It is a cold, wintry Denver morning. The same as it was on this date a year ago when I started my blog. Yesterday it was 57 degrees, and today a light dusting of snow and wind is keeping it at 19 degrees. Maybe!
What a year it has been, personally. I am learning to navigate life after divorce, restarted therapy,
rediscovered simple joys, volunteered weekly at an animal shelter, fell for puppy eyes, completed my memoir, shared my experience with adoption publicly, and tapped into an adoption community that has educated me from multiple angles.
A few things I have learned:
For many adoptees, even if adoption was not the best decision, in their opinion, it is the level of secrecy that makes it seem like they were pawns in someone else's game. Someone with more money and resources than their birth family but not necessarily better people. If an adopted child has the superpower to change the life of their adoptive family, why isn't it equally possible that their existence could have changed the lives of their biological family if given a chance?
For so many birth mothers, relinquishment is never just a day. It is something that we live with. Some cope by keeping the emotions of the decision tucked away until they may be forced to deal with it later in life, in reunion. Others have learned to use our voice and share our stories, lifting the shame we may have felt or advocating for open adoptions.
I have learned from some adoptive parents who understand that the life of the child they received began with another family. They are open to dialogue that may prevent their child from going through the pain other adoptees have experienced.
There has also been an ugly side to adoption I did not see until social media. Prospective adoptive parents advertise on social media to potential birth mothers how they would be the perfect family while simultaneously responding to an adoptee's post with a venomous statement of "I see why you were given up."
Reunions are exhausting and complicated but necessary for an adoptee. I now know adoptees who have been rejected after finding a birth parent and those who better understand themselves by meeting a biological family member. I have met birth mothers who have built relationships with the child they relinquished. No matter what the scenario, very few regret reunion. Reunion restores a bit of power that the adoption system takes away.
I would have loved the access to so many different voices regarding adoption as an adoptee and later a pregnant teenager with no vision to see beyond my growing belly. I grew up not speaking about being adopted and having conflicting feelings about my identity. As a teenager, I went through pregnancy feeling isolated and choosing what was best based on the moment and not on the possibilities and the silence of those who should have guided me.
What is the solution to adoption?
Adoption will never go away, but secrecy should. Just because I am an adoptee does not mean that I do not have the right to know my origin. No matter how horrible it could be, it should be my choice. Not decided by a court that I have to petition and pay money for information. When I relinquished my son, I made it a point to add as much information about me as I could to the file the social worker was building on me. I included information such as having migraines when I was younger, frequent strep throat, and a history of diabetes on his father's side. My son nor his adoptive family received any of that information.
I recently had a doctor's appointment, and the trigger prompt for an adoptee jumped out at me "List family history of:" followed by a list of ailments. To everyone who says an adoptee knowing their history is unnecessary, why is that a question every medical professional asks? Because it is obvious. Knowing what you are up against is easier if you know the history. Period. That seems simple, straightforward, and a birthright unless you are an adoptee.
That question always reminds me no matter how far I have come as an adoptee and birth mother, there are still some things I still do not know much about. For 47 years before meeting my birth mother, I had no reference to anything that happened in my body. Today, I still only know one side of my history.
The past year, I spent time sharing my story about growing up as an adoptee and what it was like to be a pregnant teenager. I love my adoptive parents. I love my biological mother. I love not feeling ashamed to say I have 3 kids, although I only raised 2.
This year I would like to focus on adoption reunions. I am several years into reunion with my birth mother and birth son, and there is so much involved in that. It truly is a journey like no other. I recently shared my completed memoir with my son. I wanted him to have the complete picture of what made me who I am as we continued to navigate our relationship.
I do hope that my experiences have resonated and been helpful in some way to my readers. As usual, please reach out if you would like to share your story or have specific questions.
I haven't decided on a cover yet. What do you think?