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Hulk Hogan is my dad. The kid in my class is my twin. It seems silly now, but as a child I would imagine these things to be true. When you know you are adopted it is impossible not to wonder about your biological family.
If you are not adopted it may have never crossed your mind that adoptees (from closed adoptions) don’t know who we look like, don’t know if we have any siblings, don’t know what to do when we are asked to do a family tree, and can’t answer medical history questions about our biological family.
I was lucky to have in my adoption papers
wish I knew where they are now some basic physical traits, health history, and hobbies. My mother would let me read it every once in awhile, but never let me keep it. I hand copied this piece of paper one time my mother pulled out the documents from hiding. And then I memorized it. Both of my biological parents were 5’2″ with blonde hair and blue eyes. He was 21, she was 19. My birth mother was a straight “A” student who loved animals and wanted to be a veterinarian. My birth father had poor eyesight and was a wrestler. There was some mention of some heart problems in the family.
I can see myself in these small snippets of information. I’m 5’2″ with blonde hair, but I have hazel eyes. I was always a good student and wanted to be a vet when I was a child. I had to get glasses when I was in the fourth grade. I was born with a heart murmur. It’s something. But it’s not enough. And that’s where the imagination kicked in.
Since my biological father was a wrestler, and Hulk Hogan was the only wrestler I knew of plus he had blonde hair I decided that he must be it. I didn’t become a huge wrestling fan (though I did end up marrying one!). I never wrote crazy “I’m your daughter” fan letters. It was just one of those things.
There was a boy in my class who had a birthday the day after mine. And he was adopted too. So naturally we would make up these stories
or maybe we believed them, I can’t remember that we were brother and sister, twins to be exact. Me with my fair skin and blonde hair, and him with his dark brown eyes and black hair. It didn’t even phase us that we were born in separate hospitals, in different towns. There was enough time for her to have me, drive to the other town and have him. A woman in labor traveling in between births; what were we thinking!?! No, it didn’t make logical sense, but it gave us something to hold on to. We had many birthday parties together, and though we weren’t really twins, we understood what it meant to be an adoptee.
With all of this wondering and imagination, I aways anticipated setting out on a grand search the moment I was old enough- when I turned 18. Now I’m 31, and still haven’t. One time I called the adoption agency and almost talked to someone, they made the mistake of putting me on hold and I hung up. I have the documents required for me to fill out to begin my search saved on my computer, blank. I do have my birthdate and place of birth on an adoption reunion type page that would email me if anyone was looking. I’ve never changed my email address. I’ve never received an email. In the past year I’ve come to realize some things about myself, and this blog is a step for me in my process. I think I’ll get there. I want to get there. It’s complicated.
Me as a young child with my mother and older sister
I am adopted. I have known this forever. My parents never kept it a secret from me.
How could they? I mean look at the picture! I stick out pretty well! Inevitably the question that ALWAYS follows when I share this fact about me is “Do you know who your real parents are?” This ultimately stirs all kinds of thoughts and emotions inside of me. A few that I will share with you today.
#1- The parents who raised me are my real parents. They are all I have ever known. They are my mom and dad. I know the question is asked in honest curiosity, but please choose different words (like biological or birth parents).
#2- There probably isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t wonder about my biological parents. In the paperwork that I have there are some identifying traits and health history about them. No names, no faces. Each year a birthday goes by, I wonder if they are thinking of me. I wonder if I look like them. I wonder if I have any siblings. I wonder. Oh do I wonder.
#3- When you are part of a closed adoption you don’t just one day pick up the phone and decide you are ready to meet your biological family. The laws in my state require that if I want to pursue this information I am required to pay $400 (cheaper if I just want some medical information) and the agency that processed my adoption will do a search. If they are successful and get in contact with my biological mother & father, they have the right to say no, that they don’t want their identity to be revealed. The next step for me, if I desired to still pursue it, would be taking them to court. And if for some reason they were unable to locate them, I suppose my search would end there. There are many adoptees fighting for rights to have access to their original birth certificates, without jumping through hoops.
#4- There is a real sense of abandonment that goes along with adoption. Would I like to know? Absolutely. Am I ready for that? I’m working on it.
#5- The parents who raised me, are also invested in this process. Would they be hurt? (even if they say they are fine with it?) When adoptees search they are often met with abandonment on all sides, lacking a place to belong. Their adoptive family may wonder why they aren’t good enough. Their biological family may not welcome their presence. And again, they find themselves alone. A search is usually not to go find a new, better family. A search is fulfilling an unknown in your life that others can’t even comprehend not knowing.
So, when you ask me this question, lots of things run through my head. Being an adoptee is complicated. But when you ask me, I will put a smile on my face, tell you no I don’t know, perhaps share a few details and go on with my day. I know you are asking to be kind. To have something to talk about. Maybe even to get to know me more. So, thanks for that. If you’d like to join me on my journey, to really understand, take time to listen, and maybe do some research about what it means to be adopted. Adoption can be a wonderful thing, but it isn’t all sunshine and roses.