Monday, July 29, 2013

The Life-Long Re-Processing of Being Adopted & Those Who Unknowingly Bear Witness

I was ten years old when we moved into our bright blue house.  After living in an apartment for the first ten years of my life, this was an exciting move.  For the first time I could hang things on my wall and paint it whatever color I wanted.  I chose pink carpets and painted my walls a deep midnight blue.  I covered the ceiling with stars that glowed at night and filled one wall with stencils of fish.  On the far wall across from my bed I painted a mural of flowers.  A pink and blue flowered comforter was spread out across my bed topped with a themed pillow from the best movie ever (The Lion King, of course).  This was perfect.

Two homes on either side of ours were also being built.  A white SUV pulled up to the home on the right of our house.  A short, thin, young blonde woman got out.  Something immediately fascinated me about her.

I was about twelve when Kelly* came over one day to talk to my mom.  Kelly thought we could all be friends because she was between our ages.  Kelly was 14 years older than me and my mother was about fifteen years older than her.  Fourteen.  That was a significant number to me.  I was born when my first mother was fourteen years old; my first mother is fourteen years older than me.  The moment I made this connection in my mind I realized what had immediately fascinated me about this new friend.

Friday, July 19, 2013

How to Testify at an Adoptee Rights Hearing: Hearing Footage and Other Good Stuff

You know those memories that stick with you forever?  The ones where you say, "yes, this is why I am here, this is why I do this." Growing up, I shared many of the same adoption-related thoughts and feelings common to adopted children.  As a young adult, I started to ask, "what does being adopted mean to me?"  Through a series of life events, I decided to search for my original identity and family and obtain a deeper understanding of self.  On a blazing hot summer day about this time of year, I reached out to my state's confidential intermediary for an update on my request for my original birth certificate.  I had been accepting, up until that point, that maybe this information was not really mine to have.  When you grow up having little information, it's hard to figure out what of your history is really yours.  For some reason, I decided to gently share with the intermediary how hard waiting felt.  I will never forget her dry, disinterested reply.  "Well, not everything can favor the adoptee here," she said.

In that moment, an adoption activist was born.  At 24 years old, this was the first time in my entire life that my identity as an adoptee and my identity within the larger group of adopted people had made me feel worthless.