July 22, 2014

Are You Happy You Are Adopted?

I’ve been asked this question many times.

It’s a question that tends to irritate me because 99.% of the time the person asking has an answer in mind that they believe is the only appropriate answer to give. They aren't asking to really know my feelings.

Yes, I really found this in a bookstore. Eeek!
Seldom if ever do I feel a person asking me this really wants to know my answer, or doesn’t already have an expectation of the “correct” answer.

Especially within the Christian community, the majority of people asking the question want it to go like this:

Person questioning me: “Are you happy you are adopted?”

Me: Oh it’s wonderful to be adopted. And of course I’m happy to be adopted. I could have been an abortion, after all.


If I give this answer, most folks will be pleased as punch.
Never mind that ANY of us could have been an abortion.  

And, that my natural mother told me the very first night we reunited, “Abortion was never a consideration for me.”

My adoption had absolutely NOTHING to do with abortion.  
But I digress…

Here’s the truth many do not want to hear, and usually ends in a reaaallllly triggering discussion for me so I usually say something like, “You know, it’s complicated,” and change the subject. Unless I’m in the mood for a two or three hour exhausting discussion that ends in me going home with a really bad headache. Or praying the questioner would magically turn into a pinata. And who wants that?

Perhaps nothing is more stressful than people asking questions who really don’t seek to understand. They just want you to tell them what they desperately, for some reason, need to hear.

The truth for me is that being adopted is like being different in any sphere of life that you wish were normal but is not.  

 For instance, I believe marriage is for life. I don’t believe divorce is “God's perfect plan.” There are biblical reasons to get divorced -- reasons that make it perfectly acceptable to get divorced due to your circumstances, but it’s certainly not preferable. God’s divine order is that marriage is a covenant for life with your spouse, until death do you part. I don't believe divorce is a "first choice" for anyone. No one grows up saying, "My dream is to be divorced." 

I believe divorce is something that happens in life that hurts really bad. It’s not the unpardonable sin, but it hurts. It hurts everybody involved. It’s never fun. It’s not something you go, “Yippee!!! I love divorce! Bring it on.” God forgives divorce when it happens. God forgives anyone or anything when a person just asks Him to. But there’s no way out of the fact a divorce hurts everybody involved.

Well, for me adoption is the same way. When someone asks me about how I feel about adoption it's like asking me how I feel about divorce. Because in order for me to become adopted, a divorce had to happen -- losing my entire first family, at least for a while.

Asking an adopted kid or grown up adult adoptee, “Are you happy you are adopted?” is kinda like asking them, “Aren't you glad your parents got a divorce?” 

Most kids I know are not happy at all when their parents get divorced.

In fact, my adoptive parents got divorced and it was really hard.

I really love my step mother. My Dad got remarried after the divorce, and his wife is an awesome woman. A Godly woman. She is so good to my Dad, and to all of us. I appreciate her a lot. But am I happy my parents got divorced? No. I will ever be happy about that.  I had to learn to cope with it. Had to go to counseling and get help, to move forward from the divorce.

Adoption has been the same way for me. I also had to learn to cope, go to counseling and get help to move forward. It’s a process.

Does any child or adult say, “Yipppeeeee! My natural family could not keep me!! It was sooooo awesome! I was surrendered for adoption and it was the greatest thing EVER!!”

Nobody that I know, and I mean NOBODY I have ever run across in the adoptee community is thrilled that their natural mother or family was in such condition that they made the decision to relinquish.   

In this area of my life I will never be “normal,” whatever that is. I am an adoptee living in a world where most people are not adopted. I do not have so much as accurate documentation of my birth, critical medical information that may prolong or save my life, nor did I grow up with things like genetic mirroring that is important to identity and development.

But I digress again.

There is help available for those of us in this situation. We have to look hard to find it but it is there. 

 Probably the hardest thing for me when it comes to adoption is coping with people who believe that not only is being adopted nothing traumatic to move forward from, nothing to go to counseling over -- but they truly believe in their heart of hearts that it's nothing but bliss.

And that’s why when asked these questions, I most often tighten my lips like I do before I get ready to say something difficult and simply say, “It’s complicated,” and ask them, “Is that just decaf coffee on the table over there or is there some regular?” and quickly change the subject as soon as I can. 

