What Do We Really Deserve

I am in a few groups on Facebook dedicated to finding people. More specifically, they are dedicated to the search by adoptees (people who have been adopted) to find their biological families. We (adoptees) are able to talk with others who have lived experiences similar to ours. Trust me when I say that there are more scenarios than you could ever imagine- but the great thing is that there is at least one other person who has experienced things in the exact same way as you.

When I first began actively searching and using these groups, I mostly read posts on the pages. I wanted to see what these people were all about. I wanted to see what they were capable of doing. Were these pages a scam or could the people actually help me? There were posts by people looking for old high school friends, a parent who was known but had become absent, and people asking for help with different types of record searches. The ones I focused on, and that were the most numerous were the ones made by adoptees.

Many of them focused on the search- “My name is ____. I was born in ____. I know “this,” “this,” and “this” about my birth parents.” Those were the majority of posts. However, there were also some from adoptees “ranting” questions like “why.” That “why” can cover sooo many different things. The “why” that stuck out the most were ones that read similar to this:

Why does my biological mother/father/aunt/uncle/sister/brother not want anything to do with me? Why do they keep saying that they do not wish for contact? I deserve to know why they did what they did. I deserve an explanation. I deserve to know where I came from and why they didn’t want me. They have NO RIGHT to keep this from me. They’re being selfish.

The author of those types of posts and those commenting really shocked me with how venomous and resentful they were. They harbored so much hatred and contempt for people they only shared DNA with. It blew my mind. I realized that I might actually be in the minority in my way of thinking. Here is a shortened version of my story.

I found out I was adopted while at our church in Corinth, Mississippi when I was about 5.. I think.. The age range would be from 4-6 years old, so 5 sounds good. I found out. I asked Mama and Deddy about it. I don’t remember their answer, but apparently it was enough for me at the time. There has never been a time that I got angry about it. “Man! The lady who gave birth to me needs to just come clean about it. She needs to just tell everyone what went on and that she gave me up. I deserve to know why she made that decision. She’s such a selfish person! I can’t believe she didn’t want me,” never entered my mind. I’ve never felt anger, resentment, entitled. Never have I EVER felt that way. Even once I found out that I have a younger brother who was kept and not put up for adoption, I never felt that way.

One of my very best friends once told me that I amaze him with my self-awareness and the fact that I can so clearly remove my “self” view from a situation to see the bigger picture. I guess I have always been an empathetic person. I always felt and knew that there had to be a reason and a situation that I may never understand that lead to my adoption. The thought that people just put their children up for adoption because they can never occurred to me, but it seems that it had to the people in some of those groups. People who grew up in kind, loving, and supportive (financially and emotionally) homes harbored A LOT of hatred and I don’t understand why.

Yes, these women gave birth to us. Yes, we were raised by people who are not biologically related to us (in many cases.) No, we don’t know our biological history and biological familial backgrounds. No, we don’t know our medical history. No, we don’t DESERVE to know. We have a WANT and DESIRE to know, but knowing or not knowing is not going to have a bearing on whether we survive or not. These people have every right to refuse communication with us. We are strangers to them and they to us.

The actions of our First Mothers wasn’t personal toward us, but the result of a specific situation. These women, for whatever reason, created us, carried us, gave birth to us, and then gave us the best gift they felt they could give us: a hopefully loving home with parents who would give us the world. They gave us life and opportunity. They did not abort us and throw us away as trash. I imagine one of the hardest things someone can do is give a child up, regardless of the situation. Every day, asking similar questions to those of the adoptee: What is she/he doing right now? Is he/she alive? Successful? What if my child was placed in a home that turned out to be detrimental to them? His/her hurt would be my fault, but had I not made that decision it would have been worse.

I absolutely hate the fact that so many people feel hurt by their adoptions. Many of us, including myself at times, struggle with a feeling of abandonment that we can’t explain. The feeling just comes up out of nowhere surprising us because we can’t remember a situation where we were actually abandoned. It really breaks my heart. It breaks my heart that adoption even has to exist, but oh boy! am I glad that it does. I am so glad that there are people who look past “we’re blood” and see “even though not by DNA, you ARE mine.” I am so thankful that there are people who can love, without restrictions and love with everything they have, children who might not know love otherwise. I know that each situation is different, but I just wish that people would err on the side of empathy and kindness rather than that of blame, venom, and accusations. That’s all.

