Tuesday, July 27, 2010


Spending time with my fellow adoptees the past few days was amazing. It's hard to know, even, how to explain it to someone else. Being around people who get it, really truly get it, is so freeing and validating. It allows me to be myself in a way that I don't often get to be.

Yet, trust issues don't go completely away. It's frustrating, really. I'm around people who have shown nothing but kindness and compassion to me for years, and I still worry that they don't like me.

I mean, I know they like me. But part of me feels foolish around everyone, and it doesn't go completely away. I worry I've said something stupid or offensive. I don't think I did, but that feeling wouldn't go completely away.

It's so hard to believe people might like me. I don't know why. Maybe because I have never felt like I could be myself, and now I worry that being myself would mean being someone others don't like. I suspect that doesn't make much sense. But for whatever reason, I struggle to believe that people like me and want me to be around.

I don't want to feel that way around other adoptees. And I did feel more comfortable around them than around nearly any other people. But moments of self-doubt did creep up now and then. They were moments of frustration in what was otherwise one of the best weekends of my life. I just want to trust people more. If anyone deserves it, it's my fellow adoptees.

Monday, July 26, 2010

The Louisville Protest

Yesterday, adoptees, first mothers, and other supporters marched to support equal rights for adoptees. In case you haven't picked up on it yet, adoptees in forty-four states are not allowed access to their original birth certificates. Every year they gather at the National Conference of State Legislators for the protest. This year that meant going to Louisville.

The night before, we made signs for use in the march. Much fun was had by all.

Sunday morning, we began to march to the convention center.

There was a lot of energy and excitement as we marched.

We got to talk to a few legislators on their way into to register for the conference.

But I would be lying if I said it wasn't hot. It was. Very. Everyone was committed, but we needed breaks from marching.

We were told not to sit on the wall, though, so we took our breaks in the park across the street. The heat index was supposed to be around 110, and it felt like it. By the end of the day, we were all pretty tired. But we were happy for what we had accomplished. Literature handed out, news interviews, people talked to, and awareness raised.

The party afterwards suffered from a lousy restaurant. Extremely poor service and a failure to provide adequate space marred an otherwise wonderful day. But once we quit the restaurant, several of us hit a nearby pub and enjoyed ourselves immensely.

The only downside to the whole event, for me, was how quickly the time passed. I didn't feel like I had enough time to visit with friends. Being surrounded by these people was both empowering and comforting. It was almost like a two-day long support group with a healthy dose of activism thrown in.

I originally did not plan to go next year, as San Antonio in late July is not my cup of tea. But now I don't think I can wait any longer to see this group of people. I wish I was still there. So now I'm going to try to find a way to make it again next year.

And I look forward to the day when we don't need the demonstration anymore, and we can just plan a weekend party. But until then, I cannot imagine a better way to spend two days than protesting with my fellow adoptees.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

The Day Before

We left by eleven to drive to the Adoptee Rights Protest in Louisville. It looked to be nearly a five hour drive, but that still got us there by four. Plenty of time to check in and eat before the sign-making party.

Plenty of time, that is, if nothing went wrong.

Twenty minutes down the road, and the engine maintenance light came on. We pulled off at a nearby gas station, and I checked everything I could, which basically consisted of the oil level and making sure the gas cap was on correctly. But neither seemed to be the problem.

There is something so typical about this, that I wasn't even surprised. Indeed, I think I would have been more surprised if nothing had gone wrong. It seems that lately all of our trips have some kind of snafu.

This was my grandmother's car, so we called my father, hoping he would tell us that it was normal for the car and we could ignore it. But it wasn't to be. Instead, he offered to switch cars with us. He drove down to meet us, letting us take his car, as he drove the other to get it checked out. (Turns out, it was the air filter.)

So we were back on the road, and on target to get to Louisville by five. The rest of the trip went smoothly and we found the hotel without a problem.

We met other adoptees almost immediately. First it was Theresa, then Jeff. There is something so cool about meeting other like-minded people, especially ones you have such great admiration and respect for.

We were starving and thought we had enough time to eat before the sign-making party. We found an interesting looking Irish pub, and it would have been perfect if the service had been timely. As it was, we got to the party about half an hour late.

I think I colored in one sign over the course of the next two hours. It was too hard to do that and meet people face-to-face who I had known forever online. Jeni, Kara, Julie, Dory, Joy, Elizabeth, Linda, Jim, Diane, Cheerio, Amanda, Spencer... I'm sure I'm forgetting people, but it was so much fun.

