Tag Archives: birth mother

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. 

Advertisements

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.

 

 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?

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. 

Words of Wisdom in The Book of Joan, by Melissa Rivers

An open letter to Melissa Rivers.

Dear Melissa,

I want to thank you for sharing stories about your mom in The Book of Joan.

You don’t know this, but I am your sister. Although not biological siblings, we are siblings in my heart. As an adoptee, I spent countless hours wondering who my birth, or first mother was. One of my favorite fantasy moms was your mom, Joan Rivers. This was an excellent choice since I was obviously named after this famous comedian. I figured my parents named me Joan so that one day when I was ready to search for my biological roots, which we assume most adoptees will do at some point, my name would become my first clue to my origins.

As the years passed and I found no other clues about my birth, I began to take on the famous Joan’s persona. I developed her sharp sense of humor, unfortunately misunderstood by many. That didn’t matter. I figured, if they didn’t get me, their loss. My “standup” career began when I started working for Weight Watchers. As a group leader facilitating meetings in front of a room full of overweight women, potential Joan Rivers’ targets, I’d open my program with, “Can we talk?” I’d often toss out some jokes I borrowed that my members would relate to. One of my favorite lines was, “Elizabeth Taylor…we all used to want to look like her; now we do.”

Melissa, I loved reading your book. Your mom taught you about working hard and laughing at yourself. We knew the Joan whose humor was very self-deprecating. Who didn’t hold back pointing out celebrities’ flaws, giving voice to what others were thinking, whether they would admit it or not. The public did not often get to see the Joan you grew up with. The giving, loving, charitable woman you and her friends and family knew.

I was especially moved by Joan’s commencement address to your graduating class at Penn. I would like to share excerpts (that I copied from the Internet) here so people can learn a few important life lessons from the great woman herself. Lessons about pride. Failure. Success. It’s all possible.

When they asked me to speak at graduation, I thought they meant GRADUATION. I’d been looking forward to quaffing champagne and wearing a black cap and gown – to match my roots. And I thought I’d be receiving a degree! They said I wasn’t going to get the degree, then they said I was going to get the degree, then they said I wasn’t going to get the degree. It became a situation I’m sure some of these seniors can easily relate to!

It seems like yesterday my late husband and I were talking to our daughter Melissa about choosing a college. The choice was made more difficult by our California standards. There, higher education is anything above crayons; the only culture you find out there is in yogurt. The idea of a really deep, philosophical, existentialist question is, “How tan am I?” …

I’d like to tell you one thing, which is the truth as I see it. Please, everyone, look to your right, and look to your left, and look all around you – because right now, this is as good as it’s gonna get for a long, long time. I hope all of you learn to fail, and plan to fail, and fail early on. Failure is the best thing that can ever happen to anybody. Not only did each failure in my life teach me something, it made me stronger. And moved me one step closer to success. Don’t be proud. If you think the world is waiting for you now that you’ve graduated, you’re wrong. You think you’re hot. You think you graduated from Penn and Wharton: big deal. Nobody’s waiting for you. Try any path you can, go through any door that opens. Don’t wait for the right moment, because right moments come out of wrong moments.

Barbra Streisand is probably one of the biggest stars in the world, right? But if you think of her as unknown – she was no beauty: ug-o nose, stupid-looking crossed eyes, great voice, but nobody cared. She would go from audition to audition to audition. Nobody wanted her. Finally, in desperation, she sneaked into [an] audition for The Sound of Music. The call was for a 16-year-old, blonde, blue-eyed, young, very pretty Aryan. They’re looking for a Nazi. Perfect for Barbra! And she has the nerve to sing for them. [Someone told her], try nightclubs, which she did, and [eventually], she was discovered. She became a major, major star. And from that day on, I haven’t heard from the bitch.

If you don’t think [love and money] are related, spend a week in Hollywood. John Paul Getty once said – and I agree – “If you know how much money you have, you haven’t got enough.” Get out there, work hard, and thank God we’re living in a country where the sky is still the limit. And the stores are open late. And you can even shop from your bed, thanks to television!

