Simple enough question, right? What's in a birth certificate? Your name, date & time you were born, your parent’s names and address, the hospital, etc. Pretty basic stuff, unless they are details you never knew. Unless it contains a name you never knew was yours. Unless it allows you to see, for the very first time, the name of the woman who gave you life.
I will never forget the day the certified envelope showed up at my house. I called my daughter, who was working across the country, to see if she had time to be with me while I opened it. See, there is a special bond I have with my two children but especially with her, since she was the very first person in my life to share my blood, my genes…to be a part of me. Forget the fact that she looked more like my husband, that is another topic for another day. (haha) When you spend all your life, no matter how good it is or has been, feeling like a part of you is always alone, this matters.
I don’t know if every adopted person feels this way but I know I always did. I believe in my heart that it had a direct impact on the level of disconnect I have always carried. I’m a bit of a nomad. I enjoy new places, new things. Many people would say that has nothing to do with being adopted but for me, I think it does. I have never felt really truly connected to anyone, anywhere or anything until my babies were born. There was always a sense of not really belonging. Marriages fail all the time, friendships fade, jobs change and somewhere in my mind…right around age 15, I got it in my heart that my parents signed some papers to get to me and if I wasn’t good enough, they could sign some paper to get rid of me too. I carried around a feeling of being disposable all my life. It’s no one’s fault of course and I recognized it early enough to know that I would have to work on making sure I didn’t walk away from relationships too easily and that my own children were never made to feel that way.
So I ask again, what’s in a birth certificate? It’s a piece of paper that says YOU ARE MINE. I look at my own children’s birth certificates and I have pride and intense love for these two lives that are flesh of my flesh, a part of me, connected with a bond that can never be broken, stolen or changed, should they ever want to. They are mine and I am theirs..whether they like it or not. (smile)
So there I was staring down at my birth certificate. Looking at the name of the one whose flesh I was from and I can’t really adequately explain the feelings that came over me. It was the name of a stranger, yet not. I looked at her name and then at the name she gave me. A name that was legally mine for almost a year and yet no one but her knew it. I didn’t feel any connection to either of those names as I fully expected that I would. I immediately went to Facebook to see if I could find her. I was so certain that if I just saw a picture I would find the connection I was longing for all my life. At last, someone I look like in the world!
That’s not exactly what happened….
Now I had some decisions to make. Do I reach out to her? Do I insert myself into her life or respect that she chose a closed adoption? Was it even her choice or the choice of the state or her own parents? Had she been looking for me or wondering about me? Would she give me the name of my birth father? Do I have biological brothers and sisters? What would that be like? Would they want to know me? Then there is the final question that I had to decide if I was strong enough to ask…
What if no one associated with my birth certificate wants anything to do with me?
(Or perhaps worse, what if they find out about me and wish they hadn’t?)
Next week I will discuss how I managed the expectations and found a way to release them from my story. Thank you for taking the time to journey with me through this.