Renee searched for her mother literally her whole life. But her search predated the internet so she frequented the library and scoured local high school year books. with hopes of finding someone she felt she was related to. When she located her biological mother she refused to share any information about Renee’s biological father and forbade Renee for searching for her biological brother. The more you tell a person not to do something, the more they want to do that very thing and Renee swore to definitely search for her brother. Ultimately DNA testing unraveled the mystery. She takes a lot of comfort in knowing that her father was a pretty cool guy and someone she would’ve admired. Even after a tumultuous childhood, and severed ties to her biological mother, Renée said she has no regrets about searching for her biological family and she would do it again.
The post 017 – He Is My Brother And I Will Find Him appeared first on Who Am I...Really? Podcast.
I started running away from home when I was four and when they would find me, I would have my little suitcase, my little flower power suitcase, and they would say, where are you going? And I would say, I'm going to go sign my mother. So I started searching for my mother before I even knew what it meant.
Who am I? Who am I? Who am I? Who am I? Who am I? Who am I? Who am I?
This is Who Am I Really, a podcast about adoptees that have located and connected with their biological family members.
Hey, it's Damon and my guest on the show today is Renee. She was born in the 60s where her adoptive mother felt there were high expectations for what a family should look like and for her to be a mother. Renee shared that her upbringing wasn't a warm family environment at all. In her house, all of the caregiving things that parents do for their children, she had to do for herself. She was abused by her father and that abusive behavior was passed down to their biological son. When Renee had reached her limit, she ran away from home to start a new life and to try to find her biological family. Renee's journey begins in Houston, Texas.
She says her mother felt pressure to make her family meet societal norms, but she wasn't a very good mother at all. And her adoptive father was abusive. Her childhood had no love, no friends. And the children basically raised themselves.
My adoptive parents tried to have a child of their own for about 10 years and they weren't able to so they adopted my older brother who's not related. And then three years later adopted me because you have to have the boy and the girl and the boy has to be older and girl, you know, um, my adoptive mother was extremely rigid and rule bound and she, I don't think she actually wanted to be a mother, but society dictated that she had to be. So that was in order to appear successful, that's what she needed to do.
what makes you say that you didn't think she actually wanted to be a mother?
She was a horrible mother. I mean she, she just could not deal with the fact that there were people in that house who needed her care.
Wow. Can you give me an example of what you mean?
Well, we fed ourselves out of jars and cans and we ate cereal. We fed each other. No one cooked. We learned how to wash our own clothes before we started school. We had a step stool up to the washing machine because it was top loading at the time. And we learned how to wash our own clothes. We bathed ourselves, everything. We did everything ourselves. We didn't really have a mother and she didn't work. She was a stay at home person.
Oh. So there was no reason for her not to have the energy to be the nurturing mom.
Absolutely didn't want to. She didn't, she didn't cuddle us. She didn't hug us. She didn't, there was no, I mean, we just didn't, didn't interact with her. She was just kind of just presence in the house that you didn't really bother.
And how were you with your father then? Your adoptive father?
Well, he was a pedophile and an abuser and uh, my older brother, he beat half to death a couple of times a week. And me, he beat it up a couple of times, half to death a couple of times a week. And um, he abused me sexually. He didn't abuse boys sexually. When I was 10, they finally did conceive and have a child of their own. He's a pedophile as well. He's a convicted pedophile as well.
Is that right? My gosh, I'm so sorry for how you grew up. That sounds incredibly horrible.
It was, I mean, I look back on it now and yes it is, but we didn't know any different at the time. We didn't really have friends because we were so ashamed. We didn't want people to come to the house. My adopted mother didn't clean either. If we wanted to have someone over the house, instinctually, we knew that we should clean the house up. I mean, we were on our own pretty much. We had a roof over our head and there was, you know, there were canned foods and, and lunch meat and cereal and things like that, um, in the house. It's not like we were starving, it's just that if we wanted it done, we had to do it ourself.
And what did that make you think about your adoption and your biological family? Like when did it start to hit you that this was just not..
Well, I was, I was, I was an adult before it even occurred to me. I think after I had a child myself, I was 21 when I had my son and mothering him started to realize just how messed up my childhood had been. I mean, I always knew just from watching other families that, um, when I had a baby, if I ever had a baby, because I, I definitely wasn't committed to that. There would be cuddling and hugging and reading, you know, reading stories and, and all that kind of stuff. Um, you know, I, I made myself so promises that I would do some things very differently, but you don't actually realize what all goes into parenting until you're a parent. And that's when I really started to see just how little she had done and she was also anorexic. She was, I mean there were just.. It was such a mess.
Renee says her adoptive mother had a very traumatic childhood herself in war torn Czechoslovakia. Their family had fled the country after fighting erupted in the skies above her home. Together in a new country.,Renee's adopted mother and her loving Czech grandmother were neighbors and her grandmother's close proximity was her escape from the chaos.
My grandma and grandpa lived right behind us and they were like night and day from our family. And I spent a lot of time at their house because they lived directly behind us. There was a gate between the two yards and she was super affectionate and she would cook for me and she would watch TV with me sitting on her lap. She was just awesome and she saved my life. I mean, she made everything okay. So what I didn't get from them, I did get from my grandparents.
Did you ever ask your grandmother why your mom was like that?
I couldn't really, she didn't speak enough English.
Speaker 3 (07:14):
I see, I see. Did she ever know the beatings, the markings? Did she ever show concern?
Yes, she would come running. She would come running across the yard. This tiny little enormously fat lady. You know, come wobbling as fast as she could and scream at my adoptive father what sounded like threats. I did learn to speak some Czech just to communicate with her, but yeah, I, yeah, she was definitely, she did what she could.
Yeah. She sounds like she provided some respite and she sounds like the home that your mother would have grown up in with your grandmother which was not at all exemplary of the type of home that you grew up in. I wonder what the disconnect was for her.
I mean you have to understand, she grew up in Czechoslovakia during the war and they left Czechoslovakia ahead of Hitler. So who knows. It's not a time she ever talks about. They had to leave their farm. There was an air battle above their farm and a couple of planes were shot down and there were body parts and pieces all over the grapevines. She wouldn't eat gapes. So you know, she was a kid. She was born in 29 so, and like I said, you know, she was just following the script. She believed that this was the script that she had to follow in order to be a good person and in order to be a successful person and someone who could be admired in her community. So she did those things. Now the fact that she wasn't cut out for those things, it never occurred to her, I don't think.
You try to force yourself a round peg into the square hole that that society tells you you need to be.
well, and she was very narcissistic as well. So what she needed or wanted was really all that was important. So it's not like she even questioned, should I be a mother? Well of course she should be a mother. She was awesome.
She held herself in high regard. So of course she was going to be.
Very high regard.
Renee said she was about 12 years old when she realized her situation was not okay. She left home at about 15 years old because she just couldn't take it anymore. But Renee wasn't an adult, so she had to lie about her age to get by. Back in the 1970s, you could easily pass for