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Monthly Archives: September 2010

My Treadle Sewing Machine

I went to a grade school that had 4 grades combined and one teacher taught everything…seems pretty strange compared to today.  But it was the start of an amazing education that spanned more than just the curriculum required by the state.  Our curriculum encompassed life – all of life – which included sewing your clothes.  Every single student learned to sew.  The girls all sewed identical dresses, the boys sewed shirts.  And we did that each year of the 4 years we were in her class.  I have no idea how she accomplished that and taught us what we needed to know as well.  Looking back it stuns me the volume of activities she dealt with on a daily basis, or how she managed so many different projects all at the same time but she did, and did it well.  I have such fond memories of my first teacher who also turned out to be my best teacher.

Why am I talking about this?  Because I dusted off my Treadle Singer Sewing Machine and plan to start sewing again.  I have a fancier, newer (just about anything would be newer) sewing machine that I could use but for some reason I always return to my Treadle.  There is something to sewing and treadling that just makes it the best way to sew.  Comforting, soothing, calming and the most amazing sense of accomplishment.  I inherited my Treadle from my cousin who inherited it from our grandmother.  The Singer Treadle Sewing Machine with the Memphis (Sphinx) design in gold that was made in 1924 in Quebec, Canada.  The Treadle that my grandmother sewed all the clothes her family wore before, during and after the Great Depression.  The same Treadle that my mom learned to sew on.  My treadle has history, and it is still a valued possession today – almost a 84 years after it was purchased by my grandmother it has truly stood the test of time.  It is not replaceable, it is part of my history and my families history.  It is one of my most treasured possessions. 

I’m going to go treadle and sew now.

 
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Posted by on September 29, 2010 in Uncategorized

 

What am I missing?

I have mixed feelings about subsidies to families who adopt through foster care.  I do understand the reasons behind it, both the economics for the state and federal to save money and to give the kids permanence.  I understand that kids who were abused will need services.  I understand kids that were born to mothers who were active users of drugs and/or alcohol will have physical and mental challenges.  I understand the benefits of supporting the new parents. 
But it still leaves an icky feeling in the pit of my stomach. 
Not only that unscrupulous parents may choose to be career adopters of multiple children to subsidize their live styles with the money instead of using it solely to benefit the child, because we all know that it can and most likely does happen. 
But because if that money has to be spent – why is it not being spent to fix the wrongs to begin with, before the family breaks down.  Spend the money on rehab facilities that are not available to the poor that have a real program not just a dry out time.  Spend the money on the family to alleviate the stress of not being able to make enough money to support your family, where that stress creates the atmosphere for domestic violence.  Spend the money on family parenting classes, daycare, support systems designed to provide real resources, respite, mental health counseling, more social housing, housing instead of shelters for victims of domestic abuse, paid training for better jobs…
Of course there will always be families that refuse to acknowledge there is a problem…so there will always be children taken from families. 
It just seems like there has to be a better way than pouring money into new families.  When original families might just have made it with a little bit of help that starts with a plan and a goal, that, at the end of the day families may not have been torn apart.  I was always taught to fix the problem at its source instead of creating patches to mitigate the unintended consequences.
What do I not see?  Have all those services already been provided to ensure family preservation?  Is this truly the last recourse?
 
 
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Posted by on September 28, 2010 in Uncategorized

 

