My Adoption – As Far As I Know

By: Keith

 

Keith Wilcox

This is a somewhat difficult topic for me to write about, not because I don’t know what I want to say, but because it’s a sensitive subject that has the potential to upset some people involved.  It already has.  That being said, a guy’s gotta do what a guy’s gotta do.

 

I’ve always known I am adopted; it’s not something that my parents ever kept from me.  I’m glad they didn’t.  If they hadn’t told me I think I would have found out eventually anyway.  It isn’t exactly a secret that can be easily kept; some cousin, uncle, or aunt would have eventually spilled the beans.  My parents must have known that, so they decided it would be best for my mental well-being to never conceal it.  I wish I could compare how many adoptions there have been in the last x years with how many people know they are adopted.  I wonder what percentage don’t know.

 

The Need for Adoptions

  

sadboy

It is a sad reality of life that some people who want kids can’t have them.  It’s also a fact that some people who have kids can’t keep them, for whatever reason.  It’s also a fact that most kids who are up for adoption are school aged kids who come from poor, minority, broken homes.  I was a baby when I was adopted with my twin sister.  The only similarity between our adoption and those more ubiquitous cases is that our biological mother was poor.  She was poor and she couldn’t take care of us.  That’s about all there was to it.  It wasn’t a matter of drugs, or violence or anything like that.  The State did not bust down a door and forcibly take us away.  No, we were good little kids who just needed a loving family that had some money.  So we moved from a loving family with limited means to a loving family with sufficient means.  Most adoptions aren’t that smooth.  Most kids who need adopting need special sorts of family that can deal with all their myriad problems.  Check out the National Adoption Center to read up on all the hard luck cases.  Don’t know why people keep getting kids from Africa when there are plenty of equally poor pathetic little kids here in the US.

 

My Problem

  

Mom and Dad with Grandma and GrandpaIt wasn’t anything my parents did to me.  They were perfectly good parents; my childhood was pretty damn good in hindsight.  I had friends and played sports.  I had lots of toys and my own room.  We went on cool family vacations too.  But, I always knew I was different.  My adoption was something that always nagged at me.  My opinions and my actions have always been completely antithetical to those of my family.  I am what people call The Black Sheep.  I’ve always known it, and it’s been fine with me.  I can’t change who I am, and I never wanted to.  But, I had a suspicion that it had something to do with genetics.  I’ve always thought the way I act has something to do with my biological family.  And it wasn’t just a half-cocked idea.  There is solid research that points to genetic reasons for how our brains work.  So I made up my mind when I was a kid to find out who my birth parents were.  It wasn’t a slight against my parents and my family.  It was because I had to know.  It was a burning curiosity.  It might sound self centered to say, but I wanted to find out what my genetics have to say about me.  My sister, Tammy, never had the same hang-up that I had.  She seemed perfectly at peace with the whole adoption thing.  That turned out to be another oddity to me.  If we were twins then why was I the one who didn’t quite fit in.  Maybe it was just me making excuses.  Either way, I had to know. 

 

The Search

  

confidentialNobody has ever successfully told me no. I have always been a determined person who does not let rules get in my way.  I think it drove my parents nuts when I was little; I just never followed directions.  It turned out to be a necessary trait in finding my birth parents.  When I first contacted the Children’s Home Society of California a very nice lady told me that California adoptions were sealed and I had no chance of finding my birth parents without a mutual consent form on file.  Forms?  Ha!  I hate forms.  So I said, “thanks for nothing, Lady,” and I devised another plan.  My birth certificate might have been changed in 1975, but the original was still somewhere.  All I needed to do was find the original and that would tell me everything.  In the old days I would have had to bribe someone at the courthouse (it’s the government.  You can find out anything with a bribe).  These days all I need is a working knowledge of SQL and a database to search.  It turns out that LA county has digitized all their birth records.  All I had to do was search the records and narrow the possible outcomes down to “all births in LA county on June 14, 1974.”  With that I narrowed it more with another select all statement.  “All Births in LA county on June 14, 1974 between 1 pm and 3 pm.”  I just kept going with the information that was already provided to me on my altered birth certificate until I uncovered my original certificate.  It was really only slightly more complicated than I’m making it out to seem.  Anybody could do it.

