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me b zola

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Member since: Thu Nov 11, 2004, 09:06 PM
Number of posts: 19,053

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My Philomena

My Philomena
I searched for my birth mother and learned two things: She’d recently died. And she’d been desperately searching for me.

By Tony Gambino


I was born in Cincinnati in 1956, adopted as an infant, named Anthony for my adoptive father, and raised in a loving home. Parents who adopted then were counseled—correctly—to tell their children as early as possible that they were adopted. My parents told me in a proud fashion that they had “chosen” me (false), that I was the same ethnicity (false), and that because they chose me I was more special to them. Our closest friends included two people whom I grew up calling “Uncle” Jim and “Aunt” Mildred (names changed). No relation, but my parents felt particularly close to them since Mildred had shepherded my adoption through the Catholic adoption agency.

I accepted the doctrine of the era: I was adopted, I had only one family—my adopted family—and had no need to know anything more about anything, or anyone, else. My birth mother was an unmarried teenager from the Cincinnati area who “got in trouble” and gave me up for adoption. I never thought about the man. But then at 13, I started to wonder. An unknown man and woman had had sexual intercourse. I was the result. Who were they? What was their story? I felt I couldn't’t ask my father, so, timidly, one afternoon, I approached my mother in the kitchen. Her startled, anguished look told me I had veered into a completely forbidden area. I slunk away, feeling that I had done something very wrong. I never asked her about it again.

Years passed. I left home, went to college, joined the Peace Corps, got married—but never wavered in my acceptance of my parents’ credo that they were all the family I ever needed. I would volunteer readily and rapidly to anyone that I was adopted. Occasionally, someone would ask if I was interested in knowing anything about my birth parents. I would answer that my adoptive family was my real and only family. End of discussion.

Early in our marriage, though, my wife gently asked me to consider searching to learn more about my roots. If we had children, shouldn't’t we know at least about my genetic heritage, she would say. Each time, I lashed out furiously at her. How dare she bring up this forbidden topic? I guess I had been so seared by my earlier conversation with my mother that I adopted her view as an absolute: that it was unacceptable, insulting, and inappropriate for anyone to probe this area and if someone didn’t accept my short explanation, they were attacking me—and my adoptive family. But, after I’d repressed the thought for 20 years, my wife had started me thinking again. I quietly squirreled away a Washington Post article in 1993 on tools for searching for birth parents. In early 1994, I followed the article’s advice.

~more @ link~

The arc of this man's search is more common than mine. I never stopped thinking of my mother and never bought into the adoption orthodoxy and secrecy. While adoption has many complexities to it, access to our own original birth certificates is something that we should all agree on.

Catholic hospitals in Australia apologize for forced adoptions

The Catholic Church in Australia on Monday apologised for the forced adoption of babies from young, unwed mothers in the 1950s, ’60s and ’70s, saying the practice was “deeply regrettable”.


We acknowledge the pain of separation and loss felt then and felt now by the mothers, fathers, children, families and others involved in the practices of the time,” the apology said.

“For this pain we are genuinely sorry,” said the statement from Catholic Health Australia and Sisters of Mercy nuns from Singleton, north of Sydney, in response to accounts of babies taken from their mothers in decades past.


Some women were pressured, deceived or threatened to ensure they signed away their rights to their children, according to submissions to the inquiry relating to births from the 1950s to as late as 1987.

~more @ http://www.cathnewsusa.com/2011/07/catholic-hospitals-in-australia-apologize-for-forced-adoptions/

I am still waiting for my mother's and my apology from the US and the Catholic Church.

I certainly agree with this

I also agree with the posters up-thread that point out that just because someone acknowledges your plight doesn't mean you are any less privileged.

So far people in the thread have mentioned race and gender as points of privilege and the lack there of depending on your status. I will add mine:

Being an adoptee. Most non-adoptees take for granted that they can fill out their family medical history when they visits the doctor. This information is important for a physician when giving medical care: when should a woman begin mammograms, when medications should be avoided because of kidney disease in the family, and the list goes on.

Adult adoptees in most states are legally kept from their own original birth certificates. For some adoptees (mostly older) this means that they can not get state identification, which also means that for some of those they cannot vote. Being kept from your own identification means that we are forever treated as a child. I cannot tell you how degrading this is.

Many, if not most adoptees long to research their genealogy, follow their family tree to explore the long ago history of their ancestors.

So yes, I am well versed in those with privilege believing that these are not important issues. And for those who have taken the time to understand these issues, I ask that you demand better for us.

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