The Search

03 October 2016

With six days to go before my 21st birthday, I decided to begin my search for finding my biological family. It was something I had wanted to do for many years. After having my daughters, Gabriella and Ava I decided that it was time to start learning about my past and my biological family as I was now a parent and raising my own children.

All that I had been told at this point was;

  • I was adopted when I was 20 months old
  • I was born in Sanmartin
  • I had three siblings
  • My parents were no longer together

I found a group on Facebook founded by the wonderful Ileana Cunniffe Băiescu called ‘The never forgotten Romanian children – Copiii niciodată uitați ai României.’ and sent her a message introducing myself and asking if she would be able to help me.

13 October 2016

Ileana got back to me and asked for a little more information about myself and if I knew anything that could be useful in my search. I gave her all of the information that I had, where I was born, my parents names and where I was staying at the time that I was adopted. She asked me to include a picture, of me when I was adopted and one of me then.

14 October 2016

I sent Ileana the two pictures, one of me when I was adopted and one of me at the time of the search alongside a draft of a post that she could share in the community Facebook page where other adoptees and people that may have some information would be able to see and hopefully help in my search.

 

After speaking to her college in Romania, it was discovered that I wasn’t born in the place that I had believed to have been at all. That was blow number one, the place I thought I was born and came from wasn’t even correct. That’s when the reality of the search began to kick in, and I realised that I might be hearing things that I hadn’t prepared myself for.

I was told that in the records that they were able to find, I had been abandoned in the hospital at birth by my parents. There were no records in Sanmartin of my biological parents, and they were told to ring Covasna (another town) instead but the team had difficulty in the past trying to get information from there. At least we then had a better idea of where to look which left me feeling hopeful, yet confused.

17 October 2016

Journalist and humanitarian worker Lukács Csaba shared a post on his Facebook asking if anyone had any information or may know someone that could give an insight into my search. To my amazement, the post was shared over 400 times and was filled with comments of encouragement and some people had information about my family. At this point, I had not known about the post so hadn’t been able to read any of the information yet.

18 October 2016

Lukács got in touch to tell me about what he had learned from his Facebook post. I was so overwhelmed by the support from everyone who had shared the post and left comments. I was so pleased that people were behind me in my search.

I was told my father had left the village a long time ago and was known to a lot of people however no one knew much about my mother.

A half-sibling of mine my father’s side had contacted him with some information. I wasn’t even aware that I even I had half brother and sister, so I was really excited when Lukács told me.

I messaged them both on facebook and was very nervous in case they felt angry at me for bringing up the past. I know a lot of people think that adoption should be left closed, and don’t believe that people should search for their family. They were both so kind and loving; naturally, we both had a lot of questions for each other. I was surprised at how much I had in common with them both. My half-sister had a little girl who is adorable, and we seemed to have a lot in common. My half brother was into the same music, likes the same things I liked and seemed like someone that if I had known here, would have likely hung out with. Their English is quite limited and my Hungarian in non-existent so I have to use Google Translate to keep in contact with them.

As mentioned, out of respect for everyone involved, I’ll skip over the specific details, but its a complicated situation with a lot of history that is still quite raw for a lot of people.

Lukács confirmed that I was born in Covasna and said that I was given new papers a couple of months before I was adopted from Sanmartin to say that I was abandoned. This bit left me somewhat confused and still is an area that I want to look into as the dates and the timeline seem to have some gaps that I would like to fill in.

He also said that he had collected some more information on my father and found where he was from which was a great step, and one I was very excited about.

19 October 2016

Lukács messaged to me say that he was able to track down my father and said he was pleased to hear that I was looking for him and was interested in getting in contact. However, he didn’t speak English or have internet, although I was given a phone number for him.

Lucasz told me that 3 out of 4 of us were adopted, however, sadly our brother died in a tragic incident. This was incredibly hard to take in. I had prepared myself for the likelihood that some of them would no longer be alive however actually hearing it was difficult. It’s a strange feeling, being sad about the loss of someone that you have never met.

