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
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
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!
Born Judith Ann Colpo 7/16/65
Reunited with birthmother 6/17/00
ISO birthfather Larry Veech
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.
October 17, 2000
posted with permission
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
Thursday, September 4, 1997
Joe Cross died on September 15, 1997.