Being adopted was no big deal for me. It was my reality. As a teenager and young adult I was often asked, “Why do you care?” While this sounds like an innocent question, it actually was a reminder that being adopted was being different.
Why did I care? I guess the traditional answer of having good health information made sense. But it was more than that. Knowing that I could have relatives out there that could be looking for me was a concern. Did I have brothers and sisters? Were my days of being an only child over?
As a high school student, I requested a copy of my birth certificate and was told it was not available. So I went on with my life. When I got to college, being adopted seemed to be unimportant. Two years earlier, my dad was diagnosed with cancer, and everything changed. He retired early, the house was quieter, and money was tight. I had been accepted at a major university two hours from home and was on a real high. But his illness took the fun away. There was no extra money, so I decided to attend a local university and make the best of it. At least I would be close by if I was needed. College was a great adventure, but my heart wasn’t in it. After about a year, I left school and eventually got married. When each of my kids was born, the adoption issue came to mind.
Within the next six years, my dad passed, I had three kids, got a divorce, and moved back to my hometown. At this point in my life I was in survival mode, and being adopted continued to be a fact of life and not a real concern.
Five years later, I remarried and we became the Brady Bunch: My three kids and his one son made up the clan. Life was challenging, but adoption stayed on the back burner. Each year on my birthday, I would mention to my husband that I should start looking for my birth mother, and year after year, I did nothing.
Four years after I remarried, my mom passed from cancer. So I was an orphan again and decided it was time. I called the Ohio vital records in Columbus and asked about my original birth certificate, and I was told it was available and go come to Columbus to pick it up. Unbelievable! It seems that in Ohio, adoptions before 1960 were not generally sealed. I was furious that earlier information was incorrect. On the other hand, it was for the best. I think my mom would have been hurt if I searched in earnest while she was alive. So the timing was right.
So at the age of 35 I went to Columbus and to the Records Bureau and picked up the brown envelope that contained my story. I will never forget the day. As I opened the envelope, I found my original birth certificate, my birth name, adoption papers, and court records. I learned I was my birth mother’s second child. I had a sibling. The search from my identity was over, but I would never be the same.