exposing the dark side of adoption
Register Log in

Life Changes

I never had braces, but the shrew had me go to an orthodontist because she thought my teeth looked too big for my mouth.  I had casts made, x-rays taken, teeth sanded, all on perfect teeth.  I was in the 4th grade... what a horrible age that was for me.  Anyway...  I have one cavity-filling, and I got that when I was 18 or so; my wisdom teeth were removed a few years after that.  For some reason people like to discuss things like Oral Surgery because so many people can relate to the pain.  Oddly enough, I have a very sensitive gag reflex when it comes to mouth x-rays, but not dentists.  I'm sure that's Freudian in nature... so no need to go further, right?
Although I had all this "work" done on my teeth, there were no changes made to my mouth or smile.  As such, it never occurred to me that people would have problems with their teeth... problems that got fixed.
My brother had braces, but that's because he sucked his thumb, and he was getting buck-teeth.  They were never crooked or messed-up.  It made no sense to me that both of us went to the same orthodontist, both of us were supposed to have braces, but only he got them on his straight teeth... and I got my teeth sanded down.  If we were going tit-for-tat, why did he get to leave the office with the braces I wanted, and why did I always smell like burned bone?  Life was always unfair that way with that family.  I was a child... I was told I was going to get something... I was prepared... I was expecting... I was anticipating and looking forward to The Big Day.  It never happened.
I had a friend, Christine, who had horrible crooked teeth.  She and I would fold pieces of bologna into fours, and bite the center.  My hole was a perfect circle; hers was a perfect square.  We loved that game.  Years later she got braces... we stopped being friends.
Teeth are weird, because they are functional more than they are cosmetic... yet bad teeth are very disturbing to look at.  Bad teeth can ruin the look of a person.  The Shrew had a policy that my dad was never to lose any teeth, requiring dentures.  If so, she'd leave him.  It could have been said in jest, but knowing her... having been the one who had to have perfect teeth fixed and a nose "repaired" because it too looked too big... I didn't doubt her sense of vanity.  It was bad enough he had coffee/nicotine-stained teeth she abhorred... God Forbid the poor man should lose a tooth!  He lost his full head of hair and gained a furry back, instead.  Poetic justice... I love it.
In terms of Form and Function, teeth are much like breasts.  Unless you need them for actual productive use, size, shape and appearance mean nothing.  A closed mouth hides bad teeth; a closed neck-line hides ugly breasts.
My breasts were never "ugly"... small, yes... but they were very firm from body-building, and guys always seemed to like them.  I had only 1 complaint... and that was from The Man.  He wanted them bigger.  He was an anesthesiologist... he could afford them.  I told him, "after kids, I'd have them 'fixed'."
I did, many years and children later.  Without his influence, or help.  [I did make sure he saw me with The Girls... and I loved knowing I was true to my word, and he was an asshole pig.  I had made the right choice.  There was Closure... all from an open blouse.  Go figure.]
Many girls experience breast-changes during their monthly cycle.  I never did.  My body has always run like clock-work, so silly signs like water retention and tenderness were reserved for the mother-lode of all New symptoms.
Find a book about pregnancy, you will find chapters after chapters discussing Breast Changes.
Find a female adoptee pregnant for the first time, you will find a girl knee-deep in personal fascination and body function.  Who says there's no Owner's Manual for the human body?  Every man should read What to Expect When Expecting... not for his wife's sake, but for his own sense of what gets made when.  It's truly fascinating stuff!
The Shrew experienced pregnancy, with her son.  She thought sharing her memories about her pregnancy with another child brought me comfort and closeness.  It brought me empty sadness and an overwhelming sense of disconnection with THAT family.  So her stories coupled with my own sense of Loss went well with a muted longing for MY own, lost lineage & family fertility.  I was hormonal, lonely and scared... and each time I bit into food, my gums would start bleeding.  NOTHING about me was The Same.  It was all Different, in a weird and normally way that made my Adoption a real huge issue:  Identity.
Who did I look like?  What sort of genes do I have?  Just because there are no red-heads in my brother's family, that doesnt mean I can't birth a fireball, right? 
What was pregnancy with ME like?  What was MY Labor & Delivery like?  What sort of weight gain can I expect, and most importantly, did my mom get her figure back, or did she double-in-size after childbirth?  Am I going to be a Fat Mom or a Skinny Mom?
Will my kids have red hair and bad teeth?
Ultrasounds can only determine so much.
The day that third pregnancy determined a twin-pregnancy, I realized... "I'm screwed".
Biologically speaking, female adoptees are indeed screwed when it comes to Life Changes, and there's not a damn thing we can do about it.
It was during my pregnancies I remembered I am my own person, linked to other people in a way that goes far beyond a last name.  That's a very sobering thought... and given the fact I was no longer allowed to drink or take fun cold-medicine, Sober Thinking was all I had to entertain me all those sleepless nights with heartburn, leg cramps and nausea.  My best, most romantic writing took place when I was pregnant.  Unfortunately, my handwriting changed, too... so most if it is illegible and tear-stained.  God is a funny dude, isn't He?
Change... fear and anticipation of something New and Different is the stuff that keeps life worth living and preserving.  It is biologically based and mentally captivating.  Man can change the world, but he cannot change human development without damage to the dynamics that are already perfectly intact.
Perhaps that is the essence that all adoptees share... a hidden sense of Before and After.  Will that transformation be a winner or a loser?  Dare we test the Fate's Wheel of Fortune, AGAIN???  Nature... Nurture... let's take a peek into that Pandora's Box and see if it hurts.
Now that I'm a mom, with daughters of my own... I realize the Hormonal Side is indeed like Mother like Daughter... and as such I was robbed a Maternal Experience for myself.  However, my daughters don't have to suffer like I did.  I have kept my pregnancy journals and there were some photos taken of me during each morphing-into-momness.  I even have each child's ultrasound photos.  Somewhere.  If/when it's their turn to test their will and strength and jump into an unknown gene-pool at least they know: Twins are genetically possible, so is red hair, but to date, the teeth look good!
by Kerry on Monday, 23 April 2007