No longer, “Mother’s Sue!”

You may have noticed, I am semi-retired from the roller coaster, as a choice.  Do I wander sometimes and get back on?  Oh yeah and with a full stomach!   But I also wait and watch, get in line and enjoy it with my hands in the air screaming, “Woo hooo.”  Better balance is finding me.  The deep realization that almost every aspect of my life will be exposed in about seven months is bringing growth.  It’s good, it’s a gift, and it is titled, Late Discoveries.

As I go through childhood pictures looking for the “similar to Kathy” photos, I feel so many things.  Some emotions  tsunami-up and out before I even understand why.  Seeing pictures of my mother made me miss her, and then frustration and confusion set in… the person I knew as my only parental unit since I was 19 refused to get past her choice of keeping my beginning a secret (and everything that goes with that.)  I know this is old news, but bear with me.

She kept me right where she wanted me her whole life, and yet I know she loved me and saw all the good me.  Her governing mind-set was stead fast in cement, even when she was given so many opportunities and time; living to 88 years old.  She is still a lump of confusion that finds its way into the pit of my stomach.  I have tried to dismantle her and understand, but today I realize that it’s okay for me to accept that I did not know her completely.  I can be more still now, staying off the ride to look through photos and see how they can be the same old pictures; yet carry new meaning.  Mother no longer controls anything.

She was simple to me, pre DNA, a lonely person who I felt connected to by love and responsibility.  That really is a great summation.  Many times I played the role of peacemaker between her and my kids, and with her and my brother’s family.  Mother could be so angry and hateful, and manipulative to the point of anguish.  Honestly, I just couldn’t stand it and rather than letting her “own” all of that and leaving her to it, I often spread the scene “Jif” smooth and creamy.  I never realized how exhausting it was – until it wasn’t.

Trying not to stain the pictures, I returned to the task of the moment – finding pictures of me at about one, eight, and fourteen years old.  I have three good childhood photos of Kathy and upon learning of our similarity, the publisher asked for pictures of me to illustrate our likeness.  While I love that I know who she was (to the best extent possible) it means so much to me that I resemble my mother, the woman who loved me first.  And that is apparent in our childhood, more so than any other time.

In her twenties, Kathy looked almost Italian.  The clothes, hair and terrific wide dark eyeliner would make anyone say, “Bella donna.”  We look nothing alike in those photos.  However, the most recent picture I have of Kathy, she was 49 and with her last husband.  There it is, I see me.

Kathy and husband

I see the “aging” face I don’t really care for, but yet I’m trying to care for it the best I can.

I hope when the random total stranger see’s our pictures together in my book, they can know a little bit of the joy I found in our same eyes, nose, cheeks, and lips.  And I hope the confusion is loud and clear when they see the Westby family portrait from 1968, as my mother pinches me with her white-gloved finger tips.  It’s not The Westby’s, it’s The Perfect’s.  For many years, our home was surrounded with bright green grass and a perfectly painted exterior-gloss white picket fence.  I remember the can vividly; my dad would pour some in a pie tin for me to do touch up.  Yes, even I had a part in the white picket fence display.

Many times, it felt like a perfect life, and I found joy in my brother and grandmother.  We all lived together; my grandfather was a grump, Mother worked and was busy, and Dad was basically foreign.  I think he was as uncomfortable with me as I was with him.  My brother is really the only family I have (outside of the one I created), and we are having ongoing challenges.  We’ve done a little “boxing” while both of us claim everything between us is fine and good.  Clearly, fine is deep frustration between his wife and me and good is the difficulty I am having dealing with both of them.  So, yes we are fine and good.  The things we’ve had issues with are just landmarks of a greater problem, but possibly his perception is different.  I think I choose to allow the landmarks to stay because I no longer feel the need to Jif-it over.  We no longer have to do anything on behalf of our mother; we’re all adults with our own perspectives and ultimately, our own choices.  I hope we can find our path and that we keep our connection.

