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Monthly Archives: November 2011

Ted Talk – Author of “Origins”

Annie Murphy Paul investigates how life in the womb shapes who we become.

“Why you should listen to her:

To what extent the conditions we encounter before birth influence our individual characteristics? It‘s the question at the center of fetal origins, a relatively new field of research that measures how the effects of influences outside the womb during pregnancy can shape the physical, mental and even emotional well-being of the developing baby for the rest of its life.

Science writer Annie Murphy Paul calls it a gray zone between nature and nurture in her book Origins, a history and study of this emerging field structured around a personal narrative — Paul was pregnant with her second child at the time. What she finds suggests a far more dynamic nature between mother and fetus than typically acknowledged, and opens up the possibility that the time before birth is as crucial to human development as early childhood.”

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Posted by on November 30, 2011 in Adoption

 

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The Wait: Part 2 – The End Of Innocence

Continuing my story from the post “The Wait: Part 1 – A Child’s Story

Shadow

With weeks turning into months without a response from E, or word from Carol, my anxiety was turning into a slow simmering anger. Confused by the strange feelings inside, not knowing what they were, why I was feeling them, and not liking the feelings at all, I had to find someway to deal with these new feelings. I needed to make some kind of sense out of them.

Believing in the pretty story, from the little book, thinking E didn’t love me wasn’t an option. All mothers love their babies, care about their babies, even animals. Thinking she had changed her mind, or wasn’t going to answer wasn’t an option, either. After all, E had agreed to the contact. Thinking along those lines was inconceivable to me, and I never went there on any conscious level. She wouldn’t change her mind. She just couldn’t. She was my mother, and no mother would do such a thing.

Understanding that this might be difficult for her wasn’t, exactly, an option either. She had agreed to contact. At least to my way of thinking, she must have wanted to communicate, so what was the problem? What was taking so long? It was all so confusing, and frustration was becoming the name of the game. With no internet to turn to for help, no access to other birth mothers, who could explain what E might be thinking, I had no way of understanding anything about this. I had no way of knowing my feelings were perfectly normal in such a situation. I did what, perhaps, most people would do to avoid the uncomfortable feelings. Rationalization to the rescue!

She was a single mom. She must be really busy trying to raise two kids. She just hadn’t had time. I was being impatient. I should just give it more time. Yes, that was it, just give it more time. She would write back. Thinking anything else would mean something I didn’t want to think about, acknowledge, or even consider.

With all that time on my hands, I began thinking, more and more, about E, trying to understand what might be the reason behind her lack of response. That slow simmering anger was changing into something else; a new feeling. I didn’t have a word for it at the time. Even if I had, I’m not sure I would have admitted it. I had never thought of the actual act of my relinquishment before; never considered it to mean anything more than, E, as an unwed, mother, just wasn’t allowed to keep me. I had never, consciously, thought of it in a personal way. Maybe doing so was too sad? Maybe it even hurt too much, so I just didn’t? Maybe I did and just didn’t know it? Maybe I just never wanted to think of it at all, so I blocked it out? Maybe it was the pretty story that stopped those types of thoughts? I really don’t know, but I was beginning to put two and two together now. I was beginning to feel it, and I still wouldn’t recognize the word for the feeling: rejected.

With anger unable to protect me from this new feeling, and getting no comfort from the numerous excuses, and reasons, I gave myself for the delayed response to my first letter, I suppose it was only natural that my mind would eventually find its way to contemplating what it must have been like for E to be pregnant, and unmarried.  Being just slightly older than she was at the time of my birth, I guess, trying to find some rational way to understand my own feelings, and get some kind of control over them, it was only natural to put myself in her shoes? It could happen to me, so who was I to judge E? What would I do, if I had been in her shoes?

Contemplating that one question seemed to be the only salvation from all my mixed up and uncomfortable feelings, at least temporarily. I gave it considerable thought, going over every option in my mind. Thinking about how my own family would have reacted to such a thing, I could only imagine how hard it must have been for her. Still, would I have given up my own child? What about abortion? Abortion would have been illegal back then, but still a possibility for her. If it were me, would I have an abortion? Would I even consider it? Still, she could have kept me. It wouldn’t be easy, I’m sure. Still, being a single mother wasn’t an impossible task. No matter how much I tried to understand, find a concrete answer, I couldn’t escape the thought, “She could have kept me, if she had really, really wanted.” Couldn’t she?

What would I have done if I in her shoes? They were questions I just couldn’t find answers for. I just didn’t know what I would do, and the more I tried to put myself in her shoes, the more I only confused, and frustrated myself. Being unable to come up with any concrete answer for myself the questions once again changed.

I suppose it was only natural that the next step would be to question myself, and the right to my feelings? Did I have any right to expect anything from E? She had, after all, given me up for adoption. She was my mother, but she hadn’t mothered me. She had agreed to contact, but it had been months with no reply to my letter. I had chosen to always believe in the pretty story from the little book. Mothers, who gave up their children for adoption, did so because they loved them. They had no choice because they were unmarried. Wasn’t that just how it was? Now that I was at an age when I could have been in such a position, it was getting harder to understand, and accept the status quo. As the one given away, well, it was even harder to blindly accept the pretty story I had chosen to believe for so long.

