Assembling Self

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Adoptees - Healing and Empowerment

In the Quiet of my soul

In the quiet of my soul there dwells, a story that is left to tell.
A life that lives beneath, so still awaiting its release.
Hiding there for many years beneath the layers of my fears.
Afraid to recognize the pain not knowing where to lay the blame.
Tucked away, I feign a smile.
But the pressure grows and all the while.
I dream one day, we'll make them see this burdensome road, this strange journey.
For if our voices join together ceasing not, nor quitting ever.
I believe united we'll reclaim the loss of histories and names.
And, that's enough until the time we'll change their hearts, transform all minds.
So cease not in this quest for truth nor give up on your search for proof.
What we're told that matters not can't be ignored, nor be forgot.
I pray for days and nights sometimes and probably 'til the end of time.
That relief is somewhere close in sight so I can lay to rest this fight.
Returning to truth and honesty at last our spirits will be set free.
And reaching out we'll heal all those lost and lonely wounded souls.

I've been told I'm consumed and obsessed with adoption.  That, I am an angry adoptee.  That I need to get over adoption as everyone has issues them from life experiences and to just leave it all in the past.  The problem is that being adopted can not all be in the past.  It it is very much a part of adoptees in the present and future too.  Just like you can't be unborn, you can't be unadopted.  Our pasts as children, the people who influenced our lives growing up, the genes and biological we come from, are very much a part of our now.

People every day talk about the circumstances and situations that have shaped and are molding their lives.  Just scroll through Facebook (as we almost all do ;) ) hundreds are discussing and sharing about loved ones who are gone, posting pics from childhood, High School, college, weddings, it runs the gamut from A-Z.  If we could just put everything in the past then there would be no wonderful memories and reunions!  But, unfortunately with the good parts of our past come the difficult ones too.

 Recently, I read someone who is not adopted comment on how much someone thinks about adoption and the hurt and pain that it brings up.  And how it's easy not to think about something you "just don't think about it".  And then this person goes on to list every wrong someone has done them over the last twenty plus years.  Ummmm, a little (understatement) contradictory?

For many adoptees, we've had decades of bottled up, unidentified, and confusing, bewilderment we have felt without anywhere safe to express it.  Misunderstood and perplexed because the knowledge of where we came from, the very foundation or our lives is gone, and we are told to be happy and bury the underlying despair and sadness we feel and have felt.  For us it's like opening an unread book and beginning on chapter four, and the previous chapters we are not allowed to have.  It will never be a complete story, and that's what adoptees deal with, incomplete lives.

For adoptees there seems to be different rules when it comes to reactions and emotions about being adopted that we are required to adhere to.  The term "victim mentality" gets thrown about a lot.  Many of us talk about it because there have been no guide books or mentors, no one who understood us and could help us, and instead it became even more confusing when our questions and emotions were dismissed and labeled wrong.  And many, many of us, speak continually and publicly in tireless efforts to change the system of adoption and educate the world as to what these changes can, should, and need to be. 

There is a difference in being angry about something, and being an angry person.  There is a difference in speaking about something to vent, be understood, and supported, and allowing yourself to become a victim because of it.  There is a HUGE difference in writing, speaking, sharing, and encouraging others to do the same about adoption, because there is power in numbers, and there is empowerment for individuals.

“It's not forgetting that heals. It's remembering.” ~ Amy Greene, Bloodroot

Sunday, January 5, 2014

The Emotional Impact Being Adopted Has Meant In My Life


I see this person staring back at me and wonder who it is I see?
Are those her eyes?  Is her face the same?
Do I look like him?  What were their names?
Mirrors like pictures tell thousands of tales but the stories told have always failed.
In lending me the slightest clues to endless questions and intangible truths.
For I feel just like an empty shell that has no history or past to tell.
A single light shines all alone in the dark so far from "home".
Burning bright to light the way into the dawn of another day.
To illuminate where I must go and guide my steps through this unknown.
Discovering trails back to where, I'll find that face that's in the mirror.

