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Amanda’s First Day at LGA

If you would have asked me if I ever thought I would be a blogger at my personal adoption blog or at a website like LGA ten years ago, I might have replied “no way!”  My life, up until about the age of twenty-three had always followed a simple, perhaps peculiar, equation.  I am adopted.  I love my adoptive parents.  I could have no ambivalence about being adopted.

No one was welcome to challenge my view on any one of those accepted principles because it meant they all got challenged.  It just so happened at the age of twenty-one, I had a terrible health scare that made me challenge just how really “OK” I was with how adoption operated considering that adoption law and practice were the only reasons why I had no genetic information to supply my doctors with.  I engaged with my agency for a little while about reunion.  I finally concluded that my own health was not reason enough for me to try to pursue my records or find my original family.  As some of you might know, I not only am reunited but I have my original birth certificate and uncensored state adoption file.  So, what changed?

I still try to answer that question now.  It most assuredly was the birth of my first child.  He was the first genetic relative I had ever in my life seen.  He caused me to ask questions and challenge my own adoption equation.  Why?  Simply put, I became ideologically inconsistent.  I did not hold the same values for myself that I did for my child.  I would never tell my child he can not know his family medical history or his ancestry.  I would never tell my child he isn’t allowed to voice his opinion on his own story or that he can’t know about his own life from birth forward.  I would never expect my child to put aside his feelings to try to protect mine.  I’m someone’s child (and here’s one of the few instances you’ll ever read me refer to myself as a child); why don’t I view myself and my parents the same way?  Can I?

The answer is yes.  I don’t think my parents had any idea that I had feelings, ambivalence, happiness, sadness, you name it, when it came to being adopted.

Yes, I was worthy of family medical history.  Yes, I am worthy of equal treatment under the law–to access my own identifying records the same way everyone else who isn’t adopted can.  Yes, I have a right to know my own story from start to finish, interpret it myself, give it meaning, change my opinion as time goes on, and talk about it.  I have the right to feel any particular way I want to about it.  Why did it take me so long to come to this conclusion?  I’m not sure I will ever truly know.

Today is my first day and this is my first post as an editor at LGA.  For those of you who do not know me,  I blog at The Declassified Adoptee and at Lost Daughters.  I am also a contributor at Adoption Voices Magazine.

I was born in 1985, fostered for almost 5 months, and legally adopted at 8 months old.  My monoracial adoption was closed and was facilitated by the largest adoption agency in the United States.  I am a Social Work student, a Case Manager for a community-based social service agency, a Christian Universalist, and feminist.  I am also an Adoptee Rights Activist and on the board of the Adoptee Rights Coalition.

Here’s to good times, healing, and more importantly…progress.  A place at the table for every adult adoptee.

About Amanda (22 Articles)
Amanda serves the adoption and foster care communities through individual and family clinical work, group work, writing and presenting, and policy advocacy. Her writing and presentations reach broad audiences through multiple books, magazines, news and radio interviews, and conferences, and she has engaged legislators at the state and congressional levels. Her writing and work focuses on the experience of being adopted, intersecting social justice issues, and adoption community centered & initiated movement toward positive change. Amanda is a Yahoo!Voices featured mom activist and is listed in the Top 20 Adoption blogs by Adoptive Families Magazine.

14 Comments on Amanda’s First Day at LGA

  1. I’m very moved by your story! Welcome! Although I’m not the adoptee, my husband is & we have 2 teenage daughters. We have been trying to find out how to get his information since his health crisis for the last six months that is STILL going on. Doctors are fruatrated when we can’t provide more info, but he can’t be their first adoptee patient. His mom has given me a huge notebook FULL of information- pretty much every shred of paper surrounding his adoption thru Gladney, but they want us to pay for a file we already have that may not ever been added to?! Pay to get on a registry list that he should have had every right to in the first place seeing how much he was “purchased” for to start with. (angry rant over). He just wants answers. His adoptive mom does too. I do, & my children deserve it now more than ever. But I just don’t know where to start & have had no idea how to. My heart is breaking & I feel like time is running out. I don’t want my daughters to go through what he’s going through if we can find out their history soon enough. Being a nurse, I know how important medical history on a person is. Sorry for that- had to get it out! Welcome to the blog I follow with much love & I am happy for you that you’ve been able to obtain your original Birth Cert & have made peace with your decision. Kids make everything open our eyes to what we never want to think or feel, & that’s what they’re supposed to do =))

    • Hi Courtney, thank you for reading and for your kind words and comment.

      Feel free to email me (declassifiedadoptee [at] gmail [dot] com) with your husband’s birth state. I might be able to provide you with the legal code, or at least the government agency, that could help him go a non-Gladney route in finding his original family/information. If you have quite a bit of non-identifying information that could provide clues that may lead to a find, a search angel may be able to help you. I have a few resources and contacts listed here on this page that might help: http://www.declassifiedadoptee.com/p/adoption-related-resources.html

      Good luck to you all and I wish him lots of healing and the answers he deserves.

