On January 5th of last year, I discovered that I was adopted. The experience was soul-crushing and devastating. The people I thought were my parents for nearly 33 years of my life weren't blood relatives at all. It turned out, that the only person I knew for sure was related to me was my newborn son -- the little being I brought into this world just three months prior to my own new rebirth.
The clues weren't exactly so obvious in my case. See, I actually looked like my adopted parents. Okay, maybe not exactly like them, but there was a resemblance. The truth lied in family dynamics that weren't so obvious and you can easily chalk it up to it being 'the middle child syndrome.' I felt a different time of love than what was offered to my big brother and little sister. It was a love that had me constantly feeling like I had to overachieve, over-commit and over-perform to be seen.
I had to rediscover who I was while also defining my identity as a mother. Do I breastfeed or not? Do I try to find out who my birth parents are? Is sleep training going to work for my child? Was I loved by my birth parents at all? Am I still Cuban and Argentine? All of these thoughts flooded in, which caused a major case of anxiety, depression, and lack of sleep (not that you get any of that with a newborn anyway).
Once the family secret was unleashed, I cried for a full day in bed while my husband took care of our son. His constant love and support is always the reason I'm writing this right now. At the time, I felt weak, tired, and depressed. I thought that my emotions were going to stay in a permanent state and I instantly felt the guilt rush in as a new mom. That mom guilt saved me.
The more time I spent with my son, the more connected I felt to a higher power. I decided to shutdown to the outside world. My focus became self-healing to become a stronger mother and wife. Part of that healing process was reaching out to my birth mom, a Puerto Rican woman who resides in a mental institution.
At first, I felt distraught to learn that she was mentally ill. What if she can't emotionally connect with me? The first visit was the start of a lifelong friendship with my birth mother. I'm grateful that she was sane enough to offer me an explanation, to let me know I was loved, and that she prayed for me each day while we were apart. She also let me know that she met my birth father, an Irish American, at a mental institution.
I looked at my birth mother and felt her loving stare. I couldn't relate to what she was feeling in her heart after being apart from me for most of my life, but I knew the love she was offering with her gaze. I realized how incredibly luckily I was to be raising my son--to have the luxury to watch him grow and offer him my love and guidance each and every single day.
The healing process took nearly a year and I can't say that I stay in a constant state of peace, but just like the motherhood--my emotions go in waves. What I know for sure is that I'm loved and have family by my side. I feel like I can overcome any storm that comes and having that strength makes me the best mother I can be.