BIO: I am 45 years old. I am married and have one son (18 years old) who is in his Freshman year at college. I work FT at an asphalt company in accounts receivable. I have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ so it is against my relationship to have a religion. I’ve known my bio family (mother side only) for 26 years. I find great comfort in connecting with other fellow adoptees and share in our journeys through this maze called “adoptionland”. I want all adoptees to have access to their OBC (original birth certificates) since I have mine, I want others to have theirs as well.
Content Warning: The following article you are about to read may contain written material of a serious factual nature that may be disturbing to some individuals. Reader discretion is advised.
HOW DOES IT FEEL TO BE ADOPTED?
I was born in May 1971 in a small town in Minnesota. I was in foster care for 2 months until my parents adopted me on my dad’s birthday (July 1971). Yes, I was someone’s birthday gift. Not sure how I feel about that even today. My parents had no kids of their own so they adopted me and a couple years later, my brother (no blood relation). Around 5-6 years of age my brother and I were told we were adopted. We didn’t know what that meant at the time. However the word “adopted” stuck in my head especially when I would have to go to the doctor or dentist. My mom would get asked if I was allergic to anything by the nurse, and all I would hear would be,
“We don’t know, she is adopted.”
Growing up I had my own room and so did my brother so the only thing we had to share was a bathroom and maybe some toys. I had everything a child could want materially speaking, however something was missing. I didn’t look like anyone in my family. My mom and dad and brother all had brown eyes where I had blue-green eyes. I had none of my parents’ talents or gifts (wonder why?). I wasn’t close to my mom and I was always a daddy’s girl until my parents got a divorce (my upper 30s). I didn’t have that bond with my mom and still don’t even though she is my mom who raised me and took care of me. My mom and I don’t have anything in common: she loves shopping – I don’t; she loves getting a manicure and pedicure – I don’t; she loves wearing dresses and putting on make-up – I don’t.
Get the point?
I remember as a child going into the basement, probably to clean the cat box, and saw an old 4 drawer metal cabinet. Curiosity got the better of me and I started opening the drawers to see what was in them, since we didn’t use the basement except for storage, laundry, and the cat box. In one of the drawers I opened, I saw a folder with my name on it but had to close the drawer because I was called up stairs for dinner or something else. When I did get down there again I pulled out the file that had my name written on it. I opened it up to quickly see what was in there and noticed there was information from Children’s Home Society (the place I was adopted from) with all kinds of non-identifying information on my birth parents. I did not dare tell my parents that I found this digging through their file cabinet. I kept it to myself but would find myself going into the basement every chance I could to look at that file. I have that file now in my possession.
It was the end of May in the year of 1990, in which my curiosity really started building up within me. I was about to graduate from high school and enter a new stage in my life but something was missing.
Who was I?
Where did I come from?
Am I allergic to anything?
What’s my medical history?
All these questions were important, but the one question that I really wanted answered was why did my mother give me up for adoption?
I started my search for my mother with a phone book (yes way before the internet came to be) at high school. I found their name – Children’s Home Society of MN along with their phone number. I called the number right away and as the phone was ringing I started to get really nervous. A lady answered the phone and I told her that I wanted to locate my biological mother, so she suggested that I come in and see a social worker about it. So that’s exactly what I did. I decided to go to Children’s Home Society two or three days before my high school graduation to get the information I longed to have, which included my mother’s name. One of my friends (who was not adopted) came along with me to this agency. She was one of my friends who was quite supportive during this confusing phase in my life.
We both entered the building and went up to the receptionist desk and told her I wanted to see a social worker about finding my mother. She asked me if I had an appointment. I told her I didn’t have one but asked if there was one to see. The receptionist than told me and my friend to go sit in the waiting area while she tried to see if there was a social worker available to help me with my inquiries. As I sat there waiting, I became quite nervous. I felt my heart starting to beat faster and faster and my palms started dripping with sweat. My friend tried to ease my nerves by telling me I had nothing to worry about. I suggested to my friend that we leave before the social worker came down, but it was too late, the social worker just came around the corner to greet us in the waiting area. With a little bit of eagerness I got up out of the chair and followed the social worker back to her office along with my friend, although I still felt my nerves twitching inside of me as we got closer to her office. As we were walking back to her office, I truly felt that I would get my mother’s name before I left the building that afternoon. We entered her office, which was quite small with two rectangular windows, which were connected by a wall and the ceiling. She had a desk which was against a wall; two other chairs and a file cabinet. We all sat down and started talking about what I wanted to do. This discussion eventually brought disappointment to me. The social worker could not give me any information, nor could she give me my mother’s name because of the privacy act (we adoptees need to get this changed in MN and other states). Although the social worker did tell me that I could do a search for her through the agency. I asked her how much it would cost to do the search. As she told me the price for doing the search, I almost died right there. I left there with my friend, not knowing if I was going to return or not. It was a quiet ride home with my friend. We hardly talked about the meeting which had just taken place. That night I told my parents where I had gone that afternoon. I was really surprised how well they took it. I told them about this search program and how much it would cost, and that I had awhile to think about it, at least until all the graduation stuff was completed. I think they finally realized that I needed to find out my roots and know where I came from.
