Assembling Self

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.