gallery Dear Adoption, I Know You, Now. I See You


Dear Adoption, I Know You, Now. I See You

I’m not that baby long ago trembling, motherless, unloved, while strangers decided my fate. In a crib, maybe in someone’s arms, clearly not standing in a courtroom while others spoke in my “best interests.”

I asked my first mom late last year if she’d like to “unadopt” me.  She said, “Yes!” On my birthday this year, I went back to a courtroom to be adopted.

We reunited 12 years ago after living my whole life not being told, even relinquishing my first son. That discovery led me to a world where blood relatives aren’t legally recognized. So I sought “Unadoption.” My mother and I found that some states permit adult adoption. We filled out the paperwork, turned in the forms, and planned to restart our journey.

We sat in the courtroom with the judge looking at the paperwork. I watched as he looked at the top sheet and then flip hurriedly to other pages. Back and forth, flipping before eventually saying, “No matter how many times I look at these dates, I can’t help but notice that today is ACTUALLY your birthday.” I never felt like he took it lightly, but seeing the matching dates, I think it deepened the meaningfulness.

He asked us to raise our right hands and being so nervous that something was going to happen – she would change her mind, someone would burst in the doors and object, or my adoptive family would show up and call it a farce (I remembered a moment when I was 11 and sat in the doctor’s office as they looked into my ancestry for a clue as to what was wrong, my adoptive mom sat and related to me her medical history, passing it off as my own) – that I actually raised my left hand. I hope that doesn’t have legal implications. The judge said, “Affirm that all parties want this adoption to happen.” Or something like that. I really don’t know because my mind was running 8 million miles per hour, but I remember thinking this had all happened before.

But last time it wasn’t me. It was someone speaking for me. I wonder was I in a carriage, a blanket, arms? I imagined someone reaching over to me and picking up my chubby clasped hand. Raise it on up to testify. Did someone do that? Or was it just them affirming on my behalf? Suddenly it was now AND 46 years ago. Except this time, I determined my best interests. The paperwork was signed and I was adopted again, but this time I am really “unadopted;” we undid that original fateful decision.

I choose. I raised my hand. I testified for me. I choose my name, my path, my heritage, and my legacy.

Read Ridghaus’ Letter to My Inner Child here.

As a late-discovery adoptee and birth father, adoption is woven into the very fabric of Ridghaus’ life and identity. After completing a JD, he completed an MA in English Rhetoric as well as an MA in Film. For several years, he split time between teaching college courses and working on cable TV shows for National Geographic, Food Network, and Bravo. Today, when he is not instructing the next generation of filmmakers, Ridghaus is producing documentaries, including Six Word Adoption Memoirs (6WAM + 6WAM 2017). He also serves on the Dear Adoption, Board of Advisors. Ridghaus is fully committed to his family and giving voice to authentic storytellers within the adoption community in order to educate and create connections.


  1. Reblogged this on Gazelle's Scirocco Winds and commented:
    another take on Unadopting … something many of us have done but not to this extreme…. I simply divorced my adopters-not in a court by removal of myself from their environment… Later I retrieved from the court what little was left of my almost completely purged file-Later I went to court to completely change my name -stripping any relationship to either adopter or birth family, showcasing names which highlight ME and no other. When I found a paternal uncle after decades, he was incensed that I did not retake the surname of my father… I explained why, but in the end he could not understand why I would not realign myself to one who had abandoned me after abusing me.


  2. I suspect many of us -each in our own way-has un-adopted or untethered our self from a court appointed involuntary adoption. If we are nor were not a consenting party to the adoption decree, then technically and even legally the paper is just that-paper, no matter how many seals are stamped on its face. As Dickens said once upon a time, before he invented Christmas, ‘If the law supposes that, the law is an ass.’ I definitely concur with Charles’ pronouncement.

    NO court or judge or system can re-arrange nature, despite their belief that they can. DNA will always be the determinant of the individual and his/her inheritance an heritage. Centimorgans rule, not a judge’s gavel or a signature on a document. Not as an infant or baby or as a five year old, as I was. I had no problem at five screaming at the presiding judge that he could not take my name. Fro my seeming impudence, I was ushered from the court by a bury bailiff until the procedure was complete and the dastardly deed done. For the judge who dared try to cajole me when I was returned to the courtroom, I had a slap to his face for his disrespect to me. Even at that age I knew the difference between justice and injustice.

    Out of curiosity, I wonder why anyone would play right in to the hand of the extant system to have himself (or herself) adopted at whatever age by his/her own mother? DNA proves the parental status as well as the original birth record. The adoption by the adopters was not authorized by the child and the state kept documents and information from that child without his/her consent or maybe even knowledge. As an adult we all have the right to choose our own paths, including that that to realign with our own parent(s) and family. We singed no contract, and the birth mother may well have been coerced to sign relinquishing documents, thus loosing all contact with her child. Much later she reestablished contact with the child now adult and the now adult child established relationship with his mother. It was by mutual consent-non-coerced.

    Did you forget that, just like that long-ago involuntary adoption, your conception and birth were also involuntary? You did not ask to be born -not how, not when, not where and not to whom; nor under what circumstances.

    And by the way, we are all authentic story tellers-each with our own narratives. our own knowledge, our own voices. It is pretentious for anyone to presume that their voice is more powerful or authentic than another’s, or that they are my or anyone else’s voice. I and others have been speaking for ourselves and making inroads of change longer than you-and with only our will to retrieve what is our right to have and a determination to share our experiences with others so that they can find their roots and their own history. You are welcome to speak for yourself, but don’t dare presume to speak for us. And don’t presume that you have more education than we who read your words, or more experience in life. Assumption is not a good habit to cultivate. I have a son your age.

    And while adoption was a fact of my life, it does not and will not define me. Did it affect me? Certainly? But all events in life affect each of us. by the way, I am very happy that you found your mother and have been able to bond. Not all of us will ever have that chance. Cherish and protect yours-not for us ut for you and her and for your children and grandchildren.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s