Monday, December 15, 2014

I Am Adopted | No More Tears This Christmas

Creative Commons Playing With the Lights by Alper Orus is licensed under CC 2.0

At some point we all experience the holiday blues no matter who we are, whether it was a break up, a divorce, or a death in the family. But specifically for adopted children, the holiday blues are about missing a child's birth family, rejection, and celebrating a day that is not always so "merry" for everyone. There is nothing worse than being forced to jingle bells when you have the weight of Santa's sleigh on your shoulders.

Every year around Christmas time I would cry myself to sleep every night praying to God that He would reunite me with my birth family for Christmas. I was unlike every other child that asked for clothes, shoes, and electronics for Christmas. I asked for my birth family. It was all I would think about during the holidays. Seeing Christmas decorations or hearing Christmas carols used to send me in a downward spiral of depression at an instant. I refrained from going to stores as much as possible in fear that I would have a meltdown and people would think I was crazy. I remember working the 1st shift at a retail store years ago, and I was in charge of designing the holiday layout that consisted of Christmas trees, animated reindeers and snowmen, and of course an entire section of nativity sets. I felt as if I was being tortured! All I could think of was what did I do to deserve this. I was good all year. Why was I of all people being forced to carry out this job? If only they knew what Christmas did to me or the effects that the holidays has on some adoptees. 

It was 4am, the store was closed, and I was alone looking at the nativity sets and staring at baby Jesus in the manger surrounded by Mary, Joseph, angels, and shepherds. What a glorious moment it must have been when Jesus was born. Every year at church they make a huge deal about this little baby Jesus. His birth was EVERYTHING. How important He was. In that moment in between the aisles, I began to cry in the store and ask myself why wasn't it such a glorious day when I was born? Why wasn't I important enough to my birth mother to keep me? Where were the angels and people in the community to tell my mom how blessed she was that I was born?  

There were no silent nights or sleeping in peace during the holidays. I wanted and needed the holidays to pass on quickly. I didn't want to be the Grinch every year. It hurt me that I couldn't bring myself to celebrate the holidays. I wanted so badly to be happy and celebrate with my adoptive family and friends. I had no control over my feelings. The loss of ones birth family or rejection are feelings that are almost impossible to shake. I concluded that I would not celebrate Christmas ever again until I found my birth family. I thought then I would have found the joy in my own world again. I was wrong though. 

I reunited with my birth family two years ago, and I kept my promise to myself that I would begin to celebrate Christmas. I bought everyone I knew Christmas gifts. I tried to create the perfect Christmas story. However, what I found was that it was even more painful. Those same Christmas songs that made me cry years ago would still trigger childhood memories of rejection and loss. I would open gifts on Christmas day and I was still sad. I would go back into my room and cry myself to sleep. I thought to myself I was going to have to live with this pain forever. I will never feel that Christmas spirit that I know many people feel when they get excited that Starbucks has the Peppermint Lattes back in stock for the holidays, or when people become excited to finally put up Christmas decorations at home and at work. I wanted to be that person badly. I did not want to be the Grinch anymore. I did not want to put on that fake smile for everyone like I was okay. I simply wanted to be jolly. 

Earlier this week I was at Starbucks sipping on my Cranberry Bliss White Mocha latte, a holidays flavor in Japan. You should try it if it is at your Starbucks! I caught myself jamming out to the Christmas songs they were playing. I mean, I was going all in -  bobbing my head, singing, and before I knew it, I threw my arms up as I got into the song. I could not believe not a tear fell out of my eye!

Sweet baby Jesus! Was I possessed? This couldn't possibly be me. Normally I would run out of any place that was playing Christmas songs in tears. I sat there for a little while longer sipping my latte and listening to the songs as I looked out the window and stared at families playing around outside. I had the biggest smile on my face. I began to realize many things about myself and both my adoptive and birth family in that moment. Yes, I was abandoned as a baby, but I am still worthy of love and having a family. Yes, I was born on purpose with a purpose no matter my beginnings. I cannot allow the decision of my birth mother or anybody else to dictate or steal my joy. I have spent too many years allowing the Grinch to steal my Christmas.

I allowed the decisions of others to make me a prisoner in my own body for years refusing to celebrate the holidays and even my own birth. This holiday season, I owe it to myself to celebrate family. Family being those that love me, accept me, raised me, and made me the woman I am today. I celebrate my adoptive mom and my sister for they have always loved me. I celebrate being in reunion with my birth family as challenging as it STILL is; I am still grateful for reunion and the gift it is. I celebrate all of you for I am blessed to have your support and love daily. I celebrate the fact that my life will never be perfect. I have suffered loss and trauma from adoption, but it will never define my life. I cannot change the past, however, I can choose my future. I choose to celebrate.

If you are struggling through the holiday season, I understand your pain. I do. I encourage you to read, How to Cope With the Holiday Blues a post I created to remind me that I will get through the holiday season. I believe you will too.

Define your joy this Holiday season. Jingle your bells! You have so much to celebrate this holiday season! Look how far you have come this year. It is not about everyone else. It is about you. Find a reason to celebrate this season and CELEBRATE!

Love you all! Thank you for all for being a gift in my life xoxo






Monday, December 8, 2014

The Ultimate Gift Guide for Adopted Children and Adults


Looking for the perfect gift for an adoptee this holidays season? Check out The Not So Secret Life of An Adoptee gift guide.


The holidays are never easy for adopted children. They can serve as a constant reminder of loss or rejection for adoptees as families reunite during the holidays. This makes gift giving a difficult time especially if all your child's wants is for Santa to bring back his or her birth family. I remember those days. One of the best ways to improve the holiday spirit in your home is to acknowledge the loss your child is feeling and honoring your child's birth family. Give the gift of peace, love, and understanding this holiday season through these gift ideas.

Journal 

Writing has been the best release I have had thus far on my adoption journey. So many thoughts have run through my mind that I had to just get them down on paper to release them from my heart because I felt like I could not talk to anyone. I wish I had a journal to write my thoughts in instead of loose leaf paper that are probably scattered through the earth and landfills. I would love to be able to go back and reflect through my journal on the things I been through to see how much I have overcome, grown, and discovered about myself.

Books by Adoptees

Books written by adoptees or for adoptees make wonderful gifts. Why? Because there is no one that understand an adoptee like an adoptee. There have been books published that help adoptees cope and heal with trauma, identity, self-discovery, memoirs, and so much more. No stocking is complete without a book :)

My favorite book this holiday season is Worthy To Be Found.


Kindle or e-reader

Kindles makes reading more fun, and some how I feel like I finish books much faster on my Kindle than if I read a paperback book. One of the best features about the Kindle is that adoptees can buy books for the low. You can save so much money on buying Kindle books over paperback books. Now that there are many adoptees publishing books these days, a Kindle would make a perfect gift as a way for adoptees to read books by fellow adoptees.

Checkout Amazon's daily deals on Kindles


Camera

Cameras are always an awesome gift, but to an adoptee there is something about looking through a lens. Adoptees can use photography as a form of healing. A few years ago, I participated in an adoption healing workshop that required us to have a camera. We were to go outside and capture images that reflect what adoption meant to us. What started out as a "stupid" workshop I thought at the time, turned into one of the most healing events of my life being able to see my emotions captured without having to put words to them which I always struggled to. My photos spoke for themselves. It helped me to better understand myself and the power of my adoption journey.


Personalized or Symbolic Jewelry

If you have adopted transracially or overseas, a great gift would be a necklace with a charm of your child's country as a reminder of where he or she is from. Acknowledging yours child's roots is important. If you have a daughter,  a locket pendant would be perfect! She can personalize it with the photo she chooses. It would be awesome if she had a photo of her birth mother, or a photo of her adoptive mother and birth mother together. If you have a son, a great jewelry gift could be a personalized watch or military/dog tag commemorating an important time in his life that he is proud of. An idea could be the day he reunited with his birth family.

Language lessons or language school

If your child is into learning, linguistics, and has mentioned wanting to travel some day to meet his or her birth family in another country, languages lessons will make the PERFECT gift! There is nothing more stressful than not being able to communicate with your birth family. And it doesn't help that things can be lost in translations with a translator. It takes all of the intimacy out of it. Trust me, I know this, and I have met many adoptees overseas with the same issue. If your adopted child ever visits or returns to his or her birth country, it would be a weight off your child's shoulders to be able to communicate with people of his or her culture and birth family. I cannot even begin to explain the feeling of inadequacy and depression not being able to communicate with your birth family due to a language barrier. It makes reunion a billion times harder.


Luggage

All my life I have been searching for the meaning of "home". No matter how hard I tried, there was an emptiness inside of me from my abandonment from my birth mother. I struggled to find peace and that comfort in my adoptive family's home. Don't get me wrong, I love them to death, but the idea of "home" was always difficult to process. I spent several years searching for "home" around the world. I finally found it in Japan. I found myself.

Suitcases and airplanes are incredibly symbolic to me because oftentimes adoptees have a hard time staying in one place. There is always a search for that one permanent spot that you can feel protected, loved, and secure. Sometimes you just have to find your place in the world, and I believe traveling can fulfill that.

So yes, luggage is a great gift for an adoptee!


Airplane ticket

What I would have given to have a plane ticket paid for to either search for my birth family or visit them would be a dream come true whenever I was ready. Did you get that Santa? It would mean the world to me. There are so many adoptees especially adopted internationally that would love to be able to go back to their country to find out where they come from, learn the culture, taste the food, and simply explore their roots. The experience of culture is priceless. There is nothing like arriving in your state or country of birth and breathing that air. There is a sense of belonging in it.

Of course flights can be expensive, but it would a great gift that you can save for and perhaps make it happen for the following year.


Starbucks or coffee shops gift cards

More and more adoptees are sharing their stories in books, blogs, and personal journals than ever before. Most writers need that special place or getaway to release their thoughts and write. Coffee shops seem to be one of the most popular places to escape with your laptop or pad of paper. And if you are anything like me, I am addicted to Starbucks. I frequent Starbucks at least 3-4 times a week to write or just to release, with a latte in my hand of course. I know I am not alone here.

Starbucks and coffee shop gift cards make an awesome gift for an adoptee that enjoys coffee, writing, reading, or people watching to clear their mind.

Cocktails

Bartender! Is it still two for one? Yes, because just about every adoptee needs a drink from time to time whether it is with their friends or even on a date alone having some "me" time. Sometimes being adopted can be a bit overwhelming having to process everything, sometimes a glass of wine or a cocktail can help you chill.

Just please, drink responsibly and always remember that alcohol should never be used as a way to mask your pain or take away or pain.

Wear your seatbelt. Have a designated driver. Okay.

Only for adoptees 21 years of age or older.


Private Investigator 

Wait. I wonder if private investigators have gift cards these days. Hmm. They should. 

Hiring a private investigator for your adopted child to locate his or birth family would be an awesome gift! And imagine if they were able to locate them by Christmas?! Eeeeeeek! 



Original Birth Certificate

Dear Santa, this gift is PRICELESS! This gift is better than any car, handbag, or designer shoes an adoptive parent could ever buy their adopted child. An adoptee receiving their truth and their identity is the best gift in the world.


What would you ask Santa for? Did I miss anything?





Happy Holidays and thanks for reading.











Monday, December 1, 2014

The Dream Clash in Adoption

Creative Commons Contemplation-Moriah by Hayden Beaumont is licensed under CC 2.0 

What’s an adoptee to do when they are pressed on every side to fulfill the dreams of other people or play out the script handed to them?

Who does an adoptee live to serve?

I speak about this in my new book, Worthy To Be Found, released December 1 by Entourage Publishing.

“For the most part, my adoptee job description was unwritten or unspoken, but there were times when some individuals shared my apparent job description. An aunt once scolded me, saying, “Your job is to bring your mother happiness!” It appeared that some believed my mother had needs and desires I was sent by God to fulfill. Evidently I was failing at a job I never signed up for.

Because of comments like this, as well as things sensed but unspoken, I felt pressured at times. It is a tremendous weight to be responsible for the happiness of another person, and furthermore, it is not a God-given assignment, therefore it causes such strain.

Adoptive parents sometimes have unrealistic expectations for a child to fill a void in their lives, or bring healing -- particularly those who cannot conceive or bear children. Even when an infertile couple adopts, they still grieve the infertility, as well they should. Infertility is a traumatic ordeal and one I have great compassion for, as any painful human experience. But an adoptee shouldn’t pay the price for this loss. There’s a difference between possession and love. I do understand why a couple paying upwards of $50,000 in many cases for an infant, would want exclusive rights to him or her. But the reality is that anytime you try to own or possess a human being, rather than love him or her, there’s bound to be trouble.

Was my adoption about finding a home for me? Or was it about finding a child for a needy couple?   

Until I was in my forties, I never dared to ask these questions out loud.

When I did have the courage to ask them, it was painful, yet freeing.”

As a Christian adoptee, I long to follow God’s path for my life but have often felt the pull of the expectations of others, and the guilt trips that follow when I do not follow suit.  How does an adoptee navigate the difficult waters of wanting to follow their heart, when pressed to fulfill the dreams and expectations placed upon them by other people?

This is not an easy road to walk being that many times great numbers of people in society admonish the adoptee that responding with obedience in living out the script they are given is the only proper response. Surely no grateful adoptee would choose otherwise. After all, they have been rescued, saved from the clutches of abortion and more. (Never mind that this wasn’t the story at all for many of us…) We are expected to readily agree to do whatever is asked of us, out of sheer thankfulness if nothing else. Christian adoptees are reminded that our adoptive parents did what Christ did for us – redeeming and adopting us, saving us.  

But wait. Is this true? And is giving up what we desire to follow the expectations of others what God expects?

This yoke of expectations, this script given to adoptees does not come from God. It is not only unreasonable, it’s ungodly. Forcing your own dreams and expectations upon a child or an adult, leaving them no choice but to follow your script or face turmoil is wrong. A child is not a cure for a medical condition.  A child is not the answer for what ails you. A child is a human being, with their own God-given destiny and dreams.    

There are those who say, “But I have a dream to help a child.”

Helping a child means doing what is best for them – keeping their best interest in mind.

A lot of people are clamoring for their dreams to be fulfilled through adoption. Meanwhile there’s a child in the middle of it all, wondering if anybody will go to bat for their dreams. They are the person adoption is supposed to be about, but often gets lost in the shuffle of dream chasers.

People are convinced they are the fulfillment of a child’s dream too, if only they can get the papers signed and take them home.  But what if the dream in a child’s heart looks entirely different? Whose dreams matter in adoption, anyway? 


Order your copy today, I am confident this book will touch your life in many ways.

Get the Kindle edition of Worthy To Be Found here.

Get the paperback edition of Worthy To Be Found here.




Deanna Doss Shrodes is a licensed minister with the Assemblies of God and has served as a pastor for 27 years, along with her pastor-husband, Larry whom she met at Valley Forge Christian College where they were both preparing for pastoral ministry. Currently she serves as Women's Ministries Director of the Pen-Florida District of the Assemblies of God. Deanna and her husband have been married for 27 years, have three children and live in the Tampa Bay area where they serve as lead pastor of  Celebration Church of Tampa. Deanna speaks at churches and conferences internationally and is also an accomplished musician, worship leader, songwriter, and certified coach. An award winning writer, she is also a contributing author to Chocolate For a Woman's Courage, published by Simon & Schuster, a contributing author to  Lost Daughters: Writing Adoption from a Place of Empowerment and Peace published by CQT Media and Publishing, Adoption Reunion in the Social Media Age published by Entourage Publishing, and the author of the book Juggle:Manage Your Time, Change Your Life.  Adopted in 1966 in a closed domestic adoption, she searched and found her original mother, sister and brother and reunited with them in 1993.  Deanna blogs about adoption issues at her personal blog, Adoptee Restoration, and also serves as the spiritual columnist at Lost Daughters. She leads a support group, Adoptee Restoration Tampa Bay, for adoptees in the Tampa Bay area. 

  

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Why Are Adoptees Always Paying the Price For Being Adopted?




One of the things I hate about adoption is the lack of concern for adoptees post adoption. As a society there is a universal perception that adoption is a "good thing", therefore, there is no need for post adoption support for adoptees. The reality is that adoptees need support and guidance more than ever post adoption for the rest of their life no matter how well adjusted an adoptee is in their adoptive family or society.


Creative Commons Sadness 2 by Julian is licensed under CC 2.0

Over the past several years, people have recognized that there is market in the adoptee community preying on the one of the most vulnerable populations in the world. As if adoptees haven't already paid the price. Adoptees are paying the price every day just to obtain a little piece of sanity; a little piece of his or her identity, what most take for granted everyday.

Below are a list of resources adoptees deserve to have free of charge and readily available at any given time.

Free mental health counseling with a therapist that specializes in the effects of adoption on adoptees

Seriously, when are people going to realize that adoption is linked to trauma and loss? This is not rocket science. Free mental counseling should be in every adoption package for an adoptee for life. I am not talking about any ol' therapist or even one that specializes in adoption. I am speaking of a therapist that specializes solely in adoptee issues - loss, trauma, rejection, search and reunion. A therapist that is #teamadoptees

No matter how well adjusted I may seem to be in society, I can openly admit I need counseling. I believe every adoptee does. The older you are as an adoptee the more intense loss and trauma becomes. But why in hell am I left to foot the bill of $100 plus a hour just to have someone help me sort out the issues I have that I have no control over? I didn't put myself in this situation, my birth mother did. Then we wonder why adoptees are more likely to suffer from addictions and are more likely to commit suicide than those not adopted. Adoptees need help and we should not have to pay for it! Besides, who has that type of money to toss around anyways. Most of us are just trying to keep the lights on in our home...and our mind.

Free Medical History Records

We can all agree that early detection is the best prevention, right? Do you know how many lives would be saved and how much time and money would be saved if adoptees knew their medical history? It would avoid all the unnecessary tests and surgeries that obviously an adoptee would be paying for had he or she known what they were predisposed to. Adoptees have to pay to access their non-identifying information that includes their medical records, and in a few states have to wait until they are 18 years old unless they can prove to a judge that he or she is in dire need of this information for medical purposes. In worse case, an adoptee has to hire an attorney to obtain this document, and god knows how much that will cost.

How does this even make sense? Why are adoptees having to pay to know their own medical history?

Free Access to Open Adoption Records

Ah, the fight continues for equal access to adoption records. Did you know that adoptees are the ONLY population in the world that does not have access to their original birth certificate? Also, did you know that adoptees have an amended (fake) birth certificate that leads one to believe that the parents names listed on the birth certificate are the people that gave birth, when in reality they are not? They are adoptive parents, not the people that gave birth? Can you imagine spending your entire life thinking your adoptive parents gave birth to you and they did not? Talk about being pissed about being lied to.

In closed adoption states, adoptees have to file to petition the court (cost money) that handled his or her adoption to view sealed records. Upon accessing the records, adoptees invest hundreds and even thousands of hours trying to put the pieces of their life together in hopes to find their birth family. For those that don't have the time or even the emotional strength to spend hours or years searching, adoptees have to hire private investigators to facilitate the search of their birth family.


Free Private Investigators

Someone PLEASE tell me why I have to pay to search for my own momma?

I remember when I began my search for my birth mother and family years ago. I was in college and struggling like most college students. I would have days I felt I could not function because of my desire to know who I was. I had to find my birth family. The depression was REAL. I did a Google search and BAM OmniTrace came right up. Desperate and vulnerable like most adoptees, I filled out the form online and they gave me a call. Within minutes they were asking me to cough up over $1000! They have the nerve to say they are fair priced and affordable on their website. Affordable to whom? I told them I would give them a call back and I cried my eyes out because I did not have the money, and I so desperately wanted to find myself and my family. I later learned that people have spent thousands of dollars through OmniTrace and have yet to find their birth family or get a refund after being misled.


How can we possibly think that it is right to charge an adoptee a fee for any of these resources? I don't care if the fee was 50 cents to reunite with our birth mother, it is straight up wrong! I am tired of these agencies and people preying on vulnerable adoptees that are desperate to find a piece of them. These businesses have found a way to capitalize on adoptees and suck the life out of us penny by penny.


My prayer is for adoptee advocacy groups to grow in alarming numbers and that our voices become powerful enough to create change. I pray laws change and lives are saved my opening adoption records and providing adoptees with free mental health counseling from the therapist of their choice that specializes in adoptee trauma. I pray more people open their hearts to adoptees and join the fight with us all even if they aren't affected by adoption. This is an issue of humanity. We deserve to know who we are. We deserve to have all these resources provided to us free of charge till the day we die. Being adopted isn't a feeling that goes away. It will always be a part of our life. We will always feel and be adopted.














Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Dear Birth Family | Adoptee Reunion & Rejection

Every adoptee at some point wants and needs answers about his or her birth mother and family. They want a connection, answers, peace, and love. What do you when you have been rejection and lied to by your birth family?

Creative Commons Distant by Mark Sebastian is licensed under CC 2.0




Dear Birthfamily,

Why didn’t you fight to keep me?

Please don’t tell me you love me then abruptly stop speaking to me.

Every time a family member rejects me another suicidal thought crosses my mind.

Although I look like I have my life together, I’m constantly hurting on the inside.

Being around you only makes me feel sad over the time I lost.

Please don’t make excuses for my birthmother’s actions.

Please don’t lie for my birthmother.

Please validate my feelings.

I am afraid to get close to you.

Please don’t compare my adoption experience to something in your life.

I hate being someone’s dirty, little secret.
Adoption causes so many lies that I can no longer tell who is telling me the truth.

I deserve the truth.

Some nights I think about you and cry myself to sleep.

What am I supposed to tell my children about you?

Any opportunity I had to be someone’s sister, aunt, niece, or cousin was taken from me.

Please don’t pretend like nothing happened.

Make an effort to have a relationship with me.

Nothing you say will change anything.

I will never be a complete part of your family again.

Please don’t end an apology with an excuse.

I need to know you won’t leave me again.

Adoption is a lifelong trauma.


I was born December 21, 1981 as Sybil Marie Ezeff, yet that isn’t the name on my birth certificate.  I haven’t even seen the real one.  People should know the family name I once held.  As many things as I want to tell my adoptive parents, I discovered there are even more things I want to tell my birth family.  

What do you want your birthfamily to know? 


V. Marie I am a reunited adoptee from Louisiana.  I earned my B.A. in sociology from The University of New Orleans in 2005. My experience through adoption lead me to earn my M.A. in Community Counseling from Webster University in 2013.

I was adopted at 6 weeks old.  My adoptive parents love me very much, but they weren't ready to deal with the challenges that came with an adopted child.  They supported me my entire life, but they could not heal my pain. As I grew up, I began to see even more diffrences between my adoptive family and myself.  I longed to know where I fit belonged.  Around the year 2005, I began actively searching.  I had doors slammed in my face and others who told me to give up and be grateful for what I had. I found my birthmother around 2012, and it was hardly the heartfelt reunion I had hoped for. However, I will not let that stop me from seeking the truth and searching for my birthfather and my brother.  I have to be strong and keep going.  The truth is that I was an unwanted baby.  My birthmother made a conscience decision not to be a mother to her children. My birthfamily will never understand what I have gone though emotionally as an adopted person.  I am still treated like an outsider by many of them.  I have been fortunate to be welcomed by a handful of cousins.  And although they have good intentions, they will never understand my loss and the pain I feel when I'm around them. I believe that adoption can a wonderful thing, but we have to remember that it doesn't without loss. What I yearn for most is to have a family of my own.

Read more blogs by V. Marie: 






Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Discover How Family Tree Projects Trigger Loss and Trauma in Adoptees


Many adoptees particularly in closed adoptions, cringe at the thought of creating a family tree that most students will have assigned to them in high school or college. The fear and discomfort from adoptees creating a family tree stems from not having access to their original birth certificate and not knowing their biological family history. Feelings of grief, abandonment, and loss are a few emotions that an adoptee can experience while trying to complete a family tree project.

