Adult Adoptee’s Messages to Adoptive Parents

Earlier this week, I shared things that adoptees would like to say to their birth mothers.  As moderator of the Facebook page –Adoptees who have found their biological relatives, I ask members to comment on reunion-related questions. Community members share their feelings with insight and honesty.

2953403454_7dd3a9740c_zToday, we look at the opposite end of the adoption coin, with answers to this question-

If you could say one thing about adoption to your adoptive parents (without guilt or censorship) what would it be?

  • “I love you. I’m thankful for the life you afforded me. I wish you’d been able to know me rather than trying to make me the child you’d wished for- who was more like you.”
  • “I wish you’d known how to act like parents. But we loved each other and in the long run you probably did me a solid. You weren’t a good mother. Dinner on the table every night, house so clean it shined, every game/toy that came out and I wanted, check check check. Love, kindness, understanding, acceptance, affection- not so much.”
  • “The one thing I would say to them again, and to ALL adoptive parents (and I am an adoptive mom myself) is ALWAYS be honest with a child about their adoption.”
  • “Thank you for being my mom and dad.”
  • “Thank you for always being open about it and giving me the option to search for my biological parents, and have a relationship with my mom.”
  • “Very simply, Thank you for being there with me every step of the way! Miss them oh so much!”
  • “I am thankful. I hope nowadays adoption is taken more seriously and they do home checks for years. Make sure the child is in a loving environment and not abused! Yes, that means you Catholic Charities!”
  • “You gave me a loving home & opportunities in life I would never have had with my biological mother. I will always love & respect you as my parents! Even more so after having met my biological mother! I now know what a lucky baby I was 45 years ago to be put in your arms!”
  • “Why did you go along with the farce, when there were far more willing and acceptable contestants available? I love you and I wish you could have loved and accepted me. All you left me was a sense of uselessness, hopelessness, lovelessness and death. I feel so sad for you. You don’t even REALIZE what you have missed. Thank you though for all you managed to do. I truly wish you all the very best. Love & Prayers.”
  • “To prospective adoptive parents: When you have a child for a reason, you better make sure that reason never ceases to exist, or it will be hell for that child.”
  • “Why the need for secrecy? You should have felt secure enough to share and be open.”
  • “You should never have adopted, but should have learned to live with your infertility. Saying you “love” an imaginary child who you pretend is your own, while lying to your adoptee about information you have about their real name, and referring to their mother as “that whore” is NOT love.”
  • “I love you both until the end of time. You taught me how to never give up or give in and thank you most for loving me when I was most unlovable or feeling unworthy of love.”
  • “I wish you would have filled in all of the gaps regarding the things I don’t know.
  • “Thanks Mom and Dad for being so forthright and open about my beginnings. You always allowed me the positive memory of my biological mother, Emma. Everything that I am or will ever become is because of your love for me. Now it is my great privilege to “pay it forward.” With love and gratitude, your daughter.”
  • “I love you and I miss you. I wish we had more time together.”
What would you like to say to your adoptive parents?
Leave a reply below.
Blessings for honest adoption conversations & healing,
Waving Backwards, a Savannah novel (SYP Publishing)
Imagine not knowing who you are,
until you find yourself in a statue 800-miles from home.


Yes Virginia, there is a Santa Claus. No Adoptee, there is no Birth Certificate

Twenty-two years after finding both sides of my birth family, I am still denied access to my original birth certificate.  As I approach a milestone birthday, I once again ponder the meaning of the document, and the preposterous system that sealed away my most personal paper forever.adoption

The paper that recorded my birth on Christmas Eve all those years ago, floats in a bureaucracy of secrets that are no longer sensible to keep. In my daunting 12-year-search for family (pre-internet), I shattered all of the myths and subterfuge sold by social workers along with the right to parent me.  I know my real story. I have stood face-to-face with the sources of my physicality. The shadow identity that was sliced away by adoption is reattached. I am wholly aware of who I am, and where I come from. Yet, I don’t have a single document to prove it!

Yes Virginia, there is a Santa Claus. 


No adoptee, there is no birth certificate.


Most American’s believe that access to one’s own birth certificate is an inalienable right. I recently told an American friend that I don’t have access to my birth certificate, and she laughed, “Of course you do, we all have a right to that!”

When I explained that adoptees are a different class of citizens, not governed by the same natural rights, she scoffed again, “I thought that antiquated practice was done away with years ago. I mean it’s 2014, Right?”

