Lisa's story

I am Baby Girl M.   I grew up with a book that had a stork carrying a baby in a blanket.  I don’t remember the actual story but I can vividly remember the photo of the stork carrying the baby in a blanket.  My life was good and I was a very happy little girl.

In second grade is when things changed for me. My parents sat me on the couch.  I can recall exactly where I was sitting and exactly where my mom and dad were sitting.  They told me that I was adopted and that they weren’t my real parents.  At that point, my life changed and I no longer felt comfortable with anything – not even living there.  I felt as if I needed to be something that I wasn’t while being grateful that they adopted me.  Later I found various books and thermometers of sorts in the house which led me to believe that they could not have kids naturally.

I began to daydream about my mom.  I glorified her.  I told lies to my friends about my real mom and that she was coming to get me.  I remember that my friend’s parents told my parents about what I was saying at school (mind you this was when I was in 2nd and 3rd grade).  My parents did not address any issues with me.  The only time that adoption was ever discussed was when they sat me down in 2nd grade and told me that I was adopted .

I found a silver box in the hall closet.  It had a couple of pieces of paper in it.  It had information about my birthmom and birthdad.  My birthmom was 5’8 with auburn hair and green eyes.  She spoke with a lisp and enjoyed piano.  She was 16 years old and was Irish Catholic.  My birthfather was 5’10 with brown hair and auburn eyes.  He was 18 and Irish Catholic as well and enjoyed riding motorcycles.  He was in college studying to become a veterinarian like his father.  Although my birthfather was aware of the pregnancy; marriage was not an option. The original document sent to my parents is below:


I totally disconnected from reality.  I spent an excessive amount of time in my bedroom.  I didn’t relate to those people (my family) so I certainly didn’t feel connected.  All I wanted was to know and see my birthmom.   

I had a reoccurring nightmare.  In therapy I was able to describe the nightmare to a therapist who thought it sounded like I was dreaming about being in the womb (I know, kind of outlandish but I believe that is what it was).  The nightmare continued into my mid 20’s.

As soon as I turned 18, I sought out Catholic Charities to request information on my birthmom and dad.  Audra, a social worker there during the time of my birth, was still working there 18 years later.  She told me that she didn’t have any information on my biological dad.  What? I had read a piece of paper about him for years.  Every time my parents left, I snuck into the closet and read the papers.  This was confusing - was it all a lie?  Audra assured me that she would investigate.  

She called me back a couple of months later.  She was able to contact my birthmom, Colleen.  She was at the same phone number that she had when she gave birth to me.  She lived with her parents.  After initial contact by the agency, my grandparents wrote a scathing letter to Catholic Charities.  They said that when their daughter gave up the “adopted person” that it was their intent that the “adopted person” would never come back into their life.  It was a hand written two- page letter where I was routinely referred to as “the adopted person.”  

At the time that my grandparents wrote the letter that referred to me as the adopted person, my mom wrote a short handwritten note to me.  She said she didn’t want to deny anything to me but that she had her life and her volunteer work. She thought it would be best that I not meet her.  This still makes me cry a lot.  All I ever wanted to do was to meet her.  I think I really wanted more but I always just said that I wanted to see her.  I had so many questions.  Did I look like her?  I used to see ladies with red hair at the store and wonder if they were my mom.  

Of course my parents had no idea that I was looking for my biological parents.  It was a secret as I didn’t want to disappoint them.  I had told the lady at Catholic Charities, Audra that I wanted to see my birth certificate.  The bitch pulled out a blank birth certificate and filled it out in front of me.  She called me baby girl M. That hurts.  What or who is Baby Girl M?  Does my mom’s last name begin with M?

As a side note, I used to always pull out the family tree book along with what little information I had about my biological family.   I am listed as “adopted” in that family tree album.  I guess I wasn’t a part of that family either.

It took time to process the rejection.  I was not allowed to contact or see my birthmom or even have a photo of her.  I had been waiting to turn 18 (the age to legally be allowed to search)for a very long time.  As a middle school child, I spent hours at the library researching adoption and how I could find her.  The rejection is very hard to convey to someone who isn’t adopted.

If the first rejection wasn’t enough, I tried to find her again in my mid to late 20’s (yes, I was determined).  This time I went to Court and I spoke with a judge.  I actually almost got my real birth certificate.  I had gone to an office at the courthouse in Sioux City.  I told the young lady working the desk when I was born and she went to retrieve my birth certificate.  For a second I honestly thought I was going to get it.  She then went and talked to an older lady who said that they couldn’t get it for me and my only option would be to speak with a judge.   I went into the Judge’s office and talked.  I told him that I graduated from XXX College and he said that his kids also went to XXX.  He asked me why I was there and what he could help with.  I knew that I was entitled to medical history so I told him that I wanted my birthmom’s name and her medical history.  He said he could only order Catholic Charities to release medical history.  I took the order to Audra at Catholic Charities and a month or so later I was told her medical history.

