Assembling Self

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Adoptees In Transition

“It’s the same with people who say, ‘Whatever doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.’ Even people who say this must realize that the exact opposite is true. What doesn’t kill you maims you, cripples you, leaves you weak, makes you whiny and full of yourself at the same time. The more pain, the more pompous you get. Whatever doesn’t kill you makes you incredibly annoying.”  ~Rob Sheffield "Love is a Mix Tape"

I am moving half way across the country in three days.  This move is necessary but it is far from wanted.  I am leaving behind an eleven year marriage that is broken, my three children, friends, and for 30 years now the place I have called "home".  I have given away most of everything I own, donated what I could to charity, and reduced what I have in the last year by about 90%.  I am leaving behind my three children, yes they are grown, they are still "my children".  I am stepping into total unfamiliar territory and out of everything I have known for decades.

I know these roads, and stop lights, and school zones, and neighborhoods like the back of my hand.  I know the comfort of homes I have lived in, playgrounds my children grew up on, comfort food I could get right around the corner, take-out menus from places I already knew the menu from by heart just needed the phone number, and establishments my family celebrated birthdays in.  I know the season's weather, and the time of light and darkness, and where I went through the door every day I called home.

Friends try and tell me how great and wonderful this new adventure is.  It might be what is best for me, but it is based on pain and loss.  It is a lot like being adopted.  Adoptees are expected to be grateful for new families, without being able to mourn for the loss of their original one.  It's like telling someone who is losing their legs to focus on being thankful for their arms.  It undermines their pain.  It causes them to feel misunderstood and for their suffering to be dismissed.

A dear friend who has known me for 25 years or so who GETS ME, said this recently.  She nailed it as far as how adoptees feel about loss, especially those of us who are held at arms length, by two families.  Her comments below:

"Unfortunately, this "adventure" has been forced upon you and it is devastating. I have lost all of my possessions at least a couple of times in my life and it sucks. Starting over with NOTHING sucks! Not knowing the outcome of the "new beginning" sucks! Everyone on Earth wants to have that feeling of belonging...(you especially) and we associate our surroundings..home, furniture, clothes and other "things" with a sense of self. Without family it is all one has to call their own. Losing these things can feel like waking up in the wilderness, naked, and all alone. I DO understand and I know that it's terrifying and I am so sorry that it has come to this."

I feel I've lived in my life walking a tight rope with no safety net below.  I am told I am strong and brave.  I have had no choice.  Adoptees can often find themselves left out in the cold, in the darkest of unending nights, left behind by those that gave them life and those that promised to love them. 

“Give sorrow words; the grief that does not speak knits up the o-er wrought heart and bids it break.” ~William Shakespeare 

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Freedom for Adoptees


I plead though they ignore my cries.
The record's sealed is their reply.
Time and time again I ask.
I'm told to put it in the past.
I can't get them to try and see.
They have what belongs to me.
I beg for truth but no one hears.
It only falls upon deaf ears.
I get no matter how I try.
The same stone cold response.

Today is a great day for Americans to celebrate.  For many adoptees it is another day we are denied the same rights as other citizens of this country.  We can believe we are a country that supports the rights of the citizens that live here and celebrate that, but adoptees know and live another truth.

My original birth certificate, the one every other citizen of this country is granted upon request for a small fee, is held by the state by "law".  Laws I had no right or say in, and laws that dictate I am held and bound by agreements made by other parties without my consent.  This is discrimination at the least.

Adoptees live with out full truth.  And are expected to be grateful to do so.  We are NOT!  We are not asking for anything other than what other citizens can have.

So today while you are celebrating your freedom remember that there are citizens who can not do that like others do.  And btw, it not only effects adoptees but their children too.  Hence, my handsome son with the sign in the photo above.  He at a young age got that I am left without the knowledge and capability to know where he or I came from and who he really is too.  If a young 12 year old can understand, why can't legislators?  Why can't the rest of the world?

