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  • Writer's pictureDebra Pauli

Graceful Perseverance: Regaining a Lost Identity - 03/10/24

Welcome to this week's Blog Café. This week is a very personable topic for me. I just realized in the past few weeks even at 62 years old, I'm still actually working on regaining my identity after a major life change that took place in my childhood many years ago. When I was five, one week from turning six years old, I was given up for adoption by my biological parents back in the mid-60's. The when and the why I was given up for adoption isn't so important to share in this blog, but the impact it had on me not only as a five-year old child, but also today as a 62-year old woman is what's important for this blog.


One week before my sixth birthday my biological mother and step-father loaded all of us children (siblings) into their station wagon. Cramped in the far back, were five of us, my two brothers, two sisters and myself for a total of five children under the age of six. We had no idea where we were headed down that dusty, desert road in Arizona. But on this particular day we already knew this was not going to be a normal day. And it wasn't! We pulled up to the curb of a government building. Our mother and step-father commanded all of us to get out of the station wagon and follow them into this large building. We followed the two of them like we were their marching soldiers. We were escorted into a Social Services office, where we entered a waiting room and were told to sit and do not move. Our mother and step-father left the room together while my siblings and I sat on the floor all huddled together.


It was only minutes later when our mother and step-father returned to this waiting room, but this time there was a lady who followed behind them. My siblings and I had no idea what was about to happen, but what did happen was a major life change for all of us siblings. It would impact all of us in one shape or form for the rest of our lives. The Social Worker asked Donna (my sister) and myself to get up and come with her. As two small children, 4 and 5, we were frightened, scared and did not want to leave our siblings. We kicked and screamed, cried and fought back, but the three authorities, the adults in the room, insisted just Donna and I go with the lady and the others stayed back. This day was the last day we would ever see our siblings again. We were ripped, torn and separated from our siblings on this day. This day forever changed my life, and unbeknown to me at the time would change who I'd become growing up. Donna and I were both given up for adoption on this day. Our parents didn't want us, and they were giving us away to strangers. We both went into Arizona's Foster Care System together for the next three years. We never saw our siblings ever again.


I give you this background of just one day in my childhood that did have a major impact on the rest of my life. And I can testify that as result of this childhood trauma, I lost my identity. I lost who I was, and where I belonged in this life. I can honestly tell you there were so many times growing up as a young little girl, I would often look in the mirror and ask the child staring back at me who was she, and where did she belong. This is a story of a little girl who was given up for adoption, and ripped away from her biological family against her will. The major life change has carried into the rest of my life as a young child, a teenager, a young woman, and still today as an older woman.

As I mentioned in the beginning of this blog, in the past few weeks I've been working on my lost identity. How so? I recently contacted my birth state, the State of Missouri Vital Records and Services, to request a non-certified copy of my original birth certificate. Without going into the legalities of requesting a copy of my original birth certificate, let me just say it's not an easy task as an adoptee. This is just another example where someone else stripped away my rights to know my heritage the moment I was adopted. But today I am a few steps closer to receiving a non-certified copy of my original birth certificate. As an adoptee, for me it truly helps me heal by connecting with my heritage, my bloodline, my biological family. This is an important step for me to heal and regain my identity.


The other matter in which I am working on to regain my identity is through myheritage.com. I have now uncovered or discovered five generations back, and 91 relatives from my paternal side of my biological family. It has been so rewarding and exciting to know and learn of my biological family, both on my paternal and maternal sides of my family tree. I have found my family literally five generations back, which I absolutely find amazing. I actually feel like I belong in a family now. These relatives are my blood line, they are my ancestors, and I am excited today to learn that I can, and I am regaining my identity. And, keep in mind, this is just me. This is something I needed to do in my life to feel I belonged. . .somewhere, in some family. Not all "adoptees" want to know their biological heritage, or maybe they've never lost their identity in their adoption experience. But I did. This endeavor is exactly what I needed to put the missing pieces back together in order to learn where I came from; hence, where I belong.


Throughout my life I have also found other constructive ways to regain my identity. I grew up not knowing who I really am or where I really belong. I found other ways besides researching my heritage. Because I have experienced adverse, traumatic events in my childhood, I never did have a strong sense of self. I was always very critical of myself, depressed and lost, without a clear direction for my life. A strong sense of self should be developed during our upbringing. Since my upbringing was daily trauma, I never did develop a good sense of self or identity. From the people around me, to the clothes I wore, to my music choices, and social circles, I did find a "side product" of my identity, but that never actually determined who I am either. Again, I remained feeling lost and misplaced.


When I think back of all of things I tried in order to regain my identity, the one thing that most shaped my identity by leaps and bounds, was God. Yes, that's right, God. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. - 2 Corinthians 5:17 (ESV).


It wasn't until my social circle changed, that I was able to identify my true personal values, the ones God instilled in me. It wasn't until I had more balanced thoughts, developed self-compassion, found the feel good in personal interests, and advanced my daily journaling with scripture and prayer time that actually brought me to the doorstep of Christianity. I had found my heavenly "Father," the one who created me in my mother's womb. He knew me first. He loved me first. Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations. - Jeremiah 1:5 (ESV).


It wasn't until I fell to my knees and allowed myself to grieve over the loss of my earthly family, and siblings that I could feel normal, while my losses still bled deep. Through the Lord, and only through Him, He was the only one who could help define me discover who I am, what I love to do, and what I was created to do, for His Glory.


Becoming a born again Christian, and being baptized in the name of Jesus Christ as an adult, without a doubt has regained my identity. It truly has shaped and defined who God intended me to be even before my first breath. - And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. - Acts 2:38 (ESV).


For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother's womb. - Psalm 139:13 (ESV).


Below are some of my favorite scriptures noted in my advanced daily journaling that keeps me grounded in my roots as a Christian woman who no longer needs to search for my identity in things of this world, but only through my Father in Heaven, Christ Jesus, my Lord and Savior. Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world. - 1 John 2:15-16 (ESV).


For as the body apart from the spirit is dead, so also faith apart from works is dead. - James 2:26 (ESV).


Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. - John 14:6 (ESV).


God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.” - John 4:24 (ESV). 1


And this is the testimony, that God gave us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life. I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life. - John 5:11-13 (ESV).


Blessings until next week my brothers and sisters,

Debra M. Pauli

Unstoppable Believer


Scripture Quotes: Holy Bible: New International Version (NIV) / New King James Version (NKJV) / English Standard Version (ESV)

Digital Assets: U.S. Copyright Office Fair Use Index, Section 107


Copyright © 2024 by Debra M. Pauli @ Pauli Publishing House (PPH) disclaimer: All rights reserved. No part of these writings may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without the written permission from the author.

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