Regret is probably one of the most ruthless of emotions. It serves no purpose. It is completely unlike grief in that it feels horrible, but is not necessary for healing. Actually, it’s the opposite of healing. It is hurting with no end.  Completely useless until you overcome it.

I have never felt such gut deep anger, sorrow, frustration…This regret is a cold place in my belly. A cold, cold block of ice in the pit of my stomach. It chokes me. There our nights, when the kids are in bed, and the house is quiet, I am suffocated by this regret. I cannot distract it by crying babies, or drown it out by loud music…it lives and grows and festers.

I know that this feeling is no good for me, but I am not strong enough to see the good in the face of the bad.

I wrote that back in April. Almost seven months ago. Back when I still had hope. I am hopeful for many things, but not for a relationship with my adoptive family anymore.

I spent a lot of years hating my mom. She wasn’t always a very nice person. She could be down right nasty and cruel to people.  And when she didn’t like someone, she really didn’t like them. My adoptive mother was one of those people.

Suffice to say, I felt a huge amount of guilt for things that my mother had said and done to my adoptive mother. I felt like I had to rectify her mistakes. Plus, this method had an added benefit to my emotional trauma. Hating my mother allowed me to forget how much I missed her. Hate is so much easier than hurt.

So off I went with my hate campaign. Plying my adoptive mother with more negativity about my birth mother than she could come up with on a Saturday night with all her girlfriends and their horror in-law stories. Some of it was the truth and needed to be said — my adoptive mother had never had anyone from my family acknowledge the hurt she experienced at the hands of her in-laws. For that I’m glad. I wanted healing so badly for my adoptive mother. Maybe for my own selfish reasons. Because if she could heal her hurts, she’d be a better mother to her four kids and…me. So I talked myself blue, about all the terrible things my mother had done, my grandmother still did…even acknowledging the wrongs my adoptive father made in their relationship.

My adoptive mother began to open up, our relationship solidified, as dysfunctional as it was, and I never dreamed about my mother. To this day, I have never had a dream about her. At the time, I was so proud of this fact. Yet secretly, betrayed, again. Leaving me wasn’t enough — she couldn’t visit me in my dreams either.

I’m not sure where I kept the grief…because it seems to be bursting out of me now. I look at my daughter and I miss my mom. I bake cookies, and I think of the first time I baked cookies with my mom. I feel lonely, home all day with the kids, and I wish she was here. I just fuckin’ miss her. Yet I had all those years to grieve her, and I never really did.

When my mother died, my heart/soul/sprit — all of it, broke. There was a giant whole inside of me that I was so desperate to fill. I imagine that this is where people go wrong, where they turn to alcohol or drugs. Or in my case — food. I did that a lot, too, but I also had a whole complete family I could place in that vacant place in my heart. Everything I ever wanted. Two normal parents, siblings…

I wish that had worked. I wish that family meant as much to them as it does to me.

I wonder sometimes, how often do adoptions go bad? It doesn’t seem like a likely occurence. Families are an accident — you have no say in who your mother, father, brother, sister is. They just are. But not when you’re adopted. Someone makes a choice when an adoption occurs.

In my case, I was adopted as an adult. I so desperately wanted to be a real member of the family, I would have done anything. I even paid the exorbitant cost myself. But looking back at everything that has happened I wonder at the motives behind giving me what I wanted. They had nothing to lose by giving me this, not even the $7000 it cost. I’m sure the five million dollars that came along with making me their daughter had nothing to do with it. And the old adage, ‘Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.’ comes to mind. I might have been fooled a few more times than twice, but I’m learning…

With the money all gone, and the going getting tough, you see what people are really made of. With all the extra fluff stripped away, I was left with a bunch of people who have no idea how to be a family. I gave it my all to pull us together, I really did, but I can’t make people who believe they’re never wrong understand how easy it is to choose to be happy instead of right. How can you teach empathy? Understanding? I’m not sure it’s possible.

I had no more money to give them, my husband and I had moved into our own home so we weren’t convenient to call for help with their computer problems or paperwork and we were a 20 minutes drive away to visit. Of course that was too much trouble so I became the one that wasn’t worth the effort. How did I not see how self-centered they were all these years?

But I can’t turn back the clocks. And I have to accept the damage that is already done. Past the emotional hurt, I discovered another type of hurt the day I got a letter from the Ministry of Records.