Adoption and the machine

I intended to watch the three adoption related documentaries on PBS. I recorded the first and it took me over a week to get up the courage to watch it. I could not watch the other two, I was not strong enough because I know the message that they contain. That the adoption machine does not work and creates chaos and pain and completely unnecessary suffering.
At the same time adoption in its purest form can work. Adoption as a solution as a last result worked for a long time. Or in other words adoption when all other avenue of support fail. That worked for me until I understood the ramifications of the adoption machine and that overwhelmed and destroyed the true good of adoption, and the impact became too great for me to ignore anymore. Even then it was hard to accept that it could be corrupted by greed and desires instead of the best interests of the child when all else failed.
My life was good. In my eyes the sun rose and set on my dad and if he was still here, the sun would still rise and set because of him and him alone. He was and is still the best man who ever walked on this earth, I have never met his equal and doubt I ever will. The world became less than the day he passed away. But you see, dad was from the era before the adoption machine, so mom and dad adopted to provide a family for a child – not to find a child for their family. It is that simple. To provide a loving home to a child who needs a home. And that is what they did. They adopted and we became family. I am not saying others do not adopt for this reason as I know others that have. It’s just the adoption machine has also created a demand that is unrealistic and to supply that demand, lines that should never be crossed, are crossed.
The act of adoption did not erase my other family, it simply added to it, even if we would never know who my family was. Mom and dad never feared we would leave them if we found our other family, why would they? we were family. They never hid the fact that we had another family, another mother and father. They did not shy away from talking about adoption. They raised me to be a critical thinker with mindful understanding of realities for others. To assess what politics lay behind societies rules. To dig deep and understand core issues before making my decision on any subject.
Today I see parents carefully crafting their child’s adoption narrative. The way they want their child to view their adoption. I can understand this desire but question the motives behind it. Is it for the parents comfort level or the child’s well being or even perhaps both reasons. Again, understandable but desirable? Truly in the best interests of the child first and foremost? Would it not be better to just present the facts and provide the child with the skills necessary to mind fully come to their own conclusion? Or is it the right thing to craft the narrative at an early age and then teach critical thinking later? I wish I remembered more of what my mom and dad said when I was that little. All I can remember is my story and the reasons why society dictated I be placed, nothing about what I was told to think about adoption. Perhaps they just left it up to me to figure out.
What do you think when you read statements like: I was careful to present the birth parent info to my daughter just the way I wanted her to have it…or…I will mould and shape her understanding of her complex past…or…I don’t even want to call them mommy and daddy, but birth mother and birth father.
To me those statements above tell me their feelings are first and foremost but they don’t realize it. They truly believe it is in their child’s best interest but is it? Or is it telling the adoptee how they must see their adoption, and how they will accept their adopted status? Are they teaching their child how to think critically or telling their child what they want them to think? Are all the’ how to’ books teaching this new generation of parents helping or hurting in crafting the adoptive narrative for their child? Am I over analyzing it or just looking at it critically through the eyes of an adult?
 
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Posted by on September 27, 2010 in Ethics, Uncategorized

 

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What do you think of how fathers are being treated?

Far too many stories have been happening in recent years about fathers being stripped of their right to parent.  When will it end?  When will people consider that ethics are important?  How can we force agencies to stop acting this way and actually take the time to make sure all parties are in agreement.  It makes me sick when I read news accounts when all parties knew right off the bat that the father wanted to parent and complied with all requirements.  And if the new parents use stall tactics in court and then whine about poor me when they knew all along the father wanted to parent…sorry my sympathy bucket is empty.
 
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Posted by on September 24, 2010 in Ethics

 

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I hate the term birth mother – especially pre-birth

I hate the term – others love the term.  They can love the term for their own reasons but it physically destroys me, especially when it is used pre-birth as in the baby has not been born and the papers aren’t even signed.  Can someone explain a logical reason why agencies promote the use of the term birth mother?  Is it to play mind games on both the mother and hopeful mother?  To get them so accustomed to the roles of giving and taking a child from one family to another – long before it even happens? 
Does it psychologically assist manipulate the mother to place?  Does it psychologically assist manipulate the hopeful mother to accept a baby that is not yours by birth, because once the papers are signed you hold the title of mother, and the mother has always been just the birth mother?  Does it disenfranchise the hopeful parent from acknowledging that the mother is giving up her child because she was already a birth mother?  Does it make the transaction easier?
When a mother has a child growing inside of her – she is just a mother.  No more – No less. Give her respect and don’t call her a birth mother.  And even if she does relinquish her baby to you – still don’t call her a birth mother – she is still the mother of your child and will be for life – respect her for who she is as a person and who she is to your child.  Or always refer to yourself as adoptive mother and your child as your adopted child.  And it goes without saying that I apply the same thoughts to the term birth father…Qualifiers offend me in adoption. 
I dream of the day I can read a hopeful parents through adoption blog and not see the term birth mother…and please don’t even think of using the term “our birth mother”…
Edited to add – I do understand using qualifiers in some instances but when it can be clearly understood there is no need.
 
