Orlando Sentinel

Readers chime in on adopted families, Ono

- By Amy Dickinson askamy@amydickins­on.com Twitter@askingamy Copyright 2021 by Amy Dickinson Distribute­d by Tribune Content Agency

Dear Amy: Iama 50-year-old woman who was adopted as an infant.

I’ve been reading letters from readers of yours who, when they find their birth family, are extremely disappoint­ed with the experience. It seems as if they expect their birth family to welcome them into the fold as if they were always there.

I had a family for 25 years, and although my parents were far from perfect, they were mine.

When I was 25 years old, my birth mother found me, and although I adamantly did not want this experience, it was forced upon me by a group that touts reuniting family. Unfortunat­ely, it turns out my birth mother had deep-seated mental problems.

I was sucked into her drama and was then blamed by her when she would constantly threaten suicide. My birth father committed suicide after I found out (through my birth mother) who he was.

There are usually reasons why we are placed for adoption. Sometimes, years later, those reasons are still good ones, and we should appreciate the families that we have.

We need to remember that sharing DNA doesn’t automatica­lly make us family. In my experience, family are the people that are there for you, whether you share DNA or not.

— Adopted in Ohio

Dear Adopted:

DNA discovery stories and biological family reunificat­ion stories are becoming a regular presence in this column.

Any time secrets are revealed, extreme adjustment­s are required, and although some of these stories do have surprising and happy endings, I thank you for pointing out that no particular ending is guaranteed for any of us.

A moving essay by writer Steve Inskeep outlined his own story. As an adoptee (and now an adoptive parent) from Indiana, he wrestled with the frustratio­n of that state’s closed adoption records, which meant that he had no access to informatio­n about his own beginnings.

As he notes in his essay, (published in The New York Times), “Should adoptees and biological families contact each other, after the law forbade it for so long? Not without mutual consent: It’s an intensely personal decision. But informatio­n alone is powerful. When Indiana finally made its records more accessible in 2018, so many people requested documents that state employees were overwhelme­d. A 20-week backlog of requests built up and has persisted — a testament to how many human lives were affected.”

More than a dozen states are currently considerin­g legislatio­n to open adoption records. As more states open their adoption files, more families will wrestle with the challenges of discovered relationsh­ips, and more people will be inspired to define “family” in new ways.

Dear Amy: I recognize that the use of substitute names in the letters you publish is a necessity.

In a recent letter concerning four longtime friends, you used “John, Paul, George, and Ringo” as clever stand-ins. But I feel it’s unfortunat­e the name “Yoko” was used to identify the angry woman mentioned as “John’s wife.”

Many readers may recall the torrent of criticism directed at Yoko Ono in the late 1960s, which may be viewed today as misogynist­ic and anti-Asian vilificati­on. She was blamed for breaking up The Beatles, an unfair accusation. (The Beatles broke up The Beatles.)

The real Yoko Ono is now 88. Her pioneering avant-garde art and boundary-bending music, not to mention her tireless dedication to peace causes, have brought on a reassessme­nt of her brave impact on the creative community.

Forgive me if I am overanalyz­ing this unintentio­nal slip, but to new generation­s of feminist rockers, Yoko Ono is their favorite Beatle!

— Tom in New Orleans Dear Tom: I supplied those substitute names in the letter about four friends, and I take responsibi­lity for replaying a very tired trope about Yoko Ono. As you rightly point out, “The Beatles broke up The Beatles.”

I apologize to Ms. Ono, who I recognize as an important artist, creator and inspiratio­n to many, including, of course, John Lennon, who did such important work in collaborat­ion with her.

I also apologize to Beatles fans and other readers, who I know deserve better.

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