The Most Interesting (hu)Man In The World?

I bet the most interesting man in the world was not adopted.   His character is self-assured, and he’s adventuresome.  Yet every choice he makes is perfect.  “Sharks name a week after him,” goes the commercial.  I am nowhere near this character, nor is my blog.  I don’t think we even live in the same city.

This blog is very similar to my soft, pale sky-blue, natural cotton-covered journal that waits for me every night on my bed side table.   It’s my communication vessel which moves information, feelings, and darkness out of me and into the information highway.   Incredible talented writers create award winning blogs, journalistic master pieces, and some have even gotten movies made from their simple four lettered format.  My unique “folab” blog is for me, and if any family, close friends, or my kids wanna know what’s up lately, they can pretty much read and know.  Maybe it’s about a movie, or insights to one of my favorite mothers, err… “flames,” I mean.  Sometimes I’ve let personal frustrations out via the sarcastic-vent, think of it as another personality, like Buck (US of Tara.)  Fears, frustrations, music and movies; it all flows out!

Love it, feel validated, annoyed, or don’t like what I share, it’s all good.  Once I put it out there, it is for you to do with what you want, and I love that!  It’s freeing for me, and healing on my journey to, “Don’t worry what other people think!”  How you feel about a topic, comment, or an ad that pops up – really has nothing to do with me.  It’s about you, your outlook and finding your way, or finding joy, or feeling your own anger.   I enjoy many blogs, and so many have cemented how I feel about something (one way or another.)   I have learned a lot, and found new ways of seeing another perspective.  I’ve especially enjoyed learning from adoptees, more foundational mortar, and I have been awakened by mothers who are similar to mine in age and circumstance.  (With her being deceased, it’s tough for me to know what it was like in 1964 for my young mother, for example.)

As my very first blog explains, this is about me, folab – “found out late adoptee buddy.”  It is what it is, nothing more.  Not the most interesting (hu)man in the world, where my legend does NOT proceed me.  And the Superbowl is NOT played during my half time show.  Or… well, have a quick look ~

This has been a testy-link, if you get an error click on the youtube box.  It’s an old commercial, sometimes old and testy go together.

However, I am beginning to give more credibility to the specialness of “orphans.”  Too dramatic of a term?  Well, I’ve felt that – adoptive parents gone, found my birth mother to be gone, and birth father “unknown.”  ( = gone)   But, I am an adult with family/friends, food and love, so I didn’t own the malnourished third world country, “Orphan” – but for a moment I was the closest to it I’d ever been.

But, what if orphans are to be someone special in the world?

(I enjoyed the movie, and found the character intriguing… for his orphan purposes.)

I wonder if we’re not part of a plan, a destiny, and we have to continually remember our importance and reignite our faith.  Not because we see ourselves as so important, but just the opposite.  We often struggle with our identity and purpose.  All the while, what if we are a priceless important being with great capabilities?  I have witnessed in the adoption community numerous adoptees with many challenges, but more importantly I have to ask; who has not met an incredible adopted individual who radiates warmth from their soul and gladly wraps all they have around you?  While they have had deep sadness and mountains of loss in their life, they gladly give, support, and sometimes even rescue those of us in need.

Rather than an outcast, an unwanted human being, is it possible we are here for a special purpose and what if our challenges, as adoptees, help to fine tune us?  I know I am no less a child of God because I didn’t stay with my mother.  I’m, “no less” because my adoption was kept a secret.  I feel unique, special at times, always blessed, and I do feel a new label of being fine tuned by my experiences.

I suppose the flip side is possible, we struggle with confidence, and a positive identity, so we visualize and grow into “pricelessness,” as a sort of a reap what you sow process.  Or, “You are what you think about all day long,” how could you be anything else? (Dr. Robert Schuller)  Either way, I choose to be sowing positive energy at a minimum, and ponder my special purpose and destiny.

So, am I like the most interesting (hu)man in the world?

Most interesting?  Hmmm… Lol, nope! But I can say, “Stay thirsty my friends.”

No, not for Dos Equis, but for seeing your own greatness. (Okay, maybe Dos Equis too, if beer is your thing.)

May we all find love and peace while we journey.

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denied.

