Monday, January 19, 2015

A Response to Shaaren Pine's Washington Post Article from an Adoptee Five Years in Reunion

To the Adoptive Parents who responded with disrespect and judgment to Shaaren Pine’s Washington Post Article last week, I dedicate my 5-year Adoption Reunion Anniversary post to you. I also created a quote that I pray you read over and over again as you parent your adopted children.

“Just as parents have a heart for each of their children, an adopted child has a heart for each of their families.” – Lynn Steinberg, Contributor at Lost Daughters.

I was the happy kid (I still am, by the way). I was grateful to be adopted. I NEVER asked about finding my Birth Mother. My parents were my best friends (they still are, by the way). It didn’t matter where I came from. I was born in my Mom’s heart. It was God’s plan to protect me from a "woman who could not care for me", and place me in the open arms of my capable parents. A life without knowing my roots WOULD be a full life. I was German like my adoptive Father. I was Czechoslovakian like my adoptive Mother. Who my Birth family was and why they placed me up for adoption did NOT matter. I had a family now that wanted me and that is ALL that mattered.

For 35 years, I molded myself into the adoptee that adoptive parents, neighbors, friends, and American culture were comfortable with. It was never about me. It was about people like YOU who left those REALLY self-serving and mean messages to Shaaren Pine. Just to clarify, I am not angry at all that I was adopted. However, I am very angry about your comments. It is your comments that keep so many adoptees from speaking their truths. It is your comments that keep many of us from going to our parents when we need help. It is your comments that turn so many adoptees to drugs, alcohol and suicide. 

My main job at the Lost Daughters is to share my deeply personal journal entries with you leading up and during my adoption reunion. I thought that this entry dated 12/15/09 was appropriate as today is my 5-year Adoption Reunion Anniversary. I was 35 years old at the time. You will notice that my journal entry does not match the adoptee image I had been portraying my entire life. 

Dear Temmy,

I wrote you last week explaining to you who I was. It seemed perfect at the time. Well written, poised, mature, diplomatic – all the things I pride myself on being. It felt so right. I sent it off to the investigator confident in what I wrote and assured that your reaction would be positive. I said what I was supposed to say. 

Some time has passed and emotions are creeping up. I can’t sleep. I am having vivid and disturbing dreams about our reunion. I had two panic attacks last week. One of them sent me to the emergency room.  I cannot believe I am at this point in life – I NEVER thought I would look for you. I guess I wished you had looked for me. Do you know how hard it is for an adoptee to actually say they want to search? We don’t exactly get support. It would have been nice for you to do that. Although, I don’t know what I would have done if you searched for me. I probably would not have the support I have now. Who knows?

I am not prepared for the emotions I am experiencing. They are boiling inside of me – they are uncontrollable. I feel like an entire part of my heart and soul is remembering you, but you will probably reject me. Chances are you WILL reject me. You already did no matter how you spin it.  I thought I could handle that, but guess what? I can’t handle it. I could externally. I am an expert at that as an adopted child, but internally I would start to die. I would have to relive the last 35 years without you all over again. But this time it would be deep and palpable pain, instead of a slow bleed over many years. 

I have tried to make a joke out of you. I admit to marginalizing you in my mind. You must be a very poor IHOP waitress with a scratchy voice – too many years of chain smoking and hard financial times have taken their toll. Since you couldn’t take care of me, you must live in a trailer park with a few chickens and a beat up car that you can’t even afford to drive. The truth is, these things only make me love you more. These things only make my heart ache for the life you may have lived if you had support after my adoption. I doubt you did. When I was born there was little support for Birthmothers. Maybe you are rich. Maybe you are selfish. Either way, I want to know you.

I have to admit that I would like to meet you and have the perfect bond. The natural attachment I feel with my oldest daughter. Like we breathe the same air and think the same thoughts. If we connect like this will the effort be less? Will the pain be less? 

How am I going to admit that I have two Moms? I have a Mother. I don’t need you. That is what I have said my entire life and people like to hear that answer. My Mother has been so supportive of me trying to find you. It is very unfair. In my mind, you were the ONLY reason I could not fully connect to her like I have connected to my daughters. She does not know that.  I wonder if she feels the same way? Did she sense my loss? She and I ARE best friends, but knowing you would have made us closer. I know it. If only we could have talked about you. Maybe our relationship would be perfect. Maybe I would not have to do this now – alone. 

My Mother is my best friend in the world, not a day goes by where we don’t talk.  Why do I even need you? The truth is I do need you. We both need you. My adoption is about the three of us. This can only work if we are all happy and we all know each other and love one another. How will I even achieve this? I know my Mom can love you, but can you truly love us? I really hope so Temmy. I really want you to love us. I really hope that you have always loved me. Could you love her? Will you resent her? Will you be jealous of her? What if she is jealous of you? Will she like you? I cannot worry about that – but I am. That is also not fair. 

My heart could break this week. A really, really BIG broken heart. Not getting dumped, not losing a friend, but losing a Mother – again. I could learn that you never really wanted me. Maybe you were promiscuous. Maybe you got pregnant and tossed me aside. Maybe I am not the only child who you placed for adoption? Maybe your parents talked you into this. Maybe they were ashamed of you for getting pregnant.  Maybe they forced this on you. If this is the case, I need to know. I still need to know even if I meant nothing to you. I need to know whatever the case may be. 

How will I get through this? I am lucky to be able to afford the right books, the right therapist, and to have a supportive husband. I’d imagine most adoptees don’t have what I have. Most people don’t have what I have - that is for sure. What if these panic attacks continue? I wonder if you get panic attacks. They are AWFUL. I am simply dying inside and I don’t anticipate this getting any easier. 

So, for now it is day by day for me. I am trying to stay busy and trying not to dwell on the future or how you will handle receiving my letter. But, it is consuming me and I am fully aware that the part of me that was cut off from you 35 years ago is growing back. I am 100% in love with the one detail I have about you – your name. Your name is the only thing I know about you and it took 35 years to get it. What a shame that is for both of us. What if you don’t love hearing my name? How do you ever get over the loss of your own Mother? I am not sure you ever do.



Adoptees can be HAPPY and still acknowledge that adoption is a lifelong trauma. Adoptees CAN love their adoptive parents inside and out, fully and wholly, but still want to know their roots, even if those roots cause us further pain. We have been through something that most people have not. We were unwillingly taken from our Mother’s arms for various reasons at various ages. We are stronger than you can ever imagine and we can handle anything if given support from the moment we enter your homes. Don't wait for us to tell you we need help. Most of us won't do that. 

Me and My Mothers in 2009. A day I never dreamed could happen, but it did.

Lynn Steinberg is an adult adoptee from Chapel Hill, North Carolina. Lynn was adopted in Ohio in 1975 and raised by her parents on Long Island, New York along with her older brother who was also adopted. Her adoption was closed and Lynn’s adoptive parents knew nothing about her Birth Family or story leading up to her relinquishment. At the age of 35, after having two biological children, Lynn and her husband Michael adopted a baby girl from Ethiopia. It was the adoption of her daughter that ignited an innate interest in searching for her Birth Mother. In 2009, Lynn found her Birth Mother and half-siblings with the help of a Private Investigator. Upon reunion, she discovered that her existence had been kept a secret from her siblings by her Birth Mother for 35 years. With that said, Lynn was joyously accepted by her Birth Mother and siblings, but continually struggles with her identity and comfort level within her Birth Family. She feels there is a lack of support and resources for adult adoptees once the initial reunion is complete and hopes to act as a source of support what she calls, “The Reunion after the Reunion.”