Well, it has been about a month now since I opened my adoption records with my husband and my parents. Since then, I was able to talk with some family and friends about the findings of everything that was in my record and it’s been very interesting just thinking about everything that was in my files. I took a few weeks to process everything with my adoption and to study up for my grad school interview– I had my interview a couple of weeks ago and I got in! I’ll be starting grad school in the fall in Sacramento (I’ll be working on my Ed.S. in School Psychology). And yes, that’s the other news! Chris and I are moving to the Sacramento area this summer to be near family! So, besides not having an internet connection for the last week, Chris and I have been very busy!
Chris and I had a whirlwind weekend but everything ended up better than I could have ever planned because I got to see almost all of my family that weekend. Chris and I went to Sacramento that weekend to celebrate his grandfather’s 80th birthday, we took family pictures with Chris’ parents and siblings, and we got to see his aunt and uncle from out-of-state. Then, Chris and I drove home and picked my parents up at the airport because we were going to a funeral for my “aunt” Sally, which was sad, but also a great celebration of her life. But, we were able to see some family members on my side and longtime family friends. It couldn’t have been a better time for me in my life to open my records because I was surrounded by family the entire weekend.
Well, for the actual opening of the records, it was just me, my mom, my dad, and my husband. Before opening the file, my dad led us in prayer, asking God to continue to give us wisdom and peace in the situation and so show us His hand and His love through this– and He did. I thanked each one of them for being open on this journey and for being there for me. My husband replied, “We are the three people who have chosen to be with you for our whole lives. It’s the right thing for us to do this with you and we are glad to be here with you.”
And then, we opened the envelope. Inside, there were maybe 30 pages of documents. The first page was a summary of the contents. Next, was a short summary of my birth mother’s social history, followed by information on her parents. There were copies of some handwritten documents, most likely filled out by the case worker, and then a health inventory.
So, in case you were curious, here’s basically what we found out: my birth mother was a teenager when she got pregnant. She came to the agency with her parents when she was 26 weeks pregnant and this was her first pregnancy. The adoption agency called her Sam, but her full, legal name was withheld from me for confidentiality reasons. She was 17 when she got pregnant and 18 when I was born. Her family was aware of the pregnancy and was a part of the adoption process; however, Sam did not give any information about my birth father and did not indicate that he knew about her pregnancy. There was very minimal information beyond that because of the language barrier, but there was a bit more information about my birth mother and her parents.
One of the things I had most wanted from doing this was information on my birth parents’ health and that was in there. My birth mother had been very healthy overall and had been in the US for at least a number of years, so it is most likely that she would have been in the US long enough to have detected any major health issues. The only thing in the health inventory that was marked as a problem was that she had really bad hay fever. That was really exciting for me. I’ve never had anything that I knew I shared with a biological relative– for example, my husband looks so much like my father-in-law. They have similar facial features, similar facial expressions, all of that. And so often, people will say to other people, “Oh, you look so much like your dad or mom…” For me, I’ve never had anything that was certain that was from my birth mother. And now, I have hay fever like my birth mother! I have to say, I have never been so excited to have allergies as I am now. As silly as it may sound, I actually have a little joy over the fact that I have allergies because I know that I got it from my birth mother. But besides that, I must take after my birth father because my birth mother was 5’0″ and very petite– I think I would have passed her by sixth grade.
Some of the other random information about my birth mother was that she was 100% Laotian, she was on her high school basketball team (at 5’0″ tall??), she enjoyed reading and knitting, and she enjoyed studying science, math, and English and her least favorite subject in school was government. My birth mother and her family were a part of the Church of Christ and had wished for me to be in a family that valued education and was Christian, specifically part of the Church of Christ. My dad said to that, “Well… she got the Christ part of that and the Church part of that, so that’s good enough.” She had hoped to one day go to college and to be a nurse. The report stated that Sam seemed very much in control of her emotions and rarely showed emotions about me but was making the decision based on the fact that she was not ready to have a baby at the time and take on the responsibility nor did she wish to have her parents take on the responsibility of raising me.
Well, I didn’t cry through any of the information about my birth mother. I was excited to see what was in the record and I was happy with what was in there, but to be completely honest, I was a little disappointed that there wasn’t more information and that there was nothing on my birth father. It isn’t that I wish I had been with her or that my birth father hadn’t raised me, because I love my life, I am so thankful I was raised with my mom and dad and how I was raised. In fact, I’m really grateful that I didn’t grow up with them because I know I’ve been given so many opportunities that I know I never would have had, had been with my birth parents. I was disappointed that there wasn’t more information. I don’t know really what other information I would have wanted to know, but I was disappointed that there wasn’t more or that there wasn’t anything at all about my birth father. Even if she never told my birth father about me, I would like to have known just some basic information, like if he had good health, if he was tall, what ethnicity he was, or something. But, that’s ok… it is what it is.
Then, we got to the part of my records that made me cry. I’m sure if you know my family well, you know what part that is. My mom and dad had been required to write to the adoption agency periodically during my first few years of life about me and how we were all doing as a family. Even now as I write about everything that was in there, I start to tear up– and I’m not the type of person who cries easily. My mom and dad really loved me (and of course they still do), but it was so evident with their words to the adoption agency about how much they loved me. Whenever I re-read what they wrote, I just feel God’s unconditional love pour through them. My parents mirrored Christ’s love to me from the very beginning. When I read what they wrote it’s as if I can see them holding me as a baby and just pouring love out to me. It’s one of the most amazing feelings ever and by far the best part of opening my records.
Through this initial process, it has been great to get at least half of my medical history and that’s something I really appreciate, especially when I think about our future kids and having some of the background for them. And it has been really interesting to find out a little bit about my birth mother and her family. But the best thing so far in this process has been the reminder that God had [and still does have] a plan for my life from the very beginning. Not to get too political, but I really do believe life begins at conception and to me, for my personal belief on that, I feel like my story really brings that belief to life for me. I believe God was protecting me when my birth mother got pregnant. It could have been so easy for my birth mother to just terminate her pregnancy and move on with her life without her family ever knowing she was pregnant. But together, my birth mother and her family protected me. They gave me a chance to have life when they didn’t have to, which is exactly what I believe God did for us. In the same way my mom and dad demonstrate Christ’s love for me, my birth mother and her family did so as well by giving me a chance for life and seeing that through this process has been one of the best blessings of my life.
So what’s next? Well, I will be placing my name on the registry list, meaning that I will state that I am open for communication and should someone from my birth parents’ side ever be interested in communication, we will then be matched up and will be able to go through that process. This has been delayed for two reasons: I wanted to first see what was in my files and second, Buckner’s clerical team at times needed prompting in order to complete tasks in a timely fashion and I just don’t have time for that right now as Chris and I are in the process of moving and buying a home. In the meantime, I have decided to do a DNA test through ancestry.com in order to find out what ethnicity I am. The DNA test is purely out of my own curiosity to find out my ethnic background; I am not using this as a tool to find members of my genetic family. I usually get asked what ethnicity I am by strangers about once a week on average and I think it would be very interesting to really know what ethnicity I am.
So, those are the results. I’m truly blessed that so many of you have been a part of this journey with me. My life has always been an open book and it has been a real blessing to be able to be so open about this whole process with all of you. Thank you!