I was one who, for about a minute and a half, went around saying, “Money doesn’t make you happy.” Yes, you can be happy without it. But it opens a lot of doors…From money, I turned to love, which is money’s first cousin. Look for love, and when you find it, grab it with both hands. And if it isn’t there at the moment, don’t be discouraged, because believe it or not, love comes to everybody. Even ug-os. When love arrives, you have to make a choice: should I buy a real sofa or a sectional? A sectional is good because then you can split it up if it doesn’t work out, but I’m saying to you all, please get the sofa. Go for the gold. Don’t live together. Get married. It sounds dull, but marriage is just like living together – except you get presents.

Success doesn’t mean everyone’s gonna love you. Forget that. Success is short-lived, and you never want to trust success. Enjoy it for the moment, then, for God’s sake, go back to work. Never forget that work is the reason you became successful.. I was asked to speak her today because I’m funny and I’m caustic and I’m cheap. That’s not the reason I accepted. I came because I wanted to pay tribute publicly to my daughter and to her friends and to the institution which has supported them and nurtured them and, please God, educated them. And what I mean by “educated”: I think that means that Penn has taught all of you to see, to hear, to smell, taste and touch.

You’re college graduates now. Use your education. Remember, it’s not who you know…It’s WHOM. 

Melissa, I want you to know that I cried along with you and millions of fans worldwide over the tragic loss of a woman whose senseless passing was due to negligence. On a selfish note, I also regret that I didn’t become famous in time to have Joan tell me to put down the cookies and walk away.

With affection,

Joan

New Jersey Original Birth Certificates to be Unsealed!

I just received a “personal” email from Gov. Christie about unsealing adoptees’ original birth certificates. I’ll share it with you.

Office of the Governor

Office of Constituent Relations

Post Office Box 001

Trenton, New Jersey 08625-0001

 

GOVERNOR CHRIS CHRISTIE ELECTRONIC RESPONSE 

April 30, 2014 

Dear Ms. Kaufman: 

Thank you for writing to share your support for Senate Bill No. 873 (S873), which would permit adoptees and certain others to obtain an adoptee’s original birth certificate and other related information.  I appreciate hearing from you on this important matter.  

I agree that New Jersey should take a new, open approach to adoption records that would eliminate the requirement of obtaining a court order to access birth records while respecting and protecting the interests of adoptees, birth parents and adoptive parents.  Thus, have recommended additional safeguards to balance the needs of adoptees seeking critical records of their identity with the expectations of birth parents in years past who may wish to remain private. These recommendations would allow birth parents to select a preference for contact: direct contact, contact through a confidential intermediary, or access to medical records only with continued privacy.  

Adoptees would be able to obtain an original birth certificate without involvement from the courts beginning in 2017. For adoptions finalized before the effective date of this bill, birth records will remain confidential through the end of 2016.  During that time, birth parents may choose to file a preference for contact with the State Registrar.  For adoptions finalized after August 1, 2015, long-form birth certificates will be available without redaction, and birth parents are permitted to submit an information statement electing their preferred method of personal contact.  Providing these transition periods will permit for appropriate educational campaigns on new open adoptions and avoid altering the settled expectations of parents and children without notice.   

have returned S873 to the Legislature with these suggested changes and look forward to their swift approval of the amended bill.  Again, thank you for writing to share your views on this legislation. 

Sincerely, 

 

Chris Christie

Governor

I can’t wait to finally see my own birth certificate! Not one that was created over a year after I was born.  Even though I’ve already figured out who my bio parents are, I’m dying to see what is on my actual birth certificate. I realize, false information might be there because knowledge of my birth could potentially have destroyed two families.

Who else is excited about getting their original birth certificate? What do you think you will find? What do you hope to find? Medical information? Family? Answers to questions like “who am I?”

Call Me Ella - An Adoption Reunion Memoir

Call Me Ella – An Adoption Reunion Memoir

Who Does an Adoptee Meet in Heaven?

