A BLOG ABOUT THE ADOPTION EXPERIENCE
(photo of NCSL Summit where the Adoptee Rights Coalition has a booth every year to educate about unsealing adoptees' original birth certificates. If you are attending the NCSL Summit, please stop by our booth and enter your name for a chance to win a free autosomal Ancestry DNA kit)
My car spun out of control quickly as metal on metal made a
horrible noise. I was on the Interstate in my small yellow Datsun
hatchback. As others in crisis describe, many thoughts went through my mind. It
wasn’t individual thoughts, but a general sense of lack of accomplishment and
things yet to do and experience.
I thought I was going to die that day as I screamed an
expletive. (You can imagine what you might scream if you thought this was the
last minutes of your life). I was in my mid-twenties, single, had
completed college and had good professional career path. I lived in an
apartment, had a roommate and had some family in the area.
One minute I was at the gas pump, and the next I was on the
interstate and the car was spinning out of control. Then I heard a loud metal
noise. I awoke in a hospital bed with the bright lights and
people bustling around me. I felt pain, but I couldn’t put it quite
together with what had happened.
The paramedics stopped by to check on me and told me on the
scene I kept asking the question “Was it my fault?” It wasn’t my
fault, but thankfully there wasn’t an ambulance chaser who overheard my silly
question. I had no memory of the previous day, let alone hours. I had IVs and
tubes and gauze everywhere. I overheard their concern as I went to have my body
scanned. Then the nurse questioned me about my family medical history. I felt
some of the spinning of the room returning, the same as I had felt in the car.
I realized how I had not resolved the huge questions of who
am I? I answered the nurse, “No, I don’t have a
family history”. My head was throbbing and my shoulder was in pain. I was
realizing what had just happened and how I may never really know my family
history. I whispered to the nurse out of sadness, not
shame, “I was A D O P T E D”, as tears streamed down my face.
I felt so alone. I just spoke out loud the secret that had
continued to haunt me. I wanted my parents there, my adoptive
parents. They were the only parents I knew. I was lying
in a hospital bed and searching for the meaning of my life and not knowing if I
was going to live or die. Not only did I want my adoptive parents, thoughts of my
first mother came pouring in.
I wanted her to hold me. I just wanted to know
who she was. I wanted to be loved by her. I couldn’t and didn’t
share those thoughts with anyone else and explained the tears away as pain. The
pain was just as much emotional pain as physical pain. I just wanted my mom,
the one that birthed me; the one who gave me away. I wanted to hear
her words, her voice, see her face and feel her touch. Might that be
the last thought before I die?
I survived the car wreck, but I knew that I had to again
restart my search for answers about my adoption. The secrecy surrounding
adoption and feeling less than whole came back with vigor after my car wreck
and also on holidays, birthdays or even with the lyrics of a song.
The details of my adoption were a secret although I was told
in generalities about adoption when I was very young. I was told of
the fairy tale story and how I was chosen and saved. (Both ‘chosen’
and ‘saved’ are not words I would use in describing adoption). I
had no idea at that time what adoption really meant, but I had a sense that it
wasn’t the fairy tale story that I was being told. I felt confused with a sense
of emptiness for this first family.
I remember having a need to know who I was. This
had haunted me since I figured out what adoption meant. As a child,
when I tried discussing my adoption with family, it was obvious it wasn’t a
discussion anyone was comfortable having. The secret just continued
to grow into this big dark cloud of little information and no clarity.
Eventually I just stopped asking questions of my adoptive
parents when it seemed the questions were painful to them. They had
difficulties speaking to me about my adoption and therefore I assumed that
searching would also not be something they would approve of. As much
as I felt different or out of place in this family, I still never wanted to
hurt them. I didn’t share with them my great need to know the answers.
I knew they loved me, but I also had an irrational fear as a
child that they could send me back. I wanted them by my side on this
search, but I didn’t believe they would have the desire or the emotional
strength to embark on this journey with me.
Not having resolution about my birth/ first parents
continued to be an issue throughout my life. I tried searching throughout the
years with no luck and no clear plan. During those years the script that played
in my head was; ‘ If your mother didn’t want you then why would
anyone else really want you?’
This script has been an ongoing issue for me in other
relationships too. Secrets of little information and poor
assumptions just continued to rule my life at that time. After all,
I didn’t really know who I was! After the car wreck, I started
searching again. I had tried various ways to find, but nothing really worked.
After every big life event I would jump back into my
research. I would fill note books with information, tracking everything I found
and every scrap of information. I had copies of city directories
that I had secured over 10 years before from the 1960’s. They were sitting in
my file with my mother’s surname scattered through the directory.
