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May 9, 2021

Why Adopting A Child Means Total Honesty

Why Adopting A Child Means Total Honesty

Show host Frank Sasso, shares his own personal experience with late discovery adoption.


Are you considering adopting a child? Have you been looking into ways to start a family because pregnancy just is not an option? Is the adoption process something you have already went through?

If the answer is yes, then you might be interested in this information. If you’re adopting, then you will want to do your own research as you make the decision.

You know, adoption is one of the most deeply personal decisions a couple or individual can ever make. In fact, I can’t think of anything more emotionally impactful than to adopt a baby. It is the kind of choice that will forever touch your life, as well as the life of the child.

Show Highlights

  • My personal story – understand why adopting a child is a lifelong responsibility.
  • Understand the importance of telling a child the truth.
  • Gain insight into the emotional development of some children.
  • Useful marriage advice for couples.
  • Learn why it’s crucial to have a long-term plan.

Here are the adoption resources I mentioned during the show:

When to tell a child they are adopted.

Primal Wound – Understanding the Adopted Child

Adopting a Child

Welcome to episode 2 of the Parenting Over 40 Podcast. I’m your host, Frank Sasso. Perhaps, due to infertility complications you cannot have a biological child. It is quite possible you’re a woman with a serious medical condition which makes carrying a baby a potential risk to your health? Maybe, you are a single person out there who just wants to give a child a loving home.  Needless to say there are thousands of same sex couples who yearn to adopt children because they want to start a family. It’s also possible that you’ve already adopted a child and are just looking for a little guidance.

I can’t really know your particular reason for considering adoption. But I do know this. Adopting a child is probably the biggest decision you will ever make.

Before I get into this, I want you to know that I fall on the side of being genuinely pro adoption- so long as it’s done under the right circumstances. I honestly believe it can be a way for many people to start a family, who might have not had the opportunity otherwise. I have a hunch that your heart is in the right place because you’re looking into this option and took the time out of your day to listen to this podcast.

Having said, that, some of the topics I’ll discuss in this episode will be a little graphic. If what I say here is too emotionally too heavy for you, please feel free to click pause and come back to it when you’re ready.

Let also me take a moment to throw in this disclaimer. This podcast is not a replacement for mental health counseling and I’m not you’re therapist.

You know, I created this podcast because I wanted to speak directly to people over 30 out there who want to become parents. I must tell you though this subject of adoption is one that hits really, hits close to home for me.

You see, I have my own adoption story. And it’s a story I rarely ever tell.  If it’s alright with you, I want to share with you my own life experience, so that you will know exactly what not to do if you make the decision to adopt a child. As you are listening to my truth, you may be tempted to think, “What’s this story have to do with adopting a child” If you listen closely, I think you will be able to figure it out. If you are ready, we can jump right in.

Adoption Story

Mentally, when I travel back thru the river of time, I can vaguely recall the first childhood memory of my parents. I remember it being an oppressively muggy day under a very bright Texas blue sky. I think I must have been 4 years old.

The year was 1975. Gerald Ford was the President, and All in the Family was the most popular TV show of the day. Yeah, that’s pretty far back for some of you.

At that age, I had no real conception of time. I remember my parents taking me and my twin brother John, to a Great America theme park, near Houston, Texas. I can still hear the sound of the carousel music in my ears.

For whatever reason, there are no explicit memories of my life from before that day. It’s almost as if parachuted into life at that very second in time and my early childhood memory started on that hot Texas Day.

I can recall being shy and skittish about taking pictures with the theme park characters. You know what I’m talking about, the people who dress up as friendly animals and greet you.

My mother, Diane- looked down at me and said, “It’s okay Frankie”. “We are your mommy and daddy”. “Nothing bad is going to happen to you”. When I looked back up at my mother, I couldn’t help to notice she shared the same physical characteristics as myself. Mommy had light brown hair like me- with dark brown eyes.  Her skin tone was like mine too, kind of olive and tan. I was the spitting image of my mom. I’ll put a picture of her in the show notes, so that you can see the resemblance.

So in that instant, I can distinctly recall thinking to my 4-year-old self, mommy and daddy will protect you from everything. I think it will be okay if I take a picture with the person dressed up as a giant bunny rabbit.

My father on the other hand looked almost nothing like me. I mean sure, he had a arms and legs like me, but that was about it. He was a large man-about 6 feet 2 inches tall – a height I never came close to reaching. Dad, also had bright blue eyes and looked and looked like a real cowboy.

I’m talking full on cowboy hat along with brown leather boots that clicked whenever he walked. The only thing missing were the spurs.

A year later, when I turned 5 years old, I noticed a strange looking tattoo on his left arm. The tattoo was of a ship’s anchor with three stars placed the sides of it.  I looked up at him and curiously asked, “Daddy, Why do you have those three stars on your tattoo?” Dad looked down at me and said in his thick southern accent, “Son, I got this tattoo when you’re mom got pregnant with you and your brother” “The three stars represent you, your twin brother John and your mom”.

[caption id="attachment_4075" align="aligncenter" width="300"]Adopted mother, Diane. My adopted mother Diane.[/caption]

 

Mom would sometimes interrupt whenever I asked about the tattoo. You know how children like to hear the same story over and over again. It made me feel special. So, she would jump in and say to me and my identical twin , “ Yeah, mommy had to have a C-section when you and your brother were born”. “Daddy got that tattoo because blessed us by letting me give birth to you boys”.

Not understanding much about God at that age, I asked back, why did God bless you to give birth?” Mom kneeled down and embraced me and softly said, “ Because I had to have a C-section to give birth and I almost didn’t survive”.

Of course, at 5 years old, I had no clue what pregnancy meant. What the hell was a C-section anyway, right? At that tender age, I just knew that my parents had made a special arrangement with god so that she could give birth to me and my brother.  I knew this to be fact because my mommy told me so.

A few years later, when kindergarten started, I remember being nervous to leave home and play around other children. This wasn’t a usual kind nervousness that a kid experiences when starting school. It was an uneasiness.  Like an electric shock that goes on all day. I didn’t want to leave the safety of my parents, not even for a second.  Mom took us down to that Texas elementary school and produced all the necessary paperwork for enrollment. Our medical information, vaccine records and birth certificate.  The birth certificate had my parents name on it: Ron and Diane Moore.  It even had their ages at the time mom gave birth to us.  Dad was 24 and mom was 27.  I could see that I was born in 1970, at 5:37 in the morning.

Every now and then, my parents would show me the birth certificate and tell me to be proud of my last name. They said the last name Moore comes from a long line of Scottish decent. I’d ask my Mommy, are you Scottish too like Dad? She would say, No, Frankie, I’m Italian-which makes you half of both of us.

I didn’t think much of it at the time, I was just a toddler. But, I was starting to build a narrative about my own life story. About who I was as an individual.

So there we were, this happy little family down in the Lone Star State. And for a while there, life was awesome. My parents would take us on camping trips to exciting places and play make believe games with me and my twin brother. Sometimes when my dad got home from work, he would let us climb up him like a giant tree. Like most little kids, we were giddy whenever Dad goofed around with us. Our family even had a little black and white terrier named bandit. I miss that dog to this day! So, it was the perfect little family, straight out of a children’s storybook.