I loved my parents but at the same time I needed to find answers to so many questions that consumed me day and night.
Well, June 7, 1990 came and went (my high school graduation), which meant I had to meet with the social worker soon, so I called and made an appointment with her. While on the phone, I told the social worker that I had made up my mind and that I was going to do the search for my mother. My mom also wanted to come along to this meeting which was okay with the social worker.
The day of the appointment came by rather quickly. The appointment was scheduled for ten in the morning, so we left quite early so we wouldn’t be late. While my mom and I were in the car, she told me that she would like to contribute some money to this search for my birthmother. I tried to tell her that I couldn’t accept it, but she wouldn’t take no for an answer, so I accepted the money. My mom and I entered the social worker’s office and started the session with some general conversation which was nothing serious. During this conversation I was asked to fill out some forms and sign them. Plus I had to sign something which said I paid the money, so the search could begin right away. The social worker than told me that it could take some time to track her down, but she would let me know when she had found anything significant. During this time period I spent most of the time working. My social worker would call every so often and tell me how things are moving along. One afternoon I got a phone call from the social worker telling me that she had just spoken to my mother. As she was telling me this, I couldn’t believe it. The social worker said that my mother was hoping I would try to contact her. By this time it was near the end of August of 1990.
My mother and I started writing to each other through the social worker, since my social worker suggested that we don’t move too fast. So we continued to write to each other through the social worker until a meeting was set up to meet each other, which was on September 21, 1990. The meeting was scheduled for 1pm down at Children’s Home Society. As I was driving down to St Paul, I felt myself getting more nervous. My stomach was in knots and my palms were sweating all over the steering wheel. I arrived there a little early in hopes to catch a glimpse of my mother, but I didn’t see her, since she had arrived there several hours before I arrived. The social worker took me into her office and asked me if I was absolutely ready for this meeting. I told her I was and mentioned to her that I was very nervous. She told me I still could back out of it, but I told her that I wanted and needed to go through with this meeting with my mother. We walked down the very dark hallway and suddenly turning to my right to go down some stairs, which to my knowledge lead to the so called “family room”, where my mother sat waiting to see me for the first time in 19 years.
The social worker started opening the door slowly. As I watched the door open I started getting more and more nervous, thinking maybe this was a mistake after all. Although after being spaced out for a few seconds, I realized I had entered the room and was staring directly into my mother’s eyes. I said “hello” to my mother and she said, “Hello Gretchen, I’m your birthmother…”, and when I saw my mother, a petite woman of only 5 feet and then realized I was taller than her…that put a smile on my face! The social worker left us alone for ten to fifteen minutes so we could talk. I finally got to talk with her face to face instead of through letters. This was real. Finally someone who I looked like. Before I could even ask about my birthfather my mother told me that she was raped and that is how I was conceived. Internally at that moment I was lifeless but on the outside I’m sure I had a look of shock. Flashback moment: When I was a child I imagined in my own reality that my birth parents were high school sweethearts that got a little carried away in the back seat of a Chevy or Ford. This fantasy was my lifeline on how I came to be. After the news of being conceived in rape my “imagination” reality ended. I could no longer tell people my imagination reality when the true reality was real, in fact too real. I tried asking some follow up questions but my mother said that she blocked out that time frame and couldn’t remember anything about my birthfather. She asked me to never bring it up again.
We looked at some photos that each of us had brought, and talked about my childhood (which I told her was good – still in the fog here). After a while the social worker came back and we all went outside to meet her parents (long story here – foster parents) and take some photos. Going back to my mother’s parents (foster) here is the short version behind that: my mother was raped and didn’t know she was pregnant even though she had morning sickness at night until a few months into it. Her mother found out and kicked her out of the house. Therefore she had nowhere to go so she was placed in a foster home.
After taking some photos outside my mother gave me my original birth certificate (OBC) which I treasure to this day. As non-adoptees take birth certificates for granted when an adoptee gets their OBC it is like gold and treasured. Even though my OBC has a stamp across it “not for official use” I still consider it my birth certificate. It may only have my last name on it but my mother told me what she named me. So after receiving my OBC my mother took me out to dinner, so we could spend some more time getting acquainted with each other with her parents. After dinner my mother left with her parents to go back to Alexandria, MN. As for me, I drove home by myself still thinking about what I had just been through in the last several hours. On that day, I finally knew who I was, at least half of me, which was better than nothing. In a twisted kind of way I feel this is almost a dream which I’m about to wake up and find out that I’ve never met her. (Most of the above excerpt was written for one of my college English courses shortly after this event occurred).
