Dealing With Delayed Information

by Lee Morgan

     It has now been just over seven years since I learned of my adoption. I learned this at age 46, six months after my adoptive father died, while I was being questioned on the witness stand by opposing counsel, regarding a woman’s claim of marriage to my father, a claim that was first presented to me by this woman two hours before Dad died. While on the witness stand, I was presented with a document which turned out to be a certificate of adoption. I looked at that document and swallowed hard. In an instant, my mind ran rampant. Suddenly, a piece of my life’s puzzle was exposed to me.
     I recall looking at the judge, then turning to look at my attorney, and I simply said, “Sure, this is a certificate of adoption, and it has my name on it.” At that point, you could have heard a pin drop in the court room. This simple fact had never been revealed during the so-called discovery process used by the legal system, which is supposed to avoid situations such as this. The attorney who did this cruel act, in my opinion, apparently had no moral character or concern for its consequences. There are times I wonder how he sleeps at night. Since that moment in the court room, my world of reality has been turned upside down and inside out.
     I have been so busy all these years, dealing with my father’s estate issues, dancing through the legal maze, which has not completely protected the truth, at the same time trying to operate a business and take care of my family. The only apparent winners were the attorneys, who extracted all the money they could from the estate before saying, “You really should consider settling this case.” This seems to be done when all the money is gone. There has been very little time for myself, to deal with and recover from, what are deep-seated and complicated emotions.
     Fortunately, shortly after that fateful day in court, I learned about Operation Identity. I have learned so much about adoption issues during these complicated years, which has been beneficial to my survival. The issues are so complex. I find that I am so angry about the years of lies which occurred during my whole life. Despite the fact that my adoptive parents chose not to tell me I was adopted, they did what they thought was right, based on what they knew, or didn’t know, about adoption, and what they were told. However, I still find myself lost in a sea of turmoil and emotions, with no real answers. My aunts and uncles, who knew about the adoption since my birth, helped keep the secret from me. Now they just keep telling me to remember how much my parents loved me. I do remember that; however, unanswered questions continue to plague me as I still search for answers. My adoptive mother had died several years before my adoptive father, and although my adoptive brother (their biological son) was still alive at the time of that day in court, he died shortly after that, leaving me with no immediate family and no first-hand information. It is such an odd emotion to deal with, to know your entire history was changed by the mere fact of coming into this world, and learning that the family history I thought was my identity was not even my own history.
     The day after the court hearing, I filed to have the court records opened, and a search was started by Sally File, a Confidential Intermediary. We found my birth mother after sane diligent searching., and I had a successful reunion, of sorts, some time later. I found out at our first in-person meeting that my birth mother was also adopted, and that when I was born, she was told I was born dead. All those years she had believed that. No wonder she was startled when contacted! I met with her three times in Florida, where she was living, and we spoke on the telephone countless times, at least every two weeks. My mother had been through two unsuccessful marriages and had four more children, who knew nothing of me until the reunion. The first child was a girl, apparently born deaf. I have never met nor communicated directly with her. She did not find out about me until she had to sign the certificate for cremation and found my name on the list. That was last year. My mother had a second son by the second marriage, and the a set of twins, one of whom died at birth. I went from being the baby of the family, in my adoptive family, to being the oldest brother of several in my birth family.
     My mother had several health issues due to her long history of smoking. When I finally confronted her with my question of who my birth father was, she hesitated and then said she did not know. I went to Florida in August of 2004, which turned out to be the last time. My mother was in the hospital again. Several days before I went down there, she had difficulty putting all her thoughts together when we talked on the phone. When I arrived at the hospital, I knew that she knew I was present when I held her hand. All that evening, she tried to get out a few words. Those last words to me were “Please forgive me.” In the early morning hours, she died peacefully in her sleep.
     Late in June of 2005, I took a serious look at the schedule for the American Adoption Congress Conference, which was to be held in Las Vegas. There were several seminars which appealed to me. I had a feeling that it would be a good idea for me to make an attempt to go to this conference, as I had not taken any time the past to do so, except for attending the Southwest Regional AAC Conference in Albuquerque in January 2000, before I found my birth mother. I knew I had passed the early reservation dates and might have a problem getting roan accommodations and decent flight rates. After several phone calls, I had a room for two nights, tickets for a flight to Las Vegas, and a rental car, all at very good rates.
     Upon arrival at the conference, I checked in and entered a large meeting room and sat down with some snacks. Within probably five minutes, one of the Board of Directors came and sat down next to me and introduced himself. We talked for about ten minutes, in which time I felt right at home. I knew I had made a great decision to find the time to attend.
     There were many good speakers in attendance, and I learned new ideas and concepts about adoption issues. One of the best parts was breaking into group discussions, which generally lasted from one hour to an hour and a half. Hearing other stories was very beneficial in helping to understand my own situation. It is comforting to know all the thoughts and feelings I have been experiencing are not unique to my own situation. Those involved in adoption issues need to realize this. They need to be involved with a local group like Operation Identity.
     One of the best meetings I attended was when all of the adopted men in the group, approximately 20 of us, gathered to discuss all our issues. Going into the meeting, I thought I had only a couple, and after the meeting, I realized that I had many more issues, which I had never faced. During the first part of the meeting, the women who selected to come to this meeting, were allowed to sit in on the session, but were not allowed to say anything until the end, when they were allowed to ask questions. One of the most powerful questions asked by a birth mother, soon to be engaged in a reunion, was “What is the most important thing I can do at the (initial) reunion?” The answer from the group was, offer unconditional love. During the second part of the session, only the men were allowed to attend. The group was led by Craig Hyman from New York. He had a lot of empathy and insight to offer the group, despite his own searches for answers to his own questions. It was amazing how close one could feel to someone after such a short time of sharing.
     After the session, four or five of us met for dinner and talked another two hours. The time I took to attend was well worth it and I am hoping to continue on my road to recovery. I miss being a happy person and being able to fully enjoy my family. I have missed so much the past eight years, while dealing with my adoption issues, and the time has gone by so fast
     I would highly recommend that anyone dealing with adoption issues make the time to attend one of these conferences. I only took the time to attend two days, but next year, I will try to attend all four days.

Excerpted from the October 2005 edition of the Operation Identitiy Newsletter
© 2005 Operation Identity