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The Candle is Burning Until Records Are Opened!!

Adoptee's Right To Know

Being adopted was not supposed to be a punishment, but a gift without a doubt. It's better than being thrown in a dumpster or there about. It takes a lot of courage for someone to make this decision about adoption. Adoptees born out-of-wedlock or not, they had no option. Why punish adoptees by not releasing their family history information? They did not get themselves into this kind of situation! Help patch the hole in all adoptees hearts. Give the adoptees a freedom of speech on their part, and open their adoption files as a way for starts. Adoptees are not criminals so why are files sealed? They should be freely available, not something that gets appealed. Convicts court records are available to everyone because of their rights to know. Adoption files should be available to everyone too,re-gardless of conditions, whether it be rain, heat or snow. The rights to adoptees seem to be zero, right? Why is this when all they want is more insight? It's tough to trust a court intermediary due to many giving false information. Adoptees should not have to pay for that and have a right to know their history insight along with an explanation!

Copyright @ Meredith A. Tallis 1999

My Search - Who Am I?

This is the story of the search for my birth-mother. It is more of a story of the history of my feelings and attitude. I hope it portrays the changes I have undergone. I must give the glory to the Lord who has opened the doors each step of the way. What was taken will be restored for the Lord says:
"I will not in any way fail you nor give you up nor leave you without support. I will not, I will not, I will not in any degree leave you helpless nor forsake nor let you down. Assuredly not!" So we take comfort and are encouraged and confidently and boldly say, The Lord is my Helper: I will not be seized with alarm [I will not fear or dread or be terrified]. What can man do to me? Hebrews 13:5-6.

I never had the desire to search for my birthmother. My attitude was; she didn't want me. She gave me away why would I want to know her? I always had the feeling of being an outsider no matter where I was. There was something out of kilter. I knew I was adopted since I was small. It was never an issue at home. I didn't conscientiously think about it. There are four of us all adopted with different sets of birthparents. It was something we all accepted.

I was about 10 when I really understood what being adopted meant. It came about in a heated argument with a fellow student who was supposedly "my friend". I don't remember what we were arguing about; but we were angry. She told me my brother was not my blood brother. Of course I said he was my brother and proceeded into trying to do bodily harm to her. No one was going to talk about my family that way. When I got home that afternoon; I told mom what had happened. (She says I was crying. I don't remember.) Mom sat down with me and explained that we were not blood related but we were brother and sister. She and Dad couldn't have children. They wanted children and once they found out they could adopt that's what they did. We were special right? Yet why was there that feeling of being abandoned, fear of rejection of never being good enough? It was something you didn't or couldn't put into words. It was buried deep in the recess of your soul.

I must have been abut 13 or 14 and was thinking or wondering about my birthmother. I remember asking Mom if I was illegitimate. (I read alot and so knew what that term meant.) I remember the look on her face when she told me yes. I believe that's when I closed the door to any more questions of my birth. It was not a subject to be discussed. To me that was the reason I was not wanted or kept by my birthmother. In that era of time being born out of wedlock was very bad. Your birthmother had to be a bad person. If she was bad; how could you ever be good enough to meet the high standards of society? You couldn't, you were born out of shame and given away.

Please understand; these are thoughts and feelings that I had but could not, would not express. When you don't know what the real facts are, you don't know what to believe. Your mind conjures up all kinds of senario's. You live in a world of reality and a secret world of fantasy.

I had heard and seen how the ladies talked about a girl or young woman who was pregnant and not married. The whispers and looks behind her back. It didn't happen often but the few times it did was enough for me to know it was not good!!

I graduated left home to go to college as most kids did in my era. I went thru a short period of rebelliousness, met my husband, got married and began a family. We are a close knit family; yet that feeling of never belonging always a ghost at my side.

I remember having a discussion about 10 years ago with my younger brother and brother-in-law (who is also adopted) about looking for our birthmothers. I was very much against it. I said no way did I want to know who she was. She didn't want me, why would I want her? I was very ignorant at the time.

In 1984 I received Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior. I believe this is a very important part to this story. As you will see; He was already at work putting the broken pieces back together.

In January of 1999, I was introduced to the Internet. That was the beginning of my education of the adoption world. I began to read the different stories of adoptees. I realized we had so many of the same feelings, many felt they must be an alien from a different planet. We have that disconnected feeling unable to really connect with anyone. We live in limbo. Many of us live in two worlds. There is the real world of our life with our family that we are raised with. The family that we in turn raise. Then there is that person tryingto live up to the standards of our parents and society. There is that person who lets no one into that secret place, that is buried deep down into their very inner being. We do not want to risk being rejected again. There is always a part of us sealed off. You don't let anyone get too close.