Proof! According to Hollywood movies, recent bestsellers and tabloids, we have proof, from recorded near-death experiences, that not only is there a heaven, but your loved ones, even those you have never met, will greet you upon arrival. Do you believe in an afterlife? I don’t know if I believe or not, but it makes me wonder. I wonder who would greet me when I arrive.

 

When I think of mom and dad, I think of the parents who raised me. I didn’t think of them as my “adoptive” parents. To me, they were my parents. However, I did spend a lot of time thinking about the woman who gave me life. I wondered if she was pretty. I wondered if she had been happy as a child. I wondered if she had been in love with the man who helped create me. I wondered if he had died as well, and that’s why he couldn’t keep me. Sometimes I wondered if my parents wouldn’t tell me anything about my birthmom because they were afraid I would get hurt. Maybe the secret they were keeping from me was that I was a product of rape.

 

Since I always thought my birthmother died in childbirth, something that made me feel guilty my entire life, I never spent any time thinking about if she ever thought about me. She was gone. That question was off the table. Until my last birthday. Now that I know who my birthmother was, and why she put me up for adoption, and the fact that she had actually died around the year that I started looking for her, now I have questions. Now I wonder, did she think about me? This year on my birthday, for the first time, I wondered if she ever thought about me on my birthday. I wondered if she ever regretted giving me up. If she was anything like I am, she must have. I have an obsessive personality, still thinking about things that happened twenty, thirty years ago, wondering if I could have done something different that would have changed the trajectory of my life.

 

Now that I’m thinking about the past, I’m wondering, if there really is a heaven, and we do see our “family,” our loved ones, who I will see in heaven. Will my parents, the ones who raised me, greet me at the gates, with open arms and tears in their eyes, and hug me, trying to make up for all those years apart? Or will my birth mother be there? Will she push my adoptive parents out of the way, finally getting to be with the daughter she never knew? Or did she know me? Had she been watching me from afar? From heaven? Guiding me along, helping me find her. It took me twenty-four years to confirm who my birthmother was. Perhaps it was she who was leaving clues along the way, helping me find her.

 

I still have so many questions about my birth. I’m sure I was an accident. But was I also part of a love story? A one night stand? Why did everyone keep the story of my birth from me? After death, then, would everyone finally reveal all the secrets that they held for so many years?

 

Adoptees have so many questions. Who do you think you would meet in heaven and what are some of the questions you would ask them?

Call Me Ella - An Adoption Reunion Memoir

Click on picture for free sample or to purchase book.

Why are There So Many Adoption Secrets?

As most adoptees, I wanted to know how I came to be. “We chose you,” did not answer any of my questions. I wanted a story. My birth story. Hell, I never even knew what time of day I was born so I could do an astrological chart. Why did my adoptive parents keep the story of my birth a secret? Why are there so many secrets associated with adoption?

Times have changed. Mila Kunis is pregnant with Ashton Kutcher’s baby. They are not married. Olivia Wilde is pregnant with Jason Sudeikis’ baby. Not married. Jessica Simpson, Snookie, and the famous Kardashians had children without ever getting married. Savannah Guthrie announced at her wedding that she was pregnant. Women have always gotten pregnant with or without benefit of marriage. However, in the old days, shotgun weddings were common. Not so much today.

In the olden days, and, unfortunately, for many families today, getting pregnant without being married was considered a sin. It confirmed sex took place. And that was bad. Of course, the only difference between girls and unmarried women who get pregnant and those who don’t, are those who don’t are better at using birth control. So why is there such secrecy in adoption? Why are there so many birthmothers searching for the babies they gave up and why are so many adoptees searching for their birth parents? Why has the system made it so difficult to find each other? To find an answer, we need to understand why babies are put up for adoption. Why are so many girls coerced into relinquishing a child. Is it shame? Greed? Love? I’m trying to understand how a child can be taken from its mother against her will. Here are some possible scenarios.