Adoptee’s birth certificates do not belong to any court. Nor, do they belong to the adoption agencies that sealed them away with the rest of our identities. This most personal document belongs to the human being to which it refers. As adoptees our history is re-inked on a new birth certificate after adoption. We are expected to live with that document as our new reality. We are to believe in what can never be true.

Whenever I think about the practice of falsifying birth certificates in America, I can’t help but think of the Jewish people who were forced to live as non-Jews during the Holocaust. In order to survive, they required false identity papers.  The world has come to know that forcing people to be who they are not (so that they may survive) is outrageous and unjust. We can all agree that this was a hideous practice that robbed Jewish citizens of their most precious belonging- identity.  Yet, until the 1990’s, America formally embraced the practice of falsifying birth documents through adoption.

Without a court order, I cannot have my original birth certificate, the only existing proof of my original birth name.  I cannot know the time of my birth. I cannot gain a dual citizenship with Canada, which is available to me based on my birth mother’s lineage. I cannot prove my Native American heritage. I cannot hold the first document that set in motion this marvelously complicated life.

I am blessed to have found my birth family, but the documentation of my existence should be mine as well. It seems that I will spend another birthday and Christmas denied the most basic of all American Civil Rights…equal access.

Blessings for access to your ‘real’ papers and love to all,

P.S. My Savannah novel ‘Waving Backwards’ has been picked up by a publisher and is scheduled for release in the Summer of 2015.

Imagine not knowing you you are, until you find yourself in a statue 800-miles from home.

Why the Unknown will Never be Enough for Adoptees

When my plane touched down in Newfoundland, Canada in 1991, I was welcomed by a hundred people from the tiny fishing village where my birth mother was raised. Hundreds of eyes stared when I reached the stairway leading to the airport exit. Hand in hand with my birth mother, I looked over their recognizable faces. So many of their features were familiar, yet we were strangers. They were fascinated, awestruck and shocked at the family resemblance.  I was a lost member of the tribe, home at last.

To finally touch the ground of your ancestors is healing. To stand before the graves of your great grandparents completes the circle of life. To learn fly fishing from your grandfather whose prominent nose you inherited, and look into the laughing brown eyes of your grandmother is a priceless joy.

My blood heritage turned a transparent, haphazardly sketched self-portrait into a bold, permanent masterpiece.

This morning, I read a piece by blogger Deanna Doss Shrodes. Adoptee Restoration: Adoptees: Why Can’t You Just Be Okay With the Unknown?.
In this heartfelt post, Deanna talks about answering yearly medical questions when you are an adoptee.  In discussing the  frustration of not knowing your medical background, Deana writes, “You don’t know what it’s like to not have something until you’ve been without it. My friend Laura Dennis says it’s like trying to explain what it’s like to starve to a person who has always had food. ”

That statement reminded me of my first visit to Newfoundland and of standing on the foundation of the first house my ancestors built on the rock. The house was taken long ago by the harsh winhomed and salt air of the bluff. I stood at the center of the rough stone foundation, built by a relative from Wales who’d braved an Atlantic crossing as cabin boy. The stones were barely visible beneath the dirt, yet it was mine to know.  I am home. I am found, I thought, sending thanks to a universe that allowed me to find the physical  foundation of my identity.

Months after that trip, I traveled to a different part of Canada to meet more family and attend a wedding. At that wedding I shared with a cousin, the experience of standing on the foundation. I believed that since he was raised by the family and spent many summers in the seaside community, he would have stood amid the blueberry bushes and experienced the overwhelming power of our shared history and belonging.  The history was his to know during all the years I’d yearned to find it. Our foundation was within a few short steps for the non-adopted cousin.

To my surprise, he did not know about the house or the man who built it.  He had been wrapped in a lifetime of knowing and took for granted the history that gave him life.

A heritage that is open and available is easy to ignore.

The non-adopted often ask why we search? Why we need to know?  As Deanna Doss Shrodes blogged, explaining is ” like trying to explain what it’s like to starve to a person who has always had food.”

Blessings for enough information,


Breaking News from ABC: Twice Adopted, Abandoned Daughter to Get Millions

Breaking News

Breaking News

In a story filled with sad turns of fate, and rejection, ABC News reports that adoptee Emily Fuqui Svenningsen will inherit millions from the family who adopted, then rejected her.