 

Door Knocking

  

With all my bravado and self confidence in conducting the search I found I was completely unprepared for the actual reunion.  When I found out who my birth mother was (she didn’t list a father), on paper, I sat there looking at my computer screen for about half an hour not knowing what to do next.  I pulled myself together and called my best friend with the news.Me & My Sister Ashely  He happened to be in Los Angeles at the time and agreed to go, with another high school friend, to knock on doors at the addresses I found (I did what people do to steal identities in order to find them, but I’m not saying what that is).  It was the next day that I got a phone call from Dennis (the friend who agreed to knock on doors).  He wound up knocking on my sister’s door.  Yes, I have another sister!  I knew I had another sister all along, but I had no way of locating her so I thought it was a lost cause.Me & My Grandma Helen  Talk about a bonus.  And, not only a sister, I also have another grandma (she’s the one who answered the door).  My first indication that my birth mother and I functioned on the same brain wave was when I found out that she is untraceable.  She has no public records anywhere that could trace her to any address.  That’s a huge feat considering it was me who was looking for her (because I can find just about anything).  Luckily, my sister and my grandma or normal human beings who haven’t fallen off the grid.  Ha!

 

The Reunion

  

The day I met my momI can’t remember the exact date that I talked to her for the first time, but I remember the conversation.  It’s was scattered and stiff.  Neither one of us knew how far to push the conversation.  We didn’t know if there were off limits topics, so we spent about an hour dancing around issue after issue.  We mostly talked about factual sorts of things like what my birth father’s name was (Warren Schultz).  Things changed entirely when I bought a plane ticket and went to LA for a face to face.  That’s when things really got interesting.  I knew her immediately when I saw her at the airport.  It was like looking at a shorter, older, female version of myself.  My sister also came.  We all went out to eat.  I remember I pigged out on my food and ate half of my mom’s food too.  The three of us talked about everything.  They were so happy to see me (I was worried about that) and I was so happy to see them that, as 30 year reunions go, it was perfect.

 

Since Then

  

Me & My MomEverything I knew about myself in my childhood has been confirmed by knowing my birth mom and where I came from.  It was just as likely that I would have taken more after my birth father.  If that had been the case then I probably would have been left with more questions (he died in the early 80′s).  As it turned out, my personality comes directly from my birth mom.  We share the same distrust of government; we are both libertarians.  We complete each other’s sentences and have the same writing style.  We also have the same smile and some of the same facial expressions.  Our relationship, since our reunion, has been mostly on the up.  We’ve had one huge falling out over a stupid misunderstanding.  I expect things like that to happen.  Let’s face it, we might be similar, but we aren’t the same person.  We have completely different life experiences that have formed us into completely unique people.  I grew up in suburban Los Angeles county, and Amherst NH. Me & Mom and Dad Wilcox I have a whole lifetime full of experiences that my birth mom never saw.  Her experiences were completely different than mine.  There are simply some things that we will never understand about each other.  But, you know, that’s fine.  The reunion was two years ago now.  We see each other frequently considering we live in different states.  I’m convinced that our relationship has turned from a mere curiosity on my part to a lifelong love and appreciation of each other.

 

Complete

 

My family, both of them, are dear to me.  I wouldn’t trade them or my experiences for anything.  My birth mom did what she needed to do when we were babies.  She couldn’t take care of us; I understand that.  My parents might not have been thrilled about my nagging desire to find my birth mom, but they never stood in my way or discouraged me.  I think they knew, deep down, that if I wantedto find out that nothing was going to stop me anyway.  I recognize the willpower it took my mom to not step out and say, “Hey now!  I’m your mom.  You have no need to go looking for your birth mom.”  I’m not dumb, I would have had the same urge.  But, now that it’s all said and done, nothing much has changed.  I still think of my parents the same way I always have; I haven’t traded one parent for anotherMy life is simply complete now.  I have what I wanted all along.  I have my birth mom who I unashamedly call “mom.”  Life is GoodI also have my Mom and Dad who will always also be my mom and dad.  I am not a religious person, but if I were I would say that I’m blessed to have two families.  One that cared enough about me to give me up so I could have a better life, and another that cared enough about two little kids to accept them as their own.  These days life is just good.

23 Responses to “My Adoption – As Far As I Know”
  1. Dennis Yu August 12, 2009 at 5:21 pm #

    An amazing story! People who are adopted should read this, especially if they don’t know who their birth parents are and would like to know.