Thanks A Million

The past month or so, I have been so very consumed with working on my genealogy. On top of that, I have been working on my class work. To say that I have been busy is an understatement. It has been GREAT, though. Through this journey that seems so short, there have been a few people who have wonderful ears, extra brains, and just over-all helpful to me. Deidre, Tammy, Linsey, and Laura have let me be super selfish in this. They have let me talk and talk and talk and talk about my trees, different family members, whether or not I should contact different people, etc.
Tammy has worked innumerable hours trying to help me decipher all of this new information. Laura and Deidre have asked so many questions trying to understand what I’ve learned. Linsey sat with me at Cracker Barrel 2 nights after we found my maternal bio-grandparents, bio-mom, and her 3 sons and talked out the pros and cons of contacting each of them versus the others. All 4 of them have tried to help me figure that out. There are so many different factors to take into account in these situations that it is almost unreal. It could create a domino effect- good or bad.
There are also people at our church who are super excited when they see me so they can find out if there’s a new page in the story yet. It is just really awesome to me how others can get just as excited about this mystery as I am. People who are not bothered one way or another with the outcome are busting at the seams for more mysteries to be solved.
There is no way that I could ever thank all of these people (the person who gifted me the dna kit, Tammy, Dei, Linsey, Ann, Cheryl, Laura, and a couple of other Madison friends) enough with only a blog post, but I just felt the need to say it today. Thanks a million for letting me be so selfish the past month. It means more than y’all know.

(Originally posted on my old blog on February 10, 2016)

The Search Awakens

She did it.

She found them.

They found them.

We found them.

When I say “she” and “they”, I mean Tammy and Cheryl. They are 2 women who have worked so very hard to help with my search. They have both worked to the wee hours of many, many mornings to help find connections. Tammy is a distant cousin. She has been such a rock. Because of her, I am able to use Ancestry to it’s fullest extent for U.S. genealogy. She checks and double checks and makes sure she shares everything she finds out. She’s been phenomenal! Cheryl is married to one of my 3rd cousins (approximately). She also works with DNAdetectives.com as a genealogist. Her resources and knowledge have just been…. and these words don’t even cover it…. but helpful and eye-opening. The effort that they have put it to this is so overwhelming. Until a few weeks ago, I didn’t know these people. Now they are such a big part of my life. I’ll never be able to repay them and am so thankful for them.

It’s been less than a month since I got my results from my AncestryDNA kit.

It’s been 1 day since we found my biological maternal grandparents, bio-mom, and 3 half brothers.

A few days ago, (Wednesday, I think) I was able to find out the names of these grandparents. From there, Tammy worked her magic and at around 1:30am on Thursday morning, I got a text from her letting me know she sent me some links on my Facebook. Those links were to my bio-mom and her 3 sons. 2 are older than me (which we knew) and one is 3 years younger (and a bonus surprise). Tammy and I and Cheryl talked about it a good bit yesterday and were pretty confident this was them. It didn’t seem real, though. I still sort of felt like it was just a coincidence. Then last night, Cheryl used one of her resource databases and confirmed what we had been thinking. We found them!

This is not a drill. This is legit. Not a joke. We were right.

(Originally posted on my old blog on January 29, 2016)

Where Did You Come From, Cotton-Eyed Joe?

TODAY!

Today I got my results back from my AncestryDNA test.
Since I mailed the kit back in on December 16th, I wasn’t expecting to get results back until mid-late January. Happy Wednesday to me!!

I have 2 matches for close 2nd and 3rd cousins and SIXHUNDREDFIFTEEN total matches for 4th cousin or closer. This is going to take some sifting through once I am able to get an Ancestry membership so I can look at their trees and communicate with them. I uploaded my raw data to GEDMatch.com which will allow me to compare my DNA with people who have taken DNA tests with Ancestry, 23andMe, and FTDNA and have uploaded to GEDMatch. I’m waiting on my data to be “batched” and once that’s done, I’ll have even MORE matches. If you’ve done dna testing with any of these sites, download your data and upload it to GEDMatch. It’s free and will help a lot of other folks out!