I can remember my dad seemed to have a special bond with me. He taught me stuff like how to cast a fishing rod and throw a football.

Occasionally, he would randomly just say sort of out of the blue, Son I love you.

I can’t begin to tell you how that warmed my heart as a little boy to hear my father say that to me.  Mom also tried. Every blue moon she would blurt out, You’re so sweet Frankie. I hope you stay that way forever.

It’s weird how little happy moments like that can stick out in your memory. Isn’t it?

For a while there, life was good. I had a loving stable family. I was just this happy kid, -living on cloud 9. I loved my parents and most importantly, I knew they loved me.

Childhood Emotions

Then-somewhere around 1st grade, things rapidly began to change emotionally for me. I cannot put my finger on it, but something was different. I began experiencing a series of behavioral problems at school too. Like out of the nowhere, I had become riddled with anxiety and hypersensitivity to the kids around me.

Inside, I felt as if I was constantly being judged. I could not concentrate on what was going on in class either. At my core, I felt so insecure about myself. As a protective shield for my insecurity, I began talking back to my teachers and getting into trouble.

By the time I got to 2nd grade, teachers had labeled me as a no-good kid, a juvenile delinquent. They would tell me- “You’re a bad boy Frankie, you need to start focusing. Pick up a book and read. “Do we need to call your parents again?”

They never once recommended I see the school counselor. Nope, instead they just wrote me off as a misfit and gave up.

The principal had his own way of correcting my supposed bad behavior. He had this huge wooden paddle hanging on his wall. It even had a 4 inch hole cut out in the middle so it could swing faster thru the air. He proudly called it the board of education. Because we lived in Texas during the 1970s, it was somehow commonplace to bend 2nd graders over a desk and whip them with a wooden paddle as punishment.

Just a shout out to any of you who are for corporal punishment – you know- hitting a kid.  Being whipped by my principal didn’t help the situation. It made things much worse.

At that point, I hated school. It represented a place where I wasn’t understood and completely rejected. So, I grew up automatically thinking that I was this really bad kid. That something deep inside of me was programmed wrong and that I just wasn’t ever going to fit in. Like I said, earlier, this subject of adoption touches awfully close to home for me. I assure you once you hear the rest of my story, you will understand what I mean.

I began to get this intensely strong sensation that my parents strongly disliked having to spend any time with me. It was like they resented the fact that I even existed. Over time, the way they treated me started to change too. Their voice tone was no longer soft and sweet like before. It seemed like I was just a hassle in their lives. I thought, “What happened to my Mommy and Daddy”? “Why do they yell at me so much?” “What did I do to make them not love me as much?”

I could clearly see the world around me too. All of the other kids at school had moms and dads that were excited to see their children. Why was life so different for me? To make matters worse, I was starting to change even more inside. I slowly became more isolated and jealous that the other second graders seemed to fit in so well.

For example, I had this unsettling feeling that I didn’t know myself.  That somehow, I just didn’t fit right into my skin. This is a really hard sensation for me to describe to you because I still have a hard time working through some of those old memories. The best way I can describe it is a feeling that I that I couldn’t be completely emotionally free. Although I did not know the word back then, it was as if it was not okay to feel vulnerable.

So, a few more years passed, and I turned 8 years old. That’s when my parents started having serious marital problems. Like screaming, yelling, punching, call the police kind of marriage problems.

My dad was no longer this nice man I once idolized from just two years before. He wasn’t the same dad who comforted me when I had a nightmare or told me that he loved me. As for my mother- she had turned into someone I didn’t recognize. She transformed into this high octane, explosive bundle of nerves who was constantly screaming. Yea, she was right there on the edge!

Somewhere along the way their marriage deteriorated even deeper. You see my dad had started having a series of affairs with different ladies from various places he worked. His habit for skirt chasing women had gotten so bad that he lost numerous good paying jobs as a result of his reckless actions. At one point our family ended up moving 6 times within a two-year time period. You can probably see that’s not a lot of stability for an 8 year old.

Shortly there after, my mother sunk into an unshakable state of deep depression. There was a kind of evilness that came over her when she was in a bad mood too. Like the way she spoke to me at an 8 year old was pure venom.

I couldn’t help but to think that my mom and dad resented me. And I know now that they did!

Drug Addiction

Both of my parents had also taken to drugs and alcohol to try and self-medicate the pain in their failing relationship. In fact, I can’t remember a time when my father wasn’t holding whiskey in one hand, and a cigarette in the other. I would later learn that he liked to snort a little cocaine on the way home from whatever job he was working. Mom wasn’t exempt from drug use. Her stimulants of choice were just a little bit more legal. Mixing booze and tranquilizers was her favorite concoction.

By sixth grade, my parents’ addictions, along with their dysfunctional marriage was at a breaking point. I just felt more confused about myself during that time.   At around 9 years old I began to really act out behaviorally in school. I was so full of rage inside that I threw a kiddy chair at another student, nearly breaking his arm. Looking back, it was obvious I had some impulse control issues. The problem was, I just didn’t understand why I would get so angry.

The only escape I had from my emotional misery was playing at home with my twin brother John.

You probably know that twins have their own communication style. I admit, we used to play a lot and we got a little crazy. Then again, aren’t most 9 year old’s loud when they play?

As quick fix, my father took to beating me and John, as a remedy to our getting on our mother’s nerves.

Whenever my me and my twin played in a way that annoyed her, she would call dad on the push button phone and say, “Hey Ron, the boys are acting up again”. “They are being bad”. She even kept a notepad, so that she could report to him anything that she perceived as wrong.

Dad, would come home, walk through the door and go straight to the kitchen. He’d fill an 8 oz glass with Jack Daniels and top it off with Coca Cola.  After this ritual, he would tell us to go into our bedroom and wait for him. We literally shook on our beds because we knew what was coming. John and me, were so scared that we’d start hyperventilating and our lips quivered rapidly in and out of our little mouths.

So eventually he would come into our room, once he was properly liquored up and say loudly, “Shuck Em”! Which if you don’t know, is a term used by farmers for peeling corn. For us, it meant we had to strip off all our clothing until we were completely naked. And when he said that phrase, “Shuck em” a deep pit would form in my stomach. I’d literally freeze in place because I was so damn scared.

After he was finished shouting and kicking around our toys, he would slowly take off his 1970s style- wide leather belt and tell us to roll over on our tummies.

Once we were flipped over and helpless it was game on. This once loving dad now turned monster- just physically unloaded on us. He would continually whip us with that heavy leather belt, with all the force that a six-foot two inch - 250 lbs. man could muster up. It was almost as if he was releasing all his anger and frustration about his own life- out on me with every crack of the belt. Looking back, there is no doubt he was.

And so he did this to a point where there were visible bruises on our nine year old backs, butts and legs. Afterwards, he completely changed his demeanor.  He’d throw the belt against the wall and pause for a few seconds because he was so sweaty and winded from the physical exertion of the beating.

He would then say, “You know son, I love you”.

Are you kidding me? You love me? After a while, I just stopped crying. I had become so desensitized to the re-occurring situation that I could no longer feel the pain of that big leather belt.

Two years later, at around 10 years old my parents’ marriage had completely went down the tubes. There was no way they could possibly fix things at that point.  There was too much booze, too many pills, and way too much violence.

