Heartened

The whole kit & doodle!

Legacy of an adopted child – Part III

I haven’t written on this blog in a very long time.  Adoption burn out, in a major way – I had to walk or lose my sanity, and that sort of sums things up.

I was cleaning out my inbox today and noticed a lot of comments had been generated lately.  Turns out most of them were spam.  But one, in particular, was not – and is probably the most important comment ever left on my blog.  It is the comment left on this post – Legacy of an adopted child – in March of this year.  I’m angry at myself that I did not pay close enough attention to have seen Penny’s comment when she made it.  She has possibly thought to herself, “just great, another person who won’t believe me.”

Well Penny, actually, I do believe you.  I was always a bit uncomfortable with the claim someone named Lisa had written the poem – because while my short-term memory sucks, I was always sure the author’s name had been something like Peggy or Patty.  And “Penny” is like “Peggy” or “Patty.”  Lisa is not.

I’ve written an email to Penny this morning, one I hope she receives.  I’ve offered to help her prove that poem is hers, and damn if I’m not going to do that.  The author of that poem deserves to be acknowledged, she deserves the thanks of millions of adoptees who have identified with her poem.  And to be blunt, she deserves financial remuneration for all the times her words have been used for-profit.

Ladies and gents, you can help with this endeavor.  I’m asking anyone who has access to “TEEN” magazine from the late 1970’s through 1989 to please pour through the “Poetry Corner” pages of the magazine and look for this poem.  It IS in there – I carried the cut-out from the magazine around with me for years.  Maybe there are some “TEEN” magazines in your basement, maybe you work in a library that has them in the archives, or maybe you worked for the publisher and know where archived copies of those magazines remain.

Maybe you lived and worked in the Indianapolis area back then and remember a young teenage girl wining a poetry contest with this poem.  Maybe you remember seeing something about it in the local paper.

Whatever the case, speak up – do some digging – let’s FINALLY put this mystery to rest once and for all.

And let’s make sure the real author of this poem finally gets the recognition due.  This is just too important to let go.

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August 7, 2008 Posted by | Adoption Rants, General, Just For Fun | 9 Comments

Raw and angry

I had an appointment with the eye doctor today. First exam I’ve had in several years. Loved the doctor. Since it looks like we will be permanently relocating to southern Michigan in the very near future, it will be easy for me to keep seeing this particular optometrist. Yeay! Feels like I’m putting down roots again.

Since this was my first visit, I had to fill out the usual patient registration forms. Get down near the bottom of the page – “Any familial history of…” -sigh– Pick up the pen and draw a line through it all and write, “no familial history available, patient is adopted.”

Nice doctor brings me back to the exam room. We spent a good 15 minutes just talking about my vision and the potential for my high blood pressure to impact my vision. I think it is the longest I’ve ever spent just TALKING to a doctor of any kind, let alone an optometrist. I explained how it has felt like my eyes have to “settle” before I can really focus on anything, and how much that has been bothering me. Also explained that this doesn’t seem to happen when wearing my prescription sunglasses. Well, it turns out that the “eye doctor mill” I went to last time gave me the wrong prescription on my regular glasses. They were too strong! All this time, I’ve been thinking I was going to need bifocals. Turns out the script was too strong. No wonder I was having such a hard time.

He then spent another 15 minutes very carefully weeding out lenses until it seemed I was seeing ok. It will take a few weeks for my vision to really improve with new lenses – I’ve “trained” my eyes to compensate for the wrong prescription for so long they have to be retrained. I also got contacts again. I’ve worn them on and off since I was 14. This last time, they just didn’t feel right. Well, yeah, duh, they were the wrong prescription too. Right now I’m sitting here typing wearing the right lenses. Mostly right – I have to pick up new ones for my left eye on Saturday because these aren’t the ones that will correct the astigmatism I have in that eye.

So anyway, needless to say, writing that “no familial history available, patient is adopted” just brings it all up to the front again. Maybe you’ve noticed from my recent blog entries – I’ve been in avoidance mode again. When I start posting about all kinds of crap that has nothing to do with my feelings (Google home pages, linky links, etc.) it is a good sign there is something I’m trying to avoid.

I’m avoiding anger. I’m avoiding that raw, vulnerable feeling. I’m avoiding how betrayed I feel by a system which still, 34+ years later, hasn’t gotten it right. I’m avoiding how angry I feel when I read really scary comments by adoptive parents who just don’t seem to have a clue. I’m avoiding how angry I feel when I encounter an adoptee or a first mother who thinks that because “they don’t have a problem” no one else should, either.

I still haven’t given my best friend T a link to my blog. I did, however, copy some of the posts and email them to him. Yes, I know, he can use Google to search out a sentence from what I sent him and find my blog – that’s ok. I’m ok with him “finding” it, just not ready to “give” it. That makes no sense. LOL Last night we were chatting on Yahoo and I told him that I really need him to promise that he’ll read them. He said he promises, he’ll read them this weekend. I love that, actually. I love that instead of glancing over them in the midst of a busy week (for him) that he’s holding off until he can devote his attention to them. I love that he gives enough of a shit to wait and really read them. I love that I mean enough to him that he wants to know how I feel. I love that I know he’ll hold my hand through this. I love that I know he’ll move heaven and earth to protect me from pain. I love that he is a safe haven.

