I always knew about my non-identifying information. At some point in my teens, I had been given a single piece of paper by my adoptive parents (probably after one too many questions...) and in true teen angst "I don't care" fashion, I read it, filed it away and didn't think much about it. I knew asking was hard on my adoptive parents, as it meant curiousity and I received that look, the one of sadness but I believe they felt it was their responsibility to provide that information they kept under lock and key in their safe deposit box. It was an ordeal to get from the safe deposit box. I went to college and came across it a few times in various moves and would pour over every minute detail, details almost too overwhelming to bear. I was still ambivalent at the thought of searching, I filed it away yet again. I did this "rinse and repeat" dance throughout my young adulthood always filing it away in the back of my mind. Many moves and several years later, now in my late twenties...somewhere along the way, I had lost that piece of paper.
I knew that the agency was no longer a practicing agency and my records had been taken over by the state. It was then that I started to scratch the surface at the thought of maybe searching, not fully committed in any way but entertaining thoughts. I didn't want to have to ask my parents for it again...I was an adult dammit and it would be an ordeal to ask them to go to the safe deposit box yet again. I really didn't want to receive that look, the one I had seen so many times before whenever I brought up adoption, so I took the easy way out, or so I thought. I contacted the agency and forms were sent to me, easy enough, fill these out, send a check and I would receive my non-id and I wouldn't have to upset the apple cart of my adoptive family. I had those forms for years and never sent them in, more of the rinse and repeat dance. It would take a few glasses of wine and a rough patch in my life for me to fill them out and send them in and so I did. I never once imagined anything other than receiving a form letter with my non-id attached.
Fast forward six weeks later, I was at work...at the time, I was in a very high-stress management job...it was all consuming. Juggling phone calls, logistics, coordinating employees, clients and couriers. It was just another ordinary day in my crazy job, putting out fires left and right, pulling miracles big and small out of my hat, when I received an unexpected call.
"Hello, this is Social Worker so-and-so, I have received and processed your non-identifying information request and I see you filled out form so-and-so which is to release your identifying information. Well, the reason I am calling is that I have pulled your file and there is already a Birth parent release of identifying information form which allows me to give you IDENTIFYING information and CURRENT CONTACT INFORMATION. I know this may come as a shock and wanted to speak with you personally and confirm that you do, in fact, want to release your identifying information. I know this is a lot to take in. Do you need a moment?"
"Me: Silence" (in my head, I was hearing a blaring loudspeaker "Please keep all hands and feet inside the ride until it comes to a complete stop..." I was speechless, frozen, stunned....and yes in shock! I never thought past getting a copy of my non-id. I was just scratching the surface! I figured I would get my non-id along with a form letter, read it and put it in a drawer...do some more rinse and repeat dancing...until I was ready to take another step and maybe think about searching...a long way off, or so I thought.)
All I could hear was the deafening pounding of my own heartbeat. Huh? What??
"Me: May I put you on hold for a minute? Social Worker so-and-so: Yes."
I slowly pressed the hold button, stood up and closed the door to my office...light-headed, knees weak, heart pounding, and without any warning...
I promptly threw up into my trash can.
It was at that very moment, staring at Line 1 blinking on my phone, that I knew my life would never be the same.