Monday, January 31, 2011


tonight i am feeling a bit of anxiety. not hesitation or regret about starting this process; i am quite sure about it for myself. i am feeling anxious about the moment that is likely about to crash my birthmother's life. i have some guilt about this. for over 35 years my biological relatives-- those who know about me-- have been allowed to go about their business without outside intrusion. undoubtedly they have experienced their own thoughts and feelings about my birth and subsequent adoption-- i certainly don't think that they have forgotten that i ever happened. however, until right now, they have had the relative comfort of suffering/wondering/enjoying only their own part of this triad. to make the decision to thrust myself back into their world, their thoughts, their immediate awareness feels... invasive. even selfish. i don't know the next step in the process. i am guessing that once the adoption agency receives my documents someone from the office will contact me. do i have to meet with one of their social workers? that would only make sense, i guess. but it better not feel like a counseling session or some kind of therapeutic drama. that would irritate me. if i do have to sit down with a social worker, s/he had better be smart and it better be business-only, please. if i wanted a therapist to escort me through this little journey, i would hire one. but i digress.... what i really meant to talk about next is that i hope i have an opportunity to send an "i totally understand if you want to keep things exactly as they are now" message. it is important to me that along with the "i would love to see you, meet you, know more about you" message, there is also a "i truly understand and respect that when you agreed to this arrangement it was with the presence of and future expectation of confidentiality" message. will i get to do that? wow, this is such a mind-fuck. most of the time when it pops into my head it feels very business-as-usual because i have thought about my bio family so many times over the years. there is nothing weird about that. but when i remember that i am actually in the process of trying to locate and perhaps even contact them... then it just feels crazy. crazy-good. mostly. partly crazy-scary and partly crazy-guilty. i know that there are some people who might want to talk me out of the guilt. maybe someday i will be in a different place, but today i feel a bit selfish. yes, i know that adopted kids have a right to know about their origins and a right to wonder and ask questions. yes, i know that there are people who are horrified by the shrouds of mystery and secrecy that envelope closed adoptions. i understand the perspective that views them as traumatic. i simply do not share it. not right now. i think, probably, not ever. i am curious. i would love to know my birth family. in fact, i would really like to write the script and the characters of the potential reunion. that would be one way to be sure it goes smoothly! i want to know. but i am not quite in that place where i believe that i have an absolute and inherent right to know. i am incredibly grateful that my birthmother chose adoption for me. the alternative seems kind of, well, boring from my point of view. not that i would have noticed or anything, but it does seem like not existing would be rather dull. and because i am so grateful for her decision i feel like i should respect that she agreed to this with an expectation of privacy. if there had been no promise of said privacy, would things have gone differently? well, i surely don't know the answer to that, do i? not today, anyway.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

in the mail

i had my documents notarized on friday. i was spared the awkwardness of the anonymous notary by learning that one of my very dearest friends at work is a notary public and was fully prepared to take care of this issue right there at her desk. it was nice. i got the doc notarized and it offered me the opportunity to invite her into conversation about the fact that i am doing this. she is one of three or four colleagues i will talk to about doing this, so it was very cool that her services were available to me and the door was so smoothly and conveniently opened to the dialogue.

once the documents were signed and notarized, all i had to do was place them in an envelope and find the address. i did those two things. then i got a little bit freaked out. i spent friday evening at my friend D's house and, naturally, this topic came up in conversation. it does tend to dominate my thoughts, so when i am in a room with someone who feels safe enough and interested, i will take the opportunity to discuss all the crazy ideas that are bouncing around in my head. we talked about a million different possibilities that night. and about 1/3 of the things we discussed resulted in me saying, "hmmm, maybe i don't want to do this...." but i know that is just part of the 'letting go of the wonder' part of this process. i very much DO want to do this.

and this is a good thing, because the proverbial ball is, in fact, rolling in this search game. we went to the post office today and printed some postage for my little life-altering mail parcel. then i became completely overwhelmed by the need to ritualize the event in order to make it perfect (see: Second Impression references to shelly's lifelong need to ritualize) and i simply had to walk away from the situation. it is a letter going into a mailbox, for pete's sake, there really is no way to make that any more or less "correct." so i handed the envelope to alicia and said, "you are going to have to do this part." she smiled at me lovingly and with a smidge of excitement and dropped it in the slot.

now i guess i wait to hear from a social worker. what an odd thing for me to be waiting for...

