Posts tagged ‘Me’

Looking for feedback on my letter to my Dad

This is my letter to my Dad asking him to adopt me back. If anyone has any critiques, please let me know!

Dear Dad,

I’m writing to you today about something that is very important and emotional for me. It’s very difficult, and you know what I’m like when it comes to talking about important things. I’m trying to get better at it. It’s a long process. I hope you’ll really think about it and won’t say no outright. I hope you don’t say no at all, but I know it’s a possibility.

Anyway.

There’s two reasons behind my request. Firstly, I don’t know how much of my facebook postings you’ve seen, but you might have seen various postings about birth certificates and how much I don’t like that mine’s been changed or that I have to ask for permission to get the original version.

It makes feel really sad to think that I could die without ever having a correct version of my birth certificate that is also a legal copy. I want my descendants, should I have any, to be able to access their accurate genealogy. I want to see you listed on my birth certificate as my father, because you are my father.

I love my adoptive parents. I think you know that. And this has nothing to do with them. No matter what the legal documents say, they raised me, and that’s not insignificant. But, no matter what, they aren’t my mother and father. I’ve actually never thought of them as that. Mom and Dad, yes; mother and father, no. Those roles/titles have always belonged to you and A.

Secondly, but definitely not less important, meeting you was the best thing to ever happen to me. I don’t think I ever properly thanked you for everything you did for me. Not just the things you know you did, like selling your house and quitting your job, but for the other things. I still remember you sitting with me out by the river before one of my classes because I was really nervous and talking to me about it. Meeting you and knowing you did more to heal some of my anxieties than anything else. I see myself in you, and it’s truly powerful. And very hard to explain everything it means.

I can’t even imagine going on as I was at 16 for years and years. I credit you for the vast increases in my self-confidence and decreases in my anxiety. Thank you very much. For everything.

What I want to ask is this: I really want to formalise our relationship. I know by blood, genetically, that I’ll always be your daughter, you’ll always be my father, and our descendants will always be, well, our descendants, but… I’d like you to legally be my father again, so that everyone will know. Would you be willing to adopt me?

Please think about it. I would really, really love it if you said yes. If you have any hesitations or concerns, I’m willing to talk about it.

Love your daughter,

Midnight Mass

Though I don’t consider myself a Christian, and I don’t even know where I  stand on whether or not a god exists – I lean to not existing, I love Catholic Mass, especially Midnight Mass on Christmas Day. I don’t remember it at all, but I grew up in the Catholic church until I was about seven. Then we moved to being Southern Baptist, but that’s a different story. When I got older, and we used to come  back to Texas to visit relatives, my agrandma, who is still Catholic, would take me with her to Midnight Mass. I love the ritual, the candles, the incense, and, on Christmas especially, the music of the church. I love the symbolism and the history, the connection to antiquity. The Church doesn’t change much, and if it does, it takes it centuries. So some of these rituals are things that have been done for over a thousand years.

So I went to Midnight Mass. The church was really old. I looked it up later, and it had been (re)built around 1400. The service was interesting. I could tell I was in Britain and not America when the vicar used the word sex several times in his sermon. …I don’t think they call it a sermon in Catholic churches, but whatever. Unfortunately, the service was different from the ones I’ve been to in the States, and the differences were just enough that it was disconcerting and I found it not nearly as comforting as usual. Every Catholic Mass I’ve been to in recent years has reduced me to tears. Not this time, though, not even when they sung Silent Night, because the words of the song were different than the ones I knew and it threw me off. (For the record: My aMom used to sing me that song every night when I was a kid. It made it hard to hear after she died.) The minor, nagging difference made the service a bit uncomfortable, as they made me feel like I didn’t know what would happen. If there’s one thing I really love about the Catholic church, it’s the predictability and routine of it. You’re supposed to be able to go anywhere in the world and experience basically exactly the same service. And if masses were still in Latin, it’d be the same language, too. But this was different. Not stable or secure.

