Assembling Self

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Adoption is my kryptonite...and there you have it.


No message from the telephone.
No telegrams while I was home.
No mail came though I checked the box.
No cryptic secrets were unlocked.
No headline in the daily news
or printed words to lend me clues.
No response to questions asked
as weeks, and months, and years drift pass.
Still waiting for a sign or word,
the time my voiceless pleas are heard.
But only silence resounds instead.
Another day, unvisited.

I was talking to my son last night it was a very emotional conversation.  We are dealing with some pretty heavy issues and problems and it's the holidays of course.  I was crying, something I don't usually let him hear me do.  He told me that I was a strong person.  That is something I am always told by others in descriptions of myself.  I tried to relate to my husband how vulnerable in life I feel and he scoffed and added “Karen you'd never know it by the way you act”.  And there you have it “act”.

So many adoptees have to hide how they feel about being adopted and adoption period.  It's understandable considering the amount of flack we get about how we feel about it, how we react it to it, and what we say about it.  I am not one of those adoptees that hides much about adoption.  I figure I inherited this big mouth for a reason so go with your strengths I have been told.  And I do.

But, I don't think anyone really understands the depth of despair, pain, and loss that adoption can bring to our lives this time of year, especially for those of us who are rejected by two families.  I can usually take on the world and people in almost any endeavor.  But I have to admit adoption is my kryptonite.  It is the one thing that can bring me to my knees without a moment's notice or warning.  It makes me feel weak and incapable.

I wrote the poem above ten years ago when I was waiting for my first mother to be able to tell her family and others about my existence.  It still applies today, but it also speaks of the relationship I have with my adoptive family.  I don't know if they love me really, and if they do it's more of an obligatory love and tolerance because they don't really like who I am.  I've had enough of that in my life and who needs it?

I've actually been told several times in regards to my adoptive parents lack of real love and caring for me “Well what did you do to them that they don't want you?”  People can't grasp the fact that some parents adoptive or birth just don't have the ability to love their children in the way they should.  And, it has to be that those children have committed some crime or disservice against their parents because normal people wouldn't behave that way.  And there you have it “normal”.  My statement in retaliation to that is “I'm not their child”.  It's the blatant truth.  I am not biologically my adoptive parents child, and my biological parents consider me my adoptive parents child.  I am an adoptee who fell through the cracks of the system into a bleak and barren dark hole of rejection and abandonment.

Adoption is not normal.  It severs children from natural parents and grafts them into other families many times very different from the genetics that adopted children come from.  It is not only not normal, it is unnatural.  I was not the conforming, accepting, grateful little child as was expected.  I was overt with my questions about where I came from and who and where my biological family was.  I reacted to the abnormal situation that was the abusive Cinderella complex forced upon me.  That of being the work horse, the care taker, the minion while the biological child was loved, adored, and treated with special care, kindness, and favor.  Only there were no glass slippers or prince to show up and save me.

Double family rejection in adoption is overwhelming.  I struggle with self worth every day.  Most don't see it. It's a facade and one that I've become quite adept at wearing.  You learn that being adopted.  For the powerlessness and vulnerability is not something we let show often, except with each other and or to those we feel safe with.  And yet even with that still, there remains so much we fear and hide away even from ourselves, that can catch us off guard, left open and wounded.

So, there ya have it.  Not that's it ever been any secret how I feel about adoption or how it's affected me.  But, the truth is it does more deeply than anyone who knows me that is not adopted can understand.  The best gift I could receive at Christmas this year from those who love me is the comprehension that beneath the exterior of this strong, competent, articulate and intelligent woman, there is always a lost little girl waiting for family to come take her by the hand, and take her "home".

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Holiday Reflections

Holiday Reflections

I see this person staring back at me,
and I wonder who it is I see?
Are these her eyes? Is her face the same?
Do I look like him? What are their names?
Pictures like mirrors tell thousands of tales,
but the stories told have always failed.
In lending me the slightest clues,
to endless questions and intangible truths.
For I feel just like an empty shell.
That has no history or past to tell.
I pray I'll find which way to go,
to find the answers to these unknowns.
And finally lead me back to where,
I'll find that face that's in the mirror.

NAAM (National Adoption Awareness Month) was draining and exhausting. I don't regret plunging myself into the issues and emotions that talking and writing about adoption brings.  It comes with the territory in adoption reform, education, and activism. And as difficult as it can be, it is always worth it.  It does tend to give me something productive to do to avoid the Thanksgiving Holiday.

And now, it's December the time of the year when families come together.  But, for many adoptees family means many different things, different feelings and issues, and the difference of missing, lost and relatives unknown.  I am already praying for a quick passing of the next two weeks and to look forward, as I always do to a fresh new year.

I have talked about adoption most of my life and for the last twelve years to everyone and anyone who would listen.  I don't want any other adopted child to be abused and rejected, and the dynamic of it magnified when a biological child enters the family who is loved and adored, and be left to deal with the long term emotional and psychological damage it does. I have been able to educate so many from friends to co-workers to near strangers of the issues of adoption with my story, and the stories of others.  Now, they have new eyes to see the multitude of issues and tragedy adoption can bring to families, and how it can be corrected or avoided to begin with.  No one should have to endure these times of the year outcast, alone, and forgotten by family.

The greatest Christmas gift on my list would be the names and some photographs of my biological family.  Relationships with them would be a bonus, but not expected.  I've lived my life without any “real” family for so long I'm not sure I would know how to act, or react.  Actually having a biological relative I've never been able to meet at the Holiday dinner table, celebrating family connections, and sharing together in food, worship, or traditions is a dream yet unfufilled.  I have to live with the reality that it may never happen.  But, I will never give up hope it will, and for everyone else too.  And, it's a almost a brand new year after all and isn't it about hope?

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Adoptees - No Voice, No Choice

No Voice, No Choice

When we were born we had no voice.
Now that we're grown we have no choice.
Our lives were taken, rearranged.
Left us with questions, loss, and pain.
The secrets that are still well kept.
These lies they want us to accept.
And truths we aren't allowed to know.
Tear at our very heart and soul.

I wrote this today after reading and hearing from several adoptees dealing with issues in relation to their adoption situations.  Knowing that I am not alone gives me a great amount of validation that this is not something, as I believed for so long, was a blown out of proportion or created by myself.  But, it also is disheartening and depressing to know that so many other adoptees are suffering too.

Wade S. Weatherford, Jr., Resident Judge Circuit Court of South Carolina

"If we believe in 'one nation, indivisible with liberty and justice for all', then we should fight to the end for that group of citizens who are adopted and who are deprived of fundamental decency and justice."

Much of the life long trauma adoption can cause can be corrected with giving adoptees the truth about their biological lives.  If adoptees are expected to be like everyone else, we should be treated as such.  The lies, half truths, and falsifications are not a sound and healthy basis for anyone's life.  I can't fathom with holding truth and answers, or lying to my children over significant and important facts, such as knowing who you are and where you come from.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

The Holiday Show - Through The Eyes Of A Rejected Adoptee

The Holiday Show

I see my friends on Holidays going off to see family.
Groaning, moaning, and complaining of all the difficulties.
To get to all those people that they had to see.
And buy and wrap all those gifts and be where they're expected to be.
There's always people arguing and rushing to and fro.
Sisters, brothers, uncles and aunts, grandparents and more.
Too much to do, too little time, and they are wishing all the time,
that they could be somewhere alone or some place else rather than go home.
I guess they'll never imagine in any form or way.
How much I envy watching, all their crazy days.
For if you have never lost it, then you will never know.
How much of an outsider I feel watching “the show”.
But I see through the surface and to reality.
They can't know how it feels to have no family.

I just had another discussion with a friend over Holidays and family.  As she knows I have none that want me...not really.  I'm something to be put up with, an obligation, but mostly an outsider.  I am supposed to pretend that the whole family dynamic of rejected adopted child and adored biological child (and grandchildren), the elephant in the room everyone feels but no one acknowledges, doesn't exist.  And, that all of the abuse never happened either.

I cringe thinking of the usual family Christmas "letter" I'll receive.  The one that goes on and on about my adoptive parents wonderful life living near their biological daughter and their beautiful grandchildren.  Then, there will be the usual one line I get "Karen is still living in Dallas".  Even my adoptive brother who has been smart enough to stay away for years gets a mention of a wife and his son.

My biological family wants me to remain their dirty little secret.  I wonder what they are doing, what their religious and family traditions are.  Or, do they even celebrate at all?  Are they (or myself for that matter) Catholic, Lutheran, Baptist, Jewish, Jehovah Witnesses, Agnostic?  I have siblings out there I know of too, and probably nieces and nephews.  Trees, are they artificial or real?  Presents, are they opened on Christmas Eve, or Christmas morning?  Egg nog, with or without rum, or extra rum?  So many unanswered questions brought to mind each and every year.

