Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Adoptee Non-Identifying Papers

This is fellow-adoptee Mia's heartfelt and eloquent blog response to my post below. It made me cry. In a good way. If you're an adoptee toughing it out with the complexities of reunion, if you struggle with self-absorbed parents, if you - like Mia - carry the additional burden of being adopted AND being placed in a family alongside a bio child, if your mother can't or won't tell you who your father is...then please don't miss it:

"I wanted to write you regarding your recent reunion with your mother. Amongother things. I knew you were going to meet with her. Every time I thought aboutvisiting to see how it went I had this totally hard core anxietyattack. I know that must seem weird but let me explain..." www.miassavinggrace.wordpress.com



Having only seen my non-identifying adoption papers, I have nothing to compare them to.

Are they fairly representative?

Do they usually include the mother's state of mind?

Mine does. In a section entitled, "Circumstances of Placement/Other Significant" information on page 5, it states:

"Birth mother was interested in adoption for you from the first appointment."

My mother confirmed this. At 37, she knew what she was doing and found the public agency on her own.

"Birth mother describes herself as being called 'heartless' by her mother and her stepsisters for her plan of adoption."

She has repeatedly told me this, too. Definitely not the kind of thing this relinquished person wants to hear. Ever.

"She suffered great guilt after your birth."

She must have because it took her ten days to make her final decision. Which explains why I went into foster care. My mother has no recollection of any of this. Guess she blocked it out.

And finally, "There has been no contact from either of your birth parents since the relinquishment."

I'm really all over the place on these bits from the non-identifying papers. I guess, if my mother had been young and vulnerable, they wouldn't have stated, "Birth mother cried non-stop but pressure applied by social worker and maternal family prevailed," right?

I mean, it's the truth. Or some version of it as noted by a social worker back in 1960. And what about the social worker? Was she properly trained and experienced? Were her assessments correct?

It's all there in back and white. Yet it's gray with time. All murky now. Like trying to see some distant floating creature through a foggy glass.

In trying to decide what I want out of reunion: continued contact, limited and occasional contact, no more because I'm done but I'm so glad I finally met you, I find myself going back to my non-identifying papers looking for clues, evidence, something I can't quite put my finger on.

Am I looking for some sort of connection to the woman who was my mother? Am I trying to "get back" to her before she closed up and shut down and pushed me back to the farthest reaches of her mind?

If you have non-identifying information, what do you make of yours? If you're in reunion, how does what's in those papers stack up against the reality of your biological family?

Labels:

28 Comments:

Blogger Erika said...

My mom is a reunited adoptee and the search began with recieving the non- id info. She reunited with her father, it turned out her mother was deceased. the father refused contact initially. when they finally got to the point of discussing everything, my grandfather said that some of the non-id was incorrect. i'm on some other other adoption search lists and the non-id's went from sketchy at best to out right lies.I've been told thru the adoption grapevine to take it with a grain of salt. but if it looks to you to be accurate then it probably is.i shudder to think what my non id reads like..it's like they mean everything and nothing..

1:36 PM  
Anonymous Robin said...

I've been in reunion for just over a year with my siblings. Both of my parents died before I found them. Like your mother, my parents were older, 39 and 42, when I was born. I can't seem to find many of us out there ... children of older parents.
As for my non-id, it is all very accurate, but it is strictly the facts...age, physical description, occupation, other children, extended family. There is nothing about her state of mind, though. I wish I had some clue about that.

10:46 PM  
Blogger LeRoy Dissing said...

Nina...not sure where your non-identifying information came from. Usually even in a voluntary termination of parental rights proceeding there is a court report submitted by an agency social worker. Additionally, there would be an actual court transcript of the hearing in which the judge questions your mother about the nature of her consent to give up rights. Your mom knows where she went to court and there should be court records under either your name or your mom's name. That would unearth a lot of information if you can get at them.

12:39 AM  
Anonymous bijou said...

