She knew her birth mother would say “no” to a reunion. She knew her birth mother was from a small, conservative town in Missouri. She knew her birth mother returned to that town. She knew her birth mother would say “no” because the adoptee is bi-racial. She thought, however, that her birth mother would say something along the lines of “glad you’re ok,” “I’ve thought about you…” “Do you want medical information?” And she expected her to say…” I can’t do this…” But she didn’t count on what I heard when the woman called me…. “It’s not me! Someone must have stolen my identity!”
The thing is adoption files come in all shapes and sizes. Some have very little information, some have SOME false information but that is usually limited to a name, or a date of birth because too many lies are too hard to remember. Other files have a lot of information. This adoptee’s file was a gold mine of information. It had the birth mother’s full name, her date of birth, and her social security number. It had her parents’ mailing address, her parents’ names, ages, and siblings names. It had her aunt’s name, address, and phone number where she stayed when she gave birth here in New Mexico. Her aunt is listed as the emergency contact. I didn’t tell this woman how complete the file was – not because I didn’t think I might not have the correct person – but because I could not determine if this was completely fabricated story on her part, or if this had been her ultimate way of coping; that in fact she had no memory of this event and has erased it from her mind, or even if it was possible that she is truthfully not the correct person.
The amazing thing is that she would not sign for the restricted letter. Instead she asked the post person who sent it to her, googled me, and then called. She went on to ask what I would do next since it was not her? Would the adoptee “come after” her. There are really no good answers. I can’t “go” anywhere else because all the information points clearly to the woman who called. The adoptee can’t “go after” her because she doesn’t have her information – it’s called the intermediary system. But I have to say: If someone stole this birth mother’s identity, they memorized a lot…
The woman said she found me because she was nosy and wanted to know what I was sending her a letter about. She said she had an aunt here but that’s her only connection. She indicated she’s going to have the letter sent back to me through the post office. Literally, she won’t touch it. And I decided not to divulge the details contained in the file because I knew it would not matter. All the proof in the world would not have changed this woman’s position and it would have blown up her life to actually admit anything. At one point she told me her husband would not like it if a bi-racial person came looking for her. I believe it.
What was hardest for me was not that this happened, because it does. Many adoptees must live with the fact their birth mother doesn’t want or refuses contact, including me. Sometimes a birth mother represses a birth, but it usually goes hand-in-hand with multiple relinquishments. To the adoptee, this felt like race, pure and simple.
The adoptee and I are holding out hope that the information in the file about the birth father is something I can work with, and that there is a connection with him. We shall see if I found the correct person. But just in case the nosy woman has found this post… the “girl” – she is worth knowing.
UPDATE: She found her birth mother’s family through DNA. Her biological uncle (birth mother’s brother) has reached out and they are finding their way to the new normal. I think there’s going to be a bit of a learning curve about each other, but at least there is a curve started. The biological father has promised since August that he, too, would do DNA but to date it seems there are more reasons not to send in the sample than reasons to do so. So…we wait.
Many adoptees keep the secret of their birth mothers. Birth mothers trust that the adoptee – rejected a second time – will keep that secret. Kind of amazing to me. But in any event, a refusal through this process is no longer the end. DNA is an option and sometimes reveals the truth!