Ok, I figured that if I gave you some background about me you may understand a little better why it’s taken this long to start my coming out “process”.
Also, since I am trying my best to give you somewhat of a glimpse into my early life due to it’s complications, this may be a long post… but please hang in there!
Easy part – I was born in 1958. From there it gets rather complicated. You see, I am an adoptee. My birth-mom already had 4 kids older than me, was recently divorced, and had to care for my grandmother who had a heart condition. So, I was “given-up” for adoption although she held out signing the final papers for two years while I stayed in a foster home that was sponsored by the orphanage. Eventually, she did go on to have 2 more kids after me, so go figure….
How do I know all this, well after searching for almost 23 years, I found my birth-family back in April of 2000. Unfortunately, my birth-mom was deceased (she died about a month after I FIRST started to search), but I did (and still do) connect with my birth siblings. You have know idea how it felt to finally see other people who are blood-related to you, look like you and share the same mannerisms etc. Not to mention the fact that for the first time in my life (I was 42) I finally had a medical history to give doctors!
Another strange twist is, although I am still in the closet, I have a sister and a niece who are “out” as well as a nephew! So where was I, that’s right… I was still at the orphanage.
Anyway, I was finally adopted by a 1st generation Italian-Catholic family. To get an idea how traditional they are, I’m talking gravy (in Brooklyn it’s called gravy and NOT sauce), that is always bubbling on the stove. Macaroni was home-made and you had to get out of bed early EVERY day to go to church. And G-D forbid you even talked to a Protestant!
Another facet of growing up in a strict Italian-Catholic family was that roles were very defined. Poppa was the patriarch (although in reality everyone knew grandma was the boss of poppa). My mother was a “housewife” and my father worked. When my parents met, 2 years later they married and my father moved into the family home. And MOST importantly what happened in the home STAYED in the home. Family secrets were (and still are) strictly guarded, sometimes even to the grave.
So…. about 2 years after I was adopted, my parents decided to adopt again. This time however, when my sister joined us we moved to “Jersey” so no one would would have to know the families secret, which was that my sister and I were adopted. You have to understand the mentality back then, being a breeder was job “Numero Uno!” and if you couldn’t breed back in the day you adopted and moved to a new neighborhood. Back then adoption itself was also shrouded in secrecy and lies. Adoptive parents were told to raise the child as their own and no one need ever know (and in some cases not even the adoptee), and birth mothers were told to forget and go in with their lives. (Also since adoption records are “sealed” and “amended” birth certificates are issued you can get the idea why it took me 23 years to find.) Although in my heart I never felt like I “fit-in” with the family, I never would have been told of my adoption had it not been a condition from the social worker when my parents applied to adopt a 3rd child. To this day however, many of my older neighbors growing up, still think that my youngest sister is the only one of us who is adopted. Now you can see why I said family secrets were NEVER divulged to anyone!
So, basically from day one, my “true” identity was shrouded in lies and secrecy and I grew up in a home whose secrets were locked tighter than Ft. Knox. And this is also why it has taken me almost 50 years to open the door…..
Next – Growing up Catholic…..