Egan, Fiona. Personal Interview, 20, Feb. 2015
Name: Fiona Egan
Hobbies: I enjoy dance and photography and writing.
Who's in your family? Do you have a mom, dad, siblings, and/or adopted siblings?
My family I live with my mom, my dad, and my little sister who is also adopted and biracial.
Tell me about yourself?
Well I’m kind of a shy person, but I tend to be more creative when I put my mind to things I am very accepting of everyone. Like I don’t like leaving people out, I’m friends with pretty much everyone, like I don’t have a defined group of friends. If I like someone I’m like “hey lets be friends.” What else, I’m hard working, I think, that’s it.
How does dance play a role in your life?
Dance...I’ve been dancing since I was three. I do jazz, modern, and hip hop about two to three hours a day. So I spend a lot of time at my dance center, it’s kind of like my second home. I don’t know how I started it, I just went to ballet class when I was three and I really liked it and I just kept sticking with it. I might want to do it in college, I might not. It’s just been a huge part of my life. It’s my hobby you know how some people have a sport, I consider it my sport, because dance is a sport.
Where were you adopted?
Little Company of Mary in Chicago, I don’t know if it’s still called that or even there. But that’s how I remembered it.
Date you were adopted?
The date that I was adopted, the day I was born I think, July 9, 1997. But I was a foster kid for six months because that’s how long it took to get the papers officalized. So I was a foster kid for six months. I don’t know the exact date when I was actually their child. I was adopted at birth basically.
When did you know that you were adopted? When did your parents tell you?
I’ve always known I was adopted. My parents told me when I was very young. I knew that I wasn’t their child but that didn’t really bother me. Deep down I was their child, like I was their kids. I’ve always known …. So I’ve always know I was adopted.
Can you tell me about the day you were adopted?
The day I was adopted… I was a newborn. I had just come out of the womb. Not trying to paint you that picture. But I was adopted at birth, I don’t remember it. I had literally just came out of the womb. I saw picture of the day I was born because my mom has pictures of her, my dad, and my birth mom all with me at that hospital. I wrapped in this white blanket and I had this cotton hat on. My birth mom doesn’t really smile in pictures. So she’s kind of a serious person but I love her anyway. She was there and my dad, when I was born my dad was on the side freaking out like “oh my God, are you okay? Do you need anything?” to my birth mom because he wanted to treat the child like it was his. Like if my adoptive mother was actually giving birth.
Do you have many adoptive friends? How do they help you through issues around adoption and/or identity?
I have a lot of adoptive friends, you obviously. I’ve met a lot of people actually in the high school, who are adopted. I haven’t had a lot of adoptive friends when I was little. So I kind of felt different in a way because I couldn’t relate to them like “oh you’re adopted, I’m adopted, me too.” It kind of started through middle school and high school. “You’re adopted. I’m adopted, let’s share stories.” Like I kind of feel more connected to them. Like I can actually, even though we come from different situations, I can kinda relate to them.
Do you talk openly about adoption?
I do talk openly about my adoption. Not so much when I was little. I was a really shy kid when I was little like I didn’t talk at all, like I’d be the [one] that would sit in class and be like. Because when I was little I didn’t really know how to answer questions about adoption. Like people would always ask me “why I was adopted?” and “what happened to your real ‘mom’ and ‘real parents?” and stuff and that kind of made me angry when I was little because I never knew the answer to it. But when I was older I kind of started to piece it together. My parents told me my story and so when people ask me about me adoption now a days I’m like “oh sit down, let’s talk about it.” Like but I don’t walk around with a huge sign saying “I’m adopted.” Like you know, I do definitely, I’m more open about it now a days.
Does your family accept you as an adoptee? Why?
They do accept me as an adoptee. They sent a lot of card when I was born. So quick story, When I was born Fiona was not my name. I was Sophie for a few days. Because that’s what my parents wanted to name me but I was, so the way my mom explained it was that I was too small to be a Sophie, so they changed my name to Fiona because they say it in a movie credit. And they were like “oh that’s a cool name.” But a part of me is kind of like “I like the name Sophie too. “So maybe I’ll name my daughter Sophie just kind of keep that name. They do accept me about the cards, they, all my cards say like “welcome Sophie,” and like my family sent these huge bouquet of flowers because it was like my parents first kids and I was like I’m that oldest. So everyone treated me like I was their regular kid and they were all happy to have a baby in the family and everybody would like to hold me and take care of me. And like my grandma, oh my God, she would never let anybody else carry me. She was like “mine.”
Do you think it can be hard to form relationships?
