Category Archives: Adoption

30 Days of Truth – Something I Have to Forgive Someone For

There are lots of things people have done to me that, while I no longer dwell on them, I can’t say I’ve “forgiven” them. Even so, I do believe forgiveness is a gift you give yourself; to release yourself from the burden of being angry or hating someone. I just don’t think it’s always so easy, particularly when someone doesn’t even care that they’ve wronged you.

I know forgiveness shouldn’t be contingent on it but it really does help if the other party at least feels bad about their transgression…but what do you do when they clearly don’t? I think those are the hardest people to forgive.

Some things that I’ve yet to forgive are just too fresh. Some involve people you might even know. And I’m not going to step in that particular pile of manure today. It will have to keep a while longer.

The thing I do need to forgive someone for, many someones, really, are all the people who kept a very big secret from me for most of my life. If I hadn’t found out by accident, they’d still be keeping it. I just can’t get past that. Oddly enough, I’ve forgiven the person at the center of that particular shitstorm—I know my father never meant to deceive me.

The others…I don’t know what they could have done differently but I still don’t forgive them because it felt and still feels so much like a mass betrayal; a conspiracy, a plot in which I was the dupe…the fool.

I can talk to them and be cordial to them and send them the obligatory Christmas card every year but in the end, they remain unforgiven.

It’s been forever since I’ve done a meme.

To be honest (heh) I think I *may* have even gone through a phase after my first year of blogging where I thought I was too cool for a meme, that they were for newbies and people who were unable to come up with their own content.

Well, I stand corrected. I’m SO not a newbie ;p

This meme, 30 Days of Truth, for whatever reason, really makes me want to play along—something about giving yourself permission to be completely honest is very compelling.

So…I may not do every one on the list but I’m going to try.

The 30 days are listed below should you want to be uncool along with me :)

Day 01 Something you hate about yourself.
Day 02 Something you love about yourself.
Day 03 Something you have to forgive yourself for.
Day 04 Something you have to forgive someone for.
Day 05 Something you hope to do in your life.
Day 06 Something you hope you never have to do.
Day 07 Someone who has made your life worth living for.
Day 08 Someone who made your life hell, or treated you like shit.
Day 09 Someone you didn’t want to let go, but just drifted.
Day 10 Someone you need to let go, or wish you didn’t know.
Day 11  Something people seem to compliment you the most on.
Day 12  Something you never get compliments on.
Day 13  A band or artist that has gotten you through some tough ass days. (write a letter.)
Day 14 A hero that has let you down. (letter)
Day 15 Something or someone you couldn’t live without, because you’ve tried living without it.
Day 16 Someone or something you definitely could live without.
Day 17  A book you’ve read that changed your views on something.
Day 18 Your views on gay marriage.
Day 19 What do you think of religion? Or what do you think of politics?
Day 20 Your views on drugs and alcohol.
Day 21  (scenario) Your best friend is in a car accident and you two got into a fight an hour before. What do you do?
Day 22 Something you wish you hadn’t done in your life.
Day 23 Something you wish you had done in your life.
Day 24 Make a playlist to someone, and explain why you chose all the songs. (Just post the titles and artists and letter)
Day 25 The reason you believe you’re still alive today.
Day 26 Have you ever thought about giving up on life? If so, when and why?
Day 27 What’s the best thing going for you right now?
Day 28 What if you were pregnant or got someone pregnant, what would you do?
Day 29 Something you hope to change about yourself. And why.
Day 30 A letter to yourself, tell yourself EVERYTHING you love about yourself

A Delicate Dance

I know she wants to hear from me and I always promise that I won’t let so much time go between calls. But I do and I don’t know why, although I have my theories.

I always tell her she can call me whenever she wants; that no time would be a bad time to hear from her. But she never calls. She says she doesn’t know my schedule and doesn’t want to interrupt. Well…after my kids go to bed, I’m free for hours and hours and she knows that so really, she could call if she truly wanted to. I don’t get it. If you WANT to talk to someone, you call them. It’s just not that hard.

So I kind of wonder if this is perhaps, subconsciously, my way of trying to force her hand. To get her to call me—just once—by making my calls to her so far apart. Maybe, somewhere in my head, I think that a call from her would be a show of commitment on her end or a way of showing me that she cares enough to do something she clearly finds uncomfortable. For me. Just once.

