I Am Adopted. I Am Shame.

I hate holidays. I get this innate, overwhelming knowledge that somewhere nearby, in this very city, my birth relatives are gathering for tradition and celebration. Except me, of course, since I’m not supposed to exist.
Except I KNOW. I can feel it in my blood, like a rising tide. I should be with them. Blood calls to blood. But I’m not, and even if I knew their names or where they were, they wouldn’t welcome me.
I’m a secret.
I am shame.
I’m a bastard.
My distant Irish ancestors weep. They want to know why I am severed. I have no answers. I’m not allowed to have answers.
My children ask me questions. I have no answers. They’re not allowed to have answers, either.
My mother’s brief contact revealed little about my life.
It was a mistake.
I’m a mistake.
I don’t exist.
My mother doesn’t want me to exist.
If I did know who and where my birth family was, and I was stupid enough to go there, they could easily have me arrested. My mother filed denial of contact with the state, criminalizing me for wanting my original birth certificate. Never mind that I have zero way to identify her. Never mind that the incompetent Illinois CI program gave her my identifying info without my consent. She knows exactly who and where I am yet I still have nothing.
I am a criminal for wanting to know my origins.
I am a criminal for continuing to want to know my origins after being told to shut up and go away.
I am a criminal for publicly disagreeing with adoption policies and practices.
I am a criminal for standing up for myself.
Meanwhile, everyone’s talking about all the lucky Illinois adoptees who are getting their birth certificates. Oh, except those who were denied. And those from certain adoption agencies who are essentially filling in the blanks with, “We don’t feel like telling you.” And those whose information was never recorded, was recorded in error, was falsified, was destroyed, is mysterously “missing,” or exists in another state or country. Hmmmm. That seems like a lot of exceptions for a law that gave “all” Illinois adoptees their rights.
I am a pariah for not sacrificing myself so others can have access.
I am a pariah for standing up for left-behind adoptees.
I am a pariah for not accepting the status quo.
I am a pariah for insisting upon equal rights for everyone.
I hope my mother is reading this. I hope the Illinois politicians are reading this. I hope every single person who is getting their Illinois OBC is reading this. I hope every last one of you who has ever supported a conditional law is reading this.
And I hope all my fellow nonexistent denied bastards and our counterparts, those uppity hell-raising first mothers, are reading this.
If we are shame… then so are the people who shame us.

Image: Idea go / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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Comments

  1. Oh Triona, you are not shame. You are not what you say, you are a good person. It is your mother’s shame that prevents her from reaching out to you.

    You will be in my thoughts all day.

    xxx

  2. Thanks, Lorraine.

  3. Echoing Lorraine. Loudly echoing. Hugs to you.

  4. Thanks, Suz.

  5. Triona, Lorraine is right. Breath, know that not everyone buys into the bull and that all of us would like it to end. We are with you.

  6. Larry Dell says:

    Triona,

    First off, don’t get down on yourself. You’re not shameful or a mistake or a criminal. You’re a victim. A victim of a the greed and dishonesty of politicians, businesses that make money on adoption and religious groups that are protecting the real criminals, the powerful men, who forced themselves on women, very often young women and then washed their hands of the result.
    What can be done? Let’s use our power as citizens to change the law and open records so future generations don’t suffer the same guilt and shame that plagues adoptees.

  7. Another pariah here, and a criminal, because I “broke the law” to find out my original identity. I still do not have my OBC, though. One day, we WILL exist.

  8. Oh, criminals all! I’m trying to think of a song that goes: I broke the law…

    I can hear the tune but can’t think of the rest. Anyone?

  9. My take on Triona’s blog? She is speaking for class bastard, or class adoptee. To me, her words reflect common societal attitudes toward adopted people. Of course she speaks in the first person, as an adopted adult. But the labels and statuses refered to in her blog apply to us as a group. I see her effort more as activism.

  10. My take on Triona’s blog? She is speaking for class bastard, or class adoptee. To me, her words reflect common societal attitudes toward adopted people. Of course she speaks in the first person, as an adopted adult. But the labels and statuses refered to in her blog apply to us as a group. I see her effort more as activism.

  11. My take on Triona’s blog? She is speaking for class bastard, or class adoptee. To me, her words reflect common societal attitudes toward adopted people. Of course she speaks in the first person, as an adopted adult. But the labels and statuses refered to in her blog apply to us as a group. I see her effort more as activism.

  12. My take on Triona’s blog? She is speaking for class bastard, or class adoptee. To me, her words reflect common societal attitudes toward adopted people. Of course she speaks in the first person, as an adopted adult. But the labels and statuses refered to in her blog apply to us as a group. I see her effort more as activism.

