When I met my birth mother, Ruth, my sophomore year at an ivy league college it was…I don’t have one word that summarizes the experience other than trippy. In truth, the entire process of finding my mother was otherworldly and would have been impossible without the iccure come of never repeated events.
When I went to college I left the contentious dwelling of the people who regretted adopting me. I still believed there was a mother for me in spite of being pretty much orphaned, again at 17, after 14 years with those people. I put all of my metaphorical eggs representing hope for a birth family to rescue me from my orphan status, into the metaphorical basket of “The Search.”
The Search was my first criminal offense. I had to hire a professional to break into records that would have required a court order to legally view. I thought I was so cool. Hiring people! Federal crimes! I paid the man I knew only as The Searcher” $2800. The first $300 in was just to get them to look at my case. If I knew my birth mothers name but not her location, they could find her for $900 more. But in my case, with no knowledge of my original name or my birth mother’s name, they’d have to start with the name the adoptive parents gave me. My name was dead end for me. But the person with knowledge, connections, and access could use my altered name as a starting point down a path that would end at the confidential and sealed adoption record that showed my birth name and adopted name on the same piece of paper.
Why not ask the state for my adoption records?
No, the government would not help me. Adoption laws vary by state. To this day the state of my birth, Virginia, has adoptee records sealed and inaccessible. When a child gets adopted, a new birth certificate, a legally falsified government document, is issued with the adoptive parents listed as mother and father and the child’s race matched to the mother’s race. The name is whatever the second mother and father choose and the original info is “sealed” or untouchable, like medical records or juvenile records. I knew I had been with the people who adopted me for 14 years because the only birth certificate I had was issued three years after my birth.
Secrets and Lies–SOP
The people who adopted me maintained the standard operating procedure back in the day of “don’t ask don’t tell” about anything. Including adoption. Unless people adopted babies from Asia, adoptions were secrets kept from, even the adopted child. I knew bc my adopted brother told me. My brother and sister were 7 and 8 years older than me. They remembered us all being adopted at the same time when I was little, but the lady told them if they ever revealed my adopted status she would make their lives miserable. She made them miserable anyway so I was told. I had figured out the truth myself by the time I was their age. I looked more like them than my “parents” who I resembled not at all, not physically or personality wise. No common ground there.
My First Federal Offense Seemed so Justified and Was so Successful I became more open-minded to Crime
Sealed records are off limits to everyone, well almost everyone, except skilled criminals and those who can afford them. Between my first and sophomore years I had a summer job working for New York Newsday as a part of a scholarship I had won after I wrote of my interest in journalism. That’s how I had the $2800 cash as an 18 year old college student who depended on the kindness of strangers for a place to stay when school was out. I had to find my family because I was alone in the world. Had you asked me if I thought life was fair I would have honestly answered “no.” But it wasn’t fair! Everyone else…But I don’t have..Why should they…when I..? No I would not settle for no family while others my age, though less successful than I was, enjoyed belonging to a group.
Status Meant the World
In those days status could be earned and demonstrated was more important than everything. My experience in the American school system taught me that I needed to show off how much better I was than others. Single achievements were honored, cooperation never considered so I know how I got that way. If I deserved Harvard, and my grades demonstrated that I did, I was obviously worthy of all good things and shouldn’t suffer alone. That was my thinking. Obviously, I never imagined becoming the Harvard X-Hooker. I can assure you that if I had heard of such a person like the person I am now, I would have had a bottomless supply of contempt. I had to become everything I looked down on to find the relative peace I now have within.