*Photo Credits: Deanna Doss Shrodes

July 14, 2014

Selling Your Soul to Reunion

What would possess a mature, grown, confident and otherwise wildly successful person to throw all common sense and self respect out the window?



Adoption reunion has the power to turn a powerhouse into a groveling wimp.
I only say that cuz’ I’ve been there. As the wimp.

But no more. No sirree Bob. The showings of the  Wimp Chronicles Starring Deanna Doss Shrodes have closed and are no longer available, even on DVD. 

I know so many adoptees who are the kind of people who slay dragons with one hand behind their back in every other sphere of life. They kick tail at work and their other endeavors. But reunion turned them into Jello. When they enter reunion, they begin to agree to things no strong, self-respecting person would otherwise agree to.  

What is it about reunion that causes one to act like they never would in another area of their life?

For starters, the most insane desire for approval…ever. 

Even if you don’t struggle with that in other situations…it so often seems to come with the territory in reunion.

Because you just want a seat at the table.  
A full seat.

So you put up with craaaaaaaaaaaaaaazy stuff that you would never put up with when it comes to anything else in your life.

Whatever you have to do to get that seat, you do it.

You compromise, going beyond any reasonable alteration to a place of losing yourself at times, just to gain what you lost at birth or shortly thereafter.

But you can never totally regain it anyway because the tremendous volume of loss of shared history can never be regained.

But you try, oh do you try.
You knock yourself out trying to create and recreate shared history.
Trying to fit in.

And no matter how hard you try, you don't absolutely fit in like a perfect puzzle piece with your natural or your adoptive family because there are such gaps with both. Typically a shared history gap with one and an understanding gap with the other.

Amidst all of this change, you encounter the "nons" as we know them, who (with or without invitation) will give such brilliant wisdom as, "See...this is why reunions are not always good...they open up a can of worms...you have opened Pandora's box...it's best to leave well enough alone...blah blah blah..."  

You have embarked on a sometimes unrecognizable version of yourself in exchange for active relationship. And then, you wake up one day and ask, “What in the world am I doing?  I am agreeing to things I would never concede to in any other situation in my life.  I am compromising in places I never would with a friend, or even my spouse. What in heaven’s name is driving me to agree to put up with these expectations or this treatment?” 

Perhaps you have agreed to be kept a secret after reunion, just to stay relationship.

Or maybe you’ve agreed to refrain from openly sharing your feelings with anyone, or writing publicly.

After realizing the ridiculousness of this demand,  you may suddenly see that you don’t have to live that way anymore.

You do not have to compromise for one more day.

You can stop talking yourself into the fact that it’s okay in this one area, just because it’s not comparable to anything else in your life.

You can refuse to be someone other than yourself, just to hold onto what is left. 

You can just say no to doing whatever it takes to keep them happy so you can still have some shred of contact left.

You can stop selling your soul to reunion.

You can be who God created you to be, and let the chips fall where they may. 

*Photos by Deanna Doss Shrodes

July 8, 2014

Birth Certificates: Lying is NOT Okay
(Just Because It's Legal Doesn't Make It Right!)

The first official documented proof of my existence that I am permitted to have in my possession is a lie.

It is replete with false information concerning my birth, and has remained so for the duration of my thus far 47-year old life.

A recent post by Lorraine Dusky at Birth Mother First MotherForum reveals how uninformed most of the population, including many adoptive parents, are about this issue.   

Lorraine says:

"So it was with dismay that I learned a few days after that that an adoptive mother of my acquaintance--a bright, appealing woman who is involved in the community--expressed ignorance on the issue of sealed birth certificates. Upon learning that what I was fighting for had something to do with  "birth certificates," she remarked to a friend that she didn't understand what the issue was. She said something along the lines of--That's odd--my [adopted] kids [two] have their birth certificates.

Both of her two adopted children are in the twenties; both were adopted in New York. The oldest lives in a distant state; the other lives at home. Unless an Act of God intervened in their cases, they do not have their original birth certificates. The adoptive mother's name is on their birth certificates, as well as her (former) husband's, as if they conceived their adopted children and she gave birth to them. How clueless is she? I was alarmed and dismayed. If this intelligent woman doesn't know squat about the reality of this aspect of her now-grown children's lives, no wonder we can't get these laws to fade away faster. If she doesn't know this, what hope is there?"

