Category Archives: Family

Families are everything. They are people related by love, not biology.

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Bully President- Daughter of Transgender Dad on Trump Rescinding Bathroom Law

This gallery contains 2 photos.

Originally posted on V.L. Brunskill:
Yesterday, President #Trump rescinded the rule on #bathroom choice for #transgender students. Without an iota of empathy or understanding the President (under pressure from right wing, ding-dong Attorney General Jeff Sessions) took away non-discrimination…

New Jersey Adoptees OBC

I recently wrote in my post I Drank the Kool-Aid that I was so disappointed in my original birth certificate. I did not get the information I was hoping for. It did not list either of my birth parents names. It did not give me a birth name from my birth mother. It was actually illegally completed by my adoptive mother who claimed that she was the doctor. Yes I was devastated and furious at her and at the system for allowing this to happen. 

However, I am thrilled to note that a friend of mine who also knew she was adopted her whole life had a very different experience than I did. She received information on her birth mother who unfortunately passed away recently. She also learned of a birth father and four bio siblings!!! And she was named. I am so excited for her!!

Never give up trying to learn more about yourself. I’m glad I had already learned my truth without my birth certificate. I wish everyone the best in learning their own truth. 

I Drank the Kool-Aid: Adoptee’s Birth Certificate

I always knew I was adopted. Therefore, I always knew I had no medical history. I’d go to the doctor and tell them “I’m adopted”, end of story, no potential life-saving medical history for me. No chance to get those early screenings to learn if I might be a carrier of a deadly genetic defect like the one Angela Jolie got which led to her undergoing a preventative mastectomy, thus ensuring she will not die from breast cancer. No, not for adoptees like me with no medical history.

So when adoptees started fighting for the state to unseal original birth certificates touting their rights to their medical history, I was onboard. I was leading the pack tweeting and Facebooking my heart out to get the law in New Jersey changed so I could finally see my birth certificate. That miracle document that would tell me everything I always wanted to know. Even though I had done over twenty years of research and learned who my birth parents were, (detailed in my book Call Me Ella), I still wanted confirmation, in writing. I wanted to see if my birth mother had named me. I wanted to know where I was born. What time of day. I wanted to see my birth father’s name in writing. I wanted to know education, age, siblings. All those good things that people who were not adopted take for granted. I wanted written documentation of my start. Proof of my existence on day one, not a whole year after as noted on my amended adoptee birth certificate. For some reason I believed this knowledge would make me whole.

I was wrong.

I was one of the first to submit my application to the New Jersey Department of Health after waiting two and a half years after Gov. Christie signed it into law. The wait, he said, was to give birth parents the right, opportunity, to opt out, to have their names redacted from the document. This was a waste of time for me. I’d done my research. I knew all parties to my blessed event were dead. But I waited. And waited. Finally the day came when I could apply. I did.

Then I waited. And waited. Finally, in January, I was one of the very first to receive my birth certificate. I held the envelop in my shaking hand while remembering all the lies my mom had told me about my birth mother. Mom swore she had died in childbirth. She hadn’t. She swore she knew nothing of my birth father, or my medical history. Lies, lies. Now was the time I’d find out everything. Or so I thought.

I was wrong again. I knew something was terribly wrong when I bent the corner of the document and I recognized my mom’s handwriting. There was no denying that my adoptive mom filled out my birth certificate. She was in the hospital. On the day I was born. And she filled out the most important document in my life. Not only did I recognize that handwriting. She even signed the document with her real name and checked off the box, md, next to it. She lied on my OBC and said she was the doctor. Then she made up a fictitious birthmother name, (I know because it differs from that on my adoption papers) and put a big X over the entire section for father. I guess she got the last laugh.

But I don’t think she was laughing. From what I learned during my birth mother search, my birth was very painful to mom. She raised a child she had never planned to have. Not all adoptions are fairytale situations. Some adoptees are more like Cinderella. The unwanted step-child. I’d like to think most adoptions are beautiful. That a child grows up with loving parents who prayed for a beautiful, healthy child to come into their lives.

