Assembling Self

Friday, February 21, 2020

The Day I Touched My Trauma

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The Day I Touched My Trauma

From a recent Twitter exchange about the subject of whether being adopted is trauma for adoptees, I thought I would share my experience in touching the trauma buried deep within me for nearly four decades.  I had been searching since the birth of my first child at age 24 when I found ALMA. I didn’t know then that no one was searching for me. I had no idea where I was in fact born, as original birth certificates are amended (ABCs) when babies and children are adopted. Adoptive parent information replaces that of biological family information and original birth certificates (OBCs) are sealed. My amended birth certificate did not list the hospital I was born at, and I did not know the agency that handled my adoption. I had been told I was adopted at 2 weeks old, and since there were no photos of me prior to around a few weeks I assumed that to be correct.

So, in 1998 struggling with several chronic health issues, and physicians requesting family medical history information, we purchased a computer. I did not know where to start so I plugged “adoption” into the browser and began to read. I was able to connect with a Missouri specific search and support group where I was adopted from and had lived for the first few years of my life.

The only tangible piece of information I had on my amended birth certificate was the attending physician’s signature. Someone told me to check the American Medical Association (AMA) website to see if he was still practicing. I typed in his name and VOILA there he was, STILL practicing family medicine with rights to the hospital I believed I had been born at! And, it hit me like a ton of bricks dropping from a skyscraper. This was the man who had witnessed my birth, who knew my mother, he had physically touched her and me, and knew ME, the person I had been BEFORE adoption. Someone who was there the day I was BORN.

I began to cry and my whole body began to tremble. I started quietly sobbing which slowly grew into body wide shaking. This was the very first real connection my mother I had ever had. I was barely able to keep myself from fainting. I had a clue, I had hope, I had a key piece to find the knowledge of where I came from! To my MOTHER! My son, who was around three at the time came to me and asked if I was o.k. I realized my visceral reaction was scaring him, he had never seen me like this before. I got my emotions under control as best as I could. I sat staring at the screen for a long while.

I then realized how much emotional trauma had been trapped within my physical body. I felt these emotions head to toe, body wide, rip through me almost like bolts of lightning. I had never experienced any depth of emotion like that before in my life.  I was making noises I had never heard myself make before, the guttural sobs were so overwhelming they were more like convulsions. I thought I might pass out. I had touched emotions about my mother that had been buried so deep, for so long, and until that moment were unrecognized.

In the non-id letter through the adoption agency later my mother said she was not allowed to see me or hold me after my birth. That was not unusual when babies were to be placed for adoption. I still have no idea where I was for the first two weeks of my life, what type of care I received, or IF I received any decent care at all. At an adoption conference a nurse told us how babies being placed for adoption back in the 50’s, 60’s, and 70’s that were given phenobarbital to calm them because they wouldn’t stop crying. That has since been confirmed by other nurses who said this was a common practice in closed adoptions.

Was I left to cry alone? Was I left to cry for my mother? Was I given drugs to stop my relentless painful crying? There is still so much, even after 60 years, I do not know about my early life prior to adoption. How can being severed from your biological mother at birth, from your father and all extended family, your name changed, and your records sealed NOT be trauma?

I have studied some prenatal and perinatal psychology, birth psychology, and early childhood core issues including rejection, abandonment, loss, identity crisis, and disenfranchised grief that can affect adoptees. There are a lot of new studies out about adoption, and those have their place within adoption healing. But, the voices and stories that come directly from adoptees are what we should be listening too.  There is nothing more compelling than the truths adoptees have lived to show the monumental impact adoption has had in our lives. 

Once you tap into pain, realize it, feel it, you can begin to work with healing modalities to abate the trauma. Trauma does not have to define your life forever. Trauma no longer consumes me. Trauma can affect people differently, there is no one way adoptees can or should feel about being adopted. As much as adoptees experiences can be similar, they can also be very different. I never deal in absolutes, nothing is every black or white.  I am simply here to share my experiences in the hopes it helps other adoptees.