  2. J Cruikshank August 12, 2009 at 5:37 pm #

    Beautiful

  3. Angie August 13, 2009 at 11:55 pm #

    Beautiful writing and story!!!! :)

  4. Lisa August 22, 2009 at 1:54 pm #

    I’m one of those who was adopted & never told (I’m 6 months older than you). I always suspected something, though. I finally found the truth when my birth mother came looking for me. She waited 4 years after I turned 18 (when I could have gotten my records, if I’d known about being adopted). Even though I’d suspected it for as long as I can remember, it was still an incredible shock, one I wouldn’t wish on anyone. My mom still thinks that it was the right thing to do (despite or maybe because of the fact both my uncle & dad were adopted and knew) and has said that she would have never told me. Imo, it’s an incredibly selfish attitude, since I had been giving a false medical record my entire life.

    Interesting info about California’s system. A dear friend is an adoptee who was born there and I tried to find the information she needed to contact her birth parents if she decided she wanted to (she goes back & forth on whether she wants to or not). I had no idea how to help her though when I’m not even in the same country. Still not sure, since I don’t understand SQL, but maybe one day. :)

    • Keith August 22, 2009 at 2:00 pm #

      I’m so glad I knew all these years. That’s interesting that you weren’t told. I’ve always wondered how a real-life situation like that would turn out. I agree with what you say about the medical records too. That’s very important. My family, I found out, has a history of cancer. Thanks for the comment, Lisa :-)

  5. Lisa August 23, 2009 at 2:26 am #

    :)

    Mine has a history of diabetes, my birth father died young from cancer & my birth mother had breast cancer last year. So glad I’ve nursed all my kids.

    Everything is still weird, even though it’s been 10 years since I found out. Never really had it out with my parents. By the time I got over the shock, we’d learned my dad had cancer & I’ve felt like I couldn’t really say how hurt & angry I was. I don’t really feel like I have any family.

    Sorry….shouldn’t post comments in the middle of the night.

  6. Sherri Owens August 26, 2009 at 8:29 am #

    I am adopted and share your feelings I have always known. I was told that I was special because I was chosen. My Mother couldn’t keep me either. My father went with her to the doctors appt. I don’t understand it all. I would love to know if I have any siblings. I am an only child. I know where I was born. I even know my mother’s maiden name. I just don’t know where to start. I am not sure if I want to meet her but I would like to meet siblings if I have any. I would also like to see what she looks like. My reason as to not sure about meeting her is nothing against her. She right now is a mystery and I am not sure if I want to unfold the mystery but I would at least like info, then I can make a better decision I think! great Article

  7. Keith August 26, 2009 at 6:01 pm #

    Sherri, If you want to find out, I suggest starting by getting a membership at ancestry.com or something like that. They have a lot of information if you already have a last name and city of birth. With enough poking around you’ll be able to probably connect a few other pieces. You can go really deep by just collecting one piece at a time. Once you have a name you can start criminal back ground and credit checks. You may have to do them for multiple possibilities so it could cost some money. But, in the end, it’s worth it because you’ll get peace of mind. Just keep digging :-) That’s what I did!

  8. Jill November 16, 2009 at 8:57 am #

    Hey Keith,

    I know you wrote this a while a go but I had to comment. I am an adoptive mom but I am also a birth sister. We found our brother about 5 years ago and it has been such an amazing experience (much like yours). He is the child of both my mother and father who are still married (they were 15 when they had him.) It was so amazing to see how much he is like my dad. They could be twins, they talk the same, walk the same, think the same. It was a very eye-opening experience to the role genetics play. He has a wonderful mom but he also has a great relationship with my parents now and calls them mom and dad too. :-)
    We often get together with his mom and think of ourselves as one big happy family.
    As an adoptive mom I am grateful to have learned how important biology is. I have no doubt that my daughters birth-family will be important to her and that she will be interested in them. However I also know that she could be like your sister and not want to know. I will let her make that decision but I believe it is important to know where you came from.
    I am happy for you.

  9. Jill November 16, 2009 at 8:59 am #

    I forgot to add. We found my brother through a “search angel” my sister got into touch with on adoption.com.
    She turned out to be a huge blessing and found our brother with the little information we had and all for free. She even helped with the reunion process in terms of the feelings my brother might be having and how we could best support him.
    .-= Jill´s last blog ..Another Black Friday =-.

    • Keith November 16, 2009 at 11:16 pm #

      Hey, Jill — you have a fascinating story as well. I had to read your last comment three times to understand the family dynamic you all have going. It’s fascinating how many different adoption stories people have. I wonder if anybody has compiled some of these interesting tales into a book. Would probably be a hit! Thanks for stopping in again!

