Assembling Self

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

The Mirror My Nemesis

I see this person staring back at me and wonder who it is I see?
Are these her eyes?  Is his face the same?
Do I look like them?  What are 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.

Mirrors.  Mirrors are normal and every day parts of life.  They are everywhere and especially with the current trend in selfie taking.  Mirrors are not only a reflection of who we are now but a reflection of the people we come from.
My former husband used to tell me that "You have never passed a mirror you did not like."  That is not only not true, it is possibly one of the most "untrue" statements about me that has ever been made.  I actually don't like mirrors.  I don't know if I ever have.

My obsession with mirrors is not vanity it's a constant search for validation of who I am and where I come from, of which I get none.  Perhaps briefly maybe shortly for a moment when a glance finds me in good light and clothes and reflects an image I like to see.  But, that is not often and less often considering my age.
Discussing age recently with my friend, that seems to be an increasingly more discussed subject, she stated now every time she looks into the mirror she sees her mother.  I stopped cold with that.  How I wish people knew how much adoptees long for that.  Too see anyone that resembled them young, old, or in between.

Children grow up looking into faces of those them resemblance.  Most have siblings along with grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins and extended family members bearing the same facial features, personality traits, and even habits, likes, and dislikes.  Biological family members can certainly be quite opposite but adoptees are void of any tangible evidence they physically belong in their adoptive family.  There is an extremely important missing part in the family bonding process.  This is not to say that deep bonding between adoptive children and adoptive parents/families can’t happen however, it can present a problem that can become a life long issue.

This is what I knew growing up.  I asked about my mother who had relinquished me and was told she was very young, very tiny, and very pretty.  I was lucky to be born with good genes but I don’t know who they come from.  My mother, father, grandparents, who is it this athletic build I inherited come from along with the habitual lip biting all of my children also inherited including the nose I’ve come to hate for most of my life?  None certainly come from my adoptive family who couldn’t be anymore different than I am.   Not many people truly know what it is like to live your life founded on and steeped in a complete mystery and searches that can lead to brick walls, lies, illegalities, and secrets kept.  My children and their children are also in the dark about the genetic background and they’ve lost out as well.

Why is it that genetics are whitewashed in adoption as unimportant but vital to nonadopted persons who are building family trees with ancestry tracing and genealogical research online?  Why is it that adopted persons are expected to give up all knowledge of where they come from and the genetic factors that make them who they are?  When will it be time when ALL adoptees can obtain the same information that every other citizen of this country has a right to?  Adoptees are not blank slates to be written on by other families, we come genetically wired and coded before we are even born.

I will never have a right to force relationships with my biological family but I have a right to that option as others do.  I do have the right to have my original birth certificate and biological family history and information.   All adoptees do and we always will.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Adoptees - The truth and nothing but the truth


An empty blackboard stands alone,
 they erased who I was and gave me a new home.
Lies are now placed where the truth used to be.
How could they take that away from me?
Did they really believe I'd never question?
What they gave me as a definition?
Of the person I was supposed to become?
And never look back on where I came from?
Where does one really draw the line
 of how much past you can leave behind?
They expect out of us what they could never do.
Despite what they say I am searching.
Wouldn't you?

The last articulately written adoptee article I read at the Washington Post has created more controversy with comments from nonadopted persons and than I have seen in awhile.  And of course, it's the usual advice to adoptees in varying degrees of "Get over it", "Be grateful you weren't aborted", "biological families suck too be glad you escaped", "Get a life", "Create your own path", "You need therapy/are mentally ill" and some really struck me as particularly hypocritical.  Why, well let me explain.

Getting a life and creating our own paths is exactly what many adoptees are attempting to do every day.  When most adoptees search for biological family and speak out how being adopted affects them, and their families we are expressing our emotions and desires to do something with our lives to bring peace, closure, and wholeness.  I see that as fairly normal, healthy, and mentally sound not to mention vitally important for many adoptees.  If not, then why the genealogy fervor over the last few decades?

Adoptees usually do not have the basic family history and genetic knowledge at birth and or access to it later as adults that others are privy to.  The informative genetic playing field we enter on to in life is not the same level course as nonadopted persons.  We are given handicaps, disabilities, and barriers the nonadopted world can't begin to imagine, obviously.  It's a given for the majority of nonadopted persons that they know who their mother, father, sisters, brothers, grandparents, and generations spreading back and forward are.  They have photos, stories, historical documents, family heirlooms, and all kinds of tangible evidence and facts about themselves through the people they come from.  What anyone does with that information is their right.  However it's not the same rights adoptees are given.

I am a 55 year old adult adoptee about to embark on my 5th court petition for access to my original birth certificate.  Why would I keep continuing to pound my head against a brick wall you say and not move on?  Because I can't and I won't.  And I hope my persistence will pay off eventually (judges and social workers have to retire at some point) not only for myself but for adoptees are there with me and will follow.  Although I realize that at my age and with people dying taking knowledge about my adoption situation to their grave, I can't allow myself to give up seeking, searching, and trying to find out where I came from.  I just can't believe, although the evidence is overwhelmingly monumental that nonadopted persons think adoptee are "lucky", how anyone could not fathom not knowing who your mother and father are, where your brothers and sisters are, and waking up every day to look into a mirror at a virtual hereditary stranger.

If you as adoptee never feel the need to look back, to know biological family, or have the desire to explore in any capacity family history nothing wrong with that.  But, adoptees who don't feel as I and others do, for nonadopted persons labeling and judging adoptees, to the industry of adoption and systems that continue to expect adoptees to accept less than other citizens, STOP. We've already conformed for far too long.

You want us to get over being adopted?  Ummmm, no although adoptees can learn to live with it and quite well and successfully.  How?  Give every adult adoptee their OBC, honest answers to questions they ask if you have them, and the support they need to put the pieces of their own personal life puzzle together into as cohesive a whole as is humanly possible.   Level the playing field for adoptees by removing unnecessary obstacles, legal restrictions, and constraints in their quest to simply gather important and valuable truths about their lives.  Abolish lies, half truths, and the falsification of documents in adoption.  Then, and only then, do adoptees who want the truth(s) have a chance to grow into complete and authentic human beings.

I will still not be grateful, because seriously who would be just to finally achieve the same legal status as the next person who never had to fight to get it, but I will be equal.  With that I can then move on with my life and into whatever future I want to have.  Until that time I live in limbo.