Thursday, July 26, 2007

phil: Scary Steps

As I'm waiting for the next contact with my birth mother (having read and reread the letter I received Saturday), I thought I'd do a little of the catch-up work.

There were a lot of scary moments during the last few months. Contacting Catholic Charities was a big hurdle. I don't like the phone much, so calling people I don't know, to start something I'm nervous about, is not the easiest thing in the world to do. And committing to the search itself was more than a little unnerving.

I think what helped me through all of that was that I didn't realize how much this was going to affect me at the time. I approached the whole process with a rather academic, even clinical, attitude. It was something I was going to do. But if it didn't work, as I assumed it wouldn't, then I can say I tried and got nowhere.

At some point, all of that changed. The whole process, for me, didn't really kick into gear until the beginnig of May. Most of April was spent getting ahold of Catholic Charities and figuring out the process and what to do next. But at the beginning of May, or thereabouts, I sent in my request.

Shortly after that, I began to do some more research online about searching. And I began to realize that this was a lot more important to me than I had expected it to be. It began, I had told myself, as a search for medical information. (I'm really, really good at lying to myself, it turns out.) It became a lot more.

I know, from talking with others and reading, that it's common for adoptees to feel somewhat out of place, disconnected. And I've felt that my whole life. My family loves me and accepts me without question. Even so, with my peers, I felt like an oddball. I mean, I know I'm odd. But there were times in my life when I felt like I didn't know who I was and that I didn't fit in. (I guess I still feel like that now, at least some of the time.)

This search became a search for who I was. It wasn't a search for a new family. But a search to try to find some answers to questions I've had my entire life. And it became a lot more important to me. I needed some closure. And I was afraid that if the search failed, it would be worse than if I hadn't started it.

I wonder about that now. Now that I've begun to find a few answers, and that the search seems to be successful, would it have been worse to try and fail than to not have tried at all? I don't know. I've never thought that "better to have loved and lost..." made any sense. Having lost a lot, that sure seemed to hurt pretty badly.

I don't think it was a fear of being rejected again. I mean, I knew, intellectually at least, that there were lots of good reasons my birth mother might have had to not want contact. I hoped it didn't happen. Being rejected would have sucked. But the loss of a chance to find some answers, to find something, seemed really bad.

So far, though, the scariest part of the search so far has been telling my family about it. This, also, seems to be pretty common. Here, the worry, in part, was alienating my parents. The other part was hurting them. Whether related to my adoption or other events in my life, I've always seemed to have a fear of being abandoned. And I was worried that I would both hurt my parents and make them leave if they found out about my search.

I should have given my parents more credit. My mom was happy for me. And my dad also seemed to understand. Neither of them were upset with me. And they have both been great. It was still frightening at the time. But I was glad I told them. I guess I felt as though they had a right to know. And I don't like keeping things from them.

So far, I think I've been pretty lucky. My search has gone quickly and about as well as I had any right to hope. I know others don't have this good of an experience.

Okay, this is much longer than I expected. I will stop now. More later.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

phil: a brief current

Ages? We're going to tell them ages? Hmmm... the things I agree to... ;)

I'm 36. I suppose I've been thinking about this on and off for... well, 36 years... But I've only seriously considered doing anything about for the last ten or twelve. College was too insane for me to deal with all of th emotions surrounding searching for my birth parents.

But this year, Ronni, my partner, finally got through to me. I had been dragging my feet about doing something, and she kept asking me about searching. She didn't want me to wait until it was too late. So I finally gave in, and contacted Catholic Charities (the agency through which I was adopted). This was the beginning of April I believe. I started my search.

Shelly suggested to me, about a month after this, when I told her about the search, that we do this blog. I wish I had taken her up on that right away. Now events have gone pretty far, and I feel like there's a lot of backtracking I'll have to do later. Ah well, such is life.

Let me, in order to avoid writing a full book here in this one post, cut to the chase. My search process began back in April. Today, it bore fruit. Seriously, today.