I mentioned that his little sister is having a baby in a few weeks. So I went shopping for baby stuff. Fun! I went a little crazy. LOL Put it all in the mail yesterday with a really nice “Grandkids” picture frame for his mom and dad, along with some aroma therapy bath stuff and a Zen relaxation CD for the soon-to-be mommy and daddy. I also put in a little valentines day present for him. I used to know his address by heart, but for some reason, couldn’t remember the house number. So I called his mom to get it (he was at work). Now mind you, I “disappeared” on them for almost a year. You’d think one of them would be angry or something. Nope, mom says “Hi Heart! It’s good to hear from you!” and we chit chatted for a few about how excited she is, etc. I love his parents. I love that they care about me. I love that they never encouraged him to stop being friends with me through any of my major fuck-ups. I love that they’ve always treated me as if I’m important, as if I belong. I love that I have a rock from their garden. I love that they never thought it was weird that their son and I are best friends like so many of that generation seem to.

With T’s little valentines day present, I included a nice card I found. (Side rant: Why is it that every single “best friend” card on the market, regardless of holiday, is always one woman talking to another???? My best friend is a GUY for crying out loud, not some girlie girl!) So I was sitting here signing all the cards that were going in the package – card for mommy and daddy to be, card for grandparents to be, card for T. Card for T. -sigh– I started writing. Signed my name, thought I was done. Nope, had to write on the inside panel of the card. I don’t remember the exact words, but it went something like this:
Please don’t ever let me get away with disappearing like this again. Please don’t let me run, don’t let me hide. Please don’t let me do this. You are too important to me. I need you in my life, even when I pretend I don’t. I need both you and hubby in order to feel complete. Don’t let me walk away.

I basically went on like that for a few sentences. And before I get any snotty comments from anyone, hubby reads this blog too. There is NOTHING I would say to T that I wouldn’t want hubby to know about. Hubby knows how much I love T, how important T is to me. He also knows there is a world of difference between loving T and being in love with T. And fortunately, my husband is one of those men who realizes that love is not a finite quantity. He does not receive LESS love because someone else also receives love. If anything, he receives more – because not only do I love him but T loves him, too. So please, keep the prudish comments to yourself.

Anyway, back to what I was saying. I probably could have told T those same words over the phone, or in email or in IM – but for some reason, it felt more right to write them out by hand. They are things I need him to hear, desperately. But things I have a hard time saying. I need for him to hold onto me even when I’m trying to push away from him. (Attachment therapy, anyone?) I can’t do all of this without him. He forces me to face things I don’t want to face. I need someone who can do that for me. Left to my own devices, I bury it. I can’t keep doing that. I can’t keep running away.

Thank the gods this is a burden T has always willingly taken upon himself. And thank them again for giving me the strength to write the words begging him to not let me run again. I can trust now that he won’t. I can also trust that he’ll help hubby keep me from doing it as well. The two of them work very well together. LOL

I just feel really raw right now. My copy of my non-id still hasn’t arrived. Every morning I wait eagerly for the hotel staff to slip the letter under my door – it hasn’t happened yet. The agency said they’d get it out at the end of last week. I hope it is on the way here. I feel a strong need to hold those papers in my hands. I keep thinking I’ll find something in them that will help me find my family. Please let it be so. I need to finish this before I run away again and it is too late.

February 14, 2006 Posted by | Adoption Rants, Adoption Void | 1 Comment

Soul of Adoption

So I realized that maybe I should actually talk a bit about Soul of Adoption and what I’m trying to accomplish with it, especially since I’m hoping the same people who I know read my blog will be involved in taking SoA to the next level.

I first bought the domain and hosting so we could create a space for people to submit their stories about their own experiences with adoption with the intention of eventually compiling them into a book. We wanted to put together a book of stories which reflected the truth about adoption – that sometimes it is a beautiful, perfect thing for all involved, and sometimes it is not. We wanted a website because no book can contain every story, and no story is ever really complete. Having a site where stories could forever be added, changed and updated was important if we are going to truly express each individual’s truth.

That is still SoA’s primary purpose. The “problem,” if you can call it that, is that I’m probably going to have to build a database from the ground up on which to base the story submission side of things. So for now, I’ve got it configured so people can submit their stories via the discussion forum. Which is why I installed a discussion forum on the server in the first place. It was a quick fix to a long term need – a place for people to start putting their stories.

Then it seemed that people might want to talk about the stories they read – but I did not and do not feel comfortable with people being able to comment directly on a story. No one wants to put their heart out there only to have it ripped apart by some unthinking individual. So, I created a subforum where people could talk about the stories they read without having to worry about “tainting” the original. Then I thought, “people might want to talk about other things, too.” It has been growing since then.

I’m really driven by midnight inspirations. They hit me, and I run with them. Through this whole process, I’ve thought a lot about what sort of “needs” I was looking to have fulfilled through my journey. No site has met them all. I want a space where I can talk just with other adoptees – I’ve got that, through Wraith’s group. I wanted a space I can talk with other members of the plane. Got that through adoption.com and these blogs. Registries, there are dozens. An actual link list pointing to sites by and for specific roles on the plane? Good luck finding one where 3/4ths of the links aren’t dead. So I started building one – and Linky Links were born. Let’s make that a little easier and create a ring. Check, did that. Anyone can join and no one has to keep updating links on their pages if they don’t want to. Cool.