That’s the title of a new documentary short about adult adoptees access to their original birth certificate.  denied. Most adoptees in this country are denied access to their certificate of live birth; instead we get an amended one passed on to us from our adoptive parents.  It really should be theirs to keep forever, as it really is more about them than the person born.  The adopted person should be given their “factual” birth certificate upon becoming an adult.  That’s fair, right?  I mean anyone reading this who’s not adopted has theirs, and they know what hospital they were born in, what their mother named them, what time they were born, and their size (weight/length.)  I would like to have my info and my birth certificate.  denied.

I write “denied.” in this manner because that is the title of the film, “denied.”  Just FYI, for those wondering if I’ve lost my mind – or think possibly this is the “real” me writing and the rest has been a ghost writer.  ((LOL))  That was a hefty laugh out loud!

On this fragrant warm spring day, I was filmed reenacting the events of a hot fall afternoon from 2008.  It was a visit to the Vital Statistics office in Phoenix, Arizona.  Today, I had it together.  I knew where to go, what do, and it was simple recalling my then shaky request, “I just found out I was adopted and I would like a copy of my original birth certificate.”  This time there was a camera filming each step, every movement, my request, and the clerk’s response.   I had it all rehearsed in my head and there would be no surprises, this time.

It has been 2 1/2 years since visiting 1818 W. Adams St., and I’m a different person now.  If anyone had witnessed both visits to the office, they would tell of great physical differences.  Wrecked on the inside = wrecked on the out; from posture to clothes to meek anticipation.  I had felt there was a purpose for it all, hoped for the best, but feared a great deal, and then hoped again.

Driving on the 202, and then on I10 and into the dimly lit tunnel, I explained for the camera how I felt and my anticipation while we exited at 7 th Ave.  “It’s for this film, and it’s about a time – but it’s all in the past,” I whispered to my self reassuringly as we pulled into the back of the Vital Statistics office.

It was explained to me that this footage is important and sets the ground work for wanting an OBC access bill.  It also teaches Joe-not-adopted that adoptees have an amended birth certificate with little and false information.  We are to use this “less-than” document, raised seal and all, as proof of our existence.  Glenys Westby did not give birth to Susan, and Susan was the second name given to this person of record.  Who did give birth?  What did the mother name the baby? How much did the baby weigh, and how long was she?  Who knows?  But, I’ll tell you who knows:  The staff in the hospital, my birth mother, the foster home, the adoption agency,  and all the clerical staff who handled my file from the hospital to the clerk who reissued the falsified record of live birth.  They all know, all these strangers had full access to this private transaction and the details of my birth, my beginning.  So secret and sealed away from me, but okay for all these other people to see.  I hope I get to hear from some Joe-nots, and see if they can even believe it?

Obviously, 1818 W. Adams St. is difficult for me, but I know my lines, and am fully aware of what the response will be to my rehearsed question.  Whether or not they will like the tall guy behind me with the big camera is something else.

The room is pretty full – it’s lunch time, and we enter and find the least populated row to make our way to the back, towards the line.  A woman with her two sons enter just after us, but they race up the next row over and get to the end of the line first.  The two teens are intrigued by the camera, glancing back on occasion. They poke and pull at one another, and then check the focus of the lens.

One kid punches the other and bumps their mother.  She reacts and says a few words to the boys, and then very casually turns and asks, “So what are you filming for?”

I share with great enthusiasm and an overly wide smile, “Its a documentary, and it’s an exciting day… I just found out I’m adopted and I’m getting my original birth certificate so I can know who my birth parents were, what hospital I was born in, and my weight/length.”  It’s like practicing for a play, yet the words are not playful to me.

Yes, this is it, exactly how I felt 2 1/2 years ago.

She looks a bit confused, but mirrors my joy, “Oh wow, how cool.  Uhh… I guess it’s our turn.”  The three move up to the window and like all the others before her, she provides proof of identity and gets a ticket so she can sit and wait to be called up to receive her certified copy of her birth certificate.

I stand on a black rubber mat with foot prints.  You are suppose to stand there to wait, and not any closer, as the big red letters tell you to – S T O P !

The word makes me feel 2 1/2 years younger, my head lowers and I can only look down.  I feel odd, confused, and like I want to stop.

“Next in line, next…” My eyes raise, and I’m up.  I hear her through a small hole with slats, the woman behind the glass is talking to me.

Deep breath.  I can do this.  Smile, and just say the lines.

“Hi, I just found out I was adopted and I would like to get my original birth certificate,” I say loud and proud.

“Oh, uhmm well, when you’re adopted your birth certificate is sealed from you and you have to get a judge to issue a court order to allow us to give it to you, ” she explains as if telling me about a fine for an overdue library book, while her piercing in her tongue flicks and flaps hitting her teeth on occasion.