By now, we had moved again several times.  Dad had been fired, yet again back in Texas, so we moved to south Florida.

One morning, my mother came into my bedroom with tears in her eyes and said, “Your Daddy’s not coming home again.”

“He’s met another woman and doesn’t want us in his life”.

Childhood Abandonment

Now even though I was angry at my dad for how he flat out abused us, I still had this love for him. I was 10 years old, and I wanted my dad. Every little boy wants his father.

I felt so rejected. So, abandoned. How could he just walk away like that? He didn’t even offer any money to my mom to help raise me and John.

I guess, mom could have gotten child support from him- but she was so erratic that she packed us up and moved us up to Chicago, to live with her parents. This meant she could not claim child support because she left the state.

I need to emphasize that my mother had literally no life skills. She had only worked one job in her entire life and had zero ability to care for me and my brother. She lacked basic tools for parenting. No income, no real means for upward mobility, no emotional support in place, and most of all, she was a hot mess!

So we ended up moving to the south suburbs of Chicago, into a crime ridden neighborhood to live with moms parents. My grandparents.

When we got to Chicago, John and me were basically told to go live in the basement at my grandparents rickety old house. Like, no bed, no bedroom dark basement with concrete floors and leaky pipes.  We were just sort of thrown down there and expected to quietly just exist.  Mom would stay upstairs in her own bedroom, so that she could be coddled by her own parents.

I’d cry myself to sleep at night in that basement and dream that my father would one day show up. That we would somehow become a happy family again like we were just a few years earlier. You can probably guess, that never happened.

At one point, mom told us that we could look forward to playing with our cousins. I had only seen pictures of them in the past. After all, my moms brother and sister had kids my age.  She told us they were our first cousins.

The crazy thing was I felt more out of place than ever before when I first met them. They seemed kind of standoffish and It felt an awful lot like I was the black sheep of the bunch.

It was like there was this total and complete gut feeling that I did not belong with my cousins-Not In any shape, matter or form.

I began to notice that whenever one my cousins had a birthday or made some noteworthy achievement at middle school , my mothers entire family would make a huge deal out of it. My grandparents, my mom, and her siblings would plan these special parties for them. I mean complete with balloons, cakes, gifts and presents. It was like the world stopped just to celebrate their life milestones.

On the other hand, whenever it was my birthday, or I had somehow managed to do something good at school- there was nothing. Not even a phone call.

So, you see, at 10 years old, that belief deep inside of me that I wasn’t as good as other kids was just re-enforced and sunk further into my mind. I figured, if my own family doesn’t like me, why would anyone else.

Now I don’t mean to sound like this whiny complainer, but maybe you can see something forming here in my life story. Something that may have been obvious to anyone else, but completely unthinkable to me at the time.

If you will indulge me, I’d like to continue with another example of how I felt like an outcast from my moms family. Every year, my grandfather would put together this trip with all the men in the family to go on a fishing and camping trip up to Canada. I remember being so excited because I couldn’t wait to go. After all, my daddy had showed me how to camp just a few years earlier.

So, I would ask- beg them, if I could come along. I thought it would be so fun to pitch a tent and build a fire like I did with my own father. 10 year old boys love camping.

Well, the answer was always no! My mother’s family would tell me, “This is a father son trip”. “You can’t go”. My grandfather would be blunter about it and say “You’re an animal, forget about it, you’re not going”. So I’d sit there, in the window and watch them pack the car with a cooler and camping gear and then eventually drive away.

I wonder even now if they realize how truly cruel that was? The reason they treated me this way was deeper than that. Much, much deeper. I’ll get to that part in a moment.

At age 11, mom had totally and completely lost whatever cognitive functioning skills that she may have once had. Mom was unemployed, deeply depressed, and in the throws of a really bad alcohol and tranquilizer addiction.

One morning, she came into the basement with suitcases and screamed at the top of her lungs, “You’re going away”. “And when you are 18, you’re on your own boy! She said it with the kind of vitriol that only an alcoholic who needs a fix can say. When I pleaded with her and asked why, she screamed back, “You’re not my responsibility”!

Military School

[caption id="attachment_4076" align="aligncenter" width="288"]Glenwood Academy Source-Glenwood Academy[/caption]

After that day, both me and John, were put into a military school named Glenwood School for Boys. It’s still there to this day.

The dream of every kid at Glenwood was that their parents would one day get their lives together and bring them back home forever. That never happened for me. There would be no family reunion moment.

On weekends, some of the kids would go home to their families, but my mom or dad never once came to pick me up. I just stayed at that school- and rotted away.

Glenwood School for Boys wasn’t all bad. I can honestly say without it, I would have probably ended up in jail or even worse. But still, this was a rough place-full some of Chicago’s poorest and roughest kids. It was there I learned how to defend myself and survive.

I lived there year-round all through my teenage years. And everyday I wondered why my own parents just abandoned me, never once visiting to check up on me. I wouldn’t understand the answer for many years later.

I had somehow managed to survive after getting out military school. I took all kinds of jobs, which I won’t even mention here, just to have food and shelter. I can just tell you that I did whatever it took just to have food and shelter. There was no family whatsoever that I could call for support, so I earned money by any means necessary, and I’ll leave it at that.

At 27 years old, -my mother died. She was only 54 years old. I had not seen or talked to her in many years. Her sister, Linda called me on the phone and asked me to help plan the funeral services. It was the first time I had heard from my moms’ side of the family in many years.

Even though mom abandoned me when I was 10, she was still my mother right? I felt I had an obligation to do something for her. I held on to those memories of my early childhood, when my she told me I was so special.

I took the only money I had left out of the bank and paid for the funeral. Her brothers and sisters thanked me for footing the bill and said, “You did the right thing. You’re mother had a lot of problems in her life- but she was still your flesh and blood mom and loved you very much.

I had just enough money to buy her a casket. The funeral home must have taken pity on my financial situation because they didn’t charge me for the one-day wake.

I remember standing near my mom’s closed casket and the family telling how cute I was when I was born. How happy my mom was after she gave birth to me and my brother.

Here I was at 27 years old.  I knew that dad had disappeared 17 years earlier for no apparent reason, and my mother was now dead.

More than ever, I held on to that core belief that I wasn’t loveable. After all, my own parents straight up abandoned me when I was a kid, and never looked back.

So you still might be wondering, what’s this have to do with adoption?

Hang on, I’m almost there.

[caption id="attachment_4125" align="aligncenter" width="296"]Adopting a child into a loving home. Photo taken before adoption of twin brother and myself. I have no memory of this photo.[/caption]

Discovering You are an Adopted Child

Well, nearly a decade later after my mom died, I received a phone call from my twin brother John.  I was 37 years old. John told me that had gotten this email from some man named Joe, who claimed he was our brother.

At first, I thought, yea right. Someone is trying to scam you John. We had no other brothers growing up. It was just you, me mom and dad.

I was convinced this Joe guy- had saw my twins’ picture on Facebook and was just out to scam him for money.  I told my brother, don’t listen to that guy, just ignore him. John insisted that this man who claimed to be our brother was persistent and serious.

I said fine- if that is the case, then let him prove it.