But it keeps growing and escalating. I keep feeling like there has to be some space to bring all of this together, and not only for me and my part of the plane. I don’t doubt that there are first moms who want a totally safe space to only talk with other first moms. Adoptive moms who want a totally safe space to talk only with other adoptive moms. Same for adoptees. And foster. And dads, of course. Most also want to venture out and hang with others on the plane, learning from them and their experiences. So I started envisioning a forum where there is a general “chat at will” section and some private spaces where members have to be invited to participate after establishing themselves for a bit in the general population – let’s face it, no one likes to feel someone is peeking at their private parts. LOL

Now, I know that we all know of sites who try to be open to everyone. I also know that a lot of first moms and adoptees in particular are a bit put off by the fact that these sites are peppered with ads almost entirely funded by adoption agencies. It puts me off, too. I don’t want to be talking about my pain as an adoptee only to glance up and see a banner ad screaming “PICK ME!! ADOPTION IS WONDERFUL!! GIVE YOUR BABY THE PERFECT LIFE!!!” and other variations. On the flip side, most of the sites which focus on the birth family or adoptee, well, they tend to have a lot of “ADOPTION IS EVIL” rhetoric.

There has to be a middle ground.

That’s what I’m hoping SoA will be.

I do not ever plan on allowing adoption agency ads on SoA. Nor will I have anti-adoption ads there either. Articles that are anti-adoption, sure. Along with articles that are pro-adoption. And a few sort of “sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t” articles, too. I’m looking at other ways of making the site self-sustaining, like voluntary donations to support the site. Heck, if I can raise $35/month, all the hosting fees are covered, and that’s plenty. I don’t need to make money off of this or anything else and, if I have to, I’ll support SoA entirely out of my own pocket for as long as I can.

Anyway, back to evolution. So, ok, I got to thinking about the forums. Figured I’d better at least add a space for people to post “searching” posts. Well, we all know what a pain in the butt THOSE can be. Ever tried paging through 1,000 pages of posts? I have – needle in a haystack comes to mind. That’s not good enough for me. Then I noticed that one of the software scripts I get free with my hosting has this classified ads server. Hmmmm – what neat thing could I do with that? Some of you saw today the result of that – a nice registry. Can I really scare you and tell you I did that in one night? LOL It definitely needs some more tweaking. It still isn’t as user friendly as I’d like, but it will be in a few days when I’m done tweaking the code. I don’t want to post a link because I don’t want people putting in ads yet, but if you’re interested in seeing it and testing it by putting in an ad I am going to delete in a day or two, drop me an email, I’ll send you the link.

What is so great about this registry? Well, you have to renew your ad for one thing. The system notifies you (automatically!) 5 days before your post expires. If you renew it, it stays. If you don’t, the system drops it. One of the most frustrating things with most registries and forums is that the contact information is out of date. With this system, if your renewal notice bounces, the ad is dropped. Love that. (Plus it keeps my server space down.) Right now I have it set to renew every 6 months. I may shorten that time. Seems it might be prudent to do so.

In addition, your “post” has drop-down menus for you to select the MM/DD/Year of birth – no more trying 20 different date combinations. Same for States. Also for role (birth family, adoptee, etc.). With the ability to select “other” or “unknown.” And a space for you to type in additional information. All of this is searchable. If you’re looking for someone in Illinois, you don’t have to worry about searching for IL and ILL and Illinoi and Ilinoyse, etc. They will have chosen “Illinois” when they filled out their ad, and you will select “Illinois” when you search for it. Spelling is not an issue here. Love that, too.

It probably sounds complex the way I’m describing it, I promise, it is not.

If someone doesn’t want to search, they will be able to simply (once I’m done tweaking) sort all posts by Month, Date, Year, City, State or Role within the appropriate category. Categories are broken down by decades – again, easy to use. No one wants to have to look in 10 different places to see if someone is looking for them. I know I don’t.

In addition, because of the way I’ve set up the software which “drives” the site, I can set additional people as “authors.” So let’s say Kim Kim, Manuela and Wraith each want to write a monthly column. I can set them up as authors on the site, they can write their columns and post them much the same way they now post to their blogs. Very cool, and it means I don’t have to be the only one responsible for creating content. Even better!

I’ll also probably end up starting an Amazon Associates account. Basically, we create a list of adoption-related books based on the ones everyone says are a “Must Have,” and then provide links for people to buy them from Amazon – and the site earns a few extra bucks. But even better than that, it will allow us to provide free “advertising” for our friends who have written their own books like Bob and Zara – for them, we can feature the book and point to their sites for ordering instead of Amazon.

I don’t know what else SoA will turn into – I know what it will NOT turn into, however:
It will NOT be a space covered in commercial messages about how great it is to adopt OR how lousy it is.
It will NOT be a commercial site run by a corporation – it belongs to members of the plane and will be run by members of the plane.
It will NOT be a one-sided “every other position sucks” kind of place.
It will NOT be an abandoned mess of outdated information and dead links and listings. I’ll shut it off before I let that happen.
It will NOT be a “pay to play” site where you are required to pay money to use it or to register on it.
It will NOT be a space for anyone to make money off of adoption – including paid searchers, lawyers, agencies, etc.
It will NOT be a space to find a child to adopt or to find someone to adopt your child. Solicitation of that nature will never be allowed.
It will NOT be a space where someone feels pressured to hold certain beliefs about adoption, whatever those beliefs may be.

