Things are Different

Homework Assignment

Six months ago the beginning of this conversation would have made me sad and caused quiet, internal anxiety. But things are different now.

Conversation this morning:

Lily: Oh Mom! I forgot to give this to you yesterday.  It is due Friday!
Giant Petunia: What is it?
L: We are learning about our family origins for social studies.  I need to list one or more places in the world that are important to my family. You know, like countries our grandparents are from.
GP: Great!  We’ll have lots of fun with this when you get home from school today!

Six months ago I would have only been able to give information about my husband’s family.  I would have debated with myself if I should tell her the origins of my adoptive family or not. Then I would feel heartache that my daughter was inheriting the same sense uncertainty that I loathed when I had school assignments about my genealogy since my genetic origins had always been a mystery to me.

Now I can proudly tell her that her father’s family is Danish/German/English and her mother’s family is Norwegian/Swedish/German/English.

This is a joyful day!


After a 24 year search and 42 year separation I have reunited with my natural family. I share my thoughts, experiences, discoveries here so that others can understand what it means to be adopted -- from my perspective.

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5 comments on “Things are Different
  1. rhegankim82 says:

    I always hated these kind of assignments as well. Deep down you know this should be about your birth family, but everyone around you thinks its no big deal- just use your adopted families information. That gets the assignment done, but it doesn’t address the real needs of adoptees. And (at least for me) brought a little guilt- that maybe I don’t need to know the whole truth. *Sidenote::: I have not started a search yet…..soon…..maybe……

    • giantpetunia says:

      Isn’t is interesting how we feel guilt around both knowing and not knowing our Truth?

      My younger sister was adopted at 5 and it is as if her life did not begin until she her first picture with our family. She was always embarrassed that when the teacher asked kids to bring in baby pictures she had to bring in a picture from Kinder. As an adult she is an avid scrapbooker and a slightly annoying shutterbug. Once when I asked why she was so passionate about documenting her family’s life she said “I NEVER want my kids to feel like I did about my childhood. They will always know who they were and who they are now.”

      I also understand your ambivalent feelings about searching. Been there! I’m not an official Search Angel but I have some searching skills and have helped a few people locate their birthmothers. I am willing to help when you are ready. (When I say “willing”, I mean I would LOVE to help where I can.)

      • rhegankim82 says:

        Wow. Thank you for such a generous offer. I started writing about my experiences about a month ago and have been amazed both in the way it has finally made me sift through it and move forward. It’s also been healing to come across others who share a similar experience. Even friends who I never knew were adopted! I always viewed adoption positively and had no clue how it shaped me. It’s not necessarily negative in itself but self-awareness is powerful. Thanks for sharing about your sister. Each of us has an important story to tell.

  2. rhegankim82 says:

    Question for you. I assumed the next step for me (when I’m ready) is shelling out the money to the adoption agency and then I ran across something that said try other means first, databases, non-identifying info, etc. What’s your opinion on that?

    • giantpetunia says:

      I read something on your blog that you know that both of your biological parents would be open to contact in the future, right? Is that on your non-identifying paperwork from the agency?

      Does your adoption agency offer a confidential intermediary (CI)? Is that what you are referring to for “shelling out the money” for? IF SO, yes, you might be able to use your non-ID paperwork to find your biological parents without the adoption agency. 1- It saves money and possibly time depending on how much effort the adoption agency puts into searching and contacting. 2- There are a lot of stories where the CI didn’t do the job very well and botched a situation where there was a possibility for reunion but because of the CI’s actions the reunion didn’t happen for many years after the initial CI contact.

      If you don’t have your non-ID information – get it! Even if you decided not to search it is valuable information for you. Also, take the time to write down anything you know about your birth story from your parents. Some of what you have is a verbal history, maybe something(s) the social worker mentioned to your parents when they picked you up that isn’t on your non-id paperwork. In my case, the stories my mother told me about my adoption when I was a little girl are what led me to finding my natural mother not the non-ID paperwork.

      Even if you don’t search having that verbal history written for your children is important. I’ve recently had several separate conversations with 3 women that are either the child of an adopted person or grandchild — each knows who their parents are but they all said they felt like their family tree stops with the last living person they knew. They feel like they don’t have their true ancestral roots. All of them express disappointment that their parent or grandparent didn’t search for their biological family. For some reason I never even thought how this would impact my children more than medical history. This hit me hard, adoption has generational consequences.

      Once you have your non-ID I’d be happy to look it over and tell you if I think we can find your biological parents without the CI or not. You still wouldn’t have to search if I looked at the paperwork. Because every adoption agency collects and presents information differently it is hard to know until I look at the non-ID original paperwork whether or not there is enough information to use yearbooks, phone directories, birth and death indexes, and obituaries to search. (I just had a 24 hour turn around on a adoption from the 1960’s because it was a handwritten redacted form and we were able to get clues from small cursive loops hanging from the redacted sections to figure out the mother’s last name.)

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