A little less than a year ago, I confronted something which most people either never have to face, or face much younger than their 30's.

Unless they are adopted.

A lot of adoptees are bastards. Our mothers were not married, or were exploring infidelity at the time of our conception.1 After searching for our families for years (in many cases), you think you are prepared for anything.

Your mother was mentally ill. OK, I can handle that. It explains a lot, and, with the relatively primitive treatments available at the time, it's not surprising that they couldn't do more for her.

Your mother killed herself twenty years ago. OK, I can handle that. I never knew her, I'll never know her. My situation isn't nearly as bad as my friends who lived through parental suicides, or my siblings, who lost a mother. All I lost was an abstraction. I would have liked to have known her, but since I can't, I can't. C'est la guerre.

No one knows who your father is. She didn't know. OK, I can handle that. Wait a minute. So, after searching for my family, for my genetic heritage, the history of who I was before I was born, half of it is missing forever?

There are a huge number of people who have grown up in single parent households, without a mother or father present. But, whether thay like or hate the missing parent, at least they have that option. I don't have the slightest clue toward the identity of the man. There's no way to tell if he was Albert Schweitzer or Charles Manson.

The social stigma of bastardy no longer exists. No one in the First World is banished or deprived of basic rights because of parenting irregularities. The days of being doomed to a life of failure and inadequacy for being an unacknowledged scion are long past.

But it bothers me, sometimes. It's another issue to deal with. It's one damned thing after another. Every time I think I'm past something, another thing jumps up and bites me on the ass.

1 There is a website, a center for adoptee's rights advocacy, called Bastard Nation. It's a title of pride for many.