I never once believed, then, or now, that E didn’t, or doesn’t, love me. Believing that did not stop the feelings of being unwanted, or the feelings of rejection, I felt but still didn’t recognize. Being an unwanted pregnancy, or child, whether it is true or not, no matter the complexity of it, when you are the one, who was adopted, and reality begins to set in, it takes a lot of effort to stop that thought from crossing your mind. When you are the one given up, trying to make sense of the loss and grief, how can you not feel those types of feelings? It was all becoming so confusing. I didn’t know what to think, what to feel, or what to do.

Trying to make sense of it all only created more questions, and they wouldn’t stop coming. I couldn’t stand it any longer. I was all out of patience. I finally called Carol to ask if she had heard anything, anything at all, from E. Carol’s tone this time wasn’t quite as excited, and possibly even a little concerned. She had not talked to E, but said she would give her a call. I found only a little comfort in knowing Carol would call E. A little comfort is better than none.

When more weeks, and then months, went by with no word, or response from E, my feelings became harder to escape. The excuses, and rationalizations, I made for myself, no longer mattered. The questions in my mind more intense. I had to protect myself. The back and forth struggle in my mind between, the unrealized, anger at her placing me, the new, unrecognized, feeling of rejection, and my attempts to understand what she must have been going through, were only getting more intense.

I still would not allow the thought of her not responding to cross my mind, and even if I didn’t know rejection was what I was feeling, the feeling itself was something I had to put a stop to. I shoved it down, and shut it off. What choice did I have?  God bless anger. Sometimes it is a lifesaver, or at least a sanity saver. If anger is how we protect ourselves from pain, how could I not, finally, work my way back to being just plain old mad.

Plain old mad was the only emotion I could really understand, and at the time it was the safest one too. . I began telling myself that E’s lack of response was just rude. It was inconsiderate. I was angry at E, and, at least, rudeness was a legitimate, not to mention, concrete, thing to be mad about.  I couldn’t believe anyone could be so inconsiderate as to take so long to respond to a letter. There was no reason for it. I told myself it had nothing to do with me, or adoption. Yes, it was just plain old rude, and that was all there was to it. Believe me; it was much easier to think that than all the things I had been thinking before.

I can’t honestly say I remember just how many months passed after I sent that first letter, before I finally heard from Carol. I think it was about six, but could have been less. As far as I’m concerned, it seemed like a lifetime between the time I sent my first letter off, and the time I finally received the call from Carol, letting me know she had received a letter from E, and had forwarded it to me. I can’t describe the relief I felt at that moment. All the anger, frustration, fear, and anxiety were simply wiped away, gone just like that. At least I thought it was, for the moment anyway?

I rushed home from work for the next day or two, running to my mailbox, and finally, there it was; my letter from E. The anxiety of the past several months seemed to have just disappeared as I held that letter. It didn’t matter anymore. The only thing that mattered now was the letter; my birth mother’s letter to me.

 
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Posted by on November 29, 2011 in Adoption, adoptive parents, Uncategorized

 

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Questions to mull on…

Have you ever stopped and thought about how the fact that prettying up adoption language by using euphemisms, is in reality, a direct insult to your intelligence? 

How the industry has designed a whole new language that diminishes reality, and replaces it with a fairy-tale version that they want you to believe.  That perhaps because societal mores do not dictate surrender for unwed mothers anymore, that they needed to create another alternate reality of adoption, for their industry to survive?

Some words and statements in PAL are worse than others, but really stop and consider whether the words reflect the full truth, or are just cleverly designed euphemisms to “mislead or at least put a positive spin on events“?

A euphemism is the substitution of a mild, inoffensive, relatively uncontroversial phrase for another more frank expression that might offend or otherwise suggest something unpleasant to the audience.

Some euphemisms are intended to amuse, while others are created to mislead or at least put a positive spin on events – one of the more stark examples being friendly fire, which means accidentally firing at and perhaps killing troops that are ostensible allies.

I was thinking about the abhorrent “She loved you so much she made an adoption plan“, and how that phrase may come to be the next generation of adoptees most discussed phrase.  Do you think it will?

Now stop and think about the “birthmother” counselling.  Do you think that they “doublespeak” the different options the mother has, in words designed to steer the mother into realizing that adoption, is really the only option a good mother would choose?

Doublespeak is language which pretends to communicate but doesn’t. It is language which makes the bad seem good, the negative seem positive, the unpleasant seem unattractive, or at least tolerable. It is language which avoids, shifts or denies responsibility; language which is at variance with its real or purported meaning. It is language which conceals or prevents thought.”

“The selfless mother chooses what is best for her child and realizing she cannot give her child everything they deserve, chooses adoption.  The selfish mother chooses what is best for her, and denies her child all the things they could have in an adoptive home.” 

Adoption equals selfless, Parenting equals selfish.  What other definition could you give to statements like above except “doublespeak“?

Does anyone honestly think that they tell mothers considering adoption, that adoptees don’t always “do just fine“?

That there are problems with identity? 

Feelings of abandonment?

Feeling not good enough?

The deep desire to know your parents, where you came from, and why?

That sometimes the trauma breaks the adoptee?

Have you ever heard of any agency having a mother make a list of what the child will lose, as well as her family, if she chooses adoption?  I haven’t, only what she cannot give to the child and what she will be giving up if she parents…sad isn’t it.

Don’t you think it is time to get all the lies, half-truths, and lies by omission out of adoption?

 
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Posted by on November 28, 2011 in Adoption

 

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Different topics, lots of links…

In my reading ventures this week, I have found a wide range of topics worth linking to.