The very next day, I received an email from this stranger named Joe. He sent these beautiful pictures of me and my twin from when we were just 3 years old. In the picture, me and John were petting a spotted baby deer. I just could not believe what I was looking at.

Were those pictures really of us? – And indeed, they were.

Joe, went on to say that we were taken by the state from our biological parents and put up for adoption with Catholic Charities.  This brother that I never knew even existed said he remembered us from when were babies. I was in total denial and disbelief. I was 37 years old and was too old for all of this to be true. o, I immediately found the number to my moms’ sister and called her on the phone. I begged her to tell me the truth- Had her sister really adopted me?

There was silence on the other end, and then she just hung up the phone. Needless to say I just kept on calling her every hour, on the hour until she picked up.

After a few days, she finally broke down and told me the truth:  We had been adopted by her sister Diane when we were just 3 years old.

She didn’t apologize. Instead, she just simply hung up the phone. So, sitting there in that moment after she abruptly ended the conversation- my entire life history started to come into focus.

My reality, and everything I knew about myself was based on lies that my adopted parents made up out of pure thin air.

They had brainwashed me into thinking I was their biological child. Complete with fake stories about the day I was born. Remember, I told you mom used to tell me she had to have c-section just to have us. There was even that BS story from my dad about the tattoo he had put on during the time my mom was pregnant.

These idiots even went as far as showing me an altered birth certificate to convince me they were my biological parents. And of course, there was that uncanny resemblance I had with my adopted mother. What sick and pathetic people these were.

And to make things worse- my adopted mom’s family knew the truth about me for my entire life- but never said anything to me. They just let me believe that their sister Diane Moore was my biological mother-even into my adulthood. I mean these people kept up the lie-even after mom died, and I got married.

That is pretty deep right? Later- when me and my wife had my daughter, was I supposed to just let her carry on a last name-which literally no biological connection to her? I can tell you right now, that as soon as my daughter was born, I legally changed our name from Moore – to Sasso – which what was the original name on my birth certificate before the adoption. Had my adopted parents been honest with me, I might not have changed my own last name.

Validating Adopted Children’s Feelings

So, that question deep inside of me about why I never felt like I could be comfortable in my own skin was finally answered. There was a reason I felt so anxious and insecure all the time as a child.

I had always known something was terribly wrong-but had no earthly idea that I was an adopted child.

Then it dawned on me, no wonder my parents abandoned me with such ease when I was just a little boy. It made sense why they got so irritated with me as a toddler.

That’s because, biologically, I was never their kid. Since I wasn’t connected to them genetically, they found it easier to just walk away. I know that’s hard to hear for some of you. But that’s the truth. That’s my truth!

They had decided years ago that being parents to an adopted child was a lot harder than they originally thought.

I’d later find out that my adopted mother couldn’t have children of her own for medical reasons. When my so-called parents first got married in their 20s- they rushed out and legally adopted twin boys because they fell in love with the idea of starting a little family. The problem was they got caught up in the moment. In reality, these horrible people never made the internal commitment with themselves that adopting a child means you take on the responsibility of being a parent forever. So, in their minds-when their marriage ended, so did their responsibility of being mom and dad.

As for my original parents, you know, my actual biological parents that I never met- they had passed away during my 30s. I guess they lived less than 50 miles from my home in Chicago. I would have liked to have met them just once. But my adopted parents and her family were just too selfish to be honest with me.

I was robbed of so many things, that I can’t even begin to explain. So here is the moral of the story:

Key Takeaways

Folks, if you are considering adopting a child you absolutely owe it to your kid to be completely honest with them when they are old enough to begin understanding.  I totally get that you want to have a child more than anything in this world and I support your passion for wanting to give a child a loving home.

Trust me, I know how strong your desire is to want to have a family. Me and my wife Jenny considered adoption before she was finally able to get pregnant thru Invitro Fertilization.  We even went to the Philippines looking for a baby.  So yea, I do know how your feeling.

But whatever you do, do not make adopting a child just about you and your feelings. Don’t make it about yourself. Your adopted child will inherently know that something feels out of place as they grow older automatically.

If you are worried that you will somehow damage the bond you have with your child by explaining to them their history-trust me you won’t. It might not be the exact same attachment that a biological mother has with their child, but there will be a strong bond between you.  It is up to you to nurture that bond. Remember, you have the power to create a healthy family with that child.

Personally, I have known many other adopted children who grew up in wonderful families and who did very well in life. But in each of those cases, the parents were upfront and honest with their children about their origins, including the circumstances behind their adoption.

Can you believe that in many states today- adopted children are barred from having access to their original birth records? They are forced to live out their lives being unable to know any real knowledge about their own biological families.

Thank god for modern technology though. Through genetic DNA testing through places like Ancestory.Com  they can begin to unravel the mystery of their origins.

If you do plan to adopt, give that child your total and complete unconditional love. When they are of the appropriate age, help them to explore the burning questions they will undoubtedly have about themselves.

The truth is you can adopt a child and have a great relationship with them. Yes, you can have a healthy and wonderful family if things are handled the right way. But I would encourage you to start talking to them about their adoption towards the beginning of their lives.

There is a good article over on Parents.Com. In the piece, Dr. Steven Nickman suggests a good age to tell a child he or she is adopted seems to be between between 6 – 8 years old. According to the article,” kids at that age feel emotionally established enough to not feel threatened by the news”.  Again, I’ll leave the link in the show notes.

I hope you take a lesson from my own painful life story. I know it was rough to hear, but this was my truth.

Make the commitment with yourself and your partner that no matter what happens in life- you are in this for the long haul. Think beyond your babies cute stages and toddler years. Those adorable little babies will eventually turn into teen-agers and grow up to be adults.

In other words, I am saying you have to make this commitment to be their mom and dad for the rest of your life.

So-you need to ask yourself, and perhaps your spouse- are we ready to take on the responsibility of adopting a child? And if you conclude that the answer is yes- then do whatever it takes to make that family work!

Because once you adopt a child, that little boy or girl is yours in almost every meaningful way possible. They are defenseless, and it’s your moral responsibility to help shape the direction of their lives. Don’t give up on them, no matter what happens!

Before I end this episode, I want to recommend a book to anyone out there who is considering adoption. The book is titled, The Primal Wound, and was written by renowned psychologist Nancy Verrier.  Her book is the hands down the best I’ve ever read about the emotional development of adopted children.

I can tell you straight up that it was as if this book was speaking directly to my soul.

I’ll also the link in the show notes for you to find it.

Show Summary

  1. Start becoming up front with your child about their adoption when they reach the appropriate age.
  2. Help your child explore and learn answers to questions they will surely have about themselves. Helping your child explore their true origins has the potential to enhance your relationship him or her.
  3. Make the commitment that you are in this for the long haul from the very beginning. Never abandon your adopted child, no matter how rough things might get in your life, or in your marriage.

Well, that concludes another episode. I want to sincerely thank you for taking the time to listen to this Parenting Over 40 Podcast. If you found something useful from this episode, I would love if you subscribed to this podcast on whatever app you are using to listen. This way, you will always get the latest releases.

Finally, if you are an adopted child, or a parent who is thinking about adoption I’d really like to hear from you. Please visit Parenting Over 40 Dot Com to get in touch. I’ll leave a few pictures of my childhood on the website for you to see.

