Thursday, December 13, 2007

A Name? Or is it a Label?

I have come to realize that there are many different names by which people choose to call the woman who gave birth to them or to the child they adopted. I have even occasionally found myself somewhat caught up in the great terminology debate. As a child and young teenager I would often refer to my natural mom as my "real" mom. Not to take anything away from my adoptive mom...it was just the easiest way for me to distinguish between the two if I ever found myself in a conversation about my adoption. I must have eventually realized how demeaning such a term could be to my adoptive parents because at some point I began referring to my natural mom as my "biological" mom. It made sense to me...I was connected to her through biology so naturally she was my biological mom. And then I began the adoption process.

In the adoption classes DH and I attended we learned that the "proper" way to refer to a natural mom is to call her a "birth" mom. Again, this sort of made sense. She gave birth to the baby (me) so it seemed perfectly acceptable and appropriate to refer to her as birth mom. As you can see in my early posts on this blog, I embraced the term birth mom, even shortening it for the sake of writing, to b-Mom.

However, I soon realized that even the term "birth" mom resulted in negating a very important person's role in the whole adoption process. By simply calling her "birth" mom I am merely giving her credit for the birth. I am taking away from the effort she put into protecting me and raising me for 9 months while in her womb. I am also taking away from the natural instinct she felt as a parent...that instinct to nurture me, love me, and then make the hardest decision she probably ever made in her life. I am taking away from the grief she felt in making such a decision due to her natural connection to ME! Thus, I chose to begin referring to this very important woman, both in relation to me and to the child I am adopting (C), as our "natural" mom. And this feels a LITTLE better to me, but not entirely right either.

You see, I have decided that the only thing any of these names do is LABEL a person! A person to whom I have a very personal and direct connection. And it seems so IMpersonal and cold to constantly refer to someone using a label. I feel the same way when speaking about people of a different race or culture. Why must a person's position always be labeled? Why can't a person just be a person? We don't refer to the Moms of children NOT placed for adoption as "natural" mom or "birth" mom or "real" mom. Just...MOM! So why must we do so when referring to a child's mother...the woman who sustained life and then bore that life into the world? It seems preposterous to me. And I refuse to participate in it any longer.

From this point forward, when referring to C's Mom I will use her NAME!!! Because you know what?! SHE HAS A NAME and in order to honor her and her memory in her daughter's life I MUST refer to her using her name! When speaking of my own "natural" Mom, since I do not have a name, I will call her my Mom. I owe her that much. She loved me enough to give ME a name and to care for me for 2 years. In doing something so simple as calling her my Mom, I at least recognize those sacrifices she made as my Mom, if even for a short time.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Thankful for Life?

Several weeks ago, a thread popped up on an adoptee forum I visit. The author of the thread, an adoptee herself, offered to adoptees a suggestion for how we might celebrate November's National Adoption month. Her suggestion? To share our adoption testimonies while emphasizing our gratitude for our natural mothers choosing life over abortion. For the first time ever, another person, another fellow adoptee, telling me how I ought to feel about my life and my adoption really rubbed me the wrong way. This was an interesting experience for me. Immediately, upon reading her post, all those things that I once accepted and even believed for myself suddenly felt wrong.

As a teenager the concept that my natural mother had every right to terminate her pregnancy often occurred to me, and privately, inwardly I felt thankful that she chose for me to live. However, it never occurred to me that I should be pro-life for that reason...for my own gratitude at being given an opportunity to walk on this Earth. I resent being told that I SHOULD be pro-life for that reason. And I resent even more the concept that someone would use MY story to further THEIR agenda; the suggestion that I "be a voice for the unborn" because of my own experiences.

