Assembling Self

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.