Some of this may repeat or over lap what other adoptees have written or expressed about being adopted.  That is the great thing about communicating with other adoptees, you finally know your truths are similar to others.  There is a lot of comfort in that especially after being so alone in the world with all the issues of being adopted that are never spoken of, and usually dismissed as unimportant instead.  I enjoy hearing from other adoptees who inspire me with their voices of truth and encourage me to voice mine.

I do tend to speak for other adoptees too, and I feel after 15 years in adoption search, support, education, activism and reform, I can.   I have gleaned a lot of experiences from the voices of thousands of other adoptees.  Today though, I am going to speak of my personal experience about what it means, and how it has felt and still feels, to me being adopted.

Many adoptees will tell you that they have never felt the way I do, and are happy and grateful for being adopted.  They consider their adoptive family their real and true family.  There is absolutely nothing wrong with that in any way.  What I can tell you is that there are a good amount of adoptees, who feel as I do.

It's growing up living a secret double life that no one really knows about, including you.   It's belonging, or many times not belonging, to two separate worlds.  And always, always, trying to reconcile each with the other.

Being adopted means watching from the outside.  Constantly analyzing other families and comparing them to your own.  It's never fitting in anywhere, even inside your own skin.  Because your own skin is all you have to belong to genetically.

Pondering your navel in ways nonadopted people would never think about, and where that connection that once was is now.  Birthdays that are spent wondering if your mother is remembering you, and if she is in what way, good, bad, or indifferent?  Being adopted means being puzzled with the reasons parents could give you away, and walk away, and leave with so many unanswered questions.

Mirrors are tough, because they tell so many stories about you, yet none you really know to be true. Fantasy becomes a huge factor in your every day life.  You are often caught as a child staring off into space, or called on by a teacher for not paying attention.  It's not that you mean to be like this, it's that you don't know how NOT to be like this.

Being adopted means a lot of pretending.   Pretending everything is o.k.  Pretending you are someone you are not, because you have no idea who you really are.  You are always examining others to see how they do it and seem so comfortable with themselves.  You become chameleon like to blend in, and to appease others as you have no true sense of self and you fear further rejection.

 Adopted reality can hit you really hard, like a fast ball to your heart, an unexpected sock in your gut, when you hear your adopted mother snicker and proclaim, “No wonder your mother gave you away”.  And then, a large part of you believes it to be true.   And you always will in some capacity believe this, and hear that voice in the back of your mind.

It can also pull the rug out from under your feet in a matter of seconds, this being adopted, when you hear a social worker say "I'm sorry your biological mother is asking no more mail be sent."  Or, "Your biological father will not claim you are his daughter, put anything in writing, and says he understands your need for information but everyone there is healthy."  No nonadopted person can quite fathom what it means that the people who you were born from want nothing to do with you, ever.   And instead want to brush you, the dirty secret of their lives, off and away under the rug somewhere hopefully you'll never crawl back out from under.

Coping with losses and rejection so deeply unfathomable that sometimes the overwhelming facts and reality of what you face is so unbelievable you can't wrap your mind around any of it.  It all seems like a bad B movie, or an even more outrageous soap opera plot, or a nightmare you'll wake up from eventually.  But it's not.  There is no escape and you live it each and every day of your life.

Some days are easier than others.  Sometimes you can almost nearly forget, at least for awhile.  Of course, it's always there and you realize no amount of denial, food, drugs, alcohol, or other relationships are going to erase the perpetual questions, mend holes in the fabric of your existence, or fill the massive loss adoption has brought to your life.

I hope this gives those who can not understand adoptees some insight into the pain and trauma adoptees can and do endure most all of their lives.  Especially, those who want and need us to be grateful, and thankful, and happy that we were adopted.  I will never be happy to have been adopted, or relinquished, or "left" by two families.  I can only go on to attempt to educate the world and reform adoption, and hopefully help heal and support other adoptees struggling with their personal battles, issues, and truths in their own lives.

“You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something – your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. Because believing that the dots will connect down the road will give you the confidence to follow your heart even when it leads you off the well worn path; and that will make all the difference.” ~Steve Jobs