September 11, 2008

Found & Lost

(In memory of my nMother, Norma Carol, I would like to thank the Found & Lost On-line Support Group, started by a wonderful First Mother who searched and found that her son had passed away before she found him. I found my nMother 10 years after she passed away from breast cancer. She had been also been searching for me, but died thinking she had a son due to inaccurate information given to her after giving birth (1968), by the hospital staff and adoption attorney. No "mutual consent" registry would have been successful for us, because our information would have never "matched". I thank God that I found my nfamily and have known them now for many years. I thank God for groups like "Found & Lost Support" which reach out and offer support to those who have been affected by adoption and find a grave at the end of their search. You can "click" on the title of this post to go directly to this great website resource.)


All my life, I dreamed a dream
That was reachable, or so it seemed
I wanted so badly to meet my mother
Even though I was raised by another

In my mothers arms, I wanted to be
I knew she would set me free
For I knew that in her loving arms
She would always keep me safe from harm

But on that day back in June
My heartstrings played a different tune
I knew then it could never be
I wished then, that everyone could see

The pain in my heart that was so strong
That dream I dreamed for so long
Was gone now without a trace
I knew I would never see her face

I felt then that I would never be the same
Please, at least, could you tell me her name?
A name that was like a beautiful song
That name I had longed to hear for so long

A face I saw in the mirror everyday
I would never look at myself the same way
I see her chin, her cheeks, her hair
To finally see yourself, nothing can compare

I wanted to feel her loving embrace
Just once I wanted her to touch my face
As I'm sure she did many years ago
When she had to let her baby girl go

The pain she must have felt through the years
I wish I had been there to dry her tears
I know she is with me in everything I do
I hope she knows she is in my heart too

So I will go on and live everyday
Too the fullest I can because she paved the way
Because one day we will be together
And this time it will be forever

In loving Memory of my Mother

© ALL MY LIFE by Pamula Sumpter
an adoptee and member of Found and Lost Support


My Adoption/ My Psyche/ My Journey
By Pam Hewitt

Minnosota Adoptee born 1/31/67

It's only been in the last few years that I've begun thinking about how being adopted might have impacted me psychologically. I've always been shy and quiet, I had a small group of friends while I was growing up but still, I tended to be a loner. I remember my a-mom suggesting I see a therapist when I was about thirteen years old. I thought she was just trying to cure me of my shyness; I didn't see how talking to a therapist could help. The truth is I was afraid to go, going would be admitting something was wrong with me. Since she left the decision up to me, I decided I was fine and didn't pursue it. Thinking back, I wonder if she saw something in me, (a loneliness perhaps?), which prompted her to make the suggestion in the first place?

I've always known I was adopted but it never really meant much to me when I was younger. In my parents' eyes I was one hundred percent theirs and that's how they treated me. My being adopted wasn't a secret but it wasn't something we talked about much. It was just a part of me that I tucked away in the back of my psyche, unaware it would come crashing out of me later on in life. Whenever people asked me if I wanted to search for my "real" parents I said, "No." Back then I didn't have a desire to search, it didn't seem to matter but the truth was I knew, deep down, that someday I would.

Once I became an adult I was reminded about being adopted every time I needed to fill out my medical history at the doctors. I would simply tell them, "I don't know. I was adopted." However, the possible genetic predispositions I could have to diseases like diabetes, heart disease and cancer started to concern me.

When I was about eighteen years old my a-mom took me to the bank and handed me some papers she kept in her safety deposit box. These papers contained information about my birth and adoption, including my amended birth certificate with my true identity stripped away. There was also a type written page, prepared by the adoption agency, with a little information about my biological mother and father. This was the first time I had something tangible to remind me of the fact that I was different.

When I was about thirty years old I discovered there were organizations that could help reunite loved ones who have been separated by adoption. In addition, there were numerous web sites where you could enter your search criteria such as birth dates, city, state; I entered my information on a few registries and eventually started searching online. I spent many hours online looking through these registries and posting my own information hoping there would be a match. However, for these registries to make a match both parties must be looking.

I became intrigued by all I was learning, which made me think about contacting the adoption agency that handled my adoption. I wanted to know if any members of my birth family had inquired about me; they said no one had inquired into my file. So, I signed a release form allowing the agency to share my information should someone come looking for me. Plus, for a small fee, they sent me my updated Non-Identifying ID information. Non-Identifying ID is information they are legally allow to release about your biological mother and/or father, however it doesn't contain any information that could identify who they are or where they live.

