My Adoption Story

“Tell me ‘My Adoption Story’ again,” I’d ask my mother every December. My family, including my two younger sisters who are my parents’ biological children, would be doing our traditional decorating, baking and writing Christmas cards to family and friends.

My mother would recount the day she and my father received a call asking them if they wanted a baby girl. They drove to the hospital and were handed a bright-eyed, smiling infant “clothed” in a bright red felt stocking. “It was Christmastime, and you were the best present we ever received,” she’d say.

She’d then pull that big, red stocking from the box of Christmas decorations and let me hang it up near the tree. When friends and family came to visit during the holidays, I would proudly relate its significance.

Six years ago, I requested my non-identifying information from the agency that handled my adoption. I’m not sure what I was hoping to find, but it wasn’t what I found. In between the lines of blacked-out text, I discovered that “My Adoption Story” was fiction. I hadn’t been given to my parents directly after my birth at the hospital wrapped up like a Christmas gift—I had been given into the care of a foster family.

And there was more.

My parents had been as forthcoming with information about my first parents as they were able, but some of their information was wrong. They told me my first mother was 14; she had nobody to help her except two alcoholic parents, a grandmother too old to provide assistance and a younger sister. My first father was in the army. They were of German/Ukrainian descent, the same as my adopted family. These “facts,” in most part, were also fiction.

From reading the social workers’ notes, I found out that my first mother was not 14, she was 17. There was no information about my first grandparents being alcoholic, but the notes did record that my first grandmother and my first mother’s younger sister accompanied her to the agency. It is true my first father was in the Army, but he was AWOL at the time of my birth. And I’m not German/Ukrainian. I’m of French/Dutch/Irish descent.

My parents certainly didn’t plan to deceive me. I can’t speak for the social workers’ intentions, but my feeling is they were following established adoption procedure.

My story isn’t unique. It’s simply how things used to be done.

This is what supporters of a bill before the Nevada Senate, SB 267, seek to remedy. SB 267 isn’t about attacking adoptive parents or threatening first parents or forcing adoptees and first parents to reunite. It’s about allowing adult adoptees to know the truth, good or bad. SB 267 doesn’t breach anyone’s confidentiality, as records will still be confidential from uninvolved parties.

I’m 31 years old now. "My Adoption Story" is as precious to me as it was all those Christmases ago. But it’s not "My Whole, Truthful Story." I may never hear the whole story. But I’d at least like to hold one document unstained by black marker, one document that records the truth of my existence—before "My Adoption Story."