From the World of Adoption:

A post by an adoptee that gave me hope. 15th Annual Kids’ Adoption Network Conference.

Meeting another adoptee, who also just happens to be the blogger on Yoon’s Blur. Meeting new people (Mirror, Mirror) 

From the DC community and the Center for Genetics and Society:

Damian’s answer to comedy about donor conception – short, sweet, and to the point.

Link to Preview of Anonymous Fathers Day.  You can also view the full documentary on-line for a very small price – a couple of lattes.  Anyone considering DC or chose DC should be viewing it – sadly the cynic in me says that few can go outside of their own desires.  Prove me wrong.

From the Center for Genetics and Society. This blog post Bay Area Local News Reports on Asian Egg Market includes a video you must watch, but also highlights exactly what was left out in the video, but also failed to have the conversation on the impact to the actual individuals – the donor conceived. You really should watch this video. How far people are willing to go to have a child and how much they are willing to pay to get just that PERFECT EGG. You just have to wonder where this is going to end.  By the way – it is wrong and still wrong because no one put the donor conceived needs first and foremost, just like in adoption they are the last ones considered.

Again, from the Center for Genetics and Society this article that speaks directly to what was left out of the video in the above blog post.  Doctors Warn of Potentially Fatal Complications in Fertility Treatments.

Switching topics completely onto the reality of Pepper Spray and the OWS:

Do you have any idea how hot pepper spray really is?  I didn’t, and I cannot imagine anyone else does either.  This is nothing like touching your eye after chopping a hot pepper.  Must read.  Good to know in case you’re on the #OWS lines.  Do read the link in the post “excellent Atlantic roundup” as you will view the pictures and videos in that article with an entirely new reality of their pain, after you find out just how hot pepper spray really is.

Anthropology News has an interesting post on OWS from an anthropological view.  Occupy Wall Street; Occupy the World and a couple of interesting comments.

Onto the bizarre and amazing reality and beauty of nature:

Neat Videos of Octopus Walking on Land and the Super Stealthy Mimic Octopus. “In our continuing coverage of just how neat these animals are, check out this video showing an octopus taking a stroll on the beach at the Fitzgerald Marine Reserve in Moss Beach, California.”

I had no idea an octopus would ever get out of the ocean, just did not cross my mind, but how amazing to be on the beach with your kids and see this happen.  Well worth watching even if it kind of weird.  Apparently there are videos of walking sharks on this site as well, although I did not view them.

I saw the following photographs yesterday taken by Eric Hines, and have honestly never seen nature like this.  If you only view one link, this is it and it will take your breath away and leave you wanting more.

 
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Posted by on November 27, 2011 in Adoption, Ethics, Uncategorized

 

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Sort of, kind of, snarky today…

I was musing this morning on why some prospective parents act the way they do.  They desperately want to adopt a child, yet they don’t like to hear about what that child may feel growing up and into adulthood.  They want to tie a yellow ribbon and consider life will be glowing hearts and kisses their entire lives.  Yet no one lives the enchanted life – that isn’t realistic. 

Instead they either want the on-line adoptee to give them a quick fix way to make sure their child never feels that way, or they want to know what our parents did wrong.  The former is impossible, and the latter is just plain old insulting to our parents who, ahem, are also adoptive parents.  Way to alienate the adoptee.  Tell us we are either messed up, or our parents messed up.  Great way to get our respect and willingness to help, and you know, if you want to learn something from us, you need to respect the individual who actually knows first hand, the feelings.

Platitudes of how a friends child doesn’t feel loss, just doesn’t cut it.  Stories of what your child tells you they feel, doesn’t cut it.  Really, we don’t tell our parents a blow by blow of the pain felt by the loss of our other family.  No one would do that – you might beat around the bush and admit to feelings of curiosity, but you aren’t going to go into detail on indepth private feelings that could hurt the listener.  That is why we blog – so you get a glimpse of the feelings your child may experience but will most likely never share with you.

We are not here to pat you on the back and tell you yes, you are doing the right thing.  

International adoption will never, ever, cure the orphan crisis.  It won’t even make a dent in it.  Until you, the people who spend the tens of thousands of dollars adopting, require that a good chunk of your fees goes into family preservation in country, then the industry will just continue on using the orphan crisis as a way to make more money.  I am not speaking about the adoption industry spending the money directly – I am saying they need to give it to an entity that is not in any way shape or form beholden or affliated with the adoption industry.  One whose board members have no ties to the adoption industry.  One that works towards creating a self-sustaining legacy for stabilazation of communities in need. 

On the domestic adoption front the exact same thing must happen.  If you would never wish to be in the position where you had to give your baby away, then you must also want others never to be in the same position.  Right now the adoption industry is quite happy to settle for status quo – their clients don’t care as long as they get their children, and they will continue to push the gospel of children loosing their families, so other families can have them. 

My words come off snarky at times, or even all the time.  It comes from watching willful ignorance, and ignorant behavior by those who are going to be the parents of the current generation of adoptees.  Of course I am going to snark.  Yet, I also find it highly amusing that a parent blogger can be snarky and cutting, and is wildly applauded for telling it like it is, and writing in exactly the same tone.

My advice – grow up and listen to the message and don’t ask asinine or rhetorical questions.  If you start to feel defensive look inside yourself – usually you can find why you are feeling guilty, and therefore defensive.  I’ll give you a hint – you most likely spent more time researching both the pro’s and con’s of the last car you bought, than you did looking into the entire picture of what the adoption industry is. 

