So, yeah, basically, I’m adopted. What I mean to say is: yes, I’m adopted. Most definitely.
I’ve always known. I can’t even remember the conversation my parents had with me–not the color of the walls, not the toy I was playing with, not the cut of my mother’s hair, nothing. That’s how long ago it was.
They got me a book, mom and dad: The Special Child or The Chosen Child or something like that. It was one of those late 60s, warm and fuzzy books, telling me I was so wonderful that I had personally been singled out to go live with the fantastically fun Mr. and Mrs. _______. The book was illustrated in tones of turquoise and peach, but it got the point across.
Fact is, I’d never given much thought to the matter. As a teenager, when my parents became domineering and monstrous in an effort to curb my raging hormones, I guess it crossed my mind a couple of times to go look for the birth ‘rents, but I wouldn’t have even known where to begin. I was adopted right outta the womb, in Jackson, Mississippi, and I was jaundiced: that’s about all I had to go on.
Time moved on and puberty passed and I resumed normal relations with my parents–except for my mother, who’s gotten increasingly odd with age. But that’s another story. Anyway, I realized that, honestly, I didn’t much care about finding my birth parents. Mom and dad were the only parents I knew, and that was fine.
Then I saw Secrets and Lies, and I became intrigued. Well, not much, but a little–enough to mention it to my friend Karl one day, forgetting that he was adopted, too. And he sat me down and told me that the laws had recently changed, and that it was actually pretty easy to find your birth parents, or at least get your medical and social information, and that he was in the process of doing it himself. And before I knew what was happening, he gave me the number of the agency in Jackson through which we’d both been adopted, which I called and which sent me the required one page application. Name, phone number, date of birth, and a couple hundred bucks: that’s all they needed to get the ball rolling.
It took me almost a year before I sent the thing back–not because of reluctance on my part, but because I got distracted. Jonno and I had bought a house that we were trying to renovate, and with all that, we were kinda scraping by, and I felt guilty spending money that could have been used on paint or a sander on myself like that. So I waited. When I finally sent the paperwork in this past July 2, I thought of it as a kind of treat. Like buying a boxed CD set or a signed first edition: something I shouldn’t do often, but every once in a while…
Within a week, a woman from the adoption agency named Jodie (as in Buffy and…) was calling me at work, telling me that she’d found my mother and that it’d taken her a grand total of one hour to do so. Of course, there was a lot she couldn’t tell me–stuff that might hint at the woman’s identity or location–but she did pass along the info that my mother was born and raised in New Orleans and that she’d been looking for me for some time. Apparently, she didn’t even know she’d had a boy. Her name is Callie. (Calliope? Calendula? Calpurnia?)
A few days later I got a letter. It was written by Jodi after her initial conversation with Callie, the complete story of my birth mother’s life crammed onto a single page of archive-weight stationery. My birth father was given a paragraph at the top of the second page; they’re no longer together, surprise. Among the more interesting facts to come out of the letter, I learned that…
- My mom was/is a geek: she earned an MLS (Master’s in Library Science) at college.
- My mother is standard-issue Irish-German, but my father’s Lebanese. Which may or may not explain my attraction to hot, swarthy, Mediterranean daddies. Probably not. But it makes for a good story.
- My uncle (my birth mother’s brother) was highly involved in the arts, particularly theatre and painting. He had a wonderful sense of humor, and he taught drama at university. It think we can all guess what that means…. I wondered why none of my adopted brothers ever took a shine to the theatre or to kissing boys. Or to kissing boys in theatres. Thanks, Unk.
Now I’ve got to do two things. I’ve got to get some sort of certification from a therapist/counselor saying I’m mentally stable (or at least stable enough to meet my birth parents). I guess they just wanna know I’m not seething with anger and planning to mow ’em down when I see ’em. Then, I’ve gotta write my birth mother a letter. They didn’t tell me what I needed to say. What should I say?