© Photographer: Aguirre_mar | Agency: Dreamstime.com
(Originally published in 2010...we ate at the same restaurant today and I was reminded of this day...)
Something happened today that I still can't believe...the timing, especially.
I had been wanting to pay the attorney that was involved in my adoption way back in 1968 a visit for a long time, but it was one of those things I just kept putting off. I knew he was still "in business" and wanted to talk to him personally while I still had the chance...to see if he might remember something...anything...about my original mother. She died at the age of 32 while looking for me but was somehow under the impression she had given birth to a son.
The only other contact I had with this attorney was several years ago when I was trying to get my adoption records opened at the court house. I had already obtained a court order for my obc and reunited with my entire original family years before. But I wanted the adoption records themselves...
The Judge had approved my request, but every time I called to see if the records were available yet, the clerk stated that they could not find my file. Finally, after several calls I started to panic. They kept saying it could not be found...
So...I called this attorney to see if there might have been a chance that the adoption was finalized in a different county. As soon as I told him that I was reunited with my family and explained the situation about the file not being located at the court house, he became defensive. He asked how I ever got the information to find my original mother and then said, "If I had done my job right, you would have never been able to find out anything." Needless to say, he wasn't much help.
I made one last attempt at the court house and finally they found my file "in the basement." It was so surreal reading my own file...my parent's home study (barely 2 typed pages), and my mother's signature on the consent.
I had to give all that background information to get back to my story...So today my husband and I had met for lunch at one of our favorite Thai restaurants. The tables in this place are really close together and it was packed. I noticed a nice-looking older gentleman at the table next to us, but didn't pay any attention to him. He even offered to share his table with another man who needed a place to eat (it is a great buffet), and I guess my husband overheard them introducing themselves to each other.
He didn't mention this to me until we were up at the cash register paying for our meal...casually, he mentioned, "Does the name O.G. mean anything to you?" What?
Why yes...immediately I told my husband I had to go back and find out if he was THE O.G. who had done my adoption...
Sure enough, he was. He invited me to sit down and we had a wonderful conversation...I'm sure it was a huge surprise when I pulled out of my purse a picture of my first Mom...He slowly took his glasses off and examined the picture, but said he couldn't remember that far back. He said he did 35 adoptions a year back then...and "did everything possible to keep things secret."
He said he wrote the same non-identifying information on every file...all his "birthmoms" were 5'3, weighed 120 pounds and were Baptist. It hit me that is what was in my file, and I always wondered why my first Mom's pictures made her look taller than that. Now I knew. I was so flabbergasted that I forgot to ask him why my First Mother thought she had given birth to a boy. She was awaiting the return of her son, up till the day she passed away. That makes me so sad.
I have heard other reunion stories where the first mother had been told she had given birth to the opposite gender as well. Some have been livid that their names were changed on the birth certificate, and dates of birth as well. All to prevent the first mother from "interfering" or "coming back".
He admitted that back then he "didn't even think about" the consequences of his actions. He said he gets calls all the time from adoptees and first mothers, but cannot help them at all. That's when I gave him my card...he seemed genuinely pleased and said he would definitely give them my name. It felt so good to "come full circle" yet again and have this chance encounter. Especially right now...the week of a great conference being held in our state..."Life...Adopted!"
(This is now 2014 and I have yet to receive one call from anyone he referred to me for search help.)
As he drove away in his shiny, white Lexus, I tried hard not to be judgemental.
How could a man, so polite and warm (he reminded me of a small-statured, sweet-mannered Santa Claus) have done what he did so many years ago...I have to believe it was ignorance. Society dictated so much (see "The Girls Who Went Away")...and yet was so wrong.
He is still a practicing attorney and has been for 52 years he said. I'm sure for many adoptive parents O.G. WAS Santa Claus...at some point, however, we all must grow up. Santa Claus and sealed records create quite an illusion, one more innocent than the other.
One has to wonder WHY the adoption industry fights so hard against restoring the civil right of adult adoptees to obtain their birth records...especially when we find story after story of past and current unethical practices being perpetuated against first mothers, adoptees, and even adoptive parents in adoption. (See "The Girls Who Went Away" by Ann Fessler, or "The Baby Thief" by Barbara Raymond.
I can only pray that as adoptees and original mothers continue to tell our stories that laws will be changed so the actions of ignorance cannot continue to affect those "touched" by adoption. We can't rely on piece-meal legislation and adoption codes that fail to protect the identity rights of adoptees (both the generations of the past, as well as today).
We need laws to ensure ethical practices are being followed...not just hope against hope that adoptees will even have a factual birth certificate on file. Ensure that right for every adoptee and individual born through assisted reproduction...genetic truth, heritage, and history.
Amazing day indeed.