He also was able to track down my sister which was exciting, and she was living in the UK which came as a massive shock to me as I just expected everyone to still live in Romania. I was given her Facebook page and began to talk to her. To say it was nerve-racking is an understatement. I was worried she would feel angry, or upset that I was trying to find her, but once we got talking, we began to realise that we were quite similar. She was able to provide me with some more information that I had been looking for, but I didn’t want to ask too many questions. We now have a great relationship and get on well and hope to meet up someday.

16 Days

That was it. 16 days. That’s how long it took from my initial message to Ileana to finding my sister, half-siblings and learning about my father, and the death of our brother. In all honesty, it has taken until recently to process things to the point where I have been able to talk openly about the search. My search would not have been possible without both Ileana and Lukács. I would like to thank them both again for all that they have done for me. They helped me out of the kindness of their hearts. It’s not often that you find individuals that go above and beyond to help someone else and ask for nothing in return. Finding my biological family was something that I had thought about for years, and they both played a massive part in my search and I will forever be grateful for all that they have done for me. I would also like to thank everyone that commented on the posts and Facebook and to those that took the time to share the posts. Ileana, alongside the volunteers that work with her at ‘The never forgotten Romanian children – Copiii niciodată uitați ai României’ have reunited over 500 families to date. The work that they do is invaluable to someone like me. I understand that a lot of adoptees have no desire to find out more about their past, but for me and those who feel strongly about finding their families, their work is able to give us the ability to begin to delve further into our past and get some of the closure, and information we have been looking for. Ileana is truly one of the most inspiring people I have ever had the pleasure of knowing. She has been working incredibly hard to organise a fantastic project in the village of Scutelnici, Romania, her birthplace. She has been fundraising to provide the local children with a playground and provide the children with their first ever school sports equipment. The playground will be opening at the end of August. If anyone would like to find out more, donate, or follow the progress of the playground I have left the link below.

https://www.facebook.com/groups/406424433161813/

Thank you again to everyone that has helped in my search. If you have any questions or comments, I would love to hear from you.

*Disclaimer – due to the sensitive nature of this topic I will not be giving specific details of my biological family and their individual situations*

Running from Silence

For years I tried to mask the negative thoughts that I have been left with after my past and my adoption. Rationally, I know that my feelings are justified and are valid and I shouldn’t feel guilty or wrong for having them. I feel guilty because adoption is such a fantastic thing, as I have been given a second chance at a life with a family that genuinely loves and cares for me. I have an amazing family that has been able to provide me with everything I needed and more, my family are my rock. One of the negative thoughts or feelings that I experience is the fear of losing those around me.

My youngest memories of this, are the dreams that I used to have. I would have terrible dreams over and over that people would come through my front door, in a convertible, and try and steal my parents. I can remember the dream as if it were a film I’ve watched a hundred times. I hated it, and the dreams would always terrify me.
Growing up I lived in a small rural village, so if there were any cars, you would always hear the sound of the car driving past. I would have a recurring nightmare, which began with that sound. It probably sounds ridiculous to anyone else reading, but I would hear that noise in my dream and be so scared to turn around. Once I found the courage to look around, I would see ‘aliens’ on my sister’s bed, and they would taunt me about taking her away. This dream, in particular, was awful, and I had it repeatedly for years. When I grew older, the dreams would get progressively darker.

I remember always having the feeling of someone being outside my house or my room when I went to bed. I would panic that there were people there when sensibly, I knew that was not true at all. I remember asking my dad if he was outside walking in the garden because I thought I’d heard a noise. It’s complicated to talk about without sounding completely crazy. When I’m going about my daily life, and I’m busy, or when I was younger, when I was at school or with friends, these thoughts are not present at all. During the day, for the most part, my girls keep me so busy that I don’t have the opportunity to have time to myself which has been somewhat of a blessing.

The mind seems to have a funny way of dealing with trauma and emotions that we try to hide. No matter how much I would attempt to portray the image of coping, every night when I go to bed and silence kicks in I am unable to escape my thoughts and dreams. I used to feel like I was going mad sometimes because my mind just refused to switch off. Even now, I hate silence; I always have to have music, or Youtube in the background because I can’t stand allowing the silence to come and my thoughts to take over. The best way to describe the feeling would be if you had a browser open with multiple tabs and having them all running at once and the moment life around me stops they all take over. Part of the reason for starting my blog was to be able to write about my feelings and thoughts when these moments occur as a way to help process them.

