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.