At the end, there was a brief workshop for how to talk to legislators. Gaye and Jeff did a terrific job. As a student of strategic nonviolence, it was fascinating to hear others employ the principles in a real training session.

After that, there was much drink to be had. Maybe too much. Though, for me, I'm usually so shy around other people, it may have helped loosen me up a bit, so I actually managed to talk to people. (I hope not too much. And I hope I didn't say anything too stupid.) We had a blast. We had been told the hotel bar closed at ten, but I think the bartender realized how much money there was to be made and stayed open until midnight.

I wish even more of my online friends had been able to make it. There is just something so amazing about meeting some of your favorite people on the planet.

And in just over an hour, we'll be gathering to go do what we came here to do.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Green Shirts

In just over four days, my wife and I will be driving to Louisville. We're going to visit my adoptive family in Ohio, but we're taking a couple of days out of our visit to go to the Adoptee Rights Demonstration. I still feel a little a residual guilt over taking time away from visiting my family, but I'm trying to ignore it. I hope they understand, but whether they do or not, I need to do this for me.

In preparation for attending the demonstration, I bought us green shirts to wear at the protest. I think this is my sixth shirt emblazoned with an Adoptee Rights message. I can't have enough.


I am really excited to meet more of my fellow adoptees face-to-face. The visit I had with several of them last winter was terrific. And getting to meet so many more, while demonstrating for adoptee rights... Well, that's just too cool.

If you want your own green shirt, you can buy one at Cafe Press: The Green Shirt (just be sure to select Kelly Green as the color).

Hope to see you in Louisville!

Friday, July 16, 2010

New Open Records Report

The Evan B. Donaldson Institute released its latest study on granting adoptees access to their original birth certificates. The summary is below. You can click on the title to read the whole report.


Authors: Dr. Jeanne A. Howard, Susan Livingston Smith, and Georgia Deoudes.

Published: 2010 July. New York NY: Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute

For the Records II: An Examination of the History and Impact of Adult Adoptee Access to Original Birth Certificates" is based on a years-long examination of relevant judicial and legislative documents; of decades of research and other scholarly writing; and of the concrete experiences of states and countries that have either changed their laws to provide these documents or never sealed them at all.

The Institute's report suggests that, while a growing number of states have restored OBC access to adopted people once they reach the age of majority, efforts to accelerate the trend have been impeded by misunderstandings about the history of this controversial issue, misconceptions about the parties involved (especially birthmothers), and mistaken concerns about the impact of changing the status quo – e.g., legislators often assume that negative consequences will occur but, in fact, they do not.

Among the findings in the 46-page Policy Brief, which updates and expands the Institute's November 2007 report, "For the Records: Restoring a Right for Adult Adoptees," are:

  • Barring adopted adults from access to their OBCs wrongly denies them a right enjoyed by all others in our country, and is not in their best interests for personal and medical reasons.

  • Alternatives such as mutual consent registries are ineffective and do not meet adoptees' needs.

  • The vast majority of birthmothers don't want to be anonymous to the children they relinquished.

The recommendations in the Institute's new Policy Brief include:

  • Every "closed" state should unseal OBCs for all adult adoptees, retroactively and prospectively.

  • States that already provide limited OBC access should revise laws to include all adult adoptees.

  • No professional should promise women anonymity from the children they place for adoption.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Pieces of the Puzzle

My wife asked me, as we drove home Saturday, if it felt good to have all the pieces of the puzzle now. Never one to answer a simple question simply, I had to clarify. I don't think I have all the pieces of the puzzle.

Meeting my father was the last step. I can't imagine what more there is. Sure, there are some extended family members to meet, but that's not what I mean. I have the pieces. I can even see how they fit together, I think.

But, for me, there will always be some serious what-ifs. They can't be answered. I can speculate. I can contemplate. But I'll never have those answers.

And I'm okay with that, I think. That doesn't mean I won't ever wonder, but I'm okay with the realization that I'll never have the complete picture of my life because of adoption. Some of those pieces are lost, gone forever.

I know there will be drama. If my adoptive dad ever finds out about meeting my biological father, he may feel hurt. If my biological father wants to have a continued relationship, that could lead to issues. But overall, I feel rather comfortable with what I know and where I am right now.

I'm sure that means something is going to go wrong now, but I'm a pessimist that way.

