A Story of a Native American Male Adoptee’s Twenty-Year Search for His Native American Birth Mother!
Skip shares his story for all of our readers! February 19, 2013
It was never a secret that I was adopted. My parents never hid the fact, and they were forever up-front with what they knew about where I came from. At the earliest age, I begin my journey to understand what it meant to be adopted.
Adoption seemed new to the children in my community, I remember the kids at school were amazed to find out that I was adopted. When they found out that I was Native American, they were even more amazed. I was taught to feel proud to be an Indian, and it was something my parents taught me to embrace.
There was another side to this all though. You see, all my best friends look and acted like their parents, which I took notice of and at the time, sometimes I was jealous and maybe a little hurt. Why didn’t I look like my parents? Why did I look so different? I remember there were times when I would get angry with my mom and dad, and I distinctly remember saying to myself that “I wasn’t your child!”
In reality, I was a very lucky child, who was given the much-needed amount of love and attention that every child should get. I was only 30 days old when adopted and a young couple with three older boys had chosen me! Now didn’t that make me feel good! I had a great young life, full of fun, wonder and learning. I couldn’t ask for a better environment or a better family to be a part of.
It was a great surprise to me to learn that when I was born, before my birth mother released me for adoption, she had written a non-identifying letter stating some facts about who she was, what she had accomplished, what her goals were and some other information about what she looked like, her interests and some information about the father of her child. So I read this letter with fascination and conjured up images of what she looked like.
My curiosity continued until I graduated from high school and after graduation in 1986, I began to take a further interest into finding out how I was, but more importantly, who my birth mother was. I had very little to go on except a two-page letter written in 1968. So it began.
So, what can I decipher from the letter? I was very tedious in looking over that letter, looking for a helpful clue. One of the main keys of finding out who my birth mother was that in this letter, she hadwritten the tribe name from which she identified with. By pure blood, I was half of what she was! Now, if she was an enrolled member of the tribe, then I could definitely narrow my search immensely to only enrolled members of the tribe, but how could I find out if she was a member? The only way I could find that out is to try and become a member of the tribe myself.
From what I knew about adoption, I figured out that Birth Certificates are amended, meaning there is an original one with original information and then it is amended with the adopted parents information and then mailed to the new parents with their information inserted identifying them as the parents. In almost any case, it is basically the birth mother’s information that is removed. So anything I passed to the tribe for verification, they would have to find out if what was written in the letter was true. I would let the tribe figure out and identify who my mother was.
So with this thought, I figured a plan:
Write the tribe, tell them my adoption story, and send them a copy of my mother’s letter that stated she was a tribe member, send a copy of my amended birth certificate
Become an enrolled member of the tribe.
After enrollment, call the Tribe, and ask them who my mother is.
Part of the plan worked, and the major part of the plan was fruitless. While I was enrolled in the Tribe, they were tight-lipped on who my mother was. Over the course of some 20 years I tried a couple more times without success. I was hoping that one person would lend a sympathetic ear and spill the beans. No such luck.
Early in the 1990’s the “Internet” began to really emerge as this weird informational pipeline with some obscure sights out there. It was a very small community then and finding information on a subject was hard to do. There simply weren’t a lot of sites that people built out there like today. BUT, some did exist and I searched and searched and came up to a site called ALMA and immediately signed up for the agency to help me find my birth mother. I never did hear back from ALMA and all roads and attempts to find out whom my birth mother literally stalled soon after that. There was always talk of hiring someone to find out who my birth mother was, but I knew it wouldn’t happen.
Fast forward to November 2010.
I received a call from a the ALMA society indicating that my number has come up and to give them all information and that I would be receiving a lot of information as well. ALMA was quick to come back to me to tell me that I was one of 193 males born in the County that day. Within a couple of hours on this day, we were able to determine my birth name, and my mother’s maiden name!! At this point, I was just completely overwhelmed on the information I received.
I was lucky, the maiden name of my mother was so unique that I could instantly know that whoever had this name, had to be a relation. ALMA continued to give me very helpful information about whom this lady was, where she might have lived, where she might have worked.
There is an important piece of information that was huge that cannot be ignored. This little thing called the Internet. When my wife and I were given my birth name and my birth mother’s maiden name, we immediately went to Facebook to search and found several people with that name from the same state from the same tribe I was a member of. We continued to follow friends of friends and ultimately came to a woman who pretty much fit the profile we were looking for.
We took a chance and reached out to a lady on Facebook who we thought could be related in some way and she confirmed that there is a woman in her town who fits the exact description! She was able to provide me an exact name of my birth mother.
The pure excitement was overwhelming and it’s tough to remember all the details in this search. In the end, I knew who she was, what she did with her life, who she married, who her kids were, what states she lived in, what high school she went to. I knew it all, so how do I approach this? Where do I take it from here? The final chapters had not been written and here I was with a dilemma.
So here is what I was stuck with, how do you approach someone, out of the blue and tell them that you are the one you gave up for adoption many years ago? I had the concern that I could literally start some chaos in someone’s family. So I approached this in a different manner. I was able to determine that her half brother lived in the same city as myself and we actually had both been involved in the Native Community and we were able to meet each other through a mutual friend and we sat and talked about what I knew. He said that he would go to his sisters with this information and then confirm. Unfortunately, this never did pan out and I had been sitting on this information for the past two years from March 2011 until February 2013.
Fast Forward March 2013.
I saw a picture of my birth mother posted on Facebook and I couldn’t resist looking at the picture and I immediately thought to myself, today I do something differently. So after conferring with my wife, I decided to reach out to her son via Facebook. So I did. The son was not defensive, rather kind, and said that he would find out the truth. Within the hour he had spoken with his mother and she told him that she was my mother too and that she does not want to meet at this time, but that she wishes me a good life like the one I have had so far.
So, here I am. I did it. I think about what I accomplished in the last 20 + years. I put this near the top of the list.
Did I get everything I wanted? I feel that I did.
Is there anything else I want or need from her? I don’t think so.
I think that one of the most desired things adoptees want is validation that they exist. This validation can only come from the person who has denied their existence for any number of years. I have found the acknowledgment I need in my life.
Skip (male adoptee) February 19, 2013