73adoptee Returns! But No One’s Coming Back For Left-Behind Illinois Adoptees

I’ve been gone a while. Sometimes real life intrudes, and sometimes it’s a welcome intrusion. I discovered the hard way that it’s all too easy to let adoption and adoption reform take over your life. When you’re adopted it’s adoption 24/7 anyway without concentrating on it.
So I took a break, from a lot of things. I even took a sabbatical from work, which turned into a radical change in my career. Which is good, because it gives me more time to pursue my dream of writing fiction. But I also had to decide if it was going to give me more time to dedicate to adoption reform. And that got me thinking about what I’ve learned in the past few years about reform: what works, what doesn’t work, and what part I want to play in it.
Because, let’s face it, the current situation sucks like an industrial fan. Depending on where and when you’re born you either have full access, no access, or some kind of convoluted pseudo-access that no one understands, least of all the people creating and implementing the legislation that supports it.

And then there’s Illinois. Yeah, I’ve been quiet because of Illinois. If I hear one more person cheering November 15, 2011 as some kind of liberation day for adoptees of the great State of Illinois, I will go stark raving John-Crichton-on-Farscape crazy. Search my blog on keyword Illinois or read this about the new law for just some of the reasons why.

Illinois is not open. Illinois is sort-of open to adoptees who unwittingly end up playing roulette with their own rights. Some will win. Some will inevitably lose.
I’m on the losing team, so I know how it feels. Everybody’s celebrating and they’ve forgotten you. Or, if they remember, it’s to slap you on the back and say, “better luck next time” before they go off to congratulate the winners. But adoption isn’t football. There’s only one game, the Adoption Game, and if you make a mistake you don’t get a do-over. I remain disgruntled with pretty much everybody across the adoption spectrum: the bureaucrats who pat me on the head; the politicians who care more about their own power than their responsibility to help others; the deformers who think compromise is victory.
Because no one is coming back for the left-behinds. Not when the legislators, the news media, and the general public all think that adoptees already have access. We don’t, not all of us, but that message has been lost amidst the celebrations.
* * *
Over the past few years I’ve learned some important lessons about adoption reform. Here’s what works: sharing our voices, speaking out, contacting our legislators, educating the general public. Here’s what doesn’t: indolence, infighting, lethargy, backstabbing. Yes, it’s harder to convince The Powers That Be to grant access for all. But it’s the right thing to do.
I debated long and hard as to whether or not I wanted to continue adoption reform at all. It’s not what you’d call “fun.” It involves public speaking, private introspection, misjudgments from all sides, stress, and lack of personal life. You become an involuntary spokesperson for all of adopteekind (and, if you’re a transracial adoptee, often for your entire race as well). Everything is difficult because not only are you trying to write letters and convince lawmakers and wrap your head around legislation, you’re reminded EVERY SINGLE MOMENT of your own adoption baggage because it’s why you’re doing this in the first place.
Here’s what I’ve decided. I’ve revamped 73adoptee (come check out the redesign) and I’ll be posting here on an infrequent basis, plus more often on Twitter as @73adoptee. I’m continuing to advocate for adoptee rights: access for ALL adult adoptees, equal to that of the non-adopted: e.g. original birth certificate access with no strings attached.
But here’s what I’m not doing.
  1. Spending all my time on adoption. I have other things to do with my life, and I am heartily sick of focusing on adoption. I can’t even stand the word anymore. It’s ridiculous that I have to spend this much energy and effort for access to my own identity.
  2. Posting frequently to 73adoptee. See above. I’m around but I’m probably not going to post very often simply because I am busy.
  3. Arguing over semantics. Don’t come to me with any more partial pseudo-access schemes. I will not support them and I really don’t want to discuss them. It’s a waste of time and effort better spent toward the goal of truly equal rights.
  4. Helping with searches. I just don’t have time. There are plenty of resources available with a simple Web search. Just don’t jump right into schemes like confidential intermediaries without knowing what you may be in for. Trust me on that one.
  5. Participating in reform organizations. Some work, some don’t, but I need to strike out on my own, for many of the same reasons that I quit working in Corporate America to become a freelancer. I’m just too GDI (god damn independent), and volunteerism can become a total time-suck as I’m sure many of you know. I may choose to support bills but ONLY if they are clean and ONLY if they will be yanked if they are butchered in session. But any support will be personal and not affiliated with any organizations.
  6. Analyzing reform legislation. I’m not going to write reviews of which bills are good or not, there are other bloggers doing that (and kudos to them because it’s incredibly time-consuming). Doubtless I’ll comment as the desire (read: irritation level) arises but you shouldn’t consider 73adoptee a clearinghouse for info on all reform efforts everywhere.
Basically, 73adoptee is a place for me to rant about the things in adoption that piss me off. (Yeah, it’s a long list.) I’m not particularly concerned that my opinions are unpopular in some circles. You see, when you are at the very bottom there’s nowhere to go but up. Attempting to reduce adult adoptees to second-class citizens results in people like me, who have nothing else left to lose. What are you going to do, take away my birth certificate or convince my first mother to deny contact? Oops, sorry, already done.
I may have taken a break but I’m not finished with you, adoption. You’ve still got my identity and I want it back.


