Sunday, March 26, 2006


You are your stories. You are the product of all the stories you have heard and lived - and of many you have never heard. They have shaped how you see yourself, the world and your place in it - Daniel Taylor

This was written in our program at church today and it struck me. I like it a lot, but its a little scary at the same time. I completely agree that a person's stories have a big impact on who they are and how they see themselves. That makes searching for my birth mom all the more intimidating, since the "story" that I have made up for myself to explain where I came from could be completely wrong. So if stories "shape how you see yourself, the world and your place in it" and someone comes along and changes my story, am I going to feel differently about myself, the world and my place in it? Then again, I suppose that having my story changed would create a story in and of itself. weird....

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Finding Balance

I met with the adoption group again last night. I am amazed every time at what a diverse group we are. I really do like everyone a lot, even if I don't necessarily agree with them all the time. But I am learning a lot.

Last night the topic was talking to your kids about being adopted. One woman told us that her son's birth mom has the same first name as a member of her extended family and for that reason, she hasn't told her son his birth mom's first name. She said that it just bothered her and she didn't want him to think of his birth mom every time they talked about this family member. He asked her what his birth mom's name was once, and she told us that she "danced around the question" and told him to remind her and ask again when they got home. That was over a year ago, and she proudly said "and he never brought it up again". That story made me unbelievably sad, because I feel like I have a pretty good guess of what went through the kid's head. He probably wondered about it for a few months, finally got up the courage to ask, his mom got visibly upset about it (even though I'm sure she tried her best to hide it) and he will never bring it up again because no kid wants to see their mom upset. I can't even explain how sad that makes me. I felt like I was in some other world listening to this story - it seems so wrong to me that someone would not only do this, but tell other people about how they did it.

Another story came up where a mother knew information about her son's birth family - that he had an overweight uncle - and she said "but of course, I haven't told him about that because he's a little overweight and I don't want him to know". I guess that I just don't understand what the harm is in someone knowing that. Keeping information that may seem worthless to an adoptive parent, but is priceless to an adoptee a secret doesn't do anything except maybe build up a wall between the parent and child when the information finally comes to light. You have no idea how upset, hurt and angry I will be if I someday find out that my parents know more about my history than what they've told me. In fact, I can't think of a single thing in the world that would make me angrier.

An adoptive mom shared last night that she thinks of her child's birth mom every Mother's Day and birthday. It had never occurred to me that maybe my mom also thinks about my birth mom sometimes. It was good to hear her perspective on that.

I am trying hard to see things from the adoptive parents' perspective. I won't lie, though, it's nearly impossible for me to understand them, much in the same way that they will never really be able to understand what its like to be adopted. I just think that keeping secrets and being motivated by fear is not something that you want in a relationship. To me, keeping the circumstances surrounding my birth a secret and making it a taboo subject somehow implied that it was something shameful and wrong, even though no one ever told me that. Someone told a story of a friend of theirs who had a teenage daughter that was adopted. One day while they were gone, she snuck into the files and found all of her information and her parents caught her. I think it is awful that words like "snuck" and "caught" have to be used to describe someone who just wants to know where in the world they came from. I hate that that poor girl had to feel like she was doing something wrong by wanting to know about her past - no one should have to feel that way about themselves.

Anyway, I think the meetings are going well - just trying to find that balance of being able to share my opinion without claiming to be an authority on the situation and at the same time not offending everyone - it's a hard balance to find.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Double Standard?

I read something somewhere recently, I can't remember where, but it made me think...

When a parent has more than one child, no one ever brings into question whether or not that parent will be able to love more than one child. No one asks if they are trying to replace their other child. No one asks them why they aren't just happy enough with the child or children they already have and why they feel like they need another child.

But when an adopted person is searching for their birth parents, those are exactly the questions that are asked. Are you trying to replace your parents? Why can't you be happy with what you have?

It's as if a parent has an innate and understood ability to love more than one child and to love them equally - its never questioned. But from my experience, and from what I've read about other adoptees' experiences, an adoptee is generally not seen to have that ability when it comes to having 2 sets of parents.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

First Meeting

Tonight was the first meeting of the adoption group at our church. I was really impressed with the mix of people who showed up - really varied backgrounds: a domestic open adoption, a domestic closed adoption (their daughter is biracial), a Russian adoption, a couple who just started the process of adoption this week (the would-be-dad is adopted), a couple who is getting married this summer and wants to adopt, and my husband and I.

I have to say that although my purpose in starting this group was to connect with other adoptees who might be searching, I think I have very little in common with the guy in our group who is adopted. He told us a story about how a few years ago someone who worked at his agency called him and said she no longer worked there and had a bunch of files, and she could tell him who his birthmom was and he said he didn't want to know about any of the info. What?!?!

The low point of the evening was when I mentioned that I was searching for my birth mom which really seemed to offend one woman (mother of a 6 year old, closed adoption). After I said something about it she literally barraged me with questions - it was like she was a machine gun: "How old are you?...How long have you been searching?...Did you grow up in a loving home?...Are you trying to replace your parents?...Do they know?...Why haven't you told them?...Why do you feel like you need to do this?" By the time she got to the last question, before I even realized what I was saying, I blurted out "I think everyone has the right to know where they came from. Everyone." It's probably the first time I didn't give the socially acceptable answer of "I just want to know my medical history" or "I want to know if we look alike". Felt kind of good to stop apologizing for what I'm doing and saying what people want to hear and actually tell someone the truth.