The day I touched my trauma was the day I began the journey of healing.

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Saturday, August 19, 2017

Adoption is not a one-time transaction, it is a life long journey.

When we speak we are afraid our words will not be heard or welcomed. But when we are silent, we are still afraid. So it is better to speak.
Read more at:
When we speak we are afraid our words will not be heard or welcomed. But when we are silent, we are still afraid. So it is better to speak.
Read more at:
When we speak we are afraid our words will not be heard or welcomed. But when we are silent, we are still afraid. So it is better to speak.
Read more at:

I haven’t blogged in a long time as I felt after five years of writing about adoption and my adoptee story I’d said about all I had to say. I still carry my portable verbal adoption soapbox with me, everyone knows that. And, I frequently end up encountering those who have some connection to an adoption experience.

Adoption is always based on loss. The loss for an adoptee of their original family and or being raised by them, the loss of a child for biological parents, and often the loss of having a natural child or more children by adoptive parents. Whether that loss is minute or overwhelming it is always there and plays a part in every individual family scenario to some degree.

So many of us know how quickly adoption reunions can go from wonderful to sour and non-existent and vice versa from no contact at all to morphing into relationships. The entire journey is pitted with emotional land mines and quick sand and unfamiliar territory. And so very often search and especially reunion outcomes long term can be dependent on the support system, or lack thereof, that adoptees or first mothers (first is the term we utilize now instead of birth in respect to mothers who relinquished a child to adoption) have. So, my first reaction when I find someone new to adoption search and reunion is to determine if they are connected to a local or online search/support resource to help them in whatever capacity they need. I know how vital it is.

Recently, as I posted on Facebook, I had a brief exchange with a TA agent at the airport over a common last name we shared and found out she was a first mother whose son has just found her. It ended with a hug and her giving me her email address to contact her. I had relayed to her that I was part of a wonderful network of adoptees and first mothers that could provide assistance that either her, or her son, might need.

I emailed her when I got back home and had time and immediately that day, she emailed me back and friended me on Facebook with the information I had provided her. The next day I noticed she had unfriended me. I sent a message asking why. I was a little shocked but I really in my gut knew what had happened.

I had posted an article an adoptee had written on birth mother rejection and heartache. It was a gut wrenching and emotional article and for many of us who have walked those shoes, yet it also brings a sense of feeling you are not alone. It’s a sister/brotherhood you don’t really want anyone else to belong to but if you must, then you are in good company.

I waited all day with a slightly sick feeling waiting on her response, if there was going to be one, and it came that evening. I won’t quote the email verbatim, but it went something like this:

“An article you posted upset me greatly as a person who had to give up a child to adoption. I’ve had 40 years of pain and I don’t need to read or hear anymore about this subject. There are two sides to every story. I’m sure you are a great person. It was really cool how we met and talked. I hope you find what you are looking for and have all the happiness and can reunite as we have."

It was a very decent and nice response until I went to reply and realized she had blocked my messages.

The posted article was not about her, not about her experience she was a welcoming mother, and was not indicative of anything other than what I believe is a large amount of unresolved grief. I believe she is carrying 40 years of guilt and shame and the article triggered the depths of the emotional baggage she has been dragging around for decades. I so wish I’d had enough time to connect her to some of the amazing first moms I’ve known for a very long time that could have offered her their stories and experiences that might have lent a hand to guide her toward healing. We adoptees and first moms who have been at this for a while (20 years for me) know that reunion is not the immediate cure all for adoption loss and certainly can bring other issues up along the way mostly when you least expect or understand them.  Unresolved anger, shame, pain, guilt, and unrealistic expectations can quickly derail and destroy relationships before they've had the proper amount of time to develop.