And to sum up what I know it WILL be:

It WILL be a space where every member of the plane feels they can find what they’re seeking, without pressure.
It WILL be a space which supports members of the plane in having their voices heard.
It WILL be a space where the true Soul of Adoption – the people affected by it in their lives, not their jobs – is expressed, explored and explained.
It WILL be a space which people can use as a portal to some of the other great spaces on the internet available to those involved in adoption.
It WILL be a space where members of the plane can promote their books, their music, their art, ensuring their voices are heard.
It WILL be a space which offers companionship, friendship and a supportive environment.
It WILL be a space which challenges our current adoption methods and looks to the future.
It WILL be a space of reunions, and where the truth of those reunions, for “good” or “ill” can be shared.
It WILL be a space of reliable, up to date information and resources.
It WILL be a community created by the true Soul of Adoption – you, and you, and you, and me, and them, and him, and her. Us.

We are the Soul of Adoption, and our voices WILL BE HEARD.

February 7, 2006 Posted by | Adoption Rants, Adoption Void, Geek Stuff | 6 Comments

I’m having a bad day

Today isn’t a “feeling happy” day. Perhaps it is the weather, maybe it is some of the sites I’ve been reading on, I honestly don’t know. But I’m really feeling that void today. There is this space in my heart where “mom” and “dad” and “brothers” and “sisters” belong. More space reserved for “granparents.” Even more for “aunts, uncles, cousins, nieces and nephews.” And though Wraith will come along and give me the kick in the pants I asked for, I feel like I have to make excuses for this empty feeling. Go back a few sentences. See where I wrote, “But I’m really feeling that void today”? Want to know what that said before I erased it?

I miss my mommy.

It doesn’t matter that I don’t know her name or what she looks like. It doesn’t matter that I have no conscious memory of meeting her. It doesn’t even matter if she is a serial killer sitting in a jail somewhere. I am missing the mommy I deserved to have by virtue of being born.

Men might want to skip the next paragraph and go on to the next. Or maybe skip the whole post – there’s girlie stuff in these here parts.

I got my period last night. Now, this is hardly worth mentioning, except if you realize that I’m in premature menopause and have been for several years. My period are extremely erratic and extremely heavy. I was very young when I started and will apparently be very young (relatively speaking, no pun intended) when I stop. Where are the women I can look to and say, “Is this normal for us?” My doctor tells me this is genetic. Well ducky. But that doesn’t help me any. It doesn’t give me the bevy of women I deserve to be able to look to and say, “What comes after this? How will my body cope? What do the women in our family do?”77634370

Once in a while, I actually get a pimple at this time. Do you realize that no one, no one ever taught me how to treat them? Everything I know about pimples I learned from the internet. I’m serious.

Makeup-marykayremoverLast year I noticed that the skin on my forehead right between my eyebrows has started drying out a bit. It flakes. I asked a lady at a cosmetic counter why it happens and what to do about it. She tried to sell me $300 worth of face creams and soaps. I wasn’t buying. Where are the women who are supposed to be there to tell me how to make it stop?

I don’t wear makeup. Well I do, a few times a year. My makeup collection consists of some eye liner, mascara and blush. Brush6.400Oh, and a lip gloss and weird contraption which supposedly curls your eyelashes(???). Don’t ask, I got told I needed one. Do you know that no one ever taught me how to apply makeup? I know there is something called foundation which is apparently how women get that nice even skin tone, but do I know how to choose it or how to put it on? Nope, not a clue. Where are the women who are supposed to be there to teach me how to put this stuff on?

Ariel_main

Who is going to teach me to really take care of this mane of red hair I’ve been blessed with? Do other women really use trial and error, switching shampoo and hair products every few months trying to find something that makes their hair look nice and smooth and sleek like everyone else’s hair seems to be? Where are the women who are supposed to say, “here is how you care for Native American textured hair”?

What about taking care of my nails, hands and feet? You really don’t want to know how I figured out how tampons work, seriously. I think my adoptive mother assumed I would learn all this through osmosis or something. I’ve no idea. What I do know is that she never sat me down at any time in my life and said, “This is what you need to know about…” How in the hell do other women figure this stuff out? I mean, someone must teach them, right? I do not believe I was the only woman ever born without this knowledge.

I don’t know, maybe she figured she would teach me when I was older. Well, she had the opportunity up until I was around 27. How much older did I need to be? Maybe I just didn’t show her I cared enough about it, I don’t know. But now, I’m almost 35 years old, just a few months from now, halfway through the average lifespan of an American woman. Am I old enough now?

Where are the women to teach me about OUR skin issues, OUR hair issues, OUR menstrual issues, OUR health issues, OUR genetics?

They’re out there, somewhere. I wish they were here with me.

I have 5 or 6 older brothers and sisters. The concept of having big sisters is both a mystery and thrilling to me. Will they take me in and teach me, understanding that I don’t know all these things yet? Will they help me learn? Will my mother serve as a road map, tracing the path before us, showing us the hidden pitfalls and the awe-inspiring vistas that await us? I hope so.

I miss my mommy.

February 5, 2006 Posted by | Adoption Rants, Adoption Void | 3 Comments

I am such a geek

No, seriously. I’m a geek. I don’t think you can spend much time looking at my blog or at my websites without seeing it. I love computers. I love everything to do with computers. I’ve been teaching myself how to use computers (for most of my life) and the web (since the old BBS days) and every neat cool thing that has come along since. I’ve self-taught myself how to write in multiple programming languages and have recently really enjoyed learning how to build nice websites using some of them. This is why my blog about my life as an adoptee includes these little “asides” about creating a Google home page, the Linky Links list, making my own Word Cloud thingy, etc. I really like doing stuff like that.Myconfusion

 

In my letter I asked the agency and the IARMIE to pass on to any member of my birth family who requests info regarding me, I mentioned my love of computers and all things computer-related. I don’t know why, it was important to me to have them know I guess. I often wonder if anyone else in my family loves computers like I do. It is funny how something as simple as that makes us question. When people ask why it bothers me to be adopted, that’s one of many things. Imagine not even knowing something as basic as whether or not someone else you are related to shares your passion for something. Wondering if you get that from someone else in your family, wondering if it is an inherited talent, something you share with someone else.

