Wednesday, June 22, 2011

25 Years of Deception I

Painting by Alice Neel
              What is your stand on the truth? Do you think it is useless if all it can cause is pain? Or are you of the opinion that stark honesty is best - whatever the costs? After twenty-five years of digging around in the family closet, I’ve finally found the proverbial skeleton that I felt was there all along.

               I am adopted.

           When I was  a little girl I would sit in front of the mirror and try to discern whose features I had acquired. My (very) Filipino nose was certainly my mother’s, I thought. My cheekbones were hers as well. My eyes I could never place. They didn’t look like my mother’s eyes. They weren’t my father’s, either. I didn’t resemble him at all, really. But my suspicion that I was adopted didn’t stem from not looking like him. It didn’t  come from not looking like my siblings either because my brothers and I actually share some physical similarities. How is that possible, you wonder? It’s possible because we share 12.5% of our DNA.

            We are first cousins.

            As I was growing up my family would take trips to the Philippines – for vacation or if someone in the family died – and I would have these sporadic chances to spend time with my relatives. There were some people I wouldn’t readily admit a blood relation to, some cousins, some relatives by marriage… and then there were my mother’s two sisters. One of them looks like a chubby version of her. They look so alike, that when rifling through old photo albums, I would constantly get them confused with each other. Can you sense where this is going?

           Looking back on those trips now, I remember that everyone (family, neighbors, and village idiots alike) kind of looked at me oddly. My mother’s family is from a very small town where everyone knows each other’s business and the older you are and the longer you’ve lived there, the more of your neighbor’s business you know. I don’t know exactly what it was in there eyes that I detected, but I knew (even at eight years old) that it was something. Pity?

            ‘The poor dear, she has no idea.’

             I don’t know. But there was something in the way they looked at me that made me think they knew something I didn’t. Knew something about me that I didn’t. Can you imagine that?

            Years went by and the thought took a backseat to more pressing pubescent  concerns – boys, acne, Brad Renfro. But I would always be reminded of it when my mother would scold me for anything I had done wrong. She would say things that sounded so odd and non-sequitur to me that stand out in my mind to this day. If my father and I had a disagreement, she would say,

             “You should be thankful to your father for giving you your last name.”

            And I would think,

           'Well isn’t that generally what fathers do?' 

           Why did she have to point that out as if it were significant? Because it was.

            Aside from weird slips like that, hints were few and far between.

              Then my father died. 

          I was ripped from all that was familiar to me, disconnected from every tenuos connection I had managed to make, and transplanted to the Philippines with my mother. Her reason? She did not want to continue living in our house without my father. My brothers were all grown by this time and living away from us. (The youngest was in college in Hawaii at the time.) And so I went.

           We moved into my maternal grandparents' house, next door to the aunt who looks just like my mother. Right next door to the aunt whose sharp tongue all my relatives say I inherited.

             My doubts escalated. 

            (to be continued. I can’t write all of this in one go.)


  1. Deception is a cruel, cruel word, I think. It may even be thankless, for all I know, but it's your life.

    Doing this in installments is a good call.

    I don't think I, of all anonymous people, should say this, and I suppose you have this prepared in a future post somewhere, but really, Katrina -- how are you doing?

  2. *hug* I may not know what it's like to find out being adopted but I know deception very well. It's totally unfair but we really have no choice but to move on, live our lives the best way we know how and make sure that we don't repeat the past.

  3. Families with secrets. We hava a few of our own.

    I guess it's difficult to realize that all you know may be changed by a single realization. I wish you well ma'am. I came to this post late. I wonder when the next part's coming out.

    *tons of warm, cuddly virtual hugs*

  4. @Momel: Nice to see you here again, Momelia. =) First of all, being lied to point blank for your whole life warrants the word deception, I think. But you'll see in future posts that I bear no resentment towards anyone, really.

    The whole installment idea was from YOUR advice, of course you'd think it were a good idea! Hehe

    And I'm totally okay, you're sweet to ask. =)) The surrealness of the whole discovery isn't as intense anymore... I dunno. I'm fine.

  5. @ Nishiboy Hey, you! Thanks for dropping by!

  6. @ the other S.P.

    Short, sweet, and effective. Thank you. =))

  7. @ Jewel

    Hi Jewel! Welcome to my pseudo-drama.. my "rip-off of local soap opera" as Albert puts it.

    Thank you for the virtu-hug. =)) I agree - just live the best way you know how. The past and other people's decisions should have no bearing on the way you want your life to be. You make it what you want.

  8. @ Citybuoy

    Hi citybuoy! It's nice to see you here again. =)

    Yeah, I think every family has some version of the closet skeleton...but the truth is, with this one, I don't feel like anything has changed - not really. I'll write about it soon.

    Thank you for the warm virtual hugs. =)

    Hope you visit again soon, but for goodness sake don't call me 'Ma'am'. =P

  9. hey SP, thank you for following my blog. it is rare to get a SERIOUS blogger who is not trying to promote a product or some other thing. just read this entry and fell in love with the prose, a contradiction really, as your prose has both rhythm and pace and not humdrum or commonplace (technically, prose is defined as that ha ha ha)

    secrets? if there are no secrets, there are no stories. God bless.

  10. Hi Cacho! Thank you for the generous compliments. =) I just noticed this comment now so I'm a little late in replying, but I hope you see it... You take BEAUTIFUL photographs, by the way. (I think some of your photography friends are friends of mine, as well. ;-)

    'If there are no secrets, there are no stories.' I like that. I suppose it's true...

    Thanks for dropping by! I hope to read more of your work and see more of your shots soon. =)

  11. i came for part 2 (write it already!) anyroad, always a pleasure to read, even if it's the 2nd time around. tc SP! =)

  12. Hi KC,
    I just read this post, I have no clue what to say, I'm speechless. But one things for sure, it's beautifully written.

    Can't wait for part 2. Hugs :)