An Elephant in the Room!

My closed adoption welcomed an elephant into the room! When an adoption is closed, the identities of the mother and baby are sealed away from each other and from the parents who adopt the baby. My mom and dad knew nothing about my mother nor the circumstances of my birth. They knew nothing about my father. I was told that my mother and father were not married and therefore they could not keep me.

Cue the elephant! (I truly love elephants—I am only using this metaphor because it helps to explain the consequences of a closed adoption.) In my closed adoption, the elephant in the room was the secrecy of all identities. No one in the adoption triangle, not the infant, birthparents, nor adoptive parents had the right to each others’ identifying information.

As an adult, I was told by the adoption agency that my records were sealed, I had a new life, and I should accept the fact that the files would never be opened. In fact, it was against the law for the agency to give me identifying  information from my file. I was an adult adoptee, no longer a relinquished infant, and I was asking for my original identity. This was against the law!

The elephant in the room caused great anguish. In addition to my original identity, my parents and I never talked about genetic traits. We pretended that my adoption did not exist. If the adoption had been open, who knows? I might have known my birthparents before I reached adulthood. Imagine, I might not have had to search at all!

In my early 30s, I decided it was time—time to confront the forces of the closed adoption laws and learn about my birthparents and my heritage. I discovered my fierce determination and curiosity to find answers. My search was off and on over the years, but I never gave up!

One of my handmade greeting cards.

Was My Curiosity Wrong?

Mom and Bonnie

My mom and I were very close. Here we are together about four months after I was adopted. She was loving and caring. We enjoyed spending time together and had many good laughs!

Why then did I want to know who gave birth to me? Mom and I shared a strong mother-daughter bond. I never wanted to hurt her. I never wanted her to think she wasn’t my one and only mom.

Eventually I developed a deeper understanding of this conundrum. I came to believe with all my heart that my curiosity about my birthparents was a separate feeling or state of mind from the love I felt for my mom and dad.

My curiosity came from my strong desire to know my birthparents. It was not caused by any circumstances in my life. I simply wanted to know who gave birth to me. Over the years, I also realized that I couldn’t turn off my curiosity. I had to keep going until I had the answers.

It’s All About Family

Mom and Dad
Bonnie, Ian and Stephanie

I searched for my birth family for many years. I didn’t stop searching until I had identified my birthparents. My search took 35 years! Curiosity never let me down. I was driven by an innate desire to know my original identity. Throughout my search, I felt I was asking for information that belonged to me! I believe that identity is personal and sacred.

Many events occurred during my 35 year search. It was a fascinating journey. I wrote an early journal after the first five years. After that, friends and family encouraged me to record new events along the way. Eventually I decided to get back to writing. I incorporated my first journal into this memoir. After a couple of years, I was able to say that I was working on a book!

My book is a memoir. And, it turned out to be about my family and my life, not just the search for my birthparents. This memoir is for my family–my husband, my children, my grandchildren, and future generations.

My memoir is also for the families of my birthparents. By knowing them, I hope to honor the memories of my birthmother and birthfather.