 

I understand music on the same level I understand computers. That, at least, I know I get from my birth father. At least, that’s what my non-id says. It is something tangible I know I share with another human being. This of course makes me wonder if the two are somehow related – does a love of music translate into a love of computers for anyone else in my family? I don’t know, but I hope to find out someday.

 

One of my kids and I share a mole. It is a small thing, we’ve both had them since we were born in the exact same spot. The moles are identical. I remember the first time I noticed it. He was just a few hours old and I was doing the “count the fingers count the toes” thing. “10 fingers to hold – check. 10 toes to nibble on – check. Little dimples – check. Gorgeous red hair – check. Beautiful eyes – check. Ooooo! Lookie here! Mommy has that too!” For me, it was one of “those” moments. It is on-par with the day I was looking over pictures of him I’d had done around his first birthday. I was flipping through the proofs, glanced up, and saw a picture of me from when I was about the same age. You’d have been hard pressed to pick which one was me and which one was him. All my kids look a great deal like me. Apparently I have some pretty dominant genes. Which of course makes me think I probably look a LOT like my birth family.

 

For an adoptee, at least for this adoptee, those were extremely significant moments. It is something which, I’m sorry, a non-adoptee cannot relate to no matter how much they think they can. Though it fascinates me how many people try to dismiss this as important. Of course it isn’t important to you – you’ve seen where your ears and eyes and nose all came from your entire life. Nor is this important to all adoptees. I’ve met a few to whom it simply doesn’t matter. And that’s OK. But their experience does not negate mine. I get tired of the “it doesn’t bother me (or my child), so it shouldn’t bother you” argument. Or worse, the “it isn’t a problem for me (or my child), so there’s no problem at all.” Do they even realize that is as unreasonable as saying, “I like brussel sprouts so everyone should like them.” Well gee, I don’t mind blood and guts – I can eat a 7 course meal which includes a hefty serving of blood sausage after picking up someone’s entrails off the road after a car accident. Care to join me?

Yeah, I didn’t think so.

 

Perhaps in the future I’ll start responding with things like, “Oh, your computer is acting up and you’d like me to look at it? Well, gee, my computer isn’t acting up, so I guess there is no problem, huh?”

 

-bangs head-

 

The “not my child” argument bothers me more than anything. I remember my adoptive mother telling her friend who was considering adopting, “Oh, no, it doesn’t bother the kids at all. They know how lucky they are.” She really believed that. I was “the perfect child” ergo, no problem. News flash – I would not have told my mother I had a problem if you had paid me to. Now, maybe that’s because I was abused, I don’t know. What I do know is that there are many other adoptees out there who did not have a childhood like mine – and they STILL would never tell their parents (even as adults) that they are having any issues with having been adopted or with their identity or anything else. Why? Because they fear on a very deep level that they will cause their parents pain. My friend Bob talks about this in his book “Not Remembered, Never Forgotten.” He is one of biggest advocates of adoptees seeking out their history, yet as he says in his book, he did not feel he could search until after his mom had passed. He knew it would hurt her, so he put it off for years. Unfortunately, he waited too long. His birth mother had already died by the time he found her. No child should have to go through that. No adoptee should have to be so concerned about what their parents think that they miss out on the chance of learning everything they want to know about their origins. You, as the parent, have a responsibility to your child – and part of that responsibility is not forcing them to be deprived of potentially life-saving information just to spare your feelings. If you do not want to deal with your child possibly wanting to know where they came from, then adoption is probably not for you. Save yourself (and the child) a lot of grief and work through your issues of jealousy or possessiveness before you bring a child into your life. Don’t make them suffer for it.

 

Do I sound harsh? Very likely. But I am also a parent. I know what it is to love your child more than life itself. I know what it is to want that love returned. But I also know what it is to be deprived of my history and to be told I have no right to it. And you know what? It sucks.

 

 

February 5, 2006 Posted by | Adoption Rants, Adoption Void | 1 Comment

Can you hear us now?

Our "blogging buddy" Kim Kim contacted Carrie Craft at adoption.about.com to tell her about some of the blogs we, the adoptees, have been maintaining. Carrie has some fabulous lists of blogs from across the plane, and has now added a list of adoptee blogs. You can see the list here. Don't forget to check out her Top 10 Placing/Birthparent Blogs list and her Top 10 Adoptive Parent Blogs list as well.

I made an observation on Kim Kim's blog that I find it interesting that most of us (adoptees) have only been blogging for a few short months. I find myself wondering if we are so quiet because we are perpetuating the shroud of secrecy which surrounds our origins. Now we're learning to speak up, and leaning on each other for support. I thought at one time that I didn't want anyone but me reading what I wrote on my blog – now I find that the little comments my new friends leave for me each day bring me great comfort. I'm glad my voice is being heard, and more than that, I'm glad it is being heard by people who GET it.

The more I think about it, the more I think there really is something to this idea that we are perpetuating the silence. When you look around the majority of adoption sites, the adoptees seem to be in the minority. It is almost as if we are afraid of coming together and connecting with each other, afraid of speaking, afraid someone might hear us.