Listen to what others are saying your child may feel. Store the knowledge away so you are aware, and never ever lie to your child.  There are enough lies deeply entrenched in adoption as it is – no need to add to problem. 

Stand up and support your adoptees’ rights to their own original birth certificates – start working on getting the lies out of adoption. 

Demand that those working within the adoption industry, are also working daily, to put themselves out of business.  Shouldn’t that be the starting goal/mission statement of any industry that works on the behalf of children?

 
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Posted by on November 26, 2011 in Adoption, adoptive parents, biological child, Ethics

 

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Adoption today is so different…

I do not know a single adoptee who has not been told how different adoption is today than our era.  It always amazes me that people think that society and adoption today is that different from yesterday.  Sure we have more gadgets and the internet, but do you really think it is any different at its base level?

I was on one of my favorite websites today “The Adoption History Project” and found some contradictions to the meme of adoption being different today.  Then I took a break from writing this post, and went over to see what Amanda at Declassified Adoptee had today and found this post.

On the Catholic Conference and New Jersey’s Conditional Veto a guest entry by Susan Perry.

As you will see above and below that nothing has really changed – what is going on now is what going on 30 years ago.  Block any move for adoptee rights.  Back then it was to get a national adoption registry established, today, it is to open our records at the state level, but the pro-adoption lobby groups then, and now, put up road blocks every single time. 

National Committee for Adoption, “About Adoption and Privacy of Records,” 1982

(Yes, same organization as the NCFA today, they changed their name from Committee to Council, and now seem to be trying to drop the National and be known only as Council for Adoption). 

The book below talks about how adoption activists, American Adoption Congress (AAC), Concerned United Birthparents (CUB), Jean Paton, supported this national registry and how William “Bill” Pierce then president of the NCFA effectively derailed the act that would have created the registry.

Family Matters: Secrecy and Disclosure in the History of Adoption By E. Wayne Carp

“In 1981 Senator Carl Levin of MI introduced the Adoption Identification Act, which provided for a voluntary national computerized data bank – a clearinghouse – through which adult adoptees, after registering, would be matched with their biological relatives. At a Senate hearing on adoption issues, Levin defended the bill’s utility by noting that an adoption registry preserved “the delicate balance” between the adoptees who felt a need to know more about their own history and birth parents who chose not to communicate with children they relinquished decades earlier. Levin also emphasized the necessity that both parties consent to the exchange of information, a proviso “designed to avoid intrusion into the life of either party or violation of constitutional privacy rights”.”…

“William Pierce, president of the National Committee for Adoption, brought up an entirely different issue. He opposed the bill because it did not define a match as the voluntary registration of all three members of the biological family, thus insisting that the biological father also register, an impossibly high standard. Pierce explained that without all three parties consenting it was likely that the privacy of one of them would be violated. He envisioned a scene where the birth mother would reveal the identity of the birth father without his consent. In addition, Pierce refused to support the bill because it failed to require the involvement of a qualified social worker as an intermediary once a match was achieved or specify a penalty for any adoption agency that violated the confidentiality of the sealed records.”

Note that many/most states at the time and before did not allow the original birth certificate to list the father’s name if they were not married to the mother, nor were they part of the surrender process and had no rights by law…but suddenly the fathers are oh so important and have rights to be protected? Yet even today, many agencies are highly practiced in working around having a father involved in the adoption process, and if they do want to parent their child the agencies fight tooth and nail in the courts to deny those fathers their right to parent. So fathers rights are important when it suits their purpose but just a nuisance when it doesn’t?

Yet that not the only areas where things really haven’t changed in adoption, it goes further as the links will show.  Our parents homestudies while perhaps not identical were in-depth and intrusive.  Minorities were dealt with differently (as in less than).  Our parents weren’t told not to tell us we were adopted.  Links below are all to the “Adoption History Project” at the University of Oregon and are short one page articles.

Myth: The Homestudies today are SO different, intrusive, comprehensive.

Helen Fradkin, “Outline for Adoption Studies,” 1954

Child Welfare League of America, Rating Sheet for Prospective Parents, 1962

Not really different here either – today it is cost of adoption fees by race, yesterday it was different eligibility requirements

Louise Wise Services, Different Eligibility Requirements for Different Children, 1961

Myth: Adoptive Parents were told not to tell 

Agency Philosophy and Policy Regarding the “Telling” of Adoption, 1966

Joan Lawrence, “The Truth Hurt Our Adopted Daughter,” 1963

So tell me really what has changed? When the current generation of adoptees are my age will one write a post similar to this post stating that NOTHING has really changed?

 
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Posted by on November 25, 2011 in Adoption, adoptive parents, biological child, Ethics

 

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Two Topics: Nurture vs Nature and Logical Fallacies

Yesterday I listened to Creating A Family radio show on Nurture vs Nature and enjoyed it.  I can’t say I learned anything new necessarily, because it is a topic I have been part of all my life as an adoptee with adopted siblings so it was blatantly obvious. 

The guests are Sally Ann Rhea, who has been the Study Coordinator for 25 years for one of the most reknown adoption research projects in the world, the Colorado Adoption Project and Dr. Alexandra Burt, Associate Professor of Behavioral Genetics with affiliation with the Michigan State University Twin Registry. 

It’s funny that the studies back up things Dad said half a century ago, based on his education in science, what he saw in his practice and life, and the ability to see reality and discard fluffy rhetoric as rubbish.  Mom leaned to the side of blank slates and all you needed was love and a good environment. 