Friday, January 28, 2011

...nothing to the table

i thought i had considered everything: the possibility that my birthmother will not want contact, the possibility that she is dead, that she still wishes she hadn't had me, that she regrets giving me up, that she will overwhelm me or i will overwhelm her with contact once our identities are known to each other... and many others. i have spend the conscious part of 35 years considering possibilities. a new one occurred to me this morning. everyone is familiar with the fantasy life of the adoptee. especially as young children we all go through the phases of fantasty where we are reconnected with our biological mother and she is amazingly famous and beautiful and wealthy and everything Beverly Hills or Washington DC is made of. (depending on your particular bent on the fame factor.) then we come to a place where we acknowledge that the chances are much more likely that our biological families are much like all the other families we know. normal. maybe even kind of boring. flawed. human. this reality is much more of a relief than one might expect. but as we grow and progress through our idea and impressions about who our bio peeps might be, we start to acknowledge that their lives did not stop when we were born. they have moved on just as we have and they have possibly created new genetic relatives, expanded the family tree that we only kind of belong to. there are probably genetic siblings and cousins and second-cousins and cousins with some kind of removal quality that i have never ever understood. herein lies the new panic reaction.... i bring nothing to this potential reunion. what if my bio mom is one of those bio moms who wonders about other relatives? what if she has some kind of sweet fantasy that she has genetic grandchildren? what if she wants to meet them? what if she only thinks i am valuable to her world because i might have maintained a genetic line that she hopes for? but i have nothing to offer except my own little self. my own drab, occasionally troubled, under-achieving self. not even a damn husband! i already have two disappointed, grandchildless parents. do i really want to go through this entire process just to have her look at me with a 'what? it's just you?' expression? it is one possibility.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Paperwork, paperwork, paperwork....

i got the forms in the mail today. they look, well, familiar. but it feels very different because this time i know that i am going to send them back. i am going to follow through with this long-standing desire to try to learn more about my genetic origins. i filled out the forms and will go to the bank tomorrow to have them notarized-- another incredibly awkward stranger moment. "hi, can i please see a notary?"
"hi, person i have never met before, will you please lend your curiously impressive degree of authority to my life-altering project?"
and then they look at the form and they have the same kind of emotional lurch (by proxy)that the woman on the phone at the social services office did, but again, this is just business. so i will flash her my ID, sign my name and walk away with a bizarre sense that another stranger just peered directly into my soul without having earned the view. dramatic, i know, but this is a pretty intense thing to do. even for someone as rational and emotionless as myself.

i am about to write the $350 check. i marked the box for "identifying search." once i put this little stack of legal blabber back into the envelope and in the mailbox, it is game on. my eyes are welling a little bit... must be dusty in here.

Monday, January 24, 2011

step one.... and a bit of background

this week will be the fifth or sixth time i have completed the information request forms at Lutheran Social Services. i got them when i was 18, completed them, and then did nothing. i requested them again at age 22. same story. 26, again. at age 30, i completed the non-identifying information request and actually returned it. i then received a 6 page letter from LSS which included all of the information my biological mother and father provided at the time of my birth. that was pretty cool. at age 34 i decided that i was ready to learn more if my birth family would allow it and i requested the forms one more time. i filled them out and promptly abandoned the idea again.

now, at 35 1/2, having abandoned my 4-year cycle, i am definitely going to do this. definitely. i called LSS one more time and asked to have the request forms mailed to me. again. it's a strange call to make. trust me, i know this... i have made it 6 times. the person who answers the phone is just chillin' at her desk, doing her job, fulfilling requests. but the caller.... the caller is beginning what is arguably the most significant process of her entire life. so there is this terribly drab and official business interaction going on between strangers that includes the sharing of a current physical address and full (adoptive) name, but what is really being said-- to this complete stranger-- is, "i am an adult adoptee and i want to meet my birth family. and i am going to put that desire right out there for the world to know and for my family to either honor, or reject." holy shit! it is so awkward and so bizarre and so loaded with emotional energy, but in the end it is 4 minutes on the phone. usually the lovely woman who is just doing her job has a kind of expectant energy in her voice by the end of the conversation. she is probably a counselor or social worker so her instinct in a conversation like that is to invite some conversation or processing time, but this is, after all, just a mail request. the most she can really do is offer a very emphatic "Have A Great Day!"

i think the fact that i enjoy the awkwardness of that conversation so much is a definite sign that it is time to move on to the next step. sign the papers, sign the check and let the waiting begin. or end, as the case may be.

Another new blog?

i already have an adoption reunion blog, this is true. my friend Phil and i started one a few years ago, but i have proven to be completely unreliable in blog participation and blog maintenance on "Finding Jane Doe" so i decided to start a new one that will be linked to FJD through my profile and can be, like, its cousin blog. Phil has been very active on FJD and i have done almost nothing because i have this long-standing habit of believing that i am going to start the reunion process and then slipping away into oblivion. rather than continue that behavior, i am going to start "Hi, Mom. So, what's your name?"

there are a lot of reasons i want to blog about the adoption search/reunion (?) process. the primary reason being that i want to keep track of my experience as i attempt to locate biological relatives and my hand gets too tired when i journal in a big book. blog services offer a beautifully arranged journal opportunity and i like beautifully-arranged anything! since i am going to take notes on the entire process, i figure i might as well let others watch. why not, right? it might be interesting to some people.

so, welcome to the journey. i can't wait to see how it goes....