We all work towards healing in our own ways. Groups, individual support and or counseling, writing, laughing, music, art, all are useful components in facilitating personal empowerment to overcome pain and grief. Life trauma suppressed can lead us down paths of denial, depression, addiction, the suppression and avoidance of truth and reality, and the ultimate loss of self-actualized lives. Adoption is not a one-time transaction, it is a life long journey.

Do I regret posting the article? Absolutely NOT. I am by now used to hearing from adoptive parents, or first parents, or adoption agencies/entities, and the public or someone who knows, has a friend, or a cousin’s best friend's sister who is adopted and is “just fine”, how adoptees need to get over things, or be grateful, move on, and all the comments and advice that invalidate our experiences as adopted persons. That’s why as adoptees we need to keep on speaking.

The point I am trying to make with all of this is that adoptee experiences are valid whether they are similar, different, or the same. I applaud adoptees who step out of their comfort zones to speak their truths and risk, almost always risk, condemnation, judgment, ridicule, or a lack of compassion. It makes a difference for the rest of us. It always will.

Sometimes all adoptees are asking is to be heard. Even if you don’t comprehend our experience or you don’t understand it that’s o.k. too.  Adoption is a much- misunderstood subject, often even to adoptees who live it every day.  We just yearn to be seen and heard for the way adoption has impacted us and changed us, the people that we truly are.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

One Less Unicorn

For those of you who are wondering what the unicorn reference is in regards to adoption it is a term regularly used by those of us well versed in adoption experiences to describe someone who sees adoption in a purely positive light while denying the pain and trauma that it stems from for adoptees and biological parents. “Unicorns” refuse to see the dark underbelly of adoption including the fact that adoption is a billion dollar industry, that many adoption agencies are in business to make large sums of money off innocent babies, and that adoption is based on an adoptee's loss of their family of origin and a biological mother's pain of relinquishment. That pain and loss is something most endure for a lifetime. Adoption is a permanent solution to an often temporary situation.

There are so many subjects that will be talked about during National Adoption Awareness Month but the one I will address at the present moment during the #flipthescript campaign is the “Adoption not abortion” movement. I've been blogging for years about adoption and this last year after contributing to other blogs and adoption anthologies I pretty much had run dry of anything else to say that I hadn't covered previously. However, there are many times I just can't sit by an allow someone to spew false information about adoption especially when so many of us have fought for years to educate the world about the reality of adoption from our own personal experiences and tragedies.

Recently I ran into a pro-adoption/anti-abortion thread of my friend's Facebook page. I read and immediately felt that hot flush of anger and my blood pressure rising quickly. I had to chime in.

The conversation revolved around the fact that someone who had zero connection too adoption other than “she knew people who adopted” (which means you really know nothing). The sentence that triggered me the most to speak up was something to the tune of “You can adopt babies for nothing and many times the government will pay you to do so.” Not wrong but OH SO wrong!

Actually the cost of adoption is quite steep and there are lengthy waiting lists for HWIs (Health White Infants) of up to 10 years. In fact it can range anywhere from $30,000 to $50,000 and upwards. Ethnic babies are less costly to adopt approximately $15,000 and upwards.

If adoption is not expensive then why are there so many adoption fundraisers being held for prospective adoptive families? Yah.

I recently did a research report for my job for a family wanting to adopt. Three agencies had gone out of business and two others no longer facilitated infant adoptions and only assisted families with adopting from the foster care system. One of the agency social workers told me “We no longer do infant adoptions because it's so heart breaking to watch parents wanting to adopt wait with little hope or have a birth mother change her mind.” Inside I am yelling “YES ALRIGHT FAMILY PRESERVATION!”

Almost half of adoptions are done through private attorneys and can be even more expensive. Think adoption doesn't operate as baby buying or child trafficking? It is legal in Texas to promise anything to a birth mother and considered a “gift” to help her out in a difficult time or circumstance with an unplanned pregnancy in exchange for her relinquishing her child to that family. 
I had a friend contact me 10 years or more ago and tell me that her friend's daughter was pregnant at the age of 15 and considering adoption. She wanted to keep the baby but felt pressure to relinquish considering she had no education, no job, and felt unable to provide for a child. She said each time the girl told the family no they upped the ante. First it was a car, then added a college education, and then a house. Those things can look very promising to a girl that has little and is in a difficult situation.