So my friend was speaking of all of the issues, logistics, and gift exchanging during the Holidays that were so draining.  I mentioned that I would have no one that will call or worry or wonder what I am doing.  Once again I was told how not having family had its good side, meaning not having to deal with the totality of family Holiday responsibilities.  I stated plainly that no, it doesn't and it never will.  It is the deepest, darkest, most desolate chasm of loss and pain.   The full depth of which no one can truly know, nor would I ever want them to.

The void that is having no family is magnified during this season.  The monumental evidence that no one in either of "families" accept me for who I am is overwhelming this time of year.  But, I will get through it as I always do.  I am one of many adoptees who fell through the cracks of the adoption system.  Sadly, I am far from alone.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Adoptees Hidden Pasts

Hidden Pasts

How do I see the future when I can not find my past?
How can I build foundations that I know are going to last?
With bits and pieces missing and secrets kept from me.
How do I stop the questions and find serenity?
My mind is always traveling down roads that I create.
Where quests are finally finished and much sought answers wait.
Scenarios repeat themselves with solutions changed each time.
I roll the imaginary film and endings I could find.
My head is always in the clouds my feet not near the ground.
Can you hear my constant secret prayer, the song that has no sound?
My heart will always be tied to another time and space.
Until I find the passage to that secluded hidden place.
Where it started long ago, or once upon a time.
Each day until I find the path I'm searching for those signs.
The ones that will point out the way, the direction I should go.
To solve this life long puzzle, and the past I want to know.

I am a 51 year old adoptee who is not allowed identifying information about my biological family even after 3 court petitions over the last twelve years.  I am now on my fourth.  Even with multiple ongoing health problems since the age of 15 the government denies my right to be able obtain a full family medical background.

I have no idea where I was for the two weeks after I was born and taken from my natural mother without her being allowed to see me or hold me.  I can't get any information from the hospital or the medical clinic I was born in and received prenatal care from.  I have no idea in my biological family who I look like, who I take after, or have the ability to find those who may want to know me because they don't even know I exist.  I have no names, cities, or states to search for them.  I have no idea where many of my multiple health issues stem from.

It is time for the secrecy and falsifications about adoptee's lives to stop.  It is time that we quit lying to adopted children about who they are and where they come from.  It is time that adoption agencies, institutions, and lawyers quit stealing and profitting off of children and making marketable commodities.  It is time adoptees are given the truth.

You can't find peace until you find the pieces.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Echoes - The Internal And Eternal Voices In An Adoptee's Mind

We made it through Thanksgiving YEAH.  As many adoptees know celebrating the Holidays can be extremely difficult.  So many absences felt, ghost of the missing lurking nearby even if unknown missed and thought of, and holes in the whole fabric of "family".

I have not posted this poem because I have to be honest I'm a little embarrassed about it.  I read it now and it sounds pretty sappy and pathetic.  But, I wrote it when I was on the emotional high of the pending reunion alluded to by my natural mother through the confidential intermediary and in the beautiful and emotional eight page handwritten non-identifying letter she wrote me, along with a 40th birthday card.  The reunion never happened.  And even now, eleven years later, I have to admit I still have hope someday it might.  It's a continuing conversation I have in my head with myself often.  I know as an adoptee I am not alone in this.

I mentioned to a friend how different this Holiday was for me.  You see if you count back nine months from my date of birth on August 24th you get, yes, Thanksgiving time frame.  She mentioned, since our birthdays are just a few days apart that she guessed she was too.  I let her know the difference is she has the story of her birth circumstances.  I do not, and the reality is that I may never have them.

What I do know is that if I am thinking about it, there is a good chance my natural mother is too, and perhaps me as well.  And maybe, even with the distance between us, we are still connected by it.  Now, to just get through Christmas and move on to a new year.  Maybe a year my natural mother will actually respond to my letter through the courts.  To hope my natural father will respond is too much to think about, for now.


A child was lost along the way, we once were close now far away.
Time stands still, or so it seems, as I wait to fulfill these dreams.
Floating adrift detached from roots, of life's sweet truths I'm in pursuit.
Dreaming of the day I'll see when my love can be set free.
I'll be released, unfettered to show these feelings that only continue to grow.
Oh mother do you think of me?
Were the ties dissolved?
Are you glad you're free?
To carry on and leave me here?
Is there no bond, no feeling there?
I can't believe you need me not, or my existence you forgot.
Voices of the past still say and echo in my head today.
Connections made between two hearts, can never die nor be torn apart.
Did a simple signature sign me away?
Did it erase the memories from today?
Are there feelings left from long ago?
Is there any love deep in your soul?
For me to have?
I'd surely take, whatever gift you have to place.
Into my life, into my heart where you have always been a part.
I wait for the time that I will know when these two halves will be a whole.

© Karen

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

An Ungrateful Adoptee

Ungrateful: Dissatisfied, faultfinding, ingrate, thankless, unappreciative, unthankful. These are just a few synonyms my Thesaurus gives me for “ungrateful”. A word that is commonly applied to adoptees who dare to speak out about their adopted status, situations, or circumstances, and to those of us who dare to step out of society's preferred role for us in adoption and are labeled “bitter” and “angry” instead in our reactions to the system of adoption. And YES, YES I am ungrateful for all of the injustice that goes on in adoption.

For the last twelve years I have been connected with the adoption community I have watched as adoptees and first parents have been lied to, denied access to vital life saying information, and have DIED or their children did trying to obtain it, or to pass it along to biological children. Countless adoptees desperately trying to find answers to their lives with falsified information and little in the way of facts to help them.  So many too, who have spent immense amounts of time, huge amounts of money, and wasted endeavors trying to sort truth from fiction in adoption searches. And, people who have no business in OUR business dictating to us how and what we should feel about adoption.

I have sat, and still sit, ring side to the agony, sorrow, pain, and suffering of adoptees searching and yearning for the truth for far too many days I care to count.

How, could I ever BE "grateful" for this for myself, or anyone else?

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Secrets, Deception & Lies OH MY!

I have waited to tackle this most sordid portion of adoption because frankly I didn't know where to start, or better, where to stop.  It's fairly easy for people to understand, in some capacity, an adoptee's need to know where they came from and their search for their families of origin, especially when it comes to health issues.  A little harder it is to persuade others regarding the civil rights stance for adoptee access to identifying information and debunk the birth mother confidentiality fallacy that's hand fed by the adoption powers that be, such as the National Council For Adoption, to the general public.  But what is even more difficult, if not nearly impossible, is convincing people of the vast corrupt nature of the business that is adoption, and the fraud and dishonesty prevalent and ongoing today.  As we who are in the midst of it know all too well, the evidence is disgustingly overwhelming.

I could go on to quote and list numerous agencies, attorneys, and numerous other persons involved in adoption corruption.  I will do that later, but not right now.  However, if you would like to do so please just type "Adoption Fraud" into your search browser and you'll see for yourself.  Most of these cases populated are adoptive parents who were defrauded by agencies or scammed by prospective birth parents.  What I do want to do right now, is relay examples of some of those that fall victim to the unethical practices in adoption.  The most innocent victims, adoptees.

Adoption Agencies Lie pulled up this site, among numerous others.  One blogger wrote about adoption agencies; "They are as noble as a car dealership."  Those of us who know AGREE!

When I first got online and discovered the adoption community I was not prepared for what I encountered.  Right off the bat I began to hear stories of coercion, lies, and duplicity.  I was shocked to say the least.  And, the most shocking of it all was that I would come to find out my own adoption search would be involved in the covert and questionable methods used in adoption.  But, that is for a whole other blog.

I've heard many, many, first mothers state they had left letters to their children they relinquished with the adoption agency if their grown children ever came looking for them.  And parents and searching adoptees discover later after reunion, these letters were "missing", or had vanished as if they never existed.  Add to that the amount of first parents and adoptees who have left letters for consent for contact in their files with agencies only to be told repeatedly upon checking back that no one was looking for them, or no match was found on the state adoption registry.  Later after finding one another through other means they recognize they have been lied to.  Adoptees who in the beginning are so prized become chattel to the adoption system once they are adopted.

I have people tell me that open adoption is far more common now and connections between adoptive children and their families remain intact.  I beg to differ.  Ask the hundreds, if not thousands, of first parents out there who have had the door slammed shut on them after being manipulated out of their newborn children for adoption with promises of whatever it took, letters, photos, and or visits.  There is no legal recourse for a natural parent to pursue the promised terms of an open adoption as adoptive parents hold all the legal rights to the child.  Their children's names have been changed, possibly their dates of birth, and any information about them is sealed by law in the majority of states.