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Posted by on September 24, 2010 in Ethics

 

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It Is Nothing And Everything To An Adoptee

I had never given the thought of searching for my birth parents much consideration as a child, teen, or young adult. Of course, being the curious creature I am, at times, I had wondered about my birth parents. I wondered who they were, what they looked like, just as most adopted children will do. At some point, I am sure I had asked about them. I don’t recall if, or what, I was told. I just remember thinking no one knew anything about them. If no one knew anything about my birth parents, I suppose, I just accepted that I would never know either. It was no big deal. That’s just how it was. As a child, why would I think anything else?

One day, I remember my Mom sending me to find my birth certificate in their box of important papers. As I was looking through the box, I came across a green piece of paper in one of the file folders. That piece of paper was from Hope Cottage. Being the curious, little kitten, that I am, and was, as you might imagine, I, of course, had to read it, especially, when I notice that it had my name on it.  Contained in the green paper, printed in black ink, were the generic details of my birth. It had my weight, length at time of birth, and general, generic details about my birth parents, such as, hair color, eye color, weight, height, an ethnicity. Basically, it was the condensed version of what I would receive, years later, in my non-ID information. It was nothing, and it was everything, to a curious, preteen adoptee, which believed no one, knew anything about where, or who, she had come from, and hadn’t really, ever given it much thought.

As a hip preteen of the 70’s, I, of course, knew where babies came from. I understood enough what I had been told about adoption to logically understand that a stork hadn’t really drop me off at the doorstep of my parent’s home, or the doorstep of Hope Cottage. I had been told the story of how the agency called one day to tell my parents there was a baby girl in need of a home, how they had gone to see me, and obviously, brought me home. Yes, as a preteen, Logically, I understood how babies were made, where they came from, and how families became families, but that was not how I had become part of a family. I knew I had another mother and father. My parents had explained it to me. I was adopted. In my child’s mind, was that really all that important?

I don’t recall a specific place and time when my parents sat me down and explained adoption to me. It seems I just always knew I was adopted, and as much as a child can, understood what that meant. It wasn’t, however, until I found that single piece of green paper that the reality of what being adopted meant became real to me. I hadn’t been searching for information about my birth parents. I hadn’t even been thinking about them. At the time, they were nothing more than a curious enigma in the depths of my mind. At that young age, why would they be anything more?

All of a sudden, there I was, sitting in a closet, looking for my birth certificate, which my Mom had asked me to do, and their they were, my birth parents, looking back at me through a little green sheet of paper. My birth parents had just become real, well, at least, as real as knowing descriptions of them could make them in my child’s mind. I had just unintentionally been introduced to the terms birth mother and birth father, as well as, a confirmation that my birth mother was “unwed”. Even at that young age, I understood the stigma that went along with the notation of “unwed” on that paper. As a child, was that really supposed to mean anything to me?

As a preteen, I was fully aware that it was wrong for girls to have sex before they were married. I understood that girls, who had sex before they were married, and became pregnant, well, what did I really know as a preteen, other than it was not a good thing? All I really knew was what I had been told. I had never given any thought, as far as I remember, to just why I had been given up. Maybe I was just too young? Maybe it didn’t’ matter? Maybe I didn’t care? Maybe I didn’t want to think about it, and I guess, wasn’t going to start then. The information I found on that paper had just brought my birth parents to life, at least, in my mind. That was good enough for me. As a child, the why’s of it all just really didn’t matter. Why would it? As a young child, was I really capable of understanding such a thing?

As I sat in the floor of the closet, staring at that little piece of green paper something inside of me began to awaken. It was a feeling that I could not find a word for. It was feelings I didn’t understand, but it most definitely evoked some kind of feeling in me. Butterflies in my stomach are what come to mind. I had found the answers to questions that I hadn’t realized were that important to me. This was exciting, like finding a hidden treasure chest. I was scared too, but of what, and why?  Why hadn’t anyone ever told me about this? Was I not supposed to know? Was I going to be in trouble for finding this? Were my parents going to be mad at me? I certainly didn’t want to upset them, or for them to be mad at me. Exhilarated by this treasure chest of new knowledge, And terrified because it, for some reason, felt very threatening to me, I put the paper back, found my birth certificate, closed the box, shut the door, and decided that what I had just found would be my secret.