Take care for now, and I’ll talk to you in the next episode.

Transcript

Are you considering adopting a child? Have you been looking into ways to start a family because pregnancy just is not an option? Is the adoption process something you have already went through?

If the answer is yes, then you might be interested in this information. If you’re adopting, then you will want to do your own research as you make the decision.

You know, adoption is one of the most deeply personal decisions a couple or individual can ever make. In fact, I can’t think of anything more emotionally impactful than to adopt a baby. It is the kind of choice that will forever touch your life, as well as the life of the child.

Show Highlights

  • My personal story – understand why adopting a child is a lifelong responsibility.
  • Understand the importance of telling a child the truth.
  • Gain insight into the emotional development of some children.
  • Useful marriage advice for couples.
  • Learn why it’s crucial to have a long-term plan.

Here are the adoption resources I mentioned during the show:

When to tell a child they are adopted.

Primal Wound – Understanding the Adopted Child

Adopting a Child

Welcome to episode 2 of the Parenting Over 40 Podcast. I’m your host, Frank Sasso. Perhaps, due to infertility complications you cannot have a biological child. It is quite possible you’re a woman with a serious medical condition which makes carrying a baby a potential risk to your health? Maybe, you are a single person out there who just wants to give a child a loving home.  Needless to say there are thousands of same sex couples who yearn to adopt children because they want to start a family. It’s also possible that you’ve already adopted a child and are just looking for a little guidance.

I can’t really know your particular reason for considering adoption. But I do know this. Adopting a child is probably the biggest decision you will ever make.

Before I get into this, I want you to know that I fall on the side of being genuinely pro adoption- so long as it’s done under the right circumstances. I honestly believe it can be a way for many people to start a family, who might have not had the opportunity otherwise. I have a hunch that your heart is in the right place because you’re looking into this option and took the time out of your day to listen to this podcast.

Having said, that, some of the topics I’ll discuss in this episode will be a little graphic. If what I say here is too emotionally too heavy for you, please feel free to click pause and come back to it when you’re ready.

Let also me take a moment to throw in this disclaimer. This podcast is not a replacement for mental health counseling and I’m not you’re therapist.

You know, I created this podcast because I wanted to speak directly to people over 30 out there who want to become parents. I must tell you though this subject of adoption is one that hits really, hits close to home for me.

You see, I have my own adoption story. And it’s a story I rarely ever tell.  If it’s alright with you, I want to share with you my own life experience, so that you will know exactly what not to do if you make the decision to adopt a child. As you are listening to my truth, you may be tempted to think, “What’s this story have to do with adopting a child” If you listen closely, I think you will be able to figure it out. If you are ready, we can jump right in.

Adoption Story

Mentally, when I travel back thru the river of time, I can vaguely recall the first childhood memory of my parents. I remember it being an oppressively muggy day under a very bright Texas blue sky. I think I must have been 4 years old.

The year was 1975. Gerald Ford was the President, and All in the Family was the most popular TV show of the day. Yeah, that’s pretty far back for some of you.

At that age, I had no real conception of time. I remember my parents taking me and my twin brother John, to a Great America theme park, near Houston, Texas. I can still hear the sound of the carousel music in my ears.

For whatever reason, there are no explicit memories of my life from before that day. It’s almost as if parachuted into life at that very second in time and my early childhood memory started on that hot Texas Day.

I can recall being shy and skittish about taking pictures with the theme park characters. You know what I’m talking about, the people who dress up as friendly animals and greet you.

My mother, Diane- looked down at me and said, “It’s okay Frankie”. “We are your mommy and daddy”. “Nothing bad is going to happen to you”. When I looked back up at my mother, I couldn’t help to notice she shared the same physical characteristics as myself. Mommy had light brown hair like me- with dark brown eyes.  Her skin tone was like mine too, kind of olive and tan. I was the spitting image of my mom. I’ll put a picture of her in the show notes, so that you can see the resemblance.

So in that instant, I can distinctly recall thinking to my 4-year-old self, mommy and daddy will protect you from everything. I think it will be okay if I take a picture with the person dressed up as a giant bunny rabbit.

My father on the other hand looked almost nothing like me. I mean sure, he had a arms and legs like me, but that was about it. He was a large man-about 6 feet 2 inches tall – a height I never came close to reaching. Dad, also had bright blue eyes and looked and looked like a real cowboy.

I’m talking full on cowboy hat along with brown leather boots that clicked whenever he walked. The only thing missing were the spurs.

A year later, when I turned 5 years old, I noticed a strange looking tattoo on his left arm. The tattoo was of a ship’s anchor with three stars placed the sides of it.  I looked up at him and curiously asked, “Daddy, Why do you have those three stars on your tattoo?” Dad looked down at me and said in his thick southern accent, “Son, I got this tattoo when you’re mom got pregnant with you and your brother” “The three stars represent you, your twin brother John and your mom”.

[caption id="attachment_4075" align="aligncenter" width="300"]Adopted mother, Diane. My adopted mother Diane.[/caption]

 

Mom would sometimes interrupt whenever I asked about the tattoo. You know how children like to hear the same story over and over again. It made me feel special. So, she would jump in and say to me and my identical twin , “ Yeah, mommy had to have a C-section when you and your brother were born”. “Daddy got that tattoo because blessed us by letting me give birth to you boys”.

Not understanding much about God at that age, I asked back, why did God bless you to give birth?” Mom kneeled down and embraced me and softly said, “ Because I had to have a C-section to give birth and I almost didn’t survive”.

Of course, at 5 years old, I had no clue what pregnancy meant. What the hell was a C-section anyway, right? At that tender age, I just knew that my parents had made a special arrangement with god so that she could give birth to me and my brother.  I knew this to be fact because my mommy told me so.

A few years later, when kindergarten started, I remember being nervous to leave home and play around other children. This wasn’t a usual kind nervousness that a kid experiences when starting school. It was an uneasiness.  Like an electric shock that goes on all day. I didn’t want to leave the safety of my parents, not even for a second.  Mom took us down to that Texas elementary school and produced all the necessary paperwork for enrollment. Our medical information, vaccine records and birth certificate.  The birth certificate had my parents name on it: Ron and Diane Moore.  It even had their ages at the time mom gave birth to us.  Dad was 24 and mom was 27.  I could see that I was born in 1970, at 5:37 in the morning.

Every now and then, my parents would show me the birth certificate and tell me to be proud of my last name. They said the last name Moore comes from a long line of Scottish decent. I’d ask my Mommy, are you Scottish too like Dad? She would say, No, Frankie, I’m Italian-which makes you half of both of us.

I didn’t think much of it at the time, I was just a toddler. But, I was starting to build a narrative about my own life story. About who I was as an individual.

So there we were, this happy little family down in the Lone Star State. And for a while there, life was awesome. My parents would take us on camping trips to exciting places and play make believe games with me and my twin brother. Sometimes when my dad got home from work, he would let us climb up him like a giant tree. Like most little kids, we were giddy whenever Dad goofed around with us. Our family even had a little black and white terrier named bandit. I miss that dog to this day! So, it was the perfect little family, straight out of a children’s storybook.

I can remember my dad seemed to have a special bond with me. He taught me stuff like how to cast a fishing rod and throw a football.

