Adoption Searches, Fannishness,
Potlatch, and Politics
(December 8, 1987, through May 1996)
It is very difficult for families separated by adoption to be reunited due to the "closed records" system, which issues amended Birth Certificates showing the adoptive parents when adoptions are finalized and hides all information about the adoption behind a wall of judicial secrecy. One excuse for this concealment is that the person being searched for may not want to be found, so people started having a third party perform the search, make the contact, and ensure that the contactee consents before giving the seeker any identifying information. I find this demeaning and insulting to all involved, but it's how I started to search for my birth mother on my 20th birthday. Fortunately, the agency performing my search sponsored a support group for birth families, adoptees, and adoptive families in search to help us deal with the fact that we couldn't control this important part of our lives. I found such groups to be very helpful and insightful during the years I attended them.
I also enjoyed my growing involvement with SF fandom in much the same way, as many fans grew up as social outcasts. Once I graduated from college and moved back to Seattle, I started going to the Babble-17 book discussion group and got invited to a monthly fannish party called Vanguard which is organized by Jane Hawkins. Jane also chaired a Seattle SF convention called Potlatch in 1992, and invited me to be on the committee; I accepted her invitation and organized a panel called "Alternatives to Western European Cultures in Fantasy and Science Fiction." I attended Potlatch with Janet, who I met at the Portland Westercon in 1990 and got involved with at the Vancouver, B.C., Westercon in 1991. I returned the favor by flying down to Janet's native Bay Area to attend Potlatch 2, which was chaired by a good friend of Janet's named Debbie Notkin. Debbie invited me to participate on her Potlatch 2 panel about "Expanding the Audience," where I talked about racial diversity and helped inspire one of Freddie Baer's t-shirts of the month (a framed print of which hangs in my kitchen). I'd been doing the Babble-17 'zine since June of 1991, so I volunteered to design the publications for 1994's Potlatch 3 in Seattle. Janet and I broke up in late 1993, but she came up for Potlatch 3 anyway, and we were cordial enough that I went back to the Bay Area for the week of Potlatch 4. While there, I stayed with Freddie and had an enjoyable lunch with Debbie.
Potlatch 5 was held in Portland during 1996. I had become pretty good friends with Debbie during 1995, so I talked with her there about the legal worries resulting from my arrest at a protest against the policies of Newt Gingrich. Basically, I wasn't sure whether to fight the bogus "trespassing" charges, and I was upset and worried about having the book thrown at me for the first time. For her part, Debbie was very supportive, and also introduced me to Elise Mattheson. Elise talked with me about political action, and told me about a woman whose post-sentencing statement started with "Yes, I am in contempt of this court." And I returned to Seattle with a lightened heart, thanks to these talks. Once home, I took a "pre-trial diversion" and agreed to keep my nose clean for a few months rather than go to court because it wasn't important enough for me to fight. However, two of my fellow protesters went to trial, represented themselves, and were ultimately found "not guilty."!
My next convention was Wiscon 20, which I decided to attend because it looked like the most important community event during 1996 for the literary SF fandom that I belong to. Wiscon is the only explicitly feminist convention, so I'd wanted to attend for years û and the committee was paying the plane fare and hotel costs for many former guests of honor, so it looked even better. I'd never have come up with the money to get there and pay for a hotel room, but Jessica Amanda Salmonson (who I know from Vanguard) was one of the lucky former GOHs, and she let me stay in her room.
Go to Part 3: My Wiscon 20 Trip
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