I’m not sure why I felt the need to keep my find a big secret, but the longer I kept my secret, the angrier I became. Why hadn’t anyone told me about this? How could they keep this from me? Needless to say, as my anger grew, my secret didn’t stay a secret for long. I went to the closet, found the paper, and took it to my mother, demanding to know why she hadn’t told me about it. She asked where I had found it. She hadn’t remembered having it. I don’t recall what she said. Whatever it was, it must have satisfied me for the time being, and we returned the paper to the box. No big deal, and the subject never came up again, but it was most definitely not forgotten, not by me that’s for sure.
I don’t recall how much time went by before, unbeknownst to my parents, I sneaked back to the closet, retrieved that valuable little green piece of paper, and hid it in my room. It wasn’t that my parents had ever, intentionally, kept that information a secret from me. They were always very open about my adoption, so why I felt like I had to sneak into the closet and steal a piece of paper is a bit mind-boggling.
I can’t really say if I truly understood at such a young age, what exactly that paper represented to me. Did I somehow comprehend that it was the only connection to my actual birth, and all that goes with that. Did I somehow understand it somehow connected me to my birth parents?

What it meant at the time, I can’t really say. It was just something that felt important to me. That little green piece of paper was somehow a part of me, though I didn’t really understand why. It was nothing, and it was everything. It was something I needed, even if I didn’t know why at the time. Even after finding that paper, I don’t recall ever considering the thought of someday finding my birth parents. That paper, and the information contained within, was enough for me.

I never knew if my parents realized I had taken that paper from the folder I found it in. No one ever mentioned it if they had. The subject had never come up again, until last year, when my Mother asked if I still had it. I was a little shocked that she would remember, much less ask about it over 30 years later. Maybe they did know, and maybe they understood just how important that information was to me. The answer to my Mother’s question was yes. Over 30 years after my discovery, and after reuniting with both of my birth parents, I still have that little green piece of paper. It is still nothing but a sheet of paper with some information, most of which I found out to be incorrect, and it is still everything too. It is part of me, part of my story. It was, and is, nothing and everything to this adoptee.

 
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Posted by on September 22, 2010 in biological child, Uncategorized

 

Animal people or non-animal people…

With all the different types of people in the world who all hold different views on religion, politics, environment, lifestyle, what really determines who you connect too?  I have been examining who I inherently get along with and who I don’t.  It isn’t as nearly as simplistic as the title but I think it plays a larger role than I previously gave it credit for.
In retrospect, I have always tended to gravitate to people who have animals in their life for the sake of having an animal.  Not people who ‘own pets’ but people who need animals to be in their life.  I do see a different mindset between some ‘pet owners’ and having animal share your life and I am not sure I can adequately explain the difference.  It could simply be because of how my dad viewed animals (and perhaps passed on those feelings onto me or simply because we were of similar souls) and how animals were always part of our family, both those who shared our home and those (the wild animals/birds) who shared our yard.  I don’t have an animal for any other reason that it is what I need, rather than when people simply get a ‘pet’  that is there for their convenience and benefit, i.e. it is good for our child to have a dog and learn to be responsible in caring for the dog.  Or a dog is good to ensure I walk regularly, or to protect our home and the dog has their rug by the door when/if they are inside.  Or simply because everyone has a dog in my circle so I need one to mentality. 
When I was a child our very small dog became friendly with the neighbors dog who was two or three times bigger and (gasp) got pregnant.  Dad stayed close during the delivery and when the last pup had trouble, dad took over because it had been too long.  I will never forget dads face when he realized the puppy wasn’t breathing or the automatic reaction he had of giving mouth to mouth resuscitation to that  tiny puppy.  It seemed like he worked on her for hours and mom kept telling him to let the pup go, but eventually dad’s determination paid off and then he gently laid her down with the other pups to be cleaned and then nursed by our dog the mom.  Dad delivered many babies during his years as a doctor and it was amazing to see this side of him and his reverence for birth.  It was also a very apt time to discuss the birds and the bees with a vivid description of the outcome.  I remember when I went into labor and my cat did something that she had never done before, I had been laying down trying to get comfortable and suddenly she came and laid down, aligned her body around the curve of my belly, as if to absorb the pain inside of mine and she never moved, simply lay there purring and absorbing the contractions happening inside my belly.  She never left my side that day and when I went to the hospital I missed that calming presence by my side.  Years later after I got sick and my dog (only a puppy really) laid on my bed next to me, day in and day out she continued her faithful watch, days turned into weeks and somehow she knew I needed her to keep my spirits up.  I would wake up and she would hover over me wagging her tail.  I would start to drift off and she would lay back down and nap, just content to be by my side.  My bond with my animals transcends the boundaries of those who just ‘own pets’, and the reality is that I know that my existence that would be less than, without any of the animals I have had the privilege of having by my side throughout my life. 
Looking back at all my friendships over the years, the ones closest to me share my same thoughts on animals.  Their animals share the couch and heart, they worry about them when they are away from home.  They include their animals needs when choosing where and what type of dwelling inter-mixed with their needs before they make a decision on buying or renting a new home.  They are part of the family, not additions to, or simply the current must have because all their friends have one.
Not having animals in my life would make life less than…what about you?
 
