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Your Adoption Journey

Dana E's Story

Dana E. of Fairbanks, Alaska

Back in 1983, I was 16 and searching through my parents fire-safe box for a copy of my birth certificate. Back then technology was quite a bit more primitive than today and my friends were taking their birth certificates, making a copy, using whiteout to change the birth year, and then using the copy to have a fake id made. I thought I would give it a try. While searching through the fire-safe box, where my parents kept all important paperwork, I came across an official group of papers filed under my name. I thought I had found my birth certificate, but instead the top was labeled "Adoption". I don't remember the official wording, but it was something along the lines of "From here on Dana Ann Johnson will be officially known as Dana Ann Hoffman". My mom's maiden name was Johnson and since she was very young when she supposedly gave birth to me, in my mind I thought we were sisters. I thought for some reason, my grandmother was really my mother and my mom and dad had to adopt me. It seems irrational to think of it now, but I just couldn't comprehend that my younger siblings were not truly biologically related to me or that my parents weren't my parents. After all, my mom and I looked more like sisters than mother and daughter. I'm forty-two now, happily married, and the mother of a seventeen year old son. I have a successful career as the principal of a K-8 school and life is wonderful. I do battle with depression at times and deal with it through exercise, volunteer service, and on some days just realizing that the cloud will lift in a couple of days. I never associated my ups and downs with the fact that I was adopted, but after hearing the podcast with Darryl McDaniels regarding Sarah McLachlan I sense that may be a contributing factor. I have never really had any closure because my mom tells me very little about the situation and in fact when I first approached her about the topic, I was told it was none of my business and I shouldn't have been snooping around in the fire-box. The only person who would talk to me about it was my grandmother and she passed away before I was able to have all my questions answered. My mother is my biological parent, so it's really just a half adoption. She was in Illinois one summer visiting her grandmother and met a boy named Richard. They fooled around and not until she got back home to New Jersey did she find out she didn't come home alone. Apparently, Richard wanted to do the "right" thing, because my grandmother kept letters he wrote to my mom proposing marriage and wanting to be there for his "son". (In all the letters he refers to the baby as a boy). After I had my son, my curiosity began to resurface. Doctors ask all sorts of medical history questions when you have a child and I always had to answer that I didn't know anything about my paternal side of my medical history. I used the addresses from the letters my grandmother had given me and hired a private detective to find my biological father. The information came back that he still lived in the same area, was married and had two daughters and a son. This was a little ironic because my parents also had two daughters and a son after me. I'm very close to my siblings and often wonder about these other three people who I am equally biologically related to, but have never met. I wrote a letter to my biological father and sent it certified restricted mail with the hopes that only he would get it. I have no idea if he received it or not, because one morning about a month after I mailed the letter, I got an angry phone call. His wife called very early in the morning, obviously not aware of the time difference between Illinois and Alaska. She didn't know what I wanted from their family, told me I had no proof that Richard was my father, that my mom was a slut, and she didn't want me to ever contact them again. I don't recall exactly what I said, but it was something along the lines of, "I don't want anything from you. I'm happily married and I have a great life, just thought he may want to know he has a grandson and that I hoped to get some medical historical information." We hung up and I was sad. I don't know if Richard ever read my letter, but it's too bad she had to be that way. I hope to someday meet his kids, but I'm not going to waste time searching them out. I appreciated Darryl's candor and the sharing in the interview I listened to. Yes, I know of Run DMC but downloaded the podcast because I'm a big Sarah fan. Her albums got me through my masters degree and I too listen to her when I work out or am on long drives in the car. I sing her lyrics at the top of my lungs, but also make sure no one else can hear! My next quest after writing this is to find a copy of the song Darryl and Sarah made together. If it speaks to me half as much as the podcast did, I will be thrilled.

Thank you for the opportunity to share.

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