Tuesday, January 29, 2008


I must have been in seventh grade when I first heard the term "bastard." I didn't know, exactly, what it meant. But one of my classmates used it to refer to our teacher, who was a nun. (Catholic schools are a font of interesting information.)

I guess I hadn't really understood that it was a swear word. I say that because I repeated the comment about my teacher in front of my mother. I would never have knowingly sworn in front of her. She was, as I recall, horrified.

She must have realized I didn't know what I had said because she didn't punish me. She did, however, chastise me. She asked me if I knew what I had just said. I told her that it was something another kid at school had said. She asked if I knew what it meant. I told her I didn't. Briefly, she explained that it meant someone had been conceived outside of marriage.

That was the end of the conversation. Properly chastised, I didn't use the word again for many years, and certainly not in front of my mother.

But it also didn't take me long to figure it out. Someone conceived outside of marriage. And I knew it meant someone who wasn't a nice person. I didn't know much about my origins, but I had figured out that that probably meant me. I was a bastard.

Years later (and yet, years ago) I began using the term proudly and defiantly. I was an honest to god bastard, not simply someone who was a jerk to others. Long before I found out about Bastard Nation and their important work, I had begun reclaiming "bastard" from those who use it as an insult.

But today, for the first time, when a fellow bastard properly referred to me as a bastard (in the sense of reclaiming the word), I remembered this story in full for the first time in a while. And I can't help but wonder, what did I internalize back in seventh grade, when I linked myself to the insult? I can't be sure. But it triggered quite a memory.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Language Barrier

One of the things that has caused me some distress is what to call my first mom. Should I call her by her first name? Should I call her "mom"? Should I find some other word?

"Mom" is such a loaded term. It conveys so much. Mom's give birth. Mom's are also there to take care of you. My first mom wasn't there. But after I was seven or eight, my adoptive mom wasn't there much, either. But both loved me. Both did the best they could.

And for me, that means I've decided they are both my mom. I call them both mom. Nothing else feels right. That doesn't mean this doesn't feel weird, but it's the best solution I could find. And I think I've made my peace with it.

What's odd, is that when writing or talking about it, I need to clear up the ambiguity. So I use phrases like "adoptive mom" and "first mom." Both sound weird to me. But it's the only way I know how to express myself clearly.

I mention all this because it feels weird, or even disrespectful to refer to them with added adjectives. They are both just mom. As loaded as the term is, that's who these women are in my life. Society may not be at ease with me having two moms, but that's the way it is.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Hope for Ohio Adoptees

Thanks to Marley at The Daily Bastardette, I found out about HB 7 in Ohio which opens records for all adoptees in Ohio. The bill goes before the House Health Committee tomorrow (Wednesday). (Click on the link to see Marley's write-up and to get more info on the bill.)

It is almost scary to think that things might finally change in Ohio. If they do (and I don't feel like I dare hope at this moment), maybe that will serve as impetus for things to change in other states as well.

I can't be in Ohio tomorrow to testify. I wish that I could. But I sent e-mails to all the members of the committee. (I know e-mail is not a terribly effective way of communicating with politicians, but I don't have time to get a snail mail letter to them. And I had to do something.)

If anyone reading this has Ohio connections, please consider contacting the committee members.

Here's the letter I wrote:

I am writing to you as an Ohio adoptee.

I was adopted by a loving family almost 37 years ago. They have given me the best life they knew how, and I am glad to be a part of their lives.

This past year, I searched for, and found, my biological mother. She was happy that I found her, as she had tried to search for me several years earlier, but had been discouraged from doing so. My parents (my adoptive parents) supported me in my search.

I needed crucial medical information, and that was part of the impetus for my search. But I also needed to know where I came from. Human beings are not governed solely by nurture, nor by nature, but by both. My adoptive parents nurtured me. My biological parents gave me my nature. I needed to know both.

Adoptees are the only citizens of this country that do not have unfettered access to their original birth certificates. These are public records created on the occasion of a very public event (our birth, which was generally attended by many people - doctors, nurses, etc.). We only want what others have access to, knowledge of our origins.

I am writing to you to ask you to support HB 7. I know that both my adoptive parents and my biological parents support me having access to my records. And I believe other adoptees deserve that information as well.

Thank you for your time.



born, adopted, and raised in Ohio

Saturday, January 12, 2008


One of my resolutions for the new year should be to post here at least once a week. I'd like to do that. I will try to post at least once a week. That way, if you actually are interested in reading here, there's a chance that it will be worth your while.

This past Sunday, I got back from visiting my adoptive family. This was the first time I had seen them face-to-face since my reunion. As a result, I was a little nervous. I wasn't sure what sort of reaction to expect.

I think I should have known better. My adoptive family, though loving, are not the most likely to engage in deep, emotional conversations. The only person who asked me about it was my sister-in-law. She seemed genuinely interested, and I talked to her some. My sister was listening, and asked a question or two, after we were talking. My brothers never said a word about it.

Because I wasn't sure what he was thinking, I did ask my father if he had any concerns or questions. He said that he didn't have any problems about it at all. He did note the scarf I was wearing (my first mom had knitted me a scarf for Christmas - it is the color of amethyst, my birthstone, and I've been wearing it almost non-stop since I got it) and thought my mom would feel threatened if she saw me wearing it. He said she's always been very insecure, but he isn't bothered by my reunion at all. He then started talking about something else.

At least I asked. I want to believe him. But he's so hard to read. Still, if he is bothered by something, and he doesn't want to talk about it, there's not much I can do. Others have pointed out to me that my siblings, especially, may not realize how big a deal this is for me, and just didn't think to talk about it. And they really don't talk about feelings much.

My mom actually did ask me about my reunion. (I do think my dad is wrong about her. My mom has been the most excited and curious about this process. Now, I suppose it's possible that she is overcompensating for feeling threatened, but she has always been straight with me, so I think she would tell me if something was bothering her. But their divorce was nearly thirty years ago, so I don't know how well they really know each other.)

The conversation with my mom (over the phone, as she is out of state taking care of her sister who is ill) was a bit odd. She asked me whether I had heard from my "mom." Then she started trying to correct herself and stumbled around. (I think she was trying to say "other mom" or some similar phrase.) It was a bit odd to hear my mom call my first mom my "mom." (That might be the most confusing sentence I've ever written. Try reading it out loud.) But I think she recognizes the oddity of the whole situation. And the language is just inadequate to express the complexity of these relationships.

All told, it was a lot of worry for nothing. My family is either fine with my reunion, or so far into denial that they aren't likely ever to come out. I found it a bit strange, but I won't complain. I don't know what I expected, but being almost completely ignored wasn't really it.

Oh well, I guess families everywhere (adoptive or not) are strange.