“Those who deny freedom to others deserve it not for themselves.” ~Abraham Lincoln

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Adoptee's Genetics Speak - Please Listen Carefully

“DNA is like a computer program but far, far more advanced than any software ever created.”  ~Bill Gates

I grew up within an adopted family genetically opposite of everything I was and grew up believing that everything about me was wrong.  Being relinquished for adoption and transplanted into another family with which you share zero genetics or biological traits can be extremely confusing.   Being told you are just like every other child is not the truth, nor is the denial of the very basic facts of life everyone else has.  The lack of recognition of these issues too complicates bonding and forming functional and lasting relationships with members of your adopted family because they have no understanding of your loss, pain, and ongoing frustrations with trying to fit in.

I hear from many people when I talk and write about  how being adopted can feel say they feel like adoptees do too unwelcome, or rejected, like a foreigner even when surrounded by their biological family and relatives.  The difference is that as ostracized as they can feel, they at least grew up with and or have the knowledge of who they are and where they came from.  What they can not understand is the foundation they were given that when taken away or denied adoptees, can have negative and devastating impacts.

I do not think that my adoptive family and I could be any more different.  But, that is the lottery system of adoption.  Even with trying to match backgrounds genetics speak loudly and clearly.  Unfortunately the "voice" of an adoptee's genetics are usually ignored, the blank slate theory, and expected to be drowned out and unheard and rematched to those of the family they are placed in. 

My adoptive family is the polar opposite of me.  Neither is wrong or right, they are just VERY different.

They are a soft carefully patterned paisley.  I am a boldly colored bohemian print.

They are a predictable, well manicured, and designed English garden.  I am wild flowers growing where the wind blows me.

They are a safe, secure, home in a small residential community.  I am a city abode bustling and surging with lights and sounds and energy.

They are stoic, quiet, and reserved.  I am emotional, loud, and demonstrative.

The information I have received, even if not names, photos, or anything identifying at age 39 about my biological family changed the way I saw myself, my place in the world, and abolished immediately all the unfounded beliefs and incorrect theories I had compiled since childhood about myself.  The surprise of it is almost always reassuring and empowering to finally understand yourself as a unique individual yet belonging to a larger whole, and as a person most other people have always known themselves to be.  After growing up and living without any awareness of any of that, or comprehension of how crucial and vital is it, how positively life altering it can be once obtained and realized. 

However, I will never recover those lost decades of feeling incomplete, unaccepted, and disfavored and feeling somehow it must be my fault.  And that is a huge tragedy in adoption.  A tragedy only adoptees have known and lived for far too long.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

How to not think about being Adopted - NOT

It's there no matter how you try and avoid it all the time.  Most adoptees do try but quickly realize it's futile.  Adoption is everywhere it seems.  Below are some of the ways, in no particular order, that it's nearly impossible to put being adopted aside for any length of time, despite what others believe it's possible for adoptees to do.

1.  General daily conversations - Between various people talking about their "Mother, Father, Sister, Brother, Grandparent" etc...and thinking about how you have two sets of parents and grandparents to deal with along with doubles of extended family member, the complication from all of that, and all the missing people you have never been able to find, might not ever be able to find, or who passed away or will pass away without you ever having the chance to meet or know them.  And, how no one around you can understand the complications being adopted brings to your life.  Sometimes I almost can not bear to hear what others can have and take for granted, that is denied me every single day.

2.  TV/Movies/Commercials/Social Media -  It's enough with the "bad" adoptee themes, killer adoptees, stalker adoptees, vengeful adoptees, the stereotypes are maddening to say the least.  Soap operas are filled with themes of adoption long lost children, baby selling plots, and mothers with amnesia however this is probably the most realistic of the TV/Movie adoption story lines, still hard to watch sometimes.   I SWEAR I have contorted my aging body in ways I never thought possibly in the last few months to mute the commercials.  I will dive over couches, leap coffee tables, and if they continue I see a real possibility of a broken pelvis or a dislocated hip in my near future.  Facebook is FILLED with adoption agency agendas and blatant promotion of adoption but only the hearts, love, and teddy bears side without allowing adoptees to voice the most intelligent arguments otherwise.  Even one of my favorite hangouts Pinterest has Pro-Adoption related photos and quotes so escaping there to get away is not an option either. 

3.  Holidays - All of them.  My favorites are Valentine's Day, May Day, and Fourth of July.  Non family related celebrations.  Helps to avoid all the triggers and hide from the festivities you do not belong to in either family or relative you are not accepted by.  And, if you do belong to both how to play diplomat to each by dividing time equally and fairly without pissing off a multitude of different people. 

