Me on Christmas at 3 years, 1953 and High School Graduation Picture, 1968
Seven year olds can be quite inquisitive. I was no exception. I asked my foster parents, the Monshors, "Why couldn't I be with my Mom and Dad? Why was I kept moving from home to home?" Difficult questions for an adult to answer; even more difficult for a seven year old to have to ask or deal with.
Their answer probably shaped my attitude towards my birth mother for years to come. It was, "Your Mother did not want you and threw you away in a trash can outside the hospital where you were born when you were two days old. A sister from the hospital found you. You were near death when she found you, (remember it was dead of winter...February). The good sisters named you. The court is trying to find a loving family to take you in as their son, but hasn't found the right one yet."
I don't know if the answer they gave at the time, which I know now was not true, was given because they were trying to protect me, or if they were trying to help me face the harsh reality of my circumstances. Perhaps they hoped by telling me this story, it would preclude my ever wanting to find my birth Mother.
I know at the time, it was like a dagger in the heart. I was stunned and dumbfounded as to why someone who gave birth to me, wouldn't want me as their son. I hated my birth Mother! I thought I would never want anything to do with her. I placed this answer and pain deep within my memory and heart.
I did not raise the issue again for the next twenty-five years. By the time I did, the Monshors were both deceased.
I received my birth certificate from the state of Michigan so I could get my passport. There, for the first time, I saw the name of my birth mother; ROBERTA ADAMS. I also saw the address of her home at the time of my birth. No father was listed. The pain and hatred stored deep within me for so many years, came bubbling to the surface. Despite this, I knew I somehow wanted questions answered.
Birth Mother Roberta Piechowiak, Adams, Moore & Me 1986, Birth Father Robert Irwin Marx 1950
My search went far beyond even my wildest dreams. You see the results within this web site. The question still is; WHY? Why did I go beyond the original intent of getting simple medical information? Why did I want to find my birth Mother? Why did I ever want to meet her? Why did I want to know my roots? Why take twenty years spending great amounts of time, energy and money researching my family history? Why look for living members of an extended family?
Every child, at some point, questions who they are, where they came from and so forth. Most are able to have the answers easily provided by a parent or other member of their family. Adoptees or many children of the foster care system, such as I, do not have that available to them. For adoptees in particular, of my generation, it is denied them by law. We are expected to go through life never knowing the answers to those questions. Many are even ridiculed for entertaining such questions.
I searched for the answers to all those questions because I am like any other normal individual. More importantly, I had the right to know! I searched first for information; then to fill a void in my life. I would like to think if the search had ended with just information, I would have been satisfied. Of course, knowing all I do today, it might not have been. Each person searching needs to know when enough is enough for them.
My search had its ups and downs. My initial search to just find the information needed to locate my birth Mother to get medical information, took four years. It would take another four years before I would find and meet my birth Father. They have both since passed away. During that time, I learned how to be a detective; to ask questions, that to most would have appeared stupid. I even had to learn to lie to just get the information I wanted.
Attempting to find my birth Mother only aroused more questions within me. It was during the search, receiving my Grandfather's death certificate, that I learned I was Polish. My Mother's maiden name should have been Piechowiak. It became Adams only because of my grandfather, being ashamed of his heritage, changing his name. I now knew I had a heritage. I wanted to find out more. I decided I would do a genealogical search, whether I had ever found my birth Mother or not. Each step of my search answered some questions, but also raised many new ones.
I found my birth Mother, my birth Father as well as siblings. None were very cooperative in answering my questions about family health, heritage or genealogy. If they had been, it might have saved me sixteen more years of research.
Frances Luczak, Piechowiak & John Piechowiak in 1920, maternal great grandparents
I have found most the answers to my questions. The void that was in my life has been filled. I now feel I am a whole person; I know who I am and where I came from. I am now in the position that children raised by their birth parents are in. I no longer have to feel different or abnormal. I found far more information about my family genealogy than I ever expected to. I found and met members of my extended family. I can now see in pictures family resemblance's and say...see I belong! In learning about my great grandparents, aunts, uncles and Polish people as a whole, I learned, in so many ways, why I am the person I am today.
This is why I, and others search. The desire to be made whole. The desire to know, that even when your birth parents may reject you...you still are a part of a family and a heritage. I had a good life prior to beginning my search and have done well during the search. The end result of my search just has made it better.
My initial search was, in comparison to adoptees, relatively easy despite the length of time it took.
I know adoptees who have been searching for years, without success, to find the very basic of information; a birth parent name. This is due to he laws concerning adoption still on the books in many states.
