Tag Archives: blindness
(My apologies for late posting – all on me…TAO) November 7th prompt. Childhood Adoption Narratives. Describe the story your adoptive parents told you growing up. What age were you? What feelings and questions did you have about this “adoption narrative”? Was it a satisfying explanation for you? Explain. As an adult, whether or not you are in reunion, comment on how much of that story turned out to be true. Has your adoption narrative changed? What story, if any, do you share with friends, acquaintances? How to others react to your narrative? Are they curious, supportive, silencing?
Day 7 and I am back. In the almost eight years I have been involved with adoption in the cyber world, I can’t think of a lot that I haven’t already talked about, said, or that hasn’t been said better by others. I’ve talked about my childhood narrative, and my feelings about it, as I’ve told my story of reunion. Instead of repeating it again here, feel free to read my post “The Wait Part 1: A Child’s Story” which talks about the little book about adoption my parents were told to read to me, and the follow-up post “A Grateful Adoptee”, where I share a priceless, moment with my adoptive mother, on that childhood story.
Over the years, I have, many times, offended, and angered, many people, not only in cyber world, but in my real life by simply, expressing my feelings about my own life. I’ve learned, over the years, that reality is something a good majority of people in the world, or maybe it is just the people in my life, would rather not see. I can’t say I blame them. Being blind to reality, pun completely intended, however, never changes the truth.
I often joke, and say, “I live in my own little world, because, I just like it better there.”. My own little world is a good place, a place of peace, quiet, and contentment. Living in my own little world, because I like it better doesn’t change the fact that I still live in the real world too. When I venture out, away from the safety, and security, of my home, I am reminded of that. There is no avoiding it, no matter how hard I try, or how hard I want to deny the facts. It is inevitable. Something, or, someone, will always remind me that I am a blind person, or an adoptee. I can’t escape it, or forget it. No one will let me. I will always be different.
I see nothing wrong with those facts. I see nothing wrong with being different. It doesn’t make me angry that I am different. It does, however, seem to bother others. I see it when I go out to eat, and the person taking my order ask my husband, instead of me, what it is I would like to order. I hear it in the apprehensive tone of people’s voices, their uncertainty and discomfort of how to interact with a blind person. I feel their fear as, when I come near them, they freeze into silence, and I feel their stares of pity.
For some, my blindness seems to be some kind of contagious disease, something to be avoided. Some will deny that my blindness has affected me at all, even when it is obvious, so much so, that they become very angry when I cannot be the person I was when I was a sighted person. No one wants me to be different, but different I am whether they like it or not, whether they accept it or not. I can’t change the fact that I am blind, or adopted. They can’t change those facts either.
Some will point a finger at me and say I am the one with the problem. It is I who should change my attitude. They will say that I am the angry one, the pessimist, full of cynicism, and self-pity. They will point a finger at me and judge me for seeking help through a therapist. They will tell me I focus on only the negative, and should focus on the positive. They will tell me to forgive and forget. They will tell me I am wrong for being who I am, and will try to make me and guilt me, into being who they want me to be. They will tell me I need to get over it, and grow up.
It doesn’t seem to matter whether it is adoption or blindness, and I don’t understand. Why is having the ability, and the presence of mind, to accept myself, my life, the good, and the bad, for what it is, make me the one with the problem? When did being honest and speaking the truth become a bad thing? When I look at my life, the things I do that give me joy, and self-satisfaction, I have to wonder. Am I the one that is dissatisfied, and unhappy? When I see the joy, in others, I am able to share through playing music, and the people, in my life that I choose to spend my time with, who appreciate me for me, it makes me wonder. Am I really the one with the negative attitude? When someone tells me I have helped them, given them some peace of mind, comfort, support, or validation that they are not alone, through, simply, sharing my experiences, I have to wonder. Am I really the one who isn’t being positive? When I see those, who avoid me, get angry at me, or are offended by me for simply sharing my own feelings, I have to ask why I upset them so? It makes me wonder. Am I really the one with the problem? Is it really me, who needs to get over it, and grow up?
November 2nd prompt…You, the Personal, & the Professional
Well, here I sit, on day 2, thinking about prompt 2, and, once again, wondering what I could possibly write about adoption and my professional life. I spent my entire professional life working for the same company. Just a couple of weeks short of my 26 year anniversary, I found myself reorganized, and restructured, right out of a job, and into early retirement. After all those years working, it’s kind of funny. I don’t think that I thought of it as my profession. For me, it was just a job. Oh, my, where, oh where am I going to go with this, and what could it possibly have to do with me and adoption? Where’s that emotional trigger when I need it?
