Honor described a childhood in isolation, so much so that it impacted her health when she started school. Wondering about her biological parents, she developed a romantic story in her mind that they were in love but simply couldn’t keep her. It took her many years to track down her real story which was far more complex, and at one point she thought that one of her worst fears was true. When she found her birth mother, they only had a passing anonymous introduction to one another and when they met again years later, the woman was unable to recognize who Honor was. When Honor tracked down her birth father, his actions indicated he was the right guy, even if he didn’t explicitly say so.
Damon: 00:14 Really.?
Honor: 00:15 I remember going into the garden alone and wondering about and I wanted to cry but couldn’t. I was just crucified inside because that for me, was the worst scenario that I could hear.
Voices: 00:35 Who am I? Who am I? Who Am I? Who am I? Who am I? Who am I?
Damon: 00:47 This is who am I really a podcast about adoptees that have located and connected with their biological family members. I’m Damon Davis, and on today’s show is Honor. She called me from outside of Edinburgh. Scotland. Honor described a childhood in isolation, so much so that it impacted her health when she started school. It took her many years to track down her real story and at one point she thought that one of her worst fears was true when she found her birth mother. They only had a passing anonymous introduction to one another, and when they met again years later, the woman was unable to recognize who Honor was when Honor tracked down her birth father. His actions indicated he was the right guy even if he didn’t explicitly say so. This is Honors journey. Honor was born in good shepherd, mother and baby home in bishop ton near Glasgow, Scotland. Her mother and father adopted her as slightly older parents, 44 and 42 respectively on her, says she was adopted officially at four years old and she remembers that time of their lives because her parents seemed agitated, which she still remembers clearly. They told her she was adopted, but she didn’t know what it meant. She just knew it was a word. She should definitely remember
Honor: 02:12 And occasionally, I would ask the question, why did you choose to me? Um, I think it was probably because I liked the answer, which is because she was the one who smiled. And then I sensed this was old preschool and pre five year old. I then became very aware of how uncomfortable my mother became. If I asked the question, she didn’t like it
Damon: 02:37 and what would she do, how could you tell
Honor: 02:40 she she, she would look uncomfortable and would just say, well, because you were the one that smiled and carry on doing something else. She’d never sat me on her knee and talked about it nicely. It was like I answered, now shut up. It was definitely a discomfort situation which I picked up on. So I stopped asking the question,
Damon: 03:05 Honor said ask her father about adoption, either adoption was never mentioned again in the family except for one time when her father was near the end of his life.
Honor: 03:16 The only time that it came to the fore was when my father was terminally ill and the consultant was asking him questions and one of the questions was how many children does he have? And he said none. And I was sitting there beside him. And the consultants sort of appeared over his glasses at me. Am I squirmed in the seat seats? You know, I mean, it was ridiculous really. And he asked the question again and he said that was the impact, the lifelong impact of infertility came bubbling to the surface.
Damon: 03:57 And what did you feel inside when he basically denied you as his daughter?
Honor: 04:04 Very uncomfortable, but I forgave him because the poor man was dying literally, and he wasn’t himself. HIs mind, had sort of. … I don’t know what else he would just said if he had been better than he was. Even a couple of months prior to that. I’m not sure whether he was just said yes and I have one adopted daughter or something of that nature, but he just said no, no children
Damon: 04:36 Honor said she was around 41. Her father denied her existence as his daughter, but she forgives him because he had cancer that had deeply impacted him. Going back to her childhood, Honor said she was sent to a convent school at the age of four years old. She was younger than her peer group because of her February birthday. She says those preschool years were very lonely, so she learned to entertain herself even though her mother was a stay at home mom. She was a home body, always talking on the phone, sewing, but not engaged in the activities that enrich a kid’s life. She didn’t take her to the park to play and she didn’t read Honor stories either. Her father did that at bedtime,
Honor: 05:19 so he introduced me to the world of books. He was an avid reader himself and it was he who would take me out, say, SAturday morning She would meet a friend for coffee and he would take me to look at the steam trains At waverly station, so we’d go into trains and wander around the guardes while she had coffee and then we’d meet up again and come home
Damon: 05:45 at eight years old. Honored was introduced to riding lessons and she fell in love with the fantasy of owning a pony. One day as we talked, I realized she was so locked away from the world. She probably would have latched onto whatever activity her parents introduced her to and Honor. Agreed. She said she spent her first year of school at home in bed, sick. That secret from the world prevented her from developing immunity, so she caught everything like measles, mumps, and whatever was lingering about. She had to repeat that year, which was okay because she went to school with a nicer group of girls and she was older than the other students. Not Younger, which could have been tough, still Honors parents, put a lot of pressure on her to be a bright star academically and while she was no dummy, she was an average student,
Honor: 06:37 I, I sort of grew up feeling the service never pretty enough or clever enough. I wasn’t the child that they hoped that they would produce between them and yet they were just denied that I’ve been confronted with that. They would have denied that as I said I was, but I wasn’t. I don’t believe it. And so then teenage years were the usual angst and things that I started self harming, which I didn’t realize I was self harming until I was in adulthood. At the age of six I was in the classroom at school and a fellow to the shy and I cut my finger accidentally, and then it was all bandaged up But that was the beginning. So I used to get my dad’s razors then and I would cut myself on purpose and I did that that for a lot of years. And then when my mother was noticing and said, don’t do that, that’s bad for you. I would do it where she wouldn’t see it necessarily as I got older
Damon: 07:57 around 14 years old, Honor, stopped self harming, but she started smoking. She admits smoking was a substitute for the overt physical self harming.
Honor: 08:08 And it was that feeling of not being good enough. I mean they would have claimed they left me, but she would be very, uh, kind of if we were in a social situation and we came home, she would say to me, I just wanted to push you and say speak because I was very quiet. I didn’t want to say. And the thing in case it sounded stupid. So I just kept quiet. And then another time she would be saying how wonderful, and marvelous I was, because I’d made custard or something stupid, you know. So it was this mixed message thing was going on all the time.
Damon: 08:46 Honors read a lot about her behavior in those days. She learned that inflicting harm on yourself is a release of some kind that could be related to pain or that you’re not loved. Honors first school closed. So she was transferred to another dingier, substandard educational school, that she abhorred. She was trying to figure out what she should study to build her professional foundation and her parents tried to steer her toward nursing or teaching, but Honor wanted to be a journalist. She loved to write and it’s a skill she says has helped her in adulthood to deal with everything. I asked her about how her adoption was playing out in her mind in terms of being a teenager and starting to notice differences between herself and her family. She said she definitely noticed differences between herself and her parents and cousins. But it was an interesting experience while traveling internationally that made her actually feel a connection for the first time
Honor: 09:45 when I was 13 or 14. They took me to Ireland for the first time and my mother said before we went somewhere you either love or hate it states away. And I have a scenario playing out in my head that my parents, my parents had been a young Irish couple in most. I was conceived. They couldn’t for whatever reason and I was born and then to be adopted. So I had the whole thing into an island long before I knew of my Irish connection. I felt a strong connection. That was like a coming home almost.
Damon: 10:31 And you did?
Honor: 10:34 No, at that time I didn’t. No.
Honor: 10:37 So when I, when I did find that there’s no surprise, it was a confirmation of something I knew. So yes, I definitely was aware of the differences. And I had this romantic scenario and I used to say to myself, I would hate to discover that I had been the result of rape you know how would you deal with that imagine finding that...