Thursday, April 16, 2015
1. Knowing what your parents look like:
Depending on the state the adoption took place, adoptees in the United States may get a very short description of their parents from the date of their adoption....if they're lucky.
I have an entire documented seven sentences worth of "unidentifying" information about each my biological parents.
2. Stories about your parents or birth:
How many times has someone in your family held you or another person hostage repeating the story about how your parents met or the day you were born? Maybe you've heard these stories so many times they've become an annoyance.
The only detail I have of my birth is that it was via cesarean section. I don't even know the name of the hospital.
I also do not know the nature of my biological parents' relationship. Were they in love? Maybe. Did they get totally wasted, and make some bad decisions? It's possible.
I have only assumptions based on the knowledge that my bio father was present for the adoption proceedings and the spot-check "memories" of my second parents.
3. Looking like a member of your family:
I don't look like anyone in my family.
4. Understanding of why you look they way you do:
Even though you may not always appreciate being told you have your grandfather's nose, it's still pretty cool to know exactly where it came from. I have no idea if I look like my mother, my father, or the gorgeous mailman.
Each of my children look completely different, and I would LOVE to be able to match their physical characteristics to a family connection.
Honestly, I would settle for family connection of any kind.
5. Knowing exactly how old you are - a confirmed birth date:
Who would ever think about having an accurate birth date as a privilege?
It is quite possible that the date on my birth certificate was altered to protect my birth parents' privacy. This was apparently common practice in private adoptions years ago.
Many adoptees have no idea exactly they were born.
Can you imagine?
6. Knowing WHO you are:
If you are not privately adopted, it has most likely never occurred to you how lucky you are to know what your name is.
My original birth certificate, with my first given name, was impounded when I was adopted, and I was given a whole new one. Not only does the person I was no longer exist, I do not have any right to information about her (me).
Granted, the name on that certificate has very little to do with who I am today, but it saddens me that a piece of my past might be living in a file cabinet somewhere in an abandoned warehouse.
7. Filling out those pesky medical forms:
What a pain in the balls, right? So many medical forms to fill out in a lifetime, and how redundant can filling out your medical history feel? I wouldn't know. I get to write "UNKNOWN, ADOPTED" across that entire section. Thanks to the one of the seven sentences about my birth mother, I know that she was allergic to pollen and dust. That's the gist of my extensive medical history.
Allergies: Pollen and Dust
The rest has been by trial and error. I don't know what chronic or fatal illnesses "run" in my family, other than what I have. Aside from screening myself for literally everything, I have no idea what to protect myself or my children from.
I am my oldest, living relative.
8. Having an idea of what to expect from your body as you age:
Whether you look at your parents and grandparents and get super happy or terribly disappointed about what your future might look like, you have a window. You may know exactly what you will look like someday, thanks to the genes your family wear. You need to nothing more than to look around.
Adoptees have no window.
I would give anything to experience the terrible disappointment associated with knowing I might look like a stretch-marked, wrinkly old pear when I'm eighty.
If you are not adopted, or if it was not through private adoption, you may never have to ask yourself questions without answers. I hope this will help you feel a little bit better about the answers you do have access to, even if you don't always appreciate them.