I’m a pretty personal person. I click with everyone. The only person I don’t click well with is my grandmother on my, so okay, so my mom parents -my adoptive mother’s parents- are divorced and they both got remarried. My mom’s father, so my grandpa, his wife she’s just like, me and her don’t like hate each other. We just have very opposite personalities, like we do not get along. Like we go over to their house and stuff and normally she’s like nice to me. I wouldn’t necessarily say she hates me, she just like, I don’t, she treats me different. When I was little I would actually think it was because I wasn’t her actual like blood related like grandchild. But like I just go with it and if she’s rude to me I’m like “okay. Well I don’t need you.” But I normally get along with everybody. I value relationships.
What do you do to help your sister through her adoption journey?
Well my sister, she’s obviously adopted. She’s not really open about like she’s had questions in the past. Like you know like when she was younger she’d be like she’d say to my mom like “why don’t I look like you?” and like “Why is everybody else in my family like white?” She was like three and she didn’t quite understand it. But when she got older, we kind of sat down and with her and was like “Lucy, you’re adopted. You have a birth mom.” Her birth mom lives in Elgin. She had another son, so Lucy has like another brother. She, I’m interviewing her for my project. She’s, I think she’s having a hard time opening up about it. My sister’s a very open person, but to ask her difficult questions on like you know like “what is your adoption story?” When she is like 13 and stuff, I think it’s kind of stressful and stuff for her to be honest. People would always have like; I remember bring my sister to school for the first time when I was in kindergarten. My mom would always come pick me up and I was telling my friends all day like “my sisters going to be there to pick me up with my mom.” And they were all really excited to meet her and stuff. I went outside to my mom and my mom was holding my sister all wrapped in a blanket and stuff. They were following me, wanting to see my sister and I was like “this is my sister.” People kind of looked at her and were like “oh, well she doesn’t look like you.” and it kind of just like you know. But then after that she doesn’t look like you they were like “she’s so cute.” they were all like really excited to see her but I think people have to really like process that she is adopted and doesn’t look like the rest of her family. Now a days she’s totally cool with that. Yeah we go out in public and people stare at us and my mom said her friends used to refer to us as chocolate and vanilla kind of like a comedic loving way but like bro… But adoption doesn’t really like bother her. She's like proud of who she is and likes that she knows who her birth mom is too and she sees her. When she had a volleyball tournament her birth mom was there to cheer her on. She won and it was a very big day for her, because her birth mom saw her play a sport and win and was really happy.
What is identity in your own words? How would you describe it?
I think identity for me is like your, not necessarily your race like white or black or Asian or Hispanic, but your ethnicity or like culture or like your religion. Like that’s who you are. Like for me I would define myself as kind of like a white Irish Catholic because that’s how I grew up. Like my dad’s side of the family is Irish. My family Catholic, along with birth mother. So that’s how I would identify myself.
What do you identify as? Why? Does religion influence your identity?
My birth mother is very religious. If you go on her Facebook page, she always posts about God and stuff, which it kind of weirded me out at first. But I’m like I’m Catholic so you know I’m just going to accept that. I’m glad that we kind of share the same religion as my adoptive family. It was kind of like a connection that we have with her. For my birthday we would always have like cross necklaces from her. I would wear them when I go to church so that I feel her with me. Um, it sounds like totally cheesy but religion has played a huge part in my life. Like I went to Sunday school since I was like, from kindergarten to like 8th grade. I go to church every Sunday or every other Sunday.
How does adoption play into your identity?
Adoption is who I am, it’s not, some people think, a lot of people who think it’s wrong but it’s not. I can’t help it if I’m adopted. This is just how my life is. Like people are always like “but don’t you miss like your ‘real mom’?” like “what your situation? “And like I’m just like that is just made no sense. But like, I don’t know,... It’s just like who I am.
How does the environment around you play into your identity?
The environment around me, I, living in Evanston I’ve come from a very diverse community. I’m a little concerned about going to college next year and the community I’ll be in. And after going through ETHS and meeting a lot of people of different races, I know from looking at colleges this year I’ve seen a lot of just white people. Which kind of makes me mad because I think that the world should be very diverse coming from a diverse family, like my younger sister’s biracial. So I’m always, like I’m not racist, like I accept everyone this community that I live in its amazing and I would never want to grow up anywhere else.
Did you struggle with any identity issues?
Not really. I feel like I fit in pretty well in Evanston and in my family. I don’t really have any big issues.
What stereotypes have you faced? How did you handle them?
