The Cost of Knowledge

20 Sep

When I think about all the stories I have heard, and read, by adoptees, who have spent hundreds of dollars trying to get their non-identifying information from agencies, courts, and the like, only to get the run-around, told files couldn’t be found, possibly, waiting for month after month to hear something, told they would have to go through hours of counseling, and, in general, just, simply, strung along, or turned down all together, I feel a bit confused as to why. It was so easy for me.

Knowing how many adoptees, search for years, trying to find their families of origin, only to come up empty-handed, constantly running into brick wall after brick wall, I can’t help but feel a little guilty. It was all so easy for me. It was so simple. It happened so fast. It was, basically, just handed to me.

I can’t tell you how many times that I’ve heard adoptees trying to get some kind of information on, or searching for, their biological families, tell those of us who have found our families of origin, how lucky we are; how grateful we should be for our luck no matter the outcome of our reunions. Of course, I understand people are saying this out of frustration, pain, and grief. I just find it interesting when one adoptee tells another how lucky they are, and they should be grateful for just having the opportunity to reunite, as so many others will never have that opportunity. True though it may be, to some extent, it’s so easy to say when a person is frustrated with searching, angry, and grieving the realization that they may never find the ones they are searching for. It is so easy to take out a person’s anger, frustration, and grief, at the unfairness of adoption, search, and reunion, on those, who have what you want, with no real thought, or consideration given to what that person may have had to go through.

Yes, sometimes, when I read the stories of adoptees struggling with their search, hitting brick walls, realizing that they may never find, never know anything out about their families of origin, I, sometimes, feel, truly, lucky. I feel, truly grateful, and, oh, yes, I, sincerely, feel, guilty, for my good fortune of being diagnosed with a hereditary eye disease that would later take my sight.

Those feelings remind me, aren’t all adoptees lucky; lucky to be adopted, and shouldn’t all adoptees be grateful; grateful someone adopted us? It’s so obvious, this ingrained thought process adoptees have of being so undeserving that we feel guilt over such things like just wanting to know our original identities, our families of origin, so much so, that we will even tell each other we should be grateful, and feel lucky, because what we never really come out and say, but imply, to each other, and even ourselves, is that adoptees really don’t deserve any more than what we are told we can have; allowed to have by others, without whom, where would we be?

I know the value of what I have been able to obtain. It is priceless to me. At the time, however, I had no way of knowing just exactly what my good “luck” would cost me. It may make people uncomfortable when I say had it not been for the diagnosis of a rare, incurable, hereditary eye disease, which eventually cost me my sight; my adoption story may not be what it is today. Some might even say I’m being overly dramatic when I say that gaining access to my non-identifying information, and subsequent reunions with my families of origin, cost me my sight. It is, however, the price I paid for an opportunity I would not have otherwise had; the opportunity numerous other adoptees will never have.

This wasn’t where I had intended to go today with a post. My intention was just to continue my story. When I think about it, it breaks my heart to know what we, adoptees, must pay for the simple knowledge of our original identities. The cost of simply knowing what all other human beings have the right to know upon birth.

Maybe I’ll continue my story tomorrow.


Posted by on September 20, 2011 in Adoption, Ethics, Uncategorized


Tags: , , , , , , ,

7 responses to “The Cost of Knowledge

  1. cb

    September 21, 2011 at 5:56 am

    It is so wrong that people have to be sick or have an inherited disease to be able to get their OBC. Obviously for some, lives could have been saved if records had been unsealed. Why should these things happen to people for them to be able to get what almost every other country in the western world take for granted, i.e. open records.

    “I can’t tell you how many times that I’ve heard adoptees trying to get some kind of information on, or searching for, their biological families, tell those of us who have found our families of origin, how lucky we are; how grateful we should be for our luck no matter the outcome of our reunions.”

    I realise that I am very very lucky to live where there are unsealed records so that all can get them if they want them (unless vetoes have been placed). And I realise that I am lucky that at least I know more than a lot of adoptees will ever know (which again I am thankful for) even if the outcome of my search isn’t exactly what most adoptees hope for (btw actual reunion with extended relatives has been great which I am thankful for).


  2. shadowtheadoptee

    September 22, 2011 at 7:55 pm

    Thanks CB.


  3. The adopted ones

    September 23, 2011 at 3:35 pm

    Again, love your writing. The cost is too high…way to high…and there is NO valid reason why any adoptee should not have the right to their OBC or to updated knowledge of family health history that we would have known just by growing up in our family.

    Waiting for the continuation…hint, hint.


  4. shadowtheadoptee

    September 23, 2011 at 4:44 pm

    Amen, and amen. Interesting side note, as I was discussing this with an AP, whose daughter is trying to get medical info from her BPs. She’s having trouble contacting them. This SP was telling me her daughter was a little apprehensive about asking her, the AP, for information she had been holding in a file. It was interesting that the daughter (adoptee) was apprehensive, because her mother (AP) is very open, understanding, and aware of this sort of thing, as well as, adoptee issues.

