Thursday, May 21, 2015

The Eyes of the Seeker (Pt. 1)

I'm about to write something that I NEVER thought I'd write:

I know the woman who gave birth to me.

Look, that may not be profound or unique to YOU, but to ME, it's the most unexpected and amazing thing that I could ever have imagined saying.

See, I was adopted when I was a baby. I even spent about 6 months as Baby Jane Doe while the remorse period expired and my adoption was finalized. (Who else has documentation that identifies them as Jane Doe? I feel like I belong on an episode of Criminal Minds, but one of the episodes that ends well for the vic)

I've always known I was adopted. This was 1980, so adoption wasn't as prevalent or as accepted then as it is now. My adoptive parents could very well have hid the truth from everyone, pretending that my adoptive mom gave birth on vacation or something, but they chose not to. There was never any sit-down, come-to-Jesus type meeting, they just always talked about my birthmom as a part of my story. I got it, even as a child. I lived with a family that called me their daughter, but I was born to someone else. It was simply my truth.

Now, as accepted as I was by my immediate family, there were also many shifty gazes in my adoptive mother's direction they all thought I missed. 'Does she know you're not her REAL mother?' Or my personal favorite, the "Does she KNOOOOWW?"stage whisper with an exaggerated wink and nudge.

This is my biggest issue with adoption; the continual need to remind the child (and parents) of their Otherness, to point out that they are an anomaly in what are considered traditional social norms. Listen to the way the media refers to celebrities who have adopted children: Nicole Kidman has two children with Karl Urban, and two adopted kids. You won't find an article about Angelina Jolie or Brad Pitt without mention of their large family, and at least one reference to which children are "theirs" and which children were adopted. Sandra Bullock doesn't have a son, she has an adoptive son.

I choose to believe that all of these people are wonderful parents, and don't parent their biological children with any more love and care than their adoptive children. Why then do we feel the need to make the distinction when referring to their families?

Growing up, I never felt like I belonged. In my child's mind, I obviously didn't fit into my biologial family, they gave me away. In my adoptive family, I always felt the wall that I wasn't their child, I was their adoptive child. I don't mean to insinuate that my immediate adoptive family ever treated me that way. I simply mean that I never really knew where I fit, and I never felt like I truly connected with many people, lest I find out I didn't belong there either.

I think that's why it was never really important to me to search for my birthmother. I didn't feel connected to her. I didn't remember her, I didn't know anything about her, I only knew that I didn't belong with her.

Many times, my adoptive mother encouraged me to seek my birthmother. When I didn't express any interest, she must have seen it as a sign of solidarity, because she was very adamant that she and my adoptive father wouldn't see it as a betrayal, or make them think that I was rejecting them in any way.

It wasn't that at all, I simply didn't feel the need to open that door in my life.

And then, last year at about this time, I received the word that the law had changed, and that if I wanted to, I now had access to my original birth certificate.

I was shocked, and figured that getting my original birth certificate, the one that had my birthmother's name on it, couldn't hurt anything. I was certain the law would change back the other way, or that my birthmother may seek the legal action necessary to reseal the file.

It was really that, more than anything, that encouraged me to drop the request in the mail. Not that I was all that interested in finding her, but I wanted to capture every piece of my life story before the government told me I could no longer have it. What happened after I mailed the envelope, though, shocked a lot of people... me most of all.

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