I get it. A sixteen-year-old girl gets pregnant. She doesn’t want anyone to know. She’s embarrassed. Maybe she was fooling around with a boy. Any boy. Maybe it was a one night stand. Maybe they were at a party. Maybe she had too much to drink. Maybe it was her boyfriend. She’s afraid he won’t like her anymore if he finds out she’s pregnant. Maybe he is planning on going to college, and if he figures out that she’s going to have a baby, he’ll want to do the right thing and stay home and get a job. But that would ruin his life. He’d never get a chance to become that doctor, lawyer, president that he could have been if he didn’t have to cut his schooling short to stay home and help raise a child. Maybe she puts her baby up for adoption to protect him. What he doesn’t know won’t hurt him. She tries to move on with her life. Can she?

Or, this sixteen-year-old girl can’t tell her mom. Her mom goes to church each week. Her mom goes to confession, attends pot-luck dinners. She sells her cupcakes at the church fundraisers. What would her mom say if she knew her daughter got knocked-up? Her mom would be embarrassed.

Okay, this sixteen-year-old girl, when she can no longer hide her growing belly under her oversized sweatshirts, even in the summer, finally gets the nerve to tell her mom the secret she’s been hiding, gets whisked away to her aunt’s house in Iowa to have the baby in secret, so no one will know and ruin her reputation. I mean, ruin her mother’s reputation. Her family’s reputation. This girl doesn’t want to give away her baby. She is coerced into doing it so she won’t bring shame on the family.

What world is this? This might have been reality thirty, forty, fifty years ago. But today? Now that sixteen-year-old girl is a mom, maybe a grandmother. No one could possibly blame her for anything she could have done as a child. As a teen. She desperately wants to find the baby she gave up for adoption. But she can’t. It’s a secret. That birth certificate, with her name on it, and possibly the father’s name on it, has been sealed for many years. She doesn’t know who adopted her baby. And she doesn’t know where to start looking. She’s hoping, praying that someday, the child she was forced to give up, is looking for her. She posts to Facebook every day, using the same last name she had when she put the baby up for adoption, hoping to be found. Praying for a reunion. Maybe this child was lucky enough to have adoptive parents who will show her her adoption papers. Will help her find the birth mother who let her go. Maybe not because she wanted to, but because she felt she had no other choice. She couldn’t bring shame to her family.

Or, there was another sixteen-year-old girl who got pregnant. She too couldn’t tell her mom fearing her mom might want to make her have an abortion, or might make her have the baby and give it away. She keeps the pregnancy hidden. Too long. By the time her mom finds out, it’s too late for choices. She has to keep the baby. Her baby. She grows to love her baby. Doesn’t want to give it up even though that would bring shame to the family. What does she do? Her mom takes the choice away from her. Her mom decides to raise the baby as her own. The sixteen-year-old girl becomes a “sister.” How can she ever tell anyone later? Besides, who’s going to ask? The baby does look like a family member.

Another sixteen-year-old girl. She finds out she’s pregnant and can’t tell her mom because she was adopted. That meant her mom couldn’t get pregnant. She couldn’t imagine how her mom would possibly react knowing that, more than anything, her mom wanted to have a child, and couldn’t. She can’t tell her mom she got knocked-up when her mom tried for years to get pregnant. She secretly gets an abortion, a choice easier than confronting her mom.

Another sixteen-year-old girl. She finds out she’s pregnant and can’t tell her mom because her mom’s new husband is the father. Rape. The girl runs away. If the police find her they will just try to bring her back home. No. That house is no longer her home. She keeps the baby, but refuses to tell her who the father is. Anyone would understand why this should be a secret. She just tells her child, she doesn’t know who the father is.

An eighteen-year-old girl finds out she’s pregnant. She talks to her mom. She tells her mom she wants to have this baby. The mom goes off the deep end. They just spent $25,000 on her first year of college. This is no time to have a baby, the mom insists. Don’t be a fool. You have plenty of time to have a baby. Now’s the time for you to get your degree. Finish your education. Then, when you have graduated, are married, settled down, then you can start thinking about a baby. Don’t ruin your life. This college freshman, no longer having the courage to ask for her mom’s help, gives in. She gives the baby up for adoption. For a piece of paper. She never stops thinking about that baby. Missing her. Asking herself, was this degree, this piece of paper, worth it? Her answer is always the same. No. She wants to find her baby. Or at least know that her baby is safe. Healthy. Happy. She starts looking. Even after she has more children, each one reminds her of the one she can’t hold in her arms.