Or maybe I just don’t want to take our relationship to the next level, a likely result of more frequent calls from me, for fear of rejection. Because you know…that could happen at any time. I could do or say the wrong thing and that would be it. Cut off. And despite my resistance to further extending myself, it would be a huge and painful loss to not have her in my life.

The thing is, you can read books and memoirs and stories about other birthmoms  and adoptees and their feelings and the subtleties and intricacies of the relationship dance they do and it will still never completely apply to your own situation—so in many ways, they’re not that helpful and sometimes, they serve to make me even more apprehensive.

The one thing I really do want is for her to sign the papers so I can have access to my original pre-adoptee birth certificate. I’ve asked before and she evaded my request completely. I am, frankly, very afraid to bring it up again. I don’t want to push the woman who once accused me of “ambushing” her (which, for the record, is absurd. I did no such thing).

The other thing that I would really like would be to know my half-brothers. They still don’t know I exist.

I have no idea what’s going on in her head but she, of all people, ought to know that things rarely stay a secret forever. That said, and at the risk of sound cold or morbid, you can bet that after she dies, I will be contacting them.

But therein lies the problem. When she dies, I won’t even know. Her sons won’t know to contact me because in her life, as far as they know, there IS no daughter to call. Legally, I’m nobody to her or them…and my fake birth certificate bitterly confirms that fact.

The funny thing is that after reading what I’ve written, I realize that I do harbor resentment about the fact that from the moment I was born I’ve never had a say in any of this and as an adult, I STILL find myself in a situation over which I have no real control.

Related Post: What About MY Rights?

What About MY Rights?

I only found out I was adopted about five years ago and it was completely by accident that I came across the irrefutable evidence scrawled on the back of a photo of my dad and myself (as a baby) where I was referred to as his “adopted” daughter by someone whose handwriting I didn’t recognize.

You could have knocked me over with a feather. There just aren’t words to describe how I felt at that moment. I had looked at these old family photos, given to me by my sister the year before, a dozen times and never had I seen the writing on the back of that picture until I put it face down on my scanner. I was going to use it to make my dad a father’s day card.

Such irony…

So I confronted my father over the phone and insisted he tell me everything. It was hard for both of us but in the end, I understood why he never told me and why my mom never told me when she was alive and I forgave them.

Of course I still feel very betrayed when I consider that well over a dozen people that were close to me knew this crucial information, including my sister. But I’ve also found peace with it in the ways that really matter.

I found peace because I now know where I come from; because I found my birthparents.

In a nutshell, I contacted the appropriate party in the Department of Vital Statistics to request what’s known as the “non-identifying” information associated with my adoption. This is basically all the information known about my birthparents with anything that would identify them or any details about my adoption stripped out.

I was told the information no longer existed, that the agency had closed and never turned over their records to the state. This information only strengthened my resolve. I flatly refused to accept that this was the end of my search.

After several wrong numbers, three phone calls and exactly one email, I had done what the state couldn’t. I had located the supposedly non-existent records of over one hundred adoptees.

I eventually got my non-identifying information and with one small and seemingly inconsequential nugget of info about my biological grandfather, I was able to locate my birthfather in two phone calls. From him, I acquired my birthmother’s full name and found her on Classmates.com.

After many tense emails with her in which I initially explained that I simply wanted some information, we finally met in person and four years later, I have a pleasant and somewhat close relationship with both birthparents.

But I was extremely lucky.

You see, there are many people out there who have not been able to learn of their parentage, their ancestry, or any of the other elusive information that haunts so many adoptees.

I realize that forty years ago, being pregnant out of wedlock was one of the worst things that could happen to a woman or teenage girl. I’ve read many books and I know the social alienation and ostracization was both systematic and cruel beyond words. I DO understand why adoptions were so secretive.

But what about the adopted children who grow up, both knowing or not knowing of their adoptive status? What about them? What about their rights? What about MY rights?

Doesn’t everyone deserve to know with whom they are forever linked by blood, by shared genes, by shared heredity? Don’t we have a right to know where we come from? To know if we have siblings? Or an important medical history?