But remember. In every adoption there is loss. No matter how happy the adoption, the child in question always lost their original family. Their mother. Their father. Their siblings and extended family. Don’t tell an adoptee they are lucky without recognizing their loss.

I guess this puts an end to my search. No more hoping to find answers to my questions. I must settle to be satisfied that at least I now know what time of day I was born and at which hospital. I’m lucky I had found my adoption papers a long time ago or I’d be more devastated than I am now. Such an incredible letdown.

I hope other adoptees have better luck than I did. At least I can let go now.

One more thing – insurance companies should be forced to pay for all preventive genetic tests for adoptees. That could save many lives.

 

The Phone Call

Unless a loved one is expecting a baby, the phone call you get at 6:45 a.m. is never a good one. 

Last year, around this time, beginning my winter vacation, I got the call that I was losing my bio brother whom I had only recently met. The loss came as a shock. After the funeral I met my bio nieces for the first time ever. They read my book about searching for my birth family. One asked me about my ex husband. The one who was so very troubled with an addiction that made life unbearable for both of us. Is he still alive?, she asked. Yes, I answered. The question surprised me. So did my answer. How had he survived this long?

This year, same vacation. Same place. Different phone call. My daughter, at 6:45 a.m. tells me her dad passed. He is in a better place, she said. I just happened to be visiting my son at the time. I was the one to tell him his dad passed away. 

While married to this man I was constantly planning a funeral. Every time he didn’t come home I pictured him dead in a car accident. I wondered who I should call. What I would do. But he kept going. I’d lose sleep while he was passed out. But he survived.  

Even after the divorce I still worried. Even though it’s not my job to worry. I do. I worry for my kids. But I have to also realize that he is in a better place. To be an addict is to live a life of pain. I always wished I could fix it for him. I can’t. 

People ask if I would have changed anything in my life. Yes.  Many things. But at this time I must stop to appreciate that he was the reason I have my beautiful children. 

Rest In Peace, T.J. 

5 Things Cis People Can Actually Do For Trans People (Now That You Care About Us)

If you were upset by all the bathroom laws and were wondering what you could do to help trans people, this article is a good start. Thank you for caring.

The (Trans)cendental Tourist

It’s been a weird year for trans people.

Allow me to be more specific: It’s been a heated, daring, tumultuous, graphic, specularizing, aggressive, pointed,contentious, highlyfatal, and really, really complicated year for trans people.

Here are a few examples: Kristina Gomez Reinwald, Ty Underwood, Lamia Beard, and many othertranswomen of color have been brutally murdered at the hands of lovers, family members, and strangers.Meanwhile,Laverne Cox and Janet Mock have come to fame and exhibited incrediblefeats of grace, articulation, and poignancy under the gaze ofan eager media. Blake Brockington, Leelah Alcorn, Taylor Alesana, and many other transgender youth have committed suicide afterenduring endless bullying and systematic brutality. Meanwhile, Jazz Jennings became the new face of Clean & Clear and published a children’s picture book about her life, and teen trans couple Arin Andrews and KatieHill (best known for “Can You Even Believe They’re Trans?!” types of headlines) wrote and published individual books…

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 Adoptee Questionnaire – What Traits Do We Share?

I clicked on a link from my Twitter feed that requested I take a survey about adoptees. They wanted to know if I believed that adoptees should be able to have access to their original birth certificates (OBCs). Of course I do. On the federal level, not state by state. They wanted to know if I believed that birth mothers, original mothers, should be able to find, have information about the child/baby they relinquished. Yes, I believe they should have that right. They also asked about transracial, gay, single parent, and other types of adoptions. Yes, those seem like valid questions. I believe the most important quality for those wanting to adopt is their want to give love to a child.

The questionnaire did not ask anything about if I believed that children should be given up for adoption because they couldn’t afford to raise the child. Or because the birthmother’s parent forced them to. Or how I felt about a child being relinquished because a church considered childbirth without marriage is a sin. They also didn’t ask if I felt that a birth mother and a child should stay together if at all possible. That would have been a good question to ask. Yes, I hate stories where a young women put her child up for adoption so she could complete her college degree. Four years later she has a piece of paper and an empty space in her heart for the rest of her life?? That’s wrong. I’d like to see that never happen again. But that wasn’t my survey. I answered the questions on my iPhone without adding much. Once I get started on the subject it’s hard to stop me.