It can feel very overwhelming and sometimes quite scary to appear unable to control the negative thoughts that come into your head. It makes me angry that 20 years after being adopted I am still finding difficulty in processing my emotions about it. Then again, what else is to be expected, its the same as any traumatic event that takes part in a child’s life. It will no doubt leave wounds, leaving scars that will never fade. I will not ever be able to know what happened in the first two years of my life (I have a blog post ‘The Unknown’ which talks a bit more in-depth about this) but unfortunately I will never be able to escape what it leaves behind when the silence takes over.

 

Archerfield Walled Garden

Today my parents took Gabriella, Ava and myself for a surprise day out since the weather was sunny. We drove for just under an hour, through the scenic Scottish Borders countryside and arrived at Archerfield Walled Garden.

 

When we arrived at the gardens, the sun was shining so we all popped on some sunscreen ready for the day ahead. Admission into the gardens was free. I had never been to Archerfield, so I was just as excited as the girls were. We began by exploring the gardens which were incredibly beautiful, and the girls loved the willow tunnels. Their favourite part was the wildlife area where they were hunting for bugs.

 

Before we headed to the fairy trail, we popped into the shop and grabbed a drink and a bite to eat to take with us on the trail. I was impressed with the variety of snacks that they had, especially children’s and healthy snacks. We also got the girls some ribbon and fairy dust for them to take in the walk for £1 each. The trail was the perfect length for the girls to be able to manage to walk and they enjoyed going through the individual children’s doors.

 

The walk was full of special little touches that made the magic of the fairy garden come alive, and the girls were so engaged the whole time. The trail took us through the woods where we found lots of fairy houses and each had a story about the fairy they lived in the house. At the end of the trail, we tied our ribbons to the fairy tree and sprinkled our fairy dust. Gabriella and Ava were both excited about this and loved looking at all of the other ribbons on the tree.

 

Gabriella then asked to go to a park, luckily Archerfield had a park, so we headed back headed back through the shop to the park where the girls let off their last bit of energy before we headed inside for lunch. When I took Gabriella to the bathroom, she even commented on how lovely they smelled. The menu was amazing, and they had such a good variety of food and also had some vegan options too. I went for the roasted sweet potato salad with a side of chips to share, which was so yummy and the girls each chose sausages which must have been good because they ate most of it. I was impressed that the girls both got children’s cutlery and cups and their food was brought out at a children’s temperature, which if you are a parent, you will know that it makes a huge difference.

 

Mum and dad had a coffee while I took the girls back outside to play before we headed to the shop to get some bits our fairy garden. The girls chose a fairy each, a little fairy pond, a mushroom and a bird bath with to put into the fairy garden at home. It was great that they sold the bits that were in the fairy trail so that could bring some of the magic home.

Overall we had an absolutely fantastic day at Archerfield Walled Garden, and I would definitely recommend it to anyone that was looking for a nice family day out.

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Saying Goodbye to Dummies

 

Last year Gabriella and Ava gave up their dummies when they were two and a half and one and a half. I was so fed up with hunting the house for dummies, getting up in the night when they had lost their dummies, and I felt that they were both old enough to give them up. The process was far better than I had anticipated and went brilliantly. Here are five things that were key to making it a success;

1 The buildup

The planning and buildup were vital in making the whole process as stress-free as possible for us all. It was around summer that I began getting the girls ready to give up their dummies, and I planted the idea in their heads. I had decided that I was going to do ‘Elf of the Shelf’ that Christmas and the girls would give the elf their dummies in return for a present of their choice. I didn’t push the idea, but I would consistently mention it and would increase talking about it the closer we got to Christmas. If you Don’t celebrate Christmas, then, of course, you could choose an event that is fun and exciting, such as a birthday or new year. I think whatever event you chose, it is really important to spend the time leading up to it talking about the change that is about to take place and focusing on the positives.

