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A Christmas Story of an Adoption

26 Dec

By TAO

This post is about a good friend of mine, another adoptee from the same era, and part of her adoption story.  Her parents, like mine, weren’t shy about talking about adoption.  My friend has wrestled with a story in her adoption, that I don’t have in mine.  Every Christmas she remembers this story, at times while she was growing up, she loved it, then it was okay, other years, not so much, and in its own way, haunts her, both in a good and bad way.  She’s had this story for over a half a century.

Now all of you may be thinking it was something really terrible that happened to her one Christmas.  It didn’t.  In reality, it’s something quite benign that some will think shouldn’t bother her.  It does.  I think it would bother me as well for a variety of reasons.  You see, her story of how she was adopted was published in the newspaper on Christmas Day.  Back then, most people read the newspaper daily, it not only covered news, but what people in the community were up to, good or bad.  A time when the newspaper was the only social media available, and everybody knew who everyone else was in their community.  I can almost hear the town busy-body calling people to talk about the story, and anyone on that party line picking up the telephone receiver even though that ring wasn’t for their phone, so they too, could listen to the conversation.

Live Doll

The headlines that are scattered through the article in addition to the ‘Live ‘Doll’ Christmas Gift’, include ‘Judge Proves Benevolent Santa’, ‘No Better Gift’, the story starts out with this (in caps): BEST PRESENT OF ALL – Today is a big day for the ___ family in ___.  It goes on to explain how she was “gift” and later as a “presentable No better giftyoung miss” and details out that one of the pictures is her with the judge who “gave” her to her parents just before Christmas in the “Christmas Adoption Ceremonies”.  The other picture is of the family (including the dog) around the Christmas tree.  Further on it talks about how there is “…no better Christmas gift.” There’s a part where it talks about how she was bubbly, and must have known the judge was doing something good for her because “she wasn’t anxious to leave his lap after expectedposing for the picture”.  Then it talks about how she was ‘expected’ under the Yule tree.  The article continues in that vein asking her parents if they were worried about the adoption not happening, if they expected any hitches, with a response about how they didn’t, but they would have had a fight on their hands if anyone had tried.  It  goes on to give a few details about them, what her dad did professionally for a living, and, it excludes the fact that her mom was also a professional who also worked outside of the home, rather than the typical stay at home mom that everyone back then expected to be the case.  It also talks about how long they’ve lived in the area, and where they were from originally.

Then comes the real reason for this feel good piece; the adoption agency advertising spiel, and of course, names the agency and how long it took – which coincidently was nine months start to finish.

Nine months

First they started the spiel with explaining how much she looks like her parents and that isn’t by chance.  “The adoption agency not only matched the physical characteristics to the adoptive parents, but they made sure the mental matchedcapability fitted.”  They did include the fact that my friend had lived in her parents home since the spring and would soon be a year old.   They also note that the agency “studied the family history of the little girl and her prospective parents all the way back to their grandparents.”  Once the advertisement part was finished, they end it with more syrupy sweet words of joy and how “Christmas is a time for joy”.

My friend never had the chance to not have her story about being adopted kept private.  To be the one who could choose to tell, or not tell her classmates, she was adopted, or at other points in her life.  In that aspect we were the same because everyone knew we were adopted, but it wasn’t because our story was published, just that everyone knew dad, and a new addition without mom being pregnant, was a dead giveaway that we were adopted.

There isn’t anything terrible in the article, no juicy gossip except the adoption aspect (and to some back then, that was juicy My friend and the judgeenough to get the gossips going speculating both on her parents and where she came from).  What it did promote was the “gift” stereotype that still today, is prevalent in adoption.  The over abundance of notes about how bubbly she is, a charmer, the sparkle in her eyes, how presentable she was, that she matched both physically and mentally to her parents, all designed to show that we (adopted babies) didn’t come from bad people – a belief I might add that is also still around today about who we come from.  The puff story with all of its sweetness and clichés was carefully created, and designed to promote the adoption, the adoption agency, and to create a demand for their services, because you too, could get a newborn who would turn out to match you both physically, and mentally, all in the same amount of time as a pregnancy.

I wouldn’t want the story of my adoption published in the newspaper, and think I’d have the same feelings my friend has surrounding her story over the years, both good and bad.  I think I can also speak for my friend in saying that those feelings have nothing to do with being actually being adopted, our parents, but rather, being used.  Used in a puff piece to promote an agenda, which in this case is adoption, and the agency.  Another aspect is that neither of us use syrupy sweet language, rather, we are both plain speakers.  We also both understand the joy of becoming parents, and hope that our parents had that deep joy.  This post has nothing to do with that, it’s about how publishing, and telling the adoptee’s story complicates things, and can create feelings that just aren’t always going to be good, and yet stick with you for life, and in this case, every Christmas, or any time someone uses those words in conjunction with adoption.  I wrote this as an example to adoptive parents that if you write about your adoption, and your child, please consider the long term effect if you willingly do it under your name, your child’s name, or to promote a business called adoption…

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36 Comments

Posted by on December 26, 2014 in Adoption, adoptive parents

 

Tags: , , , ,

36 responses to “A Christmas Story of an Adoption

  1. momsomniac

    December 26, 2014 at 4:37 pm

    Wow.