I will say right now, just for the record...I AM pro-life. BUT, I am pro-life because I believe in the sanctity of life, not because I am thankful I wasn't aborted. I agree with a natural mom's view that "abortion is an alternative to pregnancy while adoption is an alternative to parenting". Abortion is NOT, in most cases, an alternative to parenting, which means very few pregnant women who question their ability to parent consider abortion as a means to prevent parenthood. I say this merely because I do not believe my natural mom EVER considered an abortion. While it would have been legal for her to do so I believe her first instinct WAS to parent. I would imagine that the thought of abortion never even crossed her mind. So, to suggest that I be thankful for her choosing life seems preposterous to me.

The concept of ending a life just to eliminate the need to parent is ridiculous and I truly believe it happens very rarely. Women who choose to relinquish their child for adoption LOVE their baby with all their heart and soul. And they mourn the loss of that baby to adoption, oftentimes regretting their decision. I believe, perhaps naively, that the idea of terminating their pregnancy is about the furthest thing from their mind. They don't have an interest in aborting. They have an interest and a concern in their baby living a life, that sadly, they feel they can't provide. That does NOT mean they feel that the only alternative to parenting themselves is abortion.

I believe that a mother has an innate ability and DESIRE to be a parent and to protect her child. For that reason I will NOT show gratitude for my natural mother choosing life! It was her responsibility to do so as MY MOTHER! She and I were bonded together as mother and daughter for 9 months, and as my mother she took responsibility for my life during that time (and for 2 years after that). I consider her decision to carry me to term no different than if my adoptive mother stepped out in front of a car to protect me. As my natural mother it was her responsibility to protect me! I should NEVER be made to feel grateful to her for accepting that responsibility and BEING my mother!

Friday, November 23, 2007

Where To Begin?

As is evident, I stepped away from blogging for a little while. Initially my reasoning was a lack of time or even interest. Actually, I just couldn't think of anything worth writing about. I read so many other adoptee and natural parent's blogs that are so well written and that exude such heart and soul through every word that my little old blog just felt somewhat insignificant. I began questioning my own relevance in this arena. Sure, I'm an adoptee as well as an up and coming AP, but I'm just a baby in my thoughts and feelings as they relate to adoption. It seems kind of strange to think that anyone would be interested in reading the evolution of MY thoughts and feelings as they relate to adoption.

I then reached a point where I thought I might come back to address some thoughts that were starting to overwhelm me, but then I became concerned that my blog would become something different from what I originally intended it to be. Originally I wanted my blog to be a way for me to share the positives of adoption, however, all of a sudden, I was finding myself wondering if there ARE any positives. I had a few days in which doubt and fear overtook me and I questioned if there was something wrong with me for feeling a certain way or even for NOT feeling a certain way. I finally chalked my feelings up to a continuing metamorphosis that within a couple days I was willing to acknowledge to myself was all a part of the process and certainly was not an indicator that I might be going crazy!!!

The funny thing is that since backing away nearly 4 months ago, I recently reached a point when I thought I might be ready to return, but there is now SO much in my brain that I wish to share I don't even know where to begin. In the past 4 months I have read and heard so many thoughts and comments related to adoption that have sparked such interest and a need to share my own opinions that I fear I might forget them all before I even get started. So, at this point I think I'm back. I'm still wondering where I might begin. Perhaps with a blogroll?! As I wrote above, I read so many other people's blogs that really have helped me in my grasping of some of the issues in today's adoption world, that I feel I should, at some point, give credit to those bloggers.

Again, I'm not sure where to begin, but here are some topics that within the next few weeks I hope to touch on, at least briefly (I'm only doing this so I don't forget):
Adoption vs. Abortion
Thoughts regarding natural parents (so much here that I don't even know where to begin in this topic alone)
Bonding and Attachment
The evolution of my own thoughts both as an adoptee and as a potential AP
Adoption Ethics and how the importance of this in my life has changed
The POSITIVES of adoption
More about MY story and why my own feelings about adoption have changed
Sharing my a-brother's story and what I believe went wrong in his adoption

So, I think I have plenty of topics to provide me with several new blog posts. If any jump out at you about which you are really curious to read my thoughts let me know (I know...I know...I'm using my readers to help me get started). Until then, I think I'm going to briefly touch on the one topic that really got my feathers ruffled just a few short weeks ago!

