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The Adoption Reform Trilogy

Updated on October 17, 2018
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M.D. Johnson is a poet, playwright, author, and blogger. She has a BA in English and a Masters of Management in Business.

Flosca. Pixabay. (2018). Dove. (Image). Retrieved 10-17-2018 from https://pixabay.com/en/dove-pigeon-innocence-purity-893526/
Flosca. Pixabay. (2018). Dove. (Image). Retrieved 10-17-2018 from https://pixabay.com/en/dove-pigeon-innocence-purity-893526/

My Story

I’ll admit, being adopted, I had a natural curiosity to know where I came from, what my life would have been like, had I not been adopted, I mean –there are so many blanks to fill in, where do I begin? I write this not to speak on behalf of other adoptees, but just my own personal experience, and I was rather reluctant to write this in the first place since it is somewhat of a personal and touchy subject, but in all honesty my adoption has never had a negative effect on my esteem, it’s really no big deal to me, at least at this point in my life, but that is because I have made the decision to no longer care about it personally, since I have my answers and realized the Nature VS Nurture theory is just that. It really takes a village to raise a child, and you will always see the result of both (nature’s and nurture’s effects), perhaps it’s up to the individual to decide which path they take.

I’m not sure where to begin. I don’t want to tell my life story, but I was adopted at the age of 3, and thus aware of so many things at that age. Being adopted was never a secret my parents kept from me, or my older brother, who was also adopted from a separate family, when he was about 6 months old.

The funny thing with that is, I was told even though my brother was adopted at 6 months, he named his first Teddy Bear George which was his birth name, -a name he had never heard from our adoptive parents, who I will refer to simply as our parents, as they renamed him after my dad. This is evidence that learning really does take place in the womb. The other interesting thing where names are concerned, and the reason why I say you have a significant awareness even at the age of 3, is that when my parents tried to rename me Angela, and called me by that name, they told me I’d reply, “Why do you keep calling me Angela?” “That’s not my name, my name is Maryanne.” So of course Maryanne stuck, and the name I gave my daughter was Angela since my mom wanted to name me after Angela Davis, and have my name be a derivative of her name.

My parents read us a story book when we were kids about adoption and how we were loved and chosen, but this never had any kind of effect on me because at such a young age, you don’t pick up on the stigma of adoption, or the stereotype that you were some waywardly, lost reject that no one wanted, when the truth is your birth parents didn’t have the means, resources, ability, desire or what have you, to raise you. It was never about you, and the system is still set up to foster birth parents in a lot of states, opposed to adoptees, which is why I had to write just one more article on Adoption Reform.

I always thought I was some kind of special, being adopted, my genetic ties a mystery, realizing very little how some people felt sorry for me because of the fact, believing it to be a negative thing. I could never think of it as a negative thing however, because I won the parent and family adoption lottery. I couldn’t have asked for a better upbringing, being a part of an upper middle class military family that lived in the suburbs and traveled immensely throughout Europe, touring Venice, Italy and Paris, France, raised with an immeasurable and infinite love, and immersed in the morality of a Southern Baptist church which we attended (religiously) every Sunday, ushered, participated in the youth group and sang in the choir. I had everything material, that I could have ever wanted, that I asked for or didn’t ask for, perhaps what some might define as spoiled. All my relatives were loving and embracive and though as a child I didn’t think anything odd of this or outside the lines that this was my family or that one might mention secretly to another, that “those kids were adopted,” I suppose you never know. It’s always a different view –from the inside. “I was adopted” was never my mindset as a child. It’s only when you become a grown up that you become all the wiser.

My curiosity absolutely peaked when my former husband and I were pregnant. I think that is when I started to dig deep and do research to see what I could discover in relation to my existence, specifically, -who my biological mother was at the very least. My mom told me I was given up for adoption because my biological mother was a teenager of 15 when she had me, when I asked the question in early adulthood, maybe at the age of 19 or 20. I had to actually muster up the courage to ask my mom, because I didn’t –in my mind, want to hurt her feelings for asking. I thought maybe she’d wonder why I was asking, if I was trying to hurt her, or if I had intentions to denounce her as my mother. This was never the case. In past articles I read before my occasion to solve this mystery, I hadn’t heard many happy endings. It’s not like I magically thought I’d reunite with my biological mother and we’d be an instant family again –never. I watched The Antwon Fisher Story, I read about how some adoptee’s even got the door slammed in their face when they went in search of their biological mothers, after hearing the words, “I was raped.” I always just thought if I could just see her face and get a name that would be enough.