Anyway, one question really took me by surprise. They asked: Have you experienced any of the following: divorce, depression, anxiety, OCD, ADD, dyslexia, obesity, anorexia, thoughts of suicide….There were more but this is a long enough list. WOW, I’ve experienced all of these! Are they trying to say that these are symptoms of adoption? Symptoms of the adoption system? Do they believe most adoptees have deep rooted issues because of the circumstances of their birth? I don’t know if I believe that. I’d like to know what part of the general population suffers from these issues.

There’s also a part of the equation that we’ll never know the answer to. Again it’s nature vs. nurture. My having these issues could be due to the separation from my birth mother. However,since there was a reason that my birth mother couldn’t raise me, I might have had the same issues had she been in my life. Or worse. Also, what about my particular situation? My adoptive mother was abusive. I was not raised in the ideal situation. I believe my psychological issues had to do with my adoptive mother. Her insecurities. Had I been adopted into a more loving environment, I might have turned out very different. More confident. And then on the other hand, perhaps the challenges I faced growing up helped me become a stronger person. Made me work harder for what I have. Made me appreciate the love of my husband more. Made me a better mother.

When we look at psychological issues, I believe there are so many factors to take into consideration that perhaps a 45 question survey is just the tip of the iceberg. Genetics play a huge role in all these conditions.

What do you think? How many “experiences” would you place a check by? Do you blame your adoption for any or all of your problems? Or is it just a convenient excuse?

The Secret Life of an Introvert – The Family

Home is different than being “in public.” You can be yourself. It is, or should be, a safe place. A place where you can act crazy and no one judges. No one criticizes. Yes, that’s the way it should be.

Most of the time Julia felt she could be herself at home. A little silly, she’d break out into song at the drop of a hat. Or at the mere mention of a word that reminded her of a song. And she liked to perform the song. Full on Barbra Streisand on Broadway. Funny Girl. Julia knew all the words. At times she even acted out the part, raising her arms to the sky as if she were playing to the upper tier at the Kennedy Center.

So when Julia’s mom, Carol, suggested she audition for the school play, Julia was taken by surprise. “Why are you always locked up in your room, alone? Turn off the TV,” she shouted through Julia’s door. “Do something! Join something at school!”

“I can’t.” Julia yelled back. “Leave me alone!”

Julia’s mom didn’t get it. Didn’t get her at all. She thought that since Julia sang at home, and even joked on occasion with a biting, sarcastic sense of humor, that this was the way she acted all the time. This was the farthest from the truth. At home, just with her mom, Julia was free to be herself. School was different. At school, she made her way from class to class, quiet, head down, never making eye contact, secretly envying those other girls, the ones smiling, giggling, practically skipping through the halls, chatting about their upcoming parties, their boyfriends. Why were they always so happy? Julia wondered why she wasn’t happy at school. Why she couldn’t talk to these people.

Julia tried. Many times. Sometimes at her mom’s insistence. Other times, well, she just tried for herself. Wanted to give it a shot. But the words weren’t there. She couldn’t think of anything to say to these people. Only at home would conversational words pop into her head. At school, Julia put in her time, did her homework, studied hard, got good grades, and when the bell rang, she got the hell out of that building and went home. To her room. In her room she felt comfortable, safe. No more pretending.

Even though Julia’s mom didn’t understand her daughter, for the most part, she let her be. She knew that forcing the issue wasn’t helping. She figured that Julia would grow out of whatever was bothering her. She’d come into her own personality. In her own time. She’d flourish, one day.

Holidays were especially difficult. When other family members came into the house, Julia wasn’t allowed to just hang out in her room. She needed to make an appearance, be social. Yea, right. Social. Mom didn’t know that this was killer for her. Mom didn’t realize that these people were the enemies. The cousins. Along with the aunts and uncles, the cousins, very close to Julia’s age, were forced to visit. First came the comparisons. Abby and Danny are in band. What are you participating in this year? Nothing, leave me alone.

