Yesterday I was musing on an article written about genealogy that rubbed me the wrong way, perhaps just my take, but it seemed like it was attempting to downplay or dismiss the value of genealogy and family trees. It reminded me of the same way an adoptive parent comes off trying to downplay the importance of a family of birth to the one adopted. Later, as I was tidying up around the house waiting for a service technician to arrive, it struck me, at it’s core, what I heard was the deflection of connection, the act of being connected to another person in a personnel and interconnected way, that bothered me and struck such a discordant note in me. Read the rest of this entry »
Tag Archives: family trees
I worked on one of my family trees yesterday trying to figure out if I had the details for one generation right. A generation I have no problem figuring out on my dad’s tree, but I’m stumped on whether I’m right on this tree, my tree, my family of birth. Read the rest of this entry »
I’ve talked about seeing yourself reflected back many times over the years. Today, I’m bringing it up because yesterday I updated the family tree’s (I have one for each parent) with the details of mom passing. And, once someone’s passed, I add pictures too, something I’ve always shied away from while they are living, despite having the tree’s set to private, invite only. Once I get started, then, of course, I check to see if there are new records or details to uncover, and time slips away as I become the observer of generations. Read the rest of this entry »
I started a draft post on my birthday and intended to post it a couple of weeks later, then I forgot until the other day, and now it has morphed into a very long post because I’ve incorporated new thoughts into the post.
I don’t follow Jen Hatmaker, but from time to time I have read her posts, such as her three posts on ethics after Kathryn Joyce’s “The Child Catchers” came out, which caused the people in the Orphan Adoption Movement (or whatever they call themselves) to get so upset. Read the rest of this entry »
Growing up – I desperately wanted to know where and who I came from. I’m not going to pretend that desire was in my thoughts constantly, because I was just a kid. A kid that did all the normal everyday stuff – who had a mom and dad, siblings, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins. Yet in times of reflections, day dreaming, times when I could just be alone with my deepest thoughts – that yearning was there. That need to know – combined with knowing that I could never know. Read the rest of this entry »
I deal with insomnia – nothing seems to solve it so I watch TV quietly or read. This morning it was TV – the Canadian show – Ancestors in the Attic – that comes up with interesting story lines, and condenses it into a half-hour. Below is the episode I saw this morning – I am not great at recapping, and it will be choppy, but I think you will get the highlights. Read the rest of this entry »
Two talks from Ted but seem so right on an adoption blog. I am sure there are many marketers working hard in the background to hype adoption as the solution to everyone’s problems…the most visible is of course calling an expectant mother a birthmother (one word)…but there is so much more…
Rory Sutherland: Life lessons from an ad man
“Advertising adds value to a product by changing our perception, rather than the product itself. Rory Sutherland makes the daring assertion that a change in perceived value can be just as satisfying as what we consider “real” value — and his conclusion has interesting consequences for how we look at life.
Rory Sutherland stands at the center of an advertising revolution in brand identities, designing cutting-edge, interactive campaigns that blur the line between ad and entertainment.”
The second Ted talk that strikes me as right…
Dan Ariely asks, Are we in control of our own decisions?
“Behavioral economist Dan Ariely, the author of Predictably Irrational, uses classic visual illusions and his own counterintuitive (and sometimes shocking) research findings to show how we’re not as rational as we think when we make decisions.
It’s become increasingly obvious that the dismal science of economics is not as firmly grounded in actual behavior as was once supposed. In “Predictably Irrational,” Dan Ariely tells us why.”
I’ve spent my free time today working on my [adoptive] dads’ family tree. I had a duplicate entry, and stupidly deleted the wrong one – not the duplicate – but the one that also deleted all the ancestors and sources. Joy. Good news is I am back to the early 1600’s again, and also took the time to refresh my knowledge of his ancestors who first came to the Colonies and the road they had to travel to just eek out a life. Knowing the type of people they had to be to survive and carry on – I see dad in them because that was the type of person he was as well.
Every single time I work on any of my trees – it reminds me that so many adoptees have no ability to do that – to know the road travelled by those who went before. Donor conceived face the same struggle as adoptees, and yet the industry keeps creating more and more without giving a damn what the donor conceived will face. It is all so very wrong, and no one seems to care, or if they do speak up they are shot down. People are so desperate to get what they want – they forget they are choosing to go forward knowing their children – will be denied the right to know where they come from, and they may want that very much as well. Seems so very ignorant.
November 16th prompt…Knowledge About Your Adoption
Some adoptive parents share more than others for various reasons. How much of your adoptive parents’ story was shared with you? If they shared details about your adoption, how did that make you feel? If they did not, do you wish they had? Did your parents share with you why they choose to adopt? Did they share that story with others in your life? If so, did it affect you in any way?