The adoption was promised to be open but I let my friend know to tell this girl that if she relinquished her rights that adoption can close at any point in time and there is no recourse for her to change anything. The adoptive parents will have every right to keep that child from her until it's 18. And, by that time who knows what the adoptee will have been told, or believes, or will feel about her biological family.

The girl decided to keep the baby and from what I hear is happy with the decision she made. I heard the adoptive parents were livid and couldn't understand why she would choose such a difficult path in life when they could have smoothed it over for her and made things a lot easier. Ummmmm because it's her flesh and blood and she didn't want to “sell” it?

We shame poor young or single women who become pregnant into relinquishing yet we provide tax breaks and benefits for families that adopt.  Prospective adoptive parents post "Go Fund Me" or church based campaigns to help with the cost of adopting.  Yet, people are constantly up in arms because poor pregnant women and women with babies receive government assistance. Seems pretty hypocritical to me. But, when agencies and lawyers are making tens of thousands of dollars off every adoption I can understand why they would promote such pro-adoption propaganda.

Most cultures don't give their children away and instead are kept within the family and taken care of by grandparents, aunts or uncles, or siblings and cousins.
The pro-adoption advocate also spit out the “Do you want these children to grow up hungry and in poverty?” First, that's conjecture that this will in fact happen and second then why can we not help families with temporary assistance and education resources until they get on their feet? Why is adoption the first option and not the last?

Also, I know many children who grew up in poverty that turned out to be well educated functional adults. Poverty is not the worst thing that can happen to a child. Adoptive families are not immune to job loss and poverty or divorce like any other family. Adoption is NOT a magical cure to an unplanned pregnancy.
Are there parents who do not want their children, absolutely. Are their children who need to be removed from abusive and neglectful homes, yes there always will be. But, let's not make adoption a simple band aid cure for all families struggling to support and raise their children. Parents who want a child are NOT entitled to one despite what they or others think or despite a family's circumstances. Children are not commodities to be redistributed to fulfill the wants and desires of others.

One of my good friends grew up dirt poor. There wasn't much in the house but they made ends meet and yes lots of hand me downs, few of any restaurant meals, or expensive vacations. But, there was a lot of love which is what children need most.

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.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

"The War On National Adoption Awareness Month" otherwise known as #flipthescript

“You’ll get over it…” It’s the clichés that cause the trouble. To lose someone you love is to alter your life for ever. You don’t get over it because ‘it” is the person you loved. The pain stops, there are new people, but the gap never closes. How could it? The particularness of someone who mattered enough to grieve over is not made anodyne by death. This hole in my heart is in the shape of you and no-one else can fit it. Why would I want them to?” ~Jeanette Winterson "Written on the Body"

If I told you I lost my mother at birth the usual reaction is one of sympathy.  If I told you I was adopted the usual reaction is "WONDERFUL".  It is the same thing.  ~Adoptees

You took away my family.
You took away my home.
You erased away my history now most of it is gone.
What gives to you the right to do this injustice unto me?
How can you be so blinded?
How is it you can’t see?
You’re stealing from the innocent are you so unaware?
You’re playing God with all our lives did you think we wouldn’t care?
Who gave to you the authority to decide how we should live?
Who granted you this power?
It was not theirs to give.
You treat us as possessions, we are not yours to own.
How did you get the notion you can tell me where is home?
Do not dictate to me about how I should live my life.
Or who I can call mother, then take away my rights.
The answers to life’s questions you say I need not know.
You’re asking the impossible the questions only grow.
What it is I am asking for is for you to understand.
Until I have the answers I can not know who it is I am!

