Friday, March 6, 2009
Crash & Burn
Last night I was talking to a friend. I had called because I misread a short message she sent earlier. Turns out that she was doing just fine, and we were able to just chatter and laugh. I don’t even know how we got on the subject – the subject of my son. She asked if I want to find him. I have been trying to play by the rules - even though no one else really has. The adoption agency is a bunch of money grubbing scripture twisting religion perverting baby selling liars. The aparents, although I can see how they were misinformed by the agency like I was, that does not absolve them. They could at least have some common decency that ordinary folk have such as a simple reply to a letter. That would have been considerate. And yet, here is Cheerio…playing by the rules. I keep saying that I will wait until he is 18, until he is an adult to search for him. And if anyone asks why, it’s because I’m thinking “that is what the rules are.” Rules like - I should not interfere with his life. I should just disappear so it doesn’t confuse him. The rule, that I should let him choose if he wants to find me. These rules - I don’t even know where they came from. Ha! Or as one lady flat out said to me, “Honey, he’s 14. You don’t want him now, not when he’s 14. Believe me.” You know what? She’s wrong. Yes, I do want him. I have always wanted him. Just because teenagers are ‘difficult’, what should that have to do with my wanting him? I don’t know what triggered my mind to go the direction it did last night.
My friend mentioned myspace. She was commenting that he probably has a myspace page. She asked if I was ready for her son’s help to find my son. Flippant and quietly I agreed. She heard me, even though I didn’t really intend to even agree. I don’t know, maybe it was my subconscious that finally squeaked past the iron reinforced gate of rules. And so I give her the information I have. His adopted first name and his middle name. I gave his birth date and birth year. His aparents first names and his older abrother’s first name. She knows what state I live in. I told her what county within my state that my gut tells me he is. My mind was defaulting to my emergency plan. I’ve been playing by the rules but I always clung to an emergency plan just in case the aparents ever told me that I had to stop sending him stuff. That would be the breaking point for me. If that were to happen, I’d die trying to find him. Then I would be mailing THEM pictures of him. My emergency plan involved a file that is at the bottom of the big white box of adoption papers in it. The box has “REFORM” written on it. I rummage to the bottom until I have in my hands the folders I wanted. I went back out to the couch and was looking through the paperwork. It is totally unrelated to the questions my friend was asking me, or what she was talking about. I’m kind of half listening to her (because I’m a railroad, one thing at a time, not a talented multi-tasker). I finally told her what I was looking at. “I’m looking at my adoption finalization paperwork.” “PUT IT AWAY!” She says to me. “What are you looking at that for? P u t it a w a y.” I ignored her instructions, and kept reading, kept looking at these papers. It was the pack of dockets sent from the attorney’s office. I remember the phone call before these papers arrived 14 years ago. The phone call was from the NOTChristian adoption agency. The phone call went something like this, “Hi. We’re just calling to let you know that your legal paperwork is going to be put in the mail. We recommend you don’t read it, because the language is harsh.” Wow. What darling advice from an obviously NOTChristian agency – “our advice is to not read your legal paperwork.” Ahhh, now that’s beautiful stuff. I personally think this says VOLUMES about where they stand in ethics vs. unethical practices. Too bad I didn’t see that red flag at the time. I was too under the spell and in a fog. So here I am with legal paperwork I’ve had for 14 years. I actually thumbed through parts of it 3 years ago. That was to point out that THEIR legal paperwork promises either counseling, or a list of references to get counseling for the natural mother. This was AFTER I went to their current “birth parent counselor” and the branch director saying I needed help. I’ll never forget sitting in their office 9 years after the adoption. They sounded so sincere and caring. And in soft gentle tones say, sorry we don’t even know of a counselor we could refer you to. And when I ask for at least the title of a book so I could find some healing, he sat there shaking his head. His hands were folded in his lap and he softly says, “Gee. I can’t think of any.” Ok, I apologize. You just got two rants for free. Just please don’t forget about my story when you think about adoption agencies – and especially the religious ones. They are wolves in sheep’s clothing. Ok, two rants and a super mini sermon for free. So there I sat with legal paperwork that I have never looked at before. I’ve held onto it, and have always known exactly where it was. But until now I had never read it. As I went thru each docket, I’d flip it over and sit it to my left. Some I would just skim over, others I actually read. About mid-way thru, one of the papers caught my eye. It was the last page of a docket that was flipped over. An outline was showing through. I wondered what in the world was on that piece of paper, and picked that docket back up. I turned to the last page and my eyes got as big as saucers. My jaw literally dropped open and I just kept saying “Oh, my word. Oh, my word. I can’t believe it. Oh, man, I can’t believe this.” I almost forgot I was still on the phone with my friend. She’s trying to find out what’s going on. I tell her that I was looking at a copy of my son’s OBC. For people unfamiliar with adoption issues, OBC stands for Original Birth Certificate. It is exactly what it says it is. It is the Original Document of their Birth Facts. The OBC has his birth date. It has the name we gave him that day. It has the name of his biological father and biological mother (that would be my husband and me). It also has the name of the hospital where he was born. In my state, the OBC is sealed when an adoption is finalized. A new, Altered Birth Certificate is created to replace it. The ABC lists the aparents as the mother and father. In my state, adoption records are sealed. It is especially sealed from an adoptee, even after the adoptee is a legal adult. So having the OBC is a BIG, really big deal. I’ve had one all this time and never knew it. I was stunned. I am putting a copy for my son in his “treasure box” so that he will have it for himself someday. I was feeling pretty good about having this for him. A year ago, I would not have seen it as anything special. However, I am learning about the plight of adoptees and their fight for open records. I realize that this piece of paper has more meaning to an adoptee than any other American Citizen. And then I put my papers back in the box, and put it back in the closet. I go to bed and fall asleep. On my way into work this morning, it all starts to hit me. That was my handwriting on that paperwork I looked at last night. It was definitely my signature. I don’t remember any of it. I don’t remember when I signed. I don’t remember where I was when I signed. I don’t remember if I was alone when I signed. I don’t remember if I was in the hospital? In an office at the Agency? Or back at my apartment? I don’t remember anything anyone said to me. I have no recollection about it at all. And yet, that was clearly my handwriting. Undeniably, it was mine. By the time I got to work, the weight became heavier, and the thoughts would not relent. That was my signature. I gave my baby away to strangers. I abandoned him. I abandoned him. At the time, that is not what I perceived I was doing. But in reality, that is what I did. Here is this piece of paper proving he was my son, and yet I gave him away. I left him with strangers and walked away. That was MY signature. That was MY handwriting. How could I do such a thing? How do you look your kid in the eye and say “I gave you away.” What nerve to think I should try to ‘find’ him? How dare I? Why would he want me now? If it was just my pain, so what! But when I learned that so many adoptees hurt and have unnecessary and painful baggage, just because they are adopted. That is what makes it so unbearable to me. I have not had a crash and burn episode for quiet awhile. Today was definitely a crash and burn. I am so lucky I was able to be in an office and shut the door while I cried. I was sitting in my chair, trying to focus on the computer screen. I was rocking; I was just rocking back and forth with tears streaming down my face. Sometimes I would cry out loud and just hold my head in my hands and sob. I can’t figure out how to forgive myself. How can I hope that he would?