Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Internet Password Security Questions and Adoption

I have many accounts that require passwords for online access: bank, credit cards, Amazon, e-bay, multiple e-mail addresses, work account, car insurance, cell phone, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Ravelry, etc. Each has its own rules about required letters, numbers, special characters. Although I keep each password saved in an encrypted program on my computer (a program that also requires a password), sometimes I forget to save it there or update it when a password is changed. Then comes the moment of truth…

Security questions!

Inevitably, the pre-set options for security clues are family-centric, which should be no-brainers for most people.

"What is your mother's maiden name?"
I always have to double check with myself: did I set this using the name of my birth mother, or my adoptive mother?

"What is your father's middle name?"
This is an easy one, because my birth father does not have a middle name, but still I hesitate for a breath and think, which father? 

Even the innocuous "in what city were you born?" makes me think, however briefly, about my birth circumstances.

(It also makes me think that if I ever publish this memoir I've been working on, I'll need to be aware of those little biographical details that might slip into the story and possibly make my online "self" less secure.)

A small thing, not sad or distressing, just one of those quiet everyday moments that reminds me, in a whisper, of my extraordinary family tree.

In a way, it was strangely easier all those years when I didn't know much of anything about my biological background. It was a no-brainer to set my security questions. However, I wouldn't trade my knowing for anything in the world. Most adoptees I've met would agree. A mother's name, her birthplace, a father's middle name--call them small details if you want, but everyone should have the chance to know those answers. For they are not just the details of the people involved in our lives--giving us birth and/or raising us--they are the details of our own selves, too.