Then the suggestions. Your mom says you have a great voice. You should try out for the school choir. Or the school play. Leave me alone.

Julia counts the minutes until they leave. She can’t wait to get back to her room. It’s no one’s business if she chooses to stay home or join groups. She bites her tongue wanting to say, I don’t tell Abby and Danny what to do.  She wants to tell them that she enjoys being home studying because she plans on going to college, perhaps to law school. She wants to tell them that while Abby and Danny are hanging out with friends, she is preparing for life. For the real world. She will be successful. Julia wants to stand up for herself and to tell everyone that she is shy. Introverted. That she prefers to be alone. She is happy by herself. Studying, reading, watching TV. But she can’t. She stays quiet. She tells herself that things will get better. Things have to get better. They have to.

What can introverts say to people to make them understand? Or should we bother?

 

 

To the Brother I Just Found, and Lost

I spent twenty-four years looking for my birth family. Growing up I was told my birthmother died in childbirth. A year after my mom passed away, I learned my birthmother hadn’t died. She actually handed me to my father in the hospital. That’s crazy, I thought. She didn’t die? She handed me to my father? My adoptive father? Why?

I searched. And searched. In the beginning there was no Internet. As the Internet grew, I found more hints. One day, through an online search and with the help of a woman I met through my old-fashioned mail campaign, I hit pay dirt. I found the name of a woman who could have been my birth mother. Long story short, it turned out she was. And I looked just like her.

The sad part, she had already passed away. About the time I found her name, I also learned that her daughter had passed away as well. However, she had a son who was still alive. I was so excited.

I contacted my bio brother, fully expecting him to question me. To ask why I think he’s my brother. To ask if there’s something I want from him. He didn’t ask. He never questioned me. He never asked how I found him. He just said, “Wow – I have a sister.” Immediately, he told me he loved me.

We didn’t live close to each other, so I only met him in person a few times. However, we texted almost every day. For years. “Hi Sis,” he’d say. Always ending our conversation with “hugs.”

My brother, my new brother, didn’t have money. He had talent. He was a professional, record-holding bowler. He was a famous bowler! Ron (Stromie) Stromfeld even set a world record with 52 consecutive series of 600 or better! And he set an ABC record with 156 200-games in a season!

The second time I met him, Stromie gave me all his press clippings that he had saved over the years. Wow, I couldn’t believe how many 300 scores! Unbelievable!

After an injury, Stromie was no longer able to bowl. He lost almost everything. Everything except his friends. Stromie had friends. Stromie was loved.

After I learned my brother was in the hospital, I needed to do something. Since I did not live close to Ohio, I couldn’t be in the hospital with him. But he had great friends, Nancy and Sharon, who were there for him, sitting by his side, day by day, comforting him, telling him he was loved. These women were his angels.

When the condition up-date calls stopped coming, I didn’t know what happened. I called the hospital. He was no longer there. They transferred him. I called the new hospital. You know that feeling you get when you know someone isn’t telling you something? “I’ll transfer you to Chaplain Steve,” the woman said. My heart dropped.

I knew what Chaplain Steve was going to tell me. We talked for what seemed like hours. I wouldn’t hang up, wanting to know everything. You see, I was Stromie’s closest blood relative. Legally, because of adoption, I didn’t have a leg to stand on. But they didn’t need to know that. I believe people are put in our lives for a reason, a season, or forever. I found my purpose. At that moment I realized I was there to make sure my brother gets moved to New Jersey. To make sure it was known that there was a family plot waiting for him, next to his parents and his sister.

My brother, though he had no worldly possessions, didn’t realize how truly rich he was. While on the phone with Stromie’s brother-in-law, I learned that his friends, his bowling buddies, were taking up a collection, raising money to pay for their friend’s funeral.

The last text I shared with my brother went as follows:

You are loved…

Oh yes?

Yes, dear brother. You are loved.

Rest in peace dear brother.

Thank you to brother-in-law Warren who is working tirelessly to make this funeral happen. To make sure Ron Stromfeld rests in peace.