The greatest observation I have is that I know I’ve changed.  Not all in one moment, over about a year or so and I purposely have been upfront and honest with him about who I am.  I embrace the truth about all of me, where I come from, the struggles growing up and always suppressing who I wanted to be.  I’m making up for lost time, and feeding the real person inside – not just covering up “Mother’s Sue.”  I hope he just needs time to see me, because no matter what – differences abounding – I love my brother deeply and will always accept him for who he is.  I know this has been hard on him, too.

His photos were another big emotional piece for me while I was sorting.

My brother, Bob holding me.

As I gazed long at this cute freckled blond boy holding me on what was probably my first day in my new home, my mind easily slips into the pages of the home study.  The social worker commented many times about how much he loved his little sister.  From the time I came into his life until we were all together at the final hearing when the adoption was complete, there’s story after story of his love for me.  There’s a sweetness about these reports, pages that fill my heart and help me to know The Westby’s and The Roderick’s while they were getting a new life added to their household.  Those are all things that were kept secret from me, and I sit taller as I write how much I love having all the treasures pertaining to my life.  There’s satisfaction in getting what is yours.  (“Ha ha, Mother!”)

*Side note:  Getting my original birth certificate is the diamond I am mining.

There are still treasures to be had, and I hope that anyone reading this can see how unfair it is to have all of the stories and events about your life kept hidden.  People who are adopted struggle with their identity, on a soul level because there is such great conflict between the two people who created you and the home in which you were placed.  And then if you’re a late discovery adoptee, you were raised in a swarm of deceit-bees.  A child feels it and has to adapt and find ways to calm the noise.  (Sometimes by making louder noise!)  As an adult, we can get away from the swarm but we know that something is wrong and missing.  An adult adoptee tries to fill the hole and feel right. (LDA or not.)  I’ve tried to fill that hole most of my life and probably always will, but knowing what caused it is half the battle.   I can work to fill it within the frame of what’s best for me, my goals, my life.

Never underestimate the power of writing through your feelings, journaling, or creating art that speaks for you.  Do I stumble (often) and look in the mirror to see “Mother’s Sue?”  Yes.  But, it is less and less and I am enjoying life more and more. “Cheers!”


Good Will Hunting

The thing about being a late discovery adoptee is when you watch certain movies that you’ve seen many times before through the new adoptee eyes, you will see something different.

I just watched Good Will Hunting, first time or this time – what a great movie, right?

Good Will Hunting

Will and Sean

This time, I so loved watching Will and his therapist, Robin Williams, aka “Sean.”  The first time they laugh together when talking about Sean’s wife farting in her sleep was awesome, and the banter they have while Will finds his place in the relationship is inspiring.

While I have been in therapy a few times, I have to admit – there was never any situation as great as Will and Sean’s time together.  However, it is movie magic, right?

What provided some magic for me was that last counseling session, near the end, when Will was told, “It’s not your fault.”  Time and time again, the abuse – all that happened to him, was not his fault.  Obvious, right?  But he kept repeating it, until Will finally broke down.  The first time I saw this, I thought, “How odd… why would he think for a second that all the abuse was his fault?”  The movie guys got it wrong.

This time, at that moment I realized that I had wondered on occasion if my mother not telling me I was adopted was my fault.  Maybe I had behaved in a way that made her believe that my love for her wasn’t real, and upon the “news” I would’ve simply bolted out the door to my first family.   Or as a child, when she should have told me, I would have been unbearable.

When Mother said that I needed to appreciate her more, I did.  Or do more for her, I did.  So it’s not a far stretch to wonder if her controlling me, or the situation, was something I went along with – thus being, “my fault.”

As Robin Williams said, “It’s not your fault.”  It wasn’t my fault either.   While I wasn’t physically abused as Will was in this story, I did suffer from not knowing the truth.   It wasn’t my fault that I was adopted, or that Mother decided to keep my beginning a secret, or that she never told me after all we had been through.  It wasn’t my fault that she didn’t tell me the truth about “me.”

And to other adoptees, it wasn’t your fault.  Most especially my heart goes out to other LDAs, we had something unthinkable done to us and it was never our fault.

