Julie, the shy slight teenager approached her close friend, “I have something I need to tell you.”
“Girl, you can tell me anything. What is it? You look so serious.” The friend replied.
“Remember that party we went to after the basketball game a few weeks ago? Remember I disappeared for a while and you asked me where I went?” Julie pushed out.
“Yeah, you told me you went to talk Damon right?”
“Well, kind of…”
“Girl you’re talking in code. What is it?” The concerned friend inquired.
“He… He took me in to a room and… raped me.” Julie said as tears washed down her cheeks.
“Is that it? You should be happy he didn’t kill you.”
Last week I had an exchange that made me feel like I imagine Julie felt after her “friend” responded in such a callous way.
I received a phone message from my court-appointed intermediary(CI) who was assigned to helping me find my biological father. Excited to hear from her, I excused myself from the meeting my and quickly returned her call. She explained that she was able to access the court records and had in front of her my biological father’s full name. She had the ever-important name that followed, “Lawrence.”
Two years ago, after I found out my biological mother died 6 years before I located her, I was given some additional records from the adoption agency. Her death purchased two sheets of additional paperwork that wasn’t included in my non-identifying information. In those two sheets of paper was my biological father’s first name, Lawrence. His last name was blacked out with a Sharpie. I held that paper up to the light in my office so many times hoping the additional light would betray the concealer and magically his name would shine clearly and legibly. The light in my office failed to conjure up the mystical powers I needed and the last name remained a mystery along with my beginnings.
Last week I sat on the phone with a woman who knew the name I needed but she was unable to share it with me. Her job is to contact my biological father and, if alive, see if he is interested in meeting. She hinted that the last name was a very common last name and that her search may be a tough one. Her next step was to contact the adoption agency and see what additional information they may have on my biological father; such as a birth date. She informed me she had left a message with the agency and was awaiting a return call.
I thanked her and returned to my meeting as the “What-ifs” circled over and over in my mind. The hope and fantasy of my father being alive started like a tiny blip on an EKG machine after this hope had flat lined so long go. As time increases and is stretched out by this process, the blip turns into one large arch followed by another. Concentrating in my meeting was impossible and the information that I could have benefited from in this meeting had been swallowed up by the fantasy of how the meeting with my biological father would take place. I know the quicker we find him the less time there is for this fantasy to grow. The bigger the fantasy the more dangerous it gets.
A few hours later, I received a voicemail from my CI. She left a message that the one person in charge of the records at the agency is on vacation and won’t return until next week. The ludicrous idea that only one person is capable of doing this vital job hits me like 300 joules to my system.
As I waded through the emotions that were up to my knees and rising, I shared with a group of people my frustrations with the process. If my CI was only allowed to give me his last name I am confident with the sleuths I know we could find him within minutes. The internet has made searching which used to be measured in months and years almost an instantaneous journey. If the right people are doing it with the right tools at their disposal the impossible dissolves into possible quickly. 20 months ago armed with a last name, and an approximate age, my adoption angel found my biological mother in 27 minutes.
A last name is the Holy Grail and it is so close but yet so many states away from me. This breeds a level of frustration I can’t measure. In my frustration and disappointment I needed a relief valve. I needed to slowly let some of it out to prevent a messy explosion. I choose to share this with a few people and one response came back cold.
“You should be lucky, you were only raped and not killed!” This is what I heard.
“You should feel fortunate that at least you have a last name. Some adoptees don’t have that.” In reality this is what was said.
My further Translation: “Stop whining! Remember adoptees are special, chosen, and lucky.”
Comments like this don’t do any good. It didn’t make me feel better. Reminding me that some have it worse didn’t sooth my hurt or make me feel special, chosen or lucky. It made me feel like I was eight years old and my feelings were being dismissed, and replaced with guilt because I wasn’t mindful of those who have it worse than me.
As parents of adoptees I ask that you do a better job of meeting your children where they are and not where they could be or should be. Some times the best response when there is no good response or the subject matter makes us so uncomfortable that we want to fill the silence with logic instead of compassion is, ” You know what, that just sucks!”
Being heard and understood is another priceless Holy Grail that many search for and can easily be given without any cost.
Last night we held a very successful webinar for TRA parents and professionals called Creating A Cultural Connection: How to Design and Implement a Cultural Connection Plan for a multicultural family. We recorded it so others could enjoy it as well. Just click on the link top right of this page got more information.