bakeshop called Barton’s. It was a little mom-and-pop shop, and everything they sold was heavenly. The ladies who worked in there wore white uniforms, hairnets and gave kids free cookies.

My adoptive family did such a great job of celebrating the day I was born, that the only people I felt bad for were people whose birthday hit super-close to Christmas. Now that was a rip-off, as we used to say.

As an adult, I know more. I am mature and educated. It’s not all about parties, cake and gimme! gimme! gimme! (Spice cake is nice though. Not gonna lie.)

In 1987, I searched for my birth family. When I found my biological mother’s birth date in the documents sent to me, I realized that her birth date was only two weeks after mine. This information made me realize that she should have still been pregnant on her birthday, however, since I came six or seven weeks early, by the time her birthday happened, she was two weeks post-partum. Turning 20 must have been awful for her.

While searching, I had time to reflect on how March 23rd could have been one of the worst days of her life, knowing she had to literally part with me many weeks sooner than she was prepared for.

The newspaper from my birth year said heavy rain was expected on March 23rd, and the temperature was about 56 degrees. I picture a now vintage vehicle sloshing down busy streets, carrying my birth mother off to the emergency room at the hospital.

I can only imagine that she possibly left work feeling not right only to realize that the baby was coming. If it was that bad, maybe someone called an ambulance. Perhaps a friend took her to the hospital. Maybe her father or one of her aunties drove. Maybe no one was around who could help, (which was the issue in the first place), and she had to catch a bus downtown all alone while having contractions too soon.

I envision the ER doctor as a young resident working in what today is known as University Hospital, tending to whatever crisis came through the doors, not necessarily a labor and delivery specialist. (I’ve since Googled his name being that it was on my OBC. He’s still living, 87 years old and was a general surgeon; looks like a nice man.) I should write him a letter some day. He did a good job on the 23rd of March.

So while my birthday has always been a positive day for me, (I’m alive and OK in spite of being born early, underweight and in an era when there were fewer resources for even the best medical professionals), it had to be quite rough for my birth mother, who was deceased by the time I found her.

If I had extra money lying around, I would be curious to try hypnosis to see if I could be taken back to that day. I would do it, although it might be painful. I know many things, but I do not have a recorded birth length or time of day. I have no idea if my birth mother was awake or knocked out for delivery. Those details would be nice as well as be normalizing.

One golden piece of information I did find out when I searched for my birth mother is this: She once worked for Barton’s Bakery; that same bakery where my adoptive mom frequented. She probably gave me free cookies. She probably made a birthday cake or two for me, (but wouldn’t have known it). My sister has a photo of her working in that store.

So back to my birthday and how I feel about it. I am aware of many truths, but I am not sad. I have respect for what my birth mother endured, but I do not dread the day. I wish I could have heard her side of the story regarding my birth, but I cannot.

Still, my birthday is my day. I don’t cook. If it’s a workday, my co-workers whoop it up for me. I get sung to, which is embarrassing, but I just wait till it’s the next person’s birthday. I pick which movie we see or be Queen of the TV if we stay home. I sip wine.

Had I not been premature, I should have been born around May 15th, (however I do not have an official would-be due date.) Maybe I would have come on Mothers’ Day. That’s ironic, and I’m kinda glad that did not happen because my birth date would have been a bazillion times worse for my birth mother had that occurred. I’ve never wished her wrong or been mad at her.

Many adoptees associate their birth date with a loss. For me, my birthday is an OK day. Maybe it’s because the day when I joined the world was not the day people assumed I’d be born on. I’m good at catching people off-guard. My day is my own. I came on my own terms. Then, hard working and vigilant professionals kept watch over me in an incubator for a month. I came soon after the first day of spring, and when I was released from the hospital, summer was just around the corner.

I cannot be sad about that.

 

 

 

 

 

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Comments

  • Wendy Beckman  On March 23, 2018 at 2:42 pm

    Fantastic post, Paige!

    Oh, and you’re right about those people who have birthdays close to Christmas. My mother’s birthday, on the 29th, was frequently combined with Christmas, so she always made sure that my January birthday had its own celebration.

  • madebyme4you  On March 26, 2018 at 10:26 pm

    This means so much to me x

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