I ask, “Is there a form or something I have to fill out for the judge?

She shifts in her chair and leans up and goes through a stack of forms in a bin.  Pulling out a pamphlet, and sliding it under the window she informs me, “You can also use the confidential intermediary program.”

“So, how do I get to this judge that will grant me MY birth certificate?”

“You have to explain to him why you want it, and then he makes a decision if you can have it,” she clicks and informs with a blank stare. “But the intermediary program will also get you what you want, so look at that information I gave you…”

And then I don’t really remember much.  I asked a few more questions, I think, and she became blurry.  I think I said, “Okay.” And then turned and walked away.  My eyelids tried to hold in the growing pain.  I was instantly back in 2008, and even though I know the law, and I know it’s not the pierced-tongue clerk’s fault, it hurt.  Deeply.  Again.

I dried my face and walked towards the door glancing to my right, to the crowd waiting for their certificates.  All eyes were on me, the men and woman who easily heard my request.  The speedy line-cutter mother had her hand over her mouth in disbelief.  They were shocked, and confused about what had just happened.  Honestly, so was I, but not for the same reason.

I stood at the door, waiting for a lady with a giant stroller to navigate the entrance, and I tried to convince the tears they were unwarranted.  My stomach felt as if I swallowed a shot-put, I grimaced and my feelings were obvious.  I shuffled outside, 2 1/2 years younger and smaller clutching the same confidential intermediary pamphlet, the panacea for all the adoptees in Arizona.  Here’s what she gave me.

WT...? Adoption Party and Records Search Program, Party, really?

They are PROUD of their program.

Apparently, there’s no form or information given regarding the special, “OBC granting Judge.”

Exhale… it’s over, I’m out of that building, keep moving…

I felt the breeze, and smelled citrus blossoms, and I began to crawl out from the place inside where the sun is only a memory.  I had more “lines” and had to step away from the feelings in order to share the pamphlet, as planned.  Even though so much of what I was feeling was unplanned.  This damn grief and reminder of loss, and lies – all too familiar.  It was easy to recall the anger I felt years ago towards my mother for not telling me I was adopted.  Cars drove past as I leaned against a half wall surrounding 1818 W.  Adams St.  A little sparrow flew over head, landing in a nearby bright green tree with its glossy new leaves.  The sweet perfumed-air rushed the hair from my face and neck.

I closed my eyes.  I’m here now, there is a purpose for all of this, and I am okay. I have Hayden with me, and I hope one day we can make a difference and change the laws in Arizona so no adoptee is denied the record of their live birth.

May “denied.” serve to educate communities across this country so they pass legislation allowing adult adopted persons their birth certificate.  And, I hope that my part of the documentary provides awareness so that years from now the term “late discovery adoptee” is only part of history, like an eight track player, an AMC Hornet Hatchback (my first car), or a rotary phone with a party line.

The best enlightened comments of the day came on the way home:

Hayden shared, “I was cataloging the film footage a while ago, and I had to take a break.  It was just too much adoption, and pain.  I couldn’t stand it.  I cannot even imagine being adopted, I’m so sorry Mom.”

That reminded me of my choice to live the kind of life I want, and enjoy all that life offers today, in the moment.  This happened to me, but it’s not who I am.  I choose to enjoy my blessed rosy-colored life, oh and one more very important thing –  do less reenacting.

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

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!

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.)

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/11/09/AR2010110900627.html

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!

The Woman in the Golden-rod Cart

Up and over a golf-course-sized-hill, I’m wearing my “enjoying life” smile.  Rolling up alongside me is a beautiful golden-rod cart with its passenger; she has her smile on as well.

As if we’d met at Paradise Bakery for a chat and a mango flavored iced tea, this friend and I get along famously.  We coast along for many hours as our carts gently go up and then kindly down each hill. Enjoyable. It’s cool with a gentle breeze, I feel refreshed, and even more comfortable in my seat.  A friend can do that, and to think I had forgotten.

Straight away we discuss our mothers and how we each managed to live through a painful loss.  We had both been guided by Hospice of the Valley to that final day. We both held secret guilt about things we did or didn’t do.  And, a funny thing, we both still have stacks and stacks of our mother’s things and have found their purses to be most perplexing.  What DO you do with your mother’s purse?

