Not the Whole Story
Updated: Feb 4
At age six, my parents told me the story of my adoption, a fairy tale my dad put a happy ending to. “Adopted” sounded to me like a grown-up word. Something that required special treatment. I didn't think I was born like other kids. There was no mention of another mother.
I imagined a family that came before my parents. I couldn't see my father or mother in the mirror. I had no adopted brothers and sisters until a baby girl was adopted to be my sister. I continued to fantasize about the "accident" that separated me from "the others." I couldn't ask Who are the lost people? Who are they to me?
I met my birth mother in 1993 when I was forty-two. It was a revelation, a re-birth. I had persisted in my quest for kin for over a year, and now was face to face with the woman who gave me life.
The South Carolina Law only allows me--through Catholic Charities--to have my "non-identifying information." In the State's opinion, at age seventy, I am still an adopted child, and can't see my birth records. To find my birth mother before internet access, I circumvented the law, and a network of search angels assisted me. These advocates understood that adoptees have an intrinsic right to know their origins.
Karen, my half-sister, later told me that our mother had been watching with keen interest; "fixated" on TV shows that featured mother and child reunions. None of us suspected the drama that was unfolding as I searched historical records and phone directories. Neither was Karen aware of me--her younger sister. Secrecy has kept people who should have known about each other, and given the wherewithal to search, apart.