As they say, when God closes one door, He will open another. I had known for a couple of years that the day was coming when my job would be terminated, so it wasn’t a surprise when the word came. I had been preparing for it for quite some time. I had learned years earlier, when my sight had begun to really deteriorate, that if I wanted to survive, I had to fight for myself, protect myself, my rights, and be ready for whatever happened. When I think back on that time, I have to ask myself why I did it. Why did I fight so hard to continuously try to prove my worth and that being blind – did not make me any less valuable as an employee? Why did I spend all those years in a job I hated just for the security of a paycheck, my principles, and my pride? I just sit here and shake my head now. I don’t regret it. I’m proud that I didn’t let the corporate powers that be, defeat me. I do wonder, as I realize just how much stress I had put on myself, not because of the job, but the being blind, and needing to prove my worth as a blind person, among other stressful issues being blind in a sighted world brings, if it was really worth it?
When it was all said and done, the company had offered the 6 people in our department the opportunity to apply for 3 positions that would be opening. We were all encouraged to apply for, what turned out was our current job, renamed, and redescribed, at one of the divisional levels. The powers that be would prevail this time. I chose not to apply. I knew, of all my coworkers, losing my job would not be for me, the devastating financial blow that it would be for the others. I had prepared and even in a failing economy, I knew I would be fine, while the others, all of us over 45, would have a much more difficult time.
I also knew I would never be considered for the position, not really. The powers that be had finally crossed all their T’s and dotted all their I’s. My coworkers were so worried about what would happen to me. What would I do? I knew I would be fine, and, frankly I was relieved. My pride would have never let me quit. That would mean defeat. It makes me smile when I think about it now. I had fought a good fight, but it was time to end that war. It was time to move on. In the end, I’ll admit, I was a little hurt to realize, after all I had done, that it hadn’t really mattered how good a job I had done, how valuable an employee, how loyal, hardworking, and dependable I was. No matter how many times I had proven my worth, and value, after working with some of these people for years, when they looked at me, first and foremost, all they saw was a blind person.
I learned to play the game of survival in corporate America, but I was not cut out for climbing the corporate ladder. It just isn’t in my nature to play the games that get played. I was always more of a “work to live” kind of person, and was never a “live to work” person. As I said earlier, when one door closes, another opens. My involuntary retirement has given me the opportunity to really discover who I am, be who I was really meant to be, and the time to do it. I suppose, in a way, all those years I spent trying to prove my worth may have been a sort of waste of time, because, really, isn’t the proof in the pudding?
Now, that I’ve, somehow, gotten through another post, what does this have to do with the price of tea in China, and adoption? Use your imagination, and see what you can come up with.
See TAO’s thoughts on this November 2nd prompt
Christmas is a hard time for me, and yet I still look forward to it every year. I love the carols and the decorations and lights. At the same time I recognise that others, specifically my friend Shadow, can’t see the decorations and lights and wish she and others could. I also wish others could hear the carols. I take so much for granted and shouldn’t.
This morning I checked out TED, and one of the newly released talks, is from TEDMED and it gave me hope. Hope for my friend with RP. Hope for a wide variety of people who deal with challenges we cannot fully ever understand.
Please watch or listen. Just knowing Shadow has made me aware of things and when I watch a TED talk, I find myself checking to see if the message is clear if I only listen – a small glimpse into her world, but something we all should consider.
Edit due to lack of coffee:
At TEDMED, Sheila Nirenberg shows a bold way to create sight in people with certain kinds of blindness: by hooking into the optic nerve and sending signals from a camera direct to the brain.
Sheila Nirenberg studies how the brain encodes information — possibly allowing us to decode it, and maybe develop prosthetic sensory devices.
I wish you all a peaceful, safe, and happy holiday!
When adoptees talk about being sad, grieving the loss of their biological families, feeling angry, and in general other unpleasant feelings involved with being an adoptee, others, sometimes get nervous, feel uncomfortable, and avoid the topic. Sometimes, people will get defensive, feeling the need to point out what they see as the positives in adoption, while negating the not so positive aspects of adoption. Some people will even get angry at an adoptee, accusing the adoptee of being ungrateful, or unappreciative of what they have, with the attitude of, “How dare you!” It seems, that some people, when they read, or hear, of an adoptee expressing their feelings of grief, or anger, in regards to adoption, picture that adoptee as a miserable and unhappy human being, who needs to get a life, get over it, and be satisfied with what they have; the here and now. Then there are those, who will dismiss the not so pleasant feelings of an adoptee, by a judgment of that adoptee must have had a bad experience. If only it were all that simple.