Occasionally, he would randomly just say sort of out of the blue, Son I love you.

I can’t begin to tell you how that warmed my heart as a little boy to hear my father say that to me.  Mom also tried. Every blue moon she would blurt out, You’re so sweet Frankie. I hope you stay that way forever.

It’s weird how little happy moments like that can stick out in your memory. Isn’t it?

For a while there, life was good. I had a loving stable family. I was just this happy kid, -living on cloud 9. I loved my parents and most importantly, I knew they loved me.

Childhood Emotions

Then-somewhere around 1st grade, things rapidly began to change emotionally for me. I cannot put my finger on it, but something was different. I began experiencing a series of behavioral problems at school too. Like out of the nowhere, I had become riddled with anxiety and hypersensitivity to the kids around me.

Inside, I felt as if I was constantly being judged. I could not concentrate on what was going on in class either. At my core, I felt so insecure about myself. As a protective shield for my insecurity, I began talking back to my teachers and getting into trouble.

By the time I got to 2nd grade, teachers had labeled me as a no-good kid, a juvenile delinquent. They would tell me- “You’re a bad boy Frankie, you need to start focusing. Pick up a book and read. “Do we need to call your parents again?”

They never once recommended I see the school counselor. Nope, instead they just wrote me off as a misfit and gave up.

The principal had his own way of correcting my supposed bad behavior. He had this huge wooden paddle hanging on his wall. It even had a 4 inch hole cut out in the middle so it could swing faster thru the air. He proudly called it the board of education. Because we lived in Texas during the 1970s, it was somehow commonplace to bend 2nd graders over a desk and whip them with a wooden paddle as punishment.

Just a shout out to any of you who are for corporal punishment – you know- hitting a kid.  Being whipped by my principal didn’t help the situation. It made things much worse.

At that point, I hated school. It represented a place where I wasn’t understood and completely rejected. So, I grew up automatically thinking that I was this really bad kid. That something deep inside of me was programmed wrong and that I just wasn’t ever going to fit in. Like I said, earlier, this subject of adoption touches awfully close to home for me. I assure you once you hear the rest of my story, you will understand what I mean.

I began to get this intensely strong sensation that my parents strongly disliked having to spend any time with me. It was like they resented the fact that I even existed. Over time, the way they treated me started to change too. Their voice tone was no longer soft and sweet like before. It seemed like I was just a hassle in their lives. I thought, “What happened to my Mommy and Daddy”? “Why do they yell at me so much?” “What did I do to make them not love me as much?”

I could clearly see the world around me too. All of the other kids at school had moms and dads that were excited to see their children. Why was life so different for me? To make matters worse, I was starting to change even more inside. I slowly became more isolated and jealous that the other second graders seemed to fit in so well.

For example, I had this unsettling feeling that I didn’t know myself.  That somehow, I just didn’t fit right into my skin. This is a really hard sensation for me to describe to you because I still have a hard time working through some of those old memories. The best way I can describe it is a feeling that I that I couldn’t be completely emotionally free. Although I did not know the word back then, it was as if it was not okay to feel vulnerable.

So, a few more years passed, and I turned 8 years old. That’s when my parents started having serious marital problems. Like screaming, yelling, punching, call the police kind of marriage problems.

My dad was no longer this nice man I once idolized from just two years before. He wasn’t the same dad who comforted me when I had a nightmare or told me that he loved me. As for my mother- she had turned into someone I didn’t recognize. She transformed into this high octane, explosive bundle of nerves who was constantly screaming. Yea, she was right there on the edge!

Somewhere along the way their marriage deteriorated even deeper. You see my dad had started having a series of affairs with different ladies from various places he worked. His habit for skirt chasing women had gotten so bad that he lost numerous good paying jobs as a result of his reckless actions. At one point our family ended up moving 6 times within a two-year time period. You can probably see that’s not a lot of stability for an 8 year old.

Shortly there after, my mother sunk into an unshakable state of deep depression. There was a kind of evilness that came over her when she was in a bad mood too. Like the way she spoke to me at an 8 year old was pure venom.

I couldn’t help but to think that my mom and dad resented me. And I know now that they did!

Drug Addiction

Both of my parents had also taken to drugs and alcohol to try and self-medicate the pain in their failing relationship. In fact, I can’t remember a time when my father wasn’t holding whiskey in one hand, and a cigarette in the other. I would later learn that he liked to snort a little cocaine on the way home from whatever job he was working. Mom wasn’t exempt from drug use. Her stimulants of choice were just a little bit more legal. Mixing booze and tranquilizers was her favorite concoction.

By sixth grade, my parents’ addictions, along with their dysfunctional marriage was at a breaking point. I just felt more confused about myself during that time.   At around 9 years old I began to really act out behaviorally in school. I was so full of rage inside that I threw a kiddy chair at another student, nearly breaking his arm. Looking back, it was obvious I had some impulse control issues. The problem was, I just didn’t understand why I would get so angry.

The only escape I had from my emotional misery was playing at home with my twin brother John.

You probably know that twins have their own communication style. I admit, we used to play a lot and we got a little crazy. Then again, aren’t most 9 year old’s loud when they play?

As quick fix, my father took to beating me and John, as a remedy to our getting on our mother’s nerves.

Whenever my me and my twin played in a way that annoyed her, she would call dad on the push button phone and say, “Hey Ron, the boys are acting up again”. “They are being bad”. She even kept a notepad, so that she could report to him anything that she perceived as wrong.

Dad, would come home, walk through the door and go straight to the kitchen. He’d fill an 8 oz glass with Jack Daniels and top it off with Coca Cola.  After this ritual, he would tell us to go into our bedroom and wait for him. We literally shook on our beds because we knew what was coming. John and me, were so scared that we’d start hyperventilating and our lips quivered rapidly in and out of our little mouths.

So eventually he would come into our room, once he was properly liquored up and say loudly, “Shuck Em”! Which if you don’t know, is a term used by farmers for peeling corn. For us, it meant we had to strip off all our clothing until we were completely naked. And when he said that phrase, “Shuck em” a deep pit would form in my stomach. I’d literally freeze in place because I was so damn scared.

After he was finished shouting and kicking around our toys, he would slowly take off his 1970s style- wide leather belt and tell us to roll over on our tummies.

Once we were flipped over and helpless it was game on. This once loving dad now turned monster- just physically unloaded on us. He would continually whip us with that heavy leather belt, with all the force that a six-foot two inch - 250 lbs. man could muster up. It was almost as if he was releasing all his anger and frustration about his own life- out on me with every crack of the belt. Looking back, there is no doubt he was.

And so he did this to a point where there were visible bruises on our nine year old backs, butts and legs. Afterwards, he completely changed his demeanor.  He’d throw the belt against the wall and pause for a few seconds because he was so sweaty and winded from the physical exertion of the beating.

He would then say, “You know son, I love you”.

Are you kidding me? You love me? After a while, I just stopped crying. I had become so desensitized to the re-occurring situation that I could no longer feel the pain of that big leather belt.

Two years later, at around 10 years old my parents’ marriage had completely went down the tubes. There was no way they could possibly fix things at that point.  There was too much booze, too many pills, and way too much violence.