Many times relinquishment is only given by the natural mother and the natural father is left out of the whole equation.  Many of these natural fathers are not even notified they have a child to begin with.  These agencies like to over look minor little "details" like this (as in the recent case of Grayson Vaughn) and continue to come out smelling like a rose because suing an adoption agency is costly, timely, and difficult.   Once again adoptees are treated as property and lose as they are stripped of their biological families.

I hear these stories this over, and over and over again.  All of this is INEXCUSABLE.  It is a disgrace to the institution of adoption and a blatant slap in the face to adoptees everywhere.

These adoption agencies and lawyers should be held accountable for their actions! Many of these adoption agencies operate under the definition of "non-profit" while taking in massive amounts of money for adoptions.  Adoption agencies take our heredity and family histories and sell them, and then deny our requests for our original identities.  Adoption is supposed to function in the best interest of the children it is supposed to provide for and instead, does them a great disservice. 

The Adoption industry has functioned for far too long unwatched, untended, and unregulated.  They are out there now advertising their services, marketing to birth parents, and perpetuating this cycle of greed and covetousness for other people's children.  They turn adoptees into very profitable commodities.  They violate an adoptee's civil rights!  And, it is all being done in the name of "Adoption".

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Adoption And Identity Loss

"We shall not cease our explorations, and the end of our exploring will be to arrive back where we started and know the place for the first time" -- T.S. Eliot

From birth children look into their parent's eyes and mirrored back are similar smiles, eyes, voices, and faces.  In adoption that is missing.  Many people say they feel like outsiders in their biological families and that they don't fit in and try to compare that to being adopted.  I understand that in many cases this is true, but not nearly in the capacity that adoptees do with no shared heredity to the families they are adopted into.  It can make adoptees feel isolated and ostracized especially when the subject is one that is misunderstood, and is refused to be discussed and addressed in adoptive families.

I am just one example of mismatched genetics in adoption.  My adoptive parents are quiet, conservative, introverted, and undemonstrative.  I am talkative, extroverted, nonconformist, and emotional.  Neither is right or wrong.  They just are both very different.  Add to that the lack of any physical characteristics being the same, and include the expectation of an adoptee fit in, and the whole situation is set up for failure. 

When I obtained my non-identifying information and letter from my natural mother through the adoption courts (no names, cities, addresses given) I was overwhelmingly happy and surprised to learn that I am absolutely a product of genetics. From physical description, to hobbies, to personality, and even down to handwriting.  What a wonderful revelation to finally know at least a part of who and why I am.

I have had the privilege over the years to watch hundreds of reunions between adoptees and their families of origin.  To finally be able to see pieces of yourself in others physically is something adoptees appreciate and celebrate more than those who grew up with it.  Knowing where your sense of humor, your habits, likes and dislikes stem from gives you validation of who you are.  I know I am always comparing my friend's family photos and finding similarities between children and parents, sisters and brothers, grandparents and grand children.  I have watched adoptees and natural parents do the same when finally finding one another and the intense jubilation and celebration that comes for it.  Not knowing who and where you come from is a void in our lives that will always long to be filled.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Missing Ties - Adoption Loss

Missing Ties

A missing sock whose mate is gone.
A distant pair apart so long.
A broken bridge never rebuilt.
Like patches missing from a quilt.
An unfinished letter misplaced and lost.
Undotted I's and T's not crossed.
A phone line with connections broken.
Important words that can't be spoken.
And in each stranger on the street.
We search the faces that we meet,
To find out who it is we are.
The distant ties that seems so far.

Short blog today for NAAM as I am battling immense pain from the usual health issues.  Once again today I found myself defending adoptees who were called pathetic and bitter.  I am mature enough, as the accuser pointed out, to realize these accusations come from those who have no true understanding of adoptee issues.  But, the reality is they exist in our lives no matter what "others" try and tell us.  The lines of this poem are symbolic of the disconnections we encounter in this thing called "being adopted.

We have to walk these in these adopted shoes each and every day.  Adoption is not a one time transaction, it is a life time experience.  Adoption is forever not something you "get over".  We learn to deal and heal from the scars and wounds adoption gives us, and go on to hopefully give our understanding to others.

Much thanks and love to my fellow adoption educators, reformers, and activists.  You help make my life worth living.  And yes, somewhere I inherited that sappy gene...thanks first Mom & Dad. :)

Friday, November 12, 2010

Adoption And God

I'm steppping into a land mine on this one for sure.  But, I can not resign myself any longer to listen to people prattle on to me about God and adoption.  I long ago stopped being served God and adoption together on a silver platter and acquiesing to it.

I am weary of adoptive parents and others claiming, and writing poems about, God's "will" or "plan" brought adopted children to families.  Really?  Did God show up on the door step to deliver them, and if so did anyone get pictures of this blessed event?  Or, were you notified by God via phone?  Fax?  Email?  And, if so can ya hook me up?  I sure do have a pile of questions for God regarding adoption.

Was it God that chose for me to be taken from my natural mother who wanted to keep me, and to be adopted by two mentally, emotionally, verbally, and physically abusive parents who had a biological child that was loved and adored?  Was it God who then allowed me to be adopted into a system of secrets and lies and then rejected and abandoned by two sets of parents?  Was it God who gave me a body ridden with hereditary and genetic illnesses young with no recourse or help from my adoptive parents to get vital updated medical history for doctors like other nonadopted persons can?  Am I being punished for some original sin, my natural parents perhaps?

And, is it God's will that woman are impregnated through rape, or first mothers/parents murdered or killed tragically, so others can have a child?  Was it God that made adoptive parents infertile so they would have to covet other people's children and buy them?  Is it God who ordains subsidies and tax breaks for adoption? I have a hard time believing any "God" would do this to, or for, anyone.  I have a harder time believing God has anything to do with adoption.

There are certain sites on Facebook and the internet proclaiming over and over how adoption is preordained by God.  And OH how I wish these people would stop quoting bible verses to me about adoption.  I fail to see how a loving God would cause so much pain and suffering for adoptees and natural parents to create families for adoptive parents.  The bible can be used for anything you wish it to mean.  I've read it front to back several times and I'd love to apply “An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth” to the adoption industry.

Here are just a few more statements that just make me cringe and writhe in anger and frustration:

"Adopted children are a gift from God".  Really?  I thought gifts were supposed to be given freely.  So, if we see a child as a gift from God, then isn't adoption "regifting"?  Also, I have never received a gift I had to pay large amounts of cash for.  Then, it wouldn't be a gift it would be a possession I bought outright, for myself.  And certainly to me and others adopted children thought of as gifts, taken from their natural parents, erasing their biological identities, and given to strangers does not seem ethical or Godly.  How does one rationalize these behaviors and decisions with God's plan?   I fail to understand.

“God answered our prayers with our adopted child".  Do prayers as adoptive parents take precedence over the prayers of a biological parent or grand parent to keep that child within the family?  Is it God's will then that these children lose their families of origin to answer the prayers of adoptive parents?  Does this mean adoptive parents are higher up on the prayer chain?

How will it be handled when adopted children begin asking about, and searching for, their biological family, IF that is they are ever told they are adopted to begin with.  So many adoptive parents believe that hiding the truth and concealing adoptees from their identies is ok and their right as the "real" parents to their adopted children.  So, it's stated in the ten commandmants “Thou shalt not lie”.  I don't remember any loop hole containing "except in adoption".  I was taught at a young age in Sunday school that lying was a sin.  Is it ok to eliminate the truth for your adopted children if you believe your intentions are good?

A comment now from the adoption book “How God brought us you”; “I appreciate how clear it's made that God brought mother and baby together.”  Clearly?  Really?  Because it doesn't seem clear at all to me.  In fact, it's pretty damn muddied.  I didn't get any announcement from the adoption court judge or confidential intermediary about God placing me where I was, nor was it in my non-identifying information.  Adoption agencies and lawyers arrange adoptions for profit and try to coerce mothers out of their children through propaganda and pie in the sky promises.  Government policy and law allows for falsifications of birth certificates for adoptees.   I sure hope “you reap what you sow” applies to all of them.

“Honor Thy Father and Mother”. Which set?  The ones who abused and rejected me, or the ones who refuse contact with me?  I'm confused on this one.

And lastly, “God doesn't give you more than you can handle” in relation to being adopted.  I call bull S&%$ on that one. No further elaboration needed just read the stories of adoptees and first parents out there, and those that have taken their lives out of sheer pain from it.

So either this is all a huge crap shoot, or this was a path that I chose to enter in life on this earth for whatever lessons and growth I needed spiritually.  The latter makes a lot more sense to me.  But I have no right to dictate to anyone else what is God's will and plan or not.

My faith, and I am stating it is MY faith and no one else's belief system, has gotten me through the difficult times of my life.  As an adoptee I am not a gift, I am not an answer to anyone's prayers, and I don't thank God for being adopted.  I don't believe God had anything to do with my being adopted.  My experience is that the era of stigma and shame over women becoming pregnant out of wedlock and unmarried, and a social experiment that was created by government agencies and institutions called closed records adoption, were.