My mom said it was common to want to know more when you become pregnant. You start to wonder do we look alike, act alike, what common interests do we share. You wonder what exactly is passed down in DNA, genetics or even cellular memory. But at this point, there is only one concern I have regarding my biological mother, which I will reveal in the third part of this trilogy: Why I Decided Not to Open Pandora’s Box.

Since I was born in South Carolina, I researched online and came up with a website called SCARR which stands for South Carolina Adoption Reunion Registry at the following website address: https://www.southcarolinaadoptions.com/ I discovered when I tried calling the court of the county and hospital noted on my birth certificate that it was a closed adoption state. I was told that I’d need a medical reason or affidavit to obtain my original birth certificate, and that it’d have to be a matter of life or death. “Wow!” I thought. Is it really that crucial? I suppose in the era in which I was born, it was, if you think about it. If you were unwed and pregnant, under age or promiscuous you’d bring shame upon the family, so they shrouded pregnancy in great secrecy, sending young women away until after the birth of the baby to a nearby or sometimes far away, relative’s home, and give the baby up for adoption, otherwise you’d have to seek an abortion and that would depend on one’s morality I suppose, or religious belief systems. Sometimes it was a matter of jumping into a marriage if you were pregnant and unwed to conceal the shame, and they call that an era of decency. But was it? Decent for who, -is the question?

That was in 2004 that I discovered I wasn’t going to get an answer, or more specifically a name. So I had to let it go. It wasn’t until 2017 that I decided to look into it again, because of my personal, familial intricacies, of wondering if a certain illness ran on my side of the family or not. So I looked to the above mentioned website again and discovered I could now get what they call Non-Identifying Information surrounding your adoption, which I did, which was basically copies of the original paperwork surrounding my adoption with all pertinent names (my biological mother’s name) crossed out, and to make a long story short of what it said, I’ll just say it read like the movie Precious, LOL. (I will spare you the details, just see the movie).

But in all honesty, I didn’t leave it at that, I still had to dig deeper, put a face to a name and vice versa, so based on the material I received, I made a phone call to a previous women’s home listed in the paperwork I received that my biological mother stayed at. Of course, they questioned me and forbid me from gaining such information, as a name, even though I figured the first name had to be Terry, as not all the letters of the names were crossed off completely, of the Non-Identifying Information, I even came about a birth date not marked off or legible, that my husband was able to decipher. The lady on the other end even asked me who gave me that name, to which I quickly changed the topic. She gave me the number of the creator of the website mentioned earlier: SCARR, who also happened to be a private investigator. And this is where it gets interesting.

This women’s home could have easily given me the name, were they not forbidden by law, but yet, this women’s home works hand in hand with this investigator/orchestrator of the SCARR website to be able to give her the information, but for me to get it, since I actually called this investigator/website owner, she’d want $700 to $750, I can’t remember the exact quote. Of course I told her I’d get back to her when I had the money (knowing full well I never intended to), but she did volunteer some information to me: that my biological mother lived in extreme poverty and moved several times.

This is one part of the reason I decided not to open Pandora’s box and give up looking. Who wants to be extorted for money? This is also where I begin the next part of the trilogy: Why Adoption Needs to Be Reformed Completely…

Why Adoption Needs to Be Reformed Completely

In the era of decency, as I referred to it above, where promiscuity and having children out of wedlock was shameful and taboo, where even perhaps they looked upon abortion as immoral, is it really that decent to anyone, -the children involved and in some cases the mothers who wanted to keep and support their children, but were forbidden –by their families, or even society?

This no doubt, has changed in our era. It’s so bad that some mothers live off of the system, -be it government funded housing for them and their children, WIC, Food Stamps, soliciting child support via the court from their sperm donors or one-night stand affiliations or relationships that didn’t work out, etc. I don’t mean to offend here, but being that, case and point, the government now supports the maternal side of families (with the tender years’ clause, and such) shouldn’t the whole past life adoption system work the same? Think about it, how old are these women now, should they have any shame any more in identifying themselves in this new era where we are surpassed slut shaming, and sex amongst women is fluent just like the free love days of the 1960s? Why not come out of hiding, because every time a doctor asks me about my family’s medical history, I get sick and tired of saying, “I don’t know, I was adopted.” What’s even funnier is their response, like some kind of mild consoling bid, when they say, “That’s okay.”

