May 6, 2004
was seven years ago today when my phone rang. “Does the date
November 28, 1966 mean anything to you? Your daughter Kathleen
has been looking for you for a long time.”
was very fortunate in her search. She was born in New York City,
to a woman with an unusual surname. It still wasn’t easy; she
found a woman in New Jersey she thought was her birthmother, and
was stung and hurt by the unsuspecting woman’s rejection. Her
search could very well have ended there, but she persevered
until she found the right home in Florida. An adopted person’s
search for her story should never be this difficult or
now knows her family medical history, her lineage, and how she
came to be. She knows that everyone in her birth family loves to
read, and her soft nails are just like her sisters. Her children
have another set of grandparents to love and support them. She
knows, for the first time, that there is nothing shameful about
who she is.
became pregnant when I was a freshman in college. My boyfriend
was a senior, facing the draft, and unwilling to commit to a
shotgun marriage. I felt shame, guilt, and abandonment. Raising
a child alone was an overwhelming idea.
“If you love your child, you will do the right thing,
and give her up to an adoptive family who can provide her with
all the things you can’t. You’ll forget about this and move
on with your life”.
tried, I really did. It just didn’t work – the hole in my
heart just grew with the years. I married the birthfather two
years after relinquishment, and our first daughter was never
forgotten, never mourned, just kept locked up in our hearts and
minds. We wondered – alone – but I never felt we could or
would know her. The two daughters born after our marriage were
never told about their big sister. We followed what we were told
all those years ago, waiting for the forgetting to begin.
phone call seven years ago changed everything. We were able to
finally talk about our first born, and begin to heal the pain
caused by her relinquishment. Kathleen is now part of our
family, and shares good times and laughter with her sisters. Her
children call us grandma and grandpa. The reunion has been a
wonderful, positive experience for all members of the birth
family. We go to adoption conferences together, speak often, and
visit as frequently as possible.
are no losers in our reunion. Kathleen will spend Mother’s Day
with her adoptive mother, as she usually does. She has been part
of their family almost her whole life, and will continue to be.
Both her families share a deep common interest in the happiness
and welfare of Kathleen, her husband, and their children.
Family celebrations are large affairs, with contingents
from both Kathleen’s families, and her husband’s family as
well. Things have worked out very well for all of us.
adopted persons, Kathleen still can not get a copy of her
original birth certificate. She has no official record of the
hour of her birth, or her birth weight. The original birth
certificates of adopted persons were sealed not to provide
confidentiality to birth parents, but to protect the children
from the stigma of bastardry. That notion is not relevant today,
but the practice of sealing birth records persists today in the
state of Florida. Adopted
adults have a civil right to a document that is about them, and
could be the key to unlocking their medical history. Studies
demonstrate that the overwhelming majority of birthmothers yearn
for contact, and the internet is full of adoption search
websites. Let’s treat adopted adults like all other adults in
society, give them their documents, and trust they can manage
the relationships in their lives.
Delray Beach, FL.