This time I learned something new; I found out that my biological grandmother died when she was thirty-nine years old. The cause of death was listed as, unknown; I later found out she committed suicide. I also found out she left home when she was sixteen years old and was estranged from her family plus it listed information about her siblings and step-siblings. I'm amazed by all I've learned and for the first time it began to sink in....there were real people out there, somewhere, who were related to me. Around the same time I saw a girl who bore a striking resemblance to me, I felt compelled to stop her but of course I didn't and the opportunity passed. I found myself searching crowds for women with red hair (we both have red hair), who looked to be about the same age as my b-mom; whenever I saw someone I'd start to wonder if it could be her. I knew the odds of actually finding her that way were next to impossible but the thought still crossed my mind.

My online research led me to a Yahoo group dedicated to those in the adoption triad who were searching in Minnesota. I learned a lot from them about how to conduct a search; one thing I learned was I didn't have enough information to work with, plus the agency told me that my birth parents weren't from MN, so now I didn't know where to begin and my search lost it's momentum.

Then, a few years ago I decided to call the agency again, this time I wanted to find out how much it would cost for them to do a search & outreach for me; I was told it would be about $500, with no guarantees. Also, they warned me that if they found her she may refuse contact. I had to give all of this some heavy consideration; that was quite a bit of money to plunk down with no guarantee I'd have any more information than I already had.

I began to explore my reasons for wanting to search. One thing I knew was my birth mother wanted the pregnancy to be a secret. Was mere curiosity enough to disrupt her life? What if she rejected me? What if she was some looney-toon that would turn around and disrupt my life? How would my adoptive parents feel? Needless to say, I chose to put searching on the back burner.

I continued to be involved in the Reuniting MN group, which was also affiliated with a group that was trying to get MN legislation changed allowing adult adoptee's access to their original birth certificates. I decided to wait, to see if the legislation passed, if it did I'd begin to search again. However it didn't pass because of strong opposition from the adoption agencies.

I attended several legislative hearings on the subject to lend my support and for the first time I found myself surrounded by other adoptee's and birth mothers. Finally, I felt like I fit in somewhere. Proposing the bill into legislation was further delayed, the next proposal was scheduled for 2007. If it passed it wouldn't go into effect until 2008, however, there was no way of knowing if it would pass and I didn't want to wait that long.

Now, I'm immersed in this process and I found myself thinking about my adoption more frequently. I started to read books on the subject from the perspectives of all members of the triad, as well as psychologists who had done extensive research on the effects of adoption. I was most interested in reading about how other adoptee's felt and was happy to see my feelings being discribed on the pages before me; I realized I wasn't alone.

I learned that I have many things in common with other adoptee's, for example, I'm introverted, a loner, a people-pleaser, I have trouble with intimacy and relationships. I feel anonymous, disconnected from the world. I felt like I was "dropped from outer space," opposed to being born. I feel incomplete and live with a vague sense of longing. I'm ill at ease with others, driven to excel and I'm a perfectionist; all characteristics that seem to have a common thread among adoptee's.

I tend to observe rather than interact. Sometimes when I'm out in public I feel invisible or just partially materialized, so it surprises me if the focus suddenly turns to me, I realize I can be seen and heard by others. I take comfort in being alone and over the years I've built an invisible wall around myself. Therefore, I don't have many close friends; I need to get over my fears of rejection and reach out to people more but I think my inability to make friends is probably more of a personality flaw than something caused by being adopted.

Dwelling on my adoption was making me depressed. I started to think I was in the midst of a real identity crisis so, I contacted the agency again. They sent me the forms that would give them permission to attempt contact on my behalf but again I hesitated. I wasn't ready. At this point I told myself to stop dwelling on being adopted, but still, I continued to have unsettling feelings. I began to think that none of us were getting any younger. I knew if I waited too long it might be too late. Suddenly, one day in November 2006 I knew the time had arrived, I had to take a leap of faith. So, I signed the papers and put them in the mail before I could change my mind; I have not had a single regret since.

On Nov. 16, 2006 my social worker called to tell me she had some bad news, at first I thought she was going to tell me my b-mom had refused contact. Instead, she told me that my b-mom had passed away in 1990 of lung cancer, she was only forty-three years old. This was something I hadn't dared to contemplate but it didn't come as a complete surprise my heart I knew she was already gone.

My social worker asked if I'd like to continue looking for other blood relatives; I told her I absolutely would. This meant she'd have to call my b-mom's husband back, however, she still couldn't tell him why she was calling, so, I feared he might react unfavorably and not give out any more information. Fortunately, he did share the name of my biological aunt; the agency called her next. As it turns out my b-mom didn't tell anyone about my birth, still, my aunt was open to having contact with me. I suppose I was a connection for her, maybe I was a way to bring her sister back to life.

I've subsequently had a face-to-face meeting with my aunt, my b-mom's husband, and my only sibling, a half-brother. This experience has finally put me on the road to becoming a whole person and it has facilitated some healing for my biological family as well.

Pam is a member of Found and Lost Support

No comments: