Assembling Self

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

An Adoptee's story of survival

I want to share something with everyone that hopefully will help lend some encouragement on this difficult, painful, and confusing path of being adopted.  Although each of our stories have similarities in them they are also unique.  I have learned so much over the last thirteen years from others and hopefully my experience can shed some light on the hope that always exists even if it can't be seen or felt right now.

I have struggled with strange and mysterious undiagnosed, misdiagnosed, and untreated health issues since the age of 15.  Without current medical family history that could have saved me time, money, and effort navigating the health care system without it and many times without insurance, my life has been one of continual loss.  Two things are important in life and that is family and your health.  Since not having the support of either family, knowing I was ill, and with no answers or information to provide doctors, I lost jobs, relationships, homes, and the ability to provide and care for my children.  I also lost hope, faith, and the belief in myself as a human being.  Because of the judgment and condemnation that comes from people believing you are a hypochondriac, or your health issues are a result of drugs and alcohol (as you sit sober in a room so ill you can't get out of bed for days being accused of all kinds of things), or you simply make it all up to be lazy or get attention, and in pain and agony for years who wouldn't want to end it all?  That, is not life.  That, is slowly dieing.

Well, I tried that once.  I wrote two letters one to my exhusband regarding my daughter, and one to my current abusive boyfriend and laid down to not wake up.  Only I did.  And, once again not to concern, or caring, but once again to judgment and condemnation.  My boyfriend even laughed and said "You can't even kill yourself right don't you know you're supposed to mix alcohol and pills?"  Yeah, I picked people in my life that imitated exactly what I knew growing up.

When you grow up with parents like this how do you know what good people really are?  When you are told everything is your fault you begin to believe it.  When you are continually rejected, abandoned, and not taken seriously, what to you do?  You learn to escape, and not in healthy ways.  I had tried being good growing up but was constantly and continually told I was not.  So, since it seemed I was failing at being good, bad became so much easier.

One of the serious health issues I battled for over a decade was a rare genetic gall bladder disease.  I was always tiny but tall.  Around the age of 25 I began to have a hard time eating, nausea, sometimes vomiting that year after year increased in intensity and duration.  I was o.k. as long as I had drugs and didn't eat.  Only, no one can last that way for a very long time being ill.  I got too sick to work any longer and was spending many days in and out of the bathroom being sick.  It eventually became the first thing that started my every day.  I found that if I didn't eat anything at all it helped.  But once again, that wasn't a long term solution to the problem I just got so weak I couldn't even function.

Doctors could find nothing wrong with me.  I finally physically broke and wound up in an anorexia/bulimia hospital in a psych wing with doctors trying to convince me, and my husband, I needed intense treatment for this disease.  Fortunately, we found out that our insurance would not cover it and they immediately let me out.  I weighed 97 lbs.  I am 5' 6" tall.  I knew in my heart I did not have an eating disorder.  I loved food.  The good news is that is when they were able to diagnose me with PCOS and found a mass in my liver they couldn't explain and an impact wound from my liver that had been apparently bleeding for quite some time.  They said it wouldn't hurt me.  But, all the time I wondered and worried about what was really wrong with me.

At this point in time I was away from hard drugs and alcohol as my body could no longer tolerate them well at all but marijuana became my best friend.  I could zone out and it soothed my stomach.  But, it was also a lead weight around my ankle and my attachment to it kept me from functioning in any normal adult way.  Doctors were begging me for updated family medical history and I had nothing to give them.  My adoptive parents were of no help either I only heard "we don't know".  I would later find out this was a complete lie.

Several years later and another marriage I finally had health insurance.  Not that anything happened over night.  I was still told nothing was wrong with me, it was all in my head, I was making this up and the old voices of the past came back to haunt me.  "You are crazy" was the loudest.  I became pregnant with my son and became even more ill and at 5 and 1/2 months went into premature labor and was on bed rest and in and out of the hospital for most of the pregnancy.  I tried to quit smoking pot.  Every time I did I spent the next three days unable to keep any food down at all and so sick I would wind up in preterm labor again.  My husband at the time began to believe that there was in fact something wrong with me.  We began to call pot "my medicine".  As soon as I took some I could scarf up, and in fact did, huge platefuls of food and I was fine.  Still, doctors could not figure out what was wrong with me.

My son was born and quickly afterward my health took a huge turn for the worse.  I could no longer tolerate any food at all unless I was stoned.  I had loved pot in my 20's it took me out of my horrible childhood memories and pain, and into a whole other world of bliss.  I was now 35 and felt attached to a ball and chain of smoking to survive.  I would wake up every day, throw up, drink what coffee I could, cry, and then smoke and cry some more.  It was a nightmare I felt I would never wake up from.

I went through all kinds of phases with religions, praying, holy water, prayer clothes, psychics (one who actually diagnosed my gall bladder condition and gave me the date of my surgery two years down the road and was exact but that's a whole other story) you name it, in desperation trying to get well or some answers to why I was so sick.  After all my adoptive mother told me "if I would only live my life according to the word of God" been there, done that, didn't work.  And then, after two months of doctors, and specialists, blood workup, and testing and testing and testing and testing, I finally got a surgeon who diagnosed me with a rare GENETIC gall bladder disease that only 6% of people have.  It is a disease of the whole organ, no stones, and does not show up on any medical test at all.  It is USUALLY found in people's family medical history!!!  I had the surgery and in no time was up, eating, and working.  I now know why there is a need for medical marijuana.

I was still in a bad marriage and living very dysfunctional.  I knew I wanted better.  I got into counseling, got an adoptive mother for a counselor who encouraged me to search to find the answers I needed about my biological background, and not just for medical reasons.  The next year we got a computer and after getting lost in AOL chatrooms (anyone that knows me is laughing right now that big loud chortle snorting kinda laugh) I plugged in adoption into the search box and VOILA.  My life changed forever.

With the support of the online and offline adoption community I found the court I was adopted out of and obtained half of my updated medical history.  I found out my biological mother was 4' 10" tall and weighed under 100 lbs., and my biological father was 5' 6" and around 125 lbs.  I got my father's height and my mother's weight and add a gall bladder disease and what do you get?  Someone who LOOKS anorexic!!!  I also found out numerous hereditary disease run on one side of I also inherited PCOS is one of them and at the same age my biological mother had surgery for it.

I finally realized that it was not ME who was crazy it was the closed records system of adoption that was.  And, I found people who were working to change it.  I joined up, learned, read, wrote, and healed so much over the next two years.  I was still living in a dysfunctional relationship but I was finally stronger physically, and so much more emotionally than I had ever been in my life.  I wanted a better life, I knew I deserved it, and by God I was going to get it.

I'll never forget the day I left to attend another adoption conference this time in Nashville.  My husband rolled me a joint to take with me as I was going to be gone for five days.  I took it and packed it away deep in my suitcase, loaded it into the trunk, and left.  I spent the next five days surrounded by the movers and shakers, the writers, the lecturers, and the leaders in the adoption reform movement.  I was also amongst those who understood without question what I felt and had all of my life.  There was no need to explain it was just absolute unconditional acceptance and support.  My head and body were buzzing with the intensity of all I was feeling.  I felt free, and alive, and GOOD.  No drugs needed.  O.K so some cocktails, but there's nothing wrong with that.  Especially when you get to share them with those you have watched and admired for years.  I'm not going to drop names but I still look back and am amazed at it all.

I hated leaving and I didn't want to go.  I cried before departure.  I wanted to bottle up those five days and drink it each and every day for the rest of my life.  I came home walking on air.  I also came home and brought my bags out of the car, picked out the joint I had in my suitcase walked into the living room and tossed it at my husband.  His jaw dropped.  He said "You didn't smoke for five days?"  I said NOPE nothing.