I feel sad for her, my mother but I see that all of her decisions are on her, and she took it to her grave.  How very sad.  How un-necessary.  It’s also un-necessary for me to ever even consider the prospect that her actions were, “my fault” – and its crystal clear now.

Thank you, Good Will Hunting.  Sincerely, Good Susan Bennett.

Love with a tail

As our paths criss-cross and some are up while others down; there are many constants on this ride.

Ohh… the tightly gripped safety bar ~ it’s always there for me and demonstrative of faith.  Some days I do white-knuckle it, however.

I do find that I am 90% of the time positioned in the center, eagerly aware.  But, I see others off to one side with their feet propped up.  There’s even a few guys lowered in their carts, leaning to the left while they work on their laptops.

While I do notice many differences, I see one great thing in common.  Those of us with older children seem to have a special love on the side, a sweet doll-baby, a precious one – aka, a joyous canine companion.

While I have 4 dogs (down from 7 YIKES!) there really is just 3 and then – THE ONE.  My sweetie/love bug/princess of the universe, Bicki.

THE ONE, aka Bicki

Okay, technically she is a dog – I’ll give you that.  But this little one is so connected to me and understands every sigh, tear, and giggle.  She stares at me sometimes trying to make sure she has me figured out, and when she does she behaves accordingly.  She is such a companion, such a friend.  And – she loves my sense of humor and doesn’t mind one bit when I ask her all my questions while I’m trying to figure her out.

She races in from outside, barking and then jumping up in the air.  I’ve come to call the move a “marlin” as she wriggles at the peak of her jump.  But then she pauses, looks at me intently and then barks sharply.

I scrunch my face and look at her trying to figure out the issue. “What, did Timmy fall in the well?”  Bark, bark… “No… Timmy’s okay huh,” I say with a big smile.  She jumps in my arms and a few kisses later I learn that she was just excited and needed a hug.

No getting cavities here, well… maybe just one, she is really fricken sweet.  Do you have one of those?

I think it all starts when we’re kids with all the great TV, movie, and cartoon dogs.  Benji set the stage for me, I mean really – he even killed some mountain lion for his person, right? I don’t think it was the first Benji, but like one of the sequels.  Right or am I thinking of another show?

Although cartoons seem less “real” for obvious reasons, who didn’t want an Astro?  Or as he said it, “Rastro.”  Or lovable goofy Scooby doo?  Scooby dooby doo where are you… hmm hm hmm hmm.. I wonder if I can find the words to that?  hmm? Scooby Doo theme song! : ) Oh…yeah.

And who didn’t cry during Homeward Bound?  Chance and Shadow were AHHMAZING!  Okay, Cassie was all right. ; )  (I’m allergic.)

There’s Pongo, the dashingly handsome Dalmatian who turned into the best daddy a dog ever had right before our eyes.  Heck, I wanted my dad to be Pongo.  Alas, that’s another blog.

Favorite all time dog movie, Lady and The Tramp.  Oh how I loved when the dogs all sang in the pound.  And when she went after the big rat, saving the baby.  Awhhh, what a perfect little Lady.  And the other characters, Jock and Trusty.  Their voices – GREAT! OMG…and those cats, “We are Siamese if you please…” The Siamese Cats from Lady and The Tramp

And Saint Bernards… was Beethoven the most fun you’ve ever had watching a big ‘ole slobbery dog?  Beautifully spectacularly humongous and sweet. Famous Dogs and Beethoven

So, it’s no wonder that many adult adoptees have a special friend they can turn to; and they validate and accept us better than anyone can.   They can’t say, “But I feel that way sometimes and I’m not adopted, ” or with a tilted smile share their unsolicited, “But you’ve had a good life” condescending comment.  Bleh ! What they can do:  A kiss kiss, rub and a nudge, and then they lay across your lap – which says, “I love you, I get you, you’re perfect, and this moment is perfect!”

Who doesn’t want to be loved more than anything?  Sadly they don’t have human life spans and they weren’t meant to take the place of a person, but I can honestly say that having Bicki in my life has been a tremendous gift.  The love and compassion from this little creature warms my heart.

