I recently discovered an author that has inspired, intrigued and compelled me to finish his work in one sitting, something I've not accomplished in quite some time. Tim Green, a former Atlanta Falcons football player, FOX-TV Sports host, lawyer and prolific author captivated me with his very personal, very vulnerable story of growing up adopted in the 60s and 70s. His story, I believe, is a must-read for every adoptive parent and professional who labor with the inner turmoil of those stripped of all legal and physical ties to those to whom they owe their very existence.
Tim, adopted as an infant, was a reticent young man early on. He had, however, bottled up inside him emotions that manifested in horrible nightmares difficult to escape on a nightly basis. Intelligent and driven, he strived to be the best at everything so as to win the approval of all in his circle. Yet, even the praise and glory of triumph did not assuage the churning cauldron of something going on inside him.
Tim was aware that he was different from his peers...not fitting in and called "Timidthy" because of his hyperbolic fear or sad reactions in proportion to the event. Remembering an incident from his elementary years Tim writes:
"In all honesty, I didn't understand myself. Being sad is one thing, hysterics are quite another. But the thing that bothered me about Charlotte's death [from Charlotte's Web] more than anything were the little babies she left behind. Charlotte was a beautiful creature. I loved Charlotte. Her children would never know her, and it was that fact that made me hysterical. At that time, I had no way of knowing why."
Ostracized by peers and feeling very alone, Tim continued through adolescence never speaking about his adoption although it was quite evident to those that knew him and his parents. People perceived quite readily that he had none of the physical features of the two he called Mom and Dad. Convinced that others, too, saw him as a throw-away child he believed himself to be, he felt ill as he responded to queries about the adoption issue.
Interestingly, an adolescent peer, too, was adopted. While camping in Matt's backyard one summer night, his friend broached the subject with Tim, asking him if he ever thought about his biological parents.
"I don't have any other parents," I hissed maliciously, as if I were spitting on his mangled corpse, hating him for tripping the wire, for bringing me so close to my own destruction, for, as far as our friendship went, destroying himself."
The friendship with Matt abruptly ended; rage consumed Tim as he trekked through the neighborhood back to his home where he felt safe "at least for the time being."
While a star athlete, gifted and determined, Tim's life was anything but easy as one might expect from such a person with stellar abilities. He is haunted by his unknown past. Myself being an adoptive parent and counselor with almost three decades of working with young people (and adults) who have been adopted, I was hooked on Mr. Green's account of his own struggle through the morass of not knowing "who am I?" Mr. Green has given me a new perspective and insight into an adoptive child's internal workings, giving me a better understanding of how I might best help my kids and clients negotiate the "finding of themselves." Our children carry unseen bloody wounds, along with the suitcases they bring to our homes. Tim's journey was both difficult and hope filled.
"I am at peace now, maybe for the first time in my life. I don't have to do anything or be anything. Before I met Illyssa [wife] and filled in the pieces of my past, I didn't know if I ever could have felt this way. I think what happened was that when I set out to find my biological mother, I was really looking for myself. It feels good to be home."
Thank you, Tim, for your willingness to share your heart. My kids and clients will later thank you, too.