And this is my story of survival.  One that almost took a turn down a very long and horrible road with a terrible ending.  I owe most of it to the people I have met over the last thirteen years.  It has not only saved my life, it has changed it for the better.  I don't tell my story for sympathy I tell my story because hopefully it will give others courage to face what has happened to them.  It is an example of an adoption gone wrong and a life full of health problems without any help or recourse to obtain vital and crucial medical information for doctors.  I am still working on getting the other half of mine after thirteen years.  This is unacceptable.

I have suffered and my children have suffered unnecessarily.  I refuse to quit working towards the right for adult adoptee access to THEIR biological family background and information without interference, great cost and time, and control by the adoption industry, agencies, lawyers, and social workers.  It is our right and no one else's to dictate to us what we can or can not know.  It almost killed me, and some adoptees or their children have lost their lives because of it.  I owe my life to those who took me by the hand and showed me the way.  Whatever I can do to stop happening to anyone else, what happened to me, I will.

The hope of a secure and livable world lies with disciplined nonconformists who are dedicated to justice, peace and brotherhood. ~Martin Luther King, Jr.


Tuesday, November 29, 2011

It's A Matter Of Rights!

“There may be times when we are powerless to prevent injustice, but there must never be a time when we fail to protest.” ~Elie Wiesel

I'll never forget one of the most memorable days in my life.  The day I received, at age 39, the non-id handwritten letter from my biological mother via the adoption court.  I finally after 39 years of wondering, waiting, and searching, found out who I was in part, where some of my physical traits came from, my likes, dislikes, tendencies, and personality traits.  It has totally changed the way I see myself, how I feel about myself, and how I see myself fit into the world.  Everyone deserves that right!

I have been angry that I did not fit in where I was placed at adoption, and the fact that both of my biological parents refuse to release their identities.  But, life is not fair I learned that long ago.  Adoption is so far from fair it is downright dysfunctional, corrupt, and fraudulent in how it functions.  The system of adoption steals basic human rights from one group of people without a voice and hands control of them (sells is more like it) over to another group.  THIS is not unfairness it is blatant preventable discrimination.  It's not about reunions it's about RIGHTS!

I know I can't change the past I can only change the future.  I know all too well anger can eat you alive and take your life from you without you even realizing it.  I know that I can't stand the thought of other adoptees struggling for the truth and being treated like second class citizens.  So, I will do what I can to help do that for others.  I will take anyone along with me that wants to go.

I'd like to brag a little now.  There are parts of my life that I am not proud of and choices I made due to circumstances I did not understand nor what to do about.  When I began to understand what did happen to me I grew angry, and the more I learned about the adoption industry the angrier I grew.  Now, I CAN do something about it and adoption reform and education have been a large part of my life for thirteen years now.  Below are some adoption protest pictures from one of the many events I've had the privilege in being involved with.  These photos are from 2008.   My son came along and held a sign too he's the cute blonde guy, and the handsome one in the black jacket is my husband who was adopted at birth by his stepfather, so both of them have been affected by adoption too.

Above I am educating someone who approached with questions about why we were there and what we were doing.  We all got to speak to many people and hand out informational fliers.  Many people driving by stopped their cars and got out to ask questions about searching and or to tell their adoption related stories.

Since I began this journey in adoption reform so much has been accomplished.  It may seem painstakingly slow to many, but when I joined up only Oregon had been fully opened to adoptees for OBC access.  Now, thanks to the persistent effort and work of too many people to count, other states who have reopened access to OBC's for adoptees.  We are far from done.  And I'll end with one of my favorite quotes. 

"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed, citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has." ~Margaret Mead

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Who Am I?

Who Am I?

I am an enigma tangled up in a mystery.
I am the lost puzzle piece swept under the rug.
I am a missing link in a chain of life.
I am a tumbleweed blown in the wind calling home wherever the breeze takes me.
I have no roots.
I am a chameleon changing colors to blend into my surroundings.
Who am I?
I am an adoptee.

As a child I was loud, hyperactive, talkative, emotional, demonstrative, and extroverted (I still am).  I was adopted into a family the exact opposite.  I spent decades trying to fit into a mold that I was not made to fit.  I was chastised, criticized, ridiculed, judged, and labeled because I was so very different.  Instead of celebrating and honing the gifts of heredity and biological I had inherited, I grew up hating myself and who I was. 

Something had to be wrong if a family gave me away, and I didn't fit into the "new" one where I was placed.  I learned very young to pretend to be someone else, I was good at it to.  Mostly because I didn't know "who" I really was.  I spent years and decades not believing in myself and searching for my biological parents and my true identity.  I lived, lost.

Even for adoptees who have access to knowledge about their biological families are still separated from them on a daily basis.  This can cause gaps and holes in the fabric of our young souls that leave us feeling not good enough or incomplete for the rest of our lives.  Much of the time our questions or fears go unanswered, ignored, or overlooked as just simple curiousity.  It is far from just that. 

So many people in life are running away from themselves.  Adoptees are doing their best to run towards themselves and whatever tidbits of truth they can get about who they are.  But, there are many who think we don't deserve the same rights as others, or that we should just be thankful...period.  We run into brick walls, into unknowns, as there is no map or compass to find these pieces from another time.  We lose time, we lose money, and we lose what other non-adopted persons take for granted everyday.  It can be very lonely and confusing being an adoptee.

I will always wonder who or what I could have become had I have grown up knowing that my genes and nature were not wrong, they were just different.  How terribly sad and preventable.  Lies and secrecy are not the way to raise children or create families.  So, I'll continue to work, as many of us will, for the rights of adoptees to know these valuable and life altering truths about themselves.

It's terrifying to see someone inside of whom a vital spring seems to have been broken.  It's particularly terrifying to see him in your mirror.  ~Mignon McLaughlin, The Second Neurotic's Notebook, 1966

Thursday, November 24, 2011

To My Adoptee Friends on Thanksgiving

Many years ago I used to spend the Holidays alone, in silence, and many times it was by choice.  I didn't have to pretend, or hide my pain, or be something I was not.  I found pretending to be far more exhausting than being alone.  My children have always had their father's family to go to and enjoy extended family they didn't get from me.  I encourage that because I know all too well the importance of family, and wouldn't want to deny them that, or for them to ever feel the magnitude of that kind of loss..

There are many adoptees who are ostracized from their adoptive families.  There are many adoptees who are rejected by their biological families, or can not locate them, or they passed away either before or after being found.   There are more adoptees than I care to count, that have neither family in their life.  This is such an over-whelming tragedy for an adoptee who did nothing other than be born.  It is difficult to comprehend, wrap your mind around, and deal with.  But, life can be cruel, and adoption can be a life long sentence without parole.

This time of year can be horribly painful and definitely depressing for adoptees who continually long for acceptance in either of their families.  For me, I have found solace in the adoption community.  They have been there in good times, and in bad times, through search, denial of contact, refusal of further communication, and during times of the year that are tough for us such as Birthdays and Holidays.

It's hard for those not adopted to understand this inner turmoil we experience.  It isn't surprising then that adoptees band together and support one another as they face and endure this time of year.  It's the greatest gift I've ever been given.  So, I'll end with a piece I tweaked from one of my favorite movies "Bruce Almighty"because it really does almost say it all for me.  To adoptees who are working for reform and education in adoption you ROCK.  To adoptees who are new and struggling I say HANG IN THERE!  We need as many of us as we can working together towards the right for all adoptees in this country to have their OBCs!!!  I am thankful for all of you today, and always.

