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A Valentine Birthday for Carol Kathleen Muse

My first book was called The Chosen Baby.  My parents always called me “special” (don’t laugh!) because I was chosen, i.e,. adopted.  One of the infamous stories, written in my baby book, was about my Grampa Glines and I, watching Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom.  I made some comment about an animal and he said to me “Gee, Juli, you’re very intelligent.” I, allegedly, looked at him, angrily, and said, “No, I’m not!  I’m adopted!” 

That identity has defined me in many ways.  My freshman year of high school I chose to do my first research paper on which states allowed adoptees to find their birth records .I vehemently believed it should be legal for everyone.  I knew I would search for my birthparents when I was older, and always to thank them for the sacrifice they made for me.  I was never angry. Somehow I knew that they had made a decision they needed to and I could not judge that.  In some ways I think that is why I never had an unplanned pregnancy.  I knew that I would only become pregnant on my terms. 

But my birthday was always another story.  The older I got, each birthday was a reminder that my birthparents were another year older.  Or maybe dead.  There was always that.  So every Valentines Day, filled with love and presents, there was a deep longing. 

When I met my husband, in 1992, I met his bartender, whose aunt is an “angel.”  She finds people’s birthfamilies.  This search lasted for five years.  Each birthday I always said “Will I ever find them?”  He always said, “You will.”  And he meant it. 

I talked to my birthmother in 1997, the night before my 28th birthday.  That moment changed our lives. 

I now have three sisters and three brothers I never knew.  I am very close to most of them.  I have a strong relationship with both my birthparents and their wonderful partners.  I’ve spent time with these people, my blood, and learned so much about who I am from a nurture versus nature perspective that so many never can. 

Sometimes when people say to me, that’s so special having a birthday on Valentines Day, I think, yes it is.  But I also think about the 19 year old woman who gave up her baby on Valentines Day, when women were forced and coerced and hated for their sexuality.  Happy Valentines Day to my birth/adopted/step family because I’m not just special, you are, and I’m lucky for that.  XO

my feminist praxis

critical reflections on my feminist praxis: activism, motherhood, and life

The Feminist Critic

Providing weekly critiques of theatre, film, books, politics and pop culture from a feminist perspective.