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Thursday, January 1, 2015

What my adoption cost me #validvoices #whoamI #adoption

(posted on lost daughters blog on 2012 and on this blog in 2014) (i want to share again in 2015, edited a little)

By Trace Hentz (author-blogger)

Someone asked me what had adoption cost me personally. What a loaded question, I shot back in my email. I said I needed to think about it.

Obviously, first of all, I didn't ask to be adopted!

This situation was thrust on me by a damaged 22-year-old small-town Wisconsin girl who loved Chicago-clubbing and partying too much. She didn't want me after my 28-year-old father (also a big drinker) kicked her out. He moved back to his Illinois farm-town and found a new wife. She went to an unwed mothers home in Minnesota and signed me away to Catholic Charities. (Both had new kids right away.)

If my soul wanted a big test this lifetime, this was clearly the route to take. I am not miserable knowing the truth, not at all. I am better knowing the truth.

Finding out neither parent would ever look for me? That discovery cost me.

Who would tell a woman she cannot keep her own baby? Who made them think this way? Belief systems, religions, social workers, neighbors, parents, judges, priests? 

Even your own family can be so damaged, it's risky to find them. There were times I wished I had never looked but I had to know why I was abandoned, handed off. Taking those risks to find out the truth cost me years but I am not sorry.

Being told by my natural mother to never contact her again? That rejection cost me about two years and added grief since I'd have to contact her again for my fathers name. (No one told me this was somewhat common to be rejected again.)

I made all the moves, made all the calls, did all the travel and took all the risks to find both my birthparents. I put myself out there to join a family who didn't even know I existed or cared that I did. That cost me. The fact is they do not understand what I went through and didn't bother to ask, this cost me and confused me. But I do know people focus on their own pain. No one really cared about mine.

The adoption trade in babies was booming in the 1950s. In my opinion my adoptive parents were not carefully screened. Despite his raging alcoholism and their marital discord after two miscarriages, Catholic social workers still qualified them to be my parents. Very young I was sexually molested by my adoptive dad. That betrayal cost me.

I had to pretend for years I was alright when really I wasn't. I tried to live up to their expectations and be the baby they lost. That impossible situation cost me.

My adoptive parents didn't know adopting kids won't fix a marriage and could even make it worse! I had to suppress my shock and disappointment in them for too long. It took me years to find and get therapy and counseling that worked.  This delay cost me.

My lack of trust and being able to love someone cost me a marriage.

Many years later I learn my ancestry. My father, who had the Native blood, didn't intervene to keep me. How did that make me feel? Betrayed. I had no idea what to think about being "part-Indian" since there was no one in my dad's family to reconnect me to my tribal culture. That cost me.

How can you measure cultural loss when there is no dollar amount or apology that can undo what happened? There is no easy way to get that back. Those years are lost and cannot be returned.
What did adoption cost me? Everything.

What did adoption give me? Strength! And the determination to urge others to seek adoption reform and end all closed adoptions permanently.

My birthmother Helen died in 2007. This story ran in a Florida newspaper. I am nothing like her.

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