Many years ago, I began a search for my roots. It was after my grandmother, who was an adoptee, passed away and I was left with many more questions than answers. For those of you who haven’t read my first blog post “pieces of the puzzles”, you might want to go back and read it to understand all the key players in my adoption world because I’m about to add a few more. It’s okay, I’ll wait…
Ok, so we’re all caught up now? good. (I should write a legend or something..). When I was in my early teens, we had a family reunion on my dad’s side of the family. This was significant, because it was the only one that ever happened. I don’t really know why that side of the family never really talked, but I met all of them for the first time that day. I understand how weird it can be, being in a room with all these people you’re related to but have never met. My grandfather’s brother was the family historian. I was fascinated to see a little table set up in the dining room with pictures of my grandfather and his four brothers growing up. I had only ever known my grandfather to have one brother. When I questioned him about the family, he was overjoyed to have someone “so young” as he put it, interested in our family tree. I looked at sheets upon sheets of lineages, but something caught my eye. My grandmother had moved up behind me and had seen my interest. “This is my family” she said. I was really excited, because I knew she was adopted and I had no idea she had her family information at that time. I looked down to see five generations of her adopted families tree. “but…this is your adopted family, genealogy is about your bloodline.” I saw a flash of hurt in her eyes. “This is my only family. they raised me.” I hadn’t meant to be insensitive, but I had been hoping to see my biological relatives on the page.
This started me questioning, but I didn’t really start looking until my grandmother was really sick. I did find my great grandfathers family,and I’m in contact with them still to this day. We email and send pictures back and forth. My great grandmothers family is a mystery.
I was able to find census records for the family and found that my great-grandmother was the baby of a family that consisted of several older half siblings. She was the only child of a second marriage. I was able to find some of the family of one of her half siblings, in Australia, and was overjoyed. This lead to me finding a picture online of a dapper looking young man (her 1st cousin) in a WWI uniform. I stared at the picture for a long time. He was the spitting image of my father! So now I had narrowed it down to, I knew I looked like my dad, my dad looked like my grandmother, my grandmother looked like her birthmother, and her 1st cousin on her father’s side looked just like my dad. That told me, that the “eyes” my family all has come from my great great grandfathers side, because my great-grandmother and her siblings had different mothers.
I wrote the owner of the family tree a nice letter explaining who I was, and asked her if she perhaps had any info or pictures from that side of the family she might share with me. I explained I had been looking for a long time, and that it was my greatest wish to find a picture of my great grandmother. She wrote me back a few days later saying she wanted to let me know that I had indeed found the right family, but that she couldn’t share any information with me due to religious reasons. Religious reasons?? That was four years ago, and since then I have found nothing else on her siblings.
I do truly understand an adoptees need to know their roots, and their heritage. Almost 100yrs later, because of only one adoption, I am here 3 generations later STILL trying to untangle the mysteries. I have tried every avenue I can think of to track down my great grandmothers family, but it eludes me.
I tried to apply for information regarding my grandmother a few years ago. I was hoping to find out more about her adoption. I wanted to apply to get her original birth certificate, but I learned the province she was born in has sealed records. So I thought to at least apply to get her adoption records as a birth relative. Another dead end. I can’t do that because I’m not next of kin. The next of kin falls to my father. So I asked my dad really nicely if he might write me a letter so I could have access to my grandmothers adoption records (like he did for me to get my grandfathers WW2 records) and he said no. Just like that. Wouldn’t give a reason, just no. I gave the “I have the right to know where I come from, I have a right as her family member to know my heritage, and medical history”. He wouldn’t budge. My dad isn’t interested in family history, he has no interest whatsoever to know his roots, but he humors me every once in awhile. As time continues to go on, this precious information gets farther and farther away from me, as I struggle to keep its memory alive.
He is not interested in knowing why my great grandmothers tombstone also bears the name underneath, “and infant Daphnee” for that was my grandmothers birth name. So how does that work then? Without birth records, which I cannot access due to sealed records, I am at a dead end. Was my grandmother a twin? or did my great-grandfather tell everyone my grandmother had died, because he couldn’t bear to say he had adopted her out? Or is there some other explanation? I am at a loss, and that loss is caused by Adoption. AN ADOPTION DONE ALMOST 100 YEARS AGO!! Layers upon layers of lies that need to be unraveled, not because I’m an adoptee, but my grandmother was. Adoption is EVERY KIND of multigenerational grief.
My grandmothers adoption is a sore spot with me. It’s easy to see why because of sealed records, but here is the other piece. Even knowing how important this journey to find my roots is, my dad WILL NOT help me. I figured if I couldn’t get access to records, I could get access to DNA. I could at least find out what my cultural and racial heritage was though that. Here’s the thing. I can’t test for that. Only my father can. He can test his mothers line. All that is required of him is a cheek swab. That’s it. Simple right? He won’t do it, privacy issues and all. Tried telling him he’s just a bunch of numbers, he’s not explicitly identified. He doesn’t care, it’s just a flat-out no. Every avenue I have available to me involves my dads involvement somehow, and I don’t have his support, consent, or interest. I’m heartbroken. I may never find out my origins, but I will never give up.
It’s problems like this cropping up that make me think of my birth son. You see, I’ve already explained all the connections I personally have with adoption. I’m about to add more. My sons birthfather is also adopted. He was adopted into a closed adoption in the 70’s. This means that my son, at this point, will never know who his paternal grandparents are. I wish I could help, but there is nothing I can do. Adoption has affected my sons birthfather so significantly, that the future for him is a day by day struggle to survive. I’ll write about that another day. I try to stay in contact with him, but he goes AWOL sometimes for years at a time. In this, I can say that Adoption has yet again swiped not only any chance I have of finding my family, but my sons family too. The secrecy of all of it, the lies. Answers, just out of reach.
Finally, the last piece. I have another child that I am parenting. Her father is ALSO adopted. I seriously didn’t plan it that way. The karma police are after me, I swear.
Beautifully written. I posted a piece a couple days ago about my family history and my mom’s status as an adoptee. DNA truly is an amazing thing.
I’m just trying to get caught up, and I’ll got and check out your article! thanks!
Cindy A. said:
“Couldn’t share any information with me because of religious reasons” ?????? HUH? What ””””’religious””””” reasons? People that breed questions with no answers or ”allowable” answers, i.e. truth and honesty are either liars or are caught up in someone else’s nasty, noxious, toxic lie. If right family is found.. why not come out and say what is. …and be done with it. I guess what ”religious reasons” means is that someone’s “”””sin””” would be exposed if truth were told. Oh, yes, by all means (fair or foul or claim ”religion” to shut everybody up) ”protect” the next generations from _____________(whatever knowledge/history) In this day and age I don’t think anyone would be so incredibly shocked by finding deep dark secrets of even the most disgusting kind in the family closet. Time to clean the damn closet out and let some light (and truth) in! Get rid of the piles of secrets and lies (boxes and clothes and piles of useless crap) so the creepy crawly, poisonous things like spiders (fears and shame and useless weight of carrying something that has nothing to do with the current people involved!) don’t have a place to live and breed! Look at how when there was native American or African-American heritage or Jewish or German or fill-in-the-blank heritage that **someone** in the family was ashamed of, or afraid to be known by and decided to cover-up and lie about it or was forced to change it, and say… white whatever ”acceptable” race and nationality.. this does nothing to change what and who the family -is- in truth and before God cause He knows who we are and what family and tribe and nation we come from. All that amending and lying and falsifying and keeping ‘secrets’ does is make the next generation/s a bunch of complicit (even though in ignorance or supposed ‘obedience’) liars. Who wants to be a liar? Raise your hand.