Wednesday, July 29, 2009

An adoptee coming out -part 2

I didn't come out to myself until I was 19. As I mentioned in part 1, my parents kicked me out of the house when I was 18 because they thought I had an "unnatural" relationship with my best friend from high school. I didn't. And I thought my parents were nuts. Until several months later when I started to notice a woman I worked with more and more and had my big AHA! moment. Who knew that parents could be right about things sometimes?

I sat on this new knowledge of my sexuality for several months, trying it on the idea for size before I even considered telling anyone. 2 of my uncles are gay so I was familiar with the GBLT world, having hung out in gay bars in downtown Toronto many a Friday night. It's one thing to go out partying with a group of people but it's a whole other thing to make a public declaration that this is your new chosen lifestyle.

I still wasn't speaking to my parents by the time I was ready to "COME OUT" so I thought I would take the safe route for my first time - my best friend from high school. We did everything together: worked at the same job, volunteered at the same place and I hung out at her house using her folks as my surrogate family once I was living on my own. She was also the one that would go partying with me in Toronto at all the gay bars. Seemed like a pretty safe place to start.

It wasn't.

She didn't exactly freak out, but quietly and calmly ended our friendship on the spot. She also outed me to a parent of a child I worked with which resulted in my getting fired from my job and having to stop the volunteer work that I did.

Needless to say the whole experience rather coloured my thoughts on coming out to people after that.

Life went on, as it always does. My boss from the job I was fired from was also a lesbian and had also been fired. Oh, they never told either of us (or the 4-5 other gay people fired at the same time) "you're gay so we are firing you" but had all sorts of fancy "restructuring", "bringing in the right skills" crap that HR can spin when they want to do something illegal. Whatever... we all knew what was going on.

She helped me meet people and I started to live my life as an "out" lesbian. I quickly decided that society be damned, I was NOT hiding in a closet for the rest of my life. And that is how I have lived my life since. Hard to believe that that was 20 years ago........

I waited a long time to get a letter back from Iris. 6 months in fact. Talk about an emotional roller coaster! All my life I had wanted to find my first mother. And here she was, in reach, and I had maybe lost her completely with just 4 words: I am a lesbian. But I knew in my heart that I could not have had a relationship with her at all if I was not honest.

Finally a letter arrived and being me, I wouldn't open it! All the waiting, the checking the mail every day, the hoping the wondering was tossed out the window because I was scared by what I would find. Would I be rejected by yet another parent? Would I lose the only connection to my past before I ever got to meet her? Hilary, always the voice of reason, talked me off of the emotional ledge and got me to open it.

What the letter contained was not one of the possible outcomes that I had thought of.

Complete and total acceptance.

She ponder the thought of a genetic connection to being gay and told me that I have a 1/2 sister on my father's side who is also a lesbian. She shared a story of her daughter's gay friend living with them for almost 2 years after his parents had kicked him out of the house. She asked questions about Hilary and wanted to see a picture of her.

And so all my worry was for naught. Iris has remained a part of my life since, though we do have our communication challenges. Hilary and Liam came with me the first time I met Iris and it was Hilary who sent Iris a letter announcing Liam's adoption.

Reunion is a many layered, complex beast. Adding a whole seperate issue to it only exacerbates the emotions, the fears and the unknowns. In the end though, no matter what the issues are, honesty and openness are always the best way to go.
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