This time of year, this year – I’m thankful for my Bicki, she is pure love with a tail.


Bicki, my love with a tail

She doesn’t have odd squinty eyes, it was just really bright. FYI  ; )

May your holidays be filled with love!

Keep your chin to the sunshine

While this holiday portion is thrilling and filled with excitement for children, the rails of the ride in December sometimes quake unnerving-ly beneath us.  We’d like to think Ohh… Jingle Bells! Uhm NO, the shaking intensifies and it doesn’t stop and you feel it in your chest.  It’s not audible happy jingle-jangling associated with reindeer or the big man in red, it’s a general butterfly nervousness… x 100.  It’s anxiety on crack!  While it seems most hear joyous Christmas bells, we often don’t – oh we want to, but Christmas is a time of family and that can be hugely hard!  (That has to be another post for another day.) I’m going through hugely hard with my brother and his family right now.  (I deleted that at first, and then I realized none of them read what I write anyway, so it stays.)

This relationship will always be a work in progress, as it should.  I truly love my brother Bob.

Sister & Brother

Bob and I

Sometimes I need extra warmth in addition to M.A.S.H.  (That’s; Mike, Ash, Sue, Hayden. – collective core since 1989.) For me, this time of year it is necessary to lean on my “special family”.   I hold dear those special ones who understand adopted me and know where I am coming from.  They “get me” and that fact often makes it all a-okay.  It’s as if they lift your chin up to face the warm sunshine, giving you warmth and peace.  When mine is nearly stuck to my chest and I’m feelin’ low, a “special family” person lifts my face with ease by sharing her soft loving words.  She always takes the time to share her wisdom and reminds me; KEEP YOUR CHIN TO THE SUNSHINE! Yes Sondi, my chin is up… and you’ll never know how perfectly wonderful your words are to me.

My Christmas wish is to find a new roller coaster in 2011 where the majority of it is  SUNSHINE! You may say, life is just not that way.  But why not?  Or at least why can’t it be that way more often?  We each have control how we react to any situation, right?  We can decide who we surround our selves with.  We have the POWER.

I recently read a post where a guy said that “adoption crap” had ruined yet another relationship.  He and his girlfriend had broken up after many years together.   To that, I must share this:  “Adoption crap” can’t ruin anything, only you can make or break a relationship.  It’s how you choose to interact with loved ones, friends, co-workers, or strangers on the street that matters.  Yes, they can stab ya in the back, take the last cup of coffee, or steal your parking spot – but you are in control with how you react and how you conduct yourself the rest of the day.  If ya got adoption issues, work on ‘em – face them head on.  But this person only see’s the wreckage and then defines it – after the fact.

That’s just my perspective from where I sit, from where I’ve been, and from my view behind special glasses I own.  Sure we all have out of control moments, hopefully not out of control years.

Something to remember is this great quote:  A man is what he thinks about all day long.  ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

I was recently told that I make pain look pretty, and that made me stop and really think about what I write.  I felt like Pooh Bear sittin’ on a log, “Think, think, think.”  Well, I totally disagree because it infers that I’m not telling it like it is.  Or I’m dressing up “pain” to go out for a night on the town.  Or I am painting over it with words and passing it off as something else.

My example of pain would be when a loved one dies.  There’s no making that look pretty.  I am not a believer in, “Well… they had a long full life” or the one I hear all the time, “They aren’t suffering anymore.”  Those things are all about the other person, like my mom for instance.  She did have a long life and no, she isn’t suffering any more.  But that has nothing to do with me, here alive today without her.  I don’t have that one person I shared everything with.  She is in a good place, but what I have felt is painful. There is her loss and then there’s all her complexities that I learned about after she was gone.  To say there were things un-said states the obvious.  It was heartbreaking and I had to make massive adjustments just to breathe.  Now, it’s just sad, hard, and it has taken a long time but I do cry less.


My mom in Maui being goofy on a granola high.