Hi Nina, It does seem strange that the agency would actually admit to your mother's feelings at the time. My non-id was to some extent accurate, given the info I now have, but there was alot of fairy-taleish stuff mixed in there. For example, it stated my mother was attending college. I would later find out she was 16-- That she was 5'6, buxom, 110 lbs. (anorexia?) Stated my father was working in a mill (to pay for college, of course). Her reason for relinquishment was a rubber stamp from the agency- mother wanted child to have all the things she could not provide- 2 parent family, stability etc. (is that what her mother and the agency led her to believe) BUT, it did provide pretty truthful info about my grandparents, their work and interests which I would later confirm through their obituaries.

It was the agency social worker herself that led my parents to believe that my mother was living in a mansion on a horse farm (she does show dogs), attending an ivy league school, and had just made a mistake and knew that it was best to give me to my oh so "stable" parents.

I think its really up to the agency, and what was the trend at the time, also this information can be misinterpreted.

2:38 AM  
Anonymous mia said...

Hi Nina,
I still plan to email you, I will try to do so today.

As for this post. Mine stated "your birthmother discussed her pregnancy with your birthfather. He felt due to his student (pre-med) status he was unable to commit financially (nice huh?) to parenting. Your birthmother's sister had recently adopted a baby and she felt she wanted to do the same"

Non ID gives lengthy detail on my father and mother. Mother's is completely accurate but she insisted the fathers id was completely made up by CC. I mean she was really PISSED about it. THEN: She later recanted this story claiming "it MAY be a combination of the men in her life at the time" meaning her father, ex husband, guys she dated etc...all rolled into one imaginary character. ?????

My gut tells me she is full of shit and she knows who he is.

HOWEVER, I know for a fact that non-id was OFTEN embellished in an attempt to make the child more appealing to PAPs. It happened all the time.

It absolutely sucks to go through life thinking nobody is telling you the truth. Your non id is definately confusing. Did she struggle with the decision or not? It may seem unimportant to many but it's not unimportant to you. The truth could help you put things into perspective when it comes to your mother. Believe me I understand this.

3:41 AM  
Anonymous mia said...

Nina I wrote the email I was going to send to you and then decided just to post it on my blog. I hope you're OK with that. (((Nina)))

12:43 PM  
Blogger Nina said...

ERIKA, "It's like they mean everything and nothing." Yep, you nailed that one! It's hard to know how to respond to what you're reading because it could be true and then, again. As to YOUR non-ID info., typically, while the social worker does make an assessment, that assessment does not usually make it out of a closed file and into wider distribution. At least, that's according to my therapist who I talked to today who does some work in adoption post placement services. My therapist said she was surprised that her state-of-mind made it into my papers...if that's of any small comfort?

ROBIN, Wow, You are the first adoptee I met with older birth parents. It puts an entirely different spin on it, in terms of how we feel about them. I find it's a bit harder to summon the kind of sympathy I might have had for a much younger person. I'm sorry your mother and father died before you found them, but glad to hear you are in reunion with siblings and hope that's going OK.

5:08 PM  
Blogger Nina said...

Leroy,

Good points! I was adopted through L.A. County Bureau of Adoption which is now L.A. County Children and Family Services. I'll look into what it would take to open those court records as they just may contain my father's name. Thank you! You are not only emotionally supportive but are a wealth of practical info., too.

Bijou, Forgive me, I have a sick sense of humor but I swear, the only time I've ever heard the word buxom was in a Monty Python sketch which referred to, "You Buxom Wench." What EXACTLY was the thought process behind including THAT description? I also like the mansion on a horse farm bit. Also, putting her in an ivy league school. Now that took some imagination! Sounds like the social worker read one too many romance novels, the kind with buxom young girls dating caddish pre-med students. And hey, I have the fairy tale clause, too. Here's mine: "She wanted you to have a family who could give you a good education and some of the material advantages." Well, that MAY have happened if the pratice of the day wasn't MATCHING, so they found me a home where my a-dad had the same education level (9th grade) as my bio mom and who could hardly read and write and made fun of me for reading so much. UMPH.

MIA, So what you know of your dad may be 1) sorta true; 2) a little bit true; 3) true in the way good fiction is true or 4) a COMPOSITE of the men your mom was involved with? Sorry, but that one takes the "my mother is messing with me cake!"

5:28 PM  
Anonymous Mom2One said...

*hugs* to you, Nina. No platitudes for you either, just *hugs. Big ones.

