The Gravitational Pull of Family
Each and every human life is unique, and the path of each and every human life is different as it traverses our diverse world.
There are, though, common threads woven through our life stories, and one of them is the seemingly universal desire to connect with our families — with the people whose genes we share even if we have not shared their lives and their experiences.
People who left their birth families for whatever reasons and who were brought up in other families, however loving and nurturing, often want to know about their biological relatives. People who relinquished children for whatever reasons often want to know how those children have fared both as youngsters and as adults and maybe even want to meet and know those now grown children. People who adopted the biological children of others often have mixed feelings about this yearning from both biological sides of what is called the “adoption triad.”
North Carolina continues to have among the most restrictive laws in the nation regarding access to identifying information contained in sealed adoption records, even though a Confidential Intermediary program requiring mutual consent among birth relatives has been established in recent years. The yearning to know continues, though, as both a birth mother and an adult adoptee related to me recently.
Claudia’s words make her mother’s pain clear.
“I had five beautiful children, three boys and two girls, in Germany between 1971 and 1976. The relationship with their father was terrible and mainly physically abusive. I fi nally managed to flee from him but the Social Services took four of the children away from me and later forced me to agree to adopt the children out. I could not stand to see my children suffer any more and figured adoptive parents would better their lot in life. I never ever got over having to make this agonizing and soul tearing decision. My two oldest kids went to the same family. Turning 17 my daughter found me in the USA and I was reunited with them and later on also with my youngest daughter. My two oldest were abused and neglected for 13 years and no one helped…. To find that out was agony for me. My adoption story is a lot longer and contains the story of my children who are now back in my life but too far away to see them in Memphis and Virginia. I want to have my children at one table before I die!”
Katie is a young adult who grew up in an adoptive family and yearns to know about her birth mother.
“I was put up for adoption at birth. North Carolina is really hard to search for answers as an adoptee, but with luck I have learned so far that I was born by C-section in New Hanover County in October 1987 at 11:27 to a 37-year-old woman. She is now 60-years-old and was known to have many problems. One major one was drinking.
“I am a very forgiving person and hope to find her and tell her that there is nothing to be ashamed of and I would just love to know where I came from. I also learned that I have two half sisters, one 42 and the other 26 and a half brother who is 40. The 42- and 40-year-old siblings are full brother and sister. The 26-year-old has a different father.
“It has been tough growing up wondering who I look like and wondering where my artistic traits came from! I hope that I can fi nd my family soon and that they are open to meeting and helping me find out who I really am!”
Katie was unaware of the Confi dential Intermediary program and is interested.
“I am just glad that people are starting to take interest in this situation now instead of forcing adoptees to ignore their feelings of wondering…and the urge to know the truth. Then a lot of people like to make adoptees feel very ashamed that they want to know the truth because they say adoptees should be grateful for having been adopted. I am grateful but it doesn’t take away my want to know my original family.”
I feel blessed that the family photos in our house sport images of people who look at least a little bit like me and that I know who they are.
PHOTO: North Carolina continues to have among the most restrictive laws in the nation regarding access to identifying
information contained in sealed adoption records,