Anyway, I thought it was worth listening to.

Is Genetics or the Environment Most Important in Determining Who Our Kids Will Be?

I have also been delving into non sequitur and logical fallacies this week as I see the different types of non sequitur and logical fallacies used on-line in adoption conversations.

The first three are short but describe some of the more common logical fallacies. 

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Appeal to Pity and False Authority

Complex Question and Strawman

 
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Posted by on November 24, 2011 in Adoption

 

A Grateful Adoptee: Side Note to “The Wait: Part 1”

After she finished reading the story, “The Family That Grew”, Mom and I sat there in silence, the warmth, and love, between us palpable. The moment had taken us over 40 years back in time to my childhood. There was something else in the air, as we both sat there, each with our own thoughts. It was a sadness, something like a death in the family; a realization of it, and acceptance of it. I finally, asked, my Mom now in her late 70s, “What do you think of that story? Do you think that is what our adoption story is like?” The conversation that followed is not one I’m willing to share. It was too intimate, and too precious to me. I’ll never forget that moment.
In my Mother’s almost 50 years of experience as an adoptive mother, she knew the story was not even remotely close to being anything more than a pretty lie about our life as an adoptive family, as well as, how we became her adopted children.

I’ve been trying for months to write this particular part of my story, to keep it pure, avoiding any influence or emotions I feel today about adoption. Going back over the years hasn’t been easy, and was much harder than I anticipated. I started many times, only to end up somewhere else, or stop altogether. It’s something I’ve worked hard to put in its place. Digging it up hasn’t been much fun, but I think it has been therapeutic, and if it helps others understand a little better, worth it.

As Thanksgiving is just a day away, I want to take a minute here to say that I’m grateful that my adoptive parents never dismissed the importance of our biology, even when we did. I am grateful that they understood the importance of acknowledging the sad fact about adoption, even when we did not.

My adoptive parents did not have the information available to potential adoptive parents, and adoptive parents of today. It was not easy for them with little to go on but a set of books the agency encouraged them to read. I see so many things, when I look back, that had they been aware, could have helped make sense of things, made life a bit easier. They did the best they could, and they never dismissed the separation of their children from their biology, never dismissed the fact that it was important, and a loss for us, even though they never had names to call it.

I am proud of them for that. I intentionally refrain from discussing my adoptive parents on this blog, and I make it a point not to use the disclaimer of “I love my adoptive parents”, because for me it is a given; never to be questioned. I am breaking my rule here to tell you that the older I get, the more I understand adoption, with its many issues, and though our family was far from perfect, I love them more now, because even though they had no idea about the loss, and grief of an adoptee, they were smart enough, strong enough, and courageous enough, to instinctively understand adoption for what it is. That is something an adoptee can truly be grateful for.

 
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Posted by on November 23, 2011 in Adoption, adoptive parents, Uncategorized

 

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The Wait: Part 1 – A Child’s Storybook

My story continues from the post “I wish I had known then” Enjoy, Shadow

With my letter to E written and in the mail, I could get back to my life as usual. I tried that is, to get back to my life as usual; work, going out with friends, and the like. It didn’t seem to be as easy as it had once been. Maybe I hadn’t given much thought to my biology in the past, but it seemed to be all I could think about now.

Carol was able to tell me that E was divorced, and she had two children, a girl and a boy. I was so excited. I had always dreamed about having a sister; someone I could share all my dreams with, go shopping with, and other things sisters do. She would be my best friend, and someone I could always count on to be there. I had a sister!  A little brother wasn’t such a bad thing either. Even though I didn’t know anything about them, I felt somehow a part of them, connected to them, a love for them. I hadn’t even known they existed. I really can’t explain why I felt so strongly about them. I just did. No. That isn’t really true. I can explain it.

Yes. They were part of me, my sister and brother, just as if we had grown up together. They belonged to me. They were all mine, and no one could take that away from me. The feeling was instantaneous, and the connection primal. I couldn’t wait to hear back from E., so I could find out more about them.

As far as anyone else knew, life was going on as normal for me. I still hadn’t told anyone in my family, and only a few friends knew. I went through my daily routine as usual. It was when I was at home, or alone, I couldn’t escape my thoughts.  So many questions began popping into my head. It seemed odd that, for so long, there hadn’t really been any questions in my mind, but now, they wouldn’t stop coming, and coming, and coming! What was E like? What would my siblings be like? Were they anything like me?

As several weeks went by with no word from Carol that E had replied to my letter, I began getting a little impatient. What was taking her so long? With each week that passed, my anxiety began to grow.

I wasn’t aware of any underlying issues about being adopted that might be driving the anxiety I was feeling. At the time, adoptee issues, or feelings about being adopted, still were a foreign concept to me. Who would have told me any different? It wasn’t a subject people liked to discuss, or even knew much about. All I knew was that weeks were going by, and E hadn’t answered my letter. I hadn’t even realized just how excited I had been about all of this. If you had asked me how I was doing, I would have said, “Fine.”

Fine as I thought I might have been, the questions in my mind, however, were beginning to change. The more anxious I became, the more I focused on E, and her relationship to me. My thoughts were changing from wondering what she was like to something much deeper; something I hadn’t consciously acknowledged before, and why would I? There had never been a reason to do so. Logically, I knew E had given birth to me, which made her my mother, but consciously thinking of it in terms as a connection to me hadn’t been a necessity before. It wasn’t like as a child, adoption was never mentioned, or I didn’t understand what it was. My parents talked about it with me, told me about the day they picked me up, and brought me home. They had brought up the subject of my other parents from time to time. I knew E was my mother. I just hadn’t really given it much consideration; what exactly that meant. Why would I?

