Who Am I?

The Quest for My Truth

Tom Andriola May 22, 2014
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Who am I? It’s an age-old question that so many people ask themselves. But as an adoptee, it just seems so much more significant to me. I’ve wondered that all my life, and not just from the philosophical standpoint but from the perspective of my unquenchable desire to know about the very essence of my being–my roots, if you will. As far as anyone else knew, I was Italian. Both my parents were Italian and I grew up in an Italian household. As far as I knew, I had no idea. But I wanted to know the truth.

My parents adopted me when I was 3 months old in 1971, and they were straight-up with me from as far back as I can remember. And that’s the way I would’ve wanted it. In fact, I know that if the truth had been hidden from me and I somehow found out later in life, I would have felt angry and betrayed. I’m glad they chose the route they did, and I am lucky to have them in my life.

It’s nobody’s fault a vast majority of the time, but many adoptees feel like they were abandoned from the very beginning of their lives regardless of the situation they find themselves in later in life. Sure, there are explanations: extenuating circumstances, mothers and sometimes fathers who just aren’t in a position to take care of their baby. In many cases, especially back when I was born, it was a social stigma to have a child out of wedlock, and I would bet that played a role in many women’s “decisions” to give up their babies. I’ve also heard stories about adoptees being told their parents had died in a car crash so they wouldn’t think they were simply abandoned.

This is the start of a journey that I hope you will take with me. One that I hope you will find useful in your quest for information about adoption through the lens of my story. It’s a story about searching for truth. Somehow, it seems that the truth always comes to light, eventually. And I think there’s good reason for that. My belief is that not much good comes out of keeping secrets, and you will see that theme throughout my stories as they unfold.

I will warn you: There are twists and turns. I was the first child in my family. I was also the youngest. How can that be, you might ask. Well, my two older brothers were adopted after I was, but they were older. Unfortunately, they came with baggage that one can only speculate about because the house became chaotic and my eldest brother ended up sexually abusing me when I was 11 years old. There will be more to follow on that, but not right now.

I started my search when I was in my 20s, and I found my birth mother at the age of 26. The advent of the Internet helped my cause although doing a search was still a little clunky in 1997. A little over three years ago, I found my birth father. That search was a little different. The Internet was, of course, much more sophisticated, and social media was widespread and gave me the opportunity to connect the dots much more easily. As the dialogue unfolded, I navigated the waters carefully in hopes of connecting with my three half siblings from my father’s side and reached out to them earlier this year.

I can’t say that everything turned out the way I would have wanted in terms of search and reunion experiences, but I’m certainly glad that I chose to follow through to not only learn the truth, but to make sure the truth was known. As I elaborate on different pieces of my story over the coming weeks and months, you will see what I mean by that.

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Tom Andriola

Tom Andriola advocates for adoptee rights and shares his personal experiences about being adopted and his successful, independent search for both biological parents. To see more of his writing, visit Tom's Facebook page.


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