"I have to say, I am so proud to be a part of our adoptee community, and I think, in a lot of ways a great community is like a great recipe.  You take some hardworking citizens, some caregivers, maybe a few nuts.   All sprinkled with the love and support of our good people.  Ultimately that makes the adoptee community one sweet place to be."

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Incomplete Adoptees

Trying to figure out who you are growing up is hard enough.  Growing up adopted makes it extremely difficult.  Trying to get information about your biological family AFTER you are grown up as an adoptee can be virtually impossible, or very expensive, or both.  Now, imagine growing up trying to figure out where you fit in and your place in the world when your life is missing the basic information others have and yours instead is based on silence and secrecy.

Children look to their parents faces as mirror images of theirs.  Even if a child does not resemble their parents I can assure you that somewhere in the family be it sibling, or cousin, or grandparent, there is someone they are related to they resemble.  Adoptees are raised away from genetics and biology and therefor, are at huge disadvantage to have the chance to create a healthy and solid foundations to expand upon into adulthood.  I'll compare it to feeling like sliced swiss cheese compared to other people's full wheel of cheddar.  Maybe that's a poor analogy, but I'll always stay true to my Wisconsin upbringing. :)

Adoption erases our biological foundation and transplants us into another family.  Not only are the physical resemblances lacking between adoptees and adoptive parents but so are likes, dislikes, and habits.  I have born witness to numerous adoptees in reunion who found out their biological relatives shared many similar traits such as chain smoking, habitual nail biting, gesturing dramatically with their hands when they speak, the love of either art, music, dance, even down to having the exact same professions and or degrees.  It goes beyond coincidence.  It is heredity plain and simple.

Some adoptees such as myself are adopted into families who are the polar opposites of them.  So, not just physicality differs but personal tendencies, wants, needs, and desires do as well.  You begin to believe that everything about you is wrong.  It has to be for your own parents to give you up to someone else.  And, as an adoptee you do your best to blend in, conform, and fit in.  We find ourselves caught between two worlds.  One of reality that much of the time doesn't make sense to us, and one of fantasy where we try and make sense, or to cope.

We may look o.k. on the outside and you'd probably never know we were any different from anyone else.  Internally though, we are often struggling while analyzing everything and everyone around us, or living in a fog of denial.  Often times I have felt like a chameleon in life.  Changing to fit my surroundings be it with family, work, or socially.  I know people will say "Well, I feel that way too".  And if you do, then I can guarantee being adopted we feel that ten fold...x 10.

"I wish, naturally to prevent the possibility that someone may write an accidental, superficial, incomplete and perhaps untrue picture of me."  ~Conrad Veidt

And that's what adoption does. It allows others to alter and recreate "our" life stories  from the very beginning be it by the industry, or agencies and social workers, or adoptive parents, or society.  It makes adoptees adhere and abide to laws that only apply to them.  Only in adoption are genetics white washed as unimportant.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Adoption is Relentless

Neither injured arm, or computer malfunction, or deep emotionally draining adoption issues can keep a true adoptee activist, reformer, and blogger away for long.  I think activism and education in some capacity must run in my veins.  I was born to very conservative, unemotional, and quiet people.  I am....well....NOT.  I'll always wonder, and want to believe, there was a great leader out there righting social and civil injustices and or advocate for positive change in the world somewhere in my family lineage.  And I will always question if I will ever get said information...ever.

I watch from the outside into the lives of my friends and others and their interactions with their family members.  As dysfunctional as they believe they are, and yes some of them are, adoption throws a wrench into family situations that can add to any dysfunction that already exists.  Sometimes, it even multiplies it.

No matter how hard adoptees can try adoption plays into almost aspect of our lives.  What we think about ourselves, how we see ourselves, how we fit into our families and then the rest of the world or better yet how we don't.  And just as important, how we react to all of it.

There are triggers that exist for adoptees at certain days and times of the year that for most people are happy and joyous occasions.  Birthdays are celebrations but for adoptees just another day to ponder your navel and wonder who your biological mother is, or where she is at, or why she gave you up.  Holiday and family gatherings are filled with traditions, recipes, stories, and history all something adoptees long to know, or be a part of in their biological families even if just to celebrate them outside of their adopted family gatherings.

I keep getting told to make my own Holiday traditions.  Well, that's easy to say if you already KNOW yours and it was not taken away from you.  And yes, I do reject the Scrooge and Grinchish practices I grew up with in the "unjoyous" season my Amother seemed to loathe, and have created some of my own.  There is just so much missing, so many parts and portions unknown, so much to continue to grieve and question.

Although I did receive a hand written eight page non-identifying letter from my biological mother twelve years ago explaining so much and answering some of my questions, there are still hundreds left to ask.  I still long to know what dishes, decorations, music, and religion or spirituality my biological family practices and cherishes each year.  I wonder if my natural parents think of me when sitting down to holiday meals, or on Mother's or Father's Day they realize a part of the family is absent, or want to wish my Happy Birthday.  I wonder if that will ever change.  I always will.


Relentless questions drive my soul.
How many hours have the wondering stole.
Like pounding waves that wear away the strongest rock day after day.
My weary bones nearly give in and let the persistent pounding win.
But there are those who lend me power where there is no sun in my darkest hour.
When the doubt hounds daily at my door and I feel I can't take anymore.
They whisper the truth into my ears with hope and love resolve my fears.
I hold the goal within my sight and remember the reasons I continue to fight.
To find what I lost so long ago the place from where those questions grow.
How many hours have been lost in days and years what was the cost?
The time I've spent in somber thought and sorrowful reflection perplexed about.
What I'm to do with all I feel, when unseen bonds remain so real.
I had a taste of reality when fractions of truth I was allowed to see.
Fate had brought us back together, the soul deep ties could not be severed.
To know the tragic parting was not in the end to be forgot.
And that somehow soon they'll find a way to share with me those missing days.
I'll wait until the time I'll know.
The place from where these questions grow.

Friday, November 11, 2011

TOUGH Adoptees!

It's tough to reveal one's life adopted for open display, and it's tougher putting yourself out there into an activist role in effort to faciliate change within the system.  People are going to judge you, and label you, and offend you with their uneducated opinions.  It comes with the territory.  So does emotional and physical exhaustion and wanting at many points to quit along the way.  So today for NAAM and NaBloPoMo (and you know your an adoptee if you know what those mean) I'm going to relay some of what adoptees encounter telling their stories, and being involved in adoption reform.

Adoption has such a wonderful public image. One of creating love filled forever families and giving children without homes a lasting place to grow up in the care of those who desperately want them.  The PR for adoption has been done well for a very long time, mostly because the groups and people doing it are those who profit from it.  And believe me when I say, there has been plenty of money to promote adoption.  What they don't want you to hear besides their profit margins is the harsh reality adoption is based on.  The fact is a child has lost its family of origin.  And, the fact when adoptees grow up they may or may not have any recourse, or right, to information about their biological family or to obtain their original birth certificate.  We won't go into open adoption, or that being the answer to issues in adoption, at this point.   I will in a later blog because I have plenty to say about it and the problems with it.

After thirteen years doing what I could when I could in adoption reform I've pretty much heard and seen it all.  I don't get startled or overly angry about much.  I get miffed and my feathers ruffled that's not unusual.  I get frustrated at closed minds and prejudiced notions based on inaccurate information, or someone who has an uncle whose cousin has a friend who is an adoptee and they are just "fine".  Once again, it comes with being out there in the trenches breaking down barriers of secrets, lies, and corruption, and attempting to replace them with truth, honesty, and what is RIGHT.

