Friday, September 25, 2009


Sorry for the lack of update this week. I seem to have come down with flu-like symptoms. While I can't be sure that it's swine flu, that would be my guess. Nothing serious, but I'm spending much of my time just resting. I hope to get a new post up next week.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Curiosity Killed Privacy

Last month I gave a paper on Open Records at a conference. I also submitted a proposal to another conference to be held next spring. It's all by way of trying to think through the issues here.

One of the things that struck me came during lunch after I had given my paper. Someone at lunch asked me why it was important to have the original birth certificate. Part of me wanted to stick with equal rights.

But I always want to explain things. Motivate them. And I do feel something more than a mere concern for equality. There is something deeply distressing about not having the information on that form.

Of course, the birth certificate is not really enough. But it's something. And it does feel like the only thing I'm entitled to fight for. The rest is nice. But what I'm owed by the government is that equal treatment.

The reason I fight for it, though, is that without even that barest piece of information, something is missing, something is incomplete.

Those who oppose Open Records chalk it up to curiosity. And the reason for doing so is obvious. Why should our curiosity be satisfied at the cost of someone else's right to privacy. If the opponents to Open Records can win that rhetorical point, the battle is over. If it's curiosity versus rights, curiosity will lose every time.

But it's not curiosity. It is much more than that. This is part of my story. It's a small piece of a bigger puzzle. This is part of who I am. It's not idle curiosity versus privacy. It is part of my dignity and identity as a human being. Why should someone be able to hold that from me?

I do think some people understand. But even people who aren't opposed to Open Records don't always seem to get why this is a big deal. I don't really know how to explain it to them.

It's my identity. It's important.

Now to convince the rest of the world.

Thursday, September 10, 2009


I knew I had a brother.

Maybe it would be more accurate to say that I knew I had a sibling, and I had very, very good reason for thinking I had a brother. I knew my father had had another child. And some research last year revealed that there was a man who fit all the details I had, and so I believed, with very good evidence, that I had a brother.

Because of a fellow adoptee contacting some natural family on Facebook a while back, I decided to see if I could find the person I thought was my brother on Facebook. It took almost no time at all, and after deliberating for less than an hour, I sent him a message.

He responded, tentatively at first, but it didn't take long. He accepted me as his brother, as did my other brother, whom he contacted. In almost no time at all, I was finally in contact with my father's family. Both of them have said that they think my father feels guilty, and that he will probably get in contact with me at some point. (Of course, this was a couple of months ago now. Still nothing on that front.)

They have been great. Immediately welcoming me and treating me with kindness.

And yet, I jumped into this with very little forethought. I don't know what I expected or hoped for. I guess I thought I might get his attention, and get to know my brother(s). But now that I'm in touch, I don't know what to say to them. They have both offered, on several occasions, to answer questions that I have, but I can't think of what questions I want to ask.

This whole thing feels so primal that coming up with meaningful questions seems beyond me at this point. I want to form a relationship with them, but it's hard. I don't even exactly know why, or what would make it easier. I wish I had thought about this more before flying off half-cocked. But now I'm in it, I don't want them to think I don't want to get to know them. I just have no idea how to go about it.

I seem to have this uncanny ability to turn even a good thing into a problem.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Catching Up

It has been far too long. I know this. I can only offer apologies and hope that, if anyone is still ever reading here, they will forgive me and know that I will try to do better.

This has been something of an insane year. The flood finally ended, and we got back into the house after only being out for a week. Of course, that began several months of trying to put things back in order.

From that I moved on to summer school, where I was teaching too much and barely go through the five weeks. But I did, just in time for adoption to once more take over my life. I wish I had been posting more. I could have used the outlet, I think.

Ronni and I took a trip to Ireland, one of the lands of my ancestors. Indeed, probably the one place I've really been desperate to go since I learned what my biological heritage is. If anyone is interested, I posted a bunch of pictures and stories from that trip on my other blog, Over a Candle. It was amazing to see that land.

After we got back, I had a couple of weeks to get ready for a conference in Philadelphia where I was to present a paper on Open Records for adoptees. Just as I began to work on that paper, though, I got word that my grandfather, my (adoptive) dad's dad, had passed away. It wasn't a surprise, really, but it meant a scramble to try to get back to Ohio for the funeral.

As it turns out, not only did I manage to make it home for the funeral, but my aunts and uncles asked me to do the eulogy. That was an odd experience. I kept wondering why they wouldn't ask one of the biological grandkids to do it. Of course, I don't think it occurred to them even once. In that way, I realized that I am luckier than some adoptees: I was never made to feel different or second-class in my family. Not every adoptee has had that experience.

After coming back from the funeral I turned almost right around to go to my conference. That was an interesting time. I still hope I might do something more with my paper, and it led me to making a connection with someone who told me about a conference next spring devoted to adoption. So another opportunity to combine my profession with my interest in working on this issue.

Then I had a couple of weeks before the school year started. So what do I do? I find my brother, my biological father's son, on Facebook. After considering it for about an hour, I decided to write him. Now I'm in touch with my father's two sons. That is a whole 'nother can of worms. It's been very good, but I'm still not sure how to move forward with that piece of this gigantic adoption puzzle.

That reunion is the major thing in my adoption life right now. And I need to start writing about it. And I will. Tonight was just about getting any readers we still have left up to date with where I've been and what I've been doing. More to come soon.