The first year of our reunion was like a rollercoaster ride. Back in 1990-91 internet wasn’t around and it was hard to find anything that dealt with reunions (not that I was looking because I didn’t think there was anything out there) so I had no clue on how this was supposed to work. I remember the first month or two into our reunion we got a hotel room in between where we lived for a weekend. We checked out our feet, hands, arms, legs, etc. and talked like I have never talked with anyone in my life. I must have sounded like a rambling lunatic talking and talking but it felt right and good to connect with my mother. When my mother would hug me I never wanted her to let go. I loved that closeness I felt with her when she hugged me. We looked at more photos and talked about her family and more of my upbringing (still in the fog).
We even took a trip out to South Dakota together so she could introduce me to some family as well as her father (her parents divorced before I was born). This was a week I’ll never forget. I met so many relatives that I thought my head was going to spin off. And the ones I met were only a small fraction of my mother’s side. You see, my mother has 13 siblings and 2 half-siblings which makes it a very large family. Plus on my grandfather’s side he had 5 siblings and my grandmother had 5 siblings and all the cousins. During this trip I got to meet my grandfather, all of his siblings, some second cousins, and my eldest uncle and his family. That was a lot of people to meet in a short period of time. Since that time I have met most of my aunts and uncles except for 5 of them. I have around 20 first cousins alone which can be hard to keep track of and I have only met 9 or 10 of them in person.
It seemed in the first two years my mother and I would either call, write, or we would get together on a weekend. It was like we were both dying and we had to get to know each other as quickly as possible, which may have led to our relationship going from good to bad to non-existent (more like an on again off again relationship or time outs as one of my fellow adoptees put it). I do love my mother despite not having her in my life at this time. She gave me life even when I was a result of rape, which should never happen to anyone, and thought I would have a better life with a mom and a dad. Side Note: My mother did tell me that her mother also threatened to take me from her if she decided to keep me so she could get money from the state. I did ask my mother back in 2013 if she ever thought about getting an abortion when she found out she was pregnant with me (even though not legal until 1973) and she told me that it never crossed her mind and that I was the best thing that ever happened to her because it brought her to her knees in accepting Christ as her Personal Savior.
I do keep in contact via Facebook, text, and phone calls with my extended family who I love very much. I am my mother’s only child so my cousins are the closest thing I have for siblings. I find that I relate more to my bio family than I did with my adoptive family growing up. I remember getting together with one of my cousins (bio) and her telling me about her childhood. As I sat there listening to her tell me about it, it brought a smile to my face as I could finally relate to another family member. Even though we didn’t grow up together we still had similarities that we could share with each other which I didn’t have with any of my adoptive cousins. I can see a part of myself in all my aunts and uncles I have met. I remember being told by my mother and a number of her brothers and sisters that I sound like their sister (my aunt), one of the aunts I’ve never met or even spoken with. It’s still amazing to me on how much in common I finally have with people who are connected by blood. I finally feel like I fit in somewhere after 26 years of finding my mother.
As I’ve gone through these 26 years of reconnecting with half of my biological family, there is still that other side that is a mystery. This is why a number of years ago I did a DNA test through 23 & Me and just recently with Ancestry. I’ve come across 2-4th cousins that don’t sound familiar so I’m assuming they are from my paternal side. I’ve reached out to a couple but nothing has come back to put the missing pieces back together. I have nothing but DNA to go for on my paternal side but at least it is something. I’ve come to accept that I may never find that other half of me, but at least I have half of who I am, which is better than nothing.
As I reached my early 40’s that “adoptee fog” of being a compliant adoptee and everything is just fine being adopted left me when I joined groups on the internet of other adoptees. I found out through them that what I was feeling in the inside was “normal” and I started coming out of that fog of “the good adoptee” where you felt grateful and special and chosen (get my point?). I am trying to be more involved in getting us adoptees our Original Birth Certificates (OBC) even though I have mine. I want my fellow adoptees to have theirs as well.
In closing, as we adoptees go through our individual journeys of finding our roots, just know that you have a huge support group with your fellow adoptees. We have different support groups out there on Facebook and on the internet. I would also recommend reading “The Primal Wound” by Nancy Verrier. This was my first book that I read when I started coming out of the “adoptee fog”. I find myself reading certain parts over and over again. Besides the above two items, I would suggest doing DNA tests and working with a search angel if you are wanting to find your roots. Everyone has a right to know where they came from, especially us adoptees.
My Contact Info:
Twitter – Gretchen Weible
Skype – gretchen.weible
Facebook – Gretchen Weible
WordPress blog – Rebecca Rud 1971
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