So out there in the public spotlight and eye adoptees and adoption reformers have to endure insults, being scoffed at, and disbelieved.  I've been called names, called crazy, and a hypochondriac for "imagining" the health issues I inherited even though half the medical information from biological family is filled with numerous hereditary diseases, and who knows what is in the other half.  But today, for the very first time I heard that " Adoptees are not normal thinking people."

And the anger ensued, my stomach rolled over, and I felt nauseous.  Then as I cooled down I began to think, and finally to chuckle.  And this was the image that came to mind.

'Cause if you're going to be able to deal with working in the world of adoption reform you're going to have to bring your sense of humor and a BIG thick skin.  I began to imagine a skit like the one in "Young Frankenstein" where this creature/adoptee is brought back to life from their previous one by Dr. Frankenstein aka NCFA/adoption agencies.  But, adoptees/monsters were given abnormal brains.  And, that's pretty much what people think of all unhappy adoptees who are not thankful for the people who took them in, or the fact that someone wanted them, or they were not aborted, or left in a dumpster to die, or insert any adoption myth people buy into.  I mean look at all the famous adopted serial killers like Son of Sam David Berkowitz, Bianchi-Bono The Hillside Strangler, and Ted Bundy.   We must be abnormal!

No wonder so many adoptees go back into hiding after being so harshly judged by so many people with so many misconceptions and beliefs about them and their life being adopted.   No wonder there are private support groups for hundreds of adoptees searching and struggling who share behind closed doors and away from the scrutiny of others.  I've known adoptees who won't speak about adoption except to other adoptees and adoptees who have bowed out of adoption reform and activism due to this and it's sad.  Adoption is such a misunderstood subject and we are here to educate and change that.  I have seen so much progress in the last thirteen years, perhaps slow progress, but it is progress none the less.  The admiration and respect I have for adoptees who put their lives, experiences, and emotions out there for others to see is immeasurable.

Sometimes all I can do is what I can do from my computer at home.  When I feel like it's not enough and I'm not making a dent I think of the story of "The Tortoise and the Hare".  We all get burn out at points in time and have to bow out temporarily until we can rest and refuel.  But, we'll keep plugging away at it.  We'll endure the horrific accusations, the taunting insinuations, and the false allegations, as we carry OUR torch of truths to the finish line.

I try to encourage and support adoptees who are new to adoption search, issues, and adoption reformers and lend what  knowledge and experience I have, just as I glean and learn from those wiser and more seasoned than I am.  It's SUCH an outstanding great group of people.  And we are TOUGH!  Abnormal, or not . :)

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Yes, I speak fluent Adoptee

Since I was sixteen years old I've been reading books like "I'm OK, You're OK" by Thomas A Harris MD, and trying to figure out what happened to me because of my childhood and adoption.  This is not a rant on my adoptive parents at all, this is an explanation of what many adoptees go through trying to understand adoption and our place in it, our family(s), and in the world.

We are given no manual, no book, no road maps, and much of the time, no explanation about adoption.  It simply isn't discussed.  Or we quickly learn it is a subject that is not open to be talked about, or brought up.  Worse yet, we can be scolded and called ungrateful and not thankful for being adopted simply because we question it.  And, even in open adoption situations or for adoptive parents who communicate to their adopted children about their circumstances and information in reality they don't know what adopted children feel, because they aren't adoptees.  In essence, we are the only ones who can truly get what being adopted means.

I knew I was damaged goods at a very young age.  I also eventually realized, I was probably the only one who could help myself climb out of it.  There were no other adopted children around me (my adoptive brother and I never spoke of it and now as an adult he has no desire to) and although I knew our family was very very dysfunctional, I also knew that it was different than other families because of adoption.  And, in reality, back in the day (I show my age here truly) there was no Oprah, or Dr. Phil, or Dr. Drew.  And, no one talked about what went on behind closed doors with the exception perhaps some neighborhood and community gossip.

I remember studying child psych when I went back to school in my late '30's and reading in my Adolescent Child Psych book: "Orphaned, abandoned, neglected and adopted children can all have the same issues with attachment disorder, abandonment and rejection issues".  There it was in black and white in print in a college textbook.  It was an AHA moment for me.  I also was lucky enough at the same time to have an adoptive mother as a marriage counselor who was well versed in adoption issues and encouraged my search efforts and need, and also RIGHT, to know.  For the first time someone had validated my feelings about being adopted and the impact it had on me.

I stepped into the computer age in '97 and found support groups and went on to attend adoption workshops, conferences, and seminars. In the last thirteen years I have become a different person.  I owe so much to other adoptees who walked the path before me and said "Go here and do this", and I did, and I am so very overwhelmingly thankful for their help (UNDERSTATEMENT).  Adoption issues are not just "in the past" they are here and now and alive and functioning for many adoptees each and every day.  Adoption is not a one time transaction it is a lifetime event.  I now know my buttons and triggers that are tied to the past and adoption.  I recognize them and deal with them in healthy ways or as best as I can.

I don't think I know it all.  I am still figuring things out.  Mostly though, I don't want to see any other adoptees have to spend enormous amounts of time, money, or energy groping in the dark, grasping for hope, and struggling to find their way in the world adopted.  I never deal in absolutes either and respect adoptees who say they never think about adoption and it doesn't affect them at all.  And, although I  have a difficult time believing it, I won't dismiss their feelings and experiences or try and tell them otherwise.  I know all too well what that feels like.

I have my path as many adoptees have but there are some of those shoes adoptees wear I have never worn, nor will I ever.  I am however, wise enough to learn from them.  I advise the non-adopted to do that as well.  If you know an adoptee be silent and just listen if they bring up adoption.  If you love an adoptee please open your heart and mind and take the time and effort to comprehend what they are trying to relay to you.  It may not seem important to you, you may not understand all of it, but I can guarantee you the effort you make to hear them without judgment will mean more to them than you will ever know.  And thanks, for listening.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Adoption - Truth Telling

I wish this month for people to try to better understand what adoptees go through in life adopted.  I hope for those of us adoptees blogging we can reach those who have only heard and understood the voice of the adoption industry and believe adoptees with "bad" experiences are simply anomalies in adoption.  I pray for a change in the system of adoption policy, procedure, and law to openness and honesty.

What I would LOVE to happen is for everyone to STOP telling adoptees how to think, feel, and live.  It's hard enough to take from the world who has no idea or conception of what adoption really is, does, and the ways it continues to affect us in our lives.  We as adoptees not only have to spend enormous amounts of time and energy making sure everyone around us is "ok" with our reactions to adoption, but we are expected to make sure what we say and how we feel makes strangers "ok" too.  Who we really are as adoptees gets lost beneath the unrealistic expectations, preconceived notions, and myths thrown out there by those who need to keep control of the system of adoption.

This week once again, a first mom gave us adoptees a lecture on terminology.  We were not talking about anything other then OUR own experiences about OUR own personal situations.  Many of us adoptees have been treated poorly and unfairly by many persons biological and adoptive in life.  We have been silenced, disbelieved, and dismissed for telling OUR own truths.

I am who I am because of adoption.  It isn't something I can remove or have taken out.  I will no longer deny it or spend my life hiding behind masks.  When I talk of my adoptive and biological family I am speaking of MY experience and sometimes yes, the experiences of those I know to show it's did not just happen to me.  But, that's the problem with adoption it has always been about agencies, and lawyers, and religious institutions, and adoptive parents, and biological parents first and foremost.