The short answer, then, is that I do feel like I have a kind of peace and satisfaction with my reunion as it stands. I may not have all the pieces, but I have so many more than I did when this started. And that is a good thing.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

The Reunion That Almost Wasn't

My biological father and I very nearly did not meet. And I was ready to throw it in. I actually still feel a little conflicted about it all.

I didn't meet him yesterday as I expected too. When I first talked to one of his sons, he explained that my father wanted to meet me alone, before meeting me with the rest of the family. So I thought we would meet and then meet with his sons for dinner.

When I finally got in to meet with him, I heard from my brother that my father was busy during the afternoon, and wanted to meet me today for breakfast. So I just met my brothers and their families yesterday. We had a good time.


My brothers explained that my father would call me this morning for breakfast.

Nine o'clock came and went, and I began to figure that he wasn't going to show up. So I went to breakfast with my mother before coming home. Just as we started to wrap breakfast up, one of my brothers called and told me that my father wanted me to call him.

I have to admit, I didn't want to. I had driven half a day to meet him. And he bailed. He refused to talk to me directly, preferring instead to go through my brothers. And now he wanted me to call him to meet. I know he was feeling guilty, ashamed. I get it. But how many hoops would I have to hop through to deal with this?

I very nearly just left. Part of me still thinks maybe I should have. But I did the least I could do. I asked my wife to call him, tell him where we were, and tell him we were leaving in twenty-five minutes. If he wanted to meet, he had that long to get there. He said he would be there in ten to fifteen minutes.

So we waited. And waited. My deadline came and went. I decided, for some reason, to give him five more minutes. He should have been there fifteen minutes earlier, and he wasn't. The last five minutes passed, and we got up to leave. We were out the door when we ran into him and the older of his sons.

We turned around and went back into the restaurant. We talked for about forty-five minutes. It was a good conversation, if not terribly deep. I'm not entirely sorry I stayed. And maybe I reassured him that I wasn't mad about something that had happened forty years ago. I don't know when I'll see him again, though he seemed open to continuing to stay in touch.

After everything, I very nearly didn't ask for a picture. But at the last possible minute, I did.


All of this happened less than twelve hours ago, and I had a long drive after that. I'm still decompressing. But I did, finally, meet my biological father.

Thursday, July 8, 2010


In less than 24 hours, I should be meeting my biological father and my two brothers on his side.

I'd be lying if I said I wasn't nervous. And that's putting it mildly.

It feels a little like the spinning in my stomach before my first reunion three years ago. I don't know if they will like me. I don't know if I will like them.

But I will know the answers this time tomorrow. Stay tuned.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Under Pressure

I've been with my biological family for the last few days. I'll be here the rest of the week. So far it has been a great deal of fun. Hanging out with my mom and my brothers seems really normal. It has been over two years since my first visit and it is as though no time has passed.

Then I start thinking. I want them all to know how much I enjoy being around them, how much I like them. How important to me it is that they have accepted me as part of the family. But I worry that I seem aloof, distant. I don't know why I'm worrying about that, but I have started doing it. I still feel awkward talking to them, sometimes. Self-conscious. And I don't know why.

I put this pressure on myself to be a perfect son and brother. Funny, friendly, and considerate. I don't know why I'm doing this. They don't appear to expect such perfection. My mind likes playing head games with me, I suppose. I am so concerned about wanting to be perfect, I fear I'm coming across as distant.

Despite that, it has been a good visit so far. I just need to learn how to relax. Not a strong suit for me.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

A Week

In just a few days, I will travel to visit with my biological family again. This will be the first time I've seen my mom in over a year, and the first time I've seen my brothers in over two. I'm looking forward to it.

But it is also causing some agitation. I want this to be a normal trip to visit with family. But it doesn't feel normal. Even though I desperately want it to. I'm excited, but I'm also a little apprehensive.

Of course, it doesn't help that I may finally get to meet my biological father and his sons toward the end of the week (about a week from tomorrow, to be more specific). There was supposed to be a reunion. And just after I had resolved to go and told my brothers I would be there, I was told the reunion was off. I'm not sure why, exactly. But it's off.

Still, my brothers want to meet me, and I will be in the area. And they may convince my father to meet me. And if he doesn't, I don't know what to do. Do I try to force the issue? Or do I just let it go?

We're not there yet. And I am happy I may finally get to meet someone from his side of the family. And the emails I've had from my brothers have reassured me some that they do, in fact, want to meet me.

This whole trip just seems so... bewildering. I'm not sure what to think about it, and I'm trying not to have any expectations. I just want to go and enjoy the visit. And I think I will. But that hasn't made the agitation go away.