I began to read about the birthmothers searching and the story behind their giving up that child. I began to read about the injustice of the time. How these mothers were forced to give up their baby. There were not given a choice. The young teenager was told by the parents, "The baby will be given up for adoption." They were sent off in secret and shame to maternity homes or relatives in another state. At the maternity homes they were told they had no way to give the baby a good life. The best thing was to give it up for adoption to a loving family who could do it justice. They were told to never try to look for or have contact with the child. They were not told of the 30 to 90 day waiting period they had to change their mind. The ones who did try to go back to get their baby were told it had already gone to the new family only to find out later the baby had gone to foster care until it was adopted. They were told they could have other babies, to get on with their lives. Many were drugged and didn't know what they had. Many couldn't remember the birthday. They were sectioned off from the maternity floor. They were not allowed to even see their baby. (My mother was blessed. She got to see me for a few minutes and name me before I was snatched away from her.) Some would sneak up to the nursery to try to get a glimpse of their baby. Once in a while a kind nurse might let them have a quick look or to hold their baby for a moment.

When they went back home, the subject was never, never discussed. They had been off visiting relatives was the story given. It was a secret that was locked down deep inside the recessof their soul. Many did get on with their life but never forgot the little baby they had to leave behind. That empty spot could never be filled or revealed.

My heart broke for these mothers. I began to see the real story. What an injustice, the secrets and lies. I began to wonder what my story was. The desire to know who I was, where I came from began to grow. did I dare to try to find this ghost mother I never knew? I thank the Lord for preparing me for what the consequences of the search could bring. I must be prepared for anything.

I began to post my information to adoption registries. That first post was scary. I felt as if I was doing something wrong. It was opening a door that would lead to where? I didn't tell anyone that I was searching for a long time. When I finally told my husband I was surprised at his reaction. He said everyone should know his or her heritage. He had always felt I had the right to know who I was. That was such a blessing to me.
It gave me courage to keep on going.

I built my own web page and then built this adoption registry. I became a member of the New Mexico Adoption Registry. So many people helped me along the way. The information highway on the Internet is amazing. One by one the doors were opened for me. I learned my birth name and where my birthmother stayed. Each piece of information was like a precious stone yet so eleusive. It was frustrating knowing that there was someone out there who knwe who you were yet unable to give you that information. To be talking to the person who has your records in their hand but because of the laws were unable to release names and places. I just wanted to reach across that phone line, grab my records and say I have a right to know. I am not a child that needs to be protected from the truth. That adopted child is a grown mature person who can handle what ever is there.

The maternity home is now closed but was run by the Salvation Army. I had all the right information for them to open an active file on me. That is how I became sure that my birthmother did indeed stay there. (Her mother and stepfather took my birthmother to the Booth Memorial Maternity Home in El Paso. She was a young frightened girl who was only a few months pregnant. She was left there to go thru the pregnancy and birth alone with no support from her family. She was hidden away in shame.) After about a year they decided to do a search for me. I became their guinea pig. I was more than willing to be the first person for an adoption search. What a surprise. Agencies do not help search. The Lord"s hand was in this. No doubt about it.

They located my birthmother in about 2 months. I couldn't believe it. She was found. It took only a year and a half to find her. I was elated and scared. Would she be happy I looked for her or upset? What would she think of me? Would she want contact? So many questions, so much fear to overcome.

It was so easy to give advise and give encouragement to others but hard to take it myself. I waited for that first contact. What was she going to do? Call or write? I seemed like forever before my first letter came. I would check mail first thing when I got home from work. Finally after a week "The Letter" was here. It was a letter that helped put many pieces in place and began to heal that secret corner within this hard heart. I was very saddened to learn that I was a product of rape (told in her story), yet elated that she did not want to give me up. She still loved me despite the circumstances of how I was conceived. I knew this was a possibility and had really hoped this would not be the case. I felt bad at first but when I talked to her and realized she mourned for me all these years it was an amazing thing to take in. Our healing process has begun.

I have gained a wonderful extended family. I hope to build a relationship with time. I have a stepfather and 6 half siblings who all welcomed and opened their hearts to the family and me. I have a wonderful birthmother who is so like me it is scary. (ha-ha) Our spirits are connected.