Adopted children have had little say, little voice, and very very little support.  Those times are over.  Adopted children have grown up into adopted adults who are speaking out and will not sit down and take what is dictated to us by others any longer.  Is the truth about adoption hard for people to hear, certainly.  Are the lies, secrets, and falsehoods harder to live, ABSOLUTELY!  Allow adoptees to tell you the truth about adoption and help grant them the same rights every other citizen has.

"I never gave them hell.  I just told the truth and they thought it was hell." -- H. Truman 

Sunday, November 6, 2011

An Adoptee's Divided Heart

I laughed out loud, one of those throw your head back, chuckle and snort kinda laughs, when I saw this graphic above.  It's SOOOOO me.  And, part of life is discovering who we really are.  Celebrating the parts we are proud of, and hiding the parts we are not so proud of, and laughing about them too.   And sometimes, denying the really really scary parts we don't know what to do with.  When you are adopted this can become difficult if not impossible when the knowledge of where you came from is withheld from you.  I will always remember getting my non-identifying information stating my birth grandmother was an extremely nervous and anxious person.  And I thought AHA it's NOT a character flaw I inherited it!!!

There are many parts that make up my adopted self.   There is the stronger and more healed version of the “new me” I've become since adoption counseling, workshops, seminars, conferences, and support groups.  There is the “angry me” that comes out of hiding when my feelings and emotions are dismissed or ridiculed, especially by those who buy into the adoption industry propaganda and myths.  There is the “activist me” who comes alive at the first sign I can educate or inform anyone about adoption and adoptee rights.  Lastly, there is the “lost and wounded me” who has been rejected and abandoned and is still at age 52 trying to find her place in the world.  The “little girl” who is never far away and is just below the surface waiting to be triggered by harsh criticism, judgment, ridicule, oh.....and Holidays.

I am many things besides an adoptee.  But it seems that being adopted affects the other parts I am wife, mother, friend, teacher, and writer etc... But I think sometimes being an adoptee there is a portion of you know one ever sees.  A part that we never give away of ourselves that is reserved and held back.   It's self preservation plain and simple.  If I don't fully open myself up to the world then I can never be fully hurt, or rejected, or abandoned...again.

I just have not come to terms that I will never know who my biological family is. Much of that I credit to watching people find and be reunited after decades of search.  A larger part is denial.  In such huge monumental life situations it really can be a great coping tool.  Hopefully someday I can take all the segments of me and combine them into one solid person.  For now, I wait, and I hope, and I write.

I think a lot of my adoption poetry is sappy and syrupy.   But, it is also part of me. The part that is dealing with the trauma of childhood and adoption and the adult I've become because of adoption.  It is probably the closest anyone will ever get to truly knowing who I am as an adoptee, including myself.

Divided Heart

Pieces of me live between what I expose and what's unseen.
Unable to reveal my dread I keep it locked inside instead.
Afraid to show the chasm depth, half-filled with hours that I've wept.
Oceans full of pain I know, and agony I refuse to show.
This shattered soul still hidden well, conceals the terror I have felt.
This fear that I can't bring together the segments that have long been severed.
Until I bridge these separate parts.
I live in this divided heart.

Friday, November 4, 2011

The Powers That Be - Closed Records Adoption

I will never understand the pro-adoption groups and people who promote the system of closed records adoption.  Why is it the truth is important in every other aspect of our lives with the exception of adoption?  People divorce over lies in a marriage, good parents raise their children to be honest, and if you take an oath in court and don't tell the truth it's called perjury.  However, it is widely accepted practice in adoption to keep secrets, withhold facts, and cover up an adoptee's background.

The birth certificate I have is falsified.  It does not contain much reality in it at all.  My "real" authentic birth certificate is sealed by the state.  I am not allowed access to it even with several court petitions.  This is blatant discrimination.  No other citizen of this country is denied their original birth certificates except adoptees.

I wrote this below after my first court petition denial in '99.  It may seem extreme to those who aren't bound by the system of adoption.  Adoption took from me the knowledge of my family of origin.  It took too the truth about my life.  And, it took my ability to know where I came from and to know who I really am.

The Powers That Be

You took away my family.
You took away my home.
You erased away my history and most of it is gone.
What gives to you the right to do this injustice unto me?
How can you be so blinded?
How is it you can't see?
You're stealing from the innocent are you so unaware?
You're playing God with all our lives, did you think we wouldn't care?
Who gave to you authority to decide how we should live?
Who granted you this power?
It was not theirs to give.
You treat us as possessions.
We are not yours to own.
How did you get the notion you can tell me where is home?
Do not dictate to me about how I should live my life.
Or who I can call mother.
Then take away my rights.
The answers to life's questions you say I need not know.
You're asking the impossible the questions only grow.
What it is I'm asking for is for you to understand.
Until I have those answers I can not know who it is I am!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Adoption subtracts and divides

I touched briefly yesterday on the links in life that adoption severs.  My posts during NaBloPoMo and Adoption awareness month will be brief due to my arm injury.  So, I'm going to post another poem and may do so for the remainder of the month, at least until I'm better.

Adoption does not guarantee a child of a good home.  It just offers them a different one.  I fell through the cracks of adoption.  My mother at age 17 wanted me, no one else wanted her to keep so I was relinquished to adoption.  It was not a money issue it was a social stigma issue.  My adoptive parents couldn't bond with me.  I lost out on belonging in two families.  It didn't have to be that way but adoption dictated it did.

Sometimes all the words in the world get lost in translation.  Art can speak volumes.  I hope the poem below does that for those who can't comprehend the darker side of adoption.  This side so many of us live.


They say that one and one makes two but I'm not sure if this is true.
In this case one and one made three explaining how I came to be.
Then three came in between the sum divides them back to one and one.
These equations seem to break all the laws of give and take.
But life not always plays by rules, nor by facts we learned in school.
I know this all so very well and only hope to "show and tell".
When one and one took separate paths that no one needs to "do the math".
To know this story problem's mine.
I'm the remainder left behind.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

National Adoption Awareness Month - I'm all too aware

Being rejected by family is not unusual.  Most families have their problems and issues.  And, it's tough to take.  In adoption the emotions multiply, because many of us are rejected by not one, but two families.  And, several times over at that.  From birth, to adoption, to search, to reunion, it can be confusing, overwhelming, frustrating, and I can go on with adjectives but you get the "picture" as provided above.  Adoption is not the cure all for unplanned pregnancies.  It does not "fix" what is wrong.  It simply changes it.  As adoptees, we need to be heard, and understood, but mostly, we need the truth.

Life's Links

As flower to bee, as leaf to tree, as cloud to sky and rain.
As foot to toe, as face to nose, as person to a name.
Together these like fish to sea forever will belong.
Just as notes an artist wrote, or lyrics to a song.
Like tracks to a train this perpetual chain is what the world's based on.
There's links between each living thing, and dusk that turns to dawn.
A lost key to a lock, a stopped hand on a clock, are vital connections gone.
Like pasts left behind that we need to find in order to carry on.
I hope you know what I'm trying to show, the point I'm attempting to make.
Like a child to its mother, or sister and brother, some bonds aren't meant to break.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

And The Truth Shall Set You Free - Except in Adoption

Ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you mad.  ~Aldous Huxley

And when you realize the lack of ethics and truth in adoption it does!  Most people who really have never looked at adoption through the eyes of an adoptee, or other parties involved first hand, have only the sugar coated terms and vocabulary to use that has been fed to the masses by the adoption industry for decades.  The adoption industry has been incredibly convincing of the great wonders and magic of creating families by adoption, but are not ever very forth coming about the harsh realities it revolves around.  Why would they?  Their jobs, income, and future depend on maintaining control of adoption in whatever capacity they can.  Damage control comes in many forms with "National Adoption Month", Press Releases, and happy stories of families who were brought together by "God".  However, they fail to mention first they were separated by "man".  Plus they sprinkle their preconceived notions and expectations with terms of “grateful” and “thankful” and promote the happy adoptee image who was “given a family who wanted them”.  They don't tell you how many tens thousands of dollars they earn from buying and selling our human rights, and off of separating us from our families of origin.

