Identity is defined as the condition of being oneself and not another. A simple concept for most to grasp. Not so much for an adopted individual because the question arises…”Who WAS I”? Who was I before I was adopted?
To some that might sound silly, they might say, “You were just a baby, you didn’t know anything”. I can understand that response because it seems logical…but if I can stress one thing when it comes to adoption…it does not go hand and hand with logic.
It would be easy to imagine that a baby is born, placed for adoption, and the adoptive parents instantly take the place of the birth parents. In some ways they do, such as daily care of the child, nurturing the child, providing for the child. But those are parenting duties, what happens to the biology of the child once the adoption papers are signed?
Biology is what we are made of. Not just flesh and blood, but our talents and traits are held in our biology, our DNA. We inherit medical conditions and diseases from our birth family, not from our adoptive family. Biology cannot be transferred from birth parent to adoptive parent. When those records were sealed, we lost the very thing we are made of.
It is understandable how society can view an adoptee as ungrateful for wanting to know where they come from. As many times as I have felt the need to defend my search and reunion, I really do get why people can view it as ungrateful…BUT…that is because they are not adopted and do not know the loss we suffer at the hands of adoption. The world views adoption, which for us is trauma and loss of identity, as a happy ending, a miracle. There is much more to it than that. The adoptee is always left out of the equation, yet we are the ones who suffer the loss of self. We experience trauma at the moment we are separated from our birth mother. If we were relinquished as infants, we have no pre trauma self. We cannot go back before the trauma to heal. To remember who we were before.
While adoption is sometimes necessary and in the best interest of a child whose birth parents choose not to or are unable to parent, it is a PARENTING solution. It is NOT a means to sever the child from their biology. Somehow along the way, the best interests of the child went out the window.
The burden was placed on us to fill the void our adoptive parents had, which led them to adopt. But what about our void? I have heard recently an adoptive mother who opposes new legislation in Texas say, ” I was the one who was lonely, becoming an adoptive mother filled that void”. While one could certainly feel their heartstrings being tugged by that statement, the fact that this adoptive mother knows her adopted daughter’s birth mother’s identity and plans on keeping it from her forever, so much that she believes ADULTS who were adopted as children should not even be able to access their original birth records, makes the heartstrings very difficult to tug for those of us who were adopted. She is keeping her child from knowing her own self.
I am in reunion with both of my birth parents and siblings. When someone asks me how I have a better grasp on who I am, I usually respond this way….
I now know what makes me who I am…I can see my face reflected in anothers and that brings me peace. I no longer worry where my parents are and if they are ok. I know that I respond to things in a certain way, unlike my adoptive family, because that is who I am and that is OK. I know where my ancestors came from and I know the talents I inherited from my parents. A sense of fairness and justice from my mother and my musical talent from my father to name a few. I know what diseases I stand to inherit from both of my parents and I can pass that down to my children and grandchildren so that they do not have the burden of an incomplete family medical history. I know why I was placed for adoption and was given the opportunity to make peace with that. I feel real, like a flesh and blood person, not an imposter. My birth name is Danielle but you can call me Shawna. They are now the same person. I am at peace.
Nothing in that last paragraph mentions anything to do with parenting or how much I love my adoptive parents or anything close. My parents parented me, they loved me the best they could and despite my lifelong feelings of loss, I loved them too. But that does not change the truth about adoption….that does not create logic where there is none…adoption is loss for the adoptee, adoption is trauma, adoption can feel scary and lonely. Whether you choose to believe that, it is the truth for adoptees.
SB329 will grant ADULTS who were adopted in Texas the right to access their original birth certificate. This law will only apply to ADULTS not minors. To know thyself is a simple concept yet is being clouded by every other side of adoption….remember without the adoptee, there is no adoption. The first time I held my own original birth certificate, my life was changed forever. Such a simple and private moment with just myself and that little piece of paper. Texas can do better by us and should do better. Please write to your Texas State Senator and Representative and tell them you support ADULTS in Texas and their right to know who they are. Tell them you support SB329.