I have written about being adopted a few times before. Most recently, I wrote a tldr synposis about the finding of my original self and learning who my natural parents are. At the time, I was fairly new into what they call the “reunion” process, and there was a lot of players I hadn’t met and information I didn’t know. I know a lot now. As Little Red Riding said so well, “Isn’t it nice to know a lot? And a little bit not.”
The pandemic really interrupted my quest to discover the whereabouts of my natural father but my natural mother’s family did their damnedest to muddle things too. I suspect my Uncle and his wife are the not the out of the loop bystanders in the drama that led to my being relinquished that they claim to be and getting my dad’s name out of them was a months long odyessey that did not endear them to me at all.
In the end, it was good old Facebook that revealed my paternal family to me thanks to a group started by the peer group my mom grew up and went to school with. I joined the group hoping to find someone who knew her but ended up discovering someone who knew my dad through the motorcycle clubs that flourished in the early 60s in their hometown. I would remark to my dad later that their teenage years sounded a lot like the move, American Graffitti, and he replied, “It really kind of was.”
I saw a post about motorcycles and I knew my dad was very into motorcycles around the time of my birth because it was one of the “non-identifying” pieces of information they adoption agency shared with me when I contacted them. When I saw his name pop up in a conversation about the motorcycle clubs, I reached out to the gentleman who had posted the information.
And here is where fate intervened. The gentleman told me that his neighbour was my bio dad’s younger brother, and he would be happy to contact my uncle and have him contact my dad.
My dad’s reply was less than an auspicious start to what would become a relationship of sorts. He told his brother that my mother “had other boyfriends” and that I could easily be someone else’s child too.
So I thought, “well fuck you too, dad” and let it go. I knew he was my dad. I had no proof at that point but I am a very good researcher. All roads led to him. And then I let it go until about a year later when my nephew by my dad’s daughter from his first marriage turned up as a match on Ancestry. I knew who the young man was instantly. Most people (even now) don’t understand how easily Facebook can be used to track them down. I knew all my siblings’ names, where they lived, and even had pictures. A guest on the podcast The Making of Me, said recently that adoption research makes adoptees really good stalkers, and she isn’t terribly wrong.
As soon as my half-sister’s son turned up, I sent him a message and explained how we were related, and then I sat back and waited. It didn’t take my nephew long to contact his mother who went to the brothers who then confronted our dad. Dad folded like a chair.
My youngest half-brother acted as intermediary between us for several months but eventually, I got tired of waiting on Dad and sent him an email. In the email, I was pretty blunt and basically guilted him into initial contact. I regret nothing about doing that. The way I see it, he owed me. The same way my adoptive parents owed me the truth but withheld it anyway. The same way my mother owed me the bare minimum courtesy of reaching out to me when I became an adult and searches were possible through the agency I was placed with.
Searching shouldn’t be difficult. The onus should not be on the adoptee. We are genuinely the victims, if that’s even the right word, in this whole scenario. We didn’t ask to exist, be born, or traded like a commodity. We have a right to the basic information about how we came into the world and where we came from that is the same as those who are kept by their natural parents. Denying people their origins and heritage is criminal. I’ll never be convinced otherwise.
Do I know everything now? No. My maternal Uncle and his wife continue to evade when they aren’t straight up lying about the circumstances that led to my mother being exiled to a Catholic Charities home for unwed mothers. My dad is cagey about what he knew about my existence and when he knew it. The social worker in charge of post adoption searches at Catholic Charities literally has the whole story in a file that can’t give to me and it’s frustrating for both of us, but she has confirmed many things I have discovered through my persistence and my willingness to ask question and let people talk until they trip themselves up with facts.
One thing I have learned for certain though is I still have no real family aside from the one I have created myself. I have detached near completely from the adoptive substitute heritage adoption gave me to replace the one that was legally stolen from me but I have no personal attachment to the history I am learning because the people (though I look like them) are strangers I never met. My grandparents are dead. Aunts and uncles are mostly dead. My cousins and siblings are strangers I have no lived experiences growing up with. I am keenly aware that the “home” I was searching for was destroyed by my adoption. There is no way to build it again because it never got the chance to exist.
An adopted family is like the set of a family sitcom. It looks real until the camera rolls back and reveals it’s all a very clever illusion.