As an adoptee, I’ve dealt with the issues, and attitudes, in adoption all of my life. I’ve had no choice in the matter, even as a child, when I didn’t consciously know that was what I was doing. I’ve faced in all of my families the different attitudes towards adoption, brought about by societies influence, and I’ve witnessed the pain it causes all of us, not just adoptees. I may not always feel happy about being adopted. I may even wish I had never been adopted from time to time, as a good majority of adoptees probably do. You see, being an adoptee is not an easy thing. Even adoptees, who seem to be blissfully happy, have to deal with, and face the not always so pleasant attitudes and feelings, surrounding adoption whether we want to, or not. The same goes for the others in the triad.
Whether we consciously admit it, or not, we don’t really have a choice. There always seems to be someone standing there, waiting to remind us that being an adoptee, adoptive parent, or first parent, makes us different from society’s view of what is normal. I believe this is the reason so many adoptees, those who search, those who don’t, those who talk about it, those who don’t, and, in general, most of us would say that we would rather not be an adoptee. We would have rather been born to one family, or the other family, and not transferred from one to the other. To put it as simply as possible, what we really want is to not have to deal with it at all; not have to balance the good against the not so good parts of adoption.
I cannot forget that I am an adoptee, any more than I can forget that I am now blind. There is no pretending otherwise, no real denying the fact of either. Doing so is, and has always been, a recipe for disaster and pain; one way or another, sooner or later. There is always something, or someone, to remind me of both facts. I was born to one family and raised by another. Once, I could see, and now I cannot. Nothing will change those facts in my life.
No one wants to hear an adoptee say that they don’t want to be adopted. No one likes to hear us talk about our grief, our feelings of loss, or our anger at being in such a complex, confusing, and yes sometimes frustrating situation. When we do talk about it, sometimes, what we say seems to hurt, in one way or another, everyone that loves us. Knowing that is a huge burden we, adoptees, bare, as best we can, even when we understand it isn’t really our burden to bear. We all handle it differently. Just knowing how our own feelings may hurt those we love, hurts us too, which is why most of us go to such lengths to protect those we love by keeping those feelings to ourselves, sometimes, at the expense of our own emotional well-being. As adoptees, it seems, no matter what we feel, we take the chance that our feelings are going to hurt, not only us, but those we love as well, and there isn’t really anything we can do about it, or to stop it, other than to stay silent.
When I started writing for this blog, I did it as an expression of myself. It was, and is, an outlet for my feelings about being an adoptee that had reunited with my maternal and paternal biological families, but I am not just an adoptee, I am also blind. The journey to find out who I am as an adoptee, and my journey to figure out who I am as a blind person, is so intertwined that I can’t tell one story without the other. You see, there is the me, born to D and E, and there is the me, adopted by J and W, just as, there is the me, who once could see, and the me, who now cannot. I am one person, with four different identities, trying to make them all one.
Reunion is difficult under the best of conditions, and my reunions were no different, having many extenuating circumstances that made things even harder. When I began writing for this blog my relationships with D, and E, were on hold. As my reunions had hit a road block for the time being, it was time for me to focus on my feelings, instead of worrying about others. In the beginning, with the exception of my husband, I hadn’t told anyone of my new hobby. I was doing this for my own benefit. It certainly would not be hard for anyone, who knows me on a more personal level, to figure out just exactly who “Shadow the Adoptee” really is, were they so inclined. I made it simple enough, part of me probably hoping they would.
I’ve made a strong effort to keep this about me, and my feelings, not about my family’s actions, attitudes, and the like. I did so for three reasons:
The first being that this is about me, a blind adoptee, and not so much my families.
The second reason was to protect my families from the scrutiny of people who have no idea what we have been through, do not understand, and would rather judge us than see what lay below the outside surface of the complicated circumstances of our lives, thus, putting the blame for my feelings on my families, instead of listening to what I was trying to say.
The third reason was to help others know they are not alone in their feelings, someone else understands it isn’t always easy, or pretty, and to put into words what so many disabled, and adopted, people would like to say, but, for whatever reason, cannot, in an attempt to help others understand us better.
Nothing is all good, or all bad, certainly not adoption, and, just for the record, neither is having a disability. No matter how hard people want to try to make it something it is not, adoption is what it is. None of us would be who we are today had adoption not touched our lives. That isn’t good or bad. It just is. Saying it is one or the other will only cause pain for someone. Acknowledging, accepting that it is simply, both goes a long way to easing the grief, the loss, the pain, and, once again, for the record, the same can be said for a disability.
D, my Dad, the one who passed to me my green eyes, dark hair, a curious nature, and a zest to experience life to its fullest, recently came for a visit. We’ve survived the first year of our second attempt at reunion, which, by the way, makes it a true reunion in every sense. We’ve overcome a lot in the past year. It’s still hard at times, but in a different way now; still so many emotions popping up from time to time.
