I Wish You Were My Mother

Statistics show that 95% of mothers who relinquished a child to adoption are happy to be found and welcome the contact and further connection with their son/daughter. 

I happen to be in the rare category of 5% of adoptees whose mother did not want to reunite. Nobody was more surprised than me that she turned me away as an adult, being that she waited 47 days after my birth to make the final decision to relinquish me. In the social worker's words regarding her choice back then she was "filled with sadness, grief and doubt realizing she was a mother about to lose her child."

We did eventually reunite, only because I showed up on her doorstep. I thought once she actually met me face-to-fact as an adult, her desire would change. I was right. I made it perfectly clear the night I showed up that she was free to never see me or speak to me again if that was her decision. My only request was a one time in-person meeting and a photo to remember her by. I'm grateful that she invited me in and continued to have contact with me. However, her decision to stay in contact didn’t fix everything.  Reunion was messy to say the least and in my estimation the greatest reason for that was the absence of honest conversation.  

At times, when my mother got angry with me she would say, "Somebody messed up! That's why you found me!" She was convinced somebody at the adoption agency disclosed something to me they shouldn't have. In reality, nobody messed up and I actually found her because of my name change papers. My parents changed my name from the one given at birth, and my surname was on the legal name change papers from the lawyer.

 I asked God “why” about my mother's behavior too many times to count.

Being introduced to first mothers like Priscilla Sharp, Sharon Touviano and Brenda Patterson, I have often thought… “I wish you were my mother.”    I would think the same thing of Claudia Corrigan D’Arcy and Lisa Woolsey too, but they are too young to be my mother. In Lisa’s case I’m probably old enough to be her mother. (LOL)  All of these women are some of my favorites in the first mother community.  

Every time I have conversation with these women and others like them, the thoughts relentlessly come…”Why couldn’t my mother have been like them?" They are mothers who have faced the same loss, grief and pain as my mother– yet they welcomed their child with open arms. They all have the same hatred for lies that I do. And, they are active in working for reform in adoption.

There are adoptees among the 5% who tend to blame 100% of mothers for the actions of a few.  

I believe it’s important for adoptees in my situation to remember that, statistically our mothers are rare. Oh, I know we are not alone. Those in the 5% category can find one another pretty quick, and thank God for it. There's nothing like someone who understands secondary rejection firsthand. (I don’t care what some people say – it is real, and it is rejection. Especially as an adult! If you don’t believe that, please be careful you don’t fall off your unicorn.) The bottom line is -- we are out there, but the numbers of us are not great. And yet if we're not careful, we can view first moms as the enemy.

Fellow adoptees who are among the 5% -- I want to say this... anger and disappointment are normal reactions to our mother's choices. And, it's important to resist projecting that anger onto all first moms. Because they don't deserve it.  Getting help for the anger and disappointment is critical so we don't attribute it to the wrong people and so we can heal. 

Horrible as it may sound, at times I wish some other first moms were my mom. Even though they aren't my mother, I can still be loved by them and learn from them. First moms like the ones I mentioned have been a huge part of my healing. They have virtually held me as I've melted down speaking soothing words that are a healing balm to my soul. My mother's unfortunate decisions are by no means reason to resent women who have given nothing but a loving response to their sons and daughters, and to me.

*photo credit: freedigitalphotos.net

Waiting for DNA Test Results
(And a pair of small panties)

I'm resisting the urge to check on DNA results every five minutes.

If it's a match - I will have found another sister, and confirmed the identity of my father. 

If we are a match – what will I do?
If we're not a match – what will I do?

If we are not a match --- back to the @#$%^&*(+=S~0 drawing board.

What is that? It's a cuss word that doesn’t exist yet in the world.  There are no words currently in existence to describe my distain for what adoptees go through to discover the truth of our history. So I have to make words up on occasion.