A forty-year-old woman finds out she is pregnant. Miracle? Maybe. Surprise? Definitely. Unfortunately, this woman is married. And her husband has been away for months. Many months. She doesn’t know when or if he is coming back. But he’s the father of her other children. They are a family. Should this fling break up her home? She gets the news. Her husband is returning home. Can they try to work things out? He’ll be better. He promises. She tries her best to hide her pregnancy from her children. When the baby is born, she puts the baby up for adoption. Who gets the baby? The baby-daddy. Now, we’ve got the birthmom keeping her pregnancy hidden from her husband, who is returning from God-knows-where. And we’ve got the baby being raised (adopted) by the wife of the man who cheated on her. Obviously, this adoptive mom can’t tell the baby how she came to be since that would be admitting that her husband cheated on her. It would mean divulging a secret that has been buried down deep. All the while, the adoptive mom sees the “other woman” in her baby’s face each and every day. The adoptive daughter truly understands the Cinderella story. She lives it every day.

And this is just the start. Shame. Shame. Shame. Secrets destroy families.

Call Me Ella - An Adoption Memoir

Click for sample or to purchase book.

Adoptee Uses DNA Test for Clues to Roots

SPOILER ALERT!
After twenty-four years of searching for my birthmother and finally publishing a memoir about my journey, I felt some sort of closure. Although my birthmother had already passed away by the time I learned who she was, actually before I started looking, I felt a sense of comfort in knowing who she was and having a few pictures to compare myself to. I also confirmed that I was born the same religion in which I was raised, which made me happy.

Unfortunately, no one I met during my journey knew about my birthmother’s background. They didn’t know her parents, siblings, aunts and uncles. I wanted to know more about her. Here’s the real spoiler alert part. Growing up, I never paid much attention to my father’s family. Since he was my adoptive dad, I didn’t even pay any attention when he told me I had a “cousin” who was involved in developing the Salk vaccine for the prevention of polio. He wasn’t my “blood.” Why should I care who his relatives were? Or the fact that he had heart disease which eventually took his life. This wouldn’t affect me. Maybe I should have paid more attention.

Part-way through my search for my birthmother, I learned that my “adoptive” father was actually my bio father. It’s strange how pictures paint a story. Years after both of my parents had passed away; I came across my dad’s high school graduation photo. I placed it right next to my son’s high school graduation photo. I never expected these photos to be identical. Same hair, same eyes, same ears. If I hadn’t known better I would have thought these were of the same person. Maybe I should have paid more attention when my dad, who had the same hazel eyes as my son, said things like, “I had blond curls too when I was a little boy.” But I was adopted. I didn’t listen.

I don’t spend my days obsessing about my adoption or thinking of myself as an adoptee. It rarely comes up in day-to-day conversation. Until the other day. About a year ago, I took a DNA test with Ancestry.com. I wanted to find some blood relatives other than those I gave birth to. I thought it would be cool to find matches, maybe even a cousin, aunt or uncle who might know something about my birthmother’s family. All I had was her maiden name, Simon, a very common name. For a split second I fantasized that I was related to Paul Simon from Simon and Garfunkel, imagining meeting him and telling him how I liked his songs. But that’s pretty ridiculous. As a matter of fact, I found very few close matches. The closest were third or fourth cousins. And when I looked at their charts, I honestly didn’t have a clue who I was related to. I didn’t, and still don’t, have a clue if the matches are from my mother’s or father’s side. In the meantime, I started adding names to my tree. I added all of those relatives of my dad who I now realized were blood. And I actually found some more. But I have nothing on my birthmother’s side.