  10. Vanessa Bamback November 30, 2009 at 1:39 am #

    Very touching story Keith. Thanks for sharing it.

  11. Barv January 2, 2010 at 9:45 pm #

    Thanks for sharing your journey! As an adoptive mom of 6, in addition to two bio kids, I always want to hear from adult adoptees. I ditto what you said about genetics. I have been continually amazed at how much my kids take after their birth parents (four of the adoptions are open, the other two are international). The black sheep comment gave me a lot to think about as well because some of my kids are VERY different than my husband and myself.

    Interestingly, two of our kids are twins (boy/girl) and they process their whole adoption story differently, like you and your sister.

    Anyway, thanks again for sharing!
    .-= Barv´s last blog ..New Book??? =-.

    • Keith January 2, 2010 at 11:18 pm #

      Barb, I too enjoy hearing adoption stories. It seems everybody I talk to has a different adventure. But, almost nobody I’ve talked to has had massively negative experiences with it. Adoption is a wonderful and needed thing. Thanks for the visit. You’ve got twins! Good luck :-)

  12. Barb January 2, 2010 at 9:45 pm #

    Wow, I can’t even type my own name right!
    .-= Barb´s last blog ..New Book??? =-.

  13. judi August 2, 2010 at 3:26 pm #

    I appreciated your article. We have an open adoption with our son’s birth family.
    When she was pregnant I went to visit her, her family, and friends in another state. She also came and spent time with our family for a month. It has now been 6 years, and we naturally talk about her with our son, just like we talk about aunts, uncles and cousins who live in other places. We feel doubly blessed to still have her in our lives so we can keep the communication open with our son as he gets older. I think it is very natural for a person to want to know their “roots”. So glad you were able to find and develop a relationship with your birthmom.

  14. Claudia August 22, 2010 at 12:41 pm #

    My mother married when I was a couple of years old and her new husband adopted me. I am trying to locate my original birth certificate from Illinois but because I was adopted the records are sealed. I know that there was a law passed that would give people access to their birth certificate but I keep hitting a brick wall. I am 68 years old, my birth mother and probably birth father and adopted father are all deceased. I just want to find out who was listed as my birth father so that I can continue my family tree. I live 500 miles away from my birthplace and have limited financial resources. Do you have any advice for my search?

    • Keith August 23, 2010 at 10:31 am #

      Claudia: Finding an original birth certificate that has been sealed is difficult. However, it may be entirely possible to find an non redacted birth announcement or other kind of record, perhaps in electronic form, that will lead you to more answers. An excellent place to start are the several good genealogy sites out there. Genealogy.com and Ancestry.com. You can do targeted searches by date and location that may help. I know you say you have limited resources but there is also a genetic testing service (and I’m sorry that I forgot the name of it) that you can submit a blood sample and they match you with other people from your genetic line who have also submitted samples. I have to research what the name of that is, sorry I can’t remember now. It’s somewhat expensive, but if you can unearth a relative or two who might be able to give you answers then that would be worth something. As a cheapish place to start though, I’d go with the genealogy websites first and try that. They have scanned copies of billions of records and there’s a decent chance you’ll find something there. You sound like you already have a good portion of the puzzle figured out so I bet you can do it! Good luck! :-)

  15. Jill March 11, 2012 at 7:57 pm #

    Very wonderful story. I was very touched.

  16. Anne April 20, 2012 at 10:43 am #

    I felt compelled to read your story and found it so interesting….yet painful for me to read. My dear children are also adopted and have given all of my heart, my energies, my life to them. You know how much you love your biological children? I’m convinced that if I had biological children, I couldn’t love them as much as my adopted children. I’ve invested so much in them…they are a treasure to me. I’m homeschooling them too. They are my whole world…and my husbands as well. I know they may one day have a need to search and I will honor this…although it will rip my heart out. I’m praying for them…that they will find their identity in Christ and that He will fill their longings…and give them the desires of their hearts… the juries still out on this though…. what will happen in the future…only God knows. Thanks for sharing your life with us all. Keep up the good work with your children. I’ve been homeschooling from the beginning and now we are entering highschool! It’s a wonderful journey. God Bless You! Anne

  17. leila May 24, 2013 at 11:24 am #

    my husband is adopted too when he was 4.but he never explained his sutiation about it very well.and he never want to talk about it. of course i respect him,but id like to know what he really feel about it..

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