A Volunteer's Story
About the time that the movie Annie was released I began to realize I was different. I
remember classmates and friends asking me dozens of silly questions about how it was to
live in an orphanage, and about whom my real mother was. I just couldn’t understand
why no one understood that adoption experiences are not like those depicted in the
movies; for me it was real, and it was natural.
Entering my preteen years, when everything normal suddenly isn’t, I began to feel different. Everyone that I knew had a family that they were related to by blood. My friends all looked like their parents, brothers and sisters; however, I did not. I didn’t look like my mother, I didn’t look like my father, and I didn’t look like my adopted brother. Sometimes people would comment on the differences between my adoptive mother and me, and other times people would comment on the similarities. After my mother explained that I was adopted, I always felt embarrassed, not because I was ashamed, but because I dreaded the silly questions and comments that would always seem to follow.
As I grew older, the fact that I was adopted embarrassed me less, and piqued my curiosity more. I was told that I was adopted ever since I can remember. I was also made aware that when I turned eitghteen, I would be able to meet my birth mother. My eighteenth birthday was a day that I looked forward to more and more each year.
I grew up as a part of a wonderful family. My adoptive mother and father were both teachers, and my younger adoptive brother is an outgoing, thoughtful child who helped to bring me out of my extreme shy phase. My parents gave me a wonderful education, and provided the chance to try many sports and activities in which I was interested. I could talk to my mother about anything, and she would listen and advise. Throughout my teenage years we had many rocky times, but nothing unlike any family goes through in those awkward years. My birth mother gave me the most wonderful, unselfish gift, a loving family.
On my eighteenth birthday, I sent a letter to the government asking for information on my birth mother. Every day I checked my mailbox for a reply, but it was weeks before I finally got a reply. The information in the letter I received from the Government was not at all what I expected. The letter stated that I was now on a waiting list to have the search done for my birth mother, and the wait to begin the search was ten years away. It further stated that while I was waiting for my search to be done, I would be provided with a copy of my family history; however, it would contain no identifying information. It took two years before I received my family history. The report contained six full pages describing a family I may never meet.
In 1993, nine years after my adoptive mother’s first bout with cancer, she passed away. The death of my adoptive mother put a stop to my search for my birth mother, as I felt like I was trying to replace the mother who raised me. It was not until a few years later that I remembered how my adoptive mother had encouraged me to search, and would be helping me today if she were still alive.
My best friend Janet was reunited with her birth mother in 1997, and that came as a huge shock to me. Janet’s intent in searching was to know her medical records, not to meet her birthmother, nor to establish a personal relationship. When Janet first told me about her wonderful news, I couldn’t believe it. Janet, who wasn’t overly interested in finding her birth mother, was going to be reunited; I was still waiting to be found! On the other hand I was very excited for Janet. I could live vicariously through her, and she could fulfill my dreams of meeting my birth mother for me.
I was born on September 12, 1973, named Adrienne Denise V. I am now 24 years old. The government is still 2-3 years away from conducting a search for my birth mother, and my personal six years’ search has been put on hold. In 1997 I started a free adoption registry on the Internet called “FindMe” (http://www.findme.org) in hopes of making me, and others like me easy to find. This project has been very meaningful to me, and helps me get through the lonely times. Reuniting other adoptees with their birth mothers is a very touching, joyful experience. It makes me feel like I am making a difference. Since my search for my birth mother has been put on hold for now, I have done a lot of thinking about why I am searching in the first place and have come to many conclusions.
I do not think many people have one single reason for why they want to search, as I know that I have many. The most obvious reason is curiosity. I have a need to look at someone who looks like me, talk to someone who talks like me, and read something from someone who writes like me. I need to know from where I came, and from whom I came. Unlike a lot of adoptees, I do not need to know why I was given up, or under what circumstances; I just need to know who the woman was that gave birth to me. The second reason why I am searching is because I no longer have a mother to whom I can talk as an adult. I have never been given the chance to have an adult conversation with my mother, share things with her, have her attend my special moments. I haven’t been able to have the close mother-daughter relationship which often blossoms in the adult years. My third reason is what I call my selfish reason; I want what everyone else has. I want to know my mother, even if we don’t get along. I want to be able to say the expression "my mom" and mean it. I want to have what all children raised by their natural parents takes for granted, their mother.