December 4, 1976 “Happy Gotcha Day!”

December 4, 1976.

“HAPPY GOTCHA DAY!”

Today in 1976, my mom was discharged from the hospital but went home with no baby. I was just four days old and handed to strangers after my mother and her parents had been scammed into placing me for adoption by her Ob/Gyn and his attorney friend who orchestrated everything. (and a handful of other shady adoptions as well)

Some in the adoption world refer to this as “Gotcha Day” but I absolutely despise that term, especially considering the circumstances of my adoption.

Today is another one of those days where I think about my mom a lot and wonder how this date must have felt for her over the years. I know she probably kept most of it to herself, which makes me even sadder. Today ends my annual (since 2017) four days of obsessing about what was happening at each moment, and what my mom was feeling from November 30 until December 4. It’s so heartbreaking to think about any loving and capable person feeling like they have no choice but to place their own child for adoption. I cannot even imagine how difficult that is.

I don’t really have much to say right now, but I want to make some statements that feel important to share:

— I was not an unwanted baby

— I was not an abandoned baby

— I was not “saved” or “rescued” by my adopters

— I was loved by my mother, Hollie, and I loved my mother, too

— Like all other newborns that are adopted, I was never a “blank slate”

— Despite what my original birth certificate states, my name was not “Baby Gray.” My parents named me Michelle Lynn Riess. My original birth certificate was illegally altered by the attorney that arranged my adoption, stripping me of my identity, heritage, and family connections.

— Adoption did not give me a better life, just a different life.

— Having more money, living in a nicer town, a better education, a better job, etc. does not automatically make someone a better parent than a biological parent or biological family member.

— Speaking out against a shady adoption and four decades of lies does not mean I am a bitter, angry or ungrateful person. It means that I want to share my story with people unfortunate enough to find themselves in similar situations.

— My name is not Christina. It is Michelle.

So many emotions are running through me right now. I am angry today for the lies. I am sad today for what I missed out on for forty years, especially the opportunity to know my sisters growing up. I am furious that my needs as a child, and just a human in general, were sacrificed so that my adopters could live out the fantasy they desired. In the same breath, I am thankful for everything I have today and the amazing people in my life–especially my parents, sisters and extended family members. Also grateful to my amazing friends, coworkers, loved ones, and most especially, my three children who keep me laughing and moving forward every day. Thanks for listening to me vent–probably good now until next year. LOL!

Love,

Michelle

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