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Fixing the Fates – Adoption Book Review

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From the Cover of Fixing the Fates: An Adoptee’s Story of Truth and Lies by Diane Dewey:

“Diane Dewey, surrendered in a German orphanage at age one, was adopted and raised by loving parents near Philadelphia who withheld information about her origins, seemingly to protect her. Then the axis shifted. When Diane’s Swiss biological father contacted her by letter after forty-six years, her sense of truth was upended. In the months and years that followed, she sifted through competing versions of the story of her birth and adoption, and discovered disturbing secrets about her true fate. She was in the midst of attempting to substantiate–or refute– these finding through resonant family reunions when another mysterious letter appeared. One part forensic investigation, one part self-discovery, Fixing the Fates is an unflinching saga of facing deception and resetting the compass to live one’s truth.”


Grade:

5 hoots out of 5

Transfiguring Adoption awarded this book 5 Hoots out of 5 based on how useful it will be for a foster/adoptive family. [Learn more about our Hoot grading system here]


What I Thought:

Diane Dewey’s descriptive and enrapturing writing in Fixing the Fates transports the reader to various moments and places throughout her life. Her descriptions of her feelings, thoughts, and perceptions are vulnerable and vivid. I found myself sneaking any spare moments during the day to read this book as it is one of those “couldn’t put it down” stories. The universal themes Diane explores in her memoir are empathy, context, self-acceptance, intuition, and grace (releasing and not harboring anger).

I highly recommend this book to adults in the adoption triad, but especially to adoptive parents as this is the angle from which I read the book. Diane not only shares her thoughts, feelings, perceptions, and experiences as an adoptee, but she discusses universal themes and best practices in adoption and mentions other important works, such as The Primal Wound by Nancy Newton Verrier and Adoption Nation by Adam Pertman. Listening to the experiences of adoptees is one of the most effective ways for foster and adoptive parents to become more informed about how to best parent their children and empathize with them. Reading Fixing the Fates makes these concepts and themes accessible to readers by bringing them into the mind and experiences of an adoptee who expresses her experiences so vividly.


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It’s Your Turn:

    1. What insights did you gain from Diane’s book?
    2. If you are an adoptive parent, has reading Fixing the Fates led you to make any changes to your parenting?
    3. Has the book changed your perceptions of birth family search and reunion?

NOTE: JKS Communications provided an advance copy of this book in exchange for a review.

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How I Met My Father: An Adoptee Meets Her Birth Father

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I have started and re- started this entry probably over a dozen times.  I want to say something insightful and beautiful that would fit the situation I am in at this point of my life.  I want to do this blessing I have received justice with my words.  How do I communicate the whirlwind of joy I have felt over these last few weeks?  Finally, thirty eight years of wondering, hurting, and feeling like I don’t have an identity due to being an adoptee have come to an end!  I have found my biological father, and he is more than I ever could have imagined that he could be!

Is This Typical?

First of all, I would like to say that my situation is not typical.  Many times have adoptees found biological parents and faced secondary rejection.  I, myself, faced it with my bio mom, and it nearly destroyed me!  But, God picked me up, dusted me off, and gave me the courage to try again.  I am thankful and absolutely humbled by what he had in store for me next.

My Best Advice for Adoptees

My number one piece of advice to adoptees looking for biological family is this: GET YOUR DNA TESTED!!!  A few years ago, my husband gave me a gift that turned out to be more than its worth in gold, silver, or diamonds.  If you haven’t already guessed, it was a DNA kit from ancestry.com.  Taking the test was easy, I spit in a vial and sent it off to some unlucky individual whose job it is to unpack vials of other people’s spit.  A few weeks later, I received a genetic profile (which was very interesting in its own right), and a list of relatives whose spit’s DNA matched my spit’s DNA (ok, enough with the saliva talk).  For quite some time, the only matches I had on Ancestry belonged to obscure relatives like 5th cousins or to people in my bio mother’s family (and they certainly weren’t interested in knowing me).  I would check my profile every week for any new developments over the last few years.  I would leave the site sad and disappointed.  Sometimes I would even wonder if the money and time spent on the DNA test was even worth it. 

After what seemed like a lifetime without any new developments, I made a virtual poster to aide in my search for my father.  I used every bit of information I had been given by the adoption agency and prayed that he would see it. Fast forward to a couple of years later (2018), this poster came up on my Facebook memories.  I shared it once again, but this time I had a different attitude.  I felt like I had done everything I could have to find my father (there were several other steps I took over the years that yielded nothing).  I had finally submitted my search to my Heavenly Father.  In my prayers, I said “ If it is your will that I do not find my biological father, it will be all right.  I know You are my Father, and I will root my identity in You”.   A few weeks later, God gave me the biggest blessing I have ever received!

A Close DNA Match

THERE WAS A CLOSE MATCH ON MY DNA!!!  That’s right!  I had a close family match!  I sent the information I had on this individual to a “Search Angel” (usually another adoptee who has figured out how to find long lost family).  She looked at our DNA Profiles, and my close match’s family tree and was able to determine that this person is my paternal Grandmother!  From there, she was able to find my birth father’s name, address, and Facebook profile.  Well, I have never been much for waiting so I promptly contacted him and a person who would be my sister (MY SISTER! YAYYYYY! I HAVE 2 SISTERS AND 2 BROTHERS!!!).  My sister answered my inquiry, and chatted with me for a while, and a few days later, I got a text on my phone.  It was from my father and he gave me his number to call him and re-assured me that he doesn’t bite!

