Assembling Self

Sunday, May 4, 2014

The ghosts of adoption


A silhouette without a face these ghosts I chase from place to place.
Shadows playing hide and seek elude my call evade my reach.
They come and go within my dreams looming near but never seen.
Just when I think they've gone away I realize they are back to stay.
Haunted by who I might be, in the mirror this face I see.
It is mine but comes from where?
I find no peace, only blank stares.
Few clues to riddles lost in time.
Can't capture what I can not find.
Pursuing what I can't deny, the phantoms of days long gone by.

I've been busy.  It's been a good productive busy but still hectic.  I have not had the time to write as I would like to.  I've jotted down some notes over the last few months that I wanted to expand upon because no matter how far you attempt to get from adoption it is always there and usually in your face.  It's quite invisible to nonadopted persons but as blatant to adoptees as the noses on our faces.  All it takes is a quick change in perspective to see it.

As adoptees we all know and realize you can never get away from adoption.  And, most of us don't want to since we have spent so much of our lives unable to express how we feel or how it has shaped and molded who we really are.  We need to feel it, see it, dive down deeply into it to discover what it is we need to do about it.  But there is a point a vacation would be nice.  And many of us take breaks from activism, reform, education, search and support along the way.  However, the world usually doesn't give you long before there it is, in your face, reminding you that being an adoptee is who you are and will always be.

I was in Walmart a couple of months back, yes Walmart it's the only store within walking distance I can get to, and doing my usual grocery shopping.  I turned the corner and there she was.  A woman about 4' 11" tall weighing around 100 lbs.  How can I size a person up that quickly?  And secondly, I'm sure nonadopted people wonder why would I?  Because I am adopted.  And, because the only identifying information I have about my mother that she gave me in her non-id letter through the adoption court is nearly exactly that.  And, because I have been searching for her my whole life.

I also know her hair and eye color as well.  Not many women are that petite and every single time I come across them I engage them in conversation if I can and scan their faces closely for resemblances.  Little are these women aware that I am almost oblivious to our conversations because there is a whole internal dialogue going on inside me that if anyone knew they'd probably turn and run and or immediately notify security.

The hair color of this woman matched too.  Unfortunately, she was turned from away from me and I could not see her face directly.  I pretended to look at items on the shelves on either side of her and moved as unstalkerish (yes adoptees get to make up words we need our own language) as possible to get her to turn towards me.  She was probably around my age and as my brain absorbed this information my first thought was "possibly a sister?"  I know I have at least two siblings from my mother's side.

Unfortunately, nerves got the best of me and I walked on pushed my cart down the aisle and went about my day swallowing the lump in my throat and breathing slowly to stop my heart from pounding so heavily in my chest.  If anyone asked I'd just attribute the shaking to too much coffee.  I should have approached her probably but who REALLY knows how unnerving it can be to be confronted by a perfect stranger in a Walmart no less.  But, this is the life of an adoptee in search forever traveling down the path of "who am I?"

Adoption is ubiquitous to adoptees.  We are constantly told to get over it, don't think about it, or it doesn't matter.  Adoption is the fabric our hearts and bodies are stitched and sewn from.

Recently I've began to delve into my favorite fiction authors.  Even when I escape into fantasy there it is chapter two, main character, and a girl no less.  Orphaned at birth, adopted and abused, sent to an orphanage, and taken in by a family member who became her guardian.  Almost too close to home and definitely enough to bring me back into reality.

Soap operas, forget it, not one around I don't think that doesn't have an adoption story line.  Horror shows, always look to the antagonist to more than likely be an adoptee given up at birth returning to exact revenge on the parents that abandoned them.  Pinterest, social media sites, and online news even adoption in some way, shape, or form is within view.

One day I'll be a ghost to my children and those who have loved me.  But, I will have be a "real" ghost in the capacity that I will have a face, and a voice, and eternal memories that will carry on when I am gone.  Adoptees need to have that as well, or at least the chance at tangible proof of the ancestors and heritage they will always be a part of, and that will always be a part of them.

“Now I know what a ghost is. Unfinished business, that's what.” ~Salman Rushdie