Tuesday, July 20, 2010

A Big Deal

"Have you ever thought about finding your birth parents?"

I've heard this question a zillion times, generally as soon as someone finds out I'm adopted. So I really should've expected my doctor to ask it when I told him I didn't have a medical history.

"Kinda sorta."
"Well, it's tough for me to give you a general bill of health unless I know what I'm looking for."
"Yeah, you know, every year, we find out more diseases have a genetic link to them, so a medical history can be very helpful."
"So you're saying I should start looking?"
"If I were you, I would."

I'd always been on the fence about this issue. Normally I love to learn new things, but in this case, knowledge comes with risk. What if my parents are dead? What if they're meth dealers? What if they'll try to sell me on Amway? What if they won't be proud of me? What if I'm the result of a rape? And, as Professor Anderson always said, risk aversion is the true sign of a lawyer.

But with a doctor's suggestion, I figured it might be time for me to sign up for Iowa's voluntary Adoption Reunion Registry. My mom is starting to send me the information she knows, and it turns out she knows more than I'd thought she'd known.

Birth-Mom was a student at the University of Iowa, majoring in electrical engineering (women engineers in 1981!). There would've been a whole generation gap between her and my mom. My parents listened to the Kingston Trio and Peter, Paul and Mary; Birth-Mom would've listened to The Police and Van Halen.

Birth-Mom specifically requested a Catholic family. That answers one of the big questions I'd always asked myself - considering that Iowa City has had an abortion clinic in town since the 70s, why did Birth-Mom stick it out for nine months at virtually no benefit to her?

Nothing is known of Birth-Dad, so it could have been a one-night stand… or worse.

Birth-Grandpa would be 84 if he's alive, but he'd already had a severe heart attack by the time I was born. Now I'm going to have to feel guilty every time I eat mozzarella sticks.

More remains to be found, assuming Birth-Mom signed up for the registry herself. Did she change her major? Did she graduate? Is she still Catholic? Does she still live in Iowa? Is she of Eastern European ancestry, as I've always suspected? Do I have brothers and sisters?

Would she be proud of me?

Stay tuned…

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