  13. My take on Triona’s blog? She is speaking for class bastard, or class adoptee. To me, her words reflect common societal attitudes toward adopted people. Of course she speaks in the first person, as an adopted adult. But the labels and statuses refered to in her blog apply to us as a group. I see her effort more as activism.

  14. The shame lays on all who promote adoption.

    The labels given to those who live with adoption loss belong on them, not us.

    I wish the fear & shame that your mother wears, keeping her away from you, can be shed before it’s too late for you.

  15. Michael Schoer says:

    Get involved in your state and contact your state lawmakers to change these outdated and discriminatory sealed birth record laws. I heard there are an estimated 6 million adopted people in the U.S. The more adoptees that get involved in changing these laws, the bigger and louder our voice. If you have a computer, phone and/or a fax, you can contact your lawmakers. If I can do it, you probably can too. Thanks for this article. Remember, you are not alone!!

  16. Uh, Michael? Did you read the rest of my blog? I’ve been actively fighting for adoptee rights in Illinois for quite some time now. We even have a brand new spiffy law – which I fought tooth and nail against because it leaves some adoptees behind.

    It’s one thing to fight to change the law. It’s another when the entire process is stacked against you. Read this for an example (my experience at the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing that allowed this reprehensible bill to be passed):

    http://73adoptee.blogspot.com/2010/04/my-experience-at-illinois-hb-5428.html

  17. As an adoptee, I found your blog to be sad yet heartfelt and beautifully written. My personal search spanned decades and I learned the identify of my birth parents long after they had died. But I did find half siblings who have welcomed me. I used DNA testing to identify my birth father’s family. Perhaps you should consider it. See my web site: http://www.DNA-Testing-Adviser.com

  18. KUDOS! Beautifully, poetically stated! Praises to you for being able to express your innermost truth, your pain.

    I feel your pain reading this. Yes, it must be awful to read of those celebrating Illinois “victory” when you are so wrongfully denied your truth and treated like a criminal!

    While honoring and respecting your pain and not trying to deny it or take anything from it or tell you you shouldn’t feel that way – because you SHOULD!… I wonder if you could allow yourself to think of your mother as possibly (probably?) being likewise victimized by a society -possibly/probably her parents – that labeled her actions that created you a SHAME and marked HER with large red letter of disgrace? Can you feel any compassion for her, and her inability to set herself free form that prison of shame…while still hating her for denying you?

    Not an easy task.

    And unjust laws were made to be broken…it’s called acts of civil disobedience: “the active, professed refusal to obey certain laws, demands, and commands of a government, or of an occupying international power.” It’s what freed the Black people of this country, Triona, and adoptees deserve no less freedom from the shame that shackles them and their mothers.

    Bastards are beautiful! And raising your voice in truth against power is beautiful! I applaud you and shed a tear with you and for you and all others denied by archaic laws.

  19. You are not a mistake, the conditional law is a mistake. I’m sorry you’re mother can’t get past her own shame to be with you.

  20. CullyRay says:

    I love you!
    “uppity” – Perfect

  21. This uppity hell-raising first mother also heard you. Weparestra all…adopted and firstmother…MUST be included in ALL open record legislation and none should be excluded

  22. Can there not be a constitutional challenge to this two tier system of disclosure?

  23. UM – You would think so. Maybe someday there will be. Unfortunately it’s the same problem we encounter everywhere: the adoption industry has deep pockets and powerful well-paid lobbyists. Whereas we may have empty pockets but we also have loud voices and attitude. 🙂

  24. Triona, I can completely relate to what you are feeling….you cannot in any way let how your biomom reacted to YOU shape your feelings toward yourself! You have already shown us that you are the better person….we need to work actively toward changing state laws to allow adult adoptees access to ALL their birth records…EVEN states that supposedly HAVE these laws are still imposing strict limits and we have to fight together. In the meantime, KNOW that you are not alone….HUGS from New York and remember that we are ALL in this together. There is NO shame and we do NOT have to feel GRATEFUL.

  25. Anonymous says:

    Hi Triona I am sorry for your pain. Unfortunately birth mothers are wrongly lead to believe that giving up part of them will be better for the child especially young mothers who are pressured ino it, after all they suffer from the very first day of their loss

  26. Wow, this was heavy to read.
    I know the feeling (s) I’ve dragged them with me for a long time too. Feeling ashamed. Every time I would bring new friends home my amom would quickly tell them, “did you know that she was adopted”
    I always had to feel like I needed to be grate full for them to have taken me in. Yuck!
    I have now let go of the pain, but once and awhile, it surfaces again…

  27. Hey there, as an adoptee myself I recognise my pain in yours. Well done for expressing your pain at all and even more for the clear, accessible way you expressed it. I hope like you that one day soon our legitimacy will be acknowledge the way it should be with OBCs for ALL adoptees. Don’t know you (obviously) but if I did, would love to give you a big hug.

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