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Reunion and the Eggshell Syndrome
An Adoptees View of Sealed Records
Tell Adopted, Foster Kids About Parents

Reunion and the Eggshell Syndrome

On November 4, 2000, I attended the Adoption Forum 2000 conference in Fort   Washington, PA, my first time attending such an event. While driving home I gave thought to all of the sessions I attended (all relating to reunion) and what I learned from each.   One word that came into my mind regarding every session was "eggshells".

In each session there was at least one person who professed how cautious they were in dealing with another member of their personal triad.   There was adoptive mother afraid of losing her relationship with her daughter.   During her keynote, author of "The Other Mother", birthmother Carole Schaefer told us how for many years she was "walking on eggshells" during each meeting with her son. Fellow Finders Keepers member Sandy, another birthmother, explained to me how she felt as though she was "walking on eggshells" in any kind of communication with both her son and daughter.   

I do it myself, taking extra time to formulate what I say to my own birthmother, examining each word in every letter to make sure I won't   offend.   We are in varying lengths of "reunion time", from my six months to Ms. Schaefer's 15 years. We were the searchers and those that were found and we all seem to suffer from what I'm dubbing "The Eggshell Syndrome".  

I think author of "Adoption Nation", adoptive father Adam Pertman was onto something when he commented about being open and honest early on - from details you want to know about the other person, to expectations that you have.   That's not to say bring everything to the forefront and lay it on the line during your first contact, but sometime in the relationship - I believe the earlier the better - to discuss how to handle questions when they arise.  

There's nothing wrong with establishing movable boundaries - it's a form of self-protection for everyone.   Those boundaries must be respected, and agreeing that an answer such as "I'm not ready to discuss that now" is perfectly acceptable and should be taken for what it is.   It shouldn't be interpreted as a personal offense.   Each individual needs a personal amount of time to deal with an issue, especially if they hadn't considered it before, without being forced (which could create resentment).   Additionally, the importance of the issue to the other party is recognized, and each person is aware that it will have to be dealt with in the future for the relationship to continue progressively.  

I discovered that by not letting my own questions or expectations known, I haven't given my birthmother the chance to decide for herself.   I should give her the opportunity to say "I don't want to deal with this right now" or "So glad you brought it up".  In effect, I'm controlling her by not allowing her to express her opinions herself.   I'm also keeping part of myself hidden and she won't get to know the "whole me".   I'm trying to create what I perceive as a "normal" relationship, talking about kids, work, daily events because the terms "birthmother" and "adoptee" don't have a relationship/placement definition attached to them in a "reunion/family" scenario and I'm too damned scared to ask what she believes my place/position/relationship in her life is or what she wants it to become.  
When thinking of all of this, I couldn't wait to get home and send an email to my birthmother about what I learned.   I wanted to let her know that there are things I haven't asked, not out of disinterest but out of fear of offending or overwhelming her and losing our relationship. I wanted to let her know that she won't alienate me by say "I'm not ready to discuss this right now" and then thought, "who am I to assume that she does want me to stick around!"   I typed the line "I want to share this with you" and had immediate self-doubt: maybe she doesn't want me to share; maybe she doesn't want to be confronted with another "adoption thing"; maybe I'll push her away.  Changing "The Eggshell Syndrome" requires conscious effort, regardless of how psyched you are about it!

Open communication allows things to be resolved so that we can move forward in our relationships, making them stronger.   Rather than walking on those delicate eggshells, I want my road to be paved with gold!

Michele Houston
Born Judith Ann Colpo 7/16/65
Reunited with birthmother 6/17/00
ISO birthfather Larry Veech

An Adoptees View of Sealed Records

Try if you can to picture this scenario. You have lived your whole life thinking you are someone you really aren't. You have called people "Mom and Dad", only to find out that there are 2 other people who bear the distinction of "Mom and Dad". You build your life,dreams and identity as one person, only to find out that for a period of time, brief as it might have been, you had a different name, lived with different people, and in a different location other than what you have always called "home." Maybe you think and feel that it was so long ago that it doesn't matter. You keep living your life like you always have, never stopping to think about "your other identity". Then one day something happens and you find you HAVE to know where you came from. It might be for medical reasons for you or your children, or you just have a burning desire to KNOW your roots. When you go and try to find out who you were before, you are told" It is sealed and you aren't allowed to know". As far as everyone is concerned, your first identity doesn't exist. You have been given a new life, new name, new parents, and that is the end of it.

To have someone wipe out your whole beginning, is worst crime anyone could commit. They cause feelings and issues that may never be resolved. It might be more acceptable if it was done by someone close to you, who really did love you,want to protect you, and was doing what was best for you. That would still be wrong, but a little more tolerable. Only,,your identity has been ripped from you by people who don't know a thing about you, nor do they give a damn how you feel, or what you think. These people have no connections to you, have no connections to anyone involved in situations like these. They have just "appointed" themselves as authorities on what is best for everyone. They have no idea what is best, because they have never been close or involved with an adoption. In many cases, they have caused a form of abuse that is more hideous than all the rest. They have started the ball rolling into physical,mental, and sexual abuse. They abused their power as lawmakers,and pushed it onto people they have no concept of.

If life was fair,and things were just, these same lawmakers who made the desicion, and those who keep trying to pass laws to support the sealed records, would have their identities srtipped from them for just 1 month. They would go thru the frustration,pain,and hopelessness we have all gone thru trying to find something that is so basic, most people take it for granted. They would face the day to day problems we have run into. Their children would have illnesses and need a family history, and none could be found. They would have to go to a Dr and have to tell them they know nothing because they were adopted. They would have to do a family tree for their children that is full of holes, or "fake" because it is all about "other peoples roots".

Maybe,just maybe, they would finally realize what most of us have lived with for many years. Then, they could see how trying to play "God" with someone's elses life can have devastating effects for years to come, on people they know nothing about. Let them try to "forget it", or "get over it". Maybe then the government would see that this is one place that they have trully overstepped their boundaries not only as lawmakers, but also as decent human beings.

Renee Grande
October 17, 2000
posted with permission

Tell Adopted, Foster Kids About Parents

As a person who floundered in the maze surrounding the adoption
process, I want to document my opposition to House Bill 365 sponsored
by Rep. Maier and Sen. Amick.

I believe it is every person's consitutional right, whether an adoptive or
foster child, to know who he or she is. The creation of substituted or
false documents, sealed documents, time frames and so on, as suggested
by House Bill 365, place obstructions that violate this right.

I feel that at age 21 adopted and foster children should be granted the
opportunity to know who their birthparents are and allowed to pursue,
with discretion those findings.

Joseph H. Cross
New Castle

-The News-Journal
Thursday, September 4, 1997

Joe Cross died on September 15, 1997.


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Last modified: January 08, 2001