By now, we had moved again several times.  Dad had been fired, yet again back in Texas, so we moved to south Florida.

One morning, my mother came into my bedroom with tears in her eyes and said, “Your Daddy’s not coming home again.”

“He’s met another woman and doesn’t want us in his life”.

Childhood Abandonment

Now even though I was angry at my dad for how he flat out abused us, I still had this love for him. I was 10 years old, and I wanted my dad. Every little boy wants his father.

I felt so rejected. So, abandoned. How could he just walk away like that? He didn’t even offer any money to my mom to help raise me and John.

I guess, mom could have gotten child support from him- but she was so erratic that she packed us up and moved us up to Chicago, to live with her parents. This meant she could not claim child support because she left the state.

I need to emphasize that my mother had literally no life skills. She had only worked one job in her entire life and had zero ability to care for me and my brother. She lacked basic tools for parenting. No income, no real means for upward mobility, no emotional support in place, and most of all, she was a hot mess!

So we ended up moving to the south suburbs of Chicago, into a crime ridden neighborhood to live with moms parents. My grandparents.

When we got to Chicago, John and me were basically told to go live in the basement at my grandparents rickety old house. Like, no bed, no bedroom dark basement with concrete floors and leaky pipes.  We were just sort of thrown down there and expected to quietly just exist.  Mom would stay upstairs in her own bedroom, so that she could be coddled by her own parents.

I’d cry myself to sleep at night in that basement and dream that my father would one day show up. That we would somehow become a happy family again like we were just a few years earlier. You can probably guess, that never happened.

At one point, mom told us that we could look forward to playing with our cousins. I had only seen pictures of them in the past. After all, my moms brother and sister had kids my age.  She told us they were our first cousins.

The crazy thing was I felt more out of place than ever before when I first met them. They seemed kind of standoffish and It felt an awful lot like I was the black sheep of the bunch.

It was like there was this total and complete gut feeling that I did not belong with my cousins-Not In any shape, matter or form.

I began to notice that whenever one my cousins had a birthday or made some noteworthy achievement at middle school , my mothers entire family would make a huge deal out of it. My grandparents, my mom, and her siblings would plan these special parties for them. I mean complete with balloons, cakes, gifts and presents. It was like the world stopped just to celebrate their life milestones.

On the other hand, whenever it was my birthday, or I had somehow managed to do something good at school- there was nothing. Not even a phone call.

So, you see, at 10 years old, that belief deep inside of me that I wasn’t as good as other kids was just re-enforced and sunk further into my mind. I figured, if my own family doesn’t like me, why would anyone else.

Now I don’t mean to sound like this whiny complainer, but maybe you can see something forming here in my life story. Something that may have been obvious to anyone else, but completely unthinkable to me at the time.

If you will indulge me, I’d like to continue with another example of how I felt like an outcast from my moms family. Every year, my grandfather would put together this trip with all the men in the family to go on a fishing and camping trip up to Canada. I remember being so excited because I couldn’t wait to go. After all, my daddy had showed me how to camp just a few years earlier.

So, I would ask- beg them, if I could come along. I thought it would be so fun to pitch a tent and build a fire like I did with my own father. 10 year old boys love camping.

Well, the answer was always no! My mother’s family would tell me, “This is a father son trip”. “You can’t go”. My grandfather would be blunter about it and say “You’re an animal, forget about it, you’re not going”. So I’d sit there, in the window and watch them pack the car with a cooler and camping gear and then eventually drive away.

I wonder even now if they realize how truly cruel that was? The reason they treated me this way was deeper than that. Much, much deeper. I’ll get to that part in a moment.

At age 11, mom had totally and completely lost whatever cognitive functioning skills that she may have once had. Mom was unemployed, deeply depressed, and in the throws of a really bad alcohol and tranquilizer addiction.

One morning, she came into the basement with suitcases and screamed at the top of her lungs, “You’re going away”. “And when you are 18, you’re on your own boy! She said it with the kind of vitriol that only an alcoholic who needs a fix can say. When I pleaded with her and asked why, she screamed back, “You’re not my responsibility”!

Military School

[caption id="attachment_4076" align="aligncenter" width="288"]Glenwood Academy Source-Glenwood Academy[/caption]

After that day, both me and John, were put into a military school named Glenwood School for Boys. It’s still there to this day.

The dream of every kid at Glenwood was that their parents would one day get their lives together and bring them back home forever. That never happened for me. There would be no family reunion moment.

On weekends, some of the kids would go home to their families, but my mom or dad never once came to pick me up. I just stayed at that school- and rotted away.

Glenwood School for Boys wasn’t all bad. I can honestly say without it, I would have probably ended up in jail or even worse. But still, this was a rough place-full some of Chicago’s poorest and roughest kids. It was there I learned how to defend myself and survive.

I lived there year-round all through my teenage years. And everyday I wondered why my own parents just abandoned me, never once visiting to check up on me. I wouldn’t understand the answer for many years later.

I had somehow managed to survive after getting out military school. I took all kinds of jobs, which I won’t even mention here, just to have food and shelter. I can just tell you that I did whatever it took just to have food and shelter. There was no family whatsoever that I could call for support, so I earned money by any means necessary, and I’ll leave it at that.

At 27 years old, -my mother died. She was only 54 years old. I had not seen or talked to her in many years. Her sister, Linda called me on the phone and asked me to help plan the funeral services. It was the first time I had heard from my moms’ side of the family in many years.

Even though mom abandoned me when I was 10, she was still my mother right? I felt I had an obligation to do something for her. I held on to those memories of my early childhood, when my she told me I was so special.

I took the only money I had left out of the bank and paid for the funeral. Her brothers and sisters thanked me for footing the bill and said, “You did the right thing. You’re mother had a lot of problems in her life- but she was still your flesh and blood mom and loved you very much.

I had just enough money to buy her a casket. The funeral home must have taken pity on my financial situation because they didn’t charge me for the one-day wake.

I remember standing near my mom’s closed casket and the family telling how cute I was when I was born. How happy my mom was after she gave birth to me and my brother.

Here I was at 27 years old.  I knew that dad had disappeared 17 years earlier for no apparent reason, and my mother was now dead.

More than ever, I held on to that core belief that I wasn’t loveable. After all, my own parents straight up abandoned me when I was a kid, and never looked back.

So you still might be wondering, what’s this have to do with adoption?

Hang on, I’m almost there.

[caption id="attachment_4125" align="aligncenter" width="296"]Adopting a child into a loving home. Photo taken before adoption of twin brother and myself. I have no memory of this photo.[/caption]

Discovering You are an Adopted Child

Well, nearly a decade later after my mom died, I received a phone call from my twin brother John.  I was 37 years old. John told me that had gotten this email from some man named Joe, who claimed he was our brother.

At first, I thought, yea right. Someone is trying to scam you John. We had no other brothers growing up. It was just you, me mom and dad.

I was convinced this Joe guy- had saw my twins’ picture on Facebook and was just out to scam him for money.  I told my brother, don’t listen to that guy, just ignore him. John insisted that this man who claimed to be our brother was persistent and serious.

I said fine- if that is the case, then let him prove it.

The very next day, I received an email from this stranger named Joe. He sent these beautiful pictures of me and my twin from when we were just 3 years old. In the picture, me and John were petting a spotted baby deer. I just could not believe what I was looking at.