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Posted by on September 21, 2010 in Uncategorized

 

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The abortion or orphanage comeback…

Anyone else tired of it?
I see questions and statements posed by adoptees that relate to personal struggles and they believe, or ask if it is related to being adopted.  The feelings may be insecurity, lack of self-esteem, feeling of not belonging, being different or other feelings but all of them can be directly related to the loss that adoption brings.  Others who suffered abuse or we adopted from a different country, lost their culture, language, racial differences have more feelings to add to the list, and again, it all comes back to being adopted.  I’m sure anyone who has surfed the forums or blogs have seen these feelings stated or questions asked.
These feelings are valid and the adoptees have them and own them.  In return for asking a valid question or making a statement about them being related to being adopted, they get bombarded with  ‘my kids don’t feel that way’ type replies.  They end up being negated, dismissed, silenced.  They are shut down, belittled.  The strength that it took to put themselves out there is received with ridicule, hostility or defensiveness.  They are told that kids feel that way in biological families or that studies have shown that adoptees are just as well-adjusted as counterparts raised in biological families.  They may imply that it is the adoptees parents who are at fault for not raising the adoptee to have a secure sense of self and that today’s parents know better how to deal with this issues.  They inject words into the discussion that infer the adoptee who asked the question is mal-adjusted and just had a bad experience.  That adoptees and adoptive parents do just fine and ‘all is well’ in the majority of adoptions.  And perhaps they are the majority, perhaps not, but that is not the reason why the question or blog post was written.  Silencing and shutting down the adoptee voice is wrong.  Providing pseudo-supportive answers in a manner that proclaims your superiority because your child never felt that way is wrong. 
The reason why the question or blog post was written was to open a dialogue to find support.  Support from others who have been there and felt that.  Such a simple concept that helps others feel connected and that they are not alone.  That gives them a space to talk and deal with their realities and complexities of being an adoptee.  That being an adoptee is for life and that life is complicated by being adopted.  Knowledge that others felt and feel that way makes the journey less arduous.  It is also a valuable learning tool for parents if they would only open their hearts and minds and listen. 
I deal with insecurity, abandonment fears, feelings of low self-esteem.  I acknowledge that my temperament plays a large role in how I deal with these feelings.  But the feelings stem from being an adoptee because that was the beginning of my reality.  I have always been insecure so how could it not relate to the separation from my mother.  I would not have the feelings of being abandoned again, if I had not previously been abandoned.  My lack of self-esteem would not have been always present in me since a child, if I had not been given away.  Have other life experiences compounded those feelings?  Absolutely.  But the original act is what all those life experiences build upon or compare themselves too.  These feelings are the continuation of the first loss.  Each successive loss compounds upon the previous loss.  It is a logical conclusion that cannot be dismissed.  How each of us deals with these feelings is also up to us.  But to deny the feelings exist is not productive. 
Being talked down to, or asked stupid questions like would I rather have been aborted is mean-spirited.  It is hard enough dealing with contradictory feelings inside of you, that relate to not being able to imagine any other life than what you have lived and who you lived it with, and at the same time wishing you never had to be adopted in the first place, let alone stupid questions like the abortion one.  That question is very much like the question thrown at inter-country adoptees that goes would you rather have grown up in an orphanage instead of being adopted?  Two questions that should be removed from the dialogue.  There is no excuse for those who use those questions to shut down feelings, thoughts and words that need to be discussed.  I wish the adoption self-proclaimed-experts would focus on teaching others how to open their minds, be mindful, to think critically about all aspects of adoption from the adoptee experiences, instead of spending so much effort creating and teaching happy positive adoption language.  Seems like it would be a much better use of their time, unless it is the intent to never allow mindful thought in the first place.
For adoptive parents who ask the ‘would you rather be aborted‘  or ‘would you rather grow up in an orphanage’ questions?  I have tried to figure that out for years and the best answer I have is that they want to justify that adoption is the best solution, absolve and distance themselves of the guilt they feel hearing that adoptees feel the loss, because there was another different alternative to living with your family, abortion or orphanage life, so it becomes their default position.  They want to forget that the best solution is that the child grows up in their family whenever possible.  They came to be adoptive parents for many differing reasons, but for some of them, one reason and one reason alone drove them to adoption – they were infertile but wanted to be parents.   The adoptive parents who use these tactics seem to need adoption validated, normalized and even raised up to be equal to, or better than what they could not have, a biological family.   
I don’t believe adoption is equal to, or better than growing up in your own family.  I do believe it can be good.  I think you can be a family.  I just don’t think it is the same.  I worry that the ‘we are the same as’ mentality may cause the dismissal of the adoptees feelings, perhaps not now but what about the next generation?  I could be wrong but believe if you go into it with that mentality you set yourself up for failure.  Accepting it is different from a biological family puts yourself in reality.  For those who chose adoption as the 1st choice I believe most recognize that you might not be the child’s 1st choice, especially once they truly understand what adoption is and means.  For those who chose adoption as the 2nd choice I have seen many whose struggles may prevent them from clearly recognizing why they may be their child’s 2nd choice, a brick wall they cannot move past because they had to choose the 2nd choice and it has to be as good as having their 1st choice.  I am not trying to be mean-spirited or cruel, simply understanding that their loss and their own innate self-protection may not allow them an unbiased view.  They may say all the right words, but it is more of a repeating what I was told monologue which at the same time kind of questions it too.  At the same time I find it hard to understand why they cannot allow adoptees those same feelings that parents to adoption via infertility felt, and most likely if they are honest, will always feel?  Why?  Why not admit there is the same theme running between these sentences.  “I wanted to have my own baby to raise”.  “I wanted to have my own mother raise me”. 
Just like the closed era had stereotypes of how the adoptee was a blank slate and would become like whoever raised them and we would never question our role.  This new era of adoptive parents want to believe that allowing the child to grieve their losses that the adoptee will be healed, the adoptee will never come home and say you are not my real mother, the adoptee will heal completely, and all ‘will be well’, and they will live happily ever after.  I wonder what the future adult adoptees of today will feel.  My guess is pretty much the same as we do, some okay, some good, some bad, some indifferent, so deeply troubled, some mad, some happy…the list is endless.  And I guess they will also have plenty to say about the adoptee experience…
 
