Progress in New York State

On January 15th, just three weeks ago, adult adoptees in New York State were finally, after 83 years, allowed to request a copy of their Original Birth Certificate. Thousands have applied and Facebook groups, both public and private, provide 24/7 support and information to help folks with the application process.

In my memoir, Chapter 9 – Original Birth Certificate, I describe my efforts to get a copy of my OBC. I had no idea what I was doing! In the fall of 1988, after our first trip to Montreal, I decided to try and get my original birth certificate (OBC). My notes indicate that I first called the Montreal Court House. A nasty voice told me my OBC was top secret, that I had a new identity, and referred me back to Ville Marie Social Services. I don’t recall exactly how she knew I was adopted. But I had learned my lesson and tried a craftier strategy with my next attempt.

I kept looking for things that brought my birthmother closer to me. I knew who she was, but I wanted to have proof that she had been pregnant with me and had given birth to me–I craved all tangible connections. My OBC was just that–a single sheet of paper with the name she gave me, my date of birth, and her signature! It was a legal, embossed document that belonged to me! I am thinking a lot these days about my fellow New Yorkers. Whatever the results may be, they now have the right to request a copy of their Original Birth Certificate.

I enjoy making the bookmarks that come with my memoir. It brings back memories of designing and crafting greeting cards when I had my first Etsy shop, Custom Cards By Bonnie. My new Etsy shop, My Adoptee Memoir, has four brand new greeting cards with one of my favorite themes from the book, “there is no one like YOU.” I call them my “identity cards.” The first one has the breast cancer awareness pink ribbon and butterflies. It honors my mom and my birthmother who both died from breast cancer. The next two cards have flower bouquets–one is for Valentine’s Day, the other is a bouquet of Lily of the Valley, my mom’s favorite flower! Each image is hand-stamped and colored with fine-tip markers. The last card has ginkgo leaves from my favorite tree. The leaves are hand-stamped in green. Each listing includes a story under “Item Details.”

My goal is to send a message of support to people touched by adoption and searching for their original identity and family heritage. I also hope to raise awareness in our communities about adoption issues.

https://www.etsy.com/shop/MyAdopteeMemoir

Happy Valentine’s Day

Is Curiosity Overrated?

Curiosity played a major role in my 35-year search for my original identity. Last year, in my second blog post, I wrote, Was My Curiosity Wrong? I always struggled with conflicting issues: hurting my parents’ feelings and the frustration with closed adoption laws that withheld all identifying information.

I was surprised to see I wrote that post on January 22, 2019! One year ago, I wanted you to know that a book was in the works. Now, I am so pleased to share an excerpt from the Introduction of my memoir–it’s all about curiosity!

“As I left childhood behind, curiosity about my birthparents seeped into my conscience. I felt frustrated for the first time—Why doesn’t my story start at the beginning? But I also felt that, perhaps, I should be fine without the whole story. Maybe I didn’t need to know everything. Maybe curiosity is overrated. I shuddered at the thought of hurting my parents by asking for the name of the adoption agency. After all, they had provided me with love, security, and an education.

Worry and frustration are very personal feelings experienced by many adoptees. We worry about disappointing loved ones. Dad drove me to piano lessons at night in Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue in the bitter cold and was concerned about keeping my hands warm before my lesson. Mom and I had tea after school and shared a deep bond of love and trust. How could I not believe that searching for my birthparents would upset them? However, we are often frustrated by sealed records that, if they could only be opened, would unveil identifying information and lead us to birth families, medical histories, and our heritage.”

Curiosity is a special interest–often nudging us to new places of discovery and problem solving. For me, curiosity was the gift that kept on giving!

It can never be overrated.

https://www.etsy.com/shop/MyAdopteeMemoir

1950

Happy New Year!

I am thrilled to tell you that Young Love – An Adoptee’s Memoir is now in print!

