I was asked by an agency that aided in the fight for Adoptees to gain access to original birth certificates in Ohio, to compose an update on my experience after getting my own this year. I thought I’d share my post with a few additions here:
As it is my birthday and the first day of spring, March 20 has always been a symbolic date for me. It speaks of new beginnings, warmer temperatures, the return of sunshine and the subsequent melting of ice and snow from the streets of Columbus, Ohio. In 2015, I received yet another layer of newness- the release of original birth certificates for all adoptees born in this great state. I am adopted. I used to have trouble saying it out loud. The shame, the secrecy and the jokes about being adopted made it nearly impossible for me to share that side of my life with but a few close ones. I am still healing from the suppressed hurt of being relinquished. But I AM healing and that is the good part. The changes to unseal records in Ohio were a huge part of that healing and a long time coming. I wasn’t sure it would ever happen in my life time.
The excitement had been building since the announcement the year before. A year-long waiting period was created to allow birth mothers time and opportunity to block the release of their information. Having been in reunion since November, 2004 I had no idea if my birth mother Jo would be one of those mothers. I visited her in California in early March. The subject did not come up even once as we overlooked the gray skies of Manhattan Beach nor when we conversed poolside at my hotel. Once again, she made promises that she could not keep. I recorded them so that I would remember they were not a figment of my imagination. I needed that too as part of my healing.
I went to Vital Statistics with great anticipation to begin the process when I returned from LA. The media was there interviewing others. I wished they could interview us all. All of our stories are unique and interesting. We had all waited for the day; some of us for decades. It was interesting to see so many “regular” people of multiple ethnicities, men, women, young and old. When I walked back out into the warmth of the sunlight after submitting my request- I felt at peace knowing another part of my journey as an adoptee was coming to a close.
My birth certificate arrived about 30 days later. My heart skipped a beat when it arrived in the mail. I waited til evening to open it at my dining room table to finally read it. The sun once again shone on my back, comforting me. I opened it, and was relieved to find she hadn’t blocked it as I had read happened to others (a total of 16 in Ohio). I felt a little numb as I read the documentation that showed my true origins and my given name (Gloria Marie). I told my close friends and they celebrated with me via text… wished me closure. I noted some parts were wrong. My birth father’s name was not listed but he was stated to be white. That made me laugh. I know him and he is far from. Some of my adoption paperwork was included- items I’m sure my adoptive mother no longer has. I plan to send a copy to her and to my biological mother.
Jo and I have had a rocky reunion. It has been hot and cold but mostly cold. Perhaps stagnant is a better word. Together we are a still body of water with potential to move should the wind ever blow this way or that. I have come to a place of peace with our status. She sometimes sends me texts from sunny California saying “your life matters”. The good news is that I already know this. I live my life on purpose with each day and year I remain on the planet. The better news is that on paper- I am real just like every one else I know. I am not made up. I exist and I have the paperwork to prove it.