Month: June 2014

On Adoption: “That’s Unfortunate”

baby feet

When I received my non-Identifying information, the adoption agency shared that in my file they had discovered my baby bracelets from the hospital! Unfortunately, they stated that  I could not have them because it had an identifying name on them, and they did not have permission to release that information. I wanted them. Why should they have to sit in a file forever, they do not belong to the adoption agency.

Once I found my birthmother, I asked her if she would be willing to sign a release so that I could have this keepsake. She was willing without hesitation. When she called the adoption agency, they immediately assumed that they had made the contact for me. When she told them that  I had made the contact their response was, “That’s unfortunate.”

Not, how wonderful you have found each other, or congratulations; just “’that’s unfortunate.” Really? Why was that their reaction? Because I didn’t follow the process they wanted. I didn’t let them be in control. I didn’t give them the chance to be the mediator, or the hero. Though they offer the service, it didn’t seem like they were very fond of reunion.

The more I read and learn about adoption and perspectives from all sides of the adoption triad- adoptees, adoptive parents, and birth parents- the more my list grows of things that are actually unfortunate.

 

*It’s unfortunate that my birthmother was not treated well by the caseworkers  and  was encouraged not to hold me after I was born. I imagine they were maybe afraid of the bond that might occur, maybe their plan would fall through. She held me anyway, because you can’t really say goodbye until you say hello and you can’t properly  grieve.

 

*It’s unfortunate that a caseworker told my adopted mom that my birthmother never held me or saw me, maybe thinking it would help her to better bond with me; but it left me with  a life long hurt that turned out to be a lie. Imagine not only being told your mom didn’t want you, but that she didn’t even say goodbye. A horrible, painful lie.

 

*It’s unfortunate when people can’t wrap their minds around the fact that I’m not out seeking to replace my family, or even that I have to choose one over the other. One of the best things that I read while I was preparing for reunion was the fact that parents are never questioned in their abiilty to equally love as many children as they may have; so why do adopted children have to choose? Our hearts are infinitely capable of love.

 

*It’s unfortunate that I would have to pay $460 if I want to go through the proper procedures and pay the adoption agency to open up my file, try to find my birthmother, and ask her if it’s OK to give out her information. My life is my life. It should not cost a dime, and I should not need permission to have it. When you already have your past,  you can’t imagine what it’s like to be clueless. It’s a piece of your soul, a hole, a void that cannot be filled until you know.

 

*it’s unfortunate that adoptees are continually denied the first chapter of their life because of laws that were created  to protect adoptive parents. Now that adoptees want their original birth certificates lawmakers and adoption advocates  are claiming that it would be violating the privacy of the birth parents. Give me a break. States that already allow OBC access have shown that only about 1% of birthparents want to actually keep their privacy.

 

*It’s unfortunate that many adoptees are made to feel guilty about searching for their birth family. All of the things said out loud to them (such as: what will your parents think, what if your birth family doesn’t want to be found, shouldn’t you just be grateful)  are things they have already wrestled with, so the fact that they have overcome and are still desiring to search shows their determination. Making an adoptee feel guilty about searching is one of the best ways to push them further away, not keep them loyal. There is a desire in many adoptees that does not simply fade away. Many adoptees wait until their adopted parents are gone to avoid the questions, only to find out that its’ now too late.

 

*It’s unfortunate that adoptees are not able to grieve the significant loss they feel of losing their first family, no matter their age at adoption. They are expected to be grateful that they weren’t aborted and that they were saved by this loving family and now can have  a better life. No matter what kind of life the adoptee now has, let them grieve. And don’t assume it is a better life, some adoptees go through horrible trauma  in their new home.

 

*It’s unfortunate that laws and adoption agencies feel the need to babysit relationships between adults. Do some reunions work out? Absolutely. Are reunions hard? Without a doubt. Do some reunions end before they begin? Yes. Are there some birth mothers who wish to never be found? Unfortunately. But we are not children anymore. We have a right to our history. And we would much rather know- even if it’s negative- then to live our lives in the dark.

