Our living room floor was scattered with tidbits of paper, scratched-out notes from my first conversation with birth relatives, photos of generations past, a handwritten will of my birth grandmother, the first card I received from my birth mother, the newspaper clipping with the hand carved ship my grandfather made for Henry Ford back in the day. (Yes, THAT Henry Ford!)
What I have hoarded is every single thing pertaining to my adoption.
These things have all remained in a big plastic container, reserved for the day that I would write our family story for our children and grandchildren.
I think this behavior is called hoarding, right?
Did you know that hoarding is called a mental illness? If that’s the case, I’m mental! Maybe a little OCD, too!
Last weekend I sorted my hoards and got the papers into four piles. Death, marriage, and birth certificates, adoptive family, birth family, and my family.
There were volumes of correspondence to the hospital where I was born, always with the accompanying letter that they couldn’t release information. There were multiple copies of my original birth certificate. Don’t want to lose that! Better to have multiple copies than none.
I remember speaking once to an audience and passing around the ONLY photo I had of my birth mother. I literally felt sick when I thought it had disappeared.
Here’s what the folks at Mayo Clinic describe as symptoms of hoarding (tongue in cheek):
–Difficulty organizing items
–Excessive attachment to possessions, including discomfort letting others touch or borrow possessions
–Limited or no social interactions
People who hoard typically save items because they believe these items will be needed or have value in the future. A person also may hoard items that he or she feels have important emotional significance — serving as a reminder of happier times, for example, or representing beloved people or pets. People who hoard may report feeling safer when surrounded by the things they save.
Hmmmm. That confirms my hunch. I’m an adoptee hoarder. However, there is a beautiful, positive side to all of this for many adoptees. We have very active minds, we remember details, we never forget a face, we are optimum learners in life, and we are treasure hunters.
Can anyone relate to this? Do you keep adoption information about your child or parents in a special place? How many plastic bins do you have that are filled to overflowing with details about adoption?
I’d love to hear how you deal with the hoarder in you!
Have a great week!