Monday, July 23, 2007

Learning Lessons While Avoiding Mistakes

As I come closer to ending my time as Potential a-parent and entering the realm of a-parent, I have become increasingly aware of those things that I experienced as a child that I intend to avoid as a parent. Below are a list of things my a-parents did in raising my a-brother and me that I wish to repeat and those things that I hope to do differently.

Those Things I Wish to Repeat
1) My a-parents never expected me to be like them nor did they try to turn me into something I wasn't. At a rather early age I showed a propensity for music...something which neither of my a-parents shared. Despite their own interests, my gift and love for music was fed, and watered, and given the sunlight it needed to grow. To this day it amazes me how supportive they were of my own musical endeavors when they, themselves had very little interest or talent in it.
2) My a-parents showed me the true meaning of unconditional love. They were very forgiving. They allowed for mistakes and did not hold it against me when I made them.
3) Family time was more important than money! While some families practically hoard their money, my a-parents chose to spend their money on family outings and vacations. I know there is a lot of stigma associated with a-parents and their use of money to "buy" their a-child's affection but in our case the money was always used to enhance family time, and I am thankful for that. I hear so many stories about friends whose parents never took time off work and never took a vacation together, all in the name of saving that hard-earned American dollar. Our vacations were so important to our relationships! My a-Dad was a workaholic except for those 2-3 weeks a year when he would take time off of work and devote every waking minute to his family!
4) My a-parents were God-fearing Christians who devoted their lives to following the teachings of Christ. They raised me in the church but as I grew older they allowed me to explore religion as I wanted. I very rarely attended church with them but rather chose a Youth Group at another church where I felt welcome and comfortable. They supported my decision to do this and never pushed me to be more involved in "their" church.
5) My a-parents gave me the right to choose what I wanted for my own life. They didn't push me in any specific direction when deciding on a college and a career. All they ever expected of me was that I try my hardest and do my best. They never expected perfection...just that I reach my God-given potential in all I tried.

