Tuesday, July 12, 2011

FLASHBACK #2: The Beginning of my Search

Since I've gotten a lot of positive feedback on my blog last week on adoption, this week's Flashback post will be related.  Below are some of the blog posts I made WHILE I was going through some of the process....

Ch Ch Ch Changes
Posted on June 8, 2007

Today, I did something pretty massively life-impacting. I asked my mother for my adoption papers/info. I don't know exactly what she has, because I never wanted to see. She offered me info and to answer all my questions numrerous times since I was 16 or so, but I always declined. Once, when I was about 22, I asked for a few minor details after her really pushing the topic... and got about 5 facts. But because she has offered up this info on so many occasions, I feel like she has something more than minor details. And even if she doesn't, with the official paperwork, I can search for health records and other vital statistic stuff. The need to know my medical history (for more than one reason actually) sparked this thought process, but its not like I haven't been curious for about 25 years! I guess I just never wanted to open that Pandora's box... who the hell needs more drama? I'm a pussy, so I emailed it to her, not called her. When the package comes in the mail, I'm not sure if I'll even open it. Maybe just having it will be enough for now. I'm not planning any family reunions, hell no. But I'd like some facts, and health records, knowledge of siblings existance, maybe photos or physical descriptions, etc. No meetings, NO phone calls, no emails, etc. Maybe there won't even be anyone to call. But after nearly 28 years, I finally feel like maybe its time to stop wondering. So, now I hold my breath as I await my mother's return email. I emailed her this: "Hey, mom. I feel weird asking this, but I probably shouldn't because I'm pretty sure you've volunteered this to me on several occasions, but I never really had a reason to care. I'd like you to mail me copies of all my personal papers, including adoption papers and any info & paperwork you have, medical records, etc. I have a few reasons for wanting to know family medical history stuff, and even if you don't have it, I can probably get/find it with a little more info. (And I don't have cancer or any weird illnesses or need a kidney or anything... nothing like that. And I'm not planning any family "reunions" either. I just want to know for myself.) Thanks in advance. (Please email me back to let me know you received this.) Oh, and I don't want to talk about it over the phone... its still hard for me totalk about, i'd rather just "see". I can't even explain what it took for me to actually write that email... of course years of anticipation, but it took extreme strength to sit down and actually press send. Its the first time I've ever inquired about it, ever, and it feels like a huge moment in my life. Even a glimpse at the official paperwork would be more info than I've ever had, or really ever wanted. So, yeah, this is major.
By the way... anyone reading... anyone else adopted???

Papers Came
Posted on June 13, 2007

I got the papers from my mom. There was a very nice note on the top that said "This is all the information I have. If you need more, call the agency and see if they can help. Any time you want to talk I'm here. Love, Mom." And she wrote the name/address/phone of the agency (its in NJ less than 30 miles from where I live now.) There were 3 different sheets with info. There is some very detailed stuff... but not a lot of info. I'm still digesting, so I'll write about it tomorrow. I apparently came from a bery very big family and have billions of relatives out there, which makes me want to contact/reunite even less!

However, all of this has made me too distracted to work...

A Very Personal Post about my Adoption Papers & Bio-Family
Posted June 18, 2007

I wrote last week how my mother sent me all the adoption paperwork, and its had a week to sink in. I wrote here why it was such a big deal for me... basically it was an end to 26 years of wondering / fantasizing / avoiding.

