What's in a name ? The search for my biological family begins.
While in Colorado performing for the Jaipur International Literature Festival I thought I would mail in my application as I had heard that my home state of Colorado had just become the 13th State to give adult adoptees the right to access their original birth certificates; but when weather forced us to delay our departure for a day I decided to head on over to Denver and bring my application in person instead.
My bestie Lisa Bell and I drove to Denver and I was a bit giddy, and a lot nervous, as you can see…
Seated and waiting my turn at the window while I watched the procession of folks making inquiries; I thought back to our plane ride over from Italy. Marco and I were seated next to a kind, soft-spoken woman from England who was on her way to meet her sister for the very first time. She looked to be in her sixties and told us her story as we flew back in time towards Colorado. Her mother had kept her but had previously given up her first child for adoption. Because of Colorado’s new law- her sister, who she had no previous knowledge of, had contacted her and after several Skype meetings where they had felt increasingly connected they had decided to meet. She was absolutely thrilled and we were caught up in her excitement, captivated by her story and the coincidence.
When I was younger I always told people that I had no interest really in finding my birth parents, yet as time moves on I find an increasing desire to know more. I did consider it briefly back in the day, but it was so daunting and pre-internet required the services of a private detective... I’ve been fiercely proud of my ability to create a family and insistent that blood is not what makes a family. I’ve written so very many songs on the theme. As a victim of child abuse and hearing a shitload of horror stories from people who suffer/suffered in countless ways at the hands of blood relatives it seems painfully obvious to me that the ones who raise us are not necessarily the people who have our best interests at heart. I often think, “Drop the dead weight!” when I hear of a friend struggling with a poisonous family situation. I am perhaps unduly harsh in that view…My feeling tends to be if whoever is bringing you only grief and is simply a horrible person- time to leave them behind. I truly believe one cannot help someone who doesn’t wish to be helped and sooner or later that lack of a desire for positive change will make itself known and as for me… at that point, I’m gone.
However, as I get older, something pulls at me… For the last year or so when meditating each morning, I feel urged to thank my ancestors for the opportunity that is this life. I cannot imagine a thing about them, but here I am- and I love living, I love my body and my brain- I’m in love with people and this planet and I am so grateful for whatever blood runs in my veins urging me towards creation and kindness.
So back in Italia, I knew I needed to be patient before expecting any news. But within a couple of weeks, there was a big yellow envelope sticking out of my mailbox and I was grinning before I even reached for it. My hopes are not particularly high. I’m not expecting any happy reunion with a family that has been desperate to find me. My dream as a child that Marvin Gaye was my daddy I am aware is just that- a dream. If my birth parents didn’t keep me, it’s clear that there was a compelling reason and none of those that I can imagine are very jolly.
Despite being pragmatic and realistic as to what to expect. My heart! Oh! That reputably tough muscular organ is feeling fragile she can’t help but to long for something she doesn’t even know how to name…
They have names!
Now I know their names, and not only theirs but also those from my first adoption; the people that adopted me a week after I was born and who then mistreated me for the following six years. First flying me to Malaysia, apparently- he was a military man, before putting me on a plane back to the States with nothing but a note in my pocket and wounds on the inside as well as out. Now what to do with the knowledge? I have no interest in or taste for retribution. I believe I’ll just let that first adoption lie… But wow, Shirley and Isell I’m so curious about you and all those brothers and sisters I apparently have. Those uncles, cousins, aunts, nieces, nephews… Mind-boggling. I'll update soon. Whatever it may bring, let the search begin... Dear reader, I hope you'll come with!
The Adoptees Bill of Rights
- We have the right to dignity and respect.
- We have the right to know we are adopted.
- We have the right to possess our original birth certificate.
- We have the right to possess all of our adoption records.
- We have the right to full knowledge of our origins, ethnic and religious background, our original name and any pertinent medical and social details.
- We have the right to updated medical and social history of our birthparents.
- We have the right to personal contacts with each of our birth families, as all other humans.
- We have the right to live without guilt toward any set of parents.
- We have the right to treat and love both sets of parents as one family.
- We have the right and obligation to show our feelings.
- We have the right to become whole and complete people.
- We have a right and obligation not to violate the dignity of all people involved in the adoption triad and to carry our message to all adopted children who still suffer.
“In all of us there is a hunger, marrow-deep, to know our heritage, to know who we are -- and where we come from. Without this enriching knowledge, there is a hollow yearning, there is the most disquieting --- loneliness.” ~ Alex Haley ~ Roots