Signed, Sealed, Delivered…

by Laura

I don’t remember being adopted.  I don’t remember not being adopted; it has always been a part of my life.  I do have a memory of my younger Sister’s adoption proceedings from when I was about three years old.  But adoption, for me, was the norm.  NOT being adopted was exotic and strange.  And, as I got older, and kids, being kids, thought they could taunt me with it, my classic response was, “Your parents got stuck with you.  Mine chose me; I was picked!”  Which, indeed, I was.

I remember, one time, rifling through my Mother’s papers (don’t all kids want to know their Parents’ secrets???) and finding my birth certificate along with a paper from St Vincent’s Infant Hospital with the recipe for my infant formula; my length and weight at birth; how much vitamin D to give me.  My baptismal certificate was there as well.  I remember being mightily impressed that I had been baptised at Holy Name Cathedral, the seat of the Archbishops of the Chicago Diocese.

But it was my birth certificate that was most intriguing.  It was white on black, like a photographic negative, and it listed the names of the only people I knew as Mom and Dad.  It had my birthday on it.  And it had the signature of the doctor who attended my birth.  No big deal.  No mysteries, no surprises.  So, what’s so different about adoption, then?  It wasn’t until I was a pre-teen and a family member and her husband began to discuss adoption within my larger family…and I experienced, first-hand, some family members’ reactions…that I began to understand what adoption was and how it could affect people.  Yes, I had been signed, sealed, and delivered to my Mom and Dad, but not by the stork.  Which I knew by then, but I was a bit vague on the rest of it.  I mean, my birth certificate had their names on it, right?  How…???  :shrug:  While I knew quite a few adoptees growing up, and some of them lamented the reality of that, I just didn’t.  I was happy.  I loved my family and they loved me.  I was content and I stayed that way.  I was curious, off and on, but my curiosity was over-ridden by one over-arching thought:

In the 1950s women gave their babies for adoption, by-and-large, because something had happened that society deemed “shameful”.  The best way, they were told, for a young unmarried woman to “get on with her life” was to “put this all behind her” as quickly as possible.  So who was I, really, to go knocking on some poor woman’s front door, announcing myself (Hi, Mom!), and dredging up what might have been a difficult, painful past?  If she had truly put it behind her, there was a pretty good chance no one had been told about me…and I didn’t want to be the one to open that can of worms, potentially ruining someone’s life.  It just didn’t feel right to me.  Hadn’t she gone through enough?

So I put being adopted behind me and left it there, content in the knowledge that I had been blessed with truly wonderful parents and a wonderful childhood.  I’m yours, dear Family.  End of story.