Years later, I found, my mother’s name was staring at me the
whole time in that directory. I just didn’t know it was her! Can
you imagine how I felt when I realized her name was right there in front of me? The
kicker was, when I first had the city historian send me the directories, my
mother was alive! I had her name in my hands and she had been alive,
but I had no way of knowing it was her!
The secrets surrounding adoption kept the information to
find my mother out of my reach. By the time I was able to find her
in 2010 and with help from the internet and search angels, I found a grave
instead. I was three years too late.
After 30+ years of searching and at 49 years old I found my
mother had passed away three
years before I found her. I
was feeling so blessed to find her, yet grieving her loss in a whole different
way. There would be no reunion, no stories, no hugs, just a grave. How
do you begin to grieve someone you never knew?
I started a journey of discovery of the woman who gave birth
to me, my first mother. I was thirsty to know all about her and
sought out other family members to fill in the pieces of this giant puzzle. Also
trapped in the puzzle was information about my father. I didn’t have
a name for my father and very few clues about him. Without my
mother, there was no way of finding his name.
The person that deserves the most credit for identifying my
father was Caroline, a 4th cousin I matched on Ancestry.com. She had
genealogy experience and we met through her own DNA family search. Unfortunately,
my father had also passed and again I had to grieve the loss of my father the
day I found him. Two graves was not the outcome I hoped for, but it
was still better than not knowing.
I owe Caroline a great deal for her help and her friendship. I
am convinced that with the information I had at hand, I would not have been
able to pull the puzzle pieces together without her expertise in family trees
and genealogy. My birth records, birth certificate and anything that
was mine before my adoption is no longer legally mine. Once the pen
of adoption is signed and sealed in New York State where my adoption took
place, it cannot be opened. I can never legally have a copy of my
Original Birth Certificate, no matter how old I am.
This made searching a challenge, but I knew I would never
give up. I knew I would break down the secrets that stood in my way
of feeling whole. I did not want to go through life or be faced by
death again without full knowledge of who I was. Then again, it is
not who I was… but who I am!
I still am meeting cousins and other family members and I am
still filling in the pieces of the puzzle. Although I know now who
he is, my father is still a bit elusive. I continue to learn
about him as I piece together his information by caring members of my paternal
family. I hope to continue to learn about this intriguing man that is MY father.
I feel blessed that I know now my parents of origin and my
family lineage. Oh yes, and I am 100% European and a good percentage
Irish! I finally know my ethnicity as well, thanks to my DNA.
I continue to feel almost whole with my family surnames and
relatives. I am thankful and feeling blessed for finding the answers
to the question of ‘who am I?’
Peace to all those who search….. You can visit Emma Macgent (the author of this blog) here Thanks for reading!
Thank you for the kind comment at my blog today. I was looking for some new material to write about and you gladly provided that to me.
"Hey Lynn, YOU HAVE NO RIGHT TO INSERT YOUR SELF IN ANYONE'S LIFE. She gave you up, and decided to keep you as a secret, get over it. Her children are not YOUR SISTERS OR BROTHERS. Your parents, you know the ones adopted you and worked hard to bring you up and their family is YOUR FAMILY. Jesus, the selfishness of you adoptees is incredible. Just because someone popped you out of their vagina doesn't mean it gives you some god awaful right to become a parasite and suck the happiness out of the woman's life by trying to befriend HER family. This is why mothers need to adopt filths like you."
I'm so glad you brought this to my attention, because I honestly thought I had the right to drop into anyone's life uninvited. . . . oh, wait! You obviously didn't read the other parts of my blog where I discuss paying my adoption agency $500.00 for the "chance" to know who my birth mother was. She had every right to decline my invitation to know me. She chose to meet me more than one time. As did my sister. Let me guess. You had an adoptee drop into your life after somebody lied to you for most of your life and it rubbed you the wrong way? Maybe you should take out your hostility on the person who kept the secret, rather than the adoptee.
Last time I checked, siblings could be by adoption and blood. Adoptees have both. I'm sorry you can't wrap your brain around that simple concept, but that is just the way it is. I share DNA with several siblings and I have a brother by adoption. Each of them has a right to know me or to ignore me. Their choice and my choice as to whether I want them in my life.
Nobody has the right to keep anyone else a secret. A person is not a secret (thank you, Rayne Wolfe). If somebody has a secret, then it's not the responsibility of the rest of the universe to bow down to it. IF an adopted person is a secret, that is not their responsibility to stay that way unless they choose to for their own peace of mind.
Family is what you make it. My adoptive family and my biological family and my friends are who I consider family. Other people make other choices, but you have no right to tell me or anyone else who their family is.
This comment is a perfect example of what adoptees deal with on a regular basis. Ignorance, slander and outright hostility for doing what regular-born people do: exploring their roots.