She's Adopted

They just didn't tell her

Confortably Numb on November 26

on November 26, 2013
So they say I was born on today’s date. November 26.
Truth is, we all know that Birthdays are different for most of us adoptees. I really don’t think it’s possible for my friends and family to fully understand my feelings towards Birthdays, Thanksgiving and Christmas. All of it got lost since the day I found out I was adopted.
Usually a birthday is a celebration of life and a time to remember the joyous day a child was brought into this world, welcomed by family with nothing but love.
It hurts to not know anything about your actual birthday and the thought that me being born brought nothing but pain to some and no joy at all to others can be overwhelming, specially at this time of the year for me.
Life is precious though. And I can still see how lucky I am to have met some fantastic people during this journey. We are all here for a reason and we all have people we love in our lives. That helps take the sting out of birthdays….


What’s Up With Adoptees and Birthdays?

By Deanna Doss Shrodes

Why are birthdays such a triggering event for a many adoptees? There are a plethora of reasons. To share just a few that come to my mind that some non-adoptees may be unaware of…

A lot of mystery surrounds many adoptees’ birthdays. Most adoptees do not currently have access to their original birth certificate (OBC) and have  what is known as an amended birth certificate (ABC).

Much of what is on an ABC are lies. Some ABC’s even state the wrong date as the day the adoptee was born. When the adoption is finalized, some states give the option of changing the birth date and the place of birth!

Obviously, this falsifying of the OBC covers up the adoptee’s true origin.  Of course, the names of the parents on an amended birth certificate are also falsified. Keep in mind, it is a birth certificate, not an adoption certificate. Should the details of BIRTH not be accurate on a BIRTH certificate? Can you imagine not knowing if your birthday is your actual birthday? Or not knowing where you were really born? Or who actually birthed you?

For many adoptees, birthdays only remind them of all they still don’t know about themselves. It can serve as a painful reminder of losing your first family, experiencing what is known as “secondary rejection,” or a host of other issues.

Almost without exception the adoptees I talk to share with me that on their birthday they think a lot of their first mother and wonder if she’s thinking about them too.

What I’ve just shared is not the entire reason adoptee birthdays are sometimes challenging – it’s just a small part of it.

When it comes to discovering truth about adoption, I’m a huge fan of asking adoptees questions. So I did! The only way you can truly understand adoption is to ask the people who are the ones who are actually adopted.   Many responded in public on the Adoptee Restoration Facebook page as well as in private. Due to the response I am going to break them into two posts. (If adoptees responded privately and requested to reply anonymously, their name was changed.)

Photo Credit: exfordy, Flickr

Ashley M

I turned 45 yesterday…we think.. Aging really doesn’t bother me — but there are things associated with the date they picked out for me that do bother me. You might think that by 45 I would have a good grip on this, but I don’t. I think because there are parts of it that are still new to me. I was in denial about how it was impacting me for about 33 years of my life, and then it took a few more years past that before I started really being honest with myself about what was going on.

There has been a lot of processing and a lot of healing, but I’m still not in great shape when it rolls around. The week before is an interesting mix of emotions that I am struggling to figure out what to do with. I don’t blame those around me –it has nothing to do with them, but the feelings are still there despite what I try to do to manage it. Distracting myself doesn’t help a whole lot either. I know there will be a lot of tears, for one reason or another.

I try to journal everything out and I read out of a book that I’ve been reading for about the past six years (I’m only about 2/3 of the way through.) The book contains letters from Korean birthmothers to the children they gave up for adoption. I’m hoping to gain insight into what Korean birthmothers think about, so that so that maybe I might have an idea of what went through her head with me.

Either way, both the journaling and the book have been really helpful in helping me grieve over what I have lost, which is necessary for me to do. The day after my birthday, I feel bruised all over. I now have a better idea as to why I am a wreck at this time of the year.

I am looking for her and it is doubtful I will ever know her, despite recent changes in Korean policy.

Trying to make it something different, or trying to skip it altogether has failed miserably. Honestly, I am at a loss as to what more I can possibly do with this time.

Renee Lynne

My adopters could never seem to remember my birthday. I always had to remind my adoptive mother, even when I was a child.

Although (or maybe because?) there was never really any fuss made, I always secretly liked my birthday. It was the only connection I had to my mother.

When I began searching in earnest and realized the info on my birth certificate had been changed, I was so shocked and frightened to think that my birthday might be off. It would have been a pretty profound injustice for me; taking away the one thing I had left after losing it all.

The birthday card my aunt (mom’s sister) sent me on my birthday (age 51) after we finally met read, “Happy 1st Birthday!!”

Sigh. If only.

Rob D. McClintock

I never really had a problem about my birthday. My adoptive family has always celebrated my birthday with decent fanfare. However, last year months after my birthday, I was given some paperwork and it listed a date of 08/08 instead of 08/16 as my birthday. This was paperwork when I had a minor medical procedure done at four months old and my identifying info had that date.

As these dates approach I am now confused and wonder what else about my life may be false. I am still processing coming out of the fog and still not sure what to do next. Fear of the unknown is strong and that other me — the pre-adoption me — still wants to stay hidden and safe. Whose birthday have I really been celebrating all these years? Some will say it’s just a date but adoptees know it is much more than that. Thank you Deanna, for allowing us to share.