Mom and dad shared exactly what the SW told them, and that part of my story was they were asked to adopt me, when they weren’t looking to adopt again. Everyone knew we were adopted – there wasn’t anyway they could have hidden it if they had wanted to, so I am sure my entire four sentence story was shared with at least those close – really how could they have abbreviated it anymore than that…
Every time talk about an adoptee’s story comes up – I am drawn to look back to the posts I have done about Chimanda Adichie – “The Danger of the Single Story”
This is a snippet of what I said in my post on November 20th 2011…about what Chimanda Adichie says in her talk – and how I related to it.
In the talk she shows time and time again with anecdotal personal stories how our impressions and views on an individual are shaped only by what we know about one part of who they are.
She states “It is impossible to talk about the single story without talking about power. There is a word an evil word that I think about “oncarli” (my phonetic spelling), it’s a noun roughly translated “to be greater than another”. Stories to are defined by the principal of “oncarli”, how they are told, who tells them, when they are told, how many stories are told, are really dependent on power. Power is the ability to tell the story of another person but to make it the definitive story of that person.”
As an adoptee in a closed adoption with knowledge that I would never know my family, my ancestors, my nationality I had one Single Story of them. A Single Story passed to my mom and dad from the social worker. That story consisted of four sentences. Once the court opened my records and I met my family, I learned that story had no truth to it at all. But it had been MY Single Story of my family for over 40 years. The power was held by the social worker who crafted my story, each sentence had the smallest grain of truth and a liberal helping of borrowed or changed information designed to ensure that even if I searched, with those facts I would fail.
I think Chimanda Adichie provides the very best advice to adoptive parents in her talk. What I took away in part was – be aware that you are telling only one story of another person – tread very carefully with the terms you choose to use, and how you tell the story, and how limiting that story actually is. Recognise the power you hold over making that single story – the only story anyone hears and remembers – you don’t know all the stories – just the one story you were told.
This is what I said about this ted talk back in 2010…
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.
Even if you have listened to the talk before – it is worth listening to it over again, I can’t stress that enough.
I am a very early morning person – as soon as my eyes open I am awake, doesn’t matter if it is still dark, I am up, hubby on the other hand tends to get up around the same time each morning. Because of this, quite often I am up several hours before him and either have to read or watch TV, so I recorded several of the “Who do you think you are” episodes to fall back on. This morning I watched the Jason Sudeikis episode and he said that he was at the point in his life of “looking back“. His story had some not so nice realities to it but still his story to know. I think everyone can benefit by knowing their family history – both the good and the bad – it shows why people did the things they did, and what made them who they were.
That “looking back” time in life he referred to seems to me one that happens at different times for different reasons – most basic of all – your own mortality. For adoptees I think there are many points we come to that we can feel the need to know more of our history – regardless if we have searched in the past, or not, or made the conscious choice not to search at all and made peace with that. I always wanted to know my history and at the same time, I was always the one listening to dad’s stories or pouring over his family tree created by his dad. I loved the sense of connection he had to his ancestors, and because of my connection to him – that was all it took for me to be interested.
I have done my maternal family tree and learned a lot about myself in the journey, and am still waiting to do my paternal family tree but that requires the 1940 census to be indexed completely…sigh…
But getting back to dad’s family tree – I still continue to research it and expand it past that family tree created by grandpa – linking newly added source records, confirming my work to date as correct. It still fascinates me simply because it’s dad’s family tree. His ancestors passed on their genes and how they lived their lives to each new generation, including dad who shared with me how to live my life by working hard and helping others first. I spent several hours yesterday linking up birth records from the 1700’s, finding new siblings to add to his great-great grandfather’s family, adding war records from both the Civil War and the Revolutionary War, grave stones, places, occupations. My next project is to create an actual map of migration that will include who migrated, where, why, when, starting from where they came from across the ocean to where they lived in Massachusetts in the 1600’s to their journey across the states to where dad grew up and lived out his life – a journey travelled over many generations. I am doing this for is simply me as dad was the last male in his family line.
At the same time I will still work on my maternal tree as well, filling in gaps, confirming more details with source records, and will create a migration map as well, but it won’t have the richly told stories that dad had for his dad’s side. Yet even dad’s tree is missing stories – my grandma’s family story that no amount of searching can confirm some of the details she talked about, where her family lived because things don’t match up except for one brother who I met as a child. I suspect she had some skeletons in her closet she didn’t want known to those who might judge, but it leaves a visible hole in the story – a mystery that needs to be solved so the tree is complete.
I value all my family trees…I am linked by nature to some and nurture to others – all part of who I am, all important to me, together they tell my story of who I am.
All adult adoptees across the US deserve the right to know all of their story – please support Adoptee Rights – write your legislator today – it only takes a small amount of time and it is the right thing to do…who knows it may be your letter that gets your representative to visit the Adoptee Rights booth at the National Conference of State Legislators Convention in Chicago this August 2012…
A day I have looked forward to since 2005 when I learned my father’s name and after I found out he did not want contact. A date when I could start exploring my family history by learning the names of my paternal grandparents in the 1940 census. The starting point I needed to start my final family tree.
