Wednesday, February 18, 2009

TRANSRACIAL ADOPTION

 


I have experienced what personal rejection feels like, and I now understand that being biologically connected to someone, does not automatically ensure a compatible or favorable relationship.
I was driven in my search for my birth family by curiosity, medical history and on the premise of a happy reunion. I wanted the opportunity to share my life and to explain what is was like to be an African American child adopted into a white family in a predominantly white city and school system. I wanted to be understood and accepted regardless of the circumstances surrounding my adoption. I started this profound search five years ago, and never imagined that opening an email at work last February would prove to be one of the most significant turning points in my life.

I received an email response from a Genealogy message board I had posted six months previous. I thought that this response was from a private investigator that would offer to find my birth family for a hefty fee. I wasn't interested in that, I had tried one already with no luck. I read the words insightfully, trying to comprehend exactly what this person was trying to convey. I typed an apprehensive email back, oblivious to what I had even written. My thoughts were scattered. The pen in my hand was feverishly scratching down a phone number I was given. I had a receiver in my hand that I must have picked up absentmindedly. A voice on the other end introduced herself as Angela, she ultimately proclaimed to be my Birth Uncle's wife and she began intuitively filling in the blanks to questions I hadn't even asked. I felt like I was on a game of Double Jeopardy, Birth families for $200 Alex! I had an abundance of questions and no time to ask. I was leaving that afternoon for Chicago to visit a girlfriend with my daughter. The train ride seemed timeless. I arrived at about that night. I barely had a chance to explain the day's events to my friend because I had to be discreet for I did not want to confuse my nine-year old daughter. I waited until she was sleeping to make the second contact.

Angela answered and had apparently anticipated my call. She said a few words then put some of my alleged birth relatives on the line; they all said an array of confusing things that I jotted down on a store receipt, hoping to make sense of them later. They were so excited and they quickly began planning a visit. I participated in my first reunion the following week. I brought with me the yellow, tattered pieces of the limited birth information I had carried around for years. I was given pictures, names, dates, medical histories, and positive and negative information concerning my birth mother and extended family members.

The limited scraps of information I had all matched theirs; this was indeed my biological family! Angela connected me with a birth Aunt later that week; she lived just five minutes away. I visited her home and was greeted with open arms by her and her daughter; they were receptive but extremely guarded. I was given additional disturbing information about my birth mother and was informed that no one had been in contact with her for over twelve years. My Aunt had searched four years ago and was unsuccessful. I didn't care, I had to find her. I wondered if she was even alive. I was told that I had siblings, and was determined to find at least one of them. I used the new information to search several online court dockets and finally located a possible phone number for my birth mother. I had the call. I heard my birth mother's voice for the first time in thirty years.

She cried, but it sounded rehearsed, almost like she always knew the response she'd have if this day ever presented itself. She wanted pictures so I mailed images from the last 30 years of my life the next day. I felt that I had made the final connection and that this would be the last confusing piece to the puzzle.

I called my Aunt that evening, and told her I had located and spoken with my birth mother and siblings and was told it was ok to give her the phone number. My Aunt was ecstatic and I didn't hear from her again until I received a detrimental letter from her stating that, 'I was to cease contact with my birth mother and my siblings.' I was told that they were not, 'Impressed or interested in my life.' I was raised as a white girl with a white girl's name as far as they were concerned, that was unacceptable to them. I was also told that I had a sibling that died eight years prior and that they were still grieving her loss. Ironically she was buried on my birthday and the date would forever be a sore spot for them.

The excitement and euphoria I felt quickly turned to anger and resentment. How could a biological mother disown her first-born child? I was not given the chance to meet her or my siblings and I was dumbfounded by their lack of empathy. I had only been permitted two days to share my life with them.

Although my time with them was limited, I am content with the information that I gathered and my curiosity has been satisfied. I possess medical knowledge that will benefit me and my children and I found the answers to the questions I was seeking. I was able to explain that my life had been fulfilling regardless of the negative reaction I received. With all of the facts, I decided to end my mission. I would comply with my birth families wishes and not contact them any further.

I used the negative emotions and rejection I felt after my experience to catapult a new realm of love and appreciation for the relationships I treasured in my adoptive family.

I have become a much stronger and more compassionate person because of this experience. I find myself not dwelling on the past, but looking forward to the future, just simply knowing that my children are with me, and they are healthy and alive.. I'll settle for that..
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