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Posted by on September 20, 2010 in Uncategorized

 

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The problem of the single story

http://www.ted.com/talks/lang/chi_hant/chimamanda_adichie_the_danger_of_a_single_story.html

Adoption is not part of this video but it speaks so loudly about it that every single person involved in the adoption world must hear the words in this video.  Please take the time to listen to her words they are important.  None of us comes with a single story, nor is one story the only story you must hear on anything.

 
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Posted by on September 15, 2010 in Ethics, Uncategorized

 

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I Am A Buffalo

My phone was ringing. After you jump off the cliff, what else can you do, but Suck it up and get ready to hit the rocks below. I, cautiously, picked up the receiver, “This is Shadow.” In a somewhat cold and business like tone, the male voice on the other side said, “This is D___ P_______.” and then there was silence. It was my birth father.

I wonder if the panic I felt at that moment was how the buffalo felt at the moment they realized they had gone over the cliff? AS they were free-falling, did they look down, see the rocks below, and feel the terror-stricken, adrenalin rush of fear that comes with knowing you are crashing to your death? Did they close their eyes as their heart began pounding, and their breath was being sucked out by the force of the fall, knowing they could do nothing to stop what was about to happen? I know that feeling. It is how I felt at that moment.

Something about the tone in my birthfather’s voice, and the dead silence following his introduction, was unnerving. I could not speak. My tongue-tied in knots, my stomach twisting up into my throat, I closed my eyes took a deep breath, and still he said nothing. There was just silence, an endless, empty silence I must have been hoping he would end, somehow, someway, because I had no idea of what to do next. Just how do you tell a man, who doesn’t know he has a daughter, that you are his daughter?