Obituary:

 Stromfeld Ron Stromfeld, Central Ohio – USBC Hall of Famer, died January 7, 2016 at Riverside Hospital. Celebration of life at Little Bear Clubhouse, January 16, 1-5 p.m. Memorial contributions toward his final expenses (Strikes for Stromie) may be sent in care of the Central Ohio – USBC, 643 S Hamilton Rd, Columbus 43213. 

The Secret Life of an Introvert – The Phone Call

What’s the big deal? Jody makes phone calls all the time. She schedules doctor appointments. She argues with Comcast about why her rates have gone up. She even calls her husband, and her children. Why is this phone call different?

Her palms begin sweating. Her breathing becomes labored. She feels a little lightheaded. All of this drama just for a phone call to her sister-in-law. That’s nonsense, Jody decides. What’s the worst that can happen? She’ll ask about the kids? Maybe suggest getting together for dinner. That’s seems pretty straight forward. She’ll do it.

Of course Jody can’t just pick up the phone. She can’t just say, “Hi, how are you?” What would come next? She needs a follow-up to the opening line. Jody takes out her notebook. The one she keeps by her bedside to write down ideas she gets while trying to fall asleep. Those ideas that like to bounce around in her head, the ideas she will obsess about all night, if they are not written down.

Notes on the phone call: Hello. No, Hi! What if the other person doesn’t recognize her voice? What if Jody’s phone number isn’t in her sister-in-law’s contact list? She writes on her page: “Hi, this is Jody.” That’s good. That should work. Her sister-in-law would then say, “Hi! How are you?

Jody continues to take notes. She writes down answers to several questions that might be posed to her. She will say she is fine. The kids are fine. (Always say everything is fine. No one needs to know what hell you might be going through. That’s private.) Jody will ask about her brother-in-law, their kids. Then she will wish her good luck with whatever project she is working on. She did her job. She was nice. Just because they never called her shouldn’t make a difference. She would be proud of herself for making the effort.

Jody held on to this paper for days. Weeks, before making that phone call. The day finally came. She decided it was time to muster up her courage. To dial the damn number and get it over with. She would be proud of herself. She will not let her childhood memories of her mother telling her to hang up the phone and stop bothering an aunt affect her anymore. That’s the past. This is the present. She can do it.

After about two weeks, Jody, after finishing her lunch, sat down on the couch, in the quiet family room. No distractions. She knew her sister-in-law would be home. Her kids were out of the house. Now is as good a time as any. With trembling hands, she pressed her sister-in-law’s number. It rang. Once. Twice. She picked up. “Hello?”

Jody read the words she had written down. “Hi, this is Jody. How are you?”

Everyone responds with, fine, how are you? Not this woman. Instead she asks, “How can I help you?”

Um, I just wanted to say, hi. How are you?” Now Jody was shaking like a leaf. This wasn’t how this was supposed to go. The response she got was unbelievable.

“If you don’t have anything to say, I’m busy. Goodbye.” The sister-in-law hung up.

And that’s why some people don’t make phone calls. And that’s why some people really like texts. And emails. There’s not much worse than dead air on the other end of the line.

 

So when my daughter told me she didn’t really like talking on the phone, I could relate. I text. I email. But when she does call, it makes me very happy!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How Does It Feel To Be Adopted-Patrick Hawes

This adoption reunion story is both tragic and beautiful. It breaks my heart when a parent (grandparent) forces their pregnant daughter to give up their child!! How can anyone turn away their child and grandchild? How is having strangers raise your blood, your family, better? Adoption is meant to provide a home for orphans!

Adoptee Stories Connect

FullSizeRender My sister Tracy & I

HOW DOES IT FEEL TO BE ADOPTED?

BIO:  My Name is Patrick and I am a 45 year-old adoptee in Virginia but born in North Carolina. I was adopted at the age of five weeks old.  My adopted parents were older at the time they adopted me (father was 47 and mom was 42), I was an only child. My adopted mom was Japanese, so there was no way to hide the fact that I was not her biological son!  My adopted father passed away when I was four. I had a nice, wonderful childhood and never really thought about searching for my birth family growing up. I am married to a wonderful woman and we have one son who is almost 8. My adopted mom passed away 11 years ago and that’s where my journey to find my birth family begins.

THE JOURNEY BEGINS

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