If the DNA is not a match I am back to doing more research and then putting on the biggest pair of big girl panties anyone has ever seen, taking a deep breath, and making another cold call where I say: 

 “Hello, ______________________? I know this is probably the strangest call you’ve ever received. Thank you for not hanging up. Well, not to freak you out or anything but there’s a possibility that I’m your sister. You see back in 1965 it seems my mother may have had an affair with your father. Hello…hello…are you still there? Okay, thank you…thank you so much for not hanging up on me. I don’t want to harm you, truly I don’t. I know that sounds bizarre being that I'm calling you out of nowhere to say your Dad may have had an affair...but really -- I mean no harm. I have references of respected people you can call who will tell you this.  And, I'm not asking for anything materially. I just want to know where I come from. I know this is asking a lot but I'm wondering if you would be willing to do something for me. If I cover the cost, would you take a DNA test?"

This is not a joke.  

Sadly, cold calls like the one above are what is necessary to find out who my natural father is.

I wish it wasn't the way it has to be done. If only my mother would have said, “Deanna your father’s name is ______________, and you can find him at such and such place.” But, that’s not what happened.

So, as information comes to light about who my father is, or may be – I pick up the phone and call their relative.

My husband and a few friends are amazed that so far in my search process, two total strangers, said yes to taking a DNA test on the same day I first called them. I pray my guts out before I call them, and quite frankly don't know what I'd do if someone said no. I hope I never have to find out.

I have learned so much about the kindness of strangers through this process. Sadly I have discovered that total strangers will sometimes do more for you than people you've known a long time.

This Thursday will be 30 days of waiting for results and in other people's experience that I've talked to who have utilized the same company, it's usually around that time when results start coming in.

I don’t want to have to go through this again.
But I will if I have to.

People who don’t understand would say, “You don’t have to. This isn't necessary.”

It’s easy to say, and usually stated by those who already know all of their history. It’s easy to dismiss somebody who wants what has never been missing in your life.

I really want this to be the end of this aspect of the journey. But I’m prepared to quickly pick up the pieces and go on with the next phase if that’s what turn things take.

Like most people in my situation, I have so many areas in my life to keep going. I’ll compartmentalize another loss and keep it all spinning if what's what it takes.

I’m ready to trade the biggest pair of big girl panties for a tiny pair.
Please God, please.  A tiny pair of panties, in Jesus’ name.     

When Will Adoptive Parents Listen to the Voice of the Adopted?

Lately I’ve had an interesting phenomenon with adoptive parents. There are some who read my book or blog and come to me and say something like this:

“I wanted to talk to you, to get your thoughts on how to help our daughter. She's a teenager. We thought we would never face the issues you describe. Things seemed to be fine. She never brought anything up about being adopted. And if she ever did, we thought our love would be enough to cover...and, of course, we've got the Lord. We loved, we prayed, we believed. And now...we are really at a loss as to what to do.  Because she is dealing with some of the post-adoption issues you describe, and more.  We're trying to get her to open up and talk to us about it, to get to the root of all this...but she’s shut down completely. She won't talk to us. She's acting out, and things are getting out of control. We’re fearful and worried. We don’t know how to help her. What do we do?”

Of course I tell these parents that I am not a therapist, and they need to get  help for their child, pronto.

But one theme seems to emerge…

Uncovering Adoption History:
Love Me With Lies?


Nothing can send me over the rails faster than lies.

Most adoptees I have met seem to be allergic to lies. 

Maybe that's because so many of us have been expected to accept them for so long.

Adoption issues are an area where many Christians give lying a pass at times, because they feel the good outweighs the bad. Some Christians I meet believe that if a person's history is complicated or puts another person in a less-than-positive light, lying is understandable.

They don’t call it a lie.

Many times it’s an omission. Otherwise known as "lying by omission."

The definition of lying by omission is: “Otherwise known as exclusionary detailing, is lying by either omitting certain facts or by failing to correct a misconception.”

Why do I single out Christians? 
Because I am one. 

And I know what the Bible says. 

