On Being Adopted

This has come up several times in the last few days for me, so I take that as a sign to write about it.

I was adopted as an infant.

My parents thought they could not have children and after several years of trying with nothing to show for it, they opted to adopt.

All I know of my life before adoption is this:
– I was called “Baby Ambrose” by the sisters and nurses where I was kept;
– My first birth certificate lists no mother and no father;
– I was adopted through a Catholic Social Services center;
– The adoption records are sealed.

I was not told about my adoption by my parents. I found out about it on accident. As a preteen I was looking for my Social Security card and in the lock box with it was a copy of the adoption record. Let’s just say that discussion went “well” with my parents (the start of many…). I’m sure they had their reasons for not telling me, and at this point I don’t remember what they were or if they were even discussed. I haven’t asked again about it since then.

I once started down the road to find my biologicals. After discovering where the records where stored, I found out that both biologicals have to agree to have the record unsealed before I can be told anything. I would have to pay a large sum of money to start this process, with no guarantee or refund if neither biological wanted to remain anonymous. They also required a few months of counseling sessions before being told as well.

At that point I changed my mind. I’ve thought about it a few times—okay, more than a few—but just haven’t gone down that road again.

Sure I would like to know the answer to “Why?”, but is it really any of my business?

At this point in my life I am more interested in my medical history. What can I expect as far as genetic diseases and hereditary conditions? Hell, even how well do they age? Am I going to hit 40 my body just go “blah”? Is there a history of any kind of cancer I should be screening for now? All seemingly random questions that I think a lot of people take for granted.

And I’m curious about siblings—do I have a continuing blood-line out there or am I the last stop in my genetic lineage? Or a twin? There’s some speculation to that as well.

There are a few people who speculate that one of my biologicals is known to me already. Maybe time will tell.

Until next time...

17 thoughts on “On Being Adopted

  1. Wow. This is a hammer of info about you. You’re living with a ton of questions that sound like you want/need to address. I’ve not been on your blog long, but I feel that you’ve done well enough for yourself that whatever you choose, you can handle it.

    Curious thoughts though. I wish you well!

    Erik replies: I’ve been known to occasionally drop the hammer like this. The adoption question is not something that weighs on my mind a lot, but for some odd reason, it sprang up more than a few times in the last few weeks. I’m still kicking around what to do with it.

    And thank you for your well wishes.

  2. Wow. So THAT’S what has been on your mind recently. Well, I wish I could counsel you– but I can’t. I don’t have the same frame of reference. Although I do understand the wanting to find the biologicals from a medical history perspective.

    If adoption places were smart, they’d make the birth parents fill out a anonymous medical sheet that could be unsealed for adoptees.

    Erik replies: Actually, this isn’t what’s been giving me my “dark spells” as of late. I’m sure I’ll write about that sooner or later. But this has come up a few times in the last few weeks for some reason.

    I’m assuming that adoption regulations have changed since I was adopted 35 years ago–hopefully to allow adoptees access to their medical information without having to jump through hoops to find it.

  3. My dad’s not my biological father, so I understand where you are coming from about medical history. I’ve asked my mom, for example, what I could expect in the future, but she doesn’t really know. It sucks not having vital information that most other people have about themselves.

    Thank you for writing this.

    Erik replies: Thank you for sharing as well.

    I just find it “odd” that in this “day and age” we still run into major issues like this. One would think with advances in reading DNA it would make finding information like this much simpler. But that’s what I get for thinking….

  4. My curiosity would kill me. You will make the right decision. It seems that you have been raised well…so far. 😉 And I would hope that you would not have to worry about any health issues. So stick to that strict exercise regime! I recall the days of my youth when I questioned if I was adopted. I would also fear hurting the feelings of my adopted parents by looking into this. At least at a later age, this isn’t seen as an action of “finding the real parents to go live with them instead.”

    It’s interesting when I “googled” “Baby Ambrose” what came up on the first page…An entry from a blog called “Orthfully Catholic” and an entry titled, “Whatever Happened to Baby Ambrose?”


    Erik replies: There were times when I was extremely curious. And I am sure I have hurt my parent’s feelings a few times with bringing up “I’m not your child”. Things have changed since that time for me though. While I still long for my parent’s acceptance (for obvious other reasons), I have to say I also don’t know that I would care about their feelings on the matter any longer. I know, probably cold of me.

