Today is National Adoption Day, a center piece of Adoption Awareness Month. This is very special to me because I am adopted. I was adopted as an infant in Milwaukee Wisconsin, 1970. I have always known that I was adopted. (However, ironically only last year did I discover that I was in a foster home for the first 5 weeks of my life!) My parents told me that being adopted made me special. I took that to heart and have always been very thankful for my good fortune. It was good fortune, because in 1970 children of mixed race were considered hard to place. (My father joked that he adopted my sister and I with a coupon!) Coincidentally my adoptive parents are a mixed race couple too. My father is black and my mother is white, just as my birth parents are. When I was 8, as is typical with kids at that age, I was curious about my personal history. So, my parents contacted my social worker and got me my adoptive “non-identifying information”. The pages told me that I was a single birth of a mother with the ethnic breakdown of Norwegian, Swedish, and German. There wasn’t a lot of information about my birth father except that he had some tall brother’s and played sports. The big news was that I had a birth name…Kristianna. Now that was surreal. My background changed from a blank page to a pencil sketch. It was satisfying. I was quite content. I didn’t want for more info. I had my parents, and I was fairly sure of who I was. There weren’t any real holes to be attended to.
Fast forward to age 18.
In the state of Wisconsin once you reach the age of 18 you can initiate a search for your adoptive parents. My father was the Director of Health and Human Services at the time, making the paper work handy. So, without much thought I consented to the search. Nothing came of it really for 5 years. Then in May of 1993 I got a letter requesting authoriztion and payment for the search to continue. In order to continue my biological parent search I would need to send in $!50. I hadn’t really not given the search any thought in a long while. I wasn’t really sure that it was worth another $150. But I didn’t get a chance to think about it much. The next week I got a birthday card form my mother. Inside it said that for my birthday she had paid the $150 to continue the search. Just so like her. Always thinking one step ahead of me.
Well, she was right. With that last installemnt the search was completed and my birth mother was found. Turns out she had wanted to be found all along. She had left all of her information with Lutheran Family Services when she placed me for adoptiion. However, since I was ultimately adopted through Catholic Family Services. I met Christine at my parents house in 1993. Tursn out we had been in the vicinity of each othe rall along. Her niece was a classmate of my first boyfrind for the years in High School that we were engaged in a long distance relationship. As if that wasn’t enough, Christine told us who my birth father was, Greg Johnson. My parents erupted, “Greg, Grape Juice, Johnson is her father!” Apparently he had been a major football player and track star at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and my parents had actually seen him play! Oh yeah, small World.
When I got pregnant with my first child I felt the need to seek out my birth father, if for nothing else than to get a clearer picture about my medical history. My whole life when I went to visit a new doctor the history portion of the visit was always very short. The docotor would ask me a questions about my family history, I would say, “I’m adopted.” End of conversation. I wanted longer conversations to be possible for my children. So, I went on the internet and found an investigative company. For $150 they gave me the name address and phone number for my birth father. Who knew it could be so simple.
Unfortunately it was a little late. I met with him once. I found out that his mother had died when he was young, he didn’t know much about his father and he himself had 4 other children, but that was about it. My birth father was already in the throws of dementia. Even though I wanted to find medical history answers on behalf of my children, I didn’t feel comfortable reaching out to other family members at such a difficult time. Thus my picture was going to remain a sketch. Surprisingly I was disappointed. I didn’t think I would be. But this time my search wasn’t about me, it was about, and for my children. And that changed my picture indelibly.
I am forever in debt to Christine. She gave me my first and one of my strongest examples of what it means to be a mother. She made the greatest sacrifice in the World for my benefit, so that I could have the best possible life. And my mom, Carol, she helped me become who I am, by loving and supporting me through all of my ups and downs, daily. Nature or nurture? No, it’s nature AND Nurture! I am grateful to them both.
Miss Lori can be found Musing from her Minivan at MissLori.TV , Wearetherealdeal.com and ChicagoMomsBlog. You can also see her Activating to Be Great at Miss Lori’s CAMPUS on Youtube, Facebook, and LinkedIn.