Excepting that and the trigger-time when one of the official church people (possibly a priest, but I have no idea) used the word adoption to describe how people get into God’s family [uhm…no. You’re (re)BORN into God’s family. And you’re even made in his image, so no genetic mirroring issues there, either!], it was pretty nice. I enjoyed it.

When I got home, I talked to my husband about it, and he informed me that I’d gone to the Church of England church. I looked it up, and sure enough, I had. Oops. The Catholic church and the Church of England church are right next door to each other, and I accidentally went to the CoE’s service. I’m assuming (hoping) that’s where all the differences came from. (Sidenote: They spell Noel as Nowell. O.o Had never seen that before in my life.) I wish I’d realised beforehand, because going to the wrong service also meant I missed all the carols. The music is at least half of the reason, if not more, I like to go.

So by the time midnight mass was out, obviously it was past midnight and officially Christmas Day. In the afternoon, Dom and I went over to his parents’ house for Christmas dinner and presents. I had a great time. I’ve been wanting to learn how to knit, since I can’t afford to buy a sewing machine, and Dom got me some yarn and a book entitled The Ultimate Book of Baby Knits by Debbie Bliss. My father-in-law joked around saying, “Now you’ve got to knit us a grandchild.” He and my husband also got me The Knitting Book by Cath Kidston. It’s a beginner’s knitting kit, including a how-to-knit booklet, instructions to make a scarf, needles, and yarn for said scarf. I haven’t tried yet, but I will soon. Maybe it will be my reward for getting my coursework done…

Later that night, I tried to call my Mom, but she didn’t answer. I left a voicemessage, though. In the next few days, I got the best present ever. In the mail came two cards, one which was from my Mom. She wrote my (original/real/current) name and a nice little note and signed it “Mom”. 😀 I was so happy she called herself Mom in relation to me, instead of by her first name. (Also, I love her handwriting. Is that weird?)

I normally try to call once a week on Saturday afternoons, but the next time I called was just after it turned to 2012 here. She didn’t pick up then, either, and I didn’t get the voicemail this time. I think I might have not dialed correctly, supposed to press the # key after pressing the number, but I don’t think I did. So I’m torn on whether or not to try to call again or let it wait until my usual time, and then, if I do call again and talk to her, would that mean I can’t/shouldn’t call at the weekend? *sigh* Reunion is complex.

New Year’s

Happy New Year’s, everyone! I hope 2012 brings some joy and happiness to you all. In the spirit of the season, I’m going to post my New Year’s resolutions. I have never ever finished all of them before. Maybe I should make that one of my resolutions. But this year, the list is less idealistic, so I think I may have a chance of doing them all!

My 2012 New Year Resolutions

  • exercise once a week
  • write diary once a day

My maternal great-grandmother who died recently (never got to meet her) apparently kept a daily journal for several decades, just a page a day. I believe she started when she was 17… They’re now all in the custody of my great-aunt who told me about them. I thought it sounded like a wonderful idea, so I want to get in the habit of doing it, too. I love personal historical records like that. Maybe that’s why I love facebook and blogs. I love mundane details about people’s lives.

  • get hair cut again
  • find a job
  • graduate
  • go to school every (or almost every) day
  • learn to knit

I’ve been really wanting to learn to knit, so I can make clothes and blankets and things. I can sew, on a basic level and make basic things by following a pattern, but that requires a sewing machine. Knitting only needs yarn and needles, so I thought it’d have less initial investment. For Christmas, my husband got me a book of knits for baby and some yarn, and my husband and father-in-law got me a beginner’s knitting kit that has needles, yarn, a how-to-knit booklet, and instructions on making a scarf. So I’m all set to start learning! 😀

  • win 3rd nanowrimo
  • self-publish mind the gap
  • do christmas cards on time

I did Christmas cards this year. But apparently the mailing date was the 9th of December. And then I ran out of motivation/money. So they’re all still sitting around my house, waiting to be mailed, which probably won’t happen until February. So, this year, I’ll know to start doing them in November. Lesson learned.

