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Friday, July 29, 2011

Scandal-paralysis

First photos after I was adopted in Wisconsin
By Trace A. DeMeyer
I coined this phrase today relating to adoptees whose mothers refuse to meet them or tell anyone “the adoptee” exists. In my own first family, my mother Helen did not want contact with me and had what I call “scandal-paralysis.” She imagined the truth about me (and my birth) would cause such an uproar, disrupt her life and require hours of explanation, she refused to meet me. This is what I assume. I was 22 when I opened my adoption file and Helen was 22 when she made the decision to abandon me to total strangers.
After I met with a judge and got my name, I did find her, but she refused to return my call. So I wrote to her and she sent me back an unsigned letter stating if her husband found out – it could end their marriage. So, I was stuck. I wanted to respect her wishes but wait, I have a father and possibly siblings. How would I ever find out who they are if she refused to talk to me? I was illegitimate. My dad was not named in my adoption papers.
Had Helen ever considered that I might meet a brother and date him? Or I might have a child who might date a blood relative? Come on, this could happen. Twins were married in England and when they found out they were twins, they were granted an annulment of their marriage.
I can hardly believe that heredity and genetics was never a concern for the women who gave birth to us and left us without a clue as to who we are! That is more of the scandal in my mind. I used to worry and have my own scandal-paralysis about this when I was in my 20s – who was related to me, and what if I met and dated someone from my blood family. In Indian Country, you never marry into the same clan. They knew long before science the dangers and wonders of genetics.
My birthmother was extremely selfish to withhold what was mine. I needed my identity, period. In her mind, my finding her and disrupting her life and lies was the worst that could happen. Well, it happened, I found her. It didn’t end her marriage.
Long story short, I wrote again and demanded the name of my father. She obliged. I met my dad, we did DNA and the rest of my journey is in my memoir “One Small Sacrifice.”
As far as why we need open adoption records and our original birth certificates, this reason “heredity” alone should suffice. Every adoptee has a host of relatives. Don’t they deserve the chance to meet us? Don’t we adoptees deserve to meet them? Don’t future generations need to know their heredity, too?

3 comments:

  1. Thanks Trace.

    As a male adoptee having a particular phenotype, I have avoided, despite my attraction to, women who might (to the extent physical characteristics would be identifying) possibly be related to me by way of genetic ties; I do know I have at least one half-brother out there someplace and so a half or full sister is not entirely out of the question. My recent work on an MA lead to my discovering a number of unsettling facts about this nation-state's interest in eugenics/dysgenics and cultural dominance/control.

    I, for one, am not the least bit happy about 'sealed records'.

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  2. As a mother I hate the sealed records. It is not my right to keep any identifying family information from any of my children or the generations to come. My children's relationship with each other, their aunts, uncles, cousins, and grandparents have nothing at all to do with me. They have to forge those relationships on their own, I can help them but I do not have a right to demand that they do or do not have any type of relationship.
    In my opinion I have to watch out for and protect my children from harmful relationships (ie pedophiles, murders, and those relatives that are in jail). My oldest daughter's father is in jail, I warned her about what I knew about him but she has a right for a relationship with him and to get to know his family. Not all of his family are bad, some are very good, caring, loving people.

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  3. Knowing birth information is much more than who we or our children form relationships with.It is about our genetic inheritance, our medical history, our ancestry and about our identity.Nothing ever replaces or makes up for the loss of that information.Von

    ReplyDelete

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