I let this go for a while, hoping someday to find a close DNA match. Someone who could actually tell me more about my roots. Until one day I got an email from someone looking for her roots. She knew nothing about her dad’s background. She was hoping I could fill her in. Clueless about how this worked, not knowing which side our DNA matched, maternally or paternally, I couldn’t give her any direction. If she was related to me on my dad’s side, I actually know quite a bit now. If we matched on my birth mother’s side, I know nothing. I voiced my confusion to her in an email explaining that I don’t know how to help her. I totally forgot that I had been adopted. I forgot to mention that I knew nothing at all about one side of my family. I wrote her back. Admitting that I’m an adoptee searching for my roots, I confessed I knew nothing that would be helpful.

Am I missing something with this DNA test? Does anyone know how I can identify the matches as being relatives on my mother’s or father side? I’m so confused. I tried to do the 23andMe test but they don’t allow it in my state of Maryland. I’m not sure what to do next. I don’t want to keep taking more and more tests, but not knowing how someone is related to me is making this more confusing.

If you have any ideas, or would like to share your success or failures in DNA testing, please share. Thank you.

Call Me Ella - An Adoption Memoir

Click for sample or to purchase.

Original Birth Certificates for New Jersey Adoptees

The headline in NJ.com read: Bill opening birth records for adoptees approved by NJ Assembly panel.

The main story in NJCARE read:

Monday, February 10, 2014

Adoption Hearing was heard before the Assembly Health and Human Services Committee. It was voted out of committee 4-0. You can listen to the hearing by going to the home page of the NJ Legislature and click on Archived Hearings.  Ask your Assemblyperson to support A1259 which will give adult adoptees access to their original birth certificates.

Are we, adoptees born in New Jersey, finally getting closer to getting our original birth certificates? My birth certificate, the “official certified copy” of my birth certificate, is dated one year after my birth. It lists my adoptive parents’ names as if they had given birth to me. Yes they raised me. Yes, they were my family. My mom and dad. But they were not my birth parents. They were not responsible for bringing me into the world. Isn’t it illegal to falsify documents? Doesn’t the state realize that they are depriving me the right to know who I am? Where I came from?

In 2011, Gov. Chris Christie conditionally vetoed the adoptee birth certificate bill, insisting anonymity for mothers. He said the records should be released but insisted that women who gave their kids up to adoption should have their anonymity preserved. What will happen this time? Will he veto the bill again?

Hasn’t he seen the movie Philomena? How many birthmothers would give anything to know the child they relinquished, many of whom where relinquished against their will, is healthy? Happy? Alive? Gov. Christie claimed birthmothers want anonymity. Maybe some do. From what I’ve read, most want to learn what happened to their child. Their flesh and blood.

I admit, I am not a birthmother. So I can’t speak for birthmothers. But I can speak as an adoptee. When I began my search twenty-something years ago, I wrote letters. Who did I write to? I lucked out, if I can use the term “luck.” Right before my mom passed away, she told me where she kept her important papers. In that box I found my adoption papers. This was the first time I learned what my birthmother’s last name was. Armed with that information, I wrote letters to people with my birth name. I finally hit pay dirt when my letter was passed on to a woman who was considered the “family historian.” (I thought it was so cool that my birth family had a “historian.”)Each letter I wrote included verbiage such as, “I don’t want to intrude on anyone’s life, I just want to know who I am.” Eventually, and this took many years, the historian and I fit together the pieces. We figured out who my birthmother had been. A woman who had passed away the year after my mom passed away.

I’m worried. Is Gov. Christie going to insist on protecting the anonymity of a woman who died twenty-five years ago? Whose husband has passed away and most of the children she raised? What if he insists that we get permission from the birthmother? Will this be a catch-22? She can’t give permission because she is dead. She can’t deny permission because she is dead.

I can’t begin to explain the feeling I’m anticipating the day I’m finally able to get my original birth certificate. To hold it in my hands. To see my name as it was written the day I was born. To finally feel whole. I’m anxious. I’m excited. I hope this bill passes before it’s too late. Before I’m dead.

I’d love to hear from other adoptees about how you will feel when you finally get your OBC. What are you expecting? And from birthmothers. Have you been looking? Are you hoping to be found?

20140103-121319.jpg

Click to get sample or purchase book.