Not any more. Not, at least, for this group of "blogging buddies." We are going to speak our truth, whatever that truth may be. No more silence. No more secrets. No more shame.

Can you hear us now?

February 3, 2006 Posted by | Adoption Rants | 3 Comments

Grey’s Anatomy

I learn so much from blogs and from the people who write them. Manuela wrote to me about the show "Grey's Anatomy." In particular, she wanted to call my attention to a recent episode. I don't watch this show, though I understand it is very popular. Manuela wrote a post describing what took place in the episode about adoption. You can read it here. Now, as I said, I did not see this episode for myself. But I must say that Manuela's rendition of it causes me concern – I'm uncomfortable with the way adoption/birth mothers are apparently portrayed in the episode.

She discovered that one of the show writers maintains a blog where viewers can comment. (Way to go!) So if you saw the episode and would like to comment on it, please visit the writer's blog and let your voice be heard. I am refraining from commenting on that blog because I did not see the episode, but I have a feeling I'm a rarity – seems just about everyone and their brother watches it. LOL

February 1, 2006 Posted by | Adoption Rants | 2 Comments

Growing up and garages

My "blogging buddy" Manuela asked if I have blogged about my adoptive parents. I realized that other than a few brief mentions and a complete paragraph, I haven't said much about them or about my childhood. I believe therapists call this "avoidance."

Growing up in my adoptive family sucked. So much so that I am loathe to refer to them as "family" or "mother" or "father." But I do so for clarity, I do so so that you can understand the "characters" of my life. (Off topic: Have you ever typed out a word you know you are spelling correctly but when you look at the word, it doesn't look right? "Characters" doesn't look right, even though I know it is. LOL)

My father was sterile. My mother, I would assume, was not. My father was trying to get ahead in business and they were both trying to get ahead in their social circle. Having children was apparently some sort of prerequisite to both. "Having" children was an impossibility, but adopting was not. I've often said that the only requirements for adopting back then were the "Three W's" – White, wealthy and willing. They were all three. I have serious doubts that the agency looked very closely at the familial environment. I know for a fact that another family member tried to discourage the agency from placing any more kids with my parents – his concerns were ignored. He only met one of the Three W's, so his opinion was unwanted, apparently.

My father was involved with a number of fraternal organizations and served on all the "right" boards and committees. We knew that as his children, we had a job to do. Our job was to present the best social face we possibly could. We were to always be well-behaved, polite, graceful, respectful and flawless in word and deed. Anything less was met with harsh punishment and recrimination when we returned "home" at the end of the evening. Our sole purpose was to make him look good. If we failed in that, we were punished.

Let me share the other dynamic which was an ongoing part of my childhood – a budding psychopath for a brother (also adopted, no blood relation, thank god). After several years of torment, abuse and trauma, it seems a lightbulb was turned on and everyone realized he needed to be institutionalized. He was (and is) a nutjob. In all honesty, as bad as my parents were, I have to say that the physical abuse I suffered at his hands was much worse. It makes the behavior of my parents look like child's play.

However, as bad as he was, the burden of blame rests with them. I absolutely blame them for his actions. He was a child – a messed up child, without question – but still a child. They were supposed to be the adults, the parents. It was in their hands that the responsibility for protecting the rest of us lay. They dropped the ball for years. When your son chases you (the parent) through the house wielding a weapon and threatening to bash your head in, you do not leave your other children in his care a few nights later so you can go to a Christmas party. This is what we refer to as "poor parenting decisions."

I remember the night I told my mother that my brother had been molesting me for several years. She labled me a liar, told me I was making it up and said I should never mention it again. She based her assumption on the fact that I was unable to verbalize "the details." I could not speak the words spelling out, step-by-step, exactly what he had done to me. She only gave me one opportunity to do this and, faced with her anger, I couldn't do it. Ergo, it never happened. I wonder if she ever looks back and recognizes that it was at that moment that I went from being "the perfect child" – straight A student, genius, kind, friendly, well-behaved, non-confrontational, the model of good behavior – to my grades bottoming out, my behavior taking a drastic turn, cutting school, lying, stealing, acting out, etc. I doubt she'd recognize it even now, let alone acknowledge that one had anything to do with the other.

We made a few half-hearted attempts at "family" counseling. After all, "one must try everything to resolve the issue." Only problem was that "family" counseling revolved around my brother and his behaviors as they affected my parents. Never were the rest of us permitted to voice how we were impacted by his behavior or by our parents' behaviors. All that mattered was getting brother under control so that he could reflect well on my parents. Nevermind the fact that the rest of us had to deal with kids at school bringing in newspaper clippings from the police blotter when brother had once again been arrested. That was not something to be "dealt" with. There was a boy in band with me who used to put the clippings in picture frames and pass them around the orchestra. Ah, what a wonderful life.

Finally, brother was shipped off to the first of several institutions. Finally – peace. Or, not. Nothing improved, the root issues had never been dealt with. Nothing changed in the way my parents behaved or treated us. If anything, things just got worse. My father had a talent for cutting us to pieces with a few carefully chosen words. It was as if he knew exactly what to say to cause you the most pain. A hundred beatings were better than one sentence from his mouth. He has been dead for several years but I can still hear his voice cutting me to the quick in a way the belt never did.