There was another couple there that we really identified with - they are getting married this summer and feel like God wants them to adopt. It is so good to know some other people who want to adopt as their first choice for starting a family - I'm really thankful that they were there.

All in all, I think it is going to be great - I have a lot to learn and hope to be able to help all these adoptive parents however I can.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

We Are Named

I was listening to a song called "Image of the Invisible" by Thrice this week:
We're more than carbon and chemicals
We are the image of the invisible

We all were lost now we are found
No one can stop us or slow us down
We are the named and we are known
We know that we'll never walk alone

Though all the world may hate us, we are named
The shadow overtake us, we are known

The lines that really got me from this song were where it says "we are named". Sometimes, when I think about how I was born with a different name to a different family, and I'm not allowed to know about any of it, it feels as if I'm in the middle of an identity crisis. Who was I supposed to be, if I were normal like everyone else?

I had a fairly crappy week last week, for no apparent reason. Nothing awful happened to me. I just had an overall feeling of incompetence and not belonging anywhere. Everywhere I went I just kept coming back to the thought "What in the world am I even doing here?" I'm sure it happens to everyone, adoptees and non-adoptees alike. It's a scary place to be when you get to that point in your thinking. I thought maybe I should stop the whole search for my birthmom because its too stressful to wait and she probably doesn't want to contact me anyway. I was convinced that I just needed to quit my job because there's somebody out there who would be great at it, and that person was not me. Stupid stuff like that. A lot of times (probably most of the time), my own thinking is my biggest problem.

If there is one thing that I have learned up to this point in my life, its that people aren't mistakes. I do believe that, but I also tend to forget it. Sometimes I don't realize that I've stepped back into the "I'm a mistake and I'm not even supposed to be here" thinking until someone or something jolts me back into reality and reminds me of the truth.

The truth is that as curious as I am about my past and as great or as awful it might be to learn about it, the outcome shouldn't affect who I really am because long before I was ever thought of by any person, God named me and knew I would be here. He knew it was time for me to be here and even though not a single person here on earth had it in their plans for me to come into existence, here I am.

Jeremiah 29:11 has been my favorite scripture since I was a kid: "For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord. Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future." Maybe my name and my family haven't remained constant, but one thing has always been consistent - God has always been there overseeing everything for me. When I was a kid, I always imagined God saying the words of Jeremiah 29:11 to me when I was a baby in the womb, in the hospital and in foster care - it gives me a lot of peace to think of that. Just reading that verse makes me feel...something.

My reality check came at church this weekend - a lot of what we talked about was finding your identity in Christ, and not in your circumstances. Jeremiah 29:11 was one of the scriptures we covered. It couldn't have come at a better time - I needed some guy to yell it at me from a stage into a microphone to be reminded that being someone's "mistake" isn't a mistake at all to God. He's the one who really named me.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

A Face

I called the investigator who is working on my case this week - last time we spoke she had told me to call her back after three weeks, which would be today, but I called on Monday thinking that I wouldn't actually catch her on the phone and I'd have to leave a voicemail that she probably wouldn't get until later in the week. She answered after the first ring. I told her who I said I was just calling back like she said I could. I feel like I am doing something illegal by asking about this stuff, like I'm going to get her fired or something, even though I know it isn't true. She said she hadn't gotten to go through my stuff yet but she had my file right there on her desk in front of her. How weird is it that this lady is allowed to know who my mother is, but I'm not? I said something stupid like "Ok, well, I was just call" and she said "It's ok, I understand". And I think she does.

Curiousity got the best of me last night and I started digging around on the internet. I'm reading a book called Birthright by Jean Strauss - it is REALLY good - and it has tons of info and personal accounts of search and reunion so it motivated me to do a little research of my own. Nothing earth shattering. I looked at some pictures of the hospital where I was born. I used and found two sets of people with the same last name who would have been the same ages as my mother and uncle and attended the schools that they would have attended. But I'm not going to start calling random people or anything. This deal with the courthouse seems like its going to take forever, and it will be a big test of my patience, but I'm willing to wait. I just needed something to pass the time.

One thing I did find was a picture of the doctor who delivered me. It's the first face I have to add to my story. I had searched for the doctor online a few years ago, but I only had first initials and a last name, and had a bit of a hard time narrowing it down, but I found him for sure last night. It is so weird to look at his picture and know that he is one of the handful of people in the world who has seen me and my birthmom together. He saw me during that mytery period of my life between birth and four months. He probably handed me to her after I was born. I wonder if he knew that she wasn't going to keep me. He is also the one who gave me a 10/10 on my APGAR test after I was born. Apparently they use this scale to rate the health of babies one minute after they are born. I think I've only shown my adoption papers to three mothers, and all three of them exlaimed "You got a 10 on your APGAR? No one gets a 10 on their APGAR!" What can I say? I was a child prodigy. =)