Were those pictures really of us? – And indeed, they were.

Joe, went on to say that we were taken by the state from our biological parents and put up for adoption with Catholic Charities.  This brother that I never knew even existed said he remembered us from when were babies. I was in total denial and disbelief. I was 37 years old and was too old for all of this to be true. o, I immediately found the number to my moms’ sister and called her on the phone. I begged her to tell me the truth- Had her sister really adopted me?

There was silence on the other end, and then she just hung up the phone. Needless to say I just kept on calling her every hour, on the hour until she picked up.

After a few days, she finally broke down and told me the truth:  We had been adopted by her sister Diane when we were just 3 years old.

She didn’t apologize. Instead, she just simply hung up the phone. So, sitting there in that moment after she abruptly ended the conversation- my entire life history started to come into focus.

My reality, and everything I knew about myself was based on lies that my adopted parents made up out of pure thin air.

They had brainwashed me into thinking I was their biological child. Complete with fake stories about the day I was born. Remember, I told you mom used to tell me she had to have c-section just to have us. There was even that BS story from my dad about the tattoo he had put on during the time my mom was pregnant.

These idiots even went as far as showing me an altered birth certificate to convince me they were my biological parents. And of course, there was that uncanny resemblance I had with my adopted mother. What sick and pathetic people these were.

And to make things worse- my adopted mom’s family knew the truth about me for my entire life- but never said anything to me. They just let me believe that their sister Diane Moore was my biological mother-even into my adulthood. I mean these people kept up the lie-even after mom died, and I got married.

That is pretty deep right? Later- when me and my wife had my daughter, was I supposed to just let her carry on a last name-which literally no biological connection to her? I can tell you right now, that as soon as my daughter was born, I legally changed our name from Moore – to Sasso – which what was the original name on my birth certificate before the adoption. Had my adopted parents been honest with me, I might not have changed my own last name.

Validating Adopted Children’s Feelings

So, that question deep inside of me about why I never felt like I could be comfortable in my own skin was finally answered. There was a reason I felt so anxious and insecure all the time as a child.

I had always known something was terribly wrong-but had no earthly idea that I was an adopted child.

Then it dawned on me, no wonder my parents abandoned me with such ease when I was just a little boy. It made sense why they got so irritated with me as a toddler.

That’s because, biologically, I was never their kid. Since I wasn’t connected to them genetically, they found it easier to just walk away. I know that’s hard to hear for some of you. But that’s the truth. That’s my truth!

They had decided years ago that being parents to an adopted child was a lot harder than they originally thought.

I’d later find out that my adopted mother couldn’t have children of her own for medical reasons. When my so-called parents first got married in their 20s- they rushed out and legally adopted twin boys because they fell in love with the idea of starting a little family. The problem was they got caught up in the moment. In reality, these horrible people never made the internal commitment with themselves that adopting a child means you take on the responsibility of being a parent forever. So, in their minds-when their marriage ended, so did their responsibility of being mom and dad.

As for my original parents, you know, my actual biological parents that I never met- they had passed away during my 30s. I guess they lived less than 50 miles from my home in Chicago. I would have liked to have met them just once. But my adopted parents and her family were just too selfish to be honest with me.

I was robbed of so many things, that I can’t even begin to explain. So here is the moral of the story:

Key Takeaways

Folks, if you are considering adopting a child you absolutely owe it to your kid to be completely honest with them when they are old enough to begin understanding.  I totally get that you want to have a child more than anything in this world and I support your passion for wanting to give a child a loving home.

Trust me, I know how strong your desire is to want to have a family. Me and my wife Jenny considered adoption before she was finally able to get pregnant thru Invitro Fertilization.  We even went to the Philippines looking for a baby.  So yea, I do know how your feeling.

But whatever you do, do not make adopting a child just about you and your feelings. Don’t make it about yourself. Your adopted child will inherently know that something feels out of place as they grow older automatically.

If you are worried that you will somehow damage the bond you have with your child by explaining to them their history-trust me you won’t. It might not be the exact same attachment that a biological mother has with their child, but there will be a strong bond between you.  It is up to you to nurture that bond. Remember, you have the power to create a healthy family with that child.

Personally, I have known many other adopted children who grew up in wonderful families and who did very well in life. But in each of those cases, the parents were upfront and honest with their children about their origins, including the circumstances behind their adoption.

Can you believe that in many states today- adopted children are barred from having access to their original birth records? They are forced to live out their lives being unable to know any real knowledge about their own biological families.

Thank god for modern technology though. Through genetic DNA testing through places like Ancestory.Com  they can begin to unravel the mystery of their origins.

If you do plan to adopt, give that child your total and complete unconditional love. When they are of the appropriate age, help them to explore the burning questions they will undoubtedly have about themselves.

The truth is you can adopt a child and have a great relationship with them. Yes, you can have a healthy and wonderful family if things are handled the right way. But I would encourage you to start talking to them about their adoption towards the beginning of their lives.

There is a good article over on Parents.Com. In the piece, Dr. Steven Nickman suggests a good age to tell a child he or she is adopted seems to be between between 6 – 8 years old. According to the article,” kids at that age feel emotionally established enough to not feel threatened by the news”.  Again, I’ll leave the link in the show notes.

I hope you take a lesson from my own painful life story. I know it was rough to hear, but this was my truth.

Make the commitment with yourself and your partner that no matter what happens in life- you are in this for the long haul. Think beyond your babies cute stages and toddler years. Those adorable little babies will eventually turn into teen-agers and grow up to be adults.

In other words, I am saying you have to make this commitment to be their mom and dad for the rest of your life.

So-you need to ask yourself, and perhaps your spouse- are we ready to take on the responsibility of adopting a child? And if you conclude that the answer is yes- then do whatever it takes to make that family work!

Because once you adopt a child, that little boy or girl is yours in almost every meaningful way possible. They are defenseless, and it’s your moral responsibility to help shape the direction of their lives. Don’t give up on them, no matter what happens!

Before I end this episode, I want to recommend a book to anyone out there who is considering adoption. The book is titled, The Primal Wound, and was written by renowned psychologist Nancy Verrier.  Her book is the hands down the best I’ve ever read about the emotional development of adopted children.

I can tell you straight up that it was as if this book was speaking directly to my soul.

I’ll also the link in the show notes for you to find it.

Show Summary

  1. Start becoming up front with your child about their adoption when they reach the appropriate age.
  2. Help your child explore and learn answers to questions they will surely have about themselves. Helping your child explore their true origins has the potential to enhance your relationship him or her.
  3. Make the commitment that you are in this for the long haul from the very beginning. Never abandon your adopted child, no matter how rough things might get in your life, or in your marriage.

Well, that concludes another episode. I want to sincerely thank you for taking the time to listen to this Parenting Over 40 Podcast. If you found something useful from this episode, I would love if you subscribed to this podcast on whatever app you are using to listen. This way, you will always get the latest releases.

Finally, if you are an adopted child, or a parent who is thinking about adoption I’d really like to hear from you. Please visit Anxiety Therapist Podcast to get in touch. I’ll leave a few pictures of my childhood on the website for you to see.

Take care for now, and I’ll talk to you in the next episode.