Sunday, June 22, 2008

Going Back in Time ~ My Own Adoption Story

It was May, 1999 and I remember the evening like it was yesterday. Mama had passed away a year prior from ovarian cancer and the following month I was turning 30. Her finances had all been settled, her home in CA sold but I had one loose end I was still dealing with.. her car. When she and dad divorced in 1988 she received it in the settlement but had never taken him off the title (weird because she was on top of everything). I had been corresponding with an old family friend about not being able to get the tags because the DMV considered it Dad's and records showed he was alive and well somewhere in CA. I already had it transported via a flatbed truck here to Colorado and it sat in the garage, unable to be driven.

Dad and I had been out of touch for well over a decade in part due to their nasty divorce. The line had been drawn in the sand and no one budged. I was at a point where time had healed old wounds and I was contemplating tracking him down to let him know that no matter what, he was my Daddy and I loved him. I had told the neighbor friend via snail mail my thoughts of reuniting with Dad (and having him sign over the title to me). That is when the Adoption Bomb dropped that beautiful spring evening in '99. I was preparing dinner and reading her response. It went something like this, "... I am also surprised your Mom had not gotten the title work taken care of on the Cadillac. As far as tracking down your dad goes, I wouldn't get my hopes up if I were you. Since you were adopted and all, he may have cut ties with you emotionally. George and I leave for Mexico tomorrow..."

Just like that.. I found out in a random comment in a hastily scribbled note. I put the letter down and continued to cook. As soon as my (now ex) husband came home, I grabbed it and held it up to his nose, "Read This Read This.. tell me what you think it means!" I obviously thought I was going nutso and over thinking her statement (even though it was pretty cut and dry). He sat down, read it, looked at me and said, "Well, it appears you were adopted.."

Alrighty then..

I don't remember much right after that. I think I curled up in his arms and cried... for such a small statement, it was A LOT to process. I demanded he call my Uncle and Auntie in California and find out what in the world she was talking about. Like the true adult I am, I locked myself in the bathroom and held my breath. Minutes later, a knock on the door and the phone was handed to me. Yep, I was adopted. Holy cow..

Most people are aghast when they hear I found out so late about my adoption. Honestly, about an hour after I found out and the shock had settled a bit, I was given a Heaven Sent revelation that instantly brought me peace about it all and has since that moment. Not only was I loved so much by my birth mom that she chose to unselfishly give me up for a shot at a better life, I was loved that much more by my parents.. so overly-loved I never in a gazillion years ever thought I was adopted. I had had 2 mommies that adored me. How cool is that?

From the start Mom and Dad fully intended on telling me I was adopted. They planned to have "A Days" (like birthdays but "Adoption Days" to celebrate the day I came home). About a month after I was placed with them that plan changed.. they suddenly swore everyone to secrecy.. neighbors, friends and relatives. The had fallen so in love with me I was theirs and that was it. No ifs ands or buts about it. How in the world everyone (and there were loads of people) kept that to themselves is BEYOND me. You had to know my parents to fully understand their reasons. You can agree or disagree.. it is what it is. I carry no anger or regrets for not knowing.. they chose me and I was theirs.

I did go through all the oodles of red tape that's involved in getting my "non identifying information" from the state of California. It's ridiculous and just makes you want to cry with frustration over what you have to go through to get your own birth information. It took well over a year of mailing various notarized letters, phone calls, a few hoops jumped through but by golly, I got it. My case worker pulled my dusty little file out of the archives and gave me what little information she could without revealing my birth parents' identity. There's a form you fill out and send to the state that gets put into that file that authorizes contact. My birth mom did not fill it out but I did, in case she ever decides to find me.

The case worker noted my file was quite slim as I was only a month old when I was placed. She gave me a physical description of my birth mom: round face, blue eyes, brown hair, 5' 4 3/4"-that pretty much describes me - go figure. She was from back east, all her family was there and had moved to CA on her own. She had no relatives on the west coast. She was working as a waitress, met a customer and they dated for about 6 months. She was attracted to his sense of humor and really liked him. When she found out she was pregnant and told him he took off and she never heard from him again (bottom line.. the birth father = complete jerk). She was only 25 years old.