One of the papers she gave me (3 pages long) was a "Presentation form" - it was 3 pages of info about my "daily life" as a 3 week old. (I was born only 5 pounds and was in the hospital for 2 weeks... apparently). It had my daily schedule (what time I woke up, what time I took naps - about 4 a day - I wish it could still be like that! When I ate, etc.) What brand formula, and how much a day. And then a checklist of the shit I like:
Baby sleeps on: (back, stomach, side - all 3 were checked).
Baby naps outdoors in carriage - yes.
Baby sleeps though night (no). Baby uses a nightlight (no). Baby sleeps through ordinary house noises (yes). And baby enjoys being rocked to sleep (no).
Baby feeds from bottle (not spoon) while held in arms (not in a seat).
Baby uses/is used to - infant seat, swing, carriage, car bed, nursery bird (what the hell is a nursery bird?), TV, radio, children, visiting, rocking. (The unchecked ones were play pen, high chair, jump chair, stroller, cradle gym, safety strap, singing, pets.)
Baby never uses a pacifier.
Toiletries: soap = Ivory. Shampoo = Johnson's. No lotion. Johnson's powder.
Laundry: Coldpower detergent.
Can wear plastic pants day & night. (WTF is that?)
Comments: Loves to be held and talked to.
Then there's a bunch of info - like birth weight = 5 pounds,discharge weight = 6 lbs, 15 oz., birth length = 19.25 inches).
And the last thing on the page says "Baby is considered to be in good condition." No faulty merchandise here!

The second bit of stuff... was the Foster Home Record. (I didn't even know there was one). It basically has a list of stuff that babies do (lift head, props up on elbows to raise head/chest, travels on abdomen, turns over, follows moving objects with eyes, focuses and listens when spoken to, turns head to sound source, smiles as a response to attention, "talks" back, holds objects, etc. It says when they were "achieved". Some are blank (all the ones I wrote above were filled in) - and some filled in with either 3 or 6 weeks. Then, body strength - (passive, average, average & strong - they checked average. Disposition - restless/unhappy, pleasant but demanding when hungry/tired/soiled, non-demanding and sleeps through feedings. They checked the middle choice - pleasant but demanding! Eyes - markedly crossed, some crossing, no crossing but vague regard, or alert and focused. They checked some crossing. (What the fuck is that?) No illnesses or hospitalizations, no abnormalities, birth marks, etc.

And lastly... I was given the historical / physical / family background of the bio-parents. I don't feel like typing it all out... so you can look at it yourself here.

It was a lot to swallow all at once. The schedule & presentation form was cute... it maybe is even more than some people who aren't adopted have. (Some parents make baby books and record this stuff, but some don't!) The foster home record was weird... because I never knew I was in one... but I never asked either. Nothing really surprising, because most of the stuff is stuff my parents told me about my babyhood with them - my disposition, preferences, etc.

(I also found it kind of weird that there were no legal papers, contracts, forms, documents like that).

The family history... well, a few of the things I knew. The ethnicity (Hungarian), the musically-talented background (my mom really pushed me in my musical education), their ages, and the bio-mom's basic description. But everything about bio-dad was new, and everything about bio-grandparents & my NINE bio-aunts and bio-uncles... all new info! Kind of weird to read, because I come from a family... that's not really into family. I am really close with my maternal grandparents (my grandpa dies last year though) and parents/brother. But that's it. My paternal grandfather died when I was a kid, and my maternal grandmother and 2 paternal uncles/cousins/etc. dropped out of the picture when my parents got divorced when i was 12. My mom's brother lives far away, they have little in common, and he has no kids - so I've only met him a handful of times. So, my family has consisted of mom, dad, brother, grandma, and (now dead) grandpa - at least in the last 15-20 years. (We did some paternal family stuff when I was little, 9 and younger.) I wrote last year after my grandpa's funeral, how shocked I was to see all the family there that I didn't realize existed or wasn't dead! Also here - but there are some funeral photos on that page (none of the body though), so if funeral photos will upset you, don't look!
So to find out that bio-family has 9 siblings total is crazy to me. One can only assume that at least 1/2 of them if not all of them had kids... and potentially there could be 8-20+ bio-cousins out there! Maybe even in New Jersey. And since bio-mom was young... I can only assume that she later in life maybe got married, maybe had more children when she was ready? And maybe bio-dad already had children before me... or had some after?.. Bio-siblings maybe? A strange concept. I've never met anyone that looked like me. I can't imagine it.
(By the way... I am 5'6'', small framed but chubby/fat, i have dark blonde hair that was light as a child, fair skin, and grey eyes.) - So I'm not sure how I ended up with grey eyes with a bio-dad with brown + dark features, and a bio-mom with green eyes and both with brown hair... but whatever.

And, I'm sure the next obvious thought is... what now?
I don't know.