There is just so my hypocrisy between what we are taught and told in regards to how to treat other people and deal with the rest of the world, and how the business of adoption functions. Most people either don't realize, or over look these problems and issues, because they are convinced by the industry propaganda who continue to want to be the exclusive authority about how adoption is supposed to function.  The truth is adoptees are bound by written law, policy, procedure, and by the expectations of others who profit from it, and continue to control adoptees lives past and future.  Here are just a few examples of the contradictions between reality and adoption.

Tell the truth the whole truth and nothing but the truth."  We pledge this on a bible in court and if caught not doing so we can be charged with perjury and punished.  This is what our legal system is based on truth telling, facts, and not fiction.  My ammended birth certificate is a fictitious and falsified government document.  My biological parents are lieing to their children about my existence.  My life is based on lies, but I am expected to adhere to honest behavior and will continually be held accountable for it throughout my life.

Thou shalt not lie” one of the great ten commandments . I was raised by this one.  Although it seems to be forgotten and over looked in adoption.  What part of lieing to adopted children and adults is healthy for them?  I thought good parents led by example?  I found out that my adoptive parents had been withholding information, crucial, vital, life changing information from me about my adoption that could have made a huge difference in my life.  It has taken awhile but I have forgiven them.  They were also victims in the “blank slate theory” that was fed to them by the industry, as well as, the ownership premise for the children obtained by adoption means. 

You are only as good as your word”.   Many adoption agencies, social workers, and lawyers too lie, cover up, and deny adoptees, biological parents, and adoptive parents the truth in many adoption situations.   If you don't believe me look up how many law suits have been brought against The Gladney Center for Adoption and how many have been settled out of court. Count how many adoption agencies have been closed down for fraudulent activities, and corrupt lawyers who have been sued, disbarred, and charged with illegal transactions in adoption.  Child trafficking is not something that happens in a country “over there”, it is alive and well in this country and thriving being labeled as “adoption”.
Money talks and I can certainly attest and bear witness to its power in adoption.  It's a harsh reality and one that is hard to truly comprehend, except for those of us who have experienced it up close and personal.  There should be integrity in adoption not the manipulation and subjugation of adoptees by the industry.  I will never, ever, give up fighting for the restored rights for adoptees to access to their original birth certificates along with the truth that has been hidden, covered up, and stripped from us for decades.

If a thousand old beliefs were ruined in our march to truth we must still march on.  ~Stopford Brooke


Tuesday, September 20, 2011

40th Birthday Card from my Mother

In 2000 my mother and I exchanged non-id letters through the adoption court.  Mostly, we described ourselves and our lives, our likes, our habits, and our hobbies.  In that first letter I told my mother a handful of things like I enjoy collecting baskets and shells, I loved to garden, and especially loved writing.  And, my favorite color has always been green, the color of both of our eyes.

She responded back to me which I blogged about recently  It was heart wrenching but her words were beautiful and her message heart felt and honest.  I told the CI her letter was the greatest 40th birthday gift I could even imagine receiving.

A month later I received an envelope from the adoption court and opened it to find a card inside.  The front was green, the color of our eyes, with a basket full of ivy, shells, flowers, with a pen and a pencil laying at its side.  I looked immediately on the back.  It was in fact a Hallmark.  It was signed “Happy 40th Birthday.    Love your Birth Mother”.

Overwhelmed would be an understatement.  I thought of the amount of time it took her to sort through cards to find the perfect statement she wanted to make. It was so much more than “Happy Birthday” or “Thinking of you” it was “I was listening”.  Which translates to rejected adoptees as “I care, I paid attention, your words were important.”  I didn't get much of that in my younger adopted life.

Unfortunately after that, communication was shut down by her and it's been twelve years since I have had any news or mail from her with the exception of one updated family medical request.  She had requested time to tell her immediate family and close friends about me.  Obviously something changed her mind, much to my devastation.

I have kept hope alive in some capacity all of these years.  I think it's self preservation.  Confronting the truth that I have been abandoned by two families is just too much for my adopted mind to grasp.  My search information is posted and easy to find.   I wonder if she has looked up adoption reform work as I had told her I was involved in it. I pray someday maybe there is another mother who speaks to her of her own relinquishment, and can get my mother to open up about hers.

Fifty two years have passed and the shame and stigma of a pregnancy out of wedlock still hold so much power over people.   We lost each other that long ago because of adoption.  We've lost decades of knowing one another and her allowing me to know my siblings.  I'm about out of hope that will ever change.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Damaged Adoptees

Damaged people come mostly in two forms, victims and survivors.  I am glad to have made it from the first into the second category.   Adoption can and does damage people that is a fact no arguments on that will be heard by me I know better, WAY better.  I am not here to stand in judgment, only in experience.

I am adopted.  I don't know who I really am, or where I came from.  Without bonding to my adoptive family I have always felt a loner, an orphan, and a misfit. It's a pain I would never wish upon anyone.   So, I try to be the cohesive glue within the adoptee community to bring people together, and a voice for the under dog who hasn't found theirs yet.

I was semi-shocked yesterday when I was told I was an angry person living a “Defeatist life”.  Now, when it comes to adoption I am used to being judged, condemned, and labeled by those who have no real or true understanding of who I am and what happened to me because of adoption, but not usually by others adoptees.  That tends to sting more as I can usually chalk nonadopted person's judgment into the same category as I do of those who just haven't worn or lived in our shoes.  They simple can't know.  What is sad is some damaged adoptees never get better, recover, or even realize there is anything wrong with them.  We call this “the fog”.

As adoptees, we can have certain weaknesses, triggers, and issues we struggle with that differ from non-adopted people.  I have been lucky to have received a good deal of counseling, therapy and help through adoption support groups online and offline, workshops, conferences, and seminars.  I love to be able to give back to others the compassion, unconditional acceptance, and healing they want and need.  I was given the best by the best and can't stand those who are struggling in the dark grasping for something to hang on to that makes sense, and for a little light to shine on their situations.  Adoption can be a crazy mixed up mess of confusion coupled with the world giving you all kinds of unsolicited advice and unrequested input without understanding ANY of it.  It can and will drive you nearly crazy whether you let it or not.

Unfortunately, some adoptees will continue down the path of life holding tight to defense mechanisms, anger, and making everyone around them suffer along with them.  They blame, judge, and alienate people and when confronted turn the tables and make themselves out to be victims.  It is defeating to those who have a hard time reaching out to others and frustrating for those of us who are trying to help people to do so.   But, I also know this comes with speaking out about adoption not only to the world, but to other adoptees as well.  I've also gotten caught up and dragged into playing the blame and shame game and it's not fun and there are no real winners.  It's not a matter of who is right or who is wrong it's about respect for others, their experiences, and knowing no matter how much you know you never really know it all.

