President of Network West Cork Anne Marie Kingston recently shared her adoption story for the first time. The business woman says it’s an important part of her healing process, and something she hopes might help others in the same situation.
PROFESSIONAL declutterer Anne Marie Kingston often helps her clients in more ways than just organising their homes.
Anne Marie, who is also president of women’s business support group Network West Cork, says seeking help for decluttering is sometimes the first stage in someone disclosing a deeper problem, and starting on a journey of healing.
Many of her clients, she says, have put a veil over their trauma for years and often only share it for the first time with Anne Marie when she visits their home.
The Clonakilty woman has just recently lifted the veil on what for a long time she regarded as her own ‘dirty little secret’ – the fact that she is adopted – as part of her own healing process.
It was a big step, and one that she made on social media, but Anne Marie said because she is known for being authentic and down to earth, it was important she shared ‘the real’ her.
‘I’m just a normal West Cork girl, I’m just me, but sometimes I think, through my work, people can put me on a pedestal, make me into something that I’m not, so I wanted to show all of me,’ she said.
Through her work, she says, people have trusted her with their stories of loss, death, separation and the like.
‘My clients share, so it’s only fair that I share back. People have so many curve balls thrown at them. For me there was just one, even if it was a huge one, being adopted.’
Anne Marie found out she was adopted when she was aged eight, after someone at school said it to her.
‘I went home to mam and said it to her, and that evening herself and dad told me,’ she remembers.
In many ways Anne Marie, now aged 42, feels she ‘parked’ the news all those years ago, and is only processing it properly now.
In secondary school, and afterwards, it was something she’d never admit.
‘I was 100% in denial about it. I was very defensive. It was a real thorn for me and that’s one regret. I saw other people being very open about it, but I just couldn’t. There was a huge shame, I felt it was my dirty secret for some reason,’ she said.
Anne Marie went to her adoptive parents in Newcestown when she was just six weeks old, having spent time in foster care in a house near the Lough, in Cork city.
‘There is a certain amount of trauma there for sure, that not knowing. Feelings of abandonment are a huge thing, feeling different, not knowing who I look like, where I got the decluttering interest from. And it’s funny the things that can trigger you. Just the other morning my daughter asked me what day I was born and I couldn’t tell her. I just have no details, just the date.’
In 2007 Anne Marie sought out her records with the adoption board and found out she had a biological sister.
‘That was a big moment and we’re in contact. It’s funny as growing up I’d always have written about having a sister in stories for school, so there was always that feeling of connection there obviously,’ she said. Her ultimate hope is that her mother will make contact with her.
‘I was born in the 1980s and back them mothers were told to cut ties, not to make contact. Every birthday I’d hold my breath and hope I’d hear from her and I’m still hopeful that will happen.
‘But it’s hard because I’m not sure I could risk going through all the tears and all the heartache again.
‘Over the years I’ve shed oceans of tears over this,’ said an emotional Anne Marie who is also considering taking a DNA test to help her in the search.
As a teen she felt a lot of anger towards her birth mother, but after becoming a mother herself she realised how hard it must have been for her to make that decision.
‘As a teen I would have thought “how dare you, how could you be so cruel,” but it wasn’t until I was in the labour ward, and handed my own baby, that it hit me, I could relate to what she must have been going through. She did what she thought was right.’
Since sharing her story, she said the amount of messages and support she has received has been phenomenal.
‘I’m not sure it’s something I’ll ever make peace with, but I’m talking about it as I need to heal, and I might be able to help someone else,’ she said.