She knew she could not afford to give me the life I deserved and decided to put me up for adoption. She refused to see me at birth (couldn't bear it) but still waffled back and forth about keeping me. Finally, she came to the realization she could not afford to properly care for me and the day she signed the relinquishment papers at the Los Angeles County office, she could hardly keep herself together. At one point my reports states it took her "some time to compose herself enough to even leave the office". I've read that part over and over again and it always brings me to tears. It's a snapshot in time of a girl, alone and her heart is breaking over me. I cannot even begin to imagine her pain.

Yes, I did search for her. If anything else to say, "Thank You" for such an excruciating sacrifice she made for me and to let her know I could not have asked for a better life. Also, it sure would be cool to find out her medical history. Unfortunately, my birth name is quite common and the "search angels" that are out there on the Internet that help for free were unable to come up with anything. I checked with an investigator and was quoted $3500. In my book that is a bit steep for a search with no guarantees.

So, now DH and I are in the same boat Mama and Daddy were almost 40 years ago when they brought me into their lives. Home Study, first aid classes, older than most couples trying to start a family.. the whole ball of wax. Me, a Los Angeles County Baby, awaiting and praying for her County Baby. Full Circle, indeed..


Anonymous said...

Hi Melissy (add that to your nicknames...its what my Dad called you in the 70s and early 80s)

Wow. What an incredible post...and YES! You are an extravagant writter. I hope other people see this and go forward with adopting if they had ever considered it.

As much as I love breaks my heart to see so many arm candy pets who have sitters, a wardrobe, a carseat and stroller. Each time I see people treating a dog literally like a child I think somewhere there is a displaced, family-less child who desperately could have used those resources and family.
I think the only things a dog really needs is a kid to read to them at bedtime and play fetch with after school (plus food, water and vet provided by adults).
So...your doggies will be getting a little brother or sister? They will be so excited! Have plenty of old socks around for tug-o-war...

Luvs - Lauren

Jamie D said...

Thanks for stopping by my blog, it's not an exciting place...yet!

I am amazed at your story, my hubby and his sister were adopted too and their's is so different. Do you wish you would have known? Of all the foster classes we have taken, we have always heard, "Tell them in age appropriate terms". That's fabulous advice, I'm sure much harder to follow! Good luck with your process!

Anonymous said...

I'm amazed how I happend upon your blog via *bridges* Amazing how indeed bridges connect people.

I have always known I was adopted, But my Mother , adoptive mother died 8 years ago.....of Ovarian Cancer

I was born in 67.

Have you traced your family?

Anonymous said...

Woops I see that you said you did...Honestly that is a bit much , but there are PLENTY of people who can help you find her for a lot lot less
Please contact me via my email mail box in the top left hand corner on my blog an I will put you in touch with them

It is truly something you will not regret, and it sounds very much like your mother really did not want to give you up at all, I am sure it would mean the world to her to have you try to find her...Of course there is always the chance she could be deceased and really you have to go into it with open eyes, but its not something you will regret no matter the outcome

Michelle said...

WOW.. what a story, it brought tears to my eyes, what a tribute to both of your mothers in this post! I stated in another post that I am a caring home ( I care for babies placed for adoption until they find their forever families) and I have seen first hand the love and heartbreak a birthmother goes through, it is truly an act of love. And then I get to see the joy and love in the faces of the adoptive parents because of her selflessness. I hope one day that your reconnect with your birth mother, so she can hear from you how you feel about her. I'm sure it would mean the world to her! Best of luck on your adoption!!

Anonymous said...

What an amazing story Melissa!!! I'm not sure I would have handled everything quite as gracefully as you did. It's amazing that you will be able to share your experience with your child(ren) and will be able to know completely how they feel!


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