Melanie Faith Bonner – Domestic Transracial Adoptee, 52

Adoption is trauma. Transracial adoption is that same trauma multiplied over and over again. Hello. I’m Melanie, a transracial adoptee born in Henderson, KY in 1971. I was adopted, not long after birth, to a young white conservative couple from Birmingham, AL. I became daughter number 4 as they already had 3 daughters of their own. A few years later, they adopted 3 more biracial children and we moved to Knoxville, TN. My childhood memories are painful, confusing and sad, but they didn’t used to be. The desire to connect with my roots never left me, and even though the situation I was in attempted to tell me who I was, I never believed it. “Your adoption was private, and the records are sealed” “Your birth father did not know about the pregnancy” I could not accept the secrecy surrounding my existence as it only intensified my need for truth. There is an incredible amount of bewilderment that comes with not knowing who you are or where you come from, and as a bi-racial adoptee existing in unrecognizable spaces, I digested a tremendous amount of undeserving shame.

The search for my truth ended about 6 years ago after I found my birth father via Ancestry DNA. Geary Wayne is deceased. His tiny obituary, staring back at me made everything final.  Years earlier, Rebecca, my birth mother rejected me. I was handed my original birth certificate at the courthouse in Muhlenberg County, KY while attempting to request biological identifying information. A trip to their library’s genealogy department, google search & a couple phone calls later connected me to her for the first time in 30 years. “She said this is probably true but do not ever contact her/us again.”  My birth parents, separated by train tracks, attended high school together and became romantically involved during a time and place when interracial relationships were unacceptable, and potentially dangerous. My mixed race was an undeniable and unwanted representation of this union, leaving me at the mercy of strangers.  Navigating my adoption experience has been lonely and dark at times; led mostly by intuition, curiosity, and the human desire to know – why my skin is beige, why my lips are full and why my eyes are brown.   Today, I bravely speak up for my younger self, using my voice for others who cannot find the words. I freely share my story with pride, perseverance, and honorable truths. I refuse to only exist in the confines of someone else’s shame.

“I have the nerve to walk my own way, however hard, in my search for reality, rather than climb upon the rattling wagon of wishful illusions” ~  Zora Neale Hurston