Creative Commons Girl with Bag 5 by Homeaid Northern Virginia is licensed under  CC by 2.0


If you’re anything like I was, the Family Tree school project was the one thing you dreaded in school.  I used to sit in class with knots in my stomach.  I knew my family tree would not be like the other kids in my class. 

While other classmates found enjoyment tracing their roots and marveling over their genetic makeup, I just wondered where mine came from.  How can a tree grow if it doesn’t have roots? I knew I had roots once, but those roots had been cut years ago.  I wondered what would happen if actual roots are cut from a real tree, so I decided to look it up online. This is what I found: 

“Cutting tree roots is dangerous because it can cause permanent, possibly fatal, harm to your tree.” 

Now eliminate the word “tree” and replace it with “adoptee”.  Wow! That’s a pretty powerful statement. 

It’s the fine print on the paperwork adoption agencies don’t want you to know. Adoption is not always the glitz and glamour you see made for television and movies. There are some people who might argue that even non-adoptees have difficulty tracing their heritage. Although that may be true, my situation as an adoptee is completely different.  

In most states it is illegal for an adoptee to find out their own family origins due to closed adoptions. Every form I have dating back to my adoption is redacted. If you don’t already know, a redaction is when they censor a specific part of a document so that it cannot be seen. In other words, they take a thick, black sharpie and run a line through it. In many closed adoptions, this would include redacting the names of the birthparents or any information that may reveal their identity.  

Although I have since located my birthfamily, sometimes I still want to cry when I look at those forms.  It serves as a reminder of the great lengths everyone around me took to cut off my family ties. It also reminds me that there is much work that still needs to be done in the adoption community. 

As I would sit in class with my blank worksheet, I felt so alone. I didn’t understand why this happened to me. My parents did their best to explain it, but it didn’t stop my pain. I reluctantly completed my school assignment knowing that everything on it was a lie. These weren’t my roots. Nor did my parents realize that cutting my roots would have a profound effect on the rest of my life. This was something that affected me well into college. I skipped Biology 101 the days we were supposed to go over the chapter on genetics.  My poor attendance earned me a D in the course and a drop in my grade point average, but it was a lot better than reliving the pain all over again.

After finding my birthfamily, one of the most important things for me to do was to make a family tree.  I had always dreamed about the day when my branches would no longer be empty, but be filled with others who share my genetics, my roots, and my past. Sadly, my attempt to fill those branches was harder than I had expected. Family members became standoffish when I began to ask too many questions about the family I had lost. I have a brother somewhere, who still remains a mystery to me. 

To most of my birthfamily, I am probably no more than a relative stranger. It only tells me how secrets and lies can only kill and destroy.  Once a tree is uprooted, no matter the love, shelter, or nourishment it receives, the problem is that it will never again be the same. 

I still hope to one day complete a family tree with or without the help my birthfamily. Until that time, I’m still just stuck with a bunch of empty branches waiting to be filled. 

Adoptees: tell us about your experience in class or in life creating a family tree below.    


V. Marie I am a reunited adoptee from Louisiana.  I earned my B.A. in sociology from The University of New Orleans in 2005. My experience through adoption lead me to earn my M.A. in Community Counseling from Webster University in 2013.

I was adopted at 6 weeks old.  My adoptive parents love me very much, but they weren't ready to deal with the challenges that came with an adopted child.  They supported me my entire life, but they could not heal my pain. As I grew up, I began to see even more diffrences between my adoptive family and myself.  I longed to know where I fit belonged.  Around the year 2005, I began actively searching.  I had doors slammed in my face and others who told me to give up and be grateful for what I had. I found my birthmother around 2012, and it was hardly the heartfelt reunion I had hoped for.  However, I will not let that stop me from seeking the truth and searching for my birthfather and my brother.  I have to be strong and keep going.  The truth is that I was an unwanted baby.  My birthmother made a conscience decision not to be a mother to her children. My birthfamily will never understand what I have gone though emotionally as an adopted person.  I am still treated like an outsider by many of them.  I have been fortunate to be welcomed by a handful of cousins.  And although they have good intentions, they will never understand my loss and the pain I feel when I'm around them. I believe that adoption can a wonderful thing, but we have to remember that it doesn't without loss. What I yearn for most is to have a family of my own.