      • Thank you so very much. We have seen many losses in our family over the last month & with other things, haven’t been able to be on here much. I’ll email you the info! Thanks again 🙂

  2. I love your honesty about your change of feelings and reason for it. I think it is sad, the number of people still suffering illness which, could more than likely, be treated properly or even eliminated with the medical information. And I don’t mean the background they may receive at birth…I mean an ongoing updated version of a medical file which matters! We, the adoptees are not cattle, and our risk factor for certain diseased should be given to us, along with current working treatments. I, personally, suffer from migraines. This is exacerbated by so many pain relievers that do not, in fact, relieve pain. So many depression medications have not worked; and when I find what does work; it often fizzles after 2 years and we have to start over. My oldest children are now parents. Recently my grandson was born and they thought he had some kind of genetic disorder; but of course I had no history to provide. So began the series of testing which could have been avoided. And so it is for so many adoptees…if you go to the Dr or ER with a complaint but DO NOT HAVE A MEDICAL HISTORY, you will be given lots more test than you normally would need. For those of us with no insurance, it is more than a nuisance, it is outrageously expensive. Since my adoption was illegal; and no papers were filed, (the Dr just wrote in my ‘parents’ names as birth parents), I will never be able to know the truth. But for all the rest; I hope the states open the records and soon!!

    • Hi Elizabeth. Thank you for your kind feedback.

      I am so sorry to head about the health problems you and your family have had to deal with without family medical history. I too suffer from migraines. When my sons were born with something called “tongue-tie” (which thankfully can be resolved naturally) everyone looked my way because it’s genetic and I was the parent without (at the time) genetic information. This lack of information is terrible for all the reasons you so eloquently listed. There’s also this feeling of being inadequate because you can’t give answers to your children about certain things because you never had the answers for yourself. It’s terrible, isn’t it?

      You likely already considered this but I have heard wonderful things about https://www.23andme.com/ from adoptees who have tried it. Hopefully as DNA testing becomes increasingly common, the costs will go down and this route will provide you the answers you and so many others are entitled to.

  3. megamomof10 // July 2, 2012 at 10:23 am // Reply

    I am excited as more and more adoptees are standing up and demanding their OBC’s. It is soo important to have the medical information on so many levels. I have no idea what I may have risk factors for. I don’t know what works in my genetic makeup for migraines. And not just me…my children are having children so they need answers too! I, personally, will never get my information because the Dr took it upon himself to just put my ‘parents’ names as the birth parents. So I was never adopted and I don’t have any OBC to get information from should my state decide to open records… But for all the rest; I wish you to get them sooner rather than later. I hope it becomes an avalanche of states finally seeing the importance and giving them to the adoptees. It is our right.

    • “I hope it becomes an avalanche of states finally seeing the importance and giving them to the adoptees. It is our right.”

      Here, here! Well said.

  4. I’m the child of an adoptee. I wish he had the same passion for finding his birth family that you found. I wasn’t all that passionate about finding my birth grandparents and birth aunts, uncles, and cousins until I had my own child. Now I feel guilty that I cannot pass on my complete medical history to her. That paragraph where you talked about having an inconsistent ideology for your son versus yourself deeply resonated with me. Congratulations on joining LGA as an editor! I love reading your Declassified Adoptee posts, and now I look forward to reading your stuff here as well. 🙂

    • Thanks so much for your wonderful comment, Monika.

      I am the adoptive grand-daughter of an adult adoptee and I have felt the same way for my dad’s sake. I’ve tried to explain to my grandmother that she is the only one who has any opportunity there might be to get answers about her heritage for her kids, her kids’ kids, and her great-grandkids. But so far, I have been unable to convince her to move forward for their sake. It’s really a shame.

      I hope your dad comes around 🙂

  5. Thank you for this piece Amanda. I have not written much about myself being a product of adoption… one generation removed. Beyond my biological parents- my family tree breaks and disappears on both sides. Your words have inspired me to write down my own journey with my personal losses. I have written over the years about being an adoptive mom but not much at all about how adoption impacted me far before my children came into my life. I haven’t blogged in awhile but you have given me a good literary push to do so! Love seeing you here and looking forward to listening to more.

    • Hi Diane,

      Thank you so much for your thoughtful remarks. I did not know that you had adopted ancestors. As you know, I have two adopted grandparents as well, and I identify in many ways with what you’ve said. I look forward to reading your thoughts and perceptions from your experience with adoption from this different angle.

      (((hugs)))

      • Amanda,
        Yes, I do! I blogged briefly about it a long time ago. I think it might have been when my oldest daughter was assigned the dreaded ‘family tree project’ at school. I remember thinking- Holy Moley, how the heck are we going to graft her unknown bio family, her Chinese foster family and my own mangled family tree… that looks like it was struck by lightning! Oh my. It ended up being quite a beautiful tree (after many discussions on how to approach the assignment) and she handled it in an artistically lovely way. I believe that was the only time I ever spoke publicly about my own adoption family history. It is certainly worth emotionally revisiting in words so thank you for the prompt to do so!

        ((((hugs back)))))

  6. Congrats Amanda
    Love to read anything you write,Thanks for all your support as well!
    janice

  7. whimsyellie // March 11, 2013 at 12:15 pm // Reply

    Reblogged this on whimsyellie's Blog and commented:
    I’m getting back on the “blogging horse” & staying on this time! Looking forward to creating content that all who follow my journey will be interested, captivated, mesmerized by & hopefully identify with!! Here goes nothing!! Wish me luck =) & thanks to my readers!! You’re the reason I am following my heart in my decision to continue forward!! xoxoxo ✌❤☺

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