So, if you believe God brings people children through adoption that is your right.  Just remember that does not give anyone the authority to decree what is God's intention, or not, when it comes to adoption.  No one can claim to have proof or the answers, nor will we ever.  None of us.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Tales From The Adopted Side

Most of my life I was confused, lost, and without anyone who understood why I felt about adopted life as I did. I was given comparisons to bad biological families who were as dysfunctional as mine.  I was accused of wallowing in self-pity and to forget it and not think about being adopted.  If they only knew how I wished I could.

But, I couldn't, most adoptees can't either. I had heard about people finding one another on the internet, and as I had gone back to school, a computer seemed to be the answer to help handle both.  At first, I got lost in chat rooms, big surprise huh, but one day I plugged “adoptee” into the search box. What I found forever changed my life.

Not only did I find resources to begin my search for my biological family, I found those who were working to change the system of adoption.  I became obsessed, not just with searching, but with these groups who seemed to be making significant progress in adoption reform.  I had been a person fairly home centered with my family. Most of my life revolved around them, and work, and school.  But my life was about to drastically change, and for once, for the better.

I joined a local support and activism group on and offline.  I was attending monthly meetings, reading, learning, and absorbing everything I could.  It was announced, in 1999, that there would be a rally at the capital in support of adult adoptee access to original birth certificates.  I decided then I was going and no one was going to stop me.  So, I promptly told my husband I was driving to Austin for this event.  He scoffed and said he didn't want to go.  I told him fine, I was going anyway.  He seemed a bit shocked, but doubtful I would actually go, but I was adamant I was really going to do this.  I remember starting to pack a couple of days previous to leaving and he commented “You are really going aren't you?”  I said YEP, and you and our son can either come with me or not, the choice is yours.  This was the beginning of the new person I was about to become.

So, we packed up the car and headed out for Austin.  I was nervous, anxious, and excited at the prospect of what I was about to experience. I got to the capitol and met up with “my people”.  I was in awe of the stir of emotion and activity taking place before me. I remember meeting a fellow adoptee outside and exchanging stories.  I was FINALLY in the company of those who GOT IT.  It was absolutely spine tingling and amazing being in the presence of adoption reformers who were actually trying to change adoption law!

At the rally outside the Capital Christina Crawford was there to speak in support of our legislative efforts.  I was about to meet the author of “Mommie Dearest”, someone who I had identified with since I had seen the movie.  She began to take the podium and I asked my husband to watch my son.  I was mesmerized by her speech and hung on her every word.  That was, I until I realized my son had run up on to the steps where she was speaking and said “Hi”. Christina stopped, looked down, and paused.  All went silent.  And, what does an insecure adoptee hate more than being the focus of unwanted attention?  Yeah.

I turned about seventeen shades of red and went and got my son.  I thought, well there ya go the woman you wanted SO badly to meet now won't want to meet you!  I was wrong because when I approached her to apologize she was most gracious and understanding.  In meeting up with her again a year or so later at an adoption conference I said “Do you remember me, my son was the one who interrupted your speech in Austin?”  To which she smiled and immediately replied, “Oh yes, how are you?”  We conversed over a glass of wine and shared an elevator ride.  So, I now am memorable in Christina Crawford's life. How cool is THAT?

Before I knew it I was getting to do newspaper interviews,, a brief snippet on local TV (it was only about one minute so I have fourteen minutes left on my claim to fame), The Seeker Radio show several times and a couple of times as guest host.  I was traveling to regional and national adoption conferences and events.  I was elected and asked to represent and lead adoption activism groups.  I wrote and published my adoption poetry book (in bad format I know never EVER sign off on a manuscript when you've been in at Children's hospital for a week with your son in ICU on NO sleep) called "Assembling Self".  I was invigorated each day I got out of bed and I had a sense of accomplishment and pride I had never had before.

I am not usually some one who brags, but I am proud.  Proud that I could be a part of the progress that is adoption reform in whatever capacity I can. I have not been able to be as active in the past few years due to personal issues and health problems.  So many others have done so much more than I think I could ever do.  But, I learn from their work and their examples daily.  I meet new people every day signing up, donating their precious time, energy, and stories for the greater good.  We have so much to do and anyone can advocate for adoptee rights, not just adoptees, or natural parents, or adoptive parents, or those with direct connections to adoption.  PLEASE JOIN US!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

What Adoption Means To Me

A friend posted a link to a site where the question was asked "What does adoption meant to you?"

It was prefaced with the comment "I wanted to find out from the most important people in the adoption conversation – the parents, what adoption means to them."  I take offense to that!  Once again the most important people in adoption, adoptees who adoption is supposed to be in place to provide for, were left out of the equation.  Natural parents, par for the course, were not included either.

The first comments are from adoptive parents and the usual "Adoption is love" blah blah blah.  One left me wanting to puke "adoption was our dreamcatcher."  Well, as an adoptee glad to be of "service".    What a burden to place upon the head of a child to complete other people's dreams and lives.  Perhaps that is not what was meant but that has certainly been my experience, and the experience of others.  Do I believe that there are adoptive parents who adopt to support the dreams and lives of adoptees?  Absolutely.  Unfortunately, the reality of what adoption does to adoptees is most frequently either denied, dismissed, or harshly judged.

So let me state it loud and clear what adoption means to me.

Adoption to me means being taken from my first mother who wanted to keep me and given to a family who abused me verbally, mentally, and emotionally. Who later, had a biological child who was loved and adored. It means rejection and abandonment two fold.  It means becoming ill in my teens and suffering multiple genetic and hereditary health issues with no family medical history to give doctors and languishing for decades in ill health with hit or miss, mostly miss, tests and treatments, and losing a great majority of my life in and out of doctors and hospitals without answers, unable to work.  It means trying to obtain vital medical background for doctors with only an amended birth certificate in hand filled with falsifications and lies, and adoptive parents who did not care to try and help me.  It means years of court petitions to a judge through an adoption court to try and get as much updated family medical information upon doctors urgent requests and adoption laws and policies that treat me as a perpetual child unable to handle the truth about my own biological family.  Adoption for me means loss, and pain, and immense sadness.

These are not stories the adoption industry wants to acknowledge.  These are not emotions adoptive parents want to hear.  These are not experiences the general public understands as truths that exists in adoption.  But they are ours, and they beg to be heard and acknowledged.  Adoptees are speaking loudly, and clearly, that the system of adoption is in need of a major over haul.

Adoption is separating natural families to create new ones.  Adoption is based on loss and pain.  Adoption is the government stealing our identities, issuing us false ones, and profiting off of that!  THESE are the facts and truths that need to be listened to and heard in the month of National Adoption Awareness.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

The Great “State” of Texas & Child Welfare

The recent facts and statistics for families and their children growing up in Texas are pretty grim. It's some of the worst and most depressing news I've had the displeasure of presenting. This all has a direct impact on children who can be separated from their biological families, placed in the foster care system, for simply having parents who are poor. Biological parents should not be deemed unfit and have their parental rights terminated because of poverty. Children who are adopted out of the foster care system can lose their biological family ties forever, and in Texas upon adoption birth certificates are sealed to adoptees, biological parents, and adoptive parents.

Four out of ten people in Texas classified as living in poverty are children (about $22,000 per year for a family of four in 2009). Texas’ aid system, which includes programs like food stamps, unemployment, and Medicaid, ranks second to last in the country for the share of needy, eligible people, who receive benefits. Only about two percent of Texas’ poor children receive benefits under the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program, in part due to the difficulty of accessing funds.

Texas has little funding for CCMS (Child Care Management Services) for low income families to help parents with child care to enable them to go work. And ours, is a state that has the highest rate of children without health insurance and access to decent medical care. To qualify for child care or medical help extremely low income requirements and asset limits restrict eligibility. Texas has the highest rate of children at the risk of becoming homeless, or living homeless in the country. "Women and children are the fastest growing population of homeless nationally and in the Dallas area," said Mike Faenza, president and chief executive officer of the Metro Dallas Homeless Alliance.

I've been told that child poverty in Texas occurs because of our immigrant family population. But, six states with equal or higher percentages of children in immigrant families than Texas have lower, and some cases much lower, child poverty rates. People say those who can't afford children shouldn't have them. These children are already here, let's not punish them for it.  Parents who are divorced in Texas can be bound by child custody laws that prohibit them from leaving the county or state with their children, which can bar them from moving in with, or near, extended families members for help.  Anyone can easily lose their financial stability through one job loss, one illness, or through divorce. I am not suggesting life long reliance on welfare I am asking that help families stay together with temporary assistance.

