“I was born in the late 80s during the closed adoption era. Adoption was shrouded in so much secrecy in those days that my adoptive parents were not even allowed to come into the hospital to pick me up: they had to meet the attorney in the breezeway of the hospital. I went home with my new parents at 2 days old with an amended birth certificate listing my new parents’ name and little to no information about where I came from. The original birth certificate, with my birth parents’ identities, was sealed with the courts in Florida, only obtainable with a court order.
Growing up, I always knew I was adopted because my adoptive parents were very open about it from as early as I can remember. My adoptive mom had a metal strong box where she kept everything to do with my adoption, including a small, gold heart locket that my birth mom had sent through the attorney. Whenever I had questions about my adoption, she would pull that little box out and sit down with me to answer all of my curious questions.
There wasn’t a lot of information about who or where I had come from and even less was known about my birth father. My adoptive parents told me when I was 18 if I wanted to try and find my birth family, they would do whatever they could to help me. My adoptive father’s motto has always been that ‘there is enough love to go around for everyone.’
Finding My Birth Family
I thought about my birth family a lot growing up and longed to feel like I fit in. I wondered what made them come to the decision to place me for adoption. My adoptive parents just always told me that ‘another mommy had me in her tummy, but even though she loved me she was unable to raise me. So she chose them to be my parents.’ I knew I had an older sister, and I wondered if there were other siblings out there. I thought about who I might look like…where my olive complexioned skin came from, my curly hair or my passion for singing. I would go around in public looking at every stranger that passed wondering if that might be one of my long lost relatives…or my mom. So many unanswered questions growing up that it left me feeling a void even though I grew up in an amazing, loving family.
At 18, I was bored on the internet one night when I came across a website called Adoption Registry. I saw that I could enter whatever information I knew about my adoption and birth family, if they came across it they could contact you. I excitedly entered all of the information I knew and then never thought a thing about it again. About 3 months later, a few weeks before Christmas, I was dozing on the couch when my phone rang. I was half asleep, but I saw that it was an area code from my hometown, so I answered it out of curiosity.
On the other end of the line was a woman’s voice, and she said, ‘Is Lauren there?’ I was pretty alert at that point and replied, ‘This is she.’ The response I got back was one that will forever be ingrained in my brain, ‘I saw your post on Adoption Registry, and I think I might be your birth mom.’ I was so skeptical that I had really found her after all these years apart that I started firing off questions about whatever I knew about her to see if she would answer correctly or not.
I lived in Gainesville at the time, about an hour and a half from my hometown, so we made plans to meet up the following week at her house. I learned that I had a younger brother in addition to my sister, and they were all home for Christmas. This was back in the days before social media or Ancestry DNA, so it was crazy to have even been able to find her that easily. When I pulled up to her house the first time, I realized her house backed up to one of my close friends’ houses. My mom and my siblings were all waiting outside when I got there. My birth mom was so happy to be reunited that she had tears of joy streaming down her face.
Finding My Birth Father
After we settled in and started to get to know one another, my adoptive mom thought it would be a great idea to find my birth father too. I was reluctant because I never had much interest in him, but I talked to my birth mom about it anyways. That’s when I found out the truth, and it opened up Pandora’s Box when I did. My mom wasn’t sure if the guy that signed his parental rights away was my biological father or not. Back then, she had a very short-lived affair with a married attorney who was hired to defend her in court. Even though it was hard for her to admit the truth to me, she did, and she gave me all the information on them that she had.
Early evening on a weeknight, I decided I would start searching so I got on the phone with the operator and asked her to give me all of the listings she had for the name of the man on the adoption papers. Once I was armed with a list of people and numbers, I started calling number after number and sharing my story with whoever answered. About halfway down the list, I hit the jackpot because a woman answered, and when I told her my story there was stunned silence on the other end, and then she told me to hold on. I could hear muffled voices on the other end of the line. Then a man came on the phone and after talking, I knew I had found the right man. We made plans to meet up, and he willingly submitted to a DNA test, but when the results came back, he was not my father.
That only left the married attorney because the only other possible father would’ve been her boyfriend around that time, and he was recovering from a stroke and recently divorced so he was out. I got dressed on Valentine’s Day 2005, went to the attorney’s office, and asked the receptionist to speak with him. When he came out and saw me, he knew immediately who I was because I look just like my birth mom. He rushed me back into a private conference room to try to keep his secrets safe. When we settled in at the table, he coldly asked me, ‘What do you want?’ I told him I just wanted him to take a DNA test so I could have some closure to know where I came from.
He knew for 18 years that this day could possibly come because he always knew there was a chance he was my biological father. I told him he could take the test anonymously because it was kind of known without being spoken that he didn’t want his ‘legitimate’ family to know about me. It wasn’t the first affair he had, and I’m sure it won’t be the last. He had an affair with his co-worker for 5 years, a woman who my birth mom wound up working with years later when she became a paralegal.
He agreed to the test and when the results came back, it revealed that the married attorney was my biological father. I knew the chances of him ever wanting to have a relationship with me were slim because he hadn’t been very polite towards me from the start. We had lunch one time, but it was kind of awkward because he only wanted to talk about the waitress’s short shorts. He wouldn’t answer anything about the family I came from or medical questions. He was completely tight-lipped other than the shorts on our waitress. He lit up like a Christmas tree when talking about that.
That was the last time I ever saw him…he never called me again after that day and I’ve never reached out to him either. We ran into each other at a 5K back in 2017, and as we passed each other we locked eyes, and I saw the shock register on his face before he literally ran from me. I found out later it was because his daughter and granddaughter were just outside, and he was still hell-bent on keeping me a secret from his family.
Healing the Triad of Adoption
I’ve maintained a close relationship over the last 18 years with my birth mom and all of her family. I was never a secret in that family so when I found her, everyone already knew about the baby she had placed for adoption so many years before. They welcomed me with open arms, so I guess that’s why I naively thought my father would too. They refer to adoption as a triad because there are three parties involved: the birth parents, the adoptive parents, and the adoptee.
The party that most often gets overlooked, though, is the adoptee, the one at the heart of an adoption. They never ask to be brought into that situation, and they are put into a legally binding contract they didn’t agree to…yet are bound to for the rest of their lives. My birth father’s secret was never mine to keep from the start. I never asked to be brought into that tangled web.
Though adoption can turn out to be a beautiful story, it starts with loss, grief, and brokenness. Adoption is trauma, even if you are adopted at birth because attachment starts in utero. Not only do adoption laws need to be reformed, but society as a whole needs to change the narrative on how they respond to adoptees. A theme that adoptees hear commonly from people is that we should be more grateful that we were adopted and not aborted. If a child lost their whole family in a plane crash, we would feel empathy for them. Why do we not show that same empathy to adoptees?
Adoptees lose their entire family, culture for some, any access to their biological origins, and we’re given an altered birth certificate. Adoptee rights are human rights. We deserve the same rights as non-adopted humans do. We deserve to know where we came from. Why can’t an adoptee be grateful for their adopted family while still being allowed to mourn the family they lost?
The one thing my birth mom said she would’ve changed if she could go back was that she would’ve insisted on an open adoption and pictures over the years. Open adoption was not an option though in the late 80s it was something that started to come about a few years after my adoption was finalized.”
This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Lauren Trosclair of Jacksonville, FL. You can follow her journey on Instagram, and, TikTok. Submit your own story here, and be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories, and YouTube for our best videos.
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