How This Adoptee Feels About Her Birthday

I am currently sitting in a viral incubator AKA, an airplane, flying over one of the Great Lakes en route to Philadelphia on this day after my birthday. I’m cramped in the middle seat with billions of microscopic cabin air pathogens swirling around mixed with my never-ending thoughts. I’ve contemplated reaching across my neighbor to lower the window shade so I can drift off in to a blissful dream, but that would be rude and ignorance doesn’t do my body any good. I decide to keep my laptop out, and let my stream of consciousness go – a belated birthday present to myself of sorts.

This weekend I’m speaking to The Academy of American Adoption Attorneys for their annual conference – I’m looking forward to meeting more professionals within the adoption community, and to be involved in legal conversations around adoption ethics. As I approach this weekend it’s saddened me to realize that historically I’ve lumped adoption attorneys in to one stereotypical pile. I’ve considered them to be nothing more than the folks who pushed the paper that led to the separation with my birth-family and the subsequent unification of my now-family as if this was as routine a job as scooping ice cream on a sunny day. I posit my angst to be rooted in the fact that the week after my actual birth date an attorney somewhere in the State of Tennessee scooped me up and moved me – in the legal sense – without listening to my pre-verbal cries. This is the precise moment that I feel my birthdate became reduced to a confusing date on the calendar, devoid of celebration and mired with illegible signatures, legalese and a sorry name; Baby Girl, ______ (my original last name was redacted of course). I hope you don’t misunderstand what I’m attempting to communicate.  I have had many a wonderful birthdates which included candy filled piñata parties in my parents’ backyard, Oreo ice cream cakes with candles blazing on the top awaiting my wish, beautifully wrapped gifts filled with books, games, outfits – all of the quintessential Americanisms that turn a birthdate in to a celebratory occasion. To top it off most of my large family was generally present to revel in the celebration of birth and life.

Though my birthday was typically surrounded by youthful anticipation, joyful celebrations and reminiscent fun, these celebrations naturally also conjured up images of a stranger writing my thoughtless name; “Baby Girl” on my motherless crib.

This year was filled with many unforeseen highlights and privileges I’m still working to understand how I could be afforded such goodness, the least of which being the chance to hang out with my birthmom and show her around the city where I grew up.

Through all of the highlights of this past year, including, traveling to speak with transracial adoptive parents, listening to young adoptees try to make sense of their story, text messaging a friend in the Congo who has spent the past few months living with her children in their home country, and listening to my brother read his original birth certificate for the first time and learning how intoxicated his birth mother was during delivery, it can’t be understated the toll that these stories have taken. It is my great hope that the decision-makers at the conference this weekend will gain clearer understanding of how simultaneously woven in to each of these highlights are lowlights if looked at through an adoptee lens.

Though this year is certainly celebratory and cake-worthy I can’t help but to see the irony that the actual day of my birth is shrouded in more mystery than fact – largely due to the very people to whom I will be speaking. Rather than feel anger in the awareness that I cannot yet find or meet my other birth sister because of rules put in place by the folks in that room, I am choosing to accept this moment as redemption. As an adult I will be speaking to a group of people who were the first people to speak for me when I was just one year old. Oh the irony.

I’m so glad to continue to have the opportunity to give voice to adoptees.

10 thoughts on “How This Adoptee Feels About Her Birthday

  1. Hello Angela, just sitting here reading your post. I needed to reply, as I am a in a funny state this week. I know that you have helped a lot of adoptees, come to terms with a situation out of their control. Now as I sit here, I see my life turning, being unsure as to what comes next for me. I know that your feelings, all being brought on by my actions, and so as I take my prayers to a higher power, I am not a perfect person (just a human) mistakes and all. Oh you are not, nor have you ever been a mistake in my life, but being a person unable to step into what I thought to be the worst situation for a child I made a choice. Now the way you feel will forever fall on my shoulders. To be able to be the person you are, and have the strength of an angel (Angela), no credit to me, I can understand your feeling about your birthday, and being an adoptee. For something I always have thought is that nobody thinks of me as a human being, they all want me to be perfect, of which I will never be. We can’t go backwards, however I will step on with whatever time I have left here. You have and always will be more to my life than a BABY GIRL, with no last name. I go to TN, and to this day I still want to find my babies, there, which I guess it is a mind think that I will never come to terms with this. Always looking, never finding. I personally have a mental drop on certain days, so you see I, know that I did start certain problems in my life the wrong way. So I am just writing this because of what my mental attitude is right now. I am sorry, and I know these words will never be good enough. Anyway my God knows my heart, I guess that is the reason he let me go on to this point. Well have a blessed day, be strong and keep helping all adoptees as you have, because of you they have a voice, YOU!!!( a beautiful adoptee) Bye Bye!![?][?][?]

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  2. Really loved this post. Your kindness and persistence in embracing all people is so evident. Best of luck this weekend 🙂 Really looking forward to hearing how you respond to, and how you’re responded to, this weekend.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Hi Deborah! Thanks for replying. I’m so glad that you can express yourself here. I have often thought about you and how my birthdate has affected you each year. I bet it’s been hard. I hope this year was easier now that we know each other. Please know that your words ARE good enough. They are gold to me.

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  4. I thought of you often while we were in Seattle last week (and thank you for the hair shop rec, my daughter’s hair looks beautiful). Thank you so much for delivering such a powerful message to some of the people who need to hear it both at events like the one you just attended and here through your blog.

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  5. Ms. Deborah, I understand how you feel. I am a birthmother also. I love your honesty, humility, and respect your remorseful words to your “baby girl”. That truly takes heart my dear. You are so right, no child is a mistake. Thank you for sharing your journey, flawed and vulnerable but always authentic.

    I love Angela’s heart and tenacity. People are listening.

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  6. Hello Deborah. I understand how you feel. I’m a birthmother also. I am moved by your sincere humility and remorseful words to your “baby girl”. Thank you for sharing your heart; flawed and vulnerable but always authentic.

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