We are supposed to live true, and  stand for truth - not lies. But adoption circumstances seem to be an exception for some or even most. Take for instance, the fact that all amended birth certificates contain lies -- and I'd be hard pressed to find even a few Christians who agree with the statement I just made.

They think it's perfectly normal to have a certificate of birth that says a woman delivered a baby who actually never did. That's the first lie that is on an ABC but there are more, of course. 

The Search for My Father:
We've Come a Long Way, Baby!

Major advancements are happening in the search for my natural father. I believe we are close to an end of the search and am cautiously optimistic. 
I never would have dreamed even a month ago that we would be at the place we are at now.

Incredible breakthroughs have happened.  It’s amazing how many people have come together and given of themselves to help me. I have the most amazing search team, ever! My stepfather Tom (who is assisting me in the search) mentioned to me the other day how amazed he is that so many are helping – and specifically some people who do not share my religious beliefs.  I explained, I have many friends – even very close friends, who do not share my faith.

I am not shocked that people who don’t share my beliefs help me, as I’ve always had relationships with people of many backgrounds and walks of life. I am, however, surprised at how many complete strangers are helping me.

Reunited Korean American Transracial Adoptee Mila Konomos Shares Her Thoughts About Adoption, Christianity & More (Part 3 of 3)

Today brings us to part 3 of a series of posts from the incomparable Mila Konomos. If you missed parts 1 and 2 check them out...

Deanna: What are your feelings about reunion?

Mila: Uh, every feeling possible? Ha.

For me personally, reunion has been both the best and worst experience. It is both exhilarating yet heartbreaking. Uplifting yet crushing. Fulfilling yet draining. It is the experience of feeling every seemingly contradictory emotion over and over again. It is learning to live life with a divided identity that no matter how hard you try to merge the two, they always feel at odds.

Reunion is not for the faint of heart. And it is certainly not a fairy tale ending. Although it may bring answers, it does not bring closure. Although it may bring healing, it does not fix anything. It does not make adoption all better. And when you are facing language, cultural, and geographical barriers as an international adoptee, well, obviously, this further complicates the reunion experience, not only short-term, but long-term.

Although I can say without a doubt that I do not regret searching and finding, there are times I wish I could make it all disappear. For me, as an adoptee in reunion, I am constantly having to manage complex, seemingly contradictory emotions, thoughts, identities--it’s maddening at times. And somedays, I just wish there was a way to make it all go away. But the reality is that it will never go away. So, I have to deal with it. Reunion is endlessly complicated, and hence my feelings about it are equally complicated.

Reunited Korean American Transracial Adoptee Mila Konomos Shares Her Thoughts About Adoption, Christianity & More (Part 2 of 3)

Once again today we're talking to the ever insightful Mila Konomos! If you missed Part 1, be sure to catch up by reading here.

Deanna: What do you feel are the greatest misconceptions about adoption in general?

Mila: I think one of the most popular yet inaccurate views of adoption is that it is ultimately a good thing. There is a general perspective toward adoption that it is ultimately a noble and beautiful thing--when all is said and done, all the suffering, loss, pain, damage associated with adoption is ultimately mitigated by adoption. Adoption is still viewed as an overall gain in which the loss is cancelled out by the love--this is a harmful misconception that hurts everyone involved from the adoptee to the original parents to the adoptive parents, because it creates unrealistic expectations for everyone.

Another HUGE misconception that so many, especially Christians, REFUSE to dismantle is that adoption does not cause child abandonment/relinquishment, corruption, trafficking, and the like. Christians rarely acknowledge the demand and supply relationship that has been created by modern adoption philosophy and practices.

Christians revel in willful ignorance and choose to believe that adoption is “saving” children from orphanages and/or unloving, dangerous family situations. This is a terrible misconception--and this “head-in-the-sand” approach has provided the perfect substrate for pervasive corruption and abuse to flourish within the international adoption industry. And that’s another misconception--that adoption is not an industry. Oh, but it certainly is.