The angry adoptees are at it again!  Ruining the feel good wonderful promotion of adoption during National Adoption month!  I woke up this morning to a blog about “The War on National Adoption Awareness Month” from an adoptive parent with all kinds of adoptive parent responses as usual commenting on adoptees speaking so ugly about adoption through the #flipthescript campaign.  Ummm yeah, and here is more of why we are. 

I wrote the above poem about fifteen years ago and although geared toward the system of adoption and the archaic policies, laws, and adoption procedures, it can apply to those who continually dismiss adoptees and focus on what adoptive parents have to say instead.  I do get how people don’t get it, the whole ultimate reality of adoption.  The underbelly, the dark side, the reality adoptees speak of is hard to hear.  I know most people are missing the point in what adoptees are saying.  The point IS that adoption is based on loss and that loss for adoptees is usually undermined, ignored, and dismissed.

If we were promoting a "War on divorce" we would be widely supported.  Both adoption and divorce are the severing of families permanently (and many times rebuilding through step families as in adoptive families) but of course adoption is celebrated because the focus is always on the win-win for the adoptive family and never about the demise of an original family.  If you first acknowledge and recognize the magnitude of loss adoptees suffer THEN you can help them rebuild their lives into something more positive."  Yet again, people are not hearing the voices of experience, those of adoptees.

And then there was THIS part of the blog that TRULY makes it evident that adoptive parents and others aren’t listening or really hearing what adoptees are saying.

“I’ve heard an adoptee who was adopted from another country say her family was waiting for her back in “her country.” Where was her family when she was in the orphanage?”

Again, adoption permanently attempting to sever the ties of an adoptee’s biological family without recourse and discounting the fact that they will ALWAYS have another family be they absent, or across the world, dead, whatever the case or scenario might be they exist!  Even IN an orphanage adoptees still have a family “back there”.  Generations of them in fact!  Descendants and into the future, adoptees do not deserve to be expected to not want to know about, hear about, or reconnect with their families of origin.

The pain and loss divorced children, orphaned children, or abandoned/neglected children experience is widely recognized and often children are counseled to help them over come these traumas.  Adoptees experiences via adoption are mostly discounted and trivialized.  We as adoptees are criticized, ridiculed, called perpetual victims for voicing our emotions, feelings, and pain adoption has caused us. The hypocrisy that exists in adoption is blatant to adoptees and the rest of the world writes us off and white washes all of it and repaints it as a lack of gratitude.

I always have wondered about the two weeks before I was adopted, where I was, who I was with, what kind of care I received.  In 2000 at an AAC conference I heard a older nurse speak about how adopted children were taken at birth and isolated in the hospital from the other babies.  Hospital staff could not get them to stop crying and it was regular procedure to give them drugs to tranquilize them.  I tear up to this day thinking about how horrific that whole scenario is.  Now of course open adoption is promoted and children are placed immediately and yet again that original loss is dismissed.

I never deal in absolutes because life is not black and white nor is adoption totally good or totally bad.  There are always going to be children in need of good homes, however adoption should always be a last resort but more than often it is not.  Even adoption from foster care systems often siblings are separated, names are legally changed, and original family members are lost to one another forever.  Our system of adoption in this country resorts to adoption first instead of family preservation and support. 

One of the greatest experiences for me ever was an AAC conference in 2000 with hundreds of adoptees in attendance. After five days I didn't want to leave it felt like "home" amongst so many that completely and immediately understood me, how I felt, without a word or explanation.  I knew then it was never “my issues” with adoption, is IS the issue of adoption itself.

Until the time the voices of those who truly experience adoption firsthand is heard first and not last, adoptees will continue to suffer from the long term ramifications of the judgment that haunts them in the “real” world of the nonadopted.

“From childhood's hour I have not been. As others were, I have not seen. As others saw, I could not awaken. My heart to joy at the same tone. And all I loved, I loved alone.” ~Edgar Allan Poe 

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