    I probably rank right up there with Baby Jane these days. And exercise… umm. Yeah, that’s something I need to start doing.

  5. WOW, I had no idea. Our society has changed so much over the last 40 years. Things were different back then and look what the medical world has learned in that time.

    I think this would be an interesting case for The Supreme Court to hear regarding opening the records for medical reasons. If anything, you have that right. I would bet the health of your biological parents would not be there, but it would allow the courts to research IF there medical conditions that you should know.

    Erik replies: One has to hope that adoption policies have kept up with advances in medical sciences. Even if the names were redacted from the record, a DNA sample from both biological would do wonders these days. Who knows, maybe it is a requirement these days.

    It’s been about 10 years since I last pursued finding out. Maybe things have changed since that time. I’ll have to ponder this more.

  6. I was adopted as well. I was taken away from my real parents. Because of the circumstances surrounding my adoption, I’ve never had a desire to find my real parents. I figured they can find me just as easily. I did opt to spend a small fortune to access my adoption mainly for the medical records.

    Erik replies: Thank you for sharing, moby. It sounds like the circumstances behind your adoption weren’t “pleasant”. I have no idea what the story is behind mine. I guess I won’t know that until I make a connection with the biological.

    Did you get any useful information from your records in relation to medical history?

  7. I have a different perspective on the issue. Two of my children are adopted. They are only 10 now, almost 11. They wonder about their birth parents, and sometimes when they don’t like the way we parent they’ll say they want to go live with their birth moms. (Two completely different unrelated kids) I wonder how they will feel about it when they grow up. It is very difficult not to have medical records. We have very sketchy info about genetics, way more questions than answers.

    It’s good to know that you are adopted. I like to tell my kids about others I know who have adoption in common.

    Erik replies: It’s always nice when I hear that others have opted to adopt. Thank you for sharing that.

    I have to say I’ve used that same argument against my parents when I was upset. I’m sure it hurt them—as was intended at the time when I used it. I have nothing to offer on if/how that changes when adoptees get older, as I have other issues in the way of that relationship with my parent’s now, and I think this is probably one of the last things on the list compared to the other issues we currently have with each other.

  8. I hope you do find out at least the medical matters. and if you have siblings.
    It must be a difficult choice though to let it be or seek out. Good luck.

    Erik replies: Thank you. It’s not something I’ve thought “heavily” about in about 10 years, but for some reason it came up multiple times in the last few weeks. Maybe it’s got something to do with getting older and realizing it.

  9. Eiains mum was adopted so he has no idea either of who his family are back from her. He has thought about them too for things like medical reasons also. That certainly is a lot to have on your plate and to think about buddy. I hope wherever your journey takes you, you find happiness and love and many good circumstances. *Big Irish bear hugs*

    Erik replies: Even if I never do balls up and find out, there’s still plenty of other things out there that bring me happiness. This may just be one part of me that always remains a secret.

    Thanks for sharing as well. *Assumingly American bear hugs* back at you and Eiain.

  10. Here is just tip found in my just released book Adoption Records Handbook. I hope it helps.

    Catholic Charities & Church Records

    If your adoption was through Catholic Charities and would like to find out what services are available for you, contact their office in the city where your adoption took place. If you do not know, write to their main office at:

    Catholic Charities USA
    National Headquarters
    1731 King St, Alexandria, VA 22314
    (703) 549-1390

    Often babies given up through Catholic Charities were baptized before being adopted out. If Catholic or other church baptism records are available, babies born on your birth date and baptized in a parish or church in the city you were born in could be a possible source for your original birth name. For older children who were adopted out of an orphanage there may even be information on your first communion record.

    Ask to see the ledgers of baptism to see if you are listed. Just don’t mention you were adopted when you ask to see if you were baptized within a short time after your birth. It is said that the birth name is crossed off and replaced with the adopted name although this has not been verified for the purpose of this publication.