This is all pretty cool. I was fairly certain what my ethnicity results would be, and find it odd that I was correct just going off of my own feelings and odd inner obsessions. However, on GEDMatch, I looked at a further breakdown and I found out something that I was not expecting. I have a very, very tiny percentage of pygmy in my DNA. I’m sure that explains me a bit in some way. HAHA!

Below is a screenshot of my results so y’all can see what I’m looking at. I’ll post updates with any new info!
(Originally posted on my old blog on January 6, 2016)

A Christmas Sort-Of Miracle

I have been waiting for a long time to write this post.

So many emotions. A few fears/worries.
Why? Well…. this topic and my opinions/desires/actions on it have the ability to REALLY hurt some people. I’m going to go on and say that hurting feelings is not my intention in this, nor has it ever been. It’s just a sensitive issue for some involved.
What am I even talking about?
Most of the people who read this have known me for the majority of my life and already know this fact: I’m adopted. I’ve known since I was about 6. Never was really a “thing” for me when I was younger. Why would it have been? Mama was my mama. Deddy was my deddy. What else did I need to know, really? I have PHENOMENAL parents (though I haven’t always seen eye-to-eye with them.) They go above and beyond what I really need and I really couldn’t ask for better. They brought me up (literally- Deddy is a music minister) in the church. I really feel that Mama is the epitome of what a Christian woman should be. We disagree/fuss a lot, but man! She’s fantastic and I look up to her in so many ways (one of those being because she’s A LOT taller than I am.) They put up with so many wild moments and tantrums from me. They are my parents. No one, biologically related or otherwise, could ever replace them or do as much for me as they have. They are the reason that I wholeheartedly disagree with the absolutely ignorant (when it is used wrong and under the scope of describing/making excuses for how you treat someone in your family or someone who has joined your family by some means other than birth) phrase, “blood is thicker than water.” (Look up the origin and meaning of it if you don’t know already know it.)
I never wondered about my biological parents. Well, I didn’t wonder until a few years ago. I think the year was 2011. I became a CASA volunteer. (Click that hyperlink, y’all.) The CASA organization is a fantastic program which trains volunteers to become advocates for children who have been abused or neglected and have, for those reasons, been put in the care of whatever state they are in. Volunteers are given cases in their county, or from surrounding counties, and do studies of the children, their parents, the homes they were and now are in. They talk to doctors, teachers, and anyone they deem necessary to speak to.
Anyways…. what does that have to do with anything? Well, I’ll tell you. The training I went through, and the children in my cases got me wondering a few things: How could parents do some of the things they do? Why do many of them seem to not really care? What do these kids feel about their parents versus their foster parents? What would it be like to be in their shoes and to actually know biological family only to be taken from them, and in some cases to never be allowed to see or speak to them again? Those kinds of questions ran through my mind all of the time.
While working on one particular case, I decided that it was time for me to find out more of where I came from. The case and the questions just pushed me to it. Finding out information about my biological family had been in the back of my mind since having my son, because it would be great to have a copy of any known biological familial medical history. Ya know.. so I can know if there is anything I need to look out for, for either of us.
With all of that in mind, I did some nosing around and found out some information. I found out the name of my biological mom and the first names and approximate ages (at the time of my birth) of her 2 sons. Aside from that, I have not been able to find out anything. It’s a huge cluster of information that I have and things that go along with it since it was a private adoption handled by my grandfather.
So on we go.  On Facebook, I found a group called Search Squad. This group has a TON of members who have devoted many years and a lot of dollars to helping people find their ancestry. Not all members who are searching have been adopted. Some are trying to build their trees on Ancestry.com or on their own and have come to a standstill and need help. There are many different reasons people join the group. I have been a member of this group for about a year and a half, I believe. (I used this group to help find Mama’s childhood best friend for her on Thanksgiving day last year.) So far, with my personal search, we have been unable to find any new or more identifying information.
Here’s the cool part. The searchers and administrators of this group keep tabs on how the searches are going and make a list of those who might benefit from DNA testing through sites like Ancestry or 23andMe. These allow you to have your DNA tested and be linked with others who have also tested and may have a close match to your DNA. Many of the good people in this group get their names put on another list: a list to purchase and send DNA kits to other members. About 2 months ago, I was contacted and added to the list. Last week, I got a message on Facebook that said, “Check your mail. Your kit should have been delivered today.” So I go home, and lo-and-behold, someone, A STRANGER, had gifted an AncestryDNA kit to me!! Y’all, these kits aren’t cheap, either. (Ancestry is cheaper but also has less information than 23andMe-which costs $200) I had forgotten that I was even on the list and was super excited. I STILL AM super excited. I am excited to possibly learn some biological history, even though I don’t have any desire to meet or connect with either of my biological parents. (That part of this journey will be in another post further down the road.)
Yesterday, I got an email saying that they had received my kit at the Ancestry testing facility. Now I just have to wait a few weeks for them to analyze it and send me the results. As I told Deidre, “This is so much worse than book suspense!”
Disclaimer: Those of you reading this may be scared to ask me questions about the situation, process, my feelings…. don’t be. If you have questions, ASK! I don’t get offended and I try to be an open book because it can help so many people on both sides of these kinds of scenarios. Just do me a favor and DON’T ask my parents about it or bring it up to them. I’M NOT GIVING THE OK FOR THAT AT ALL. It is a bit out of the scope of common decency to do so, in my opinion, because they are not as open about it as I am. 
(Originally posted on my old blog on December 16, 2015)

