When I was 20 years old, in 2003, I requested my “non-identifying” information from the LA County Adoption Agency, which basically gave me bits of information that did not disclose the identity of my birth mother.
As I had hoped, but could not yet see, these bits of information would be the basis of my search, providing clues and, eventually, direction.
So, let’s back up to when I actually requested the information. I was a sophomore in college pursuing a psychology major, in a severely codependent relationship with a guy not too much older than me.
I was this water polo player attending CSU Bakersfield on an athletic scholarship, having fun & meeting new people. I found myself hanging around a person who was in no way, shape or form able to care for me in the way I deserved to be cared for…and I wasn’t exactly caring for myself at the time either.
Alas, two unstable people bumped into each other, one of which screamed with inner torment expressed by his extreme body tattoos, face brandings and piercings…and then there was me. Although his mental state was producing episodes of paranoia, delusions and hallucinations and mine was not, I brought my own set of issues to the table, albeit not as extreme. I experienced depression, anxiety, low self-esteem, codependency, alcoholism and a lack of authenticity as a result.
To say the very least – this was not anything close to what I now consider a ‘relationship’. This year of my life spent with this person was at best ‘adventurous’ at times (like living out of my car or losing my car to my parents, because they ‘disapproved’ – gee I wonder why!), and at worst, well, let’s just say I’ve had a knife held to my throat, and on one occasion he walked into my room, sat down, pulled his loaded 9mm out of his jacket, that he carried on him at all times, due to his most recent delusion, and held it to his head. He told me he couldn’t do it anymore, pulled the trigger, and nothing happened. He played it off like he was surprised there was no bullet, but after the initial shock, I realized this was just another form of him messing with me. I didn’t stay much longer after that thankfully, and it’s too bad I was in so much pain and numbness that I didn’t leaver sooner.
During my sophomore year while most of my friends and teammates were having more run-of-the-mill-type college experiences…I was on a serious life mission. I was investing large amounts of my time in, and hanging around someone who I obsessively tried to rescue, fix, save, etc.
Now, you may be asking yourself, why in the world would I seek this out? Why would I spend such a long time in such a dysfunctional way of life? These experiences were quite traumatic and affected everything in my life from my well being, to my water polo career, to my friends, family and academics. Why on earth would I stay??
Well, my theory is based on a well known fact that we are drawn to the familiar. And I am telling you that I honestly believe I was in search of that womb experience. That chaotic, naive, neurotic, egocentric, knowing-nothing-but-survival type of energy & environment. That’s what I think. And, it wasn’t until years later, after having recovered from this traumatic part of my life that I realized I was essentially chasing a ghost – my birth ‘mom’, reincarnate.
So, during this time, I guess it makes sense that I was inclined to request my non-identifying information from the LA County Adoption Agency. After all, I was searching for something in this world. And below is what I got…
Now before you read, imagine that these documents are the only thing that hold any answers for you about anyone who could possibly relate to some of your more biologically inclined characteristics… someone who might share your loud, but honest laugh…your nose that slopes like a ski jump at the tip…your natural and gleaming smile…your intense feelings and hyper-awareness to the world around you…your body development…your seemingly world-ending, insane week of PMS before your cycle…where did all these come from? Who gave these to me? Do my sisters relate…? My birth mother…? Do we know my father?
So first I’ll share a letter to my parents who adopted me, from the agency:
Here is information about me as a baby, my birth mother, the circumstances surrounding my adoption:
I sat on this information for a while after I searched the internet a little. If you’re my age or older you can remember when it was less advanced back in 2003, when I got this information. I was searching on sites that had digital ‘wallpapers’ on their pages that were not formatted to fit the screen width, and so the design was tiled across the webpage, and usually had some sparkly animation to it. In fact I think there is still a page up that I searched on back then…
In addition to these cumbersome websites, there were all these forums, filled with people posting who they were looking for. A lot of them had posted several years before and I couldn’t be sure if they checked their email or even had the same one. Email was still very new at the time in the early 2000s. So, needless to say it was overwhelming.
And then came the fear that if I DID invest a lot of time and energy into ‘the search’ and didn’t find anything, that I would soon lose hope and give up.
So, my manila envelope of non-identifying information was always kept close, and I pulled it out on few occasions to share with special people in my life.
While eventually I departed from the toxic and dangerous dynamic I engaged in and came out on the other side in one piece, I also learned a lot. Maybe I didn’t want to invite my mother into my life. If she was anything like the guy I hung around for a year, then maybe it really was for the best that I was separated from her. Maybe it was time to move on. And so I did.