You may not know it, and, as astounding as it may be, it was possible for a buffalo to survive a buffalo jump. On occasion a few actually did survive. Those buffalo, who went over the cliff last, had the best chance of surviving, their fall being cushioned by those, who had gone over before.

Why couldn’t he say something? “Can I help you?” “I’m returning your call.” Anything would have been better than this seemingly, oppressive silence. After all my agonizing over what to say the day before, I found my mind frozen in fear with the possibility that what I had believed for the past 15/16 years was really true, and this man would, indeed, hang up on me once I broke the big news to him. . I was completely at a loss as to what to do next, and the intimidation of his silence was not doing much to help eliminate my fears.

If a buffalo had a chance, slim though it might be, to survive a buffalo jump, then, surely, there had to be a chance for me to survive this? I had survived thus far. After all, he had called back. I knew I had to say something, and so, with my heart thumping so hard I thought it was going to burst out of my chest, anticipating the blow that surely must be coming, with uncertainty in my voice, I apologized. “I’m sorry.” There was only silence on the line. Feeling even more awkward and foolish, I explained, “I’m a little nervous.”

I wonder what he must have been thinking at that moment. Whatever it might have been, he wasn’t saying. Maybe I was hoping for a sign from him, something that would let me know it would be all right? The silence on the other end of the phone continued.

Growing weary and still waiting for the big blow that seemed even more inevitable with every second of silence, somewhere within, I began to understand that if I wanted to survive this; I wasn’t going to get any help from him. I was on my own, and so, I forged on. “Do you remember a girl named E____ R_____?” Finally, he spoke. With a bit of curiosity, and caution in his voice he answered my question. “Yes”, and the silence continued.

I think somewhere inside I really expected him to deny knowing her. The fact that he hadn’t was encouraging, but I hadn’t dropped the big bomb on him just yet. I was still at a loss as to how to tell this man I was his daughter. Still terrified of his response to the revelation of my identity, I was hoping, he would, somehow, save me from having to come right out and say it. When only silence followed, I continued apprehensively, “Do you know who I am?” Still somewhat cautious, a bit hesitant, but with a bit of an awakening, he replied slowly, “I’m not sure.”

By now, I was literally trembling. I don’t know why I couldn’t just come out and say it. “I am your daughter.” How hard was that really? My eyes were getting moist. I could feel the tears forming. I would not cry. I would not! I would not allow him to know just how terrified I really was. No! I would not allow him to see my fear, my weakness. Why couldn’t I just say it? “I am your daughter!” It just would not come out of my mouth. What was stopping me? I was at some kind of breaking point I couldn’t understand; could not face.

In my mind, I was begging him, “Please don’t make me say it.” Could he sense my distress? I don’t know. There was only more silence. Finally, my voice beginning to break, I managed one last desperate effort to avoid having to come out and say it. “Do you “think” you know who I am?” with an emphasis on think. I was still, in my mind, begging, “Please put the pieces of the puzzle together! I’m not sure I can tell you. Please, don’t make me say, “I am your daughter.”” I saw the rocks below coming faster, and faster. I closed my eyes, waiting for what I am not sure, but waiting just the same.

Something was different in his voice this time. Something had changed. Was it realization? Was it surprise? Maybe it was both? I don’t really have a word to describe the tone in his voice when he responded, “Are you trying to tell me we are related?” Whatever it was, the lack of expression in the tone of his voice was gone now. . Still fighting back the tears, and feeling a bit of relief that I had not had to come out and say, “I am your daughter.” I, with my final breath before hitting the emotional rocks at the bottom of the cliff I had jumped from, the day before, exhaled, “I think so.”

To say I had knocked the breath out of him would be putting it mildly. The blow of rejection I had been anticipating, expecting, did not come. Instead, came a different blow, one I had not been expecting, nor was I prepared for. He was thrilled! The intensity of his response was more than I could handle in my current emotional state. I was hearing his words, but I was not there. I was somewhere deep inside myself just trying to breathe. He was saying, “I didn’t know! I always wondered what happened! I didn’t know! I never heard back!” I could not speak. He continued with out a breath, telling me how special my birth mother, E, had been. I kept saying, thank you for saying that.” Why was I thanking him? I just kept thanking him, but it wasn’t me. Inside my head, I was hearing his words, scrambling to put it all together. Who was this person in my body, and why was she thanking him?