As soon as found out I was adopted, so many things started to make sense to me and I quickly developed an insatiable need to know more. When I found out my records were not available, my need only intensified. I had to know who I was. I needed to find my tribe, so to speak.

When I finally did, so many things “fit” and the ability to see that I was like these other two living beings both physically as well as in personality and character brought me a peace I’d been seeking not only since learning of my adoption but really, throughout my life.

The reason I decided to write this because of something I recently read in the NY Times titled “States Urged to Open Adoption Records.” A friend with whom I spoke frequently during my search sent me the link along with a single word… “Finally!”

But there are those who don’t agree, like the American Civil Liberties Union and various anti-abortion groups who feel, despite a lack of supporting data, that women would seek abortions if they couldn’t have closed-record adoptions. I totally disagree with this. You can read why in the comments section where I have responded to a commenter.

Conversely, “States’ experiences in providing this information make clear that there are minimal, if any, negative repercussions,” said the Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute. “Outcomes appear to have been overwhelmingly positive for adult adopted persons and birthparents alike.”

As noted, I understand that when closed adoptions were the norm and required by law, it was, out of ignorance, thought to be the best decision for all parties concerned but times have changed. Frankly, I don’t think that it was EVER the best decision for the adoptees. We were just babies. We had nobody to speak for us.

Additionally, adopted people are the only class of Americans not permitted to obtain their real and unaltered birth certificates (yes, the state FAKES your birth certificate when you’re adopted). We don’t have the same rights as every other American and it’s completely unconstitutional.

That said, I strongly disagree that one person’s wish to not know their child or remain anonymous can trump another person’s right to their identity.

If a birthmother gives birth in a closed-records state and doesn’t want to be contacted by her child, she should be able to file a “do not contact” request with the state and be required to routinely re-validate the request (the same right to not be contacted should also be afforded to adoptees who wish to not be contacted) but ALL information should be open and available to any adoptee who wants it or at the VERY least, adoptees should be able to have access to their original birth certificates.

Birthparents who wish to know the fate of their surrendered children should also be able to have access to said records.

The adoption world is entirely too secretive. Exactly what are we trying to hide and why? Are the reasons really compelling enough to deny a consenting adult their own birth certificate? The right to privacy argument is, in my opinion, bullshit and if you’ve ever been involved in the adoption community, you’d see just how many birthmothers never wanted secretive, closed adoptions. The few that do are a very, very small minority.

I guess one way to really know how supposedly awful and terrible open records would be is to survey adoptees and birthparents from states where adoption records have never been sealed (there are a handful) and see what they have to say.

I know this is a hot button issue for a lot of people and I just want to say it’s not my intention to diminish the importance of adoptive parents. You are your child’s parents and you always will be. No birthparent or the knowledge of one can ever change that.

And for anyone who is wondering, though they are no longer with me, I loved my adoptive parents with all my heart. Knowing of my adoption and meeting my birthparents could never change that for me, either.

Addendum: Open adoptions can and do work. Secrets, however, NEVER work and nothing stays secret forever. Just ask my family.

Edited to add: You can read some more comments and discourse on this topic here. As per usual, the divisions and opinions are strong but there are some excellent points made in favor of open adoption records. Thanks to Amy for the link.

I Has a Secret…

Despite my own history with adoption secrets, I still find this oddly amusing. But then again, who can resist a good LOL Cat?

secret_r.jpg

Secrets & Lies

As I stand on the precipice of yet another Mother’s Day, I struggle with what direction I want to take in writing this post.

Do I write about my mom again and how I feel about Mother’s Day when she’s been gone for 27 years? I fear there’s not much new to say on that topic and I really hate to be redundant (except when discussing those trashy, skanky thong-clad dolls, of course) so maybe I’ll just link to last years Mother’s Day post and leave it up to you as to whether you want to read it.

Or I could skip the Mother’s Day thing altogether and write about how this past week my six year old has started to ask questions about my origins; questions that only have complicated answers that I’m not sure I can simplify for her. The truth is, I’ve grappled with how to discuss my personal and familial history for a long time. I just didn’t think she’d start probing into all of it so soon.

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