Adoption feels like a gigantic knot to me. A huge balled up knot that is the complicated life of adoption, open adoption, two families, extended family from four sides, explaining which “mom” I talking about and emotions. Those damn emotions that still confound and confuse me decades later – you would think I would be accustomed to this life by now.
But I’m not.
It’s unpredictable not only in the actions, thoughts, feelings and motivations of others, but also it is unpredictable in my own actions, thoughts, feelings and motivations. That factor, the unpredictability, gives the knot a life of its own.
I realize that some people may think we all have unpredictable lives and to that, I agree. It is true, nothing is promised, we only have today, or right now – the present. But, I have no problem living in the present. In fact it’s one of the things I’m actually good at doing. The more I live in the moment, taking nothing for granted, the more I can ignore that damn knot.
But occasionally, I cannot ignore it. Unpredictability sets me right in the middle of the heavy ropes and dares me to try to untangle the knot.
And I try.
I work on the tangled mess and try to unravel it one thread at a time. Rarely do I know if I am making any progress or if I am simply creating a bigger mess in the end.
I fear the latter is what is happening.
The Name On My Original Birth Certificate
I received my original birth certificate in the mail two weeks ago. It set me right in the middle of the knot.
As soon as I laid eyes on the papers, I saw a lie. I put the papers away as soon as I saw it, not wanting to make more of a mess of the tangled threads in the knot. A few hours later, with the comfort of a friend on the phone, I read the papers aloud pointing out each lie or inconsistency as it came up. And then, I came across the biggest lie of them all.
My name was different than I thought it had been for the first 8 years, 11 months and 9 days of my life.
To untangle the knot slightly for you, the reader, here is as simple of a timeline as I can create:
Lived with Amom for about one or two weeks.
Bmom changed her mind and got me back from Amom
After 11 months, Bmom changed her mind again, and gave me up to Amom again.
After almost nine years, Aparents decided to “legally” adopt me so that they could receive more moneyfrom my Adad’s retirement. (I remember parts of this and wrote about it here.)
What everyone failed to mention to me, was that until my “legal” adoption, I had my Bmom and siblings last name. Nobody thought that was important I guess. I can promise you that it is important to me now and would have been important to me at the time.
If you are wondering why I was under the impression that my last name was the same as my Aparents, it was because the hospital created one of those souvenir certificate of births that “certified” that I was born to my Aparents and my last name was listed as the same as my Aparent’s last name. This was what my Amom used to get me into school, doctors etc. The same doctor signed off on it as signed off on my original birth certificate.
During my childhood, I had only seen my name as having their last name.
But now I know that for almost nine years, that wasn’t my name.
And the knot grows more enormous and more complicated.
And I realize “a rose by any other name” … But NO! A pissed off adoptee by any other name is more apt.
Adoption Knot Tangles
Adoptees deal with these types of complications frequently. We go to such extreme lengths just to get our information – for me, countless phone calls, over thirty emails and two states (and that’s within OPEN adoption). Then we have to process what this new information means to us. Other names, other birth dates sometimes, other family, other lives … It’s complicated and it’s messy and we work hard to untangle the knot.
Quite often we look up to see other people working against us. They intertwine the threads we are working hard to overcome. There are those determine whether or not we will even see our own information, those that oversee registries, those that record false information to begin with and sometimes those within our own family.
My own family kept my information from me.
Adoptees should not have to live with lies. We should not have to work so hard to obtain our own information. We should not have people working against us when we simply want to untangle a knot to find our own truths. We should have access to our information the same as any other person has access to their information.
The facts of our birth.