As I write this, I find myself remembering a million little hurts – small things taken individually, none of which seems all that awful until they are taken in context with the other 999,999 things. I find myself wanting to write them out, one by one. We'd be here forever if I did. But when you combine them together, they speak a clear message – one I am still learning to overcome:
You are worthless. You are unwanted. Nothing you ever do can be good enough. You are dirt. You are fortunate we took you in, no one else would have. You should consider yourself lucky. Stop whining. You always had enough to eat, clothes on your back, oh, and a beautiful museum for a house. That should be enough. Many would kill to have grown up in your house – don't forget how jealous your classmates were of your big house and fancy furnishings. Ignore the filth that pretty house hid within it. We must always pretend, you must wear a mask. The world must not see underneath that mask, underneath that shiny veneer. You must always present the perfect face to the world. Anything less will have horrific ramifications. We didn't want you, except for what having you could do for us. You were only adopted to serve a function. Once you served your purpose, we had no further need for you. You deserved everything you got. You are undeserving of happiness. You cannot possibly succeed at anything. You will always be less than second best.

Need I go on?

It's strange – it is never the physical abuse I find myself still in pain from. I think about the belt or the paddle or the spankings or the face slaps, and I just sort of shrug. The beatings ended quickly and, since they were always followed by kindness (which I now know was a way of manipulating us into not reporting it), I forgave them shortly thereafter. But the emotional and verbal abuse still lingers. It impacts my relationship with my husband. When I know he is on his way home from work, I rush around making sure the place looks spotless before he arrives. Mind you, he doesn't care – the house could be in shambles and he would just be happy to be home with me. It doesn't matter to him. But in my mind, it is 4:30 PM, the garage door will go up any minute, and when it does, I am in deep shit if every inch of the house isn't spotless. My father will walk through the door, see a shoe out of place on the mat, and I will be punished. For me, it is always 4:30 in the afternoon and the garage door is always going up any minute.

You think I'm kidding? I will not ever buy a house with an attached garage. Ever. A 10 foot breezeway between the house and the garage, fine. But an attached garage? Not in a million years. You should see the look on my face when I'm visiting a home with an attached garage and the door goes up. One friend observed that I turned white as a sheet and questioned why I began straightening up the magazines on her coffee table.

Old habits die hard.

I was tossed on the street at 17. Happy Birthday. In hindsight, I'm glad. It was the first step towards breaking away from them completely.

I'm sad to say that if and when I meet my birth parents I can never give them the opportunity to see pictures of me from when I was a baby. I left those behind along with the rest of my childhood. It's a shame, I was a cute kid. Maybe when my mother dies I'll show up and collect them, but I doubt it. I can't really say that I'd look at my baby book as anything other than a fraud, created because it was what you were "supposed" to do – not because of any real joy taken in the fact that they were fortunate enough to have a beautiful baby girl. My father has been dead for several years. I was glad when he died. The only thing I miss about him is what our relationship COULD have been. I miss the same with my mother. She is still alive, still out there somewhere living her life. I miss the potential of what a mother and daughter can have together. I don't miss what we actually had. I am intensely jealous of those who have a good relationship with their parents. And the part of me that buys into the bullshit drilled into me by my own says that I did not have a good relationship with my parents because of my own failings. My mind knows better, my heart still takes convincing.

February 1, 2006 Posted by | Adoption Rants, Adoption Void | 4 Comments

I’m struggling

Struggling to keep my fingers from typing out some very nasty comments.
In the last few days, I've worked hard on creating the links list you'll find to your left. It meant viewing dozens of blogs and websites and actually reading through them – I will not link to a site I am uncomfortable with. It takes a lot to make me uncomfortable, I guess my standards aren't very high. LOL

When you look on the left, you'll see there are blogs from adoptees, birth parents, adoptive parents, foster parents, family & friends involved with adoption and eventually (I hope) from foster kids, too. This is probably going to come out wrong, but so be it. I had a really hard time reading through some of the adoptive parent blogs. Let me be clear – I am NOT referring to blogs I've linked to on this site. They would not be there if I thought the authors were idiots! If anything, the ones from adoptive parents I have linked to are well-written, enjoyable, and ones I feel very comfortable recommending.

But there are a bunch that did not make my list.

I'm very sympathetic to birth parents. I admit this freely. I tend to be much less judgmental of birth parents in general. It's not PC to say that, but given the experience I had of adoptive parents (my own) it isn't hard to understand why my sympathies lean in the direction of the birth parents. Of course, not having found my birth parents yet, it is entirely possible I'll think they are cretins too. LOL For now, however, I'm still more "comfortable" with birth parents overall. Obviously there are exceptions – I've met some really great adoptive parents who are helping change my opinion and prejudices and of course there is my brother and sister-in-law who adopted my nephew a few years back!

Anyway, as I was reading over some of the blogs, my blood was boiling. Some of the posts I read made me want to reach through the screen and smack someone – hard. I could not believe the way some of these women (yes, they were all women) were talking about the birth mothers or, worse, about the children – as if they were some sort of designer accessory one would pick up at Bloomies!

I go through this on the forums as well. I really have to bite my tongue sometimes. I'm a Forum Host – I'm expected to conduct myself with dignity and respect. But damn is it hard to do that sometimes.
In truth, I'd like to drag a few of these women over to the great adoptive parents I've met and say, "Here, learn something." I read some of these comments and thought, "There is no way in HELL I would ever let you raise my child." I wonder sometimes if the birth mothers these women are writing about even know that the prospective adoptive parents are blogging about them. I can't imagine they do – I can't imagine they're reading what these women are saying and STILL feeling ok with placing their child in their care. I found myself wishing I could find out who the birth mothers were (I'm talking about instances where the birth mom is still pregnant – preplacement) so I could introduce them to some of the very cool adoptive moms I've met who are still waiting to find a match. I want to scream, "PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE don't give this woman your precious child!!!"