Oh… wait – maybe that part was “pretty” to say, I cry less? I deal with it (and there’s many ways I do that) and then find a place for it and move on best I can.  Am I drawn back there, sure… but less and less often.  Maybe I make the journey look pretty?  I wouldn’t ever define a roller coaster as pretty, but that’s just me and I guess I haven’t seen EVERY coaster…so?

Possibly the issue is in defining pain (or pretty) right?  Well, I’m not gonna go there – it’s totally subjective.  So if you think I make your pain look pretty, maybe you need to have another look and realize that I’m not talking about your pain.  Or if one thinks I’m glossing over my pain, possibly consider that I don’t see it, feel it, or own it as “pain.”  I don’t know, and honestly it doesn’t matter – pain (pretty) is relative, isn’t it?  If you have glasses like mine, well then that changes things too – there’s an awful lot of pretty out there.

While I share my journey on this complex coaster I have chosen to put it out there for you to do what you want with it.  Love it, hate it, or something in between – ultimately I hope it encourages you to find your way  ~as healthy as possible~ on your coaster.  (And if you’re at all interested, journaling and/or blogging is a great way to share and to look back to see how far you’ve come.)

Safe travels this holiday season to everyone; especially my fellow adoptees, adoptive moms, first moms, and “special family.”  May your Christmas coaster glide to a soft spot on December 26th… Ahhh, and may you have many moments where you’re able to KEEP YOUR CHIN TO THE SUNSHINE!

How to send Africanized bees on vacation and Happy Thanksgiving!

Today I coast, slowly … everything is quiet and still, except for what is on the inside.  Outside, blank stare – inside, thoughts acting like Africanized bees; chasing something.  Maybe it’s the frustration over a relationship, which now has to become a fringe one.  I exhale, “Add it to the pile.”  I’m seeing more and more fringe in my life, I realize.  “Fringe may come and fringe may go…” (You gotta laugh right?  What else can you do?)

Maybe the bees (and I think these should be spelled, beez…) are chasing around fear? That would not be surprising.  I can share all day long the importance of not having fear in your life.  It’s the opposite, or absence of faith.  I know that, but for some reason I tend to disguise it and let it in.  And then the beez move it around until it’s too tired to continue, or until I realize it is indeed fear.

The beez really know how to work on, “The great unknown.”  (Think loud male voice, bit of an echo.)  One may think that the great unknown is space, nothingness, or a void.  But this specific unknown, as it pertains to my simply wonderful created family, is the GREAT unknown.  The word great meaning – of high importance and also conveys the great-est things in my life, my kids.   AHHH… young adult kids can be challenging, they can be so amazingly spectacularly great, but then hard at times too.

I do believe that so much of my inner challenge today, i.e. beez,  is adoption related.

Before I confirmed that I was adopted, I was pretty-calm on the path of: I did my best, raised my kids with love, and now they’re adults and have to find their own way.  I always hoped to have them in my life, often as possible, and be close.  But, it was somewhat like watching a newly born butterfly soar from his chrysalis.  It was filled with a few winces, but faith and amazement were a big part of the view.

Now – Oh my prayer-flattened knees, it feels so desperate sometimes and, well, shhh… I think I’m “too” crazy about THEM! Thankfully I have two kids, and they seem to ebb and flow at the right times with challenges, or quietness – alternating for the most part.

Wow, amazing how the beez leave or give up, just the thought of MY TWO.  They are so different, yet were so similar growing up.  Just pondering the key strokes to press to brag about them, gives me peace.  Huh… the beez have left the cranial space.  Or at the very least they’re on vacation, on little insect lounge chairs sippin’ a cold one.

As we near Thanksgiving, and the end of November (say it with me, National Adoption Awareness Month) please join me in being thankful.  However you get there; through the good the bad the ugly, end trails you have to squish through… whatever  to get to the happy-tracks in life, may we be thankful.

Things I’m thankful for:

Foremost, God and faith, without them I’d be lost.

Mike, Ash, Hayden – easy ones… gotta shoot them out first.

"Shootin" Mike, Ashleigh, & Hayden

People in my kids life who love them and care for them.

Family, new friends, old friends, and those “fringe” friends/relatives.

A book deal ~ woo hoo!