She has had disabling depression for several decades, beginning the year of my birth. [Does that mean she was depressed that she gave me up for adoption?  Was it her choice?  Where is my dad? Was it rape?] Her lung has collapsed.  She has had multiple nodes of cancer removed from her thyroid.  If I recall correctly she may have had some other mental illness as well. Unfortunately, I have lost documents over the years and I don’t have everything that I once did. This saddens me. From the medical history, it sounded as though my birthmom had had quite a few health problems.  

Catholic Charities tried to contact her again at the phone number they had on file but the number was no longer in service.   The grandparents were 75 and 76 (when I was 18) when they wrote the scathing letter to Catholic Charities so I assumed they died and she no longer lived with them.

When you are adopted, there are always “ideas” that you make up in your head.  I always thought that my mom was from Fort Dodge, IA.  I knew a girl from my small town that got  pregnant and placed her baby for adoption.   While she was pregnant, they moved her to a home for unwed mothers in Fort Dodge so I just put two and two together and made that assumption.

People continuously say that I look like “so and so.”  I say maybe it is my mom because I am adopted.  

I still want to know my birthmom.  I contacted a private investigator a few years ago who told me I could pay him to find her but that he thought I better be prepared for what I might find.  After reading the medical notes he thought perhaps she was living in a group home of some sort.    I am 40 ….so she is 56.  I still want to see MY birthmom.

I thought about filing a lawsuit to find my mom.  I researched the law in the State of Iowa a few years ago and found where a man brought a case all the way up to the Supreme Court.  The man was adopted and argued that his rights should trump the rights of his biological parents.  The State of Iowa says that we as a society value the adoption process and we hold it in high regard.  Accordingly, the rights of the biological parents trump the rights of the adopted children.  If the biological parents do not want to be found or disclosed then the State of Iowa will protect their rights even if the adopted child thinks that they have a right to know who their parents are.  I get it, but I happen to think that my right to know my parents is pretty important.  I want to know who they are and the circumstances behind the conception and the choice for adoption.  I was taught (at the meeting in second grade) that my mother loved me so much that she put me up for adoption.   I question that.  That may have been the case but my parents don’t know for sure.  It is simply how they chose to present it to me.

I have spent years trying to accept my parents and I have become less angry at them.  I have been diagnosed with a reactive attachment disorder as a result of failing to attach or bond with anyone.  I am closest to my adopted brother who always seemed to fit into the family.  They watched the same TV shows and laughed at the same jokes.   I stayed in my room until they made me come downstairs.  

After I was told that I was adopted, I cannot recall anything about my childhood that was joyful.  I do remember being happy until I was told.

I am grateful that I was born and that my mother chose to place me for adoption.  I was well provided for financially.  However I did not have my emotional needs met as a child and this has caused damage to me.  I have had one bad relationship after the next.  I push people away before they have a chance to push me away.

I have met a lot of women through my work that decide to place babies for adoption.   There are lots of reasons that women do this, yet I haven’t heard one of them being, “I love her so much that I am putting her up for adoption.” Perhaps it was in my best interests, but I still want to hear my mom say it.

I always wanted to have lots of kids because I felt like I didn't have a family so I wanted a family of my own.  Although I originally had plans to have 10 kids - thankfully I stopped at 5! I wanted a blood line as silly as that may sound. Because I didn't bond with anyone as a child, I always liked the saying “blood is thicker than water”.  That saying gave me hope that life was better for those who were related by blood.

 It has always been very exciting for me to see the traits of either myself or their respective fathers in my children.  My daughter has my hands.  My son has my teeth and another son has my eyes.   I have always wanted to look like someone.   

When it comes to my parenting - it has been a learning process.  It is difficult to teach what you do not know.   I struggle with attachment.  I love my kids dearly and have a close connection with them.  It comes somewhat easier with the younger ones more so than my older one.   We remain one unit though.   It is us - me and the kids.  I have definitely failed in teaching my kids about proper relationships.  They have seen people in and out of our lives.  It seems very easy for me to run away and unfortunately my kids have grown up seeing that.

It is good for me to confront my adoption issues from time to time.  It has been awhile and as much as I would like to say that I have worked through all the issues from my adoption… I have not.  I have made progress though.  I measure my progress based on the increased positive feelings that I have for my parents.   From time to time, I have signed up for various adoption search engines etc.   I have yet to fork over cash for a private investigator and I suppose that I should do that before times run out.  I do desire to see her and I do want to know where I came.