A Bit of a Rant

This post is going to be a bit different from the others.  I usually do not rant about things, however, after seeing some posts on a group in Facebook, I just want to put my 2cents in.

It all started with this video/story.  It is about a couple who were unable to have a child of their own, so they decided to adopt.  Under the video, the author of the article gives the idea of adopting from the Ukraine and Moldova because there are only orphanages and no foster care systems in place.  There is little to no funding, and these children suffer because of it.  There are, according to the article, just as many children waiting for families in these countries as there are children waiting for families in the United States.  If that fact itself doesn’t knock your socks off, you must not comprehend how absolutely HUGE that tidbit of information is.
That doesn’t seem like a rant, does it?  Well brace yourself, because here it comes.
A member of a group I am a member of on Facebook (a group for those of us who are adopted, who are looking for their biological families,  are looking for the children they gave up, or are just there for support.)  Anyway.. this fellow “adoptee” had the audacity to get angry because of the article linked above.  This was their post:
It enrages me that someone who was adopted could say this.  I don’t know this girl’s situation, nor do I know if her life with her parents (and when I say “parents” I mean the ones who adopted her) was happy.  I don’t know.  I don’t care, either.  The fact is that someone who, had someone not taken mercy, had not had compassion, had not had the desire for a family, would not have had a family of their own, would be angry about anyone adopting from ANYWHERE.
It really baffles me when I read a lot of the posts and comments on these groups.  So many people do not realize that they are so very lucky, regardless of their situation, to even have a family at all.  Good OR bad.  They are lucky to even be alive, let alone to live in America.  I understand that there are many children living in our country who need loving homes.. but we have a great foster care system- regardless of the fact they medicate ENTIRELY too much, and regardless of the bad press they get– because who wants to hear about the wonderful foster homes? (sarcasm)  Many of these other countries DON’T.  Children live in orphanages (which are sometimes, for lack of a better word, total rat-holes) until they become “of age” and are then turned out with no kind of life training or anything.  The age of adulthood isn’t always 18, either.
Adoption is adoption.  Like the family in the video said, we are all adopted by God.  Live out the gospel.  Children are the main importance.. not where they come from.  As someone who has always wanted to adopt from another country and who knows way too many families who have adopted from outside the U.S., I have a problem finding any kind of issue with it what-so-ever.  Every single one of these families is special and loves their child with a love that is entirely immeasurable.  If only we all were so lucky.
Side notes: The child in the video is not from the Ukraine.  The author took his/her own liberties and made the statements about the Ukraine for reasons that I don’t know.
Additionally, I would also like to point out that some oppose adopting outside the U.S. of A because human trafficking is such a large issue.. and it is.. but not all adoptions outside our borders are illegal, and not all babies in orphanages are there because they were just taken from their mothers.  Many countries are taking more and more steps toward making it harder for traffickers and those in the black market adoptions to be successful.
(Originally posted on my old blog on March 5, 2015)