Tag Archives: adoptees

What’s gotten you in such a huff?

I wrote the following post on Facebook a few weeks ago.  I’d had enough.

“I just read a funny post about things adoptees don’t want to hear. Yup, it was funny, and most of it, I agreed with. But I’m starting to get pissed off about people ragging on Gotcha Day. If you don’t like Gotcha Day, or don’t want one, don’t have one! Leave me and my family’s understanding and celebration of Gotcha Day to us. And just because we still celebrate it, doesn’t mean my brother and I don’t understand why people don’t like it. That doesn’t make us bad adoptees. So there. *steps off soapbox*”

Someone asked me what a Gotcha Day is in the first place….This was my response.

“Okay, essentially, a Gotcha Day is the day an adoptive family celebrates either the day the parents and child met for the first time, or maybe the day that legally the adoption passed. Some, many I guess, say that the term “Gotcha” is very skewed to the adoptive parent perspective. That it suggests a child is something to be gotten, obtained, an object. That the term ignores the whole side of the birth parent, their pain, even the pain of separation for the adoptee. Some families use the term Adoption Day or Family Day or something like that.  Apparently a lot of adoptees are quite incensed that families celebrate this day in the first place.

For me, my birthday has always been bittersweet – I’d think about my mother and what she must have been doing and thinking that day. Did she love me? Did she think about me? I didn’t have those answers until just a year ago when we reunited. But my Gotcha Day, now that was a concrete day that I knew I was loved. I was placed in my parents’ arms on November 19, 1984, and every year, even now, I get giddy and ask Mom for “the story” – the only true story until last year that I knew for sure. My parents and I have a fantastic relationship. And a few weeks ago I talked to my mom about Gotcha Days. She listened to my concerns about what so many people have been saying. She asked if I felt that way, negative about the name and the day. And I said, well I didn’t? I don’t feel like you ignored my mother by celebrating this day every year….So yeah, that’s basically the debate. I get it, for some families whose parents probably don’t have such an open relationship, a Gotcha Day might be a huge source of friction and pain for the adoptee. But not in my family. And it’s just gotten to a point, reading about it everywhere, that I had to say something.”

This is the link to the original post that got me so huffy.  While I’m really glad that Gazillion Voices exists, I do find that I don’t agree with everything they publish.  Or promote.  And that’s great.  I mean, the likelihood that all adoptees everywhere agree on every issue is…..crazy.  And we all can’t be crazy.  So anyway, leave me a message if you have any questions about Gotcha Day.  And thanks for reading.


What’s up, Buttercup?

My mom says that to me all the time.  Mostly when she calls me to say hello.  The phrase may have come from my grandpa, not sure.

I’m writing to say that I haven’t forgotten about my blog.  My next post is about something very important to me, and I feel like I need to get it right.  This may be the only time it gets written down for real, and I want to make sure I get everything in there.  I’ve considered compiling all my posts and expanding on them to create a book someday.  A memoir I guess.  We shall see.

Aside from working on that post, I’ve been visiting friends and family, working odd jobs around my hometown, and trying to figure out what the hell to do with my life.  At the very least, I’m feeling better about my “friend situation.”  Someone wise once said that friends are the family you choose….or something like that.  I agree.  Friends I’ve met through an adoption connection are some of the best I’ve ever had.  I’m super thankful to the Universe that these people have come into my life.  I’ve always wanted sisters, and through my adoptee friends, I finally have a few 🙂  I’ve got a fantastic brother already, but I’ve even managed to add a few brothers to my family too.  At least that part of my life is getting better!

I continue to struggle with the job search though.  Last night I watched the Dustin Hoffman episode of the Actors Studio on youtube.  One of the last things Mr. Hoffman says to the students is what a shame it is that we’re pressured to know what we want to do with our lives while we’re in our 20s.  “It’s a question mark decade….if you’re waiting for the job,  you will die.”  Okay, two things then.