I don’t recall the exact moment, at around age 3 or 4, that they actually sat down and told me I was adopted, and read the little book to me, which was supposed to help explain adoption. It seemed I had just always known, and it was no big deal.  I remember from time to time, as I grew up, taking the little book, and reading it to myself. Even now, as a middle-aged adult, as my Mom was reading it to me, so I could include it here, it gave me the warm fuzzies once again. Hearing my Mommy’s voice read to me the words, as I visualized in my mind and brought back from memory, the bright colors, cute little animals and happy faces of all the people in the book, I felt like a child again, happy, safe, and loved. It was a mere flashback to a childhood feeling, and my only belief of what adoption was, or meant, for the first half of my life. Why would any adoptee ever want to look past the innocence of a book written for 5 year-olds to see the reality of what adoption really is, really means to us?

“The Family That Grew”, by Florence Rondell and Ruth Michaels

What’s the smallest thing that you ever saw; a pebble, raindrop, a grain of sand? Once you were even smaller than any of these things. That was before you were born. Everything living has to start growing.
A rooster and a hen start every little chick, a gander and a goose start every little gosling, and a man and a lady start every little baby, and that’s how you started too.
Like everything starting to grow, you were much too tiny to do a single thing for yourself. So the lady kept you warm, and protected you inside of her body, until you were big enough to eat, and breathe, and cry, and smile. Then you were big enough to be born, and you were.
Everybody wants to take care of the babies they grow. Cats want to take care of their kittens. Dogs want to take care of their puppies. Ducks want to take care of their ducklings. When you were born, the lady and the man who started you also wanted to take care of you.
Sometimes, though, something happens that people cannot take care of the babies they start, and that happened to the lady, and the man, who started you. So they thought, and thought, about what they could do to be sure you had a father and a mother to love you and take care of you.
They went to a special person, whose job it is to know about children. And the things they need to be happy. They ask her to find the right father and mother for you to grow up with, because they wanted you to grow up in a family, and she found your Mommy and Daddy, who had always wanted a child to cuddle and love.

As you might expect, the story goes on and we all live happily ever after. It is how a children’s story should be. What a beautiful concept of adoption? If only it were like that, a fairy-tale, of all of us in the triad living happily ever after. It is just not that simple, though, is it?

I’m not going to sit here and tell you that, in my mid-twenties, my understanding of sex, how babies were made, and become adoptees, was that of a 5 year-old. What I am going to tell you is that as an adoptee, when you grow up hearing such a beautiful story, it is much easier to buy into the beauty of it.

It is much easier, and more pleasant to think of it in the terms of the story than it is to see how that story dismisses your biology as a generic lady and man, with no name, no personality, and no human characteristics.

It’s easy to associate this generic lady, and man to the cute pictures of the animals with their natural inclination to care for their babies, and the implied love they have for their young. It is more pleasant to think of our biology in terms of animals than it is to think of them as human, a father, who would provide and protect you, and a mother, who carried you for 9 months inside her, protecting you, and taking care of you, as the book even stated.

It is easier to accept the lady, and man, that started you, as more animalistic, than it is to think of them in the same terms as the “Mother”, and “Father”, “Mommy”, and “Daddy” that “wanted” a child to “love” and cuddle”. What does referring to the adoptive parents as “the right father and mother for you to grow up with”, a family, along with “your Mommy and Daddy, who had always wanted a child to cuddle and love”, imply about the lady and man?

As an adoptee, dismissing your first Mother and Father as just a generic lady and man, is so very much easier than the reality of it. Why face the reality of it until you have to, and as children, teenagers, and young adults, perhaps most of us adopted as infants just simply don’t have to think about it, much less face it. We don’t that is, until something happens that gives us no choice.

I understood that E was a real person, logically, I had for years. It was different now. She wasn’t just a lady. She had a name. She was not some animal, with animal instincts. She was a human being, who could think, speak, and feel. Waiting for her to respond to me forced me to acknowledge her as such. I wasn’t some chick, duckling, kitten, or puppy, that needed a new home, I, too, was a human being with thoughts, and feelings. There was no escaping the reality of it now. She was my mother, and had given me up for adoption.

It is a difficult thing to accept and acknowledge, this human, emotional, aspect of just what adoption entails. As an adoptee acknowledging the black and white core of just what it means to be adopted, is something perhaps all of us would prefer not to ever have to think about. Many adoptees never do. It is not a pleasant thought, and at the time, I wasn’t really able to understand what I was truly feeling. Reality was slowly coming to my conscious mind, and I needed to fight it, stop it, and protect myself from it. E had, carried me for 9 months, given birth to me, and then gave me away.

I use the term “gave away“ here, instead of those terms more preferred by birth parents and adoptive parents, because as the one who was surrendered, relinquished, or had a plan made so they could be adopted, the words used for the action taken doesn’t really matter when it comes right down to it. When you go past the coping defenses, to the raw primitive emotions inside, thinking of our birth parents in the only context we know to think of a “Mother”, and “Father”, even though we have the capacity to understand all the reasons why, Somewhere deep inside, sometimes, way too deep for conscious recognition, the thing is, it just plain old hurts.