This ruling re-enforces an adoptee’s rights to a stable, consistent home. It also reminds prospective adoptive parents that we are NON TRANSFERABLE.

Svenningsen with biological children
Facebook/GA Daily News







Note that Svenningsen did not relinquish any ‘biological’ kids once tragedy struck.

Here is the ABC News report:

Widow Owes Rejected Adopted Daughter Millions, Court Rules

Blessings for  justice,


Don’t Miss the Movie- “Adopted: for the Life of Me”

Today, I am sharing a link to the heartbreaking trailer for the movie “Adopted: For the Life of Me”. The movie aired on PBS, and while there are no future airings currently listed on the PBS site, you can purchase the DVD here.

When you visit filmmaker Jean Strauss’ site, be sure to read about her upcoming movie project (she needs moola to complete it), and about her significant work as an advocate for adoptee rights.

Jean Strauss

If Jean’s name sounds familiar, it is probably because she wrote a great search & reunion book titled,  “Birthright: the Guide to Search and Reunion”.

The film previewed in this trailer, explores the lifelong affects of never knowing your real name, heritage, or medical information. It presents the stories of real people, who late in life, are still living in the darkness of sealed records.

Blessings to know your name at last,


Book Notes: “ITHAKA” Reveals Importance of Adoption Search Process

I often tell adoptees that searching is as crucial a part of the wholeness process, as finding, and that they should keep it as hands-on as possible. The many stages of revelation during my own search, allowed me to grow and change along with information, as it was revealed.  Instead of a sudden reunion, my mind was readied (as much as it could be) for the reality of a second family. I was in charge of the unveiling process.

Last night, I finished reading the book, ‘ITHAKA’ by Sarah Saffian. Subtitled, “A Daughter’s Memoir of Being Found”, the book offers a unique perspective into what happens when the search is not controlled by the adoptee, and is instead a search FOR the adoptee by the birthparent.

I know many of you are thinking that this scenario is a dream come true. Well, it can be, but as revealed in this poignant non-fiction work, it can also be a life-altering shock.

In the book,  Saffian recalls the phone call that changed her life forever. Sarah’s birthparents were re-united after her relinquishment, and married. They searched for Sarah, found her, and called her.

Saffian discusses how she undertook some mock search steps after the call, to better understand what it would have been like if she had been the one searching.  A successful New York woman, with a solid adoptive family, she clearly enjoyed control over her destiny, until her birthparents called.

Writing letters to her birthparents for years before being reunited, she undertook a process of adjustment, not unlike that of an adoptee in search.  She needed those letters and time to reprogram her reality.  Saffian does a wonderful job of exploring the plethora of emotions, and adjustments required to accept a dual identity. I applaud her honesty, and highly recommend this book for all adoptees  and birthparents.

Life in Limbo: Encouragement for those in Search


In all of us there is a hunger, marrow-deep, to know our heritage, to know who we are —and where we have come from. Without this enriching knowledge, there is a hollow yearning, there is the most disquieting — loneliness.”- Alex Haley – Roots

I share this quote today to encourage adoptees in search, and to remind everyone of the normalcy of the need to know.  You are the product of past generations, and deserve to know everything that went into the making of you.

As I work on my book, I often reflect on the past with disappointment. My formative  writing years and the idea of a writing career, started after I was reunited with my birth family. Before that reunion, my focus was clouded by a sense of incompleteness.  I was a stranger to everyone, even myself,  a blank slate,  looking, clinging and begging for a genetic map to guide me.

There is a sense of mourning that comes with wondering who I might have been by now, how many books I might have published, if only I was whole enough to begin writing novels earlier in life.

Many adoptees feel as if their lives are stalled,  in limbo, until they search. The search, even when unsuccessful is a vehicle to freedom. Finding is a miraculous rebirth, where two become one. Suddenly, the infant with one set of parents, is an identifiable part of the adoptee whose surroundings are a foreign landscape to which they have adapted.

Of course, much of the content in my book ‘Waving Backwards’ could not exist without the experience of searching seven years for my birthmother and another five for my birthfather.  The need to know was overwhelming and all encompassing, and those feelings deserved to be explored and shared.  So the very thing that held me back from finding my life’s passion, is also the thing that enables my first novel to exist.

Many adoptees are labeled angry or insensitive for demanding open records. If only we thought of their searches as essential to ignite the meaningful endeavors of their lives, perhaps we would not judge as harshly.