Well, okay, Wednesday. Well, probably earlier, but today is when it really came home. Wednesday, I received a phone call from Catholic Charities that I missed. I didn't get in touch with them until Thursday. That's when I was told that they had made contact with my birth mother and a letter was being sent, through them, from her to me.

Today, as we were sitting at our table eating breakfast, I heard the mailman knock on the front door. He said something like "I've got your Harry Potter." (I know, I know... But it takes me back to my childhood. And ordering from Amazon seemed easier then going to a bookstore today.)

I'm sure the mailman though that the Harry Potter book was the most important thing in the mail today. He was wrong. The letter from my birth mother arrived today.

It's just the first taste of filling in some gaps that I don't know I had even fully realized were there. I had already found out a few more things about her than I knew before. But now I knew more. And from her directly.

The anticipation from Thursday to today has been intense (as Shelly will attest to). Now I have a lot of things to process. But I will say it was a good letter. And I feel good about where this process has led.

At some point, I want to write more about the events and emotions leading up to this point. And I'm sure there will be a lot of things still to come. I've always thought that a good story begins in medias res, in the middle of things. I don't know if I can get more in the middle of things in this story than to start where I'm at today. I'll try to catch you up along the way. But this seemed too important to sit on.

shelly: a (very) brief history

i am a 32-year-old adult adoptee with wonderfully conflicting feelings about searching or not searching or when to search or when not to search. i am on a 4 year search-obsession cycle but for one reason or another i have always stopped short of actually intiating the real thing. it has looked something like this.

the day i turned 18-- called lutheran social services to request search forms; received said forms, filled them out and threw them away. i was living in my parents' house at the time and it felt too weird.

at age 22-- probably with the hope of finding some kind of connection or meaning that was for a thousand reasons, otherwise eluding me, i called lss again. requested the forms. filled them out, filed them away; i wasn't in the best condition to be meeting someone who would then have to suffer the anquish of having created me.

at 26-- having met several people over the last couple of years who were members of the adoption triad, feeling sufficiently removed from my parents' home and immediate daily lives, being more like an adult and a lot more stable than i was at 22, i called again. with no other excuses for why this couldn't happen right now, i concluded that i couldn't afford it and since i was living in NYC, it would just be too complicated.

age 30-- my friends and colleagues draw my attention to a newspaper photo of a young woman who looks eerily like me. everyone i know is immediately convinced that this person is my biological sister and they all want to stalk her to find out. i try to remain reasonable, holding fast to the knowledge that there is a very very small chance this person who looks like me is actually related to me. but she does look like me. a lot like me and this is my very first experience of that. i have never known anyone who looks like me. it's an experience that adoptees just don't have. people will say it, but we laugh at them when they are not looking. "you look just like your dad!" says some person who doesn't know that my dad had nothing to do with my genetic composition. then we laugh at them. but this woman does look like me and since it was timely, on the 4 year cycle (which was totally accidental, by the way, i only noticed it when i was 30) i went to lss again and asked for some new forms. search request forms. but i like things to move very slooooowly, so i asked for only the non-identifying info.

a few weeks later i received a 5 page letter that told me all about what my bio parents looked like, their hobbies, their families.... i'm still riding that wave.

at 34, i know that phil is going to make me request the full identifying search. but right now i am only 32.

Friday, July 20, 2007


Okay, I think we're all set up now.

This blog actually has a purpose. Its purpose is to discuss issues, feelings, and the like surrounding adoption and, at some point, searching for our birth families.

In what can only be described as an odd moment, while talking in our local coffee shop, Shelly and I discovered we were both adopted as infants. I had just started searching for my birth mother. She had, well... I should let her tell you where she is.

We both already have blogs, but we wanted a place where we could talk specifically about this topic. And, we hope, reach out to others that must be going through some of the same thing, and maybe hear back from some of you.

Apparently, there are many people on Blogger who have thought about starting blogs about adoption, so all the really good URLs were taken. And not used. Seriously. Check out "" for instance. That sort of ticks me off.

But we found something we can agree on, so I'll deal.

Let this serve as an introduction for now... More later... When I have the time, and when Shelly gets her new computer.