National Adoption Awareness Month can mean an adoptee feels heard. Or it can be an opportunity with the spotlight shining on adoption to discuss the trauma of being adopted. Some adoptees prefer to share what they feel are the positive things and people being adopted brought them. Every adoptee has a different story to tell but maybe the greatest relief is knowing there are others out there with the same experiences, that we are not alone. Less than 10 days left in this year’s adoption awareness month.
Mardi Link writes in the Traverse City Record Eagle on Nov 20 2022 – LINK> Happy National Adoption Month – “Being adopted isn’t just for babies, it doesn’t last for a single month and the brief burst of celebratory attention lavished on an institution designed to ‘save’ people like me feels jarring.”
She acknowledges – The press releases, celebrity baby adoption photo spreads and international infant rescue stories leave no space to narrate the lifelong complexity of a system which often provides adoptees with no agency over their own lives. For example, I’ve been on a 30-year mission to obtain every page of my medical, adoption, foster care and genealogical records. I’ve had some success at this mostly because I haven’t stopped asking after being told no.
Mardi notes – As a baby, I spent months in foster care before I was adopted. Somewhere, there are records and I want them. They’re mine. If National Adoption Month was really meant to raise awareness about the lifelong requirements of adoptees, the folks behind this celebration would have developed a mechanism for us to use to access our records.
She affirms – We’re also not going away. I’m still filing Freedom of Information Act requests on myself and I’m still writing polite letters. We have to be polite — we can’t ever appear angry or even conflicted about a system everyone else seems to celebrate.
This is the kind of reality that is an every day occurrence for adoptees – Last month, an Michigan Department of Health and Human Services adoption analyst responded to my latest inquiry with a copy of a typed telephone message delivered to the Children’s Aid Society in December of 1961. “Booth hospital telephoned to report Patricia delivered a baby girl at 8:15 a.m. Birth weight six pounds and seven ounces.” That baby was me. Until last month, I didn’t know what time I was born or what my birthweight was.
In my going nowhere efforts with the state of Virginia where my adoptee mom was born, that is the kind of information I would have liked to have received – the hospital’s name, the time my mom was mom, what she weighed. But alas, no. Not without a court order and that means an expensive legal representative and no guarantee of success. Sometimes, we just have to let some details be unresolved. Like why my grandfather abandoned my grandmother and baby mom. Like why my grandmother was sent away from her family in Tennessee to Virginia to give birth to my mom. When she left Tennessee and when she arrived in Virginia. Where she went to wait out her pregnancy until my mom was born. All I can do is make up stories.
Mardi ends her article with Happy National Adoption month. I question whether happy is the right word to attach to it – unless you are an adoptive parent who got what they wanted – someone else’s baby.