Monday, May 23, 2011

Knowing Where You Came From

Some time ago, I wrote a magazine article about Mary Lou who learned when she was 30 that she had been adopted.  “I always knew I was different  from other members of my family,” she told me, “but I couldn’t put my finger on what I was feeling.”  From the moment she learned about her adoption, she became obsessed with wanting to find out more about her birth parents.  Every time she stopped her car at a red light, she peered into the car next to her to see if anyone looked like her.   When she sat under the hair dryer at the beauty salon, she scanned the faces of other women to see if she could detect  a resemblance.  She knew she had been born in a small town in Pennsylvania and when she accompanied her husband on a business trip to that town, she had a feeling she might get closer to her roots.   She told me that when she gazed out of the hotel window where she and her husband were staying, she had the feeling she was close to her birth mother.  She learned later that her birth mother had died, but was buried in a cemetery that she could see from that window.  While she was not able to meet her, it gave her a sense of peace to know more about her and what had happened to her.

I thought about Mary Lou when I read an editorial the other day with the headline, “Let the truth be set free.”  The article that followed described a bill passed by the New Jersey Assembly that, if signed by Governor Christie, would give adults access to their original birth records.   Only a handful of states allow that access.  In those that do, it is the experience that not every adopted adult takes advantage of that option.  Many of those who are adopted are content without digging into their past. However, for those like Mary Lou who agonized about her origin for years, access to their records would be freeing not only for them but for their adoptive parents who want their children to be as emotionally well-adjusted  as possible.

1 comment:

*Peach* said...

Even The Child Welfare League of America supports legislation restoring the unconditional right of adult adoptees to access their obc.

Regarding adoption "parties"...adoption, for a child, is based on profound loss. It is abusive to use the word "adoption" and "party" in the same concept for children whose reality needs to be respected. It is like asking them to attend a funeral for their parents/family and calling it a party.

www.PeachNeitherHereNorThere.blogspot.com