Thoughts/"Progress" On My Adoption Adventure
Posted on June 23, 2007

So... on the adoption front.

I've been doing a lot of reading lately - in forums, blogs, webpages, etc. about other people's experiences. I've read some pretty extreme views. (I hope you don't mind me posting this m_d).
"...While there have been legal gains to open records in many countries for the adults adopted as infants, to enable them to locate their natural mothers and through them, their fathers, the mothers themselves remain locked into the pain of what is a terrible, irresolvable grief, into reunion and often beyond.

The mothers of the children taken into what is now seen as a form of slavery, whereby an infant is stripped of all its legal rights to identity, including the loss of its entire genealogy through falsified birth records, continue to suffer. Even in reunion, the symptoms of the various psychiatric conditions directly caused by forced adoption haunt the mother whose 'cure' depends on the resilience of herself and her now grown infant, to forge a healthy relationship based on the mutual trust and affection that has been denied them since before the birth itself.

But even in the 'best case scenario' where there is a successfully bonded reunion, those lost years and that lost infant can never be regained. Both are gone forever. This is crazy making stuff for the mother.

There is no doubt that many, many adopted people suffer too - from a lack of identity, from a lack of a feeling of belonging in the 'right' family i.e. their natural family, from a feeling of 'unnaturalness' caused by being in a substitute home, often based on a lack of the attachment that was always supposed to happen according to the trite psychology applied by trite social workers to the children they displaced. It was believed - wrongly - that babies would automatically respond to affection from a stranger. It was also believed - wrongly - that the adopters would feel an automatic attachment to their new acquisitions.

Sadly, the two way attachment process happened far less often than was publicized by social workers covering their tracks, or covering up what they believed to be their own mistakes but were actually just a side product of adoption itself. The inevitability of failed adoption is inherent in the process of attempting to 'attach' people never meant by nature to belong together in the first place, a process destined to fail.

It is well known that when records open the adoption brokers panic. In the mid 1980's, when it became apparent that the New Zealand government would vote legislation to open birth records for adult adopted people, there were rumors of dire action being taken by social workers around the country. For instance, I was told at the time by a reliable source that social workers at a public hospital were keeping busy shredding adoption records.

Social workers were covering their tracks, including their illegal acts. Destroying official records meant breaking the law as well as professional ethics to obliterate records that would reflect badly on themselves. That these were the same people entrusted to place new born infants into sound homes with substitute parents showed us just how flimsy and how dangerous adoption law and practice actually is. It is unsound, unsafe, and totally unjustified.

The mothers of the children kidnapped for adoption during the 'baby scoop' era of thirty to forty years ago, were so damaged by the experience they are only now starting to speak out publicly about the crimes committed against them by the adoption industry and that happened with the full collusion of the state. Adoption has been proven to be a failed social experiment that has left a trail of destruction in its wake.

Stranger adoption should be considered a crime against humanity. It is experienced as an emotional death by the mother who does not recover;"(For) the saddest and most horrifying aspect of adoption is the amount of emotional damage inflicted upon the natural mother. To call her the 'birth mother' instead of the 'natural mother' allows her only the physical birth and denies her those feelings she wasn't supposed to have. By implication this makes the adoptive parents unnatural, but secret adoption cannot be considered natural when the real mother, the victim of this hit and run, is left battered shocked and damaged. Nothing could be more unnatural".

Like everywhere else, stranger adoption North American style can best be described as a 'hit and run', a non-accidental crash site with two primary victims, mother and child. But unlike everywhere else, it is apparent that what drives North American adoption is the money made by the baby brokers, those heinous people and their supporting organisations that traffic in human beings. They buy and sell infants and children. They import and export, just as the original slave traders did. Misery and mental illness are their environmental side products that are polluting the lives of their victims across generations..." - Copyright Joss Shawyer

I've also read about lots of happy happy reunions... and some miserable miserable sad endings (failure in locating parents/info, parents dead by the time they're found, parents won't accept the contact/communicaion, etc.) And what I really can't believe, it that I can't seem to find any OK (for lack of a better word, not happy, not sad) stories. Like: I found some info I didn't know before, and some/most of my curiosity is satisfied. Or maybe I looked into all possible sources, and I just seemed to hit a dead end, but I tried. Or, I located my natural family, but I've decided to leave well enough alone for now and not contact them. Etc. Everything just seems to be an extreme up or down. Maybe its that the people in the middle don't bother writing about it, because they lack the extreme joy or sorrow to actually feel like its worth writing about? Maybe I'm the only person that doesn't have a lot of emotions tied up in a hypothetical reunion?