Let me say this loud and clear there is NOTHING wrong with being wrong.  I was wrong yesterday, I'll be wrong today, and I'll be wrong again tomorrow.  That is the human condition, and that is human nature.  I learned long ago that holding tight to being constantly right was exhausting and that no one person is right all the time.  And if you are wrong, your world will not crumble.   It can be very scary for adoptees to even fathom there is anything wrong or to truly look at the personal monsters and demons that lurk within adoption issues.  It has been unmapped territory in the past and for far too long.  We can become lost, alone, and frightened not knowing the path to find where we belong and fit in in the world.  It has been uncharted water, deep water, sometimes frightening and dark.  It can suck us down, or drag us out of the reach of help like a bad rip tide, and nearly drown us in over whelming emotion, despair, and defeat.

I want to help other adoptees find their own personal coping tools and mechanisms.  I want others to not spend years wasting time and life in addiction, anger, pain, and lashing out, and suffering as I did.  I want to know that at the end of my own life, I knew I had accomplished as much of that as I could.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

The Letter From My Mother

I've held onto this letter for over twelve years now hoping that there would be another one.  I've given up hope for that after petitioning the adoption court two more times requesting mail be sent to her, and or some communication or reunion, and twice she has turned me down.  Below is the response she sent via the adoption court responding to the initial letter I sent to her in the same manner.  The bold portions are those that define me verbatim.  It could not be more me than if I was cloned from her.

My only wish is that I could somehow get her to come forth and know, that the life she had planned for me was in actuality pretty horrendous.  It's not my intention to hurt her.  Only to let her know I'd love for her to open the door and let me in, and allow my siblings to know about me and be in my life if they so wish.  I'll never give up hope.  If anyone knows of a woman around the age of 70 that fits the description below in any state but Missouri feel free to contact me.


I've started this letter so many times, not sure where or how to begin. The most difficult part is having to tell you, that at the time, I am unable to reveal any I.D. Information. There are situations and people in my life today that have no idea I had a child before I was married. It's like opening a Pandora's box, and I have to be very careful how I do this. Let me try and explain. Only my immediate family and one close family friend knew I was pregnant. It was a very carefully kept secret, life was very different in the late fifties.

You see I was barely seventeen when I became pregnant. My family was shocked and angry. We lived in a small town and my family were well known business owners involved in the community and this didn't happen to “nice girls”. So, without going into the much detail, I spent a great deal of time out of state, out of sight, and carefully constructed stories were told to explain my absence. Not even my best friend knew and still doesn't. My parents were strict and I was never given any choices, and since marriage was not an option offered, adoption was my family's decision.

You asked if I had named you. No, I didn't. In fact, I was never allowed to even see you or hold you. No information was given to me about you except you weighed six something, and was born at three something. I wasn't even allowed to know what I had. Only by accident did I find out that I had a baby girl. I was told at the time it was standard procedure for an adoption, and I was young, frightened, and didn't question. As I reflect back, I realize my parents knew then that if I had ever seen you that I would never have been able to go through with the adoption. I've tried very hard not to judge my parents actions. I would like to think they had my best interest at heart. It was not easy for me to give you up, but from the depths of my heart I believed it was the best thing for you. So now I'm faced with how to tell the people in my life today, about a part of my life they never knew existed. I'm trying to find a way so that it doesn't cause anyone any embarrassment or pain.

Your letter was lovely and the poem was very moving. I've pictured you in my mind so often throughout all these years. What did you look like, when you would have started school, graduated, started college. I wondered if you were married, if you had children, were you happy, and prayed I had made the right decision. It's hard to imagine almost forty years have passed and the you're a grown woman and so accomplished. I was so sorry to hear of your health problems and that I wasn't able to of more help. I did not know your father's family very well, and since they did not acknowledge any responsibility or wanted any involvement in my pregnancy I have had no contact in over forty years.

I would like to tell you a little about myself in hopes that it might help you understand a little about who you are. As you know I'm very petite. I'm 4' 10”, weigh in under 100 pounds. I have thick dark brown hair (which is just starting to gray) and of course the green eyes. I'm also left-handed. I've always been athletic, swimming, skating (as a child) and today I play a lot of tennis and some golf. I love being outdoors and I inherited my mothers and maternal grandmothers green thumb and love of gardening. I too love to cook and from scratch. I can sew, but it isn't one of my favorite things, although both my grandmother and mother were excellent seamstresses.  I play the piano but I really wasn't very good, although I loved to sing and dancing was my favorite. It was my paternal grandmother that was the concert pianist, and she taught in schools as well as private. I love animals, have always had pets, and am owned by three very spoiled cats. I have a very outgoing personality which really didn't develop until I was on my own. I was very shy as a child. I'm outspoken, but also soft-hearted. I tend to be a perfectionist, can lose my temper when pushed too far, but a sense of humor has always helped to keep me grounded. I'm the shoulder everyone leans on whether it's family or friends. I'm the one they come to for help, advise, support or just to talk to. I guess because of this I find it very hard to burden others with my personal problems. I'm private when it comes to personal things and try to solve everything myself. To burden others with my personal problems is foreign to me, that's why opening all of this up is very difficult.

I regret I was unable to see your picture or learn your name. That cannot be made available to me until I release my identify. I hope at this time you can somehow come to understand the position I'm in. Someone said to me once that there are risks in every decision we make. It's just which ones we can live with the best. That's the crossroads I find myself at this time.

I've always believed you were the innocent person in all of this, and stood the most to be hurt, and that is one of my deepest regrets. I'm sure you still have many unanswered questions, and I pray this hasn't been too difficult for you.

So for now I'll close asking for guidance in working through this and for God's blessings for you and your family.

From my heart.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

"Wishful Drinking" by Carrie Fisher and "Wishful Thinking" by an Adoptee

Today I opened Carrie Fisher’s book “Wishful Drinking” my friend loaned me for some summer reading.  I have always loved her acting, comedic sense of humor, and her writing.  “Postcards from the Edge” is one of my all-time favorite movies.  Movies and books….ok and soap operas, so two out of three ain’t bad, have always been a healthy escape for me since I was young.  Growing up feeling like I was out of place and obviously not wanted the way I was (meaning genetically incorrect) in my adoptive family, I lived vicariously through the characters in novels and film.

Although many children feel out of place in their own biological families, there are extreme situations like being adopted that can leave the most loved and cared for child feeling like an alien.  Upon reading the first chapter of “Wishful Drinking” it was like hearing the exact words and feelings many adoptees like myself, have a hard time getting others to comprehend (understatement).   Most of us don’t want to continue to be misunderstood, judged, and labeled.  And, most of us want to know we are not alone in what we do feel.

When I opened the book and read the first line:  “So, I am 52 years old” and (I will turn 52 next month) I knew this book was meant for me.   I was not wrong in thinking that whatsoever.  The next few paragraphs of the first chapter stuck home and I have to share them with you.  And even though Ms. Fisher is discussing being a child of Hollywood and being Bi-polar which isn’t being adopted, the similarity of the situations sound uncannily familiar.

“I could tell from watching how normal people lived—normal people as depicted by Hollywood and burned into our consciousness—I understood that my life was unusual.  Like many others, I grew up watching television shows like “My Three Sons” and “The Partridge Family” and “The Real McCoys.  And based on the lives depicted on those shows, I knew my life was a different sort of real. It was the only reality I knew, but compared to other folks—both on television and off—it eventually struck me as a little surreal, too.  And, eventually, too, I understood that my version of reality had a tendency to set me apart from others.  And, when you’re young you want to fit in.”

Wow, that’s absolutely how I felt growing up.  Life was surreal.  I looked around and didn’t see children growing up without their biological parents and families.  I didn’t understand why I had to pretend being adopted was a normal life style choice.

Like real life is this other thing, and we’re always trying to determine what’s going on in this distant, inaccessible, incomprehensible place.”

