Monthly Archives: August 2013

Open Adoption: Combining Two Moms into One

I have two moms.

 

I grew up with both of them.

I spent time with both of them together.

I spent time with both of them individually.

I got into trouble with both of them.

I laughed with both of them.

I traveled with both of them.

I celebrated holidays with both of them.

I showed both of them my report cards.

I tried to please both of them.

I tried to disappoint both of them.

 

When I was with one, I wished for the other.

 

I felt like I was a part of both of them.

And I felt separated from both of them.

Both of them had turns at taking care of me.

Both put band-aids on my scraped knees.

I took pictures with both of them.

Both of them have made me elated.

Both of them have disappointed me.

With one I shared more time and experiences.

With the other I shared more of my core being.

 

When I look into their eyes, I see their intentions, love, fears and acknowledgement of failure.

 

In their efforts to make me feel like a part of both of their lives, I was left feeling that entirety of ‘part-ness’ rather than any ‘wholeness’.

 

I have two moms.

 

Open adoption has not led me to a place of wholeness. It has left me on a sideline of sorts. Split between loyalties. Split in love. Split between families. Never quite knowing which team I’m on.

 

One team is in yellow.

The other team is in blue.

I’m in green and that leaves me in isolation.

 

I cannot combine my two moms into one mom anymore than they can split me into two parts and ask me to become whole again.

 

I have two moms.

Trying To Obtain My Original Birth Certificate

Yesterday I asked you to imagine what it was like to not have access to your records, including your original birth certificate.

Today, I want to tell you what it has been like trying to obtain mine.

 

I started in mid-May so I have been trying, with no success, for about 2 ½ months. This is a very short period of time compared to some of my fellow adoptees who have been trying for years to obtain theirs. Some have been flat out denied.

 

So I started in mid-May with a quick internet search which lead me to my home state’s adoption search page. Here I was met with a lengthy list of requirements. So I spent my afternoon going through the information, try to decipher out each step. After I thought I had a semi-logical grasp of the information, I called the number provided.

 

A really sweet lady answered and went over the information with me, informing me that I needed to start with my hometown clerk’s office.

 

Ugh.

 

Okay, here’s the thing. I don’t know if you are from a small town, but dealing with local gov offices sucks in small towns. Here’s why. Every single time you go to the local government buildings for anything, ANYTHING, everybody knows your business.

Renew your license? Everybody knows.

Paying a speeding ticket? Everybody knows.

Paying taxes? Everybody knows.

 

I’ve heard plenty of conversations that start with things like, “Oh yeah, I saw Mike yesterday. He was in here paying the taxes on that new boat he got. Do you know how much just the taxes were!!!???”

 

Let’s just say small towns aren’t exactly known for anonymity.

 

So I get to call the clerk’s office and hope that I don’t know Patti or Debbie or Sandy or whoever answers the phone to ask all about my personal information.

 

Great.

 

But what choice do I have. So I do.

 

The lady answers and I’m so relieved that I don’t recognize the voice on the other end of the line.

 

This is the second time today that I’ve had to make the “I’m adopted” speech. As I’m doing so, I wished I had spaced out the phone calls over a couple of days because it’s becoming exhausting.

 

This may just be me, but when I come out with those words “I’m adopted,” I feel judged. There is this silence, or look, or change in the other person where all of their preconceived notions about adoption come right out. I sense it in a heartbeat. Sometimes it’s a blankness because they really don’t know what to say, but more times than not, it’s sympathy.

Occasionally, it’s this other weird reaction. Like I’m a criminal, and I’m here to ‘pull one over’ on them.

I can tell you I’m not. I wish someone were pulling one over on me and I wasn’t really adopted. But I am.

 

This lady had one of those reactions. Everything that came out of my mouth seemed suspect with her. I ignored it and just kept trying to focus on saying what I needed to.

 

She listened. Then she tried to talk me out of it. I am not kidding.

She said it would take a long time. She said it would take a lot of money (up to $650). Then she reiterated that it would take a LOT of time. Again.

 

Once she was convinced I wasn’t easily dissuaded, she told me what I needed to do in the most sterile way. Maybe this is old hat to her. It’s not to me though.

 

There were forms and because I don’t live there anymore, it meant either taking a trip there or having a copy of my license notarized to send in with the forms.

I can tell you that I have no desire to go to my hometown, so the notarized option was the only one for me.

 

I figured the easiest notary to find is at my credit union so I went there. I approached the receptionist desk at the ‘services’ section and tell him I need something notarized. “What is it?” Mr. Nosy asks. “Just a form,” I lie.

 

A few minutes later the notary appears and directs me into his office. I explain that I need to have a copy of driver’s license notarized and he makes a face like this is the first time he’s heard such a request. “What for?” he asks.

Good grief, do I really have to go into this? But I figured, I had already dealt with enough, might as well go through with it rather than start over another day.

 

So I gave my “I’m adopted” speech again. How many times has it been in the course of a couple days? You would think it gets easier. But it doesn’t. Each time the individual reaction of the other person makes it new and raw again.

 

I’m honestly humiliated as it seems I have to beg others to help me out on my quest for some damn documents that are mine to begin with.

 

Now this special notary has absolutely no idea what to even write on this made up document. He is extremely skeptical of what we are doing. I try to make simple suggestions for wording such as “I confirm the person represented in this license is the person who presented it.” No go.

“I attest …” No go.

“I affirm…” No go.

