Christie was a shy child who wanted to participate in activities but held herself back from engaging. It wasn't until she was an adult that her adopted brother unexpectedly suggested Christie might want to search. That’s when their mother shared her adoption information. When she found her birth father, he openly acknowledged their relationship and explained that he and her birth mother would have been very young parents with no parents of their own. He introduced Christie to her birth mother, and the women took it slow, getting to know and trust one another. The biggest reunion surprise for Christie was realizing she wasn’t as well-adjusted about her adoption as she thought. Her reunions uncovered buried emotions that had plagued her since childhood, but she’s putting in the work to heal herself.
The blog post Christie references is: https://adultadopteesupport.blogspot.com/2014/01/am-i-blood-or-am-i-water.html
Read Full TranscriptChristine: 00:04 That was the essence of what I grew up with, this feeling, this and not anything that my parents put on me. It was me putting on myself and from such a young age, I don’t even recall it happening, that I have felt ashamed of being adopted, that I knew that I wasn’t worthy of being kept, you know, so I’ve done a lot of work and it’s really profoundly changed me as a person.
Voices: 00:35 Who am I? Who am I? Am I? Who am I? Who am I? Who am I?
Damon: 00:47 This is who am I really a podcast about adoptees that have located and connected with their biological family members. I’m Damon Davis, and on today’s show is Christie. She called me from Rocklin, California, a suburb of Sacramento. christie tells the story of being a shy child who wanted to participate in activities, but she held herself back from engaging. It wasn’t until she was an adult were her adopted Brother unexpectedly suggested that Kristi might want to search that her mother shared her adoption information with her. When she found her birth father. He openly acknowledged their relation and explained to the complexities of their situation as young parents Long ago. He introduced Christie to her birth mother and the women took it slow getting to know and trust one another. This is Christie’s journey….
Damon: 01:40 christie was born in the early 1960s in San Diego, California. Her adoptive parents took her home from the hospital when she was three days old. She always knew she was adopted, but her adoption was closed so her parents either didn’t know or never shared the details of for her adoption with her. Christie has a younger brother, also an adoptee, but they’re unrelated. They had a loving family where adoption was an accepted part of how things were. She talks about her demeanor as a child.
Christine: 02:09 I was a really shy child. I would say. That’s what I thought it was. I thought I was shy. I never wanted to draw any attention to myself. Um, I, I mean I had friends but I wouldn’t say I was terribly outgoing and, and I could never really put a label on it, but I would always compare myself to other people and find myself lacking in certain ways. Like, you know, they were always prettier than I was or smarter than I was or more interesting or whatever. So I always felt like I was not, um, that I was, I don’t want to say is good. That’s not really the right word. And I couldn’t really put a label on it for years until I dealt with it later on. But definitely a lot of things I didn’t choose to do, like sports and, and even though I had an interest in them, but I didn’t choose to do them because I didn’t want. I guess I didn’t want other people to judge me or find me lacking in areas. So I didn’t want to draw any attention to myself. I didn’t go to school dances or things like that. And I mean, like I said, I had friends that I would go hang out with. So it wasn’t like I didn’t have some sort of a social life, but if I was the person I am today, I would have probably done things much differently as a child, I think
Damon: 03:32 that’s a really fascinating. Adoptees often talk about fear of rejection and things like that, but it sounds like you almost were preempting other people’s rejection by pushing yourself down.
Christine: 03:47 I think so. I mean, looking back and having the perspective on it now. At the time I never really related it to being adopted. I didn’t associate the two. I didn’t really. I mean we didn’t even really discuss adoption in my house. Not that it was a secret because they had told us about it, but I don’t think it was necessarily encouraged to talk about and, and I don’t, I don’t recall any instances of me bringing it up and they and my parents squashing the conversation, but I just always had the sense that if I expressed any interest or questions or anything like that, that it might hurt their feelings and make them feel like they weren’t good parents or they weren’t enough.
Damon: 04:34 Christie wishes their family had talked about adoption more, but she acknowledges that in the 1960s the prevailing wisdom was you could just transplant a baby to a new family with no repercussions. There was no need for open discussion therapy or transitional supports. christie said she didn’t want to hurt her parents with inquiries about adoption, so I wondered if she ever discussed it with her brother. They never did when they were young, but Christie did broach the topic with another child in her neighborhood who would openly discuss her own adoption in front of her mother. It was very different from Christie’s home, but even those open conversations away from her house didn’t make Christie feel like she could talk about it at home. She thinks she was in the fog as we adopt these, refer to it. She said she occasionally fantasized about what we’re union might look like for herself, but it wasn’t until she was an adult that her brother randomly, but possibly very intentionally open to the opportunity for christie to explore reunion.
