Monthly Archives: November 2013

The Adoption Knot

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Photo by Amberrabid

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:

Born

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.

Our names.

The facts of our birth.

Our truth.

Biological Father Contact

Resilient Adoptees

Sometimes I feel like a real asshole.

I’ve had my biological father’s name and picture since I was about fourteen years old.

Other adoptees have little information and are engaged in complicated searches, spending time, effort and money chasing every lead they encounter to find their biological father. They include friends, family and strangers in their intimate feelings and details to be able to increase their chances. They overcome setbacks and relentlessly move forward sometimes with very, VERY few details. Their diligence, spirit and resiliency leave me feeling in awe of them.

And it leaves me feeling like a real asshole as I sit here with all the information I need to make contact with mine.

That day my biological father’s picture showed up in the mail while I was still a teen, it showed up completely unexpected. Completely unannounced.

But there it was. In fact, it came in duplicate. I must have compared the two pictures, side by side, about 6 million times to see if I could discern any tiny difference. It was like one of those games on the back of a kid’s menu. Spot fifteen differences in these pictures. Except this was a game from hell as my normal obsessive tendencies took over. In all of the time I spent comparing the two pictures, I never did find a difference.

On the back of the picture, was his name.

So, I’ve had this … information for well over twenty-five years.

I know, and have read, so many stories of adoptees searching. If it’s difficult to find a natural mom, it’s doubly difficult to find a natural father. Many times, natural mothers simply won’t release that information. Ever. They take his name to the grave.

So adoptees like Deanna search. High and low. Near and far. Including friends, family and strangers in their search. They sometimes search with very little information.

And here I sit with my father’s name, and his picture.

I know where he lives. I know his address. I even know his phone number.

The day his picture showed up in the mail, I felt odd about it. I had pressed for his information, but never expected this to be handed over to me. One part of me didn’t want my adoptive parents to feel like I was too interested in him. But on the other hand, I was excited that he would be calling me soon.

Expectations are a funny thing.

One day the phone rang. My dad and I answered at the same time, but I was the first one to say hello and my dad listened silently.

The man’s voice on the other end of the phone sounded chipper, “Hi!”

“Who’s this?” I asked.

“This is your father!” he answered

I didn’t reply, and after a second, he said, “I have the wrong number.”

He hung up before I could say anything else.

I was stunned and the familiar numb feeling took over.

My dad came into the room. He looked at me like he felt sorry for me. “I bet that was your father,” he said to me, but I told him I thought it was just a wrong number which was the truth.

Knowing now what I do, I can say for certain that it was a wrong number.

The call I expected, never came. Another rejection I felt accustomed to. I interpreted my biological father not calling me as his answer to my unasked question of whether he wanted to know me. He obviously didn’t.

I knew he had been told about me. My biological mom had told me the extensive story of how she and my sister had gone to find him. She told me how they had an entire conversation about me. She told me that he wanted to know me. She told me a lot of things.

What she neglected to tell me …

What she neglected to tell him … was that I had been adopted.

I just recently found out that he never knew. Not in the beginning. Not the second time. Not the day they took a picture of him to send to me. Not any of the times she has seen him since then.

Not ever.

When I say I recently found out, I mean I just found out in April. It led to the worst day of my life. A day I didn’t think I would make it through. The pain seemed … just too much.

There were more details that I found out that day. Although “details” seems like an odd word to use. It’s my life. These small “details” that make up my life, don’t seem so small at all.

Like waiting for a phone call from a person who doesn’t know they need to call.

Like needing to make a phone call to someone who doesn’t know they need to be called.

Like needing to tell someone something that they don’t know needs to be told.

But for now, I sit here with a name, and a picture, and an address and a phone number … and I feel like an asshole.