 

Finding my birthmother has been the opposite of unfortunate. It has filled a void I have always had, yet never been able to express. It has taken me on a journey to find who I am, and who I want to be. It has given me a passion to help other adoptees as we walk this road together.

 

 

*Thank you to all of you have been so supportive of my search and reunion process and for being willing to come alongside me and understand what it really means to be adopted. I am forever grateful.

Advertisements

On Adoption: My Search, Part 2

Since I was a little girl, I have always loved to read. I used to go to the library and check out stacks of mystery books. There is just nothing better than following the clues to discover the truth. So to be able to discover the truth to my own mystery was very fun and rewarding.

 When I read on the pages that my birthmother had a sister who died in a car accident at age 17 shortly before I was born, I knew I couldn’t ask for a better clue. Certainly, a story like this would make the news and we could find an obituary, one of the greatest pieces of information when you are trying to find someone. Since it happened before the news was all over the internet, I asked a friend to seek out the microfiche to help me find the information.

 My search friend sent me a link to the public state death index which allows you to search death certificates. If you have a last name and a date range you can see anyone who matches those criteria. It shows their name, date of birth, date they died, and the county they lived. Since I had already found the animal science club photo with first and last names, I pulled it out and just decided to start in the front row. I started entering in the last names of the women from the picture and after about ten minutes I found a match.

 And the name of the girl who had died was Connie Ann. I knew that this could not be a coincidence. My birthmother had named me after her sister. I was overwhelmed and honored.

 Had I really found her so quickly? I spent hours the next day searching the name that was a match, Denise, with not much luck. No address, phone number, Facebook, nothing. So I figured she must be married. I needed that obituary or my DNA results, which I estimated I had about 4-6 more weeks of waiting. I gave up for the night and went to bed.

 The next morning my DNA results were waiting in my inbox! I was so surprised! Unfortunately they were of little to no help at this point.

 Image

 

Later in the afternoon I received an email from my search friend that would change everything. She had found a tribute to Connie in her high school yearbook, and had not found a Denise, but she had found a Sandy. She sent me a picture of both of them and there was no denying they were sisters. She had also found an update Sandy had written on classmates.com. Everything matched, the college she attended, the career I knew she was planning to pursue, she even shared her birthdate and age. It had to be her!

 Again I found a dead end without having a married name. Her update said she had married and where she had moved to, but not who she married. There was no way I was giving up now! I found a Facebook page from her high school graduating class-they had planned a reunion. There was no sign of Sandy on that page, but there was a link to the class reunion website. This site had a list of everyone already planning to attend the reunion, and a list of people they had no contact information for- asking for help from others. That is where I found it: her married name.

 With that information, my search friend took to her internet resources and found a current address which also listed all previous names, a match. And with that information I took to Facebook and found the proof I needed. Call me crazy, but I always had a feeling she would be a lover of Facebook- like me! (I’ve since learned that nature is strong and I’m not so crazy..well nevermind 😉 )

 After I found Sandy on Facebook I was trying to figure out who her sisters were to make sure it was a match. And that is when I found the final piece of the puzzle. Five years ago she had posted a letter and probably forgotten about it by now. The caption said it was a letter from Connie from her first year of college. The letter confirmed Connnie’s respiratory health issues that I knew of, and the comments confirmed that there was a little sister, Lenore- age 10, age 11 when I was born, and that Connie was now greatly missed. I would also soon discover that the original match, Denise, was her older sister, and that Sandy was NEVER in that science club. NEVER. That means I should have never received that information and that I wouldn’t have had a last name to search.

 ImageImage

 

 This was it. This was her. Now what? It was late Sunday night, and I needed to get to bed, but I couldn’t sleep. There was too much excitement and the next step was contacting her- but how and when and what would she say? What would I say? I wrote a letter before I went to bed to get it out of my head so I could sleep.   