    While I am sure she felt like the best gift ever to her parents, this is an example of how it has been – and still is – assumed that the adoptee’s story belongs to everyone – much in the same way as women’s bodies are still treated as public property (catcalls, judgments based on looks instead of work, commands to smiles, etc.). What this ought to do is underline how an adoptee lacks “biological privilege” (not sure what to call it, but you know what I mean). But when the more obvious privileges are still denied by so many, this is going to be an uphill battle.

    I am sorry that your friend lost her privacy – had her privacy stolen- in such a huge way.

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    • TAO

      December 26, 2014 at 4:44 pm

      Thanks mom – it sounds like I succeeded in finding the right words to convey the point I was trying to make. Thank you – it was hard to find the right words…

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      • momsomniac

        December 26, 2014 at 5:03 pm

        As always, you choose your words beautifully. Don’t ever doubt that – even when the internet brings out the nasties.

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      • Beth

        December 26, 2014 at 6:54 pm

        Thank you TAO. You did find the right words, I have found so many words and thoughts in this now ancient like me article. Each decade new and different words and thoughts have smacked me right in the face, each decade the fog lifts a little and I can see something new plainly.

        I think the biggest one was when I noticed I didn’t come to their home until I was 3 months old, I didn’t notice until I was almost 40! It says it plain as day that I came to them in March, and I have always known I was born in January, I had read it a million times, guess I never did the math, or couldn’t handle the thought of it, avoided it. That one did sting big time, very scary, no one ever mentioned where I was during that time, probably did not know for sure. The only time it was touched on was in the story of when they came to the foster home to check me out, I imagined hours or days, not months, until I joined their home. How can you miss something like that for so long? Some kind of self-preservation? the fog… And so many wonder why we think/talk about this stuff for so long, it seems that the processing is never done.

        It really is astounding how I didn’t notice so many things. Like the point you made here. I had not really noticed that my privacy was stolen in this way. I felt it there, I knew it was there, but it was in the fog, I couldn’t see it so well. Certainly not the first point that has become totally visible to me like this, and probably not the last. I will own it now.
        Thank you my dear friend, what a wonderful gift 🙂

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        • TAO

          December 26, 2014 at 6:58 pm

          Thanks Beth – another thing we have in common – I was somewhere for several months but no one knows where…thank you for trusting me to try to tease out the words…

          Did you read Paige’s comment? That completely went by me when I was writing it – but so ironic…and Mom’s comment about how everyone thinks they own the adoptee’s story…

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          • Beth

            December 26, 2014 at 9:14 pm

            one thing I learned from this article is, I have been a charming giggler since the beginning – not because I was adopted, or up for adoption, or because of my parents, I was giggling when they met me as the story goes, it was because of me, I just was 🙂

            And I’ve always liked hanging out with powerful men. I had/have many of them in my life, and they enjoy me just as much. I think they were way off in their assumption that it had anything to do with the adoption order of the day – like I knew wth was going on. I am sure I just liked sitting behind the tall bench with the big guy. That’s how I roll LOL

            feel free to post the pic of me and the judge – and my hard deadly leather shoes of the day – and I was HEAVY- that always gave me joy! ha ha

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            • TAO

              December 26, 2014 at 9:49 pm

              Posted…

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  2. Paige Adams Strickland

    December 26, 2014 at 5:09 pm

    She had no privacy yet her records were probably closed. Ironic. The wording in this article is archaic and dated to the era. “Mental capacity”??? Whaaaat? Those words would never fly in today’s world.

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    • TAO

      December 26, 2014 at 5:12 pm

      Really good point Paige – it is ironic that her privacy was shredded but her records are still sealed – her state is still locked up tight as a drum.

      You are right that the words seem very archaic but never believe that the concern or lack of concern isn’t part of adoption today, different words but it’s still there.