As of January 2010 79.7% of children were in foster care for the reason of neglect and medical neglect. “Neglect” can be simply be determined as failure to provide adequate food, clothing, shelter, or medical care. Poverty is not a reason to separate families. Here in Texas families have the chance of falling into poverty at a greater rate than nearly any other state in the nation. Pulling yourself up by your proverbial bootstraps can take an overwhelming, if not impossible effort. Foster parents, are often given and offered resources, such as financial subsidies, help from social workers, physical and mental aid for the children.  Adoptive parents can receive tax credits for adopting and can be eligible for benefits such as CCMS.  Why first instead aren't resources offered to biological parents to help keep families intact?

We all know the foster care system is ridden with problems and abuse for children as well.  We will always have parents who have no desire to parent, who are unfit to parent, and children that need to be removed from homes because of it.  But, foster care, and foster care adoption, should occur for children who have no biological family member who wants to and can care for them, are in imminent danger, and in cases of outright abuse. We should be promoting family preservation NOT family separation.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

The Land of Adoption & Politics

I am not feeling well today and have to deal with the CI and adoption courts, and that always makes me sick to my stomach and gives me a headache, but I felt the need to blog about this. So, below is what it is. There is so much more I could expand upon but just not right now please excuse typos and grammar I am exhausted.

I was a little surprised, and at this point anything about adoption does not really surprise me much, at the reaction of some towards President Obama's proclamation on National Adoption Awareness month. He was accused of leaving out the real issues in adoption and ignoring adoptee rights. This is true, as usual, that adoptees and first family were ignored and it's all about adoptive parents and the families they are creating. But, President Obama's National Adoption Awareness proclamation was nothing much different than George W. Bush's proclamation in 2008. Same spiel, rhetoric, and homage paid to the adoptive parents and the adoption industry as a whole. I guess I am a little more used to this than many others, as I reside in the land where adoption and politics are bedfellows, more than usual.

I am lucky enough to live in the great state of Texas, the land of The Gladney Center for Adoption, where adoption and politics have had a long and incestuous relationship. George W. Bush and his wife Laura at one point in time were going to adopt from The Gladney Center for Adoption until they got pregnant with twins. George Jr.'s brother Marvin and his wife adopted two children from Gladney. Gladney and the Bush family have a connection of supporting the raising of funds for Gladney, contributions, and supporting the perpetuation of the closed records system of adoption.

In 1997, and 1999, when adoptee rights groups were advocating legislation for adult adoptee access to original birth certificates in Texas, George W. Bush, as Governor of Texas, took the unusual step of attending a House committee meeting to alert lawmakers that he would veto the bill if it passed.  In 2007 a representative from the adoption agency using the Gladney name was the only speaker at both the House and Senate hearings on the identical companion bills, HB 525 and SB 221, to speak out against this legislation (Thank you Bill Betzen I took this from your Gladney site) for adoptees right to access to their OBC's. Gladney is the only real opponent we have in Texas working against adoption reform. The Bushes continue to this day to donate money and time to Gladney.

Once again, it's not about what's right in adoption it's about profits and what money can buy in the way of children, and votes.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Access To Adoption Information... or better put, the lack of it.

In National Adoption Awareness month there are so many subjects and issues to tackle it becomes difficult to attempt to even pick just a few.  So today, I will focus on the problems and frustrations of adoptees attempting to obtain records and information on their biological families since I am there, yet again.  It is a vast issue to cover in one blog so I will touch on a few key points to help those that are anware of the struggles adoptees deal with.

Most people I have talked with believe you can walk up to a counter and order your records with a simple request.  That is a fallacy.  Requests can be time consuming some taking months and can be costly, depending on where you were placed for adoption out of.  It is especially difficult for those of us who have little or no infomation from our adoptive parents, armed with only an ammended birth certificate in hand filled with inaccurate and false information.  Some adoptees are told they don't exist in any records sytem at all.  Add to that adoptees who were born in one state and adopted into another and it can become a convoluted frustrating process.  I also have heard numerous times "What do you mean you can't get your original birth certificate?"  Once again, so much of the general public is unaware how bound adoptees are by unjust adoption law and policy.

Adoptees can obtain non-identifying information from either from the state, the agency you were adopted out of, or sometimes from the lawyers that handled your adoption. But this non-identifying information, which is the social, ethnic, medical, and educational background taken from your biological family when you were born, is not clearly defined. Some people get little perhaps two or three sentences, whereas some get pages, and some get none.  It depends on the person, or agency, that took it down and it is to their discretion what they record, and what they do not.  I won't even go into the amount of adoptees I know who found out later that this information was in fact not even true.  Suffice it to say, we can not even be assured our non-identifying information is accurate.

Obtaining identifying information about our biological families is even harder, if not impossible.  Only a handful of states allow adoptees unrestricted access to their original birth certificates.  The majority of states do not.  Adoptees have to petition courts, and sometimes incur court costs as well, and be dependent on a judge's ruling to decide what is "just cause" to open your records.  Some adoptees like me, even with dire health issues and an absolute need for updated medical information, are turned down.  I am on my fourth court petition and have received zero identifying information about my biological family, even with doctors willing to provide letters for medical need.  We are yet again, at the mercy of others who hold our vital life information, and decisions, in their hands.

Some states and agencies will do a search for adoptees as mine did.  I was "lucky" mine was done for free probably due to my health problems and need for updated family medical history.  So many other adoptees are not as lucky.  Some, even with emergency medical need are quoted hundreds of dollars or more in cost and well over a year to recieve any records, IF they can locate the biological family and get their "permission".  And, there are no guarantees for your money you will receive anything at all.  This is UNACCEPTABLE.  There is no uniformity with regard to disclosure or access to current family medical or identifying information for adoptees.  It is a hit and miss, mostly miss, system.  Adoptees, and their children are languishing in ill health having to plead and beg for information.  Biological parents are dying in an effort to try and forward important genetic and hereditary to adoptees.  I won't even approach right now the subject of the failure of state adoption registries we are referred to, to help us.

Lastly, adoptees should have the ability to contact their own family and not have a third party in control of communication.   I should not have to sit on the phone listening to an inept or judgemental confidential intermediary trying to read and discern MY family information to me.  Adoptees should not be bound and hindered by an adoption system that dictates to us what we can and can not know about our own biological families.  We are not adopted children, we are adults!  Get the GOVERNMENT out of our way!

Monday, November 1, 2010

Myths and Misconceptions in Adoption

It is very apparent to me that adoption is a very misunderstood subject for most who can only base their opinions from misinformation or small portions of truth and reality. Myths can be deceiving and misleading. Misconceptions can be harmful and devastating. Remarks stemming from these myths and misconceptions can run the gamut from being hurtful, emotionally crippling, and even to damaging to important relationships.

I've had comments about adoption and being adopted that have stuck in my craw (that saying sounds so old fashioned but then again I am old) for days. I have been stung by a few statements by well meaning people who had no true idea of how adoption affects us. I have had more people than I can count over the years attack me and call me ungrateful, whiny, and selfish. I am here to address these remarks and present them in hope those that are not adopted can gain some understanding of what being adopted means to us, and for us.

If I never hear the comment “You were chosen” again it won't be too soon. To this one my response remains, “But first I was unchosen”. And, the ever so popular “Aren't you glad you weren't an abortion”. To which I get a lot of shock value of saying that no, many days I would rather have been aborted than given away to be abused and rejected. Tends to make me not very popular with the Pro-Life crowd but hey, I long ago lost my need for mass approval.  Don't even get me started with “so just don't think about it”.

Many people think my problems with adoption are because of my personal adoption situation which was not good, huge understatement there. People think there are a small percentage of adoptees with adoption "issues". Example, I was speaking about adoption to a very dear friend who stated, "I know many adoptees who are perfectly happy with their adoption situation." I asked him if these adoptees had any current genetic family medical history for themselves, or their children and their grandchildren? Or, did they know they may or may not have siblings and other first family members out there they are crossing paths with or, God forbid, could marry into their biological family since many relinquishment's and adoptions are done locally? Did they know if their biological family was out there searching for them, or mourning their loss? That adoption laws could prohibit them from ever obtaining any identifying information about their first family if they ever wanted or needed it. I told him he was only seeing one facet out of the whole HUGE scope of adoption. He finally replied that any discussion he had about adoption made him feel ignorant. I told him that I applauded him for his honesty.

I have been told that I am lucky I will never have to know what it is like to lose a real parent because I never knew them.  If I tell someone I lost my mother when I was born their natural reply is one of sympathy for my loss.  If I tell someone I was adopted the usual response is regarding how lucky I am.  They are both the same thing.  Adoptees may have wonderful adoptive parents but that was proceeded first by a profound loss.  Doesn't a child who loses a parent young, before they have memory of them, not mourn and grieve throughout life?  Many adoptees who are finally able to locate their biological family members find they have passed. Many find their families had been searching for them as well.  They are left only with photos, a gravesite, and stories, and left with intense agony and sorrow. Lost and forever gone are the irreplaceable people who will always be a part of who they are.