In the beginning, I wanted to record and share my search for my birth parents—a search that began in May 1983 and finally ended in March 2018. However, eventually, I realized that my story did not begin in 1983. In fact, it began in the late 1940s, well before my birth, with two young people—caught in young love.

My story continues with my parents and their decision to adopt an infant. I believe that the circumstances of my birth and the details of my childhood bring life to the story that, in the end, reveals my identity and heritage.

Young Love – An Adoptee’s Memoir is available in these places:

Etsy–I opened an Etsy shop to offer personalized sale of both the paperback and hardcover formats. I will autograph each book and add a personal statement if you have one in mind. I will include a handmade bookmark that matches the book!

Free shipping on all domestic orders. Here’s the link: https://www.etsy.com/shop/MyAdopteeMemoir?ref=search_shop_redirect

FriesenPress— My Canadian Publishing Company. No autograph or bookmark.

Paperback, hardcover, and digital formats. Here’s the link:  https://books.friesenpress.com/store/title/119734000102459125

Amazon and Barnes & Noble

Thank you for your support and encouragement this past year. My first blog post was on January 19, 2019! Our lives are so complex and filled with countless experiences. Whether or not you live with adoption, I hope some small part of my story resonates with you.   

A Pause

It’s time for a short blog break–a pause in the action. My memoir will be published sometime in September–you’ll be the first to know! Thanks, everyone, for reading and keeping up with my adoption search and childhood memories. For me, each week was more fun than the last. I have truly enjoyed sharing my stories with you and always love reading your comments.

Young Love: An Adoptee’s Memoir tells the story of my 35 year search for my original identity. It is in the final stage before publishing and I am very excited. I am forever grateful to you, my readers, and can’t wait to share the book with you.

handmade greeting card

Search Angels

I can’t imagine searching for my birthparents without the help of search angels. Their personal experiences motivate them to help others. They volunteer their time and knowledge!  In 1983, before I had even heard the term, search angels, I asked for help from a group in Montreal called Parent Finders. I remember saying they were my adoption angels.

Following our initial phone chat, the president of the Montreal Branch sent me a letter describing the mission of Parent Finders:

“CONGRATULATIONS. By contacting an organization like Parent Finders, you’ve made the first step in a very difficult situation. Parent Finders has two main functions. The first is to try and reunite you with the one you are looking for, and second, to give you lots of moral support, whether through phone calls or personal contact.

I will teach you everything I know about searching, and if I don’t know the answer to a question, I will do my best to find you the answer as soon as possible. 

I am sincerely looking forward to working with you. I was able to find my mother and hopefully I can help you to find your family.”

Years later, I was trying to add my name to a list of people searching for family. Maybe a birthmother or birthfather was looking for me! Within minutes, a search angel was assigned to help me. That was in 2014. Now, Vicki is still there for me—always helpful and kind and supportive. Vicki was adopted in Ontario and she lives in Michigan. Annie is a search angel with a closed Canadian Facebook group. Annie, like Vicki, is there for me any time, on any day. She has a wealth of experience and knows where to find answers. Vanessa is a genealogist in Montreal who volunteered countless hours filling in the blanks on my heritage family tree. Another closed Facebook group, DNA Detectives, has search angels and members supporting people all over the world, 24/7. I have received support more times than I can count. These are just a coupIe of examples of search angels who helped me in my search. 

I joined DNA Detectives five years ago and there were about 30,000 members. Today it has 107,359 members! I believe it is important to note that the Facebook groups I belong to are closed groups. We can’t overemphasize the importance of confidentiality in searches. Both Facebook groups clearly define their roles and have administrators monitoring conversations, or threads, as the internet calls them. One-on-one support is available in private messaging. Search angels and administrators are all volunteers looking to help others.

Young Love, An Adoptee’s Memoir is dedicated to all searchers and search angels. Identity is sacred—never give up! I hope this blog post expresses my gratitude for the years of assistance and support I have received from search angels.

From My Card Collection

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.