  • get British driver’s licence
  • change name on birth certificate

I changed my name back to my true name by court order six months ago. Apparently I can use that to change the name on my birth certificate, which I didn’t realise you could do. But when I sent it in the first time, or rather NC’s Dept of Vital Statistics sent it, the TX Dept of Vital Statistics returned the copy of the court order to me saying it wasn’t valid – despite having a raised seal – and also noting that I’d forgotten the money. So, in February, I’m going to send it again, with the same court order, with a note stating that the pink slip is valid because it has a raised seal and signatures. So get over it being pink, take my money, and change my falsified records.

That’s most of my resolutions. If any of y’all do resolutions, good luck!

My (Public) Adoption Story, As I Know It

Since I just joined an adoptee social network, and they asked for a story, I figured I’d modify my password protected one to make a version I don’t mind being totally public. It’s practically the same as the private version.

WARNING:  I’m not certain how much of it’s true. Parts are what have been told to me by my Mom, parts are what have been told to me by my Dad, parts are what have been told to me by my aparents, and we all know how much they lie, or more to the point, how much the agencies lie to them. So I really don’t know if I can trust what they’ve told me. I trust what my Mom and Dad have told me more. But, either way, I don’t have the full story. I really want to ask my Dad questions, but I just don’t feel like I can, even though he’d probably talk to me about it. It’s awkward and complicated.

Anyways. On my lovely boards that I never post on, there are support categories for closed adoption adoptees and open adoption adoptees. They forgot the semi-open/semi-closed adoption category, which is what I generally consider mine to have been. 1987 was in the transition period of moving adoptions from being closed to being “open”, and I think semi-open was relatively standard. As established by the wonderful countries who don’t really do adoption, the vast majority of mothers don’t actually not want their kids, so why in the world would they voluntarily choose to have no contact or knowledge of how their child is doing? Now that we’re not strapping mothers down and drugging them and stealing their children from the moment they’re born, the agencies had to do something to keep supply up, leading them to the concept of “open” adoption.

I digress. According to both parties, my adoption was supposed to have been closed. A Catholic agency handled my adoption. I know that my parents saw me in the hospital and even held me, as I have a picture, but I have no idea how long I was there. For all I know, it was only the day of my birth. After that, I went to a foster family and was there until I was 19 days old. I have no idea if my Mom knows that I was going to go to foster care.

So at 19 days, I went to my future adoptive parents. Unsurprisingly, my Mom went a little insane after I was born and relinquished. At the time, my grandma attended a grief support group at her (Catholic) church. According to my Mom, the nun was supposed to have put me with a family in a different city. The more I think about that, the more I think they just told her that and never really meant it. By stroke of luck and that nun’s “mistake”, my eventual adoptive grandma also attended this support group. What must’ve happened is that my eventual aparents got me, eventual agrandma shared with the church, and my grandma put the pieces together and told my Mom.

Cue mother going mental because she went against millions of years of human instinct. Yes, she did track down my eventual aparents. She drove past their house and peeked in windows to see if she could see I was alright. Yes, my aparents went kind of classic adoptoraptor and were terrified of “the birthmom” and how she “might want me back”. Oh, the horror. The mother of a child might want their child back where they belong. They should have given me back. I wonder if she even knew she could get me back. I wonder if she could, I don’t know when relinquishment became final back then. It’s still my fantasy that she snuck through the window and stole me back. But anyways. They were actually considering moving to another city because of this.

They didn’t. They contacted the agency. The agency contacted my Mom and told her to cut down on the stalking (though I don’t consider finding your own child stalking). Through the agency, they agreed to open the adoption a little with letterbox contact, which made it a semi-open adoption. My eventual aparents sent letters/pictures/what have you to the agency, the agency passed them on to my Mom, and vice versa, and the agency cut out anything they considered identifying. So I’ve got letters with pages and words missing.

