On Adoption, Abandonment and Identity Theft
To the Department of Births Death and Marriages,
Two things: Firstly, I am a trafficked—a seemingly-relinquished—person. Registration of the name of the person whose Y DNA I carry was not required by you. Secondly the child of my friend, who donated his sperm to a woman in a same-sex relationship, and who requested parental involvement, will be born in January of 2019. You don’t intend to record my friend’s name either.
In the first instance this is to protect the man who inseminated the registered mother, so that he is not held responsible or his reputation ‘tarnished’: Historically, most illegitimate children have, due to the circumstance of their conception, no absolute way of knowing their biological origin, and must jump through hoops with possibly no trusted outcome.
In the second, your legislation is too lazy, or sufficiently remiss, to change a document that records all significant DNA donors, and their relationships to the child.
My angle, here, is on genealogy. Heritage. Culture—and the availability of adequate data for referencing in the future, and although my main focus is personal—the colonialist and religious arbitration of adoption by non-genetic adults—I am addressing the ineptitude of your currently archaic bureaucracy.
You, keeper of records, are old and feeble-minded.
Another friend, also relinquished at birth, had her identity secreted away, her legal family declaring (as did mine) that she was conceived by them. Her dark skin and dark eyes were explained as throwback stuff. To some fanciful Spanish lineage. Truth, when it was finally exposed, is that her biological father was Aboriginal. He shot himself because his lover—this pregnant teenaged Anglo girl—was taken away and hidden, out of shame.
A GYPSY KING’S LOST DAUGHTER
The human brain starts working before it is fully built. Experience is the architect of the brain. Experience is the cue for connections and hook-ups of the billions of neurons formed before birth. In other words, neurons that fire together, wire together. If life begins with a trauma of separation and abandonment, that feels life-threatening, that is how the neurons will fire and wire. The human brain is a reflective organ, reflecting on past experiences, so it would be normal for abandonment issues to always be there in relationships.
He knew about me but there was nothing he could do. My real mother, that copper-haired, wild young faerie queen, with eyes like the green-gold fruit on a mythic hazel tree, had enchanted him into a night’s wild love-making, under a butter moon, beside some mythic lake. She’s known for it, you know. Stealing a man’s seed for the sheer contrariness of exchanging her child with a merely human one. A Changeling. Sneaking into a hospital nursery, like a silken film of shadow, and making the swap. All to keep herself viable in the lands of the short-lived. To keep fear and awe relevant.
Of course she told him. That he had a daughter as fair as she, looking nothing like him but someone who would eventually become a piece of them both. Raised by strangers, and who would cause a little havoc. To keep the world interesting.
I sat in a café, sipping coffee and reading, idling longer than usual, waiting for him to come. I thought he would be clever enough to find me. I’d fantasized thus for as long as I could remember. Waiting for him to whisper to me that he has searched the world. To explain why I was so weird, and to tell of his love for that wild copper-haired sídhe. To welcome me home.
I was 55 years old by then. Post-Adoption Resources had yet to process my search application (that has changed, since first writing this, and I am now a freeborn wild and uppity bitch, whereas before, I was just an uppity bitch… now I know I inherited the trait so I don’t accept blame).
The break in the mother infant bonding has an enormous impact on brain chemicals and neurotransmitters. Cortisol and adrenaline are raised in trauma, and there are reduced levels of serotonin. These things happen from very early on… ‘Where am I’ is the constant question.
When most people are born they are looked upon by the person from who’s womb they were expelled. Their brains, small limbic, primitive things, remember that moment. Mine does not.
The developmental PTSD is stored in the limbic system, where the fight, flight or freeze response is initiated. And the limbic system deals with trauma and kicks in straight away before there is a chance to experience the feeling of rejection. These people often feel schizophrenic – living with a duality, and have an ambivalence in decision making because making decisions feels life-threatening. Never give advice to a person with developmental trauma.
So now here I am with another spit tube. This time trying Ancestry.com. I’d dribbled saliva like this, once before, for 23andme.For the sake of my own children, and theirs. To reveal potential health concerns not of our matrilineal line. Out of a profound and organic need to know myself.
So whose DNA can a female customer use, besides her father’s? It could be anyone who shares his Y chromosome — her brother, paternal uncle (father’s brother), or even paternal grandfather (father’s father)
But not when you have no knowledge of any of the above because you, and your irresponsible birth certificate system didn’t record it, and no one will admit anything. You consider this acceptable. You pompous, misogynous bombast, claiming credibility merely because you are legal.
But legal, also, was the White Australia Policy, was (and is) the slave trade. The burning and torture of women for suspected witchcraft or heresy. Stoning for blasphemy. In many cultures, for loving someone of the same gender. Or the ‘wrong’ caste. Just because it’s on paper doesn’t make it right. Doesn’t ever make it sane.
Martin Luther King said “One has not only a legal, but a moral responsibility to obey just laws. Conversely, one has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws.”
My friend is happy. He will be involved in the upbringing of his child. That is not in any doubt. I am thinking of future generations. I am asking that we take the matter of registration of a human being seriously, for those seeking their heritage and culture in an uncertain future. I am happyish. My name was on a hospital birth record, my matrilineal line found. The work of a genealogist uncovered a heritage to Celtic tribal lands at the time of the mad Emperor Claudius. To a woman named Aubrée de Jarpenville who trained hunting hawks for the Parisian royal court in 1207. To a Viking warlord of whom a television series is written.
But I cannot claim them as ancestors, because the law pertaining to adoption says I am not them. Despite the lie.
The study of genealogy requires documents. Parish records, title deeds, rolls, shipping logs, military service documents or census data. Birth certificates, marriage certificates or wills. Everyone has an inherent right to know who they are, where they are from, and the ways of their heritage and culture.
That is currently not the case.
I am a fraud because the law has written me as thus. I am a fraud because sex is—or was—shameful. This document does not go into the politics of marriage, the concept of legitimacy or the processes of breeding. But then, I am not cattle, am I?
Or am I?
What I do know is that those of us adopted to strangers often live lives drowning in deceit, swallowing the gall of strangers and their inability to conceive, or fathoms beneath living air, gasping within oceans of bureaucratic gobbledygook.
I am on the death-side of sixty-six.
Let me be me, now, or let me go back to faerie land where my true family waits for me to remember… both that copper-haired, wild young faerie queen, with eyes like the green-gold fruit on a mythic hazel tree and the Gypsy king she seduced into abandoning all hope.
 PAUL SUNDERLAND notes from LIFEWORKS LECTURE