2 It was at their pace

Encouraging the girls to have the choice over their actions is something I’m passionate about. On the first of December Twinkles (our elf) came and every morning when the girls came through to see what she had been up to I asked them if they were ready to give up their dummies. Every morning they said ‘not yet’, I just left it, and we got on with our day. On the 9th day, Twinkies had put toilet roll around the Christmas tree which the girls found highly amusing. I asked Gabriella like I did every morning if she was ready and to my surprise, she said yes. I was so pleased that she had decided on her own and I think that it made the process a lot easier and made her feel in control.

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3 They were getting something in return

I had asked the girls to chose a present that they wanted in return for their dummies, and they both said they wanted Moana toys. The gift was a huge incentive for them to give up their dummies and I think it made a big difference. A couple of days after giving Twinkles their dummies I set the toys up with some twinking pink fairy lights, and the girls were so excited that Twinkles had brought the toys they asked for. Giving them the present helped to take the focus away from losing their dummies, and to them gaining their new toys.DSC_0178.JPG

4 I removed myself from blame

It was really important to me that the days after giving up their dummies wouldn’t be stressful. Since it was Twinkles taking the dummies away, it meant that it wasn’t me that as responsible and they couldn’t direct any frustration towards me. Ava was a bit younger, and she kept asking where her dummy was in the first few days and was asking for it but I kept reminding her that Twinkles had it and she accepted it very quickly without any major upset. I think there might have been a couple of incidents where there were arguments over giving them up, but I just reminded them that it was Twinkles that took them and removed myself.

5 we made it fun and magical

We created the story that Twinkles would take their dummies and deliver them to babies who needed them. The girls liked the idea that they were helping babies. We focused a lot on the magic that Twinkles brought, and how happy the babies would feel with their dummies. They both found it so magical when they saw Twinkles with the new toys and the fairy lights, and it was such a special moment that they still talk about now. Again, if you don’t celebrate Christmas, the idea of turning another year older and being a ‘big girl’ or boy is really exciting for toddlers and helping someone younger than them can bring a lot of pride. Its all about having fun with the process and made it exciting and fun so that there is no negative feelings and emotions.  When the girls talk about giving up their dummies, they look back on it as an exciting experience.

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I hope that this can help anyone who is thinking of taking their toddlers dummies away and gives you some fun ideas. I had been dreading taking the girls dummies away, but using these 5 things made the process fun and stress-free. Good luck!

8 Things not to say to parents of Irish Twins

I have two daughters, Gabriella who is 3 and Ava who is 2. They were born 11 months apart which makes then ‘Irish Twins’. Going out with the girls can sometimes generate some interesting comments. Here are eight things that parents of Irish Twins hear on a regular basis.

1 ‘You’ve got your hands full.’

*sigh* Any fellow Irish twin parents will no doubt have had multiple strangers feel the need to tell them that they have their hands full every time they set foot out of the house. I don’t know whether people say it because they can’t think of anything more insightful to say, but trust me, after hearing it over and over it gets a bit tedious. I would much rather hear ‘they are so well behaved’ or ‘they are cute’, a smile can be nice too.

2 ‘You have been busy.’

Seriously, When else would a person feel it appropriate to comment on someone else’s sex life? It’s such an unnecessary thing for people to say. It is always really awkward when people tell me that I have ‘been busy’, but you would be surprised how often I hear it. In the beginning, I heard it almost daily. I even once heard it from a doctor at a hospital appointment, which was delightful.

 

3 ‘You are crazy.’

As someone that spent all of their life desperate to have a family of their own this one really annoys me. I can completely understand that having two or more kids so close together might seem overwhelming to some people but for my family, it made perfect sense. Although there are many aspects of having the girls close together that have been difficult, there have been way more good than bad days.

 

4 ‘Was it planned?’

I can’t understand why people feel the need to ask this, it’s absolutely nothing to do with anyone other than my partner and me. However, people seem to take a keen interest in your sex life when you have Irish Twins. But yes, I was aware that having unprotected sex makes babies thank you. I actually was asked after having Gabriella if I wanted to go onto any contraception, but I chose not to and let nature determine if I was going to have another and I was blessed with Ava.