The day I was counting down to in this post.
Well, that day has come and gone. That day I logged on and was disappointed. The next days and the following week were disappointing too. Seven weeks later I am still disappointed. The hype leading up to it and after as a paid subscriber of ancestry.com was intense. The lack of specifics that the census would be released but not searchable, must have been hidden deep in the advertising because I did not see it. The ongoing lack of any projections on when states would be searchable is not visible to me on the site. To date they have the following states – NV, DE, DC, ME searchable – seven weeks later this is all they have done. Any other state you need to at least know the district and then must scan through each page individually from that district. I don’t know the state, let alone the district. I have an idea of which state they may have lived in, but other than an idea I have zero information except my father’s name and age at the time of the census. My grandparents could have lived in any state for all I know. That’s a lot of districts in a lot of states to search each page from the 1940 census. What good is having that subscription if it does nothing for me?
It is excruciatingly painful to be so close and yet so far…after waiting so long.
It makes me angry that I still don’t know the other 50% of who I am…
I’m getting downright snarky…I just want to know and really don’t think it is too much to ask to know when they expect to have each state, by state, indexed and searchable. Is that really so much to ask?
Over the years I have watched parents pull out the “adult adoptees said” card when trying to justify their decision. That can be a good thing or a bad thing. The current discussion I have been reading and thought it would make a good post, is on whether or not the parents should search and exactly what the means. The discussion seems to hinge on the fact that adult adoptees have told them it is up to the adult adoptee to do the search.
Up front, I do want to say the adult adoptee needs to be the one who does the actual journey of the search, but like any topic, there are so many shades of grey and questions that must be considered before you can apply it to your situation.
Part of the confusion I see is what the statement actually includes or means. That seems to cause a lot of confusion, with some taking it literally in that the adult adoptee needs to start from square one, with not one iota of additional information, other than what the parent was given at the time of adoption (which can really be nothing). I read the statement quite different in that if the adoptee has grown up in a closed adoption, when they become adults, it has to be their choice and their journey, to take, or not. One would hope that up to the point of becoming an adult, the child has been told and shown that their parents have dealt with any fears, and are willing to back their child in either choice, and be there if they are invited.
As far as any advice given, the parents need to dig down into what that advice means to the adult adoptee giving it. I would encourage them to open the dialogue and delve into understanding the parameters, what it includes, or excludes. Explore the different layers by understanding the intent. Seldom is a single statement of advice a good fit for all situation’s or interpretations because it is lacking in context and content. It would be like someone telling you to turn on Broadway to get where you are going, when you have to get to Broadway from the other side of the country. The advice of any single statement can’t be nicely packaged as either/or, and here is the line in the sand where the parent over steps.
Below are just some different thoughts that are intended to show how many layers there to that single statement of advice that adult adoptees are the ones to search, for parents to consider from my standpoint. These only scratch the surface. Each situation is different.
In either domestic or international adoption if you search with the intent to open the adoption when the child is young, and you have the intention after deep consideration to make the openness ongoing – then that is pretty cut and dried – you are the parent. The adult adoptee choice to search is not relevant to the conversation.
In international adoption if you search with the intent of compiling all the information you possibly can before the trail goes cold, so that if/when the day comes that your child wishes to go on that journey, then all you have done is what many parents do at the time of the adoption if it is domestic – they keep the information to give to their child when they become adults, because it is their child’s information. To refuse to create the paper trail when you know that in twenty years there will not be anyone who has kept records, and you used the justification that adult adoptees said it was not the parents place to search, then you are just using their advice to give you the easy out.
You really need to understand your stake in choosing to follow or not follow the advice. Tough to do, but delve into your motivations and determine if you are making that choice based on your own desires and needs, or genuinely in your child’s best interests over the entire course of their life. You have to understand the need to search some/many will have, and the likelihood of success with what you have now for them to start their journey, and assess if you can do more now. The long-term risk if there are any genetic diseases that can be mitigated with early knowledge, or the risk if your child needs a bone marrow transplant, and the chances of a match on the registry. The generational impact on their children if they didn’t search, who may choose to take that journey because of their desire or need to search out their roots. The underlying right for your child to know where they came from and how they may feel being denied that right. There are so many more aspects you need to explore, that if you can make that decision quickly and easily, and it falls in-line with how you felt when you first decided to adopt, you can probably assume you are thinking about your needs only, and using the advice as justification.
Far too many parents whose job it is to make all the everyday decisions for children and have no problem making big or little decisions, fail when it comes to adoption decisions. They use whatever excuse to justify not doing something because it is out of their comfort zone. If they ask the child about something adoption related in such a way as to illicit the answer they want, when they wouldn’t ask the same question when it comes to anything else similar (but not adoption related), then they have simply done it to justify their needs and desires.
Hope that made sense…I believe parents should acquire all the information they can for their child so that if/when they are adults and decide to go on that journey of search they have the best fighting chance of success.