I have not said much about Mom and Dad. They will always be just that. I am so thankful that they are the parents the Lord chose for me. Mom and Dad took us in and loved us, and raised us the best way they could. What amazed me was that they had written down the last name of our birth name. Mom told me she didn't want to forget what they were. She thought that maybe someday we would ask about them. I had no idea they had this information. I am thankful that Mom would do this even though she must have felt apprehension of how this could change our relationship. They too had to go through the pain of not being able to have their own children. No one can take their place. They were the ones who were and are always there. I am not sorry about being adopted. I believe adoption is a good thing. It has given many children a home they otherwise may not have had. I don't agree that the records should be closed. A person has a right to know who they are. I value my privacy and believe we should honor the decision of our
birthmothers/fathers/families of wanting contact or the decision of no contact.

I believe adoption was the best thing that could have happened to me at the time. I could have been aborted. I had a good home and a wonderful family. I had opportunities I wouldn't have had otherwise. What I am sorry about is the secrets, lies and shame my birthmother and the many other birthmothers have had to go thru. I have the better of two lives. That emptiness and aloneness is beginning to be filled. There is still a piece that needs to be in place before the picture can be finished.

I do plan to find out about my birthfather also. I know he is dead but I also need to know who he was, who his family is. I would like a picture of him. I just want to know what kind of a person he was. He was a stranger to my birthmother, someone she had just seen around town. He apparently was attracted to her. He would wave to her but maybe because of his family status and she from a poor family he knew they would not approve. Who knows what was going on in his mind on that fateful night? It set into motion the events of this story.

I do not know at this time if there will be any kind of a relationship with his family. I know at the time they didn't want to accept the fact their son was going to be a daddy or that he raped a young innocent girl. What parent would want to believe that? They had plans and dreams for him. I do wonder if they ever thought about the baby they rejected. Especially after their son died. I'm the only living thing he left behind. I will let the Lord guide me as He has done through out this process. I must point out I have no anger or bitterness over his or their reaction. Just a sadness of what they missed.

I must say I stand in awe at the way my Lord has restored this family together. I see He began the work from the time I was conceived until this day. He is truly a God of restoration.

It has been seven months since Mom R and I were reunited. We have been in constant contact calling each other weekly. Our relationship is growing. We are good friends yet also mother and daughter. We are able to tell each other things that we are unable to share with others, maybe because our lives have been very much alike. We have gone through experiences that are so much alike.

I just came back from a visit with Mom. I once again went through the albums. Once again that disconnected feeling came back as she would point out who was who. They are my blood yet they are strangers. As I watch my sisters and brothers interact with her, the familiarity of knowing, of being part of her all their life is there. I still feel an outsider, not by anything they have done but by the years of separation. I understand this and hope with time it will change. I must realize it is two different worlds coming together, merging into familiarity, there is already sameness about us. It is a journey of getting to know oneself, know who I am, where I came from, what I may have been, where I am headed.

Rosina's Story
My stepfather, mother and I got to El Paso and went to eat. I was four months pregnant and headed to the Booth Maternity Home. We walked around downtown El Paso and I took a picture in one of those picture booths before heading to the Maternity home. The Major met us at the door and gave a tour of the home. She then told us to say goodbye. I cried as I watched my mother and stepfather walk away. I was scared and never felt so alone. I went up to my room and so began my stay at Booth Memorial Maternity Home. We were told not to discuss our family or situations; not to make friends. Each girl had chores that had to be done daily. Once a month we would take a bus to downtown El Paso. This was an outing to let us get out.

I would listen to the girls who said they were keeping their baby and wished I had the courage to keep mine. I was very naive and did not have the self- confidence to stand up to my mother. I so wanted to keep my baby. When the time came for her to be born I was given a shot and when I woke up my baby was born and I was back in recovery. I don't remember the birth. I do know it was an easy birth. I had no problems. I don't even remember when her birthday is. One of the nurses came in the evening with my baby for me to feed. I was so happy. She must have been new on the floor as the girls were not allowed to see their baby after it was born. The Major happened to come by and saw me holding my baby. She asked the nurse what she thought she was doing and proceeded to scold the nurse for bringing her in to me. She snatched my baby out of my arms and said I wasn't supposed to see her. I cried for a long time after that but at least I got to see her for a few minutes. She was a beautiful baby. I named her Ruthie Mary.