He finally settles on his own wording and the whole time I’m thinking ‘put the notary seal on the paper get me the f*** out of here.’

 

As soon as he finishes, I say “PERFECT,” snatch the paper and leave as quickly as I can before he changes his mind.

 

So I get all the paperwork together, send it to my new best friend – the clerk in my hometown gov office and then … nothing. I don’t hear back. I don’t know if it’s received. Nothing. So I call.

 

Patti or Debbie or whoever is now on vacation. Great.

 

I call back the next week and she says she never got my info. Are you freaking kidding me?

 

She calls back a few hours later and said she found it. Sandy or Patti G. or whoever had been getting her mail while she was on vacay had it, but no worries because it’s found.

 

Yay hometown gov offices. You are soooo reassuring.

 

So I ask, now what happens?

 

She tells me they will pull my sealed records and then it goes in front of the judge to be opened and the judge determines to release it. Then it goes to the state capitol to be assigned to an intermediary who will look for my bio mom and see if she is okay with releasing it. (Don’t forget that I was raised in an open adoption) If she is, it’s sent back to my hometown and then sent to me.

Did you get all that?

I took notes.

 

So then I ask “What if you don’t find any records for me.” Silence from her.

 

After a few moments, she says quietly, “I have it.”

 

What?

 

I have it here in my hands.”

 

So she has it. In her hands. And we’re on the phone together. And in a little while she will have my opened “sealed” records in her hands. She will know all my information that I am not allowed to know. And Saturday morning she will be out at the local diner for breakfast with local peeps who ask things like, ‘so what’s been going on this week.’ Wonder where that will lead? I’m sure it won’t lead to gossiping at all. (sarcasm intended)

 

And more waiting.

 

I call every week by the way. Cause I’m not curious or anything. Right.

 

Turns out the judge released it to the state capitol. That was the end of May. Now I’m in a holding pattern. The ladies at the state capitol cannot find it. There have been various emails and phone calls, but these things “take time.”

 

So this is my story so far. The levels of frustration, humiliation, guessing and hopefulness have their ups and downs.

 

I have been doing this for 2 ½ months. Others have been trying for years. Some for decades. Some are just denied.

It’s wrong.

 

Please join us in Atlanta on August 12, 2013 as we march in a demonstration for Adoptee Rights to their original birth certificate.

If you can’t make it, write (email) your state legislator.

Here is the link to find your legislator on the Adoptee Rights Coalition website.

http://www.adopteerightscoalition.com/2013/08/contact-your-legislator-today.html

Sealed Records, Original Birth Certificates & The Adoptee Rights Demonstration

I grew up in an open adoption, so all is right with the world, correct? I know who my biological family members are, don’t have to worry with searching, feel connected and have no questions, right?

 

Well, not exactly.

 

Turns out there are still plenty of times where I spend money, time and energy trying to fill in the blanks. Oh yeah, there’s plenty of blanks even in open adoption.

 

One of those times was recently as I tried to obtain my original birth certificate.

 

You might ask, why I want it or even why I need it.

 

That’s a fair question.

 

I want it, need it really, because … I just do. So that’s my answer: because.

 

How would you feel if you knew that there was a file in existence about you?

You know it’s there. You know it includes personal information about you. You know it has some answers to questions that weigh on you. But you are not allowed to see it.

 

How do you feel about that? Have you really imagined what it feels like? There could be anything in there. How do you know? Your original birth certificate, a letter from a family member, a picture or hospital records that describe some important information about you. That’s the thing. You don’t know what’s in there because it’s sealed and you are not allowed to see it.

 

Ever had someone tease you with, “I know a secret about you and I’m not telling you what it is.” How did that feel? Did it drive you nuts?

 

If you are not an adopted person, do you have a baby book? Do you have a photo album with pictures of you the moments after you were born? Did someone record your milestones those first few hours, days, weeks or months after you were born?

If so, that is wonderful and I am genuinely happy for you that you have those puzzle pieces to fit together a more complete image of who you were as a newborn or baby. As it should be.

 

I do not have any such thing. And neither does so, SO many adoptees.

 

What we do have is the knowledge that there is some paperwork about us, in an envelope, in an office, that we cannot see because it is sealed.

 

Sealed. That word annoys me.

Did somebody lick the envelop flap and close it? Maybe an actual seal (sticker) was used?

Maybe one of those thick waxes and the state seal was imprinted upon it?

Hell if I know. It wasn’t done in layers of concrete, right? All that has to be done is run a finger under the flap of the envelop and it’s unsealed. Just like that.

 

I hope you have taken time to think about what it feels like, knowing about these records that exist that you cannot see.

I hope you know that it does not matter that you have proven yourself a mature adult that is educated and is a contributing member of society. State law has determined that you are a nincompoop that cannot be trusted with your own information.

 

As you walk away from this uncomfortable icky feeling, I want you to know that I really do appreciate the time you have taken to just imagine what it’s like, even if only for a moment.

 

If you don’t agree with this practice of sealing adoptees records and original birth certificates, I invite you to join with many others of us who will march at the Adoptee Rights Demonstration on Monday, August 12, 2013 in Atlanta.

 

If you cannot make it, please lend your support by sending a quick email to your state legislator telling them how you feel. Here is the link to find your legislator for your state at the Adoptee Rights Coalition website. You can also click on the education tab to learn more.

 

http://www.adopteerightscoalition.com/2013/08/contact-your-legislator-today.html