Unfortunately, the beliefs of Lorraine’s acquaintance are not rare.  When someone actually cares to discuss this subject with me, I have to go to great lengths to explain that I do have a birth certificate, however the majority of what is on it concerning my birth, is untrue. 

The information on my certificate has almost nothing to do with my actual BIRTH, but instead reflects my adoption. 

What's the problem with this?

A birth certificate is just that – a BIRTH certificate.

A birth certificate is supposed to document your BIRTH.

Proof of Birth?

Not long ago, I saw a post on Facebook by a Christian adoptive mom. She said, “I am my kids’ mom! I have the birth certificates to prove it!”

While I don't dispute the fact that she is a mother to her children, I don't believe having the children's now-amended birth certificates proves anything except for the fact that she possesses a falsified document regarding her children's birth.

A birth certificate is not a certificate of one's parentage.

It is not a mom certification.

Nor does the certificate belong to the parents.

A birth certificate belongs to the person whose birth it is intended to record.

Unless the adoptive mother carried said children in her own body and delivered them at said hospital, the birth certificates in her possession prove  absolutely nothing except the fact that our government recorded information on legal documents that claim one woman delivered children who were actually conceived, carried and delivered by another. 

Legal But Not Right 

How can a Christian believe the changing of a document to reflect false information is morally acceptable even though it is legal?  Just because something is legal doesn't make it right.

How Much Can Be Changed is Shocking!

The only things that may be true on my birth certificate are the date and time of my birth as well as the hospital. I say may be true, because I am not sure, even of those things.

Sadly, I recently learned that in some states, the date of birth, city, state and hospital can be altered as well, at the request of the adoptive parents. 

I have an adoptee friend who just discovered his birthday he has celebrated for over 40 years isn't even his actual birthday. Although this may seem like a small thing to non-adoptees, to him and to many others in the same shoes, it's quite a blow to find out that what you thought was your birthday isn't even your birthday.

People have asked me, "Why would an adoptive parent request the date of birth, state or hospital be changed on a birth certificate?" The answer is that if these things are changed on a certificate, a child would not necessarily have to be told they were adopted unless the parent chose to tell them.  It also makes it much harder for the adoptee to search when they become adults, because they don't know their correct birth date or location of birth.Without this information the search is much harder.

There are no words to even express my feelings about that. And I'm pretty good with words. But I digress...

Trust Issues and Learning Curves

It is any wonder why many adoptees have trouble feeling as though they really “exist” or struggle with trust?

When none of the information on the piece of paper the government uses to prove you exist is true, it’s kinda a learning curve, to say the least.

I received help navigating the curve, and was able to come to terms with the fact that although almost nothing on my birth certificate is correct, I do indeed exist.

Not only do I exist, but I’m amazing.
God has a purpose for me.
I am living that purpose.

And I have learned to trust, despite challenges.

But It Still Doesn't Make Sense

Why can’t I have my accurate birth certificate -- the original, that bears the truth of my existence?

This certificate exists. 
It is not lost.

My original birth certificate is held under seal, at the Virginia Department of Health and Vital Records.

Recently at Adoptee Restoration Facebook, Gaye Tannenbaum made this comment:

What most people don't understand when they ask "Why can't you be okay with not knowing?" is that the key document is not lost, we are SPECIFICALLY PROHIBITED from seeing it. Some comparisons:

You get a medical test and your doctor refuses to tell you the results. You don't need to know, right? Your doctor will take care of everything.

Your employer tells you that someone (customer? employee?) filed a complaint against you - but they can't tell you who it was or even what the complaint was about. Just trust them that it will be dealt with accordingly.

You've been arrested but are not told the charges. Your lawyer knows and reassures you that "everything will be okay".

Angry yet?

"Is it such a big deal?" non-adoptees often think or say.

That's easy to say about something that doesn't personally affect you. 

But if you walked a day in our flip flops, you may feel differently. 

Several people have said to me, "Who cares about a dumb birth certificate? You're alive!"


If it's so inconsequential, then what's the problem with having it? 

The bottom line is -- it's just not right, even if the government says it's legal.

*Photo by Deanna Doss Shrodes