Exactly!  Where are my biological parents?  Do I have siblings out there?  Are they dead or alive?  Where do I belong in the grand scheme of life without roots and knowledge of my heredity?  And, why am I being kept in the dark about all of it?

As a consequence, I find that I don’t have what could be considered a conventional sense of reality.  So, as I said, my reality has been formed by Hollywood’s version of reality.  As a child, I thought “Father knows best” was real and that my life was fake.  When I think about it now, I may not have been far from wrong.”

In meeting up with the adoption community online and offline I’ve established that I too, was not far from wrong in knowing that being taken from my family of origin and planted into a different family with no recourse for information isn't normal.  At least for those of us who feel out of place, unaccepted for who we are, and continually told “being adopted doesn’t matter”.    

I find that I frequently feel better about myself when I discover that we’re not alone, but that there are, in fact, a number of other people who ail as we do—that there are actually a number of “accomplished” individuals who find it necessary to seek treatment for some otherwise insurmountable inner unpleasantness.”

And there you have it.  Summed up and laid out in print what many adoptees struggle with on a constant basis.  No matter if the homes we were adopted into are good ones, adoptees are tired of playing “pretend” with their lives under terms created and dictated to us by others.  We realize now as adults, we are told that by those that have no idea or clue about what we feel, or should feel.  And, we are finally able to step out of our comfort zones, well really uncomfortable zones, to let the world know.

So, thank you Carrie Fisher for writing "Wishful Drinking" and laying your life out there for the world to see.   It helps so many of us who are battling personal demons in life, and feeling alone and isolated.  Hopefully, in the sharing of this experience with truth and honesty, it will help many others to find the courage to speak out.  "Wishful Thinking" for this adoptee is that we can to enable more adoptees to find their voices and help make the drastic changes to law and policy that have been needed in adoption for far too long.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Freedom for Adoptees

I was thinking today about the Fourth of July celebration and freedom.  Freedom is something most adoptees don't have when it comes to obtaining our original birth certificates, and having access to identifying information about our biological families as other citizens can, and do.  Our rights and freedom to do so are held and controlled by outside parties and interests.

I've been blogging over at the Lost Daughters blog lately and enjoying doing so very much.  I am continually humbled and surprised by those that look forward to what I write and what I have to say.  Because for most of my life that was not the case and in fact, I was told that almost everything I had to say on any subject was wrong.  Or worse I was crazy.

But, I was not wrong or crazy.  I was adopted.  And adopted into a family where genetically no two parents could have been more different from the child placed with them.  The blank slate theory's failure, the theory "sold" to adoptive parents for decades by adoption agencies and social workers, could not have been more evident in adoption than in our home.
My adoptive parents constantly undermined and berated me for not being more like any other child in the neighborhood or classmate they could name.  I was loud and they were quiet.  I was social and they were introverted.  They were very traditional and I was very VERY contemporary in how I approached life.  It became more evident when my adoptive parents had a biological child who fit right in and still does.  I was the "product" of a whole other set of genes.  I had a whole unknown biology I was created from.  But, when it was questioned I was quickly shut down.

My voice, feelings, and opinions may have been stifled as a child and into my younger adulthood, but that is no longer the case.  I am still shocked when non-adopted people speak about on how adoptees should feel, live, and what rights as adoptees we should have.  I don't get as angry as I used to I have come to realize it is simply ignorance and the adoption industry's perpetual myth building.  I do however fight back with the knowledge and experience I have gained in adoption education and reform over my lifetime. 

And, I have gained a great deal of wisdom from life in my adoption experience.  I also continue to learn from the experiences of others.  Our stories put together build an overwhelming amount of evidence than adoption as it has functioned is not working for the children it is supposed to provide for, but is also ridden with fraud and corruption and managed and controlled by those the profit from it.

It used to be that we were the ones who were not listened to when we spoke out about all that was wrong with adoption.  But now we are turning the tables on everyone that tells us it doesn't matter, be thankful, be grateful, and don't rock the boat.  Not only are we rocking the boat we are taking the oars and steering it in the right direction.  Our voices will not be drowned out and over powered by those that have no "business" dictating to us what we should, and could, be able to know about our very own biological relatives and genetic history.  To all those naysayers and those who fight against us in our quest for the truth about OUR lives this is what I have to say to them now.

~ Freedom of speech is wonderful – right up there with the freedom not to listen.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Rejected Adoptees

No one not adopted can understand how the rejection can and does affect you each and every day. Today I am home sick...again. The only thing I have ever been in trouble with at any job was absences. With all of my health issues all it takes is one little virus, a virus most people can handle and work through and throw off, and which can inflame the rest of the problems wrong with my body. 

If I miss a day before or after a holiday I have to bring a doctors note. Well, I ride the bus so going to the doctor is an outside 2 hour ordeal getting to and from at least and not to mention right now I don't have the money to do so, until Friday payday...neither does my husband or he would give it to me. Doctors can really do nothing for me I need multiple specialists and testing first. I have to wait on health insurance to kick in and then pay the deductibles and premiums which will take weeks if not months. Time off from work is considered a weakness no matter what. It does not matter how much over time I work for them or how much I give really. It's all about stats and time and performance. A lot like being adopted.

Everyone thinks I am strong, intelligent, and capable. I am, true. My body is not. It never has been. It was weak and sickly at a young age. And what I've had to endure growing up ill is much more than even "regular" people can comprehend. Throw adoption into the mix and you have a "I don't want to be here" scenario brewing every day. These people at work are not really supportive they are supportive of company profits and success that makes THEM look better. I am a cog in the wheel. As I was in adoption.

Example: I was at work recently and the weather reports began to progressively worsen. My boss let me leave 1/2 an hour early and I know, as I always know, there is a chart of "gives" and "takes" at work being kept. Nothing comes for free. As I learned in adoption.

As I began to walk from work, and run to catch the bus as usual (one of two other connections I have to make to get home) the lightening began. I don't fear many things in life....severe lightening is not one of them. The tornado sirens begin to go off. I am scared, trembling actually. But, I calm my fears and reason with myself about stats of people hit by lightening or those that die in stormy weather. A nice older lady asks me as I wait under the cover at the gas station looking out for a bus siting if I am “ok”. Oh, if I only had the time to tell her. I say I am waiting on the bus and she leaves....all the while wishing she was the mother I never had. One who cared, and one who I could care for. And, wondering WHY in the hell life left me bereft of relatives.  As adoption often does.

The tornado sirens begin again and I lose my cell phone signal and contact with anyone who can give me a weather report on what is going on where I am at. I can not call a cab now. Luckily, with my dollar store umbrella I see the bus coming and after a 1/2 an hour of hell waiting 20 yards from the tornado sirens I bolt for the bus. I reach the rail station only to be grasping for the button on the train to open the doors when it pulls away. There I am alone, cold, wet, scared and too friggin frightened standing at the dryest place I can find as the crackles of lightening bear down upon me. I locate the best place I can between the ticket machine and the over head cover post....and I break down and cry.

I swear had I have been swept away by the weather and have perished and could have come back to watch the bereavement in my afterlife role I would have heard my adoptive mother say “If she would have stood under the OTHER pillar” or “If she lived her life by the word of God the weather wouldn't have hit her" and my adoptive father would have said, par for the course, nothing. I will never measure up or be enough because I am not their child. It's pathetic their excuses for not taking any responsibility for loving their adopted children, it's still our fault we didn't turn out in the capacity they expected. And Capacity = exactly like them.

I would never have heard the things most parents say about the child they lost. But, I don't count because I'm not their child. I never really have been and I never will be. I am no one's child and....I hate being adopted.