    I found it interesting that the AP’s daughter, like myself, and others, even with parents, who are open about adoption, still feel this uneasiness about talking to our Aps when it comes to our BPs. We didn’t find the answer, but believe society plays a much, much, bigger rolein our feelings than anything our Aps do, did, have done. Of course, it stands to reason, society plays a big role in Aps feelings too. Hmmm, maybe another post? Lol

    My story to be continued next week, or this weekend, or, well, not to ruin my grumpy adoptee status, but I’m going out now to play in the dirt; cleaning out the front flower bed, going to plant spinach, or turnips, in it, cause I can’t plant roses, or other flowers I want to plant until spring. (how’s that for a run on sentence?) No sense letting good growing space go to waste. Then, after I’m good and dirty, I’m coming in and spending the rest of the day playing my guitars until hubby gets home. TMI?

    Hmmm, I’d better watch it. Else People will think I’m actually a non-not-happy, grumpy adoptee. Can’t have that now can we? lolBTW, it’s a beautiful day here, and I’m taking full advantage of it before temps go back up to the 90s tomorrow and Sunday. Stay tuned, oh, the fun, fun, of reunion. lol


    • The adopted ones

      September 23, 2011 at 5:42 pm

      I have lots of flower beds that need cleaning out but I am hoping hubby decides to help, because when I do go play in the dirt I overdue it if he isn’t home to tell me to stop. You can keep your old turnips they are yucky. Amazing how many veggies I can’t stand seeing as how I am a vegetarian. We are having a grey dull day after a day of rain – I would have sent the rain your way if I could. Have fun!


  5. Just_a_visitor

    February 7, 2012 at 11:01 am

    Hello, I don’t know how I got here, as I was looking for something else, but I did read many of your posts today. And I want to thank you for your honesty and for making a record that will be maintained on the internet. Perhaps someday, more and more people will find their way here.

    As an adoptee (40 y.o.) who is not afraid to open all my emotional doors one by one, I certainly understand and thoroughly feel many of your words deeply. Perhaps “not afraid” is the wrong adjective, but rather “despite my fears”.

    I’m not a reunited adoptee and it’s looking like I may never be one. I have only called reunited adoptees “lucky” in rare circumstances and only when among other non-reunited adoptees. My discretion for that is because I do acknowledge that it’s not really “luck” so much as it is the opportunity to go in a direction that I so desperately want to go. Why an adoptee would be “careless” as to say it to a reunited adoptee is, I can only assume, because they are somewhat unable to control the frustration and bottled emotions that many of us have. And so they say to others what is so often said to adoptees in general. “You’re lucky.” I think I read somewhere that sometimes people will try to hurt others in the same way they’ve been hurt. In cases like this, I think’s not really intentional but that’s sort of what’s happening.

    Even though I’m not reunited and may never be, I can certainly guess that reunion will not “fix” everything that’s broken. As I told an adoptee friend a couple weeks ago. I so desperately want to ask, “WHY ???” but yet I know there isn’t and cannot be a satisfactory answer for that. I couldn’t think of an answer that would make me feel better myself, so I hardly believe my parents would miraculously find such a super fantastic answer that it would make me forget 40 years of abandonment. Although I’d still like to hear them try! LoL

    And, I think that “lucky” if used towards a reunited adoptee, what it really means is, that you get to go down a different path. Reunion is what places a fork in the road of adoptees. Some of us will, and I guess many more of us won’t. But this is where some adoptees life trajectory starts down a dramatically different path. Reunited adoptees have to reconcile and work with this whole new world of after-reunion. And non-reunited adoptees have to reconcile and work with the waiting and wanting of non-reunion and slowly watch that opportunity decrease with time. After all, at a certain age, if it hasn’t happened, it’s not going to. People don’t live forever. I am experiencing right now, at age 40 how it hurts every year that passes knowing that the time is getting shorter and shorter. And I’ve tried everything I could to find them and yet I can’t take waiting but there isn’t much more I can do. So there is a kind of cycle of bitterness that I’m feeling at this age. And I think about the future and knowing that at age 50 or 60, they will most likely be dead and it just isn’t going to happen. And I wonder, will that bring me relief or what? Probably some relief and some anguish as so often is the case for adoptees. But I can’t call my situation now lucky either.

    So bottom line, reunion is not “lucky” whether it happens or not. It’s just something that is. And it will be for some and it will not be for others. Lastly, and perhaps this is a bit cynical, but if I could have a reunion, I sort of do see it as better than not having a reunion, and only because I finally have an option. I finally have some amount of “power” in my life. I could open the door to my birth family. But I could also shut that door if I wanted to. It almost makes me feel a little high thinking about it. I certainly would try to reconcile and get through including them in my life. But it would also give me this guilty but pleasurable feeling of knowing I can say, “Screw you! This time I’M the one who’s leaving!” Of course I wouldn’t, I’m just saying it makes me feel giddy imagining that I could do it if I wanted to.


  6. shadowtheadoptee

    February 7, 2012 at 3:47 pm

    Thank you, Just A Visitor, for sharing your thoughts. My hope is that, someday, all adoptees have access to their original birth certificates, and records. I understand what you mean about having “control”. I’ve often, over the years, said “screw it”, and intended to shut the door, because, well, I could. I always open that door back up, and I bet you understand why. Thanks again, and welcome to our blog.




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