 The next day I debated when and how I would contact her. Thought about what I would say. I was so nervous and anxious. My paperwork stated that she would like to hear from me when I was an adult- hopefully she hadn’t changed her mind. By five o’clock I couldn’t wait anymore. I had to take a chance. My search friend said she actually preferred using Facebook because you can be sure they’ve seen it, unlike a letter. The phone was not an option for me, I would chicken out for sure.  

 I drafted a Facebook message introducing myself and the information that I knew and told her I thought she might be my birthmother. Since we weren’t friends, I couldn’t take the chance of the message going to her other box and her never seeing it.  I spent the best dollar of my life so it would go to her inbox, and then I waited.

 An hour passed and she had not read my message yet.  I had dinner plans with a friend (also an adoptee) and did my best to focus on my meal and the conversation. I tried to ignore every time I felt my phone vibrate in my pocket. When I told my friend my story she couldn’t believe how calm I was and forced me to take my phone out of my pocket! 😀 

 There was still no response so I laid my phone on the table. Five minutes later it came.

 She confirmed that the information I had was accurate, that she was my birthmother and told me she had named me after the sister who died. Connie Ann. Then she told me the words that would take my breath away and bring me to tears.

 Today is Connie’s birthday!

 Image

 Connie’s Senior picture, age 17                                     My senior picture, age 17

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
  

 

On Adoption: My Search, Part I

        Less than three months ago I finally made the decision to search for my birth parents. I never could of even dreamed up the way that God was going to work in the tiniest details to bring me right where I wanted to be. This true story is guaranteed to bring a tear to your eye and make you catch your breath, but that part won’t come until part two, so you’ll have to come back!

The last time I gave an update on my search,  I had shared the photo I had tracked down of the animal science club from the year my mother would have been involved. I was convinced she was in there and began to look up the women from the photo. The more we got into it, my search friend and I realized, we just did not have enough information to move on. She suggested I go ahead and pay the adoption agency for my non-identifying information. Hopefully we could then gather some more clues to get us closer. Some wonderful friends helped me raise some money and I sent in the necessary paperwork.

Image

 

I asked for a timeline of how long it would take and I was told one to two weeks, and at the most three. I waited and waited and waited. I tried my best to wait patiently and at three weeks, I called to check on it. I was told with staff vacations my paperwork was still not ready and I was promised it would be put at the top of the list and sent out the next week.  In the meantime, I also sent in a DNA test.

 Image

Then it happened. Four and a half weeks later, my letter came, and my life will never be the same. We had offered to watch a friend’s dog and shortly after lunch, I realized I had forgotten to run home and let her out. I quickly grabbed my purse and keys and ran home. As I stepped out of my car I said to myself, “Maybe Jesus loves me and the mail came early AND my letter is here.” Well guess what? Jesus does love me!! As I pulled my letter out of the mailbox all I could do was stare at it. I couldn’t bring myself to open it right away, so instead I set it on the table and spent 20 minutes coaxing our guest Chihuahua out of her kennel so I could take her outside. I hooked the dog up on the chain in the front yard, grabbed my letter, and sat down on the front steps to discover more about my beginning.

Image 

I had no idea what I might find. The letter was 8 pages. Much longer than the 2 pages I’ve read over and over again. Much of what I began to read on the page was familiar. Ages, physical features, schooling, and hobbies.  The new information included the ages of the parents and siblings of my parents at the time of my birth. There was some information about my health and routines as a newborn (I had some heart problems that were closely monitored), and a bit about my parents coming to pick me up and take me home.

 What I never in a million years expected to see in that paperwork: the name my birthmother had given me. As soon as I read it, I was brought to tears. She had named me “Connie Ann.” I just sat and stared at that name. It had never even occurred to me that she would have named me. And this felt like a name with a purpose.  

 When you are searching for someone and you don’t even have a name, you have to be a detective and pull out the things that make your story unique. Thankfully, my story had a clue that would lead me right to my birth mother. Shortly before I was born, she had a sister who died in a car accident at age 17.

 A tragedy that would blossom into a time of healing.

 

Don’t miss my search part 2 to find out how I took my clues to the internet to find my birthmom. You will be nothing short of amazed!