It was alluded to last week by a very close friend that I am used to not having family. I never get used to it, or the loss of it. I never will.

Our pain and loss are unacknowledged and denied as real by others, who impose their preferred reality and expectations of what adoption should be onto us.  Mostly, due to the myths and misconceptions that surround adoption.  It's nearly impossible existing in a world that revolves around family connections, family events, and family holidays, to not have the absence of what we have lost magnified. Our lives are severed by adoption and missing critical pieces.  So much of this is preventable and avoidable with a change to present day adoption law and policy.  This why I can't give up adoption education and reform and attempting to make the world more aware of the vast and broad brush strokes adoption paints our lives with each and every day.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

November - National Adoption Awareness Month - Let The Educating Begin!

This is National Adoption awareness month and it is appropriate that it also falls as I begin my fourth court petition this month for identifying information about my biological family, as well as, attempting to obtain updated medical information. I have received twice in the last twelve years from my biological mother current family medical information from her side, but nothing identifying as she can not come forward to reveal that I exist. Although at one point in time a reunion was alluded to, it never happened. At first court petition my biological father was not able to be found. Upon my second petition in 2005, he was located and although he doesn't claim to be my father, but doesn't deny it either, he stated that he understood my need for current medical information but that everyone in his family is healthy. Yeah, right.

My existence is a huge family secret. Per my biological mother's words in the non-identifying information letter she sent through the court, “stories were set in place to explain my absence, only five people knew of my pregnancy, and to this day no one, not even my best friend knows”. Since most of the people who even know about me have died, or are getting older, my hopes and chances for ever finding my biological family dwindles each passing year. I will always believe my adoptive parents, especially my adoptive father, have identifying information about my biological family but this information will probably be taken to their grave.

My biological father is not listed on my original birth certificate, only mentioned in the paperwork I was told. That is not abnormal though as in those days proving paternity was difficult if the father denied it, and, mine did. There are avenues I could take since my biological mother stated she was still living in the same community when she became pregnant with me. With my original birth certificate and my birth name, I could have access to my hospital records from where I was born, some public records, High School yearbooks, have the ability to do genealogy and ancestry research, and many other things. I could finally know who my siblings are, something that I have wanted, wished, and hoped for, and perhaps have some relationship(s) with them. If not then at least I would have the truth about my life!

I have been in contact with the best searchers around over the last twelve years. With no names, no cities, or states to begin looking in (one down with Missouri only 49 left to go), and very little in the way of information about my biological family there is a slim chance of finding anyone. My only hope really is, either to have one of my biological parents come forward and sign the papers for release of their name, or to change Missouri adoption law to open original birth certificates for adoptees. I am not holding my breath on the first one so, I focus on adoption education, reform, and activism.

I have lost a great deal of my life petitioning courts, searching with what little I have and know, and registering at every adoption site I can. I should not have to battle multiple genetic illnesses without recourse to try and obtain proper updated family medical history. I should not have to lose time that could be spent in so many other productive ways. I should not be bound by adoption laws and policy, and the government, that has no right to withhold from me pertinent and important truths about myself.

What we want as adoptees are the secrets and lies to be replaced by truth and honesty in adoption. What we want is to stop being treated as commodities available for purchase and ownership. What we DEMAND is that we no longer be controlled by adoption agencies and the government who treat us as perpetual children, unable to handle our own life information.
I'm about to begin my National Adoption Awareness month education blog to be sent to the agency I was adopted out of for the judge to read, the confidential intermediaries, and social workers.  I am sending it off to legislators, and to several other adoption agencies. I will share it with anyone who is willing to open their minds and listen, and open their hearts to try and understand.

Friday, October 22, 2010

The Dark Side of Adoption

Over Cast - Adoption Depression

A gloomy gray surrounds my soul and covers hope from which life grows.
With murky tints in hues of black and darkened tones where colors lack.
I know no sun or sky of blue eternal night my only view.
In shades of doubt my heart beats on where I exist but don't belong.
Lost chances and unrealized dreams paint the landscape that I see.
Defeating endeavors to escape the desolate hours that are my fate.
Upon the surface all is well most never see my private hell.
I struggle daily to survive and squelch the anger deep inside.
I try before it is too late to douse these fires of raging hate.
That burn eternal flames that kill my hope, my prayers, my very will.
Can't seem to win or too succeed exiled from life that others lead.
I wrestle with the endless doubt that I will find my way back out.
Where one day I will hope to find a peaceful and unburdened mind.
This blog is not about the dark side of the adoption industry really, although I could go on and on forever about it.  This is part of the story about my personal experience with the dark side of adoption and being ill with no family medical history.  I long ago quit hiding and making excuses for things I have done in reaction to what I have known.  All in hopes, that other adoptees may realize and understand what is happening to them, that the nonadopted world can understand what it is that we need, and we can change the sytem of adoption as it has dysfunctionally operated in the dark for too long.  These stories that are kept deep inside me need their voice if I am ever to truly be free of them.

I was adopted at two weeks, where I was before that remains a mystery.  Most say it does not matter.  I was "chosen" and "wanted" and I should be "grateful".  But first, I was unchosen.  Most nonadopted persons don't know that this "chosen" term comes with many strings attached.  Those, of fitting the adoptive family mold, of being what you are expected to be not who you are, and finally of fulfilling the desires and dreams of others.  I was not unique and celebrated as a person, I was never accepted, I was not a genetic match instead the exact opposite, and I was an outright disappointment.

Although I lined my room with ribbons, trophies, and medals from an early age at almost every group and competition I entered in, and made good grades and was never in trouble at school, I was never good enough.  Perfect was expected in everything, anything less was failure. And then, I got sick.  It was such a huge inconvenience for my adoptive parents.  They were after all, dealing with health problems with their own biological child.  That came first and foremost while my health issues were dismissed, ignored, and determined faking it for attention.

I remember around age fifteen passing out in the bathroom more than once, calling out to my mother for help and being told to get up and go to school and quit being dramatic.  Once, I woke up on the floor after losing consciousness to being nudged HARD by my adoptive mother's foot and yelled at to get up and clean up the mess I had made and get to school.  It was then I realized I had fallen into my little sister's training potty and had tipped it over spilling urine all over the floor and onto myself.  Soaked in piss I got up and cleaned myself, and the mess up of course, and went to school.  Because, being at school was far better than being at home.  I was safe from the emotional, mental, and physical abuse from this woman, and my adoptive father who believed per my adoptive mother, I was a horrible child and deserved everything I got.  I grew to love school more and more.

I ended up in the nurse's office at school several times over the course of the next few months.  I remember calling my adoptive mother from school asking to come home as I was not feeling well.  She came and got me but when I got home I was punished.  There was no caring or love.  No understanding or concern at all.  There was only chastising for pulling my adoptive mother away from her woman's golf league.  I had taken away her only morning that was "hers".  I began to learn to say, and ask for nothing.

Unfortunately, my dwindling health began to take a toll on my grades and class attendence.  I couldn't keep up especially after a very competitive season of gymnastics.  I was depleted and fatigued to the point I was unable to function.  Fortunately, my teachers who were angry and unaware of my health problems called me out and I went before each of them.  My gym teachers wanted to know why after gymnastics was over I had quit going to gym.  Physical education was always one of my favorite classes.  I finally broke down and told them of my physical ailments and my inability to stop bleeding, female trouble, and the fatigue and weakness I was feeling.  They asked why my adoptive parents didn't do something about it.  I relayed the facts.  I told them and that they thought that I was faking it.

I remember confiding in a friend at school who told me she had had the same problems.  Her parents had taken her to the doctor who had put her on birth control pills to regulate her hormones that were off balance.  Still afraid to tell my adoptive parents, I remember the extra birth control pills in the cabinet that were my adoptive mothers.  There was an extra pack with pills missing.  I took a few here and there and it immediately stopped the health issues I was having.  But, then my adoptive mother realized there were pills missing and I was confronted by both parents.  They were outraged and this must be because I was having sex and was a slut or a whore and this is where my problems stemmed from.  I told them about my friend and her diagnosis, and once again, I was called a liar...amongst other names.  They did finally take me to the doctor where he determined I did have, the same health issue as my friend, and was also very anemic and prescribed iron and yes, birth control pills!  My adoptive parents never did give me an apology.

I remember attending my junior prom which happened to fall the night, and early am with after prom festitivites and breakfast, before my state flute solo music competition. I was exhausted and really not concerned about how well I would do. Still on an emotional high from the previous night I went and played. I did not get a one rating, instead I received a two. My adoptive mother snidely and hatefully commented "You just didn't try hard enough".  I was one of the few soloists from school who had even made it to the state level.  Still, not good enough.  I think at that point in time I stopped caring what they thought of me at all.  I was in a no win situation anyway.