My four-legged family: Bicki, Arby, Ozzie, and … well not really so thankful, he’s been a pain, but because my mom loved him – Petey aka The Kraken.

But mostly – Bicki…



And all the totally great every day things in life, no matter how small; thick fuzzy warm socks, peppermint mocha creamer, No. 2 pencils, multi color file folders, vanilla chai tea,  giving the dogs a bone first thing in the morning, Brooks shoes, tv shows, great books – currently “The Help”, wine, Burt’s Bees lip moisturizer, music and dancing through the house, coffee, painting something, the way Bicki perches on my shoulder, Sunday morning paper, pancakes, and Facebook. (Yes, it’s true fb.)

What has touched me most this year, Hayden – without a doubt.  While I know he’s Mike’s best friend and everyone who knows him likes him, he has grown very special to me.   I have my girl, Ashleigh – the child of my heart, my daughter I adore.  But I never expected this great thing with Hayden. He has been a shining light of warmth, compassion, and love.  Best thing of all is, he “gets me” and he’s a 21 year old guy!

He doesn’t just listen when I talk about something “adoption” he cares, he understands it, and I can see he feels it, as it does involve him also.  (While I may not know who my dad is, he also doesn’t know who (one of) his grandfathers are or even if he is alive.)  Hayden asks questions and talks with me about things I never imagined.  He’s wise beyond his years, and shared his financial plans the other day and it was impressive.

Nothing holds a candle to hearing your son share how devastated he would be if something happened to me or his dad.  I was speechless, listening to him talk and explain. And that doesn’t happen very often.  I was so moved inside, and had no words or gestures on the outside.  I wanted to say something to him, or get up and go over and hug him… but I couldn’t.  We were outside by the fireplace and it came up as part of a different discussion. As the conversation carried on between he and Mike, I could not.  Didn’t hear a word that was said for about 20 minutes.  I just stared at him and thought, You have no idea how your love fills up my soul!! Shifting up to the stars I lay my head back, with tears falling down my face. Thank you God for this incredible gift in my life, my son.

Whew!! Enough gushing – I don’t want to make all your kids look bad.  ; ) Ha ha!

What I want to share is that even when there’s beez and fringe issues, or deep sadness that’s adoption related, you should always look for and accept the wondrous things in your life.  This crazy ride moves me around, and way up… then very far down, so when I feel the “up,” I cherish it.  As, this too shall pass.

(Unless I could convince Hayden to film his undying love for his parents… hmm I could watch it every day!  I bet even the dog would want to poke her eye out at about day 3.)

Happy Thanksgiving!  May you find your blessings, whether adoption is a part of your life, or if your blessings are many because adoption has added to your life.♥

Lets shake things up… is it possible?

Sometimes a unique perspective gives birth to a great idea, a dream for the future.  It takes a calm, smooth-spot on this ride (life) for a dream to grow.  And aren’t really good ideas born from dreams?  While I can see a big hill ahead and not sure what’s on the other side, this is what came out of the calm, smooth-spot.

While adoptive families want to provide a child with a home and a forever family, they should carefully consider how the lie of an altered birth certificate may affect their child one day.  Maybe it’s the day they sign up for a sport, or get their driving permit, there will be confusion about what their birth certificate states to be true.

Adult adoptees want their original birth certificate and currently only 6 states provide a copy upon request.  If states refuse to allow adult adoptees their record of birth, then why not remove the procedure of altering ones birth certificate once they are adopted?   Adoptees deserve one or the other, but mostly they deserve the truth and to be treated just like non adopted people.

This embossed official certificate documents a human birth, the beginning of life in the world, and this should not be copied and altered.  It is about the adoptees birth, plain and simple.  It’s not about what the birth mother was going through, it’s not about abuse a year later, and it’s not about the family who is adopting.  Ideally, this document should never be altered, for any reason.  It’s an archaic practice that only serves as a token reminder that the child is part of the adoptive family. In addition, there have been instances where a clerk upon copying the information on a birth certificate has made mistakes when preparing the new one.