A while back, I had shared with him one of my posts, “I Cannot Deny It”. He had asked to see more, but I wasn’t ready to share everything, as my first few posts here on the blog, were written about him.
As I mentioned above, like many adoptees, I was afraid sharing such intimate feelings was going to hurt him, but more so afraid of opening up, and trusting him with such intimate parts of myself. During this visit, he, once again, asked if he could read the blog. This time, I agreed.
I have to admit, I was a little concerned as to just what he might think when he reads our blog. He is a bit new to all the not so pretty things about adoption. Facing the fact that you have a daughter, who was placed for adoption and is also blind, when she shows up 40 years later, will do that to a guy. He is beginning to see, for himself, all the things society tried to hide all those years ago. He’s feeling a lot of the same things other natural/first/birth parents feel, and wish they didn’t have to feel, the same as we adoptees wish we didn’t have to feel. It’s kind of hard not to, when your life is suddenly so intimately affected by adoption. I know it’s not easy for any of us, and sharing such intimate feelings is a frightening thing. Reading the intimate feelings of the one you reunited with can be just as scary, especially when that person is as opinionated as the likes of me.
Most of my family now know that I blog. They know it’s about adoption. Most, who know me well, know that if you don’t want to know my opinion, don’t ask. I give D credit for asking, and it means a lot to me that he did. Welcome Dad, to our blog. I hope when you read, you will feel free to talk about it with me, disagree with me, laugh with me, cry with me, scream with me, learn with me, and most of all grow with me. For those of you reading, I want you to know that along with the sad things, and difficult feelings, I’ve written about, there are many happy things, and feelings, I haven’t shared as yet. You see, it’s not all bad, and it’s not all good. It just is what it is, my life.
When I think about all the stories I have heard, and read, by adoptees, who have spent hundreds of dollars trying to get their non-identifying information from agencies, courts, and the like, only to get the run-around, told files couldn’t be found, possibly, waiting for month after month to hear something, told they would have to go through hours of counseling, and, in general, just, simply, strung along, or turned down all together, I feel a bit confused as to why. It was so easy for me.
Knowing how many adoptees, search for years, trying to find their families of origin, only to come up empty-handed, constantly running into brick wall after brick wall, I can’t help but feel a little guilty. It was all so easy for me. It was so simple. It happened so fast. It was, basically, just handed to me.
I can’t tell you how many times that I’ve heard adoptees trying to get some kind of information on, or searching for, their biological families, tell those of us who have found our families of origin, how lucky we are; how grateful we should be for our luck no matter the outcome of our reunions. Of course, I understand people are saying this out of frustration, pain, and grief. I just find it interesting when one adoptee tells another how lucky they are, and they should be grateful for just having the opportunity to reunite, as so many others will never have that opportunity. True though it may be, to some extent, it’s so easy to say when a person is frustrated with searching, angry, and grieving the realization that they may never find the ones they are searching for. It is so easy to take out a person’s anger, frustration, and grief, at the unfairness of adoption, search, and reunion, on those, who have what you want, with no real thought, or consideration given to what that person may have had to go through.
Yes, sometimes, when I read the stories of adoptees struggling with their search, hitting brick walls, realizing that they may never find, never know anything out about their families of origin, I, sometimes, feel, truly, lucky. I feel, truly grateful, and, oh, yes, I, sincerely, feel, guilty, for my good fortune of being diagnosed with a hereditary eye disease that would later take my sight.
Those feelings remind me, aren’t all adoptees lucky; lucky to be adopted, and shouldn’t all adoptees be grateful; grateful someone adopted us? It’s so obvious, this ingrained thought process adoptees have of being so undeserving that we feel guilt over such things like just wanting to know our original identities, our families of origin, so much so, that we will even tell each other we should be grateful, and feel lucky, because what we never really come out and say, but imply, to each other, and even ourselves, is that adoptees really don’t deserve any more than what we are told we can have; allowed to have by others, without whom, where would we be?
I know the value of what I have been able to obtain. It is priceless to me. At the time, however, I had no way of knowing just exactly what my good “luck” would cost me. It may make people uncomfortable when I say had it not been for the diagnosis of a rare, incurable, hereditary eye disease, which eventually cost me my sight; my adoption story may not be what it is today. Some might even say I’m being overly dramatic when I say that gaining access to my non-identifying information, and subsequent reunions with my families of origin, cost me my sight. It is, however, the price I paid for an opportunity I would not have otherwise had; the opportunity numerous other adoptees will never have.
This wasn’t where I had intended to go today with a post. My intention was just to continue my story. When I think about it, it breaks my heart to know what we, adoptees, must pay for the simple knowledge of our original identities. The cost of simply knowing what all other human beings have the right to know upon birth.
Maybe I’ll continue my story tomorrow.