    If you receive your non-id information from Catholic Charities, look for anything that is highlighted on older records. Sympathetic nuns used to highlight true facts including a first name of a birth parent or child.
    As a rule, all churches keep excellent records so if your birth family was religious, then these records would be worth digging deeper into without mentioning the word adoption. Check all churches in the area of your adoption. If you can find a friendly church member through their women’s group, someone may very well be willing to volunteer to look for you if you cannot do it yourself.

    Good luck!!
    Teri Brown

    Erik replies: Thank you very much for the information.

    Erik’s aside: I’m not sure if this was an automated reply or not from some blog-crawler. I replied to the author. I’m curious about the response.

  11. thank you for sharing this story with the world.

    i am partially adopted… i don’t know who my biological father is. and it’s a huge challenge for me. i think about it all the time.

    Erik replies: And thank you for sharing as well, Kyle. It’s always interesting to find others out there that share in the same “plight” that I feel. There’s that huge list of questions you have that you want to know the answers to, but never may get the opportunity to ask. Hopefully you will get the opportunity to get those questions answered.

  12. **big big hugs**

    I was adopted from birth. When I was 29, I finally went the legal route and started the search. The laws in Arizona (where I was born had changed) – prior to these changes, records were sealed for 99 years. After the new laws, a 3rd party intermediary was created – a go-between for seekers/sought (in whatever category of adopters and adoptees).

    I lucked out in many ways. I paid a total of $50.00 for a filing fee with the 3rd party to open the records through the Arizona State Supreme Court. A few weeks later they made contact with my birthmother. Legal forms were exchanged, then I gave permission for birthmother to contact me via phone. Thirty minutes later, I was on the phone with my birthmother and we were both cryin’ our eyes out (this happened at work, and I’m lucky I could close and lock my door).

    Flash forward to today: I’m in regular contact with her. I’ve met my birthfather (different story, and not a fun one), my half siblings, aunts/uncles on both sides, and various cousins. Almost annually, I’ll take a trek to visit. This past year, they came here for my 40th birthday, which was so damn awesome.

    I went into it because I wanted to know MY history and MY medical records. I came out of it with a whole lot more, and then some.

    Best of luck to you – maybe the laws have changed in your state, too.


    Erik replies: Wow! Congratulations on both finding your birthmother and the continued relationship you have with her and that part of your biological family.

    It has been 10 years since I last looked into this. Maybe it’s time to see if things have changed for my favor in the last decade.

  13. I can’t even begin to understand how you feel, nor give any sort of advice or anything. It has to be tough not knowing very much. Always wondering. Well….if I could, I’d give you a big hug because sometimes, ya just need one. I’ve been in a huggy mood lately.

    Erik replies: A big hug is always welcomed. Thank you.

  14. I was adopted too. My mom gave birth to four kids, adopted me and then…oops, she had another. I found my birth mother when I was 29 and she was a psycho. I had other half siblings too. They were annoying freaks. That being said, I would still encourage you to find your blood relatives if you are so inclined. I knew my older half sister’s name and birthdate. A private investigator found her in 30 minutes. Finding your family helped me put some peices of the puzzle together. Good luck. I know where you’re coming from. Let me know if I can help you.

    Erik replies: Thank you for the offer of help. I also guess I never thought about the “down” side to finding them—if they were all psycho. More things to consider….

  15. I assure you that I am not an automated response from a blog crawler, :o) altho I do have a google alert on topics about adoption. I am a reunited birth mother and sister to an adoptee. I’ve lived with adoption most of my life and like to help where I can. And of course, let people know about my new book in the process, mainly because I’ve put years of knowledge and experience in the book with tidbits I’ve picked up here and there that are little known and have actually worked at locating birth families. I very much believe that I can help birth families discover the answers to their questions, even if those answers aren’t always what they expect or want. Most birth families find their answers when they find each other and that is all I try to offer.

    And from all I’ve read and seen first hand, most birth families are normal with their own sets of issues, the same as every other family in the world. Sure, there are some strange ducks out there, but don’t regular families have them too? :o)

    Good luck with your decisions.

    Adoption Records Handbook

  16. I was adopted at birth also… found my bio parents at 20 and still keep in touch to this day. I wrote a whole post on the experience a while back on my blog. I only wanted to find out who they were in the beginning, never to meet them. Things progressed from there … they will never be my parents, but they make pretty amazing friends!

    Here is the link that I put up about my adoption and finding them


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