4.  Search - For many adoptees search is a life long journey to find names and the people who were hidden from you by altered and falsified government documents, also called ammended birth certificates.  Endless preoccupation with ways to find your biological roots, patiently awaiting government and agency adoption documents and the results of court petitions for identifying information, or for responses from family members located by email, phone, or letter is nerve wracking and nail biting and can send the strongest adopted person to the nearest liquor store, pharmacy, or  into a carb or sugar induced coma and addiction to soothe the over loaded brain and nerves.

5.  Adoption Billboards, Signs, and Bumperstickers - These are everywhere in Texas.  Adoption is big business here, literally.  Beside Freeways, on Church lawns, and on cars of all kinds the promotion of adoption is blatantly promoted everywhere.

6.  Birthdays - One of the biggest adoptee triggers ever.  Our birthdays are not about a celebration of life they are often about mourning the loss of knowledge, family members, and the separation from your family of origin.  And, nonadopted persons don't get this without lengthy explanations so instead we usually just plaster on the mask, it's easier than explaining.

7.  Your children's school family tree projects - It was tough enough enduring them when you were child and being told to "lie" (which it was) and use your adoptive family's background, but now you have to explain (if you are into truth telling and as adoptees we mostly HATE lying to anyone let alone people we love because it's been done to us and we know the damage it does) to your children about adoption, what it means, and how it affects them.

8.  Mirrors, Photos, and Belly Buttons - Sounds silly doesn't it?  It's not, it's our life peering into mirrors, searching photos of ourselves for resemblances and biological family members.  Growing up and even now not knowing who the person is who carried you inside her, who you were connected to for nine months, and who gave you life.  It's just surreal and weird to say the very least.

9.  Children and Grandchildren - Some adoptees only have their children and grandchildren to see any recognition of themselves in. I am in that category and may remain there for the rest of my life.  It's almost inconceivable if it weren't so true.  Sometimes I stare at my children, armed with only with the scraps of information I have received about the physical traits of who I came from, and pick out the similarities.  It's a constant piecing together of a never ending puzzle.

10.  Waking Up - That's all it takes to start the above nine items I have mentioned running through adoptee's minds.

These are just ten I thought of I'm sure there are more but seriously, I am exhausted from thinking about least for the next three minutes anyway. ;)

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

An Adoptee's Hidden Past

Hidden Past

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

Adoption is a life long journey, one that never ends especially as an adoptee.  And unfortunately in being adopted, these emotions and issues are not addressed or discussed, allowed to be acknowledged for the most part, or ever understood by adoptees themselves.  Living a life under the weight of nondisclosure, secrets, and lies can impact an adoptee in a great variety of ways.

For me it's not just about my biological parents who want nothing to do with me in their lives and no relationship.  I got over the need to be a wanted child long ago I am an adult now.  But I am continually reduced to being treated as an unworthy child by the actions of adults who with hold vital life altering information from all of their children, not just the one they relinquished.

It's not just about the separation from the parental factor in adoption most people who are not adopted think about.  I  have grandparents, great grandparents, cousins, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, but most important to me are the siblings who have never been told I exist.  Have we ever crossed paths, has their FB profile blinked across the screen at one point in time, do we have mutual friends, and what would they do if they were told about me?

These decisions that are OURS to make have been taken from us and are being controlled by people without our consent or say.  Our rights are being trampled over and on continually.  And, when will it be too late?  There is no guarantee of reunions decades from now life happens and it happens in adoption each and every day as people are losing one another, the knowledge of each other, and the chance to FIND one another.

When abandoned and rejected by family, friends, and significant others  in life, even if not intentionally done, there are several choices one can make.  Long ago the choices I made were forced denial, suppression of emotions, addiction, and codependency.  Now I speak, I write, I talk, I promote adoptees rights when and anywhere I can and hopefully help other adoptees in their journey and in healing.  I also cry, my heart bleeds, and I quietly and internally pray that someday and somehow I will find the people who are the answers to my questions and connect my past to my future with whatever time I have left.

“Lying is done with words, and also with silence.” ~Adrienne Rich