Those Things I Hope to Do Differently
1) For whatever reason, my a-parents never TOLD me about my adoption. I was 7 years old when I overheard my a-Mom telling a postal worker that I was adopted. IMO this is too late and it is information that should never be discussed with others before sharing with the child. My daughter will know her adoption story from Day 1 and all others, including family, will only hear the details when and if SHE is ready to share it with them.
2) My a-Mom expected a certain amount of gratitude for the life she and a-Dad gave me. I strove very hard to please my a-parents but every once in awhile, in their eyes, I would swerve off the tracks. When, as a teenager, I expressed displeasure or frustration at not being able to go out with friends or having to help around the house my a-Mom would say, "Well, you could have been an orphan and be living on the streets!". Not until now did I realize how damaging such words could be, especially to an adopted child. I will never expect my daughter to show gratitude for being adopted nor will I remind her of the kind of life she might have had were it not for us bringing her into our home.
3) My a-parents were not very open in talking with me about my adoption. I only recall having one lengthy conversation about my adoption and that was when I was 16. At that time a-Mom told me that when I was ready I could have my OBC with my birthmother's name on it. The problem with such an offer is what kind of parent-pleasing 16-year old is going to ask for information about her "other mother"? I will make my daughter's adoption a part of her every day life so that she doesn't have to ask. She will know she is adopted and we will talk about it often, whether she brings it up or not. I will never force the issue but I will make it clear to her that her adoption is something that we welcome talking about and are not interested in keeping a secret.
4) My a-parents did not give much opportunity for adoption to even be discussed outside the home. While maybe not necessarily other people's business, we always had some cute way to explain our differences in appearance. It was like an inside joke...someone would make a comment about my looks taking after my a-Mom's and she and I would just look at each other and smile. So many times I wanted to say, "But she's not my 'real' mother. I'm adopted." While that might have been hurtful to my a-Mom and I might not have actually spoken those words, it would have been nice to have the freedom to share that with people and not have to lie or hide what I really thought inside. I want for my daughter to feel free to say what she wants to whoever she wants. If she wants people to know she's adopted then that is her perogative and I cannot allow my own poor self-esteem or fear of rejection to get in the way. She will have feelings that need to be expressed, whether to me or to others, and I want her to know that's OK and I want her to feel comfortable sharing her emotions with anyone she chooses.
5) My a-parents knew very little about me, my birthmom, my family, my culture, etc. On those rare instances when I would actually voice a question or concern they were not able to answer me and hopes of a conversation would diminish. I want to know as much as possible about my daughter, her mother, her foster family and home, her culture, and her country before I EVER bring her home. If not fully informed, then I want to at least have the resources available so that when she comes to me with questions I can either answer her or help her find the answers for herself. I want the opportunity to learn as much as possible about her mother so that when she is old enough and makes the decision for herself to meet her a relationship will already be in place to make that possible. I believe this is a valuable relationship for her to have and a key in helping to maintain some connection to her past and her culture...this is a relationship that I am more than willing to help foster and nurture to the best of my ability.
6) Although my a-parents never tried to "mold" me into something I wasn't, I was always treated like "their" daughter...like I belonged to them and had always belonged to them. In not talking about my adoption they made it clear that they wanted to view me as "their own". According to my a-parents, I was meant to be their daughter...it was a part of God's plan. If that were true then it was also a part of God's plan that I be neglected for 2 years and that my birthmother experience the pain of giving birth to me, raising me for 2 years, and then making the decision to relinquish me. I cannot believe that is true and I will not raise my daughter to believe this either. I intend to be honest with her and tell her the story of how she came to be a part of our family. She will know the culture and history of her country as it relates to women and single mothers. She will know that her birthmother did not make this decision so that I might have a child...she made this decision for her daughter. I was never in the equation when she made this decision, nor should I ever put myself on such a pedastal to believe I was. To express any form of gratitude toward her birthmother for giving me the honor of parenting her child would demean the real reason HER daughter is a part of MY life.

I know I'm not perfect and will sometimes stumble along the path to raising my daughter. I just hope that starting with the above list of "do's" and "don'ts" as learned from my a-parents will help me in continuing the valuable lessons they taught me while also preventing me from repeating past mistakes.

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

A Hypocritical Perspective?

Is it hypocritical to not be happy about parts of your own adoption experience yet still be OK with adoption in general? Can you be angry about some of the things that happened to you as a result of your adoption but still look past the negatives of your own experience to see the positives of adoption? I believe you can because I believe I do. I don't know if it's hypocritical or not, but it is who I am, a part of me, to look for and find the good in all things.

I have recently come to the realization that some of the painful and potentially damaging experiences I had AS AN ADOPTEE were in direct correlation to being adopted (I say potentially because I do not believe that I have allowed these things to damage the person that I am, however someone with a different personality experiencing the same things might come away with more scars than me). Despite the realization that parts of my adoption were less-than-ideal and despite reading accounts of other adult adoptees whose experiences were even more less-than-ideal than my own, I still hold a certain amount of respect for the philosophy behind adoption and its purpose.

In my opinion, the purpose of adoption is to give a child a home who might not otherwise have one (it should NOT be to fill a void in a lonely couple's life or to help a family meet their gender status quo). Were it not for adoption many more children than already are would be living in orphanages, group homes, foster homes, or even on the street. I believe there are several reasons why a child might not have a home:
1) Death of a parent with either no immediate family or no family willing to raise the child.
2) The child's homelife is unsafe or damaging due to neglect, abuse, etc. and a decision is made to remove the child from the home.
3) Public or governmental policy dicates the number of children permitted in a home.
4) And, unfortunately, in today's world, there are many societies that frown upon single motherhood. Single women with children can't find jobs or keep jobs. So, why keep having children, you might ask? Well, in many cultures the use of birth control is often not acceptable or even possible. In addition, many of these women live in a place where men are dominant and expect a woman to meet his needs without being married to him. She does as is expected, gets pregnant, and then, out of fear and in desperation for herself and maybe for older children already in her care, she makes the difficult decision to either abandon her newborn baby or make an adoption plan. Oftentimes it's her only hope for a future.