I haven’t but my sister has. But I’m not going to talk about my sister. I just like. My adoptive mother went to Northwestern and my adoptive father went to Notre Dame, and those are kind of big like really “smart people schools” and I want to go to the University of Dayton next year, which is kind of like a smaller, like school. So, people always like family members and close family adult friends always ask me like “oh why don’t you want to go to Northwestern?” Because I don’t really want to be like my mom, I want to be my own person. And if I’m not the smartest person then so be it. They think I have to be some like big shot brainiac which I’m not and I’m okay with that
Do you have a need to want to fit in need if that means changing yourself?
When I was in sixth grade I cut my hair in side bangs but I mean in middle school, I’m going to be honest I struggled, like fitting into a group because I’m friends with like everyone. Like I said earlier, I don’t have a set group of friends. Like I’m like just walk down the hall and if I see someone who’s really popular Imma be like “hey” and if I see someone like who doesn’t think they’re popular I’m still like “hey.” I treat everyone the same and I’m not the type to stereotype someone on how they look of who they hang out with like a person is a person. And like anyway, when I was in middle school I would try to fit in with all the cool kids. You know if they all had side bangs I was like “oh maybe I should do that.” So I cut my hair to side bangs, I still kind of have them. But I want to grow them out. It’s just not who I am and what not. They would also wear a lot of like, like when I would go shopping at the mall I’d be like “oh like the cool kids would wear this” and I would by this and even if it’s not something that I would wear. I really regret, coming to high school I’ve learned to really be who I am and not dress to fit into a certain group and I found people and friends to accept me for who I am and not be like “oh you’re not wearing Doc Martens,” like “you can’t sit with us at lunch.” Like you know… I have a pair but I didn’t buy them because they did. I bought them because I wanted too.
Do you have any role models who look like or come from the same background as you?
My role model is probably my adoptive mother. People say that we look alike and so like when I say that I’m adopted, people are like “oh I don’t believe you,” because I look a lot like my mother. It’s weird. I will show you a picture and I know that doesn’t make sense but I’ll show you a picture. Like you’ll see the resemblance between, yeah it’s weird. Anyway, she’s my role model because she really has helped me kind of accept my adoption and like whenever I was feeling down about it, we would always talk about it. She really always there for me even when we fight like cats and dogs some time and she doesn’t always agree with what I say and same with me for her. But she’s always there for me at the end of the day and she helps me with the really hard situations. I love you mother.
Open or closed adoption?
My adoption is open. I know my birth mother I’ve known her since I was young she used to live in Illinois and I used to see her a lot more frequently like once or twice a year but two years ago when I was a sophomore she moved to Louisiana and now it’s kind of really hard for me because I knew, I haven’t seen her since. So I know that kind of make me seem spoiled like you know like. It was hard I’m used to seeing her. She had has other girls that I count as my half-sisters, those are her children too. And we’re close, we text and message on Facebook and we call each other and they facetime on my birthday. They all sing happy birthday to me and I feel like really loved and fortunate. But my adoption was open and I’m really glad that I know my birth mom. I know that my birth parents were at first kind of skeptical of having an open adoption because my mom was telling me about my case recently. A birth father took custody of his child. He took his child back from the adoptive family. Because he thought that they weren’t treating him well. She said that is was really hard to watch because the birth father was just prying the child out of the parents’ arms. I was just like my mom was skeptical of having a relationship with a birth mom but I’m really glad that I did keep in touch with my birth mom, because I feel like my would kinda be a mystery and there would be a missing puzzle piece if I didn’t know who she was. I don’t know who my birth father is because he left before I was born
Do you want to find and meet your birth father face to face? Why?
I’ve been thinking about it recently if I want to find my birth father or not. A part of me, it’s like 50 50. Like when I was little I didn’t even think about that or in middle school I didn’t think about that but after doing these like adoption projects for Senior Studies, I’ve actually had a lot more thought in that. Part of me is like I’ve gone like 17 years without him. Why would I want to meet him? But then that other part of me is like I want to meet him and just ask “why he left?” “Why he did keep in touch with my birth mother?” Like he said to my birth mother that he wanted nothing to do with me and that I wasn’t his child, which kind of like hurts me because I am his child. But to know that he just kind of like “abandoned” me and that he didn’t want me, brings me down. So yeah if I had the choice to find him I would. I know my birth mother doesn’t keep in contact with him. But there’s probably a way I can find him. My mom told that he like skydiving. I don’t so how we are related I don’t know.