Since the 1970s, some states have opened up their adoption laws, opening Adoption Registries. Many adoption agencies now enter into open adoption agreements. However, in many cases, the adoptee is at a distinct disadvantage if they choose to search for their birth parents or any information that might identify who they are.
Though things have improved in the past twenty or so years, much more needs to be done. Most state Adoption Registries require both the birth parent and the adoptee to grant permission for identifying information to be shared with the other party. If consent is not given or if nothing is on file indicating either way, any requests for information will be denied.
Aunt Bessie Piechowiak, Lepczyk and Uncle Thomas Luczak
Current laws, even with updates, still play havoc for those adoptees from the 1930s, 1940s and even 1950s. In many cases, the birth parents or adoptee, do not know the new laws regarding Adoption Registries. Also, the birth parents or now adult adoptees have passed away. Even in death, information cannot be given.
In most cases, the law that supposedly was "in the best interest of the child" has become, "best interest of the birth parent, dead or alive."
I firmly believe ALL have the right to know who they are, where they came from, family heritage and genealogy, no matter the circumstances under which they came into this world.
To those who are not adoptees, or from a situation such as mine, I ask you; "Knowing all that you know today about yourself, family, family history...how would you have liked to have all that information kept from you? Would it leave a void in your life? These are the conditions under which adoptees are expected to live. In truth, you know you would not like to live this way; why would you expect an adoptee to be any different from you?
I have known adoptees, even when the release of medical information about family could have saved their lives, were refused their request for information. This is wrong and has absolutely no justification.
Why, when millions around the world who were raised by their birth parents do genealogical research to learn more of themselves and their heritage is it considered normal? When an adoptee or person in my situation does the same its considered abnormal?
Seems hypocritical to me!
To birth parents, I have a message. We understand, in most cases, your decision to give up your child was made only after a great struggle within yourself. We know what a painstaking decision it was that you made. We know you made that decision because of the love you had for your child, and that you wanted what was best for him or her. I ask that you continue to act in the best interest of your child, who is now an adult and no matter how good a good a home they went to, or how well they have done in life, may still feel incomplete. PLEASE, file information with your respective state Adoption Agency from which your child was adopted. Give your consent to have it released to your child when they reach adulthood. Let them fill the void within their lives. Without your consent this information will never be made known to them.
Adult adoptees, your birth parents also may be in the same position as you are. They may want to see how your life has turned out. To know they did indeed make the best decision for you that they could. You could do your part as well, provide updated information to the same agency mentioned above and give consent to have it released to a birth parent or sibling if requested. This is a two-way street, not a one-way.
Pictures of me with cousins I have found and met:
First Cousin Dorothy, 89 years old, 2002; Second Cousin Steve, 2002
Cousins David and Roger, 2002
Adult adoptees, who search for answers, do not mean you any harm. They do not want to disrupt the lives you have since built for yourselves. They just want and need answers to questions to which only you can unlock the door. Even if you do not wish for any type of relationship with your child, provide the information that would allow them to be whole.
My search was satisfied when I was able to sit with my birth Mother and find out the true story of my birth; the gut-wrenching decision she made to give me up, and why; my true Polish heritage and the vague medical history that would allow me to better care for myself. I would have been satisfied if she had just provided me these facts in a letter and not agreed to meet me. I would have had the basic information I desired.
The fact she agreed to meet me, despite how our relationship turned out, was above and beyond what I had hoped for or expected during my search.
Of course, because I found out I was Polish and because my grandfather was ashamed of this heritage, I continued my research to find out as much as I possibly could about my family. I wanted to know why and when my ancestors came to America, what they did with their lives...I wanted to be proud of them. I have achieved that goal.
My only real regret is that I waited so long before I began to search. If I had begun at age eighteen or twenty-one, I might have been able to meet many aunts and uncles who were still living at the time. By the time I did begin my search and found all eleven children of my great grandparents, they were deceased. What a missed opportunity on my part.
I have been privileged to get to know some of my extended family and they have added so much to the picture. Through them, pictures and stories have been shared with me. You can only imagine the intense feelings I had when I saw the pictures of my birth parents, great grandparents or other family members for the first time; the feelings when I walked through the homestead my great grandfather built with his own hands 112 years ago; the feelings when sitting with an 89 year old first cousin and hearing stories of my great grandparents, her mother, aunts and uncles or the feelings when being able, at the age of 52, to spend my FIRST CHRISTMAS with family I could call my own. Many of the feelings, stories and now memories have been shared in other parts of this web site.