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    • Beth

      December 26, 2014 at 8:57 pm

      absolutely closed tight, even with notarized forms from all of my mommies and daddies allowing the release.
      I always wondered if the judge in the picture with me would have allowed it. I would really like to find this judge today… just might post our pic together, probably on find a grave.com, with that question LOL what a wonderful Christmas story that will be for next year.
      I get to own the story now. whew, I smell a storm coming

      the “mental capacity” gem bugged me always, and held me back immensely for a very very long time 🙂

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    • Beth

      December 26, 2014 at 8:47 pm

      oh dear lord, they still do it, the gift, reading these links and seeing comments and all the happy stuff, sure, I get it, but all I can think seeing these IDENTIFYING “stories” in happy dappy print is Nooooooooooooooooooooooooo dear god noooooooooooooooooooooo

      dolls, bears, gifts, did that actually say northern husky? please tell me that’s a term I don’t know about and it isn’t referring to a dog. just shoot me.
      and “labeling them” noooooo just no

      At least mine didn’t mention god or jesus, just santa and the judge, I think

      we all grow up into real human adults, and I have yet to meet any kind of parent that truly wants a perpetual child pet or toy. wth

      I still have no idea how to deter this sort of thing. it’s twisted me up in the head for so long I can barely think, let alone speak on it clearly.

      It’s no wonder some of it gets past us

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      • Beth

        December 26, 2014 at 9:31 pm

        I remember the day when the “Live Doll” story and the story of Pinocchio came together for me… the “real” realm was twisted for me for a long while.
        I dig his story tho, and still dig Santa – so explain that one to me LOL

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      • TAO

        December 26, 2014 at 9:52 pm

        I’m hoping though that this post is kind of cathartic…

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        • Beth

          December 26, 2014 at 11:12 pm

          you must know I love diving deep to revisit the wreckage…
          I’d be the first in line begging to go see the new Annie movie, very cathartic for many of us

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      • cb

        December 26, 2014 at 10:06 pm

        “did that actually say northern husky?”

        Beth, I looked it up. The “north husky” is the mascot of the Evansville North High School football team.

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        • Beth

          December 26, 2014 at 11:27 pm

          mascot… great, so cute, just lovely #sarcasm

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    • Beth

      December 26, 2014 at 9:42 pm

      omg on the front of the “gift’s” shirt, the unwrapped gift with no bow, it says; Made in China,
      and I don’t think I want to know what the other footprint says right now
      It’s peppermint martini time for me.

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  3. cb

    December 26, 2014 at 10:01 pm

    I thought that was you, Beth!

    Talking about the “mental capacity” thing, I’ve told this story before but I was in hospital/foster care for about 4 months because when I was born, my head had a smaller than normal diameter (which was normal size within a week (so might have been due to moulding of head during the actual birth)). In any case, I wasn’t allowed to be adopted for 3 months. When my aparents came to look at me at the foster carers place, they were told about me being born with a small head – apparently a few other potential APs had already been turned off by that fact, they obviously thought I was going to lacking in mental capacity. I do know the name of the foster carer (it is on some paperwork) but she died in the mid 70s.

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    • TAO

      December 26, 2014 at 11:25 pm

      because size matters in relation to IQ – seems rather silly to me – when you consider how small the birth canal actually is – perfection is required I guess…

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    • Beth

      December 26, 2014 at 11:26 pm

      I love your little head story (((cb))))
      I found a medical form that my doctor signed off on when I was 3 months old, have probably told this too. I forgot the terms used, but I took it as passing inspection and now available.
      I’ve heard the 3 month thing from so many I’m guessing it might have been typical? Or maybe they thought we would be better received at 3 months by the new parents – babies are way cuter then, and more is known, they are easier.

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  4. Beth

    December 27, 2014 at 1:32 am

    Oh yeah, I forgot where the dark 3 month path led… eugenics.
    I am glad they didn’t sterilize my mother, it was legal when I was born.
    I’ve heard some terrible stories from some of us that didn’t past the 3 month test 😦

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  5. Beth

    December 27, 2014 at 1:51 am

    ” I think I can also speak for my friend in saying that those feelings have nothing to do with being actually being adopted, our parents, but rather, being used. Used in a puff piece to promote an agenda, which in this case is adoption, and the agency. ”

    The contents were disturbing enough, the “used” part is the worst.

    Now that I own my story – I think this hometown newspaper owes me one.

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  6. eagoodlife

    December 28, 2014 at 10:50 pm

    Reblogged this on The Life Of Von and commented:
    Promoting the business of adoption.

    Liked by 1 person

     
  7. Lara/Trace

    December 29, 2014 at 12:18 am

    I sure wish this post could make the newspapers – it’s like a different world out there and in here

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    • TAO

      December 29, 2014 at 12:21 am

      Someone else’s post should definitely make the newspapers – just not mine it would completely stress me out…but thanks for thinking it should.

      Liked by 1 person

       
      • Beth

        December 29, 2014 at 5:59 am

        me too!