Was that really excitement in his voice? Was I truly hearing joy in his voice? Was he really saying he was happy I called? He was asking me questions now. I tried to answer, but couldn’t form words. I just kept thanking him for whatever it was he was saying. Why was I thanking him? What was going on? My body was literally, and physically, shaking. I had to stop this, end it, before I passed out. I had to get off the phone!

He kept talking. He just kept talking, telling me we would talk again. If I were his daughter, I would be a part of his life. What was he saying? I was no longer comprehending his words. What was happening to me? I had to put a stop to this. It had to stop!

Email. My husband was next to me writing down his email. Did I just say I would email him? I had to hang up. I couldn’t breathe! Breathe, Shadow, just breathe!

I hung up the phone, but it wasn’t me hanging up, or was it? What had just happened? I sat there trying to breathe and stop the shaking. He hadn’t hung up on me. He said he was happy I had called. He said we would talk again. Wow! Just freaking wow! It was going to take some time for all of this to sink in. As I slowly regained some consciousness, I realized, I had jumped off the cliff, and I had survived. I wasn’t sure if I was alright, but I had survived! That was good enough for me.

I was a buffalo. The Indians had surrounded me. I found myself being forced by the fire they had set, towards the edge of a cliff. I jumped in hopes of surviving. It seemed, somehow, my fall had been cushioned. Was it possible that I could be one of the few buffalo to survive a buffalo jump?

There is one more thing you should know about Native Americans and the use of buffalo jumps. Although it was possible for a buffalo to survive the fall, the Indians believed it was bad medicine to allow any buffalo to survive a buffalo jump. The Indians believed allowing a buffalo to escape would curse the hunting site. A buffalo, fortunate enough to survive the fall from the top of the cliff, would most likely, be battered, bruised, and probably have a few broken bones. If by some slim chance, a buffalo were somehow able to scramble to their feet, and possibly escape, the Indians would track that buffalo down and kill it.

 
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Posted by on September 13, 2010 in biological child, Uncategorized

 

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Imagine…

Can you imagine a day when the following conversation happens?
Susie age 5 comes in from playing with the neighbor kids and says to her mom, Tommy says you aren’t my real mom.
And the mom looks at Susie and says, that’s right, remember we talked about your adoption and the fact that I am your second mom because your first mom wasn’t able to raise you.
Susie smiles and says oh yah, and runs back to play with the neighbor kids.
In today’s world I can’t see this happening very often.  Usually per the conversations I read, the mom gets her feelings hurt and does her best to ensure the child realizes that she is the real mom and the childs other mom is her birth mom…
People discount the adult adoptee experience as not relevant to how adoption is practiced today.  They word it to dismiss and negate the experience we lived with our parents as less than because, well you know, it was the dark ages.  And now days they practice positive adoption language and how adopted families today are just the same as biological families.  
My take, adoptive families are different from biological families.  If I was raised in my biological family I would be able to order my original birth certificate without a court order.  I would know my family health history because it would be part of family conversations so I would not have to write ‘unknown – adopted’ on every form at the doctors, hospitals, or insurance companies.  I would have been named at birth and my family would have come to the hospital to share in the joy of my birth.  I would have grown up and have shared memories with my siblings.  I would know that I laughed like Uncle Joe, I had Grandma’s sense of humor, I looked like my mom…well you get the picture. 
There is a difference…stop trying to pretend otherwise…not trying to take anything away from adoptive families but just take pride in what you are instead of wanting to be what you cannot be.
Oh, and by the way – that conversation between Susie and her mom…it happened…back in the era that is used as the excuse to not listen to adult adoptees today…really think it was the dark ages?  I think it was the age of reality – at least in my family where that conversation took place.
 
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Posted by on September 13, 2010 in Uncategorized

 

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Blank Slate Theory

The Blank Slate Theory in Psychology

My era of adoption the Blank Slate Theory was widely accepted.  I think there is less acceptance of it today but I believe it still exists in Adoption.  The video and link above are so worth the time.  The video is over 20 minutes but I was fascinated.  Steven Pinker does delve into the subject of adoption and of course the studies of identical twins separated at birth and raised separately as well as how different adopted siblings are after growing up in the same family.  Well worth the time…
 
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Posted by on September 12, 2010 in Uncategorized

 

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