My mother came for me in a couple of days. I was taken into the office and was told to sign the relinquishment papers. I was told never to look for her, never to try to have any contact. I was never told that I had 30 days to change my mind or that my identity was being protected. Theytold me this was the best for the baby. How was I going to take care of her and support her? They told me she was going to her new family right away. I found out she was not adopted until she was 3 months old.

We went back home to Santa Fe. My girlfriends would come over and ask to see the baby. I would say, "What baby? There is no baby." My mother would always be in the background listening to our conversations. How could I say anything? I had to lock it up deep down inside. It was a subject not to be discussed.

Shortly after that we moved to Albuquerque. My mother didn't allow me to go back to school. I had to start working and help her with the children at home. She was very strict. I don't think she ever forgave me for getting pregnant even though it was a rape. We never discussed it.

I remember I always had a small bag packed ready to go and didn't know why. I was going somewhere I just didn't know where. One day my brother from Santa Fe came to visit and asked my mother to let me go stay with him so I could help with them with the children. She said yes, so I happily left with my little bag.

My brother was kind to me. He let me date my husband whom I have known since we were 8. My mother did not like him then. To this day she still doesn't like him. She was very upset when we announced we were going to get married. We have been married 45 years and have 6 other children.

In 1979 I met my Lord, Jesus. This is important as it shows the goodness of God. I will show you why shortly.

In June of 2000 out of the blue I received a letter that was forwarded to me from the Social Security Administration. It was from the Salvation Army. What could this be? I had no idea. My middle daughter told me it must be your daughter. She is the only one of my children that I had shared my secret with. Could it be? I got the letter; sure enough she was right. The Salvation Army told me; my daughter was searching for me. I couldn't believe it. I called the number and talked to the caseworker that was conducting the search. She told me there was a letter from my daughter who searching for me. Did I want her to read it to me? She read the letter and told me she would put it in the mail to me.

I was overwhelmed with mixed feelings of joy, uncertainty and fear. I had never told my children about this other child. My husband knew. I had told him before we got married. It was also a painful memory to recall. What had happened was not a teenage love but a rape. It is something to this day I have never been able to understand. My mother was a very strict person who did not go out to dances or parties. On the night it happened was a strange thing to this day. This particular night my mother told me she and my stepfather were going to go to a dance as a special band was in town. She asked me if I wanted to go and I said no. She said, "Go with us it will be fun." At the dance this young man asked me to dance. I didn't really know him. I had seen him around town. I said no. He asked my mother if he could dance with me and she said yes. We danced throughout the evening. When the dance was over he asked my mother if he could take me home. She gave her consent. Why? I didn't know him. That's when the rape occurred. When it was over he let me out at my home. I was too scared, shocked and shamed to go inside. I stayed outside crying for a couple of hours before having the courage to go inside.

When my mother discovered I was pregnant, she and my stepfather took me to his parent's home and demanded that he marry me. His parents refused. They had plans for his future and of course he denied it was rape. I remember how shamed and mortified I was. When I think about how my mother acted I still can't believe they didn't throw us out of the house. To this day I don't know why my mother let him take me home. The only thing I can think of is that he may have been from a prominent family. Maybe she thought something good would come of it.

When I got back from the maternity home I was told he was killed in the service. He was given the choice of marrying me, joining the service or jail. He chose the service.

To this day I don't remember what he looked like. I know he was tall and a nice looking man. I know his name but can't remember his parents names. It is blocked out of my mind.

It seemed forever before I received the letter my daughter wrote me. I cried and still couldn't believe she searched for me. I had wondered if she would ever look for me. Now the day was here. What was I going to do? How would my children react? Would they reject me? This was a secret I had kept all my life. I had to tell them; I wanted to meet this daughter that was taken from me so long ago. I mourned the loss of her all of my life. I would wonder where she was at each stage of her life what was happening to her? Did she have a good home? Were her parents good to her, did they love her? So many questions to be answered. So my decision was made, one by one I told each of my children. To my surprise each one was shocked, happy and understood my pain. My oldest son cried and told me he was so sorry that I had to keep this secret all these years. He knew there was something because there was always sadness around me. He just didn't know what it was.

I have talked with my daughter several times now. Many questions have been answered. I am so grateful to her parents for giving her a good life. I am proud of the person she is. I know I can never take her parents' place and don't wish to. I feel complete now. A weight has been lifted off of my shoulders. I still feel like it's a dream only it's real. We will be meeting in a couple of weeks. I am happy.

In talikng with her I found out, she is also a Christian. We have the same beliefs. To think, that the Lord would bring us together again after all these years. The Lord truly restores back what has been stolen!