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I was adopted. As an adult. As of this Saturday, Valentine’s Day to be exact, it will have been three years since I was adopted. Now, I have a mother, whom I love very much. She will always be my mother, no matter what. What I’ve gained, however, is so much more than I ever thought I would. I can’t banish all of the demons from my past, but this was a huge step in my healing. Here is my story,as I posted on Facebook, on February 14, 2012:

“I am now legally a Ballantyne. I’ve always officially been a Ballantyne, there was never a question about that, but legalities being what they were in the 1970’s, my father’s name was not put on my birth certficate because my parents weren’t married and he passed away before they could. There was another last name put on my birth certificate when I was seven: my mother’s husband’s name. I never asked for that name, it was never wanted, and the man that was listed made my childhood a hellish nightmare.

Over the past several years, I have looked for a way to remove the offending person from my birth certificate as part of my healing, but in Michigan, a step-parent adoption can only be dissolved if the biological father and his child petition to get it done. This was not possible in my case, so I went to my Uncle Jim (my father’s brother) and Aunt Penny Coombe Ballantyne and asked them if they would adopt me. I was very nervous about the whole thing, but they agreed without any hesitation at all and never shied away from all of the tons of paperwork that had to be dug up, ordered, and completed. I’m almost surprised that the court didn’t want to do a house inspection!

Finally, today, the three of us had our court date with the judge at the Lincoln Hall of Juvenile Justice in Detroit. I think we were the only people there with a happy reason and the fact that is is Valentine’s Day, a day to love others, wasn’t lost on us as we waited for the judge to come into the chamber. The judge heard the case history, made sure that I was consenting to everything, and then she signed the papers that gave me a new dad, a second mom, and my family name on my birth certificate for the first time. I never have to shudder inside when I have to write or type my maiden name because of the memories that are attached to it. I will write it proudly from now on because it’s what it always should have been.

It’s been a wonderful, intensive, journey. Telling the family was interesting, but they had a good reaction to it all and were happy for us. My poor Aunt Kay, the family geneaologist, is going to have quite the time with this one, but I think that everyone else is fine with it. Even though they’re biologically my cousins, Ryan Ballantyne, Elizabeth Blair, and Megan Ballantyne, are now legally my brother and sisters! It’s all a little bit crazy, but our family can handle it.

My mother, who’s still my mother, understands my reasons for it all, but it’s not her favorite topic of conversation, so we tend to let it be. She knows that I love her and that I needed to do this, but it does make her uncomfortable to discuss it, so if you know her, please respect her privacy on this subject.

I think my father and grandfather, both named Philip, are happy about this, too. When I think of what they would say or do, I get an immense feeling of peace. I have my same family, but we’re just a little rearranged. I can say “Dad” (or Uncle-Dad, lol) now with a smile instead of cringing and I have two wonderful women who are mothers to me. How many people can say that?

I wanted to share my happiness with you all today, on this Valentine’s Day. I feel free, for the first time in a very, very, long time. I’m a Ballantyne, and I’m very blessed to be one. It’s a wonderful family, full of love.”

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