What was it like meeting your birth mother? (Paint a picture)
I’ll go as early as I can remember; the first time that I met my birth mom was when I was probably about two or three. We were at some Italian restaurant; I have pictures so I know what I was like wearing and what she was like wearing and stuff. I was wearing like a red jumper dress with a white t-shirt. I had a scar right there because I used to like scratch my face when I was like younger and like I’ll show a picture later. But I had a scar right there. I had really blond hair, kind of curly. I had God awful front bangs like why I did front bangs, I don’t know. I was with my mom and my dad because my sister wasn’t born yet. My birth mom was there, her husband, Tommy, and my, her birth daughter, Michelle, the oldest. Michelle was like one or two and she was wearing a velvety green like matching shirt and like pants. She had brown hair and we have the same eyes me and her. I kind of remember just kind of walking in and my mom being like “oh, Fiona this is your birth mother, Jill.” And I kind of just stared at her and I was like “okay.” And it like didn’t occur to me that it was weird or anything and we, I just remember her staring at me a lot. Kind of like watching me, kind of like observing me. Like I kind of felt like a gorilla in a cage. Because I would be sitting on the other side of the table from her and like my parents and she’d be on other side. We’d be like trying to talk and I’d be talking to her and she’d just be like staring at me. I don’t remember what I had said to her. It must not have said a lot because I was a very shy kid back then. But I remember me and Michelle clicked really quickly because she was like my half-sister. It was kind of weird like meeting like my sister for the first time. Like “oh this is your sister,” like you know. But that’s all I remember from that day. We had pasta and it was very yummy.
Why did you scratch your face?
Um I think I just felt like anxiety when I was young. I don’t know if that has anything to do with my adoption. I just like remember having a lot of like I just had a scar just like right there. No it was on this side because I’m a righty so it was on this side.
Do you keep in touch with your sisters?
I do keep in touch with my sisters, we text each other and Facetime. When they are like stressed out they will call me and we like talk it out. We like, they have Facebooks and we like look at each others pictures sometimes. They text me and they’re like “I’m stalking you.” I’m like “okay.” But I do keep in touch with them.
What are your feelings towards your birth mother?
I respect her a lot. I know that she went through a really hard time after reading that letter obviously. I was never angry her even though I have day where I’ve days where I would lay in bed at night and just think like why? Sometimes I felt like, when I was younger I felt like I was a burden to her because it states in the letter that she lost like everything and wasn’t able to take care of me. In a way that I was kind of like “I happened and I was a burden.” and she had to like give me up and all these thoughts just kind of like raced through my head. I would kind of just cry sometimes because I could not like take the stress and all the emotion. I all just came out. But I do respect her a lot. I think she’s very smart. She’s didn’t go to college. So I think it would be nice, well I’m going to college obviously. She was really happy to hear about that when I informed her, because she wants me to have a good education even though she doesn’t live with me. She’s like “I still think of you. I just want what’s best for you.” But I respect her a lot. She’s a great person. I’m really happy that she’s like my mom. And she’s short like me.
Do you think you were abandoned or place for adoption? Why?
I wouldn’t necessarily say that I was “abandoned”. I would mostly like go towards placed for adoption because she knew in her heart that if I were to stay with her I would, I would probably end up dying because she wouldn’t be able to take care of me. She didn’t have money for like a doctor. She saw a doctor when she was like 6 months pregnant. Which is really dangerous, if you think about it. But when she met my mom, when she was pregnant with me, my mom would take care of her. Like they would go to the mall and go have ice cream together and kind of like sit and talk and get to know each other. So they have a really special bond, my adoptive mother and my birth mom. So I would say that I was placed for adoption. Because she knew that if I were stay with her, she wouldn’t have been able to take care of me. I would probably end up being abandoned if she didn’t place me for adoption. So I think she made the right choice.
What is your opinion on adoption?
My opinion on adoption, I think adoption is a good thing. I know some people think that it’s bad and abandonment. But I think that it’s actually a blessing and that you are special. Everyone that I know that is adopted say that they feel loved and really taken care of. That’s exactly how I feel.
What are positive effects of adoption?
Positive effects… Everyone loves you, like my family accepts me and my friends and society accept who I am. Know that I know my birth mom is a positive thing for me because she has been an important source of inspiration in my life.
What are negative effects on adoption?
Not knowing who my birth father is, because that is always something that I wondered about. Other than that I don’t really think that there negative about being adopted. I’m really happy. I’m kind of glad that I am. Because if I wasn’t adopted lord knows where I’d be like I don’t even know where I would be.
What is your advice to other adoptees?
Don’t let people tell you that you were abandoned because you are really…. let me start over… so don’t let people tell you that you were abandoned ‘because being adopted is something special and it’s a part of who you are….its special and its something that you should hold on to who you are. It’s your identity. Your family loves you. Your society loves you. Your friends accept who you are. Just know that you are special and that you are not alone in the situation of being adopted. There are millions of kids that walk through it together. I got your back.
Egan, Fiona. Personal interview. 20 Feb. 2015.