Possibly, an amended birth certificate serves as a catalyst for the adoptive mother to believe that the child was actually born unto her.  Of course the mother knows the adoptive child did not grow inside, nor was he/she created from her egg and her husbands’ sperm.  It may have been a dream of some adoptive mothers to give birth, and it simply was not possible for medical reasons.  However, after the adoption is final she receives in the mail a birth certificate which states that the child was born to her.

Even she knows it’s not true, but the Certificate of Live Birth says otherwise.  Anyone can see how unhealthy this circumstance is and the potential for it to lead to problems.

Sometimes the deceit gets firmly planted and sets in motion a life time of lies.  This is the case for late discovery adoptees, like me, who are lied to about our birth, adoption, and history.

Standard practices after adopting are for the adoptive parents to share openly and honestly, as soon as possible, that the child is in fact adopted.  This is according to The American Academy of Pediatrics.  And this is not new information, it was mentioned to my parents (and written in the home study) back in 1964.  This recommendation comes from years of research which states that openness and honesty is key to the future relationship with your child.  “It is in the child’s best interest to know the truth about their birth.”

Yet all states and countries  amend and falsify the official record of birth to create the appearance that said adoptive parents gave birth to their adoptive child.

Many believe that this document is not only harmful to the child, as it is false, but also provides the opportunity for an adoptive parent to lie – thus keeping important information such as medical family history from the adopted person.  In addition, a host of other traumas exist for the late discovery adoptee because of the length of time and depth of the lies.

No one can control how a child is raised, whether they are told the truth or not, but the states can provide an alternate form documenting the adoption of a child.  A birth certificate should remain a true factual document of the day a baby is born, even if you are adopted.

In 2010, trying to pass legislation in states to allow adult adoptees their OBC is not enough.  The right thing to do is to stop the practice of falsifying an official document.

The question I ask, is this dream possible? Not this year or next, but sometime in the next decade can we move this direction? Why or why not?

Separate question…I wonder if there are any other late discovery adoptees who would like to sue the state in which they were born for being complicit in perpetuating the lie?  You know, for pain, suffering, the cost of therapy, health issues,  family damage, etc. etc. and so on.   If the state did not follow up to ensure that a child knew they were adopted then they are responsible for providing the golden key to the crime (an altered birth certificate.)

I mean if you’re the passenger in a get away car after a bank robbery you will also be arrested for having taken part in a crime, right?  Or maybe an insider trading analogy would be better… not sure, but you see my point.

Anyone know an appropriate lawyer to ask?

Okay, back to the issue;  adoption is part of our society, and always will be, however, we can do it better with more concern for the adoptee (who is only a child for a short portion of their life.)  I also dream that all men are created equal (fist bump – blow it up, Thomas Jefferson) and should be treated equal at birth and upon adoption.

The Declaration of Independence says:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just Powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and so on….

Ahh… Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness while having your OBC like everyone else.

What if you couldn’t have your birth certificate?

Or what if you thought you had the “original” but then learned it was not, rather it was altered by the State of Arizona?  Then how would you feel if you learned that new birth certificates are literally copied by a clerk and often times they make mistakes or leave off things?  While zooming around on this roller coaster called life, it seems to be a small issue for some.

Does it change who I am sitting her at the computer? No.  It doesn’t take away Ashleigh or Hayden, change how I view the world (rose colored glasses and all) or what I plan to do tomorrow.

In the quiet spaces, or on occasion when a baby is born, it does however make me wonder if the date/time are right.  Or if my weight/length on the back (in pencil) is correct.

Moreover for me, the birth certificate issue marks the beginning of an enormous deception which has kept my medical history from me.  This copied lie provided a wide comfortable base for my parents to deceive me.  It was the permission slip for adoptive parents around the world to hide the fact that their adopted child was in fact – adopted!

If all of the states in this country were like Kansas, who from the very beginning has provided adult adoptees a copy of their original birth certificate (OBC) upon request, possibly no adoptive parent would keep such a secret.   Like me, many late discovery adoptees report “knowing” deep down inside.  In which case, anytime after we turned 18 we could have requested a copy of our OBC. Found out for sure, so to speak.

