Deception- The Truth
At the age of eighteen, I discovered that I was adopted. Those words changed my life forever. Not because it took away from everything that my family had ever done for me. But, because I felt deception. The first person I heard it from was my mom. Granted, it didn’t seem like too big a deal coming from her. We naturally assume that our parents know information about us that we don’t necessarily have access to. After all, who remembers the day they were born? Who remembers the first two or three years of their life? Psychologists argue that we have access to these memories, but not in the same way we do other memories. These memories are likely lacking in the visual and language department. But, are typically high in that which is auditory and emotional. Yet, it’s not uncommon for parents to fill in pieces of the puzzle that are missing. When everything settled, I came to the realization that the entire family knew. It wasn’t as if my parents left to a foreign country to fake a pregnancy. Everyone played an active role in the adoption. My grandparents clearly knew. In fact, my grandfather played a huge role in making final arrangements. My aunt and uncle knew, providing my parents with encouragement and advice. My older cousins knew. These were people that I trusted with my life. And the highlight… my best friend’s parents knew! If that isn’t enough for you, I found out that I had teachers who knew! And if that’s still not enough, I found out that even my ex-boyfriend’s mom knew! That is the deception. It’s not being adopted. It’s not the fact that my mother wasn’t the person who gave birth to me. It wasn’t about my genealogy or heritage. It wasn’t about my DNA or the blood that flowed through my veins. The deception came from the fact that everybody found out before I did! When that hit me, that was the day I stopped trusting ANYONE.
Now, before you go blaming my family for pathologically lying, you should realize something about my childhood. By the time I was four months old, my father got another woman pregnant. This was a huge deal (obviously) to my mom and the rest of my family. Shortly after, they divorced. The therapist that my mom was seeing after the divorce encouraged her to LIE because she felt that I would see it as two abandonments. This person should lose her license… yesterday! My parents telling me that they are my parents is not a lie. Under every single piece of the law, they were completely and totally responsible for me! They did all the work that parents do. So, it’s not a lie to say that they are my parents. It is a lie, however, to tell me that we are related through biology. If you think it’s not a big deal, consider the fact that I was sharing inaccurate medical history with physicians. Consider the fact that I dealt with severe gastric issues as an adolescent, landing me in the hospital several times, and continuing to issue inaccurate medical history. Deep dark secrets are only dark because they are just that… secrets. I knew from an early age that my father had an affair. That’s actually something bad. But, it didn’t haunt me for life or cause me collateral damage because I knew from so young, that by the time I could actually understand what it meant, it was just a part of ordinary life. Being adopted should be the same. If you just know for your entire life, then yes, you will have curiosities, you will have questions, no doubt! But, it’s not a deep dark secret. It’s an opportunity to have questions answered.
The Issue with Equal Rights Legislation
In the state of Florida, when a person is adopted, their birth certificate is sealed and a new certificate is issued claiming that your adoptive parents are the people who birthed you. While I do agree that the government can make decisions to protect children, it is not their job to protect me or to tell me who I am as an adult. I’m a 25 year old woman with a full time job, pursuing a master’s degree. I live in my own house. Although I’m not rich, I’m financially independent. I travel alone. I pay my bills. I pay taxes. But, the state of Florida denies me access to my fundamental birthright, a piece of paper stating who I was when I was born and where I factually come from. The reason for this is to “protect birthmothers.” This is a lie. I know my birthmother and I have a fabulous relationship with her. If the interest was simply protection, then it would not matter, because we already know each other. My birth parents, adoptive parents, and myself, consent to me having this piece of paper. Yet, the government will not issue it to us. In their eyes, my parents gave birth to me. In fact, the certificate even says “born to.” There are several issues with this legislation, and I will touch upon each one as best as I can.
First and foremost, I am an adult. There is no reason for me to be dependent on other adults to acquire government information about myself! The government treats me like a perpetual child, but expects me to abide by the same rules as an adult. Secondly, the state has stripped me of my identity without my consent. For as much as socialization plays a role in a person’s life, so does biology. It’s obvious that I got physical traits from my biological genes. We accept that with no issue. But, I got so much more than that. I got my personality. I got my temperament. I got my spunk. I got my talent in that which I excel at. I got an inclination towards particular interests, and not so much others. I got my handwriting. I got my writing style. I got my ability to dance. I got a preference towards a certain type of music and a certain type of food. I got my style. State of Florida, you can issue all the amended birth certificates you want… but I still hate salsa music and my radio is locked on 99.9 kiss country. There is nothing wrong with being different from family and friends. In fact, that’s why they say opposites attract. People who are married may have many things in common, but they also have differences to compliment each other. If we were all the same, the world would be a very boring place. So, being different from my family members in some respects, is not a bad thing! It’s just part of living on G-d’s green earth. If I can be different from my friends, husband, co-workers, classmates, etc., there’s nothing odd about being different from members of my family. It only becomes an issue when parents are making their child feel bad about it because it threatens their validity as the child’s parents. But, this is exactly what the State of Florida is perpetuating by hiding birth certificates and sealing individual’s identities. It opens up adoption to narcissistic people who want to adopt children to pretend they are their biological children, and continue keeping it a secret. The State of Florida essentially leaves the responsibility ONLY to parents to tell their children “the secret.” No human being should EVER be someone else’s dirty little secret. Thirdly, by “protecting the birthmother,” as the state so likely claims, you are stigmatizing an ENTIRE group of people as stalkers and harassers. You are claiming that you can find us peeking through our birthmothers windows in the middle of the night. This is not the case pretty much… EVER! There are anti-stalking and anti-harassment laws in place to protect the country at large. Therefore, there is no need to stigmatize and ostracize a group of people by making them feel like they are a group of criminals. By 2016, we’ve had our first bi-racial president and the LGBTQ community won the right to get married. Adult adoptees are still unable to access to original birth certificate or medical records that exist prior to being adopted. They erase you. They kill you. That person didn’t exist. The idea that is perpetuated through this piece of legislation is that you either conform and change who you are completely, or you are just an ungrateful brat. Really? Tell that to black people who fought for centuries to end slavery. Tell that the the LGBTQ community who fought for years for the right to get married in this country. We applaud these groups for standing up for their rights to be treated as human beings. Yet, we look down on adoptees for being curious about themselves.
Like every family, I have a few rotten apples in mine. I have a family member who spoke ill of me because I didn’t know what career path to choose all my life. Did he ever stop to think to that I was a natural born educator growing up in a family of scientists? Again, nothing wrong with that! But, there’s things we, as adoptees, don’t know about ourselves. We haven’t always had someone to compare ourselves too the way you did! But, I bring this up because secrecy encourages this! In his eyes, he likely thought, “well, she thinks she’s our biological (insert relation here), she should have already applied to nursing school by now.”
I’ve had literal fights with people who tell me “You are Cuban.” First of all, nobody can tell me who I am. NOBODY. I grew up in a Cuban household, yes. But, in regards to nationality, that is a biological component of yourself, not an emotional one. Your genealogy and your heritage are irrevocable. Like I said earlier, issue all the amended birth certificate’s you want… I’m still not Cuban. Do I hate Cuban people? No. Do I hate my family because the blood that runs through my veins is of another nationality? No. This type of thinking is childish and stupid. Imagine growing up in America as the son or daughter of Italian immigrants. You eat pasta every night. You love your bread with olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Because of this, you have people telling you that it’s a slippery slope from this to revoking your American citizen and being exiled out of the country. That’s ridiculous! You can be happy to live in the United States, salute the flag, say the pledge of allegiance, and love your heritage.This is much like being adopted. I’m an expert at Cuban culture. I’ve lived and breathed it my entire life. I speak perfect Spanish and I ate black beans every day of my life up till I was 16 years old. It would be an error to deny that I have a connection to it. But, it would also be fallacious to deny that if I took a blood test tomorrow, not one ounce of Cuban would appear in the results. So, the next time I tell you how I identify, don’t tell me I’m incorrect. You are nobody to tell me who I am or what I am.
Again, having unequal protection under the law perpetuates the stigma that we have to identify with what the amended one says. I wasn’t born to my parents. They chose me. They loved me. They cared for me. They fed me. They clothed me. For that, I am grateful. My birth mother also loved me, cared for me, and nurtured me from the moment of conception. She knew her situation in life wouldn’t allow her to keep this child. But, she did something very brave. Instead of being a cowardly murderer and walking into the nearest abortion clinic, she placed me in a home with people she knew would love me. That is the heart of a mother. That is complete selflessness. A child needs two things from her mother to survive: biology and environment. You CANNOT discount one because the truth is that you NEED BOTH TO SURVIVE. By sealing my original birth certificate, you are denying the fact that this role was divided in two parts. The role of mother in my life was a two person job! And that should NEVER be discounted. Not by the government and not by everyone else.
Your Parents are Heros!
My parents didn’t rescue me from inside a well or a burning building. They decided to start a family. In my dad’s case, he decided to start two families (at the same time). But, in today’s day and age, there is a plethora of ways to do this. You can have biological children. You can get a sperm doner, an egg doner, a surrogate mother, a test tube, a clone (lol). They started a family through adoption. It’s that plain and simple.
My mom may be a hero because she spent sleepless nights caring for her sick baby girl. She’s my hero because she packs a suitcase like nobody else in a matter of minutes! She’s a hero because she stayed up all night with me crying over a 16 year old boy in high school. She’s a hero because she works hard. But, she’s not a hero because she adopted me. This thought process of “she didn’t HAVE to take care of you” is incorrect on so many levels. Of course she did! There are laws in place to protect children, REGARDLESS of the circumstances surrounding their birth.By taking it upon herself to be legally responsible for me and taking it upon herself to be a mom, through any venue she chose to do that, she also took on the responsibility to care for the child. So, once again, this is an incredibly stupid train of thought.
Adoptees are not “poor little orphans,” “unwanted,” or “leftovers.” People who adopt are not taking people’s leftovers. They are just regular people who wanted to be parents and chose a specific avenue to meet that goal. It’s one and the same with every other avenue that I listed above. Adoptees are people who happen to be raised by people who don’t share the same DNA. That’s the only difference between a biological child and one who is adopted. The love is the same. The care is the same. The arguing is the same. Regular family feuds are the same. Family’s have good times and bad times. They have troubles and tribulations. This stigma of “you can never get mad at your parents because they took in a poor little orphan” is incorrect and offensive.
But you’re parents gave you everything… aren’t they enough. The most offensive words to ever touch my ears. If this is the type of person you are and this is how you see things, than please do the entire world a favor and DON’T adopt a child. You could grow up in a palace and you would STILL be curious as to where you came from. This line of thinking is offensive. You are equating questions with respect to your biology with love. You are implying that because I have my mother’s eyes and personality, I am insulting the woman who raised me. The fact of the matter is that my birth status wasn’t changed when my family adopted me. I never stopped being my birth mother’s daughter anymore than I am my parent’s daughter. As I said before, exploring your parent’s Italian heritage isn’t a threat to your American citizenship. Asking your parents the list of names they were considering for you doesn’t imply that you’re running down the courthouse to change your name. You likely have some attachment to your name. This is the same case. Quite often, I wish I could tell people: “since you’re not adopted, shut the fuck up, you know nothing ignoramus son of a bitch.” But, I bite my tongue. Because, I realize that this should be an opportunity to educate rather than dismiss. This brings me to my last point. If you think that insulting someone’s biological family in front of an adoptee is okay, think again. You have no idea who these people are. You are not making an educated assumption based off of people’s personality and actions. You are basing your assumptions off of the only thing you do know… that she couldn’t raise me. So, you do what suits you. You turn her into a villain and my mom into a hero. Sorry honey, but life isn’t that simple. Insult anyone of my family members, from either side, and in the words of CeCe Drake… “I will scratch your eyes out.”
The Pity Party
G-d knew I was that much trouble, that one mom just wasn’t enough! 🙂 So, I got doubles of everything! I got four parents, eight grandparents, 16 great grandparents. What a blessing! My cup is overflowed every day because I have more than anybody else. So, if you ever feel sorry for me, don’t. I have more than you! I have two mothers who love me unconditionally. From the time I was born, I knew unconditional and selfless love. I knew two women who would do just about anything for me. So, save the pity party for someone else… maybe for yourself… because you don’t have two momma’s.. you only have one 🙂