Assembling Self

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Tales From The Adopted Side

Most of my life I was confused, lost, and without anyone who understood why I felt about adopted life as I did. I was given comparisons to bad biological families who were as dysfunctional as mine.  I was accused of wallowing in self-pity and to forget it and not think about being adopted.  If they only knew how I wished I could.

But, I couldn't, most adoptees can't either. I had heard about people finding one another on the internet, and as I had gone back to school, a computer seemed to be the answer to help handle both.  At first, I got lost in chat rooms, big surprise huh, but one day I plugged “adoptee” into the search box. What I found forever changed my life.

Not only did I find resources to begin my search for my biological family, I found those who were working to change the system of adoption.  I became obsessed, not just with searching, but with these groups who seemed to be making significant progress in adoption reform.  I had been a person fairly home centered with my family. Most of my life revolved around them, and work, and school.  But my life was about to drastically change, and for once, for the better.

I joined a local support and activism group on and offline.  I was attending monthly meetings, reading, learning, and absorbing everything I could.  It was announced, in 1999, that there would be a rally at the capital in support of adult adoptee access to original birth certificates.  I decided then I was going and no one was going to stop me.  So, I promptly told my husband I was driving to Austin for this event.  He scoffed and said he didn't want to go.  I told him fine, I was going anyway.  He seemed a bit shocked, but doubtful I would actually go, but I was adamant I was really going to do this.  I remember starting to pack a couple of days previous to leaving and he commented “You are really going aren't you?”  I said YEP, and you and our son can either come with me or not, the choice is yours.  This was the beginning of the new person I was about to become.

So, we packed up the car and headed out for Austin.  I was nervous, anxious, and excited at the prospect of what I was about to experience. I got to the capitol and met up with “my people”.  I was in awe of the stir of emotion and activity taking place before me. I remember meeting a fellow adoptee outside and exchanging stories.  I was FINALLY in the company of those who GOT IT.  It was absolutely spine tingling and amazing being in the presence of adoption reformers who were actually trying to change adoption law!

At the rally outside the Capital Christina Crawford was there to speak in support of our legislative efforts.  I was about to meet the author of “Mommie Dearest”, someone who I had identified with since I had seen the movie.  She began to take the podium and I asked my husband to watch my son.  I was mesmerized by her speech and hung on her every word.  That was, I until I realized my son had run up on to the steps where she was speaking and said “Hi”. Christina stopped, looked down, and paused.  All went silent.  And, what does an insecure adoptee hate more than being the focus of unwanted attention?  Yeah.

I turned about seventeen shades of red and went and got my son.  I thought, well there ya go the woman you wanted SO badly to meet now won't want to meet you!  I was wrong because when I approached her to apologize she was most gracious and understanding.  In meeting up with her again a year or so later at an adoption conference I said “Do you remember me, my son was the one who interrupted your speech in Austin?”  To which she smiled and immediately replied, “Oh yes, how are you?”  We conversed over a glass of wine and shared an elevator ride.  So, I now am memorable in Christina Crawford's life. How cool is THAT?

Before I knew it I was getting to do newspaper interviews,, a brief snippet on local TV (it was only about one minute so I have fourteen minutes left on my claim to fame), The Seeker Radio show several times and a couple of times as guest host.  I was traveling to regional and national adoption conferences and events.  I was elected and asked to represent and lead adoption activism groups.  I wrote and published my adoption poetry book (in bad format I know never EVER sign off on a manuscript when you've been in at Children's hospital for a week with your son in ICU on NO sleep) called "Assembling Self".  I was invigorated each day I got out of bed and I had a sense of accomplishment and pride I had never had before.

I am not usually some one who brags, but I am proud.  Proud that I could be a part of the progress that is adoption reform in whatever capacity I can. I have not been able to be as active in the past few years due to personal issues and health problems.  So many others have done so much more than I think I could ever do.  But, I learn from their work and their examples daily.  I meet new people every day signing up, donating their precious time, energy, and stories for the greater good.  We have so much to do and anyone can advocate for adoptee rights, not just adoptees, or natural parents, or adoptive parents, or those with direct connections to adoption.  PLEASE JOIN US!


  1. Karen, so much you've achieved, so good to hear about it and let us all be proud of you too! x

  2. Thank you Von I have had so much help from others and I continue to be amazed by the folks I work around every day.