I am experiencing one thing that I read about in some articles/blogs... that the adoption agencies are greedy and do it for business, not to help people. Once the transaction is complete, they want nothing more to do with the situation. I'm hitting a dead end already. Not that I tried hard. I've listed myself with all the major registries except ISRR and only because you have to do that one by mail, no internet registration, and for some reason, sending in the paper seems much more official and I haven't done it yet. I've searched all the registries to see if someone posted looking for me. I google searched all the info - the agency, the social worker's name, my birthday and birthplace, etc., and now if you do a google search - only I come up (the listings I've posted). How weird.
And lastly... I've tried calling the adoption agency. Twice so far. When I ask for someone who can answer questions about adoption, they always say that no one's available. I don't know if they even have any info that I don't have... but they obviously don't want to bother to look. Records 28 years old... I'm considering just going there in person, at least they have to look at me then! It's only about 30 minutes away from here. (I also emailed them and got no response.)

So... other than petitioning courts - and I don't even know what/where to petition for anyway... that seems to be my last avenue. I'm pretty sure that I wouldn't contact them even if I did find out... maybe a letter/photo but definitely no phone calls, visits, etc. I don't know. I don't have much of a story to tell, I guess.

I totally have no negative feelings towards my adoption and the whole situation. I'm not angry or sad. I don't resent it and wish it didn't happen, nor am I glad that it did. It just is. I've been given every opportunity and all the support (most of the time) that a person could want. My childhood had its issues, but doesn't everyone's? How can you miss something that never existed to you? Perhaps I'm missed by someone else, but I don't remember my life before I was 4 or 5 or so, and especially not when I was 3-6 weeks old. And I'm not angry towards the people that gave me up, whatever their reason was. Had my life turned out badly, then maybe. But I have no hateful feelings. (I suppose it would be nice for them to know that...) It's not that I don't want to talk to/meet them because I'm angry or out of spite. Just because I don't want to. I don't feel like I need the drama in my life. For once, everything is going OK. I don't feel like I need more family, the ones I've got are naggy enough. (And family I do want is chosen... within my relationship, and my in-laws, and my friends who are like family, etc.) Would I like to know the circumstances of the adoption, of course. And would I like to see photos of biological relatives that may look like me? I'd love to! But I just don't want to make a big life explosion out of it.

To be honest, a lot of my personality comes from the very fact that I am adopted. I don't remember my mother ever telling me, I feel like I always knew. (I guess I was so young, I can't remember). Yes, it totally resulted in some negative characteristics - I'm very introverted, distant, and I keep my emotions pretty close to home. I'm kind of a loner and I suppose I do feel that loving something TOO much can be dangerous, because nothing is permanent. But at the same time, I have a sense of independence that most people can't even relate to. A freedom of sorts. Yes, I did often feel like I didn't fit in sometimes. But from that, I realized that I had to develop a "me" that I could count on. And that "me" could be whatever I wanted it to be, whatever felt natural. I didn't have the burden of having to live up to biological expectations. I'm not sure if this really makes sense to others reading... but...

Anyway, I did have a lot of myself entwined in this whole thing growing up, of course. But the older I get, the less I care. I'm not saying I never think about it... but it is what it is.

This is long and rambly... a mind puke...


(As a reminder... I didn't actually hear from my bio-mother until August 2009, so a LOT of time passed after these initial posts.)

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  1. This is all really interesting to read. Your experiences with adoption and your bio-family helped me to ask my dad's family about his origins and I got some interesting answers from that.

  2. Thanks, Nadine! I'd love to read about your story too!


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