I think this went on for a few years. For the longest time, she always addressed her letters to me with my real name, the one she gave me at birth. I wish she hadn’t stopped. More to the point, my adoptive parents had no right to change my name, and I resent that they did. Not even three years later, she had another kid, my first half-brother. My half-brother went to live with just his father’s family, and she had my half-sister.

It was after my sister was born that it moved to sort of an “open” adoption. I don’t know when we first met in person, but I think it was the time I also first met my sister, when I was about six or so. I don’t remember it. If we had any other visits, I don’t remember them. I do remember fantasising heavily about her and my unknown father. All I knew about him was his name, and I would stare at my one picture of me, my Mom, and him when I was a newborn all the time.

For my thirteenth birthday, I went back to my hometown and spent a nice day with my Mom. She took me to her house and I met my then-youngest half-brother, we had lunch, and she bought me a present. Not too long after that, I was told by my aparents that she didn’t want to have any contact with me anymore. My Mom says that’s true. She doesn’t want her in-laws to find out about me or my oldest half-brother.

So my thirteen year old response to her rejection was “well if you don’t want me, I don’t want you!” Totally false, but that was my coping strategy. I turned my energies to my nDad. I’d been wanting to find him, and when I told my Mom that on my 13th birthday, she gave me his first and middle name. Still not sure why she didn’t give his last name… I didn’t really do much about my desire to search until after 9/11. After that, I scoured the passenger lists for his name. I had to find him. Eventually, I found a little letter than had my paternal grandma’s first and last name on it. Her maiden name is Smith. Luckily for me, she’s a little hippy and changed it to something totally unique. I’d been warned not to contact her, but she was my only lead. It was easy to find her, and she talked to me on the phone and told me how to find my paternal grandfather and through him my nDad. She was really nice, even said she loved me on the first call.

By design, she hadn’t known about me until the day I was born, after my nDad came home from visiting me and my Mom at the hospital. He’d been abused by her when he was little, and he was afraid that she’d try to get custody of me. Given her mental state back then, it’s entirely possible that could’ve gone wrong. So I think her unstable abusiveness was part of the reason I was put up for adoption. Not entirely sure why my nDad didn’t step up to the plate, though…

So, I called the paternal grandpa. I think I first talked to my…to be honest I don’t remember who I talked to first, haha. All I know was that he wasn’t there the first time I called. He worked at sea and was currently…at work. So I had to call back when he came back, which I did, and I know I was playing Journey’s “Open Arms” when I called to talk to him. I couldn’t verbalise it then, but I wanted him to love me and not reject me, and he didn’t.

We had a very up and down relationship after that, staying in touch via very sporadic e-mail. My search and reunion with my nDad didn’t sit well with either of my aparents, particularly my adad, and he mostly stopped talking to me. Which by that point was fine with me.

Fast forwarding, lots of stuff happened in the next couple years. We met in person once and did the classic staring at each other thing. I was a stupid, idiotic teenager and wore my pro-life shirt that I’d had since I was 2 (ugh). I definitely had the mindset of “Adoption, not abortion!” when I was still brainwashed by society. Then in 2004 I went out to stay with him for a week. During that week, we drove up North to go to the big family gathering. I don’t think I could possibly describe how overwhelming and utterly amazing it was to be in a house filled with people who looked like me, acted like me, and had similar interests and talents. It was incredible, and I’d dearly love to repeat the experience.

Within days of going to stay with him, he offered to allow me to move in with him. I accepted the offer. I was sixteen. I moved in with him, started college, and lived with him until early 2008.

I moved out, and he continued being terrible. In addition to that, my amom was dying of breast cancer. She died at the end of June, and my nDad got back in touch with my Mom and told her and gave her my contact info. She called and left me a message about how she’d be there for me. I ignored her, because she didn’t want me back then, so I didn’t want her now. That’s what I tried to tell myself.