As adoptees, and as birth parents, how can it not hurt us, unless, we take out the human emotions related to what a mother and father are? There is only one way to stop the thoughts in all of us of the would haves, should haves, could haves, and what ifs, that are inevitable for any human, and that is to never think of it at all; the reason why we find ourselves adoptees. It hurts and there is nothing anyone can do to make it not hurt, when that hurt comes to the surface.

For the first time, I was consciously beginning to acknowledge the connection of E as a mother, my Mother. Whatever her reasons for placing me, no matter how much I was loved by my adoptive family, no matter how over the years I rationalize it all, understand it all, sympathize with my parents, and empathize with them all, nothing can take away the core pain I feel about being an adoptee. It is something I have learned to accept, live with, and I am really fine as I can be with it. It is something all of us in the triad have to accept, and learn to live with, and when we don’t, it can create even more problems for all of us.

It is the one fact about adoption that gets dismissed with excuses, and rationalizations, more than any other. It is the one thing that the majority of people will never be able to accept, and, quite frankly, I don’t blame them. Why would anyone want to face reality when the story book version of adoption, and what it means to all those involved, is so pretty, and, oh so much easier to deal with?

Adoption’s gain is biology’s loss. I’ve never had anyone argue the fact that anytime a baby is removed from its mother, for any reason, it is a sad thing, no matter the reasons, even when it is what is best for the baby. It is a sad thing that all humans and most animals can feel, empathize with; this separation of a baby from its Mother. For humans, with the parent child bond we expect as human beings, it is doubly hard to comprehend, especially when you add the emotions as humans we are expected to have. This sad fact is something most everyone is capable of acknowledging, but is, also, the one fact in adoption that many want to take for granted, brush to the side, ignore, diminish, or even erase all together. All the love and happiness in the world cannot change this single fact about adoption, no matter how much we wish, and pretend. Without this single fact, there would be no adoption.

As an adoptee, when the day comes, and the acknowledgement of the sadness felt when mothers and babies are separated comes to your conscious mind, and you realize that you are one of those babies, it can knock you to the ground. I was just a young adult, the full reality of what adoption was, and meant to me, was just beginning. It would be another 16 years before the reality of it knocked me to the ground. I think it happens to all adoptees at some time in their life, to some extent. We do what we have to do, each of us being different. We find a way to survive.

Part 2 of The Wait for E’s reply to be continued in the future.

Stay tuned tomorrow for a special “Side Note” to today’s post.

 
7 Comments

Posted by on November 22, 2011 in Adoption, adoptive parents, Uncategorized

 

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None of it makes sense…

This is a rambling post and I am still upset from yesterday – you have been warned. 

Yesterday I had few words to explain how sick it made me to see in the US by a self-identified “Christian” consultant, that babies were priced based on race. Not just a bit different, but by up to 45% cheaper for a AA or Biracial baby, plus a special adoption awareness month discount on the minority program. No matter how many arguments someone chooses to put forward about having to reduce the price of minority babies to find homes and all that crap, the argument fails.

The reason why that argument fails, is because folks in the US who choose to adopt internationally, spend anywhere between $25,000 to $50,000 to adopt (see article below for source for $’s), from countries with similar ethnic backgrounds.

And you can’t use the argument that an Ethiopian child born overseas and adopted by US parents won’t face the exact same level of discrimination and racism that a AA child born in the US would face. People who are racially prejudiced, base that prejudice on the color of skin or the assumed ethnicity of the person. I have yet to see someone ask a person their ethnicity before they subject them to racism – have you?

Nor can there be an explanation used that perhaps it is a religious difference – many who go overseas have been “called to adopt” by their faith – so sorry, that doesn’t work either…

Yet the above “Christian” consultants can’t find those same folks noted above, who live in the US and adopt internationally to adopt an AA baby? I cry foul. I also have an inability to accept that the cost to adopt when the price is based on race, is anything but a price tag. The exact same processes takes place, regardless of race. The home study, fingerprinting, clearances, medical, court filings, etc., – they are all identical. The difference is the race of the baby allows for a premium to be applied. It is disgusting. Obviously one group makes a hefty profit, because guaranteed they would not price the other group at a loss – especially when they can offer an additional 20% discount on that group.  So what is the real cost for processing an adoption?  That should be the only acceptable amount – seriously we are talking human beings here.

And compounding the above – the US is also a sending country, primarily AA babies. Apparently, because mothers believe their children will not be subjected to the racially based prejudices in other countries. Wonder “who” told them that, and “why”, couldn’t be anything to do with the amount charged to international families could it?

The adoption world has gone mad…

Ethica linked to an article on NPR and below are some quotes from the article.

Evidence of corruption within Ethiopia’s adoption system means the Franklins and other American and European couples are facing much longer wait times and greater difficulty in bringing children back from that country.

Adoption agencies and orphanages there are closing fast. Just in the past year, the number of U.S. adoptions of Ethiopian children has dropped 30 percent.

The number of international adoptions by American parents has fallen by almost 60 percent since its peak of nearly 23,000 in 2004. On Wednesday, the State Department released figures showing a drop of 15 percent just over the past year.

“It’s a depressing figure for those of us who care about getting homes for orphans around the world,” says Chuck Johnson, president of the National Council for Adoption, an advocacy group.

****

Homes Needed Now

For that reason, caring for the world’s most vulnerable children requires both a long-term and a short-term strategy, says Brian Franklin, a public relations consultant who is chairman of the board of the Joint Council on International Children’s Services, a coalition of nonprofit groups in the U.S. that includes adoption agencies.