My health problems never went away instead they multiplied over the years as I got older.  My adoptive parents told me if I lived my life according to the word of God I would not be ill. It was implied that I was a sinner and being punished by the almighty for not going to church and tithing. So, I did my best to assume the role of a good christian. I was baptized and joined my husband's church and on a regular basis attended services, the required three times per week. Still, nothing about my health changed. Nothing about the attitude of my adoptive parents toward me changed either.  I was still an unworthy embarrassment to them, and their God.

So if being "good" doesn't work and healing doesn't come, and there is no sympathy or support from your family, what do you do? You become bad. It's much so easier. And if you surround yourself with bad people then you don't have to worry.  No one expects much of you and the pressure to conform, obey, and excel is gone.

You are sick and in pain year after year.  What do you do?  If doctors can't find answers you find the best way you can to escape.  Escaping became my life.  This portion I am not proud of.  But now, I understand why I did what I did.  I escaped in men, alcohol, drugs, pills, and acting out to get attention.  The rest of the time I spent isolated, in bed, and sick.  I hated the ball and chain that was my way of life, that of drinking or drugging and being supported by men that were as dysfunctional as I was.  But, being numb was better than living in physical and emotional pain.  Because, why would anyone "good" want me?  I was obviously damaged, unredeemable, and unworthy of love.

Thankfully, I had surgery and got better somewhat.  I returned to school.  I took Developmental Child Psychology to try and complete my degree in education.  I got an adoptive parent as a marriage counselor in my late thirties at the same time which gave me the ability to deal in healthy ways with what had happened to me.  She understood and validated my problems and issues.  She "got it".  I had abandonment rejection issues, detachment disorder, anger, self loathing, and a whole scope of problems that I needed to work on.  And work on them I did.  I joined adoption support groups, I workshopped, attended conferences, adoption seminars, and listened to the stories of others, especially, adoptees who were abused.

People say that the birth of their children is the greatest thing that ever happened to them.  No disrespect to my children meant, but finding the adoption community has turned my life around so I could be a better person and parent.  It has given me a reason to heal, and to change, and to help others.  After all, it has been the birth of me.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

An Adoptee who is sick...and sick of it!

In life the two most important things are family and health, in my opinion.  So, what do you do if you have neither?  I really shouldn't be blogging when I am feeling this badly physically.  Unfortunately, chronic physical ailments also take their toll on you mentally and emotionally.  Add to that life circumstances, and throw in adoption issues, and it is easy to spiral down so deep you feel you'll never be able to climb back out.

Being nearly bedridden and unable to work gives me too much time to think and reflect.  I do better when I am active and feeling productive.  It also makes it easier to avoid feeling and thinking too much.  I am not one who wants to be dependent and weak.  But, the fact is, I am.

My health problems began at age 15 and multiplied as I got older.  I was relegated to an anorexia and bulimia clinic at age 29 when in fact, I was suffering from a rare genetic gall bladder disease only 6% of people with gall bladder problems experience.  I lost 10 years spent unable to eat much and vomiting.  It did not show up in blood tests, sonograms, MRI's, or CAT scans.  I weighed 98 lbs. at one point in time.  I am 5' 6" tall and looked like a walking skeleton.  I found out from non-identifying information at age 39 that my natural mother was 4' 8" tall and weighed 80 lbs. when she got pregnant with me.  My natural father was 5' 6" tall, I obviously get my height from him, and weighed around 130-140 lbs.  I come from small people!!!  Throw in a gall bladder disease and an adoptee with NO family medical history and what do you get?  Misdiagnosis and a life DISASTER.  My birthmother had surgery at age 15 for one of my illnesses I suffer from wouldn't THAT have been good information to be able to give to doctors rather than living ill and in pain from age 15-29 when I finally got that diagnosis? 

Most of my health issues are degenerative and not going to get better, or are incurable.  When one health issue strikes me down and I am sedentary it flares up the others from being immoble for too long.  No one knows the true cost of ill health until it strikes them, and young at that.  Most, are totally unprepared.

It affects my relationships with my immediate family and friends.  It's hard being around a chronically ill person who is in pain and doesn't feel good all of the time with zero energy.  Hell, I don't want to be around me half the time.  It is not living, not by any means.

It affects my work and job performance.  The only problem with employment I have ever had was from absences.  I have to out perform everyone else, make certain I am never late when I am there, and take on extra work and projects to compensate for my failure to be able to keep up as a normal healthy person.  A forty hour work week, especially a fast paced high stress one, takes a huge toll on me.  I have to plaster on the smile, check the clock and count down the hours, and just try and get through the days.

It affects me financially.  Lost work days, medical expenses, and time off work have almost bankrupted me, and a lack of being able to qualify for, or afford health insurance.  If you can't get well, you can't work, and if you can't work you can't afford to try and get treatment to get well enough to work.  It's an unending cycle.

I guess I should feel lucky I was able to receive one half of my medical history from my natural mother's side of the family.  But, I don't feel lucky.  It came at age 39 no thanks to, or help from, my adoptive family.  ALL thanks to the online and offline adoption community I found that guided me through how, and where, to find the agency I was adopted out of and petition the court for updated medical information.  I still have not been able to receive the other half as my natural father denied me any information and stated everyone in the family was healthy.  I tend to find that hard to believe, although it would be a huge relief since my natural mother's side is filled with all kinds of health problems and people that die young.  I am about to embark on my fourth court petition in twelve years.  I will not give up until I get all I can not just for myself, but for my children, and their children. 

I tend to isolate myelf alot when I feel like this.  First, being chronically ill for the majority of your life is something not many truly understand.  I've been labeled a hypochondriac, lazy, and crazy.  Not many people understand being adopted either.  I've been called angry, maladjusted, and ungrateful.  People pass judgement on what they don't understand.  I am here to tell them differently.

I refuse to give up my work in adoption reform, activism, and education.  It invigorates me and gives my life purpose.  It gives me a reason for getting up everyday and going on.  Something good will come out of my horrible life experience of adoptive family rejection and health problems if not for me, then for others.  I should not have spent years and a lifetime sick, without recourse to get a FULL family medical background.  I should have not had to navigate with only an ammended birth certificate in hand, and a system that continually denies adoptees the same rights as every other citizen of this country, without being able to provide any information and answers for doctors.

NO adoptee should lose their life because they are denied identifying information about their natural families to have the chance to get family medical history.  NO adoptee should be discriminated against by adoption laws that prohibit our chance at a full healthy life.  NO adoptee should have to struggle to be able to have full family medical background for their children.  It it vital, it is a necessity, and it is our RIGHT!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Pro-Life, Adoption, & And Child Well-being

I am going to tread, and not very lightly, on a subject that is sure to cause some strong reactions. But, I've come to stir the pot because I believe, and hope, it can bring to light issues that need to be discussed, debated, and dealt with. As a child adopted into an abusive family, and then rejected when a biological child was born, this issue is important to me and for all children period.  People tell me all of the time I should be glad to have not been aborted.  They are shocked and taken back when I tell them very frankly that no, I am not glad really, who would want to be born into a childhood experience of 18 years of emotional, physical, mental, and verbal abuse?  Who would want any other child to?

I live not far from where protesters gather everyday near a woman's clinic with their signs that say “Pray to end abortion”. Their vigils anger me. Not that I am FOR abortion, although I am pro-choice. The point is where will these people be after these children are born? In what capacity are they going to help make certain these babies, and future adults, are safe and protected, fed and clothed, and properly educated? Adoption is not always the happy ending for a child born. What happens to biological families who do not relinquish and keep babies when there is abuse and neglect that already runs in that family? I realize there are no guarantees for anyone in life, but we need to expect that once these children are born, there is a great responsibility that will be placed upon someone.

I live in the Dallas/Ft. Worth metroplex, where there is a great amount of obvious wealth. Texas is listed nine times in the top 100 wealthiest zip codes in the nation. Yet here in the Dallas area, we have one of the highest rates of children living hungry, homeless, and in poverty in the nation. Texas is at the bottom of the nation's list of SAT scores, has a high drop out rate for students almost one third of students do not graduate, and over all, Texas falls nearly last in every educational statistic, including, cutting educational and afterschool programs, and not being competitive with teacher salaries in comparison with other states.  As we are all very well aware of, education is key for a child to have the ability to attend secondary educational institutions, acquire scholarships, and vie with others in opportunities for employment.