It wasn’t until 2010 that I started looking at adoption issues and everything else, and that’s when I got back in touch with my Mom and found my siblings on facebook. We started to talk, and then I must’ve said too much about adoption or something, and she didn’t want me anymore. Now I’m trying to figure out how I can open the lines of communication between the two of us. As for my nDad, I’m cautiously testing the waters to see what kind of person he is now. I’d like to start over with him and build up a new father-daughter relationship, and I think that’s possible for us. I hope so. It’s just getting past everything… I don’t know how to do that.

Broked

I think I’ve finally broken under all the stress of the last three years, and this visa application is what pushed me  too much. I don’t even know how to feel right now, other than vaguely sick. I’m trying to turn my mind off so I don’t think or feel.

I submitted my visa application on Monday. Took it to the mailing place and shipped it UPS next day air. It arrived at the British consulate in New York at 10:12 yesterday morning, signed for by Blythe in the mail room. I received an e-mail later that day saying it had reached the UK Border Agency and that I would get another e-mail when an ECO (decision makers) was reviewing it and another when then decision was made.

I spent all Monday night tossing and turning because I couldn’t stop obsessing over my application and trying to think if I’d done anything wrong. I ended up waking up far too early because I did, in fact, think of something I’d done wrong. All in all, what I realised I hadn’t done right was only a very minor mistake and not something anyone thinks they would refuse a visa over.

However, I didn’t make any mistakes like that last time. And I’ve been making a lot of stupid mistakes in recent months, so I was now even more concerned that I’d fucked up something else, something far more important. Usually, I have these concerns, and they’re unfounded. Just me worrying and obsessing. This time, however?

Yeah, I did fuck up something more important than a fill-in-the-blank box on an appendix sheet. The dread started to choke me last night as I tried to sleep, and I had to get up to check.

I left off one of my trips to the UK in the immigration history field. We left the UK to go to the Star Trek convention in Las Vegas last August and then came back. You don’t have to give trips back to your own country, but you are supposed to list any that come to the UK (or any other foreign-for-you country).

Now, that may not sound important to you, but to an ECO… if that ECO thinks you left that off on purpose or are potentially trying to lie about it (they can and do check that field with their files on you), not only can your visa get automatically denied, but you can get banned from the country, possibly permanently but the usual term is for 10 years.

As we all know, governments are not particularly known for being fuzzy, warm, kind souls who make allowances for things like human error or who assume the best of people. That is why I’m worried/scared shitless. Besides hopefully getting a kind ECO who will think I didn’t intentionally leave that off, the only other thing I think might save me is the fact I listed 01/09/09 – 30/10/10 as my “in the UK for study” trip. I have the time listed on that sheet, I just forgot the Vegas trip.

I can’t even cry over this, though I’ve come close. I don’t have the emotional energy left. I hope I’m making this all bigger than it is, a mountain out of a molehill, but I have no hope left and I’ve seen stories of others being denied for stupid things, too, things similar to this.

Whether wonderful news or devastating news, I should have the decision by the end of the week. Hopefully I’ll survive the wait.

Protected: Adoption Is Causing Visa Headaches

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Identity Error

So… I’ve heard all the news about Obama releasing a copy of his birth certificate to the public. I’ve been thinking about it – and people’s stupid comments about it – all day. I kept thinking “Gee, I don’t have a copy of my birth certificate anymore, and I definitely haven’t seen a copy since I started waking up and looking at adoptee issues. I should get a copy so I can see what’s on it, exactly.” So, naturally, I headed to the website for Texas Vital Statistics. Here’s what it says:


First requirement: Check. I live outside Texas, but I am ordering my own record.

Second requirement: Check. I have a valid NC driver’s license.

Third requirement: Check. I am currently living at a US address.

Fourth requirement: Check. I have a Visa.
Yay, I can order online like they want everyone to! Sweet. So I click the link and fill out the form, double check the info, then click submit.

They can’t verify my identity. For whatever reason (and I really can’t figure it out), the information I gave them (including my full name, birthdate, and social security number) is not enough for them to be able to verify my identity and let me order a birth certificate in the usual way. I’m not even trying to get my OBC! I’ll either have to fill out a paper application and hope that one makes it through or have my aDad do it for me.   -_-