 

5 ‘I know exactly what that’s like, mine are two/three years apart.’

Having a toddler and a newborn, and an 11-month-old and a newborn have both completely different dynamics. I can appreciate that people are trying to find common ground, but the two couldn’t be more different. I literally had two babies, Gabriella wasn’t walking, she could say a few words but was nowhere near talking. When you have a toddler they can walk, talk and will a lot more independent than an 11-month-old. I’m assuming that people usually say a thing to help find common ground or find a way to connect with you but it is frustrating when people say this because they are so different.

 

6 ‘You’re brave.’

Its honestly like people think that having Irish Twins is the end of the world. It’s not as scary as people think. It can get quite disheartening when you hear comments like this and it feels like everyone is making assumptions without knowing your situation. I absolutely love having the girls close together. Of course, it takes a lot of adjusting in the beginning but it has worked out amazingly for us. Soldiers are brave. Survivors are brave. I am a mum with two kids close together. If someone wanted to comment, it would be much nicer to hear ‘you are doing a great job’,

 

7 ‘You will have a football team soon.’

Just because I chose to have two babies close together, it doesn’t mean that I want to have loads of children. It simply means that I decided to have two close together. It’s not the same thing. There is nothing more annoying than having strangers dictating what they think will happen with your body. If someone were curious if I wanted more, I would rather they just asked if I wanted to have more kids.

 

8  ‘How is that even possible.’

It’s quite alarming the number of adults that I have had to explain how you can have two babies in less than a year and that they are both mine. Its as if people think that there is a set waiting period after having a baby. I understand that the first few months with a baby can be stressful. Sex or having more babies is the last thing that some people can think of in the early days but it is possible to have two in under a year.

 

 

 

(Disclaimer; this isn’t meant to cause any offence. I know how sensitive the internet can be)

 

 

 

 

 

5 Facts about me

 

Cows are my favourite animal.

I am not too sure where my love and obsession for cows came from, but I think that they are the beautiful animals in the world. For my 18th birthday, my parents got me an amazing cake in the shape of a Simmental cow. It was so beautifully made I almost didn’t want to cut the cake open. When my daughter, Gabriella was born one of the local farms named a cow ‘Gabz’ after her because they knew how much I loved cows. I’m sure you will have heard of crazy cat ladies, well I’m the crazy cow lady.

My favourite place is Westendorf, in Austria.

I could write a whole post on why I love Westendorf so much, which I might even do one day. It holds such a special place in my heart because it is where I spent many of my family holidays. My dad and I both share a love for Westendorf, and when we are there, we go on walks just the two of us. These walks are some of my most treasured memories. Westendorf is my happy place and where I feel most myself, and whenever I am having a down day, I visualise being in the mountains, and I instantly feel better. I love how freeing it is to walk in the mountains, with no one around but my dad and I and I can’t wait to go back one day with Gabriella and Ava.

I am extremely impatient

One of my traits that I have passed down to Gabriella and Ava is my impatience. Everyone that knows me would agree that I have absolutely no patience. I hate waiting, I can’t stand having to ask people multiple times to do things, and it frustrates me when people dilly-dally. As much as I probably annoy those around me with how impatient I am I like to see it as I am driven. Both my daughters are extremely inpatient too which has made me appreciate how annoying it can be for others but then again, I tell myself that they are assertive and that I am creating strong females who know what they want.

I can’t stand birds

I completely understand that having a fear of birds is entirely irrational, but I just can’t seem to get over it. For as long as I can remember I have always had nightmares, actual nightmares about birds. Even when taking my daughters to the lake to feed the ducks I end up getting so panicky when the birds come close. I try to justify it to myself because birds don’t have facial expressions and I don’t like the idea that you can’t tell what they are thinking (I know it sounds crazy). I’m sure there is a deep-rooted explanation hidden somewhere in my past, but when I was younger, I remember helping my dad hand feed the pigeons, and going to bird shows, so I’m not sure where the fear comes from.