My father had told all of his family about me, and I got to meet him and his absolutely wonderful wife the next Monday.  My husband and I were blessed even further to get to meet one of my brothers and one of my sisters and their spouses the next Saturday.  We “clicked” instantly!  I have been accepted by many family members and I have learned so much from all of them.  I look forward to making many memories together in the future!  I am so blessed! 

So, on a personal note:

 I am so proud of my “new” family!  This doesn’t mean that I am turning my back on or replacing my adoptive family.  After all, they were the ones who raised me and took care of me for all of these years.  There isn’t a “set” amount of love that a person gets in a lifetime.  Love grows.  Love evolves.  Love encompasses everyone.  And, to quote one of my most favorite songs by The Beatles, “love is all you need”.


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23 Year Old Adoptee Shows Up At Birth Father’s Home: The Importance of Identity

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An Adoptee’s Search For Identity & An Unannounced Visit

Elijah Thomas could be like just like you. He is a 23 year old actor and musician with hopes, dreams and aspirations. He has taken on acting roles that are currently streaming on Netflix and Harry Potter fans have no doubt seen this talented young man as he played the part of Lord Voldemort in the YouTube music video, “Dark Lord Funk,” – a parody of the popular pop song “Uptown Funk.”

However, one thing unique about Elijah’s life story is that he was adopted through a closed adoption. This means that the name of his birth parents were not made known to him.

We, at Transfiguring Adoption, have heard so many stories from adoptees from a closed adoption tell about their longing to understand where they came from and Elijah seemed to have the same feelings of yearning to know his identity. While the young man has been able to develop a nice relationship with his birth mother, he recently embarked on a journey to put all the pieces of the puzzle together. As you can see from the video below, Elijah was able to find his birth father and shows up unannounced at his doorstep.

The Importance of Identity In A Child

After watching his video, most of the general public or even other adoptive parents question why a young man who is being very well cared for would embark on a journey to discover his birth father. Put simply there is a strong drive inside all of us to know where we came from so as to make sense of who we are presently.

Transfiguring Adoption’s very own Betsy Crockett, an adult adoptee, once explained to me, an adoptive dad, that she always wanted to know her birth parents to make sense of her own talents and abilities. Betsy, it would seem, longed to make sense of her artistic nature amidst an adoptive family who tended to be more analytical.

After watching Elijah’s video, Betsy messaged her initial thoughts to me:

“So many adoptees carry the shame of feeling like they are mistakes. Not a lot of people make babies on purpose just to give them up for adoption- and we carry the brunt of it. Having a closed adoption in many ways is worse. We (adoptees) have active imaginations, and without having answers, [adoptees] like to speculate like crazy. [Adoptees] believe meeting our birth parents and having answers will fill that hole inside. I hope Elijah feels more complete after this meeting, and look forward to seeing more videos from him and following his journey.” 

Even I, as an adoptive father, catch myself using the past to make sense of my own talents, abilities and character. My grandfather and father enjoyed drawing and doodling – thus, I can see where I received my love of art and creating drawings and cartoon characters. I know that I have come from a German descent (100%) – I cannot exactly explain the emotions but there is what seems to be a sense of pride as I can identify or align myself with a certain people group.

When it all comes down to it, there is a longing in all of us to know that while we might be unique and special, we somehow belong to a grouping of people similar to us. We don’t want to be alone. We want to feel connected to something more closely than a friendship.

Why The Search For Identity Scares An Adoptive Parent

If learning more about one’s past is so vital for a person to make sense of their life, then why would there be an apprehension from the adoptive parents – the nurturing adults in the life of a child?

While I will not pretend to speak on behalf of adoptive parents everywhere, I will share a few of my fears that exist when I’m honest with myself:

  1. Fear Of Being Abandoned
    This is a big one – and one that I’m not supposed to have or feel as someone looking out only for the best interests of my child. Even though my adopted children are allowed to talk to their birth parents as much as they want, there is always that figurative small demon in the back of my thoughts telling me that my child will abandon our relationship for one with their birth parent in the future.
  2. Wanting To Protect From Hurts
    As an adoptive father, I have known that my children have been hurt physically and emotionally from their past relationships. I have heard other adoptive parents tell me even more horrific stories than those my children have endured. As a parent, I do not want to my child to hurt – I especially do not want my child who has hurt more than most to be subjected to a situation where they might be rejected by someone they so desperately want to have a relationship.
  3. What If It Makes Things Worse
    Some of me feels that even though that life isn’t perfect but definitely don’t want to do anything to rock the boat. What if my child is rejected? What if this sends them into a tailspin?

Is Discovering Identity Worth It?

Absolutely.

Now, I feel that I must put in all the small print and legal jargon before folks begin to flood my email with bitter messages about how I’m suggesting that their 8 year old get to know a person that a grown adult is unsafe to be around. Naturally, I believe that children must be kept safe and timing is key.

However, I look to this video with Elijah Thomas – a 23-year-old man who needed to know more about himself. I can’t speak for him and say that he found everything that he was looking for or that he heard everything that he wanted to hear from his birth father.

I think the significant aspect of this whole journey is the end of the film when Mr. Thomas learns, owns, and states that..

“Nobody should ever feel like they’re a mistake.”

Discovering this fact and being able to own it in your soul instead of merely carrying it around as knowledge floating inside your head is worth the journey.


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