Alleviating poverty should be the ultimate goal, Franklin says, but in the meantime there are millions of orphans around the world who could use a home, many of them in the United States.

“My perception is that it’s becoming harder and harder to adopt children while the need is getting bigger,” he says.

“I find it incredibly sad, really,” Franklin says. “Every day, I look at Sammi and I can’t believe there are still kids there and they’re not going to be able to get a loving family.”

Perhaps anyone who listens to Chuck Johnson of the NFCA should ask exactly “how” that group gets their revenue, and then determine if he has a BIAS or AGENDA….looking at their board of directors I can see at least 7 and possibly more, directly connected to adoption agencies or adoption attornies…and you have to love the token adoptee board member whose bio’s first line clearly defines what is important for his bio to say, yet strangely, no other bio says a word about the individuals parents:

Mr. Sharp was adopted at birth by two loving and inspirational parents, Bob Henry and Mayana Yates Sharp.”

Of course the other advocacy group for adoption, JCICS needs to get some warm and fuzzies in, and why is it that he needs to state it is a coalition of nonprofit groups that includes adoption agencies? When you look at the board of directors, it is clear the BIAS is for the adoption agencies – 6 out of 13 run adoption agencies including the Board Vice Chair and Secretary.  The rest either make their living because of adoption, or have some type of connection, or connections, to adoption and one wonders how much power their votes hold, at all, or if any.

It just all makes me upset…

 
23 Comments

Posted by on November 21, 2011 in Adoption

 

I can’t believe people actually think this is okay…

To price adoption fees based on race…where a white baby can be up to 45% more…

To offer National Adoption Month Discounts – higher discount for a minority adoption program.

To post upcoming “adoption situations” on-line…

To state they have a minority infant adoption program because of all the hundreds of thousands of children in foster care and they don’t want these babies to go into foster care…

I’m sick…

Does anyone really think this is okay?  Who would participate in this?

 
1 Comment

Posted by on November 20, 2011 in Adoption, Ethics

 

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Adoptees…past and present

Mary Gauthier On Late Starts, Transcending Trauma, and Her Searing Song Cycle. A very moving interview worth reading in its entirety.  It also has a video of her performing one of her songs worth watching.  A snippet from the first page.

Q: A lot of people use drugs and alcohol to fuel the creative process, but you had to get clean before you could write a song.

A: Because I was using it as self-medication. I was trying to extinguish the emotions. I was trying to put the fire out inside of me because there was a pain in me that I could not cope with. It wasn’t a party, it wasn’t fun, it wasn’t let’s get together and laugh and joke. It was dark. As it turned out, over the years creating sober I finally found my way to what the source of the hurt was, and of course it was that on the day I was born my mother gave me away. Rationally, anybody could have said that. The therapist said it for years, that you’ve got to look at this adoption trauma. And I thought, come on, that’s just too obvious, it’s not that. There’s something else. It just didn’t register, until it did.

A reality for many adoptees is the denial factor that we were impacted.  A factor many of us never actually delve into fully until we are adults, long after we have moved out of the parental home, married or not, children or not, careers established, or still looking for the path.  There is no rhyme or reason when we start delving into it indepth – it just happens when it is supposed to or perhaps when we are strong enough to really go there.  I do think more awareness at a young age can help mitigate the impact it can have later in life. 

I do worry for the current and future generations of adoptees, especially for those adoptees whose mothers had a real choice, instead of simply other choices that really weren’t choices at all.  I think those whose mothers chose adoption willingly, may have far more challenges ahead of them, as there is no good reason to justify the need to be adopted.  Having a real reason to me makes it easier to accept.  I hope I am wrong, but don’t think so, and perhaps I why I am so troubled when I see campaigns to bring back domestic adoption like I noted yesterday.  I wonder if those who push to bring back infant domestic adoption to the volume it in my era, have any real regard for the person they advocate to be given away.  I doubt they have given it more than a passing thought, and instead looked for studies that don’t show the reality for the individual person most impacted and instead justify the majority are fine.  The studies that do not look at the entire picture of being an adoptee over the course of a lifetime, because that certainly would provide a different picture.

I’m reading Steve Jobs biography and of course I am reading it through my adopted lens.  The impact of being adopted on him shows up in many of the interviews the author had with some of his closest friends, and also seems to also have been part what drove him in the various paths he took.  Of course this is all pure speculation on my part, but I also believe that the two specific groups that co-opted his story when he passed away will not put his biography on the required reading list to promote their causes.  For that I am glad, because I cannot imagine he would approve of being used as a poster child for adoption.  Certainly his parents were incredibly important to him, but that has absolutely nothing to do with any feelings he had related to being adopted.  That is what some non-adopted fail to see, and perhaps the biggest stumbling block to understanding between us.  Perhaps the disconnect goes further in that many can’t deal with contradictory feelings about a subject, and instead choose denial because it is the safe and easy way out.  Who knows…

Anyway, my final notes are to include a couple of youtube videos – but apparently wordpress is in the process of changing how to include videos, so can only provide the urls – please go listen. 

The first is two other adoptees who are musicians, DMC and Sarah McLachlan performing Just Like Me, which has is based on Cats in the Cradle by Harry Chapin, one of my very favorite musicians of all time and you can see him performing it here.

 
2 Comments

Posted by on November 19, 2011 in Uncategorized