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I Told Mom I Wanted to Find My Birth Mother. It Blind-Sided Her

Sara Easterly Adoption

As an adoptee, I watched with interest former NFL player Michael Oher’s legal battle unfold and considered how his story was misrepresented on film in The Blind Side.

I couldn’t help but wonder if the people he believed to be his adoptive parents were blind-sided, like mine were, when I began to look at the nuances of my adoption in new ways and question things I’d blindly gone along with before.

The blind-siding started when I told my mom I wanted to search for another mother—my birth mom.

We were sitting in a circular booth at P.F. Chang’s with my sister. The boisterous people at nearby tables and our conscientious server offered welcome interruptions for the second-most uncomfortable conversation of my life.

My mom started to sob: “I don’t understand. You’ve always said you weren’t interested in finding her.”

I shrugged, unfamiliar with the rocky terrain of speaking openly about this taboo topic where self-censoring ruled.

My mom’s upset quickly turned to anger, then accusation. She glared at me: “So you were lying?”

Lying? That was one way to look at it—the way a parent would who was never given full information about the long and arduous arc of an adoptee’s life experiences and evolutional understanding of adoption.

In the medical world, the ethical practice of informed consent ensures patients sufficiently understand information that would help them make sound decisions about their medical care, for the short and long term.

Of course, patients can choose informed refusal, intentionally proceeding into danger or refusing information that may be too daunting to know—at which point pens fly from pockets and it’s time to sign on the dotted line, because nobody wants to be legally responsible for a patient’s pending peril.

In adoption, the information we give to birth and adoptive parents is far from reaching the standards of informed consent we expect in medical care.

To make sound decisions about placement, and the care and raising of children, all parties involved in adoption decisions need to sufficiently understand the ways adoptees will experience it for the rest of their lives—and, of course, be willing to take off their blinders and let the information truly sink in.

Sara Easterly (R) pictured with her adoptive mom, Linda (L).

Sara Easterly

For instance, informed consent would have flagged for everyone in my family that adoption is much more complex for an adoptee than can be…

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