1. Apparently I need to give myself a damn break.  It sounds silly, what with my year of volunteer service on a Native reservation, a Masters degree, and having traveled to 5.5 countries since 2004 (two of those countries twice!), but I feel like I’ve failed in the last five years.  I’m not where I thought I would be and I’m definitely not doing anything I consider important.  Shit.  Last year I did quite a bit of therapy, EMDR therapy – look it up, I recommend it for adoptees – and I did make some progress with releasing my regret and accepting where I am.  But I’m definitely not at peace yet.  So Dustin says to chill out.  SO much easier said than done.

2.  Don’t wait.  Maybe he means I should try to take little steps every day toward something, anything, and the Universe will meet me in the middle.  Or maybe he means I have to create the whole thing myself.  That seems a bit  unlikely.  I don’t live in a vacuum.  So steps every day it is then.  Damn.

This might not sound related to anything I’ve been writing here, but I promise it is.  Someday if/when I have a daughter, I’m going to do my very very best to instill a gigantic sense of self-worth in her.  I want her to be able to tell me why she’s good.  What she can do.  What she likes.  What she doesn’t like.  What she wants/needs to work at.  I’ve probably spent the last five years underestimating how awesome I am.  And I don’t mean for that to sound boastful.  But for most of my life, I’ve wondered what the hell I’m good at, if I’m really good at anything, and why the hell no one else can see me.  But no one else could see me because I didn’t see me.  I AM awesome.  I am smart.  I can solve problems.  I think in global terms, how decisions affect lots of people.  Systems.  Networks.  I’m generally a nice person.  I make friends fast.  I care about people, hot damn do I care about people!  I want other people to succeed…  Okay, Ang, now go write some of those damn coverletters.  You’re on a roll….

So what do you think of being adopted, Angela? Did you ever want to search for your birthfamily?

I was probably 23 when I first realized, no joke, that I would always be adopted.  I realized that I would never be unadopted.  I’d always be part of my adoptive family.  I would never be completely on my own.  Which was a comfort.  I also realized I wouldn’t magically become part of my birth family once I turned eighteen either.  And that was a little sad.

I do like being adopted most of the time.  It’s part of what makes me unique, it makes me interesting that I was born somewhere else.  It’s a story to tell.  I like being in the adoption club.

Have I ever thought about searching.  Yes, yes I have.  I’d always idealized my birthmother and had always wanted to meet her.  I wanted her to tell me I was special, tell me that she loved me.  Tell me it was hard for her to let me go, that I wasn’t easy to get rid of.  Off and on, once I had access to the internet, I’d search her name and copy and paste all the matches to a word document.  I always labeled it “her.”

In spring 2011 I was a second year graduate student and trying to finish my Masters thesis.  I was up late one night writing when I searched online again.  This time, I found two references of her using her name and her cédula (like Colombia’s social security number).  The first was some evidence of a transfer of money; I wasn’t really sure what it was.  The second reference looked like a court docket….ah jeez.  Um, does that mean my birthmother is a FELON?!?

Turns out no, thank goodness.  I double checked on a few websites and found my answer on the Colombian Judicial Branch’s website: my birthmother is a registered federal attorney.  Well hell’s bells.  Don’t that beat all.  I called Mom at 1:30 in the morning to tell her the news.  She was happy for me, albeit quite sleepy of course.  Just any bit of information about my birthfamily was everything to me!  I could begin to imagine her daily life, maybe the way she dressed, what she did with her time.  She began to be a real person, not just an abstract.  I somehow found a website for Bogotá’s white pages; I searched her name and one, just one contact came up.  Of course I cried!  I looked up the address on Google Maps and thought that maybe I really had found her.  The area of town that she lived in was a moderate to upscale part of town, which is where I might expect a lawyer to live.  Next I happened onto a site that could tell you where a person last registered to vote.  I plugged in her cédula and confirmed that she voted in the vicinity of where the white pages said she lived.  Hot damn!  It is her!

I sat on the information for about a year.  I was wrapped up with finishing my thesis, finding a job, and figuring out what to do with my life.  I joined two Facebook groups for adult Colombian adoptees and was busy getting to know my new friends from around the world.  And honestly, I was pretty freaked out that all my dreams about my birthmother might become a reality.  And letting go of my dreams for reality is pretty freaking scary.  …My friends and I started talking about returning to Colombia as a group for the 40th anniversary of FANA, and my drive to try to make contact with my birthmother hit turbo…