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  8. Beth

    December 29, 2014 at 6:52 am

    I can’t do identifying stories. I often want to, like now LOL, but nope, too much stress.
    Can’t trust newspapers, I know that much. I’ve had a few identifying articles about my work done in our small local paper, and every time I was used for an agenda that was not mine, and not told to me before it went out. One article was done without my knowledge at all until I read the thing in the weekly paper, and it included other family members.
    I don’t even do facebook. I avoid identifying family or friends. I’m not always good at it. It’s a house rule here… it’s often annoying LOL and I made the dang rule.

    It’s hard when you have an important story to tell, a story that needs to be told.
    But there are ways.

    I’ve found many of the main characters, other than my family, in my story – at findagrave.com.

    The doctor who treated my mother like crap, the judge who smiled for the picture as he sealed my first family away from me and gave me another, the agency worker who told my mother I was already with a family that deserved me and drugged her to shut her up, the worker who told her she could leave the maternity home as soon as she signed the relinquishment papers, the agency worker who held my parents names in her hand, laughed at me and wouldn’t tell me when I was 18.
    I’ve added them to my ancestry tree, a small bush off to the side, and now I know all about their families and some of their history.
    To tell my story I will need to tell some of theirs as well.
    To tell my story I will need to tell the story of others like me, I was just one scene. There are many of us in this play, many were in that place and time, in that chair with that judge, before and after me.

    To tell my story I will have to buy a subscription to newpapers.com LOL

    Apparently adoption day was the happiest day in court for the judge all year, I can understand that, historically. For many years there were many more adoption articles I will soon find to read.

    And the Doctor and his helpful wife who tried to bring culture to Appalachia before she returned to NY – I’d like to hear what today’s doctors at that hospital think of his practices now, or if they even know of them. Would love to know the opinions of his family, and what they know of it, and think of it today.

    In the end, I hope someone, maybe a descendant willing to attempt some reconciliation, can tell me if they think the Judge would support unsealing records now, if they think he would let me sit beside him today, 50 years later, for a picture as he signed the release for my OBC.

    That needs to be the end of my true story, or it’s hardly worth writing to me.

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  9. thebeautifulopportunity

    December 29, 2014 at 5:00 pm

    Hi TAO. Glad I found your blog. I feel like my adopted son is a gift from God, just like I feel my bio daughter and husband are gifts from God. But that doesn’t give me the right to tell the world about all the private aspects of their lives. I don’t share about my daughter’s first period, my husband’s issues with his job, nor about my son’s adoption story – unless I have their permission.

    My heart is with your friend who didn’t get to choose whether or not to share this aspect of her life with others.

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    • TAO

      December 29, 2014 at 5:09 pm

      Thanks for that – I tried to word it so that all the different feelings over the years showed through…my friend outed herself in the comments – it’s Beth…

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  10. TAO

    December 29, 2014 at 8:30 pm

    Hey Beth, aren’t you glad you weren’t adopted AFTER the internet started…

    “Anyway, as of yet, we have over 315,000 likes and almost 10 million views! ”
    (removed link to pictures)

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    • Beth

      December 30, 2014 at 12:21 am

      O, I don’t even have to log on to facebook to see that one.
      Is it even a realistic wish that people would stop doing this???? I think it would have to be some kind of miracle or tragedy happen to see a change.

      It’s one thing for a family to post it in celebration of family – a whole new dimension when you’re being used for an agenda.

      I think I had it easier with the public, maybe, the paper was our “facebook” and most people got it, and didn’t have to click on anything to see my story. Everyone knew or knew of most everyone else in my area. My father told me his family got that same newspaper, it was the only one to get, they lived in the next state. He was sure they had seen it, they typically read every page, but like my Dad, they had no idea I existed.
      Yes, I am glad our story didn’t go national or global! And no one could easily save and send my pictures wherever they pleased. Or google more identifying details about my family!

      I haven’t been saved from the web tho! Found my story online today.

      10 million views………. What can ya say without sounding like a buttface 🙂 I know that all too well.

      I’m sincerely happy for the family.
      Hope they had an awesome Holiday and wish them well in the New Years ahead. ❤

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  11. Beth

    December 30, 2014 at 4:50 pm

    OK.
    I have to wonder, can’t help but wonder, if some of the parents that broadcast the beginning of the adoption story, or even allow the identifying adoption story to be used to promote foster care or adoption, later say things like this:

    My daughter deserves her Privacy when bringing in a birth certificate (versus adoption certificate, or any form that might show she’s adopted) so she can play soccer, go to school, get a passport, a drivers license….

    My parents did both, can’t imagine they were the only ones.

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    • TAO

      December 30, 2014 at 4:52 pm

      Their argument fails on the grounds of common sense…

      Good point…

      Like

       

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