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When There's No One to Consent

I stumbled upon an excellent video entitled Birth Parent Privacy in Connecticut today. The CT laws are very similar to those in Michigan and other states which require the written consent of the birth parents in order to disclose any identifying information to adoptees. If a birth parent has died, Connecticut and Michigan will also provide identifying information, but when you don't know who your birth parents are, how can you prove they've died? This is impossible for foundlings who, most often, have no identifying information to protect or disclose. The proposal in Connecticut is a good one for the adoptee who has identifying information - one or more known birth parents, but it does nothing for the foundling or the biological parents of a foundling. It's a fairly short presentation that is well-done, and directly addresses some of the topics I introduced in previous posts.

My previous posts have considered the perspectives of biological parents and adoptive parents as well as some of the many resources used by adoptees and foundlings. Today, I'm switching gears to begin the long discussion from the perspective of the children. While I cant' speak for all of us, I'll do my best to be fair and I apologize in advance for any generalizations which the reader finds objectionable. I certainly welcome your feedback and contribution to a dialog on this subject.

So, you're adopted. Congratulations! Somebody wanted you. Whether they were really good at it or flat-out terrible, they probably went into it with the best of intentions. I think the search for meaning and belonging is universal and not limited to adoptees and foundlings. Biological siblings play that "you were adopted" game to get under one another's skin, but when family members really know that you're adopted, you miss out on that kind of "fun." If you wonder, "Did my mom and dad love each other?", "Was I an accident?", "How do I fit into my larger, extended family?" you're not alone. You may be unique and special, but not in this particular way. Plenty of kids who know their biological parents' identities struggle with the same questions at one time or another. And this has nothing to do with how well their parents love them. There are probably as many fantastic adoptive parents as there are terrific biological parents. Neither side has the market cornered on horrible parenting, either. If this sounds obvious, consider yourself fortunate because many adoptees, foster children, and foundlings struggle with this truth mightily.

Some who are lavished with great love and care can't help wondering, "Is there a family out there that looks more like me?" Many whose adoptive families struggle with economic, heath, violence, or abuse can't help wondering if they would not have been better off with their biological families - never considering that the odds are equally likely that they could have fared even worse. To my fellow foundlings and adoptees, as one who has found his truth and filled in all the blanks, I encourage you to prepare yourself for the journey. By all means, seek your truth. It is getting easier and cheaper every day to dispel the fog of secrecy that has clouded your past. But, be honest with yourself about the possibilities before you go knocking on doors, ringing phones, and broadcasting on social media. Accept that no matter what your situation has been, what you find may be far more disappointing that you imagine. If you prepare for the very worst outcome, in my opinion, you will not be disappointed because everything else is an improvement.

Get Connected

How should you prepare for this? Get connected! Connect with friends, build a network of like-minded searchers, read their blogs and join their Facebook groups to learn from their experiences. Do this before you take DNA tests, before you spend all weekend in a courthouse or public records pit. Get connected with your real family - the ones who raised you and loved you. If you don't feel you can share your search with your parents, maybe there's a sibling, cousin, aunt or uncle who will empathize and be that shoulder to lean on no matter what you find. Some adoptive family members aren't ready for the roller-coaster ride you're about to embark upon. Don't hold that against them. They love you - maybe they've poured every ounce of themselves into you - and they're not too keen about seeing you chase down people who, they feel, don't deserve you. It may be hard for them to understand that empty spot within you that only the truth can fill. They may feel as though you're trying to replace them, and they may not understand that you're not looking for new parents - you're just looking for old answers. Get connected with your faith. Your spiritual leaders and mentors should be a part of this army you are building. Get connected with all of the people who care about you - no matter how large or small that number - and make your faith the foundation of your search. When you approach it from love - making the object of your search the beneficiary (rather than yourself) you'll be a blessing to them and you will be blessed in return.

Are you thinking of beginning a search? Have you already begun? Leave a comment and share your perspective with me. I'd love to understand where you've come from, where you're headed and how you're planning to get there. If you'd like to be notified when the next post is published, add your name to my mailing list by entering it in the box on the right. I look forward to hearing from you. Thanks for stopping by.

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