But in all honesty, it’s not okay. I want to know my medical history. I want to know all the mysteries of me, -fill in the blanks where I cannot, linked to my genetics, -a DNA/ancestry test won’t do it for me. Obviously, my biological mother was taken advantage of, at the age of 15, and sadly, I wasn’t her only child, as far as I know I have two other siblings that have been confirmed via the paper work, before and after me. At fifteen, unless her partner (even though she sited 3) was her age, it could have been a case of statutory rape for all I know. But the one thing that gets me, is the fact she came back, visiting more than once and didn’t want to give me up. As a mother myself, I can only imagine how painful that would be. It’s not something I could ever do, -to give up my child to an adoption agency, especially based on what I know about some of these foster care systems -both personally and what I have heard and seen happen to others. But I believe she knew I’d be better off, and possibly my other biological sibling.

I’m grateful that now a days they have open adoptions, so at least biological mothers can have peace of mind and adopted children can have insight, but for states that still have it banned, you create an unhealthy hardship for so many. Is anything shrouded in secrecy ever good for anyone? It seems highly immoral. I can understand in the case of rape, and incest, at least you did the child a favor and let them have life opposed to no life at all with an abortion, but still -wouldn’t you want to know how you came about in the world? Or in your mind, would we all come out like Freddy Krueger?

How does one intrinsically carry a baby they want nothing to do with, for 9 months of their life and so easily give them up? Motherhood starts in the womb, I always considered it a pledging process. If you can eat right, take care of yourself, make sacrifices by doing things you normally wouldn’t health-wise, are you not mothering? I remember when I was told the news I was pregnant, I was astonished but changed so many things in my life before my daughter was even born, I started eating breakfast, I didn’t overly exert myself, I made sure I didn’t miss a day of prenatal vitamins and iron pills. I didn’t drink alcohol or eat seafood. I’ve seen some women who didn’t make the sacrifice, they still smoked, drank. But my point is, that is where motherhood begins, is it not? -The moment the doctor says, “You’re pregnant.” And for some it starts earlier than that.

I gave an example earlier of how learning starts in the womb, by my brother’s example, that’s not all that starts in the womb, -but bonds start in the womb, recognizing voices, nurturing and the like. That said, are we not breaking a bond when we separate biological mother from biological child? For biological mothers who have somehow been separated from their biological children, via adoption, legal reasons, etc., do they not at some point cross your mind, and how many times in this life time? I get “out of sight, out of mind”, but do you ever wonder what became of those children you had a genetic bond with?

We all know the answer, it’s human nature, we’re feeling beings are we not? That’s yet another reason adoption needs to be reformed and leads me to discuss my next topic of interest: Why I Decided Not to Open Pandora’s Box.

Why I Decided Not to Open Pandora’s Box

Aside from the before mentioned fact that I don’t want to be extorted by a capitalistic system to discover my biological mother, it’s just easier to walk away and make peace with not knowing. What did Antwon Fisher discover? Could the life of Precious get any better from there? Honestly, there is only one reason I want to meet my biological mother, just one, and that’s to say thank you for my life, which I know I’ll never be able to say to her face to face, so I had to put it out here, and just maybe, someone who needs this message will get the word too. If that’s not enough of a reason to reform adoptions still shrouded in secrecy for money, I don’t know what the fuck is…

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      Robert E Smith 

      2 years ago from Rochester, New York

      To me, life is precious above all else. Adoption saves lives and gives a chance to a child that otherwise may get dumped into situations that are unnecessarily insufferable. Yet the alternative of abortion is unthinkable for death is the antithesis of precious life. A young girl, an indifferent parent who insists on the ending of a pre-born life is still dealing in death. I maintain that any life is worth its trials and is better than the violent end of abortion. Anyway, I'm so happy for you that the one that carried you in her womb didn't end your life. I'm happy that you can now use the good and bad experiences and use them for the good of others. I thank you that you have written this article that hits me where I live as well. I have two grown adopted children and my hearts beats for them every day. Thanks again, Bob.

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