Christine: 05:36 Maybe 25 years ago, I was with my parents and my brother and we were. I remember we were having dinner somewhere. We’re out to dinner and my brother brought up the conversation right in front of my parents and he asked me if I’d ever considered searching and I remember like just shocked that he would talk about it in front of our parents and kind of looking at them for their reactions and then expressing to him that, you know, that I kind of would be interested in finding out something when it seemed like they weren’t gonna be upset or whatever. So. So we had had this little conversation at dinner and then a couple of weeks later I received from my mother had sent me copies of the adoption paperwork that she had. And so I sort of took that as her blessing to do some searching.
Damon: 06:32 Her mother just sent the documents out of the blue. After that dinner conversation with no followup discussion. The package was filled with legal documents but not much useful information except for one document.
Christine: 06:44 And it was a consent for medical care and it was signed by my biological mother and it had her name typed and she had signed it. And it identified her as my mother, so that’s the first time I actually saw her name and I saw in her signature, I mean to look at her signature. It just felt like such a personal thing of her is to see for the first time and and then there was a a witness name on it too, and it said witness and then it was a man’s name and signature and I kind of surmised that that could be my biological father, but it didn’t identify him that way.
Damon: 07:23 Kristi didn’t take any action with her package of information for years. The Internet information age hadn’t exploded yet, so she would just pull the documents out and review them from time to time. She got an application form for a search group she had heard about, but she never had the courage to fill it out. christie said the classic internal monologue about not wanting to disrupt her biological parents lives in fear of rejection. We’re part of her process. She finally took a concrete step forward in 2006. Her son who was in junior high school had one of those family tree projects we adopt these struggle with, but his teacher asked the students to do their project using an ancestry.com two week free trial.
Christine: 08:06 As I was helping him with his project, I thought, well, you know, why not use this to type in their names and take a look? So I did, I typed in, I pulled out the paperwork again and looked at the paper with their names on it and typed it in to ancestry and found a record that they got married, um, a couple of years after I was born. So I was probably around two or three, I want to say, um, when the two name, when my mother and that witness named got married. So that made me feel even stronger, stronger that, that could have been my biological father. He really made me feel like, okay, you know, they, they had a relationship, you know, there probably was some love there, you know, and it kind of made me feel more, you know, more comfortable with the idea of my conception.
Damon: 09:02 Christie trace the people as far as she could without definitive information about their identities. All she could see was that they were very young when they were married and unfortunately another record revealed they divorced few years later. She turned to the open Internet where she found an address matching her mother’s name. christie paused and sat with the address. She questioned whether that address could be correct, whether she should send a letter out of the blue and if she might be outing her birth mother, if her birth was a secret. Fear of rejection prevented Christie from taking any other steps. Years later in 2010, she was at home alone one Friday afternoon watching a TV program where a man takes on the task of reuniting people. Christie found herself wishing that man was calling her to say someone was looking for her to complete a reunion. She pulled out her paperwork again and researched San Diego where she was born and found the man’s name.
Christine: 09:59 She’s a professor at, at a university in San Diego and it’s brought up his page and it had a picture of him and I looked at the picture and I thought, well they don’t see an obvious resemblance, but he looks to be about the right age and he doesn’t not look like me. And so I kinda sat there with it for about 45 minutes and looked at it and there was an email address there, but it was a professional email address. So I thought well, should I send an email? Could create problems for, I don’t know. And finally I just thought, you know, if I don’t do it, you know, I was, I was about 47 at the time and you know, so that meant he would have probably been in his sixties. I thought, you know, we’re both getting older. If I don’t do it, they’re, they’re just more likely by the time I do it for something to have happened for them to have passed away or whatever. So I finally just went ahead and scratched out a quick email
Damon: 11:05 she described who She was explained that she was looking for biological parents and that the man’s name came up as a potential match. She said if he was interested he could email her back. She went about the rest of her afternoon, not really expecting an answer to come back Very soon.
Christine: 11:21 later that night I happened to open up my computer and there was an email back from him and in the subject line he had written, yes, I am your father. And I know it was stunned. I was and I, you know, my husband was sitting over in another chair and all of a sudden I was like, oh my God, Oh my God. And I hadn’t even told him what I had done because I just didn’t expect the response soon, so I hadn’t even really thought to tell him what they’d done and it was so crazy that all of a sudden I decided to it and then there he is waiting for it.