I'm glad you and Mia have each other. It's important.

8:05 PM  
Anonymous mia said...

Yes she wins that award for sure. It certainly complicates matters. The worst part of all of this is going through life wondering who might be lying to you and who bothers to tell the truth. My parents? My brother? My natural mother? Catholic Charities?
Needless to say learning to trust people has been an issue for me.

This really resonated with me by the way:
Am I looking for some sort of connection to the woman who was my mother? Am I trying to "get back" to her before she closed up and shut down and pushed me back to the farthest reaches of her mind?

5:57 AM  
Blogger Erika said...

I remember the appt when I was asked to come in and fill out the non-id for my daughter.To say it really sucked would be an understatement.I had 45 minutes, to write down everything,history and any personal remarks I wanted to make.There was this preppie student there telling me to hurry up my time was almost up.I wanted to scream.and to this day, i wish I could remember what i wrote.Emma's birth father yelled at me beforehand telling me not to write anything bad about him.
then, when you think of the amount of time that goes by, when the file gets re written by social workers how it can change.when you finally ask for your non id- a social worker looks up your file and composes a little story for you to read.there are too many variables to get any peace of mind with regards to non-id.

8:13 AM  
Blogger Joy said...

mine was very accurate and not all that flattering. Although it did not get into emotional states and left a lot out, I mean it wasn't even a page and a 1/2 and it covered two sets of grandparents siblings, (left out the retarded one), on my mother's side 1, on my fathers 8?

It said my paternal grandmother was high strung and had a lot of nervous energy, that my parents had experimented with drugs

that was pretty much it

8:58 AM  
Blogger Nina said...

Mia, I can see why trust - or the lack of it - would be a big issue for you! You raised an important distinction. People who lie and people who don't bother to tell you the whole story because it's not important to THEM...yet it's about you...but they can't see it that way. It puts us in such a subservient position to be begging for our stories.

Oh, Erika! Your description played out like a movie scene in my head. How awful for you...and how haunting. Just forty five minutes? I do believe you're right...no real peace of mind can come from spending too much time pouring over nonidentifying I.D...sorta like reading tea leaves.

Joy, Okay, that's really short to cover so much "territory." Mmm. Definitely not flattering. I mean, you can't help but read something like then and get just a tad paranoid about one's one behavior. For example, the social worker described my mother as "loquacious" which, to me, is a nice way of way she's a blabbermouth so then I freaked out that I talked to much which, of my many foibles, that's not one of 'em.

4:28 PM  
Blogger Aurelia said...

Mine, it turns out was partially made up, and partially stitched together BS.

I haven't demanded my file from my agency to doublecheck where they got the info. I have the legal right to get it here in Ontario, (at least according to the Ministry of Community and Social Services) but local agencies regularly turn adoptees down, because they are afraid of lawsuits. If I insist, they will have to give it to me, but I imagine they will put up all sorts of BS objections.

Stupid control freaks....

6:19 PM  
Blogger Nina said...

Aurelia, That seems to be woefully common: partially made up and stitched together. HOW MADDENING! At least you can - if you want - demand your file. I'm assuming, you can't summon up the boatloads of psychic energy it will take to deal with all the hoop-jumping while simultaneously doing, "Please Sir May I Just Have a Peek at my File?" groveling. Yeah. Stupid freaks. Hate 'em.

7:18 PM  
Blogger Being Me said...

I barely remember giving Non Identifying Info. I remember being asked questions. I don't think I wrote anything, just answered their questions. It's mixed up with signing the papers. Was it done on the same day? It seemed like the same office

My mom was with me when I signed the papers

Was I alone when I gave them the non id? Or did it just feel like it?

10:57 AM  
Blogger Joy said...

I always guessed the info on my non-id came mostly from my grandparents

11:08 AM  
Blogger Nina said...

Being Me, Sounds like trauma and time work together to obscure our memories, doesn't it? Plus, post partum brain...all mush.

Joy, You're probably right. You know how when you go into the doc's office with your kid and you start answering the questions even if the doc asked him? Okay, maybe that's ME, which at one point I realized my girls were perfectly capable of forming complete sentences so I shut-up. Except some parents continue to speak for their kids even when they are teenagers and adults.

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