Karen Brown Belanger 

It’s only something adoptees can get, really. And it’s such a different day for so many of us. Another reason to ponder your belly button.

Rebecca Hawkes

It may be a symptom of lingering fog, but I didn’t strongly associate my birthday with my b-fam until recently. This coming birthday, however, I will be spending the day at a blues festival with my b-dad, b-mom, b-brother, and some other folks I love. And that feels RIGHT. 🙂

Yvonne Bernath

Birthday = pain, abandonment, resentment, brokenness, sadness, an unfilled longing. I still struggle with my birthday and would gladly erase it from the calendar. Years ago I referred to it as ‘Abandonment Day’ which made people so uncomfortable with no response.

Lorene Wages Fairchild 

When I became a teenager I dreaded my birthdays. I usually had to put on a big smile and pretend everything was wonderful so as not to disappoint the people around me. I was secretly wondering if my real parents were thinking about me on that day and that hurt so much. The truth is I felt so rejected by them and birthdays just magnified those feelings.

Carolyn Sandifer Espina 

Consciously, I never thought my adoption affected my feelings regarding my birthday. However, I wound up getting married on my birthday. I realize now that I chose to do that subconsciously to ‘cover up’ my birthday and turn it into another celebration. On that day every year I make it all about my relationship with my husband – and not at all about myself or my birthday. I even feel ‘bad’ when people offer birthday wishes – I usually ‘correct’ them and say “it’s also my wedding anniversary” instead of just accepting their well wishes.

Karen Brown Belanger 

This is the poem I wrote about my feelings as an adoptee on my birthday.

Unhappy Birthday

There were no birth announcements.

No cigars were handed out.

No newborn baby pictures.

No parent’s joyous shouts.

No counting toes and fingers.

No comparing eyes and chins.

No nursery decorated.

No proud grandparent grins.

Instead the day that I was born,

a mother silently wept.

While in a room close to her,

her newborn daughter slept.

So close we were together.

So far we’re now apart.

Two lives were separated.

A love doomed from the start.

And so each year since I was born,

this day has been the same.

No one can know the sadness.

No one can know the pain.

No candles ever bright enough

to light my darkened soul.

No happy birthday party.

No heart that can be whole.

3 responses to “Confortably Numb on November 26

  1. For years, especially once I moved out on my own (at age 18) I made a big big deal out of my birthday – to compensate for the fact that it was a dark day in reality – one in which no one was celebrating. Later when I met my bparents (at age 26) I found out that my bmom was always prostrate on that day – in a dark room, miserable, wondering if I were dead or alive. Now, after so many years, I don’t think much about it, it’s another day. I guess time heals all wounds. But I think having the truth of my identity helped more than time.

  2. Hannah Ha says:

    Why give power to a date? So many things could go wrong for any human being, one could have been born blind, born without limbs, lived on the streets without being protected, had an abusive family, be sexually exploited by adults, etc Why not think about all the good things that happened to your life instead of focusing on the things that have gone wrong? Ultimately we all belong to the creator who places us in different situations. As kids we are fragile needing protection. Why not celelbrate the fact that as a kid you had a roof over your head, a warm place to sleep and adults to protect you from harm. The world is not perfect. On another note even if you completely disagree with me,check out this video

    • Lu Gualberto says:

      Hi Hanna,

      Thank you for your input. I don’t even know where to start with my reply, but I will try my best to cover all your points with my own perception of things as a person who “supposedly” should have the same rights to know about my origins as you and any other human being.
      I can tell you haven’t read my Bio, so I will do my best to explain to you as someone who, like many others out there in the world, have being struggling through life in many different ways as well as a Late Discover Adoptee who was physically abused as a child, who was born with a life threatening genetic Disease called Marfan Syndrome and because all of the lies created by the adoptive family to protect themselves, almost died in a hospital with an aortic aneurysm for not knowing anything about my genetic origin.
      Being adopted is a tragedy for the child, Hanna. We are talking about being rejected at birth. How can someone say that is a good thing to lose your entire family in one day? How can someone even think that we should just get over it and move on????
      Adopting a child might be the best thing for most parents seeking to adopt but for the child it means rejection. Do you understand that??
      Yes I had a roof over my head. Yes, I had food at the table and I went to school. But is that what life is all about?
      As Nancy Verrier, writer of the book Primal Wound wrote: “The loss of the thread of family continuity, a deep identification with his ancestors whose genes are stamped into every cell of his body, contributes to the sense of insecurity felt by the adoptee. No matter how competent and loving the adoptive mother, the child shares no genetic history with her. He is deprived of that primitive relationship with the mother with whom he did share that history.” But this is something that you and many people out there are able to understand unless it affects you personally as an adoptee.
      The most helpful thing a human being can learn in life is to be conscious of himself as an individual, and to be aware of who and what he is. Determining identity is a difficult process for some brought up by his natural parents; it is more complex for the individual whose ancestry is unknown to him.

      This idea that some people have that adoptees are “lucky”, adoptees are supposed to be happy and grateful that they were somehow saved from either “ending up in an dumpster” or ”from being aborted”, that we should be “happy with the parents we got” and that we are supposed to just accept the life that they were given and not care about their medical history or the fact that they are discriminated against by the government who denies Adoptee Rights is just stupid, to say the least.

      I am really sorry that you have such a closed mind about other people’s point of view, people that are directly affected by adoption, the ones who really knows how it is to be adopted.

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