I have jumped with both feet into my gene pool and the ripples are spreading. Mother-Father-Siblings-Aunts-Uncles-Cousins. Steps away from the Mom/Dad ground zero to ripple over grand aunts and uncles, over cousins x removed, over friends, lovers, co-workers, and acquaintances, mostly on my father’s side. I try to tread carefully among the inhabitants of the small towns to protect my mother’s privacy until such time as she declares the need for secrecy is over, but I am eager and sometimes obsessive and it doesn’t seem like that big of a puzzle for the curious to solve. I harbor a knot of anxiety over this but I can’t make myself stop searching for whatever remnants of my father exist. I fear that they are disintegrating all the time and when I find them they will be like the ash of a newspaper that will crumble in my hands before I am able to make out more than a word or two.

I have also found decades-old conflicts and heartaches that ripple forward from their points of origin to become landmines or obstacles for me to overcome. A box of pictures is precious, irreplaceable knowledge and connection to me, but reduced to being a hostage in a power struggle between others. Their conflict is almost meaningless for me so I delicately try to negotiate with both sides, hoping against hope that I can tease my precious treasure free and leave them to find other weapons.

I no longer have any perspective on how I am likely to be perceived. I reached out to a 2nd cousin 1x removed because we had been linked via DNA, and despite that it took some convincing to assure her that I was legit. She was the first one to demand proof and her suspicion almost discouraged me – and also made me unexpectedly indignant. I still feel a little awkward with her, mostly because her suspicion caused me to stop and review myself and in so doing I discovered that a part of me feels ashamed of myself for being so pushy, for asking to be acknowledged with little more than my own word for proof, for asking people to share their memories and their pictures when I have nothing to offer in return except a relationship with me should they want that. And why should they? Especially when my ripples touch people who are very distantly related or even almost entirely disconnected from my father’s memory now.

Warring with the shame and anxiety is anger and indignity… this is my father I’m asking about and I have every right to at least pictures of him if not memories. Especially since to pretty much everyone else, such things have little or no value. And I know now that he wanted to find me and had tried several times. The wanting to find me changed the course of his life, because he refused to have children with his wife because of me. When he was alive the government and society stood between us, and now it’s just time and indifference and a little bit of suspicion. So I will continue to make those phone calls and send those emails, hoping against hope that someday I might have more than two pictures of him. That’s all I have now, two pictures. One from high school and one from the late 70s that his ex-wife shared with me. I continue to reassure myself that it is OK to want more.


Some days I just feel blue, and my mind swims around in the fog and tries to attach itself to something solid to explain why I feel down. Ideas flit here and there and occasionally I feel like I am nearing an idea or a conclusion or a definition, but never actually get a firm hold on it. Most of the time my unhappiness is revolving around my father and in a related sense the decision of my adoptive parents to keep the truth about me from me. It makes me so sad to think about the lost opportunity to know him. I am trying as best as I can to know him through the eyes of others who knew him, but in a way that is a terrible tease that can never be relieved. Then I feel angry because I wouldn’t feel this way at all if they had just told me, even when I became an adult. I could still have known him for 10 years before he died. It makes me feel frustrated and angry to think they didn’t know me well enough to know I would have wanted to know, or honored me enough to accept that I deserved to know. Or maybe they knew that and just were too stubborn to change their mind about the decision they made when I was an infant. It’s all so unfair – all of these monumental decisions made that affect me that I never even had a chance to consider how I might feel about it, let alone participate in the decision.

I do believe there was no malice in the decision, and that they probably truly felt it was best for them and for me. In that light I can accept it, but still comfort with it eludes me. I think that is also because I can’t find a way to reconcile how my adoptive parents thought about my biological parents and how they must have disregarded any potential for pain they might have. If the APs believed that the BPs were just irresponsible children who wouldn’t give a second thought to the baby they created, that feels like a harsh judgment, and -the more I learn about both of them – an unfair and simply wrong one. If they believed my BPs were better than that but that they would just move on with their lives and forget all about me, that feels like a negative assessment on me – that I am easily forgotten. Transferable.  And also that I would never have any feelings about it, or right to even know.

It seems to me that the way adoption was practiced in this country (and still is, to some extent), the only parties that actually have any rights are the adoptive parents. They are the only ones whose feelings are considered, and they are the ones who are protected by law and by practice. And it’s just not fair.