In July, 2010 on the Texas Care for Children website, the Annie E. Casey Foundation annual rankings of child well-being in their 2010 Kids Count Data Book for the nation were posted.  The state of Texas performed the worst yet again.  There was a sharp decline in infant health due in part to low birth weights.  And while the rest of the nation has lowered it's infant mortality rate, in Texas it rose 11%.  Six out of every thousand newborns do not make it to their first birthday.  Texas child abuse rates are also higher than the national average.  One social worker, and fellow adoption activist, told me that more children die at the hands of their parents in this area than nearly anywhere else in the country.

There are multitudes of children languishing in foster care, in homeless shelters, in abusive families, and in need of our help already. I see the time and effort these demonstrators exhibit, and as a fellow activist, I understand they are doing what they believe is best. But, if we took care of children when they are young we would not be needing to provide for them as adults in penal institutions, and social service programs, later in life.  We would not be burying them before their time.

Wouldn't time be better served for our children if we took care of the ones that are already here? If these people are pro-life why not advocate for the lives of children that are in need now? Perhaps some are, but obviously not enough. As activists raising awareness for their cause, that of life for unborn babies, life is not just being born it is the years that follow.  We are failing miserably at it here.

I am not just an adoption activism, I am an advocate for children. I vote, I donate when and where I can, I have volunteered with school programs, I have been teacher and child care administrator, and I speak up for the children that are here, and those who have no voices yet. These children will be our future if first, we give them a fighting chance.  So really, in truth, I am "Pro-Life".

Saturday, October 2, 2010

A Special Adoption Reunion Story

As most people know I carry my adoption reform soapbox with me wherever I go.  I'm usually retaliating against the closed records adoption system in whatever way I can, and advocating for truth and honesty in adoption.  Have mouth will travel.  But, no matter how many diatribes we write, studies and statistics we quote, I truly believe our personal stories speak volumes too.  I call this adoption reunion story special because it's special to me as I was fortunate to witness it firsthand.  I will never forget it.

I was at work and in the course of some down time there I was relaying my adoption situation. I had a coworker speak up to say he was also adopted and was looking to find his family of origin and we immediately bonded over this and became friends.  I took down the information I had for him and went home.  Thankfully, there are so many adoption search angels that excel in finding biological family members and I contacted one I knew well.

My friend had his non-identifying adoption information from his adoption file, along with some identifying information, and knew that he had been adopted around the age of one.  He had been told his first mother had other children and his first father had left the situation and that she did not have the resources to support all of her children.  Hence my friend, the youngest, had been placed for adoption.

He, like me, had not bonded with his adoptive family and had never felt as though he was at "home".  He was not close to his adoptive family or other family members and he had, as I had, always felt like a loner in the world.  His story felt so similar to mine and I was on a mission to try and help him get some closure.  I contacted a searcher I had worked with and gave her all of the information my friend had.  Luckily he did have his first mother's name and some good basic identifying information.  We were hopeful.

The searcher I contacted came back with a woman whose name, although a different married last name, and date of birth matched what my friend had provided me with.  Her address was also in the same basic area my friend had said he had been adopted out of.  I took the info, did some further research on my own, and finally had in hand a phone number that I thought matched the woman we were looking for.  I told my friend that I thought this is the woman I believed could be his first mother and he agreed that I should contact her for him in case she did not want to hear from him.

Nervously, I dialed the phone.  A man answered and I asked for the woman we were looking for.  He said "Just a moment" and put down the phone.  I heard a woman answer "Hello" and I took a deep breath and asked her if this was "insert name" and if my friend's date of birth meant anything to her.  There was a moment of silence and she said no.  I restated what I was asking her and she said again, that no, she was not the person I was looking for.  I apologized for interrupting her and thanked her for her time.  I was disappointed to say the very least, and down hearted as I felt badly for my friend whose hope was going to be deflated.  I knew he was waiting to hear what I had found so I made that phone call that is always so hard to make.

We spoke and I related to him what this woman had said and I did the best I could to help keep his chin up knowing that nothing can take away the loss that comes with not being able to locate your biological family.  Especially, for those of us who have been rejected and denied by our adoptive families it is a double whammy.  A few days went by and the phone rang.  I answered it.  I heard a man ask if I had called "insert first mother's name" a few days back.  I said yes that I had.  I heard his voice quiver and ask if this was in relation to "insert my friend's name".  I said yes.  I could ascertain by the inflection in his voice he was trying to hold it together as best as he could and he stated that yes this was in fact the person that I was looking for, and that he was his biological brother.  It hit me all at once that if I had not known better I could swear I was speaking to my friend on the phone.  Their voices were identical!  Apparently, his mother was very ill and surprised by my call.  She had been surrounded by other people in the room and did not feel comfortable speaking to me at the time about the son she had relinquished.  But, that she did want to know him and how he was.

It was then my friend's biological brother broke down some more and said he had been a few years older  and had always wondered where the little boy he used to play with went.  I was also having a hard time not becoming emotional as I was so moved by this brother who had obviously never recovered from the unexplained absence of his little brother.  I told him how similar their voices were and that they were obviously brothers.  He spoke of the circumstances of their childhood, his mother's dilemma trying to take care of her children by herself no family to help, and the fact that none of them had ever forgotten him but had no way of knowing where he was at.  I asked for his phone number and could I give it to my friend he immediately said yes.

I called my friend who was absolutely thrilled and took the phone number I had for his brother.  A day later he called to tell me he and his brother had spent hours on the phone.  The similarities that ran in their lives, including their voices, were proof that genetics speak loudly and clearly.  We, as adoptees, are the ones who know what weight and the importance of heredity carries.

I moved, my friend moved, and we lost touch.  I do not know to this day the total outcome of their story.  I know that they had plans to spend time together and for my friend to meet his biological mother and the rest of his siblings.  What I do remember hearing is two men brought back to being little boys when life split them apart, returning to recover that portion that had been lost and covered up, and making up for missing years.  I heard healing and joy.  I heard pain overcome and hearts reunited.  I hope for them the best.

Life is not a fairy tale nor do adoptees expect one.  We are only asking for the truth.  Our lives are based on changed names, changed dates, and falsifications and lies and we know, better than anyone, that truth is always better than fiction.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Hard Truths About Adoption

I was responding to a comment regarding an article post about the hard truths in adoption and it turned into quite a lengthy response. It was then I realized I'd really written a whole adoption activism blog.  Just add an adoptee poem and VOILA!

I never deal in absolutes and view anything as black or white nor do I with adoption either. Each of us have our own stories and experiences however, there is no question that adoption has long been in need of a major overhaul and that is greatly understated. This is the bottom line for me in what I have learned, experienced, and have seen over my 51 years of being adopted, along with, being educated in adoption activism and reform.

There are variables in adoption that makes creating families very different. I state the obvious first. There is a constant comparison to the poor formation of biological family in comparison to adoptive families. They are apples and oranges. Adoption brings to the table factors, large important ones, that are missed and overlooked by those that create adoption law and policy. Our world revolves around family heredity, rituals, and celebrations. Only those of us who have been disconnected from it truly see this and it is magnified in our pain, loss, and sorrow.

There are no biological or genetic connections to an adoptee's adoptive family and much, not all, of the time adoptees “feel” it whether in good adoption situations or not. In studying child psychology even prior to my venture into adoption education and activism I learned that children raised outside their families of origin attachment disorders and abandonment issues occur no matter the health of the relationships and bonds from adoptee to adoptive parent. It's hard to develop a sense of self when you have no idea who you are. Only in adoption are genetics whitewashed as unimportant.

When we allude to the fact that money is that factor in relinquishing a child to adoption yet give tax breaks for adoption it's hypocritical to say the very least. I am not here to argue the fact that there are children in need of good homes. I am here to try and change the way it is done IF it needs to be done at all. Family preservation should be first and foremost especially if there are extended family members who are willing and able to care for the child.

Adoptee's are bound by contracts made by other people they had no say in. Adoptee's are restrained by laws that only apply to them while every other citizen of this country enjoys the freedom to contact their biological family and, we can even be penalized and jailed for it. This freedom is taken for granted by the rest of the nonadopted world. Adoptees are treated as commodities and property. If adoption is to function at all this needs to

The evolution of thought and practice in adoption has not even begun to function in the best interests of the child it is supposed to provide for. It still operates for the best interest of adoptive parents and the agencies and institutions that proft from it either monetarily and or, in maintaining control of the status quo and perpetuating it's existence. I was more than surprised and excited to see in 2000 at an adoption conference workshop and seminar when the question was asked how many people attending who were first parents and adoptees becoming adoption professionals two thirds of the room raised their hands. Encouraging to say the least that if adoption has to be it will be done by those whose are not ignorant, uneducated, or whose interests are perpectuated by monetary gain.

The voices of adoptees have long been ignored. That will be no longer be the case as we are here to continue to be heard and acknowledged in our quest to make certain the archaic and outdated system of adoption changes if not for ourselves for others.