We chit-chat children, woe worries, and linger love as we happily coast along for hours disguised as minutes.

She tells of a romantic moon-lit dance on a snow-covered mountain top and how much she treasures the love of her life.  And having my own that I adore, I appreciate the delightful story.  We are so very lucky to have our soul mates and lives of love.

While I am not an adoptive mom, this fellow passenger is and has adopted two children.  However, I had thought about becoming an “A” mom at one point in time.  I have to say, I’ve only met one other mom who brings their “A” game for her family.  This mom oozes all the big C’s as she speaks about her children; Care, Compassion, Concern, and Consistent-love.

While she tells me about the day her new-born daughter entered her life – she glows.  So bright at times I have to squint and I’m warmed to the center of my soul.

“Seriously, you have never seen a more beautiful baby,” she told me with wide-eyes, “She was perfect!”

And the day the family picked up her precious son was 18 Christmases rolled into one.

In the background, I swear… can you hear it? It’s Satchmo (Louis Armstrong), “What A Wonderful World.”

When she finished, I closed my mouth and sat up straight.  I think about my own adoptive mother and wonder, did she think I was the most beautiful baby that ever existed?  When I was in school, did she hang on every word I shared?  On prom day, did she wonder about my birth mother missing such a spectacular event?  How about my wedding day?

Not only did this adoptive mother love beyond measure, but she thought of the two other mothers that expanded her universe.  She knew, every day what special gifts she had.

She melts as she talks about her children; whether they were small or teens. The joy pools up while her bottom eyelids mostly hold them in.  She is filled with love and adoration, even though they have long been adults out on their own.

For this Dorothy, there was absolutely NO PLACE LIKE HOME.  No matter where they lived, or what challenges lay before them – the four of them meant HOME.  THERE’S NO PLACE LIKE HOME.  And that is still where her heart is, plus two incredible grandchildren have been added.  Oh boy, does she sparkle when she talks about them!  THERE’S NO PLACE LIKE HOME!

Part of Dorothy's Dream Come True

Being a mom and then a grandma, that's what it's all about.

We gab about our families and challenges with raising children.  With laughter and tears we exchanged sweet, “only-your-family knows” stories.  In unison we both agree  how down right hard it was at times.

But, when she admitted to pondering the possibility of doing a better job – if she had been the child’s real mother, I was stunned.

With her head lowered, and eyes down she said, “You know, maybe their real mother would have done the exact right thing sooner.”  She twisted and pulled something in her hand, and peeked up at me, “That’s what I often thought.”

I’m choked up… real mother – that is what she said.

I recall my first, my sweet baby girl, Ashleigh; her Dad and I were in our early twenties, and I worried I did things wrong.

Having a baby was an incredible miracle and I never knew I could love someone so much.  This little person turned my world upside down, she was pure joy and love.  I could prattle on like a four-hour documentary movie on the soul shaping experience, but I’m sure you have more to do and desire the end of this post.  Feeling this way simply meant; I wanted to do everything perfect, for her.

But I didn’t.  My husband and I were far from perfect.  We learned how a few tastes of dessert were not harmless, that encouraging her physically would one day mean she could easily climb and bound out of her crib, and that an un-attended glass of ice could pose a serious choking threat.  Just to name a few mistakes.

We learned.  Exactly the same way my friend in the golden-rod cart learned.  We are both real mothers!

Many times her tales made me think about myself as a child and the things my adoptive mom did or lacked in.  I thought of my FOLAB (Found Out Late Adoptee Buddy) and how her adoptive mother was also “lacking.”

I lean back, look up… like light bulbs are popping on I realize; Just because I wasn’t loved the same as a biological child (my brother) by my adoptive mother doesn’t mean that it didn’t happen for others.  This is proof!

Especially this mother (and her husband), each moment since they were a family has been all about the Big C’s and love for her children.

The way I love my daughter and son, so does she – beyond measure.

As we see our carts begin to go their separate ways we share a smile and a special glance.  There’s a glimmer of thankfulness for the friendship and validation we bring to each other.

We are given what we need and it’s what we do with our gifts that help us to enjoy life; the big things and the simple pleasures.  And often these gifts help us learn.  I learned and have opened my heart to a better understanding of adoptive moms.

The hours of joy along side this wonderful person in the golden-rod cart meant the world to me!

In case, like me, you’ve never seen “Satchmo” sing this beautiful song – here it is.  It’s amazing to watch… you can see this man’s pure joy for life.

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