I will talk to anyone

I got this fact from my friend who suggested this, and it is very accurate. When I was younger, my mum would always warn me to be careful because I would talk to everyone. My parents say that on the flight home with me from Romania I kept turning round to the seats behind me to try and chat and smile to a group of young men in the seats behind. They probably should have guessed then that I loved to talk. Whether someone is old, or young, male or female, I will talk to them. One of the great things about my blogging journey so far is all of the amazing people that I have been able to connect with and get to know. I often am told that I am very easy to chat to which is lovely. I think this is because I take everyone at face value and rarely listen to the opinions of others.

 

 

 

The Unknown of Adoption

Many psychologists agree that the first three years of a child’s life are vital for various aspects of development, so when two out of the three years is entirely unknown, it always feels as if something is missing. Not knowing anything other than the names of my biological parents and that I had siblings was something that I struggled with. Although now, after research and help from people I have found out some more information (I would like to do a separate dedicated post on my search so far) I have still been left with so many more questions. People reading this would probably think that my biggest problem or the biggest question would be why was I put up for adoption. I believe that this is true for when I was younger, but as I grew up, my feelings changed. I no longer care about why I was put up for adoption because to me it doesn’t matter anymore. Nothing could be said to take away the fact that I was put up for adoption, and I now have a family that love me and care for me more than anyone else ever has.

I have always had an active imagination, and when I was young I would imagine different scenarios and what would happen if I met my biological family, but the reality was that I knew nothing at all. I didn’t know if they were alive, or where they lived or even if the information that I had was accurate. I always have been very open about the fact that I was adopted and am proud of my background and where I come from although I don’t know the specific details.

When I was younger, I would always feel awkward when other children would talk about when they were babies, or what their first words were. Not because I felt embarrassed about my past but because I simply didn’t know how to answer and I didn’t know myself. I would often get questions about why I looked different when I was in primary school since I am a bit more tanned and have dark hair and eyes, living in a small Scottish rural town this wasn’t very common. I much prefer when people ask me questions if they have any instead of just making assumptions. Other kids would often talk about the similarities that they shared with their parents, such as if they were sporty like their dad, or artistic like their mum. I didn’t have anything to reference to which I’m sure that you can imagine, often would leave me feeling incomplete.

I have never been someone that likes to share how I feel so I would try and deal with the complex emotions which come with adoption by myself. At the time I thought I was dealing things by just keeping them in my head and not sharing anything with anyone but now I know I was suppressing my feelings. Throughout high school, I struggled with my sense of self, and it was when my mental health issues became apparent although I did my best to try and hide them yet again. A lot of my close friends new that I was adopted and would always offer to be there as support if I wanted it but instead I would often push them away because I knew that they would never actually understand.

When I fell pregnant with Gabriella and with Ava, the unknown of my past was highlighted again. I had no information on my family history. I was unsure if there were any hereditary issues that I should have been aware of, or if twins ran in my family or even any information about my own birth. I found it quite worrying not having any information but thankfully the majority of the nurses and midwives were very understanding bar one. I was born with Sprengel shoulder, and my spine and top few ribs are not quite right, so I was worried that it could have been passed down genetically as I had read that in some rare cases it could be genetic and girls are at higher risk of developing Sprengel shoulder. Thankfully both girls were checked over thoroughly when they were born, and there have been no signs of any issues.

I look at Gabriella (3) and Ava (2), and I can already see so much of their personalities developing, but I know nothing of that time of my life. I was brought to the UK from Romania when I was 20 months old. By that age, both of my daughters were walking and talking, and I was able to have conversations with them. I knew their likes and dislikes. I knew what made them scared and how to comfort them and what made them happy. I feel like when I am with the girls; I can almost see the people that they are becoming and I genuinely believe that the first years are so important in defining who you become as you grow up. Not knowing anything about that time, other than a few notes on my development is something that I know I will never get answers.

I think the best way for me to describe the feeling to someone else would be to hand them a book and tell them only to read the second half. You get an understanding of what happens, but not why. Part of me thinks that I will never feel closure because I will never get answers to the questions that I have been asking my entire life. There are many aspects of my personality and mental health that will remain unanswered and unknown and that, for me, is the hardest part of adoption. The unknown.