I know I shouldn't judge, and I know I shouldn't judge based on a few quickly written words. I've certainly stuck my foot in it a time or two. But when we're talking about consistently idiotic statements, an overall attitude that deception is appropriate or something similar? I have no problem being judgmental.

Now if I can just keep my fingers still instead of saying some extremely nasty things to them, I'll be quite proud!

February 1, 2006 Posted by | Adoption Rants | 4 Comments

Just some chit chat and random thoughts.

It is 7:30 in the morning, here. I'm eagerly awaiting the arrival of one of my best friends – a brother in all the ways that really matter, Adam. We've known each other for several years now, started out working together for the non-profit. We had the same job in different areas of the country and for whatever reason, just hit it off. Of all my friends, Adam has probably been the one most involved in this journey I'm on. Adam has long been a foster/adoptive dad to an incredible number of kids, and he "gets it" so completely, talking to him is kind of like talking to myself. I can't wait for him to get here today! He has had a long drive to come visit and will arrive sometime this afternoon to spend the weekend. He's also bringing my copy of the letter from IARMIE today (I use his address for adoption stuff because I'm always in hotels with my husband and it is the only way I can be 100% sure that they can ALWAYS find me). He scanned in a copy of it for me when it arrived at his house the other day, so I've "seen it" but not held it in my hands. But that gives you an idea of the level of trust I have for Adam, that I'd let him read the letter even before I did. Why I'm able to trust him so much when I have such a hard time trusting anyone else (besides my husband) isn't something I've figured out, but I think some people just make you feel like they can be trusted with anything. He's one of those people.

So forgive me if I seem to be bouncing in my seat today – my brother is coming to visit!!

I've been reading a lot of blogs from some amazing birthmoms. You'll find some of the links to your left – I still have a few to add, but it will give you a good start. I feel so frustrated for some of these moms and what they've faced. I also feel in awe of their capacity to survive.

One of these days we WILL dispell the myth that adoption is always a positive experience for everyone involved, or the equally damaging myth that adoption "in general" is positive except for a few extremely rare exceptions. I'm sorry, but spend a little time on the internet reading the stories from adoptees and birthmoms – do you think it is just a coincidence that there are so many blogs and personal pages explaining how traumatic this can be for us? If there were only a small handful of these stories, I might agree with the idea that we are "extremely rare exceptions." But it is not just a small handful. Yet little is being done to change things. Now we're dealing with a new myth – that open adoption solves everything. Yet if you spend any time reading on some of the larger adoption forums designed for all members of the plane (see blog entry from yesterday), you'll see that even open adoption is rife with issues. Only now, the adoptive parents are being exposed to the very real painful side of adoption. And maybe with all three members of the "triangle" experiencing pain, we'll finally get somewhere in changing how we do things.

If you're wondering, no, I don't know the solution. I think open adoption is a start, but not a final answer. I'm not in the "eliminate adoption completely" camp, either. But I very much support the idea of focusing more attention on helping birthparents to parent wherever possible. Let's focus on solving the issues which make adoption "an only option." I know there are a lot of adoptive parents who will feel threatened by this idea – if there are fewer babies available for adoption it becomes that much harder to adopt. I feel for them, I truly do – but I'm sorry, I cannot condone NOT helping birthparents to parent just so you can have a child. I can't support eliminating your pain by causing pain for others if it is at all possible to avoid that. I've met dozens of birthmoms and dads who would never have placed had they been given just a little help choosing parenting. I've met far more who have been very clear that they felt trapped and coerced by a system whose function is to provide children to childless couples – NOT to keep children with their birthparents. That is unacceptable to me.

Somewhere in all of this there must be a solution which brings the least amount of pain to all involved. I just hope we find it before we have yet another generation going through this same pain.

What has made me so suspicious of the adoption industry is the amount of money these hopeful parents are FORCED to spend if they want to adopt. I know my brother and sister-in-law went heavily into debt in order to adopt my nephew. There has to be a way of bringing together those who genuinely want to relinquish and those who really want to adopt, together, without one becoming financially bankrupt and the other becoming emotionally bankrupt. It cannot be "in the best interests of the child" for either parent to be so harmed by the system. There has to be a better way to do this.

I've gained a lot of respect for adoptive mothers recently. Reading some of the trials they've faced in trying to adopt, I wonder how they keep going. Of course, they have the greatest reward in the world waiting for them, and I guess that helps them to keep going. But I want to just scream and sob for them when I read of failed referrals or young women who scam them into believing a baby is going to come home with them someday.

Perhaps when we can start acknowledging the trials and pain experienced throughout the plane, instead of feeling that if we acknowledge it, it somehow "threatens" our place, we can actually work TOGETHER to create a solution. I've seen far too many birth and adoptive parents and adoptees who seem hell-bent on denying what another is feeling and experiencing, it makes me very sad. We're so desperate to bury our head in the sand and convince ourselves that all is right with the world that we literally run screaming from anything that challenges that perception. But if we could see past our own fear and embrace and acknowledge the fear of another – maybe things can change. Maybe in another 30 years we'll no longer see blogs full of pain and sadness written by moms, dads and children.

Wouldn't that be nice? Isn't that something worth working towards – together?

January 27, 2006 Posted by | Adoption Rants, General | 4 Comments