I lost my birth certificate and had to replace it. To do so I had to fill out an application form that asked me about my parents’ information. A few months later, I got a call from the Ministry saying that I hadn’t completed the application correctly and until I did I wouldn’t receive my new birth certificate. I hung up the phone with trembling fingers, my heart pounding in my ears. We were driving at the time and I remember looking over at my husband and feeling like I couldn’t take a full breath.

My mother, the one who raised me as a single mother in an indo-Canadian community that shunned women like her, the same woman who had considered an abortion but hadn’t gone through with it, the very same woman who had possibly conceived me as a result of being raped… had been erased.

My birth was no longer credited to her love, dedication…effort to bring me into this world.

Oh no, I existed not because of her, but because of two people who thought that a young girl like me didn’t need to have all the money that was left to me. Who threw all of it away because they were greedy and selfish and lacked an iota of business sense. Who loved me only so long as I could do something for them. These were the people that my new birth certificate would say are, mother and father.

A birth certificate is nothing but a piece of paper, but their names: Do. Not. Belong.

Even though I have moved on or try my best to move on (some days are harder than others), still to this day, thinking of that birth certificate makes me want to hurl. I don’t think I’ve ever looked at it again since it arrived.

It’s cliche, but true — time heals everything. The regret has faded a lot… I still feel guilt at times. Guilt for being such a fool and falling for the illusion of a family. It’s why I write about my experiences. I feel like if I purge it, if I have no secrets — even the ones I’m ashamed of, that somehow they’re no longer mine. That I’m letting them float away into the universe for God to hear and be the judge of what I am and am not.

In the meantime, I write, I make art and I love the ones who love me in return.

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  1. May 10, 2015 at 9:37 pm Rainstorm Red-Smith

    You write with such bitter sweet sorrow, that tells the truth that runs through in your thoughts. Thank you for your truths and the courage to share it with people like me, searching for answers in the truths of other adoptees.
    Best Regards….Rainstorm

  2. Pingback: Brené Brown on Regret - Quotes from Rising Strong - |

  3. May 11, 2016 at 5:21 am Himani Nargotra

    Your story talks about so much pain, yet I do believe that you will have a beautiful life because you have a beautiful soul. Sometimes life presents us a totally unpredictable situation, questions that have no right or wrong answers. Adoption is a hard fact of life. Those who experience it know how tough this choice can be. Its tough for the birth mother and the adopted child as well. But as I mother I know, no mother wants her child to suffer. Yet, sometimes they can’t give their love and affection as well.

    • June 25, 2016 at 12:00 pm Syd

      Thanks for your comment 🙂

  4. Pingback: The selfless birthmother… And other adoption crap. – The Girl with Regrets

  5. May 14, 2018 at 7:19 am Randy

    I’m writing because I need to release a feeling that I’ve kept inside for too long. My ex-wife and I adoped two sibling boys at ages 4 & 6, we also had two biological children and one other adopted daughter.. Everything was fine until the oldest turned 14, at which time he began failing school. I need to say that I had primary custody and I have always stayed on my children about their grades. His attitude towards me immediately changed and he requested that he be allowed to move to my ex’s house and attend school near her, promising to do better. I allowed this in hopes that he would actually change. Two weeks later, he call and informs me that he will never come back to my house and didn’t consider me to be his father any more because I am too strict. I informed him that running from his obligations wouldn’t change my ability to apply discipline if he continued to do poorly in school. Long story short, after taking his cell phone, his chance to get his driving permit and finally my buying him a vehicle at age 16(all due to him refusing to apply himself in school, which he was admittedly doing because “he didn’t want to be told what to do”). Two years later and he had stolen $200 from me,( I filed charges) run away from my ex, stolen a pistol from her, stolen her debit card and run off to another state for four days and emptied her debit card, used and sold marijuana. He was charged with the debit card theft and that very night, stole three guns from my ex and settled a debt to a known drug dealer that he had become involved with. He was put into a youth facility for two months and then spent four months in a drug rehab facility. He moved out of my ex’s house the day after his 18th birthday because as he said, he is now a “grown ass man”. Now his younger brother has requested to move to my ex’s house because she is “more lenient”. He has stated that he has no respect for me and doesn’t care about me in any way. I know that I may get “judged” for my next statement, but to be honest, I can’t help how I feel. I’m ready for him to get out of my house. I told him, just like I told his brother, that ” I would rather both of them never talk or see me again as long as they straighten out their life and make something of themselves”. I feel that I and my ex have done our very best to teach them right from wrong, and now they have to make their own decisions as to how they use what we’ve taught them. I feel numb to the whole situation. I feel totally disrespected and to be honest, unappreciated. Enough said, let the comments begin.

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