This truth, with all of its emotional baggage and identity issues would have at least allowed us to find our biological family and learn our medical history.   It’s not about a romantic dream of a “real” family, replacing anyone, or even finding someone who looks like you.  It is about the basic need to know where you come from and know your own family heath history.  Everyone comes with medical family history, its biology – whether it is shared or not.  Doctors, researchers, the federal government, and geneticists state that knowing both your mother and father’s medical history can save your life.  At the very least it can make you aware of major life threatening genetic diseases that you need to watch out for.

My path on this topic began today because of a story in the paper (and it was also in the Washington Post.)

I want to do the best I can to have the healthiest life, I don’t know about you?  But because I was adopted, I will most likely never know the medical history of my father and what I know about my mother has come from stories that have been marginally shared.   How would you feel?

Well, this is how I feel:  the following letter was sent to the Washington Post.

Dear Lauran Neergaard,

Your article “Family health history: ‘best kept secret’ in care” appeared in my local newspaper, The Arizona Republic (also online at The Washington Post) and I wanted to encourage you to address the issue of adoptees and their lack of information.  November is National Adoption Awareness month and this is a huge issue for adult adoptees.

Most believe that in the world today you can simply find your biological family via facebook or other internet sources and get your medical history very easy.  This is most often NOT the case.  Only six states allow adult adoptees to obtain their original birth certificate (OBC); Alabama, Alaska, Kansas, Maine, New Hampshire, & Oregon – and if you don’t have your birth mother’s name it is near impossible to find her.  Some states have mutual consent registries where birth mom and adoptee can be matched up, but they are very low tech and it only works if both parties participate using correct information.

There are many organizations, such as American Adoption Congress, trying to encourage states to allow adult adoptees their OBC.  It is just as important for those adopted to have their medical history as it is for non adopted persons.

In my case, because OBCs are altered and a new certificate issued – that piece of paper precipitated the secret of my life, my beginning, and kept my real medical history from me.  I’m what is called a late discovery adoptee, only learning of my parents deception at the end of my mother’s life when I had a DNA test done to resolve this nagging voice in my head.  The results showed that I was not biologically related to my mother.  My birth certificate showed that my mother and father had indeed given birth to me, which is the story they stuck with for all those years.  When in fact, I was born to a young woman who was sent to a nearby town to give birth in secrecy and then was adopted about a month later.

My story is long and involved and filled with great sadness and loss, however it is not unique.  Late discovery adoptees is the largest growing sub group of adoptees in this country and not only do we have to deal with the deception, but suddenly in mid-life we are set on a journey to discover our medical history.  I am 45 years old and everything I’ve shared with my doctor about my medical history is wrong.

During my last visit I told the doctor, “Well, you can delete all of that history – I found out I’m adopted.”

While I have learned some things about my birth mother, I have no information about my birth father.  Sadly my birth mother passed away in 2000 and no one in her family can recall who she was with her senior year of high school.

Please consider doing a follow-up story regarding adoptees and hopefully together we can encourage other states to join those who allow us copies of our OBCs in search of our medical history.   We feel discriminated against, solely because we were adopted and states are slow, often struggling to change antiquated laws.

I can send you research, provide other late discovery adoptees to talk with, and any other kind of information necessary.

Thank you so much for your consideration on this important topic!  Susan

On days like today, it’s as if the brake pads are worn down and stuck on to the rotors making a horrible screeching sound and not allowing forward motion at all.  Some days the coaster feels so great; wind in your hair and your face hurts from smiling so much.  Other days, its noisy and frustrating and you finally have to just take the time and fix the damn breaks and replace the pads!  It’s the right thing to do, follow your heart and try to make people aware of problems in society.  It may not lead to a thing (so I am learning in my rose colored glasses) but I feel better having tried.

Now just to wash away the dirt and debris from the wheels… onward!

Just 20 more days in National Adoption Awareness Month, glad it’s here to spread awareness from an adult adoptees perspective, but I will be emotionally lighter come December 1st!

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