  1. http://Anonymous says

    Welcome back Triona; you have been missed. I wonder if all of us were to write a list of our objectives and what we needed from one another if it would help to understand each other better. Sometimes, I want to scream and say, “Time out.” Our adoption journeys are hard enough without all the arguing over semantics, infighting, back biting, and judgments, etc. And some voices are definitely louder than others.

  2. Girl…must be something in the water! As I too am taking a step back and reevaluating my time spent on running in place. If one more person says I am from the shut down state I think my head will implode! And time spent for what? Crap that anyone with a damn brain should see isn’t worth fighting for as it should have just been handed over!

    Good for you! Write a short story or a book! Would live to read it! One of my fav writers is Phillip Dick. Heard if him? Interesting guy and amazing author whom was ahead of his time!

    Look forward to your fiction works and your tweets!

    Chynna luschen

  3. Triona, it is great to have you back in action, even if it is in a different capacity. I can appreciate how adoption and volunteerism can suck all your energy and time away.

    I am afraid of what sort of amended Bill of Adoptee Rights ends up coming out of NY State. The original Bill was for unrestricted access, but I fear a CI program and other hurdles may be forced upon us, and I am frelling angry!

    I was proud of little Rhode Island, who passed its own unrestricted access (except for the age being 25) bill last summer.

    I won’t be happy until all adoptees are able to enjoy national equality.


  4. I hear you and I understand. Burnout is often the by-product of intense effort. But I am grateful for your support and encouragement over the years. I wish I could clone you!

  5. Triona, Yeah, I get it…. definitely….

  6. Thanks for your remarks, everyone.

    Anonymous: I think part of the problem is that we know what we need, more or less, but we get so busy disagreeing on strategy and approach that we lose track of the actual objective.

    Chynna: Yeah, I feel the same way when people talk about Illinois. And Phillip K. Dick… definitely something in the water because I’m writing science fiction and fantasy (although my emphasis is on the fantasy whereas PKD is a sf writer). I’m going to be talking more about that soon so stay tuned!

    Judy: Too many states are enacting legislation without really thinking about how to implement it or what the consequences might be. It’s so stupid! Why can’t everyone just follow Maine’s model, it’s super easy, uses the same existing resources that non-adoptees already use to get their BCs… what’s not to like? It’s actually more expensive to enact legislation that doesn’t work! Makes me furious!

    adoptionbeat: Thanks, and thank you for all your encouragement and advice. I’ve learned a ton from you!

    Lori: Yeah. Just… yeah. *sigh*

  7. Like Dave Hester on Storage Wars I say “Yuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuup”. So with you on all points noted.

  8. I thoroughly agree with you Triona. I’m glad to have you back, even if it’s just occasionally , but why do we do this? Nobody cares about what we do. The work of psychologically debilitating, the hours ridiculous, and the toll it takes on us is personally indescribable.

  9. http://maryanne says

    Good to see you back, and what you write is so true. The infighting has gotten so bad and so nasty and so personal, it is hard to focus on the goal of clean legislation with so much irrelevant crap flying around.

    Illinois is a disaster, NJ is a disaster waiting to happen. So sorry you are among the “left behind” in the IL adoptee Rapture, but wonderful to see you still here fighting.

  10. Very well written, Triona!

    So far I’ve refrained from requesting my OBC from Springfield. Yes, I’ve waited years and years to be able to but I am so disheartened over the IL crap.

    “Operation Pony Express” so adoptees could go to the head of the class can be taken as we adoptees still being treated like children. Plus we know it was very dirty of Melisha and Sara to see to it that priority be given to those who played into their hands. Did our governor okay them to be in charge of vital records?

    My heart does go out to all adoptees who will receive a redacted OBC or those who know it will be such so won’t even request it. It is simply wrong that Sara and her followers promoted this. But we know they can live with themselves since they have done other dirty things.

  11. http://Anonymous says

    I haven’t forgotten about Illinois. I did not celebrate the codified discrimination.

    I am sorry, it sucks, but not all of us have forgotten.


  12. Thank you for sharing.

  13. Trion: You go girl! Your list of stuff you will not do is healthy, and I look forward to the day when I do the same, actually. There is life after adoption.

    Good luck!

  14. Thanks, Lorraine. It was a difficult decision process but I feel healthier for it. You just can’t do adoption 24/7 without consequences, it’s too stressful. I know how well you know that from your own personal experiences.