As my husband and I began our own journey to adopt a child I remember commenting that if I could use our adoption money to change society's opinions regarding birthmothers and single motherhood then I would do that rather than adopt. I was immediately informed that there is NO WAY to change society or its opinions. What society feels and believes is what it feels and believes...no amount of money will ever change that. And unfortunately I believe that is true. You can contribute all the money in the world to change laws and policies but you cannot ever pay people enough to change their minds.

There are children in this world and in this country who need homes. Without adoption these children will continue living in places that are not conducive to proper growth and development. Admittedly, taking a child out of her country of origin may not be ideal, however, until those countries make concrete plans for how to care for their own orphans there is no denying that a home is better than nothing at all.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Do Looks Really Matter?

Do looks really matter to adopted children? What can parents do to ensure that their adopted children feel comfortable regardless of how their looks blend with the family? Is this even possible?

My answer to the first question is a resounding "YES"! I looked very different from my a-parents. My a-Dad had several stereotypical Native American attributes including jet black hair, brown (almost black) eyes, a large, hook-shaped nose, and red skin. My a-Mom had dark brown hair, blue eyes, very pale skin with freckles, and a petite, thin build. Both my a-parents were average height. I, on the other hand, have red hair, green eyes, light skin tone with freckles and a more medium build. I never grew to be even close to the same height as either of my a-parents. When I was little strangers would always ask me where I got my red hair. As modeled and encouraged by my a-Mom, a simple "From God" accompanied by a little tilt of the head, angelic smile, and twinkle in the eye was all that sufficed. The result? Oh, those inqisitive (er...dare I say nosey?) people would respond right on cue! They would "ooh" and "aah" as they beamed from ear to ear and would walk away cooing to one another, "Well, isn't that just the cutest thing?"! Ah...from the mouths of babes!

But you see, there arose a problem in this grand scheme of a-Mom's and mine. It was only cute for so long. Once I got to be 14, 15, 16...that little head tilt, angelic smile, blah blah blah, just didn't seem to work anymore. I had to get smarter. Time passed, and while my a-parents seemed to reach an impasse on how to answer this question without stating the obvious, I became a high school student who for a very short period in my life absolutely loved BIOLOGY. Yes, I said BIOLOGY! I most particularly found myself interested in the study of genetics. I quickly learned that although red hair is a recessive gene 2 parents with dark hair might have the red hair gene but it is dominated by the dark gene, so they themselves might not have red hair but they can produce a child with red hair. AHA!!!! There was my answer. Only, do you notice something about this new explanation? Without even realizing it I found a way to cover the fact that I was adopted. I found an explanation that would make it reasonable for any normal person to assume that my a-parents were actually my b-parents. And it wasn't until just this week that I realized that's what I was doing, or at least it certainly appears to be what I was doing! W-O-W! What a startling realization! All this time I never thought looks mattered, yet there I was, as a teenager in high school looking for a way to make it appear as if my family was "normal"! As if I was normal! So, do looks really matter to the adopted child? You bet! But how can a-parents help in making their children feel comfortable in a family that looks so different from them? Tough question...

  • I believe you need to be honest with your children and share with them their adoption story from day one.
  • You need to ensure that your children have pictures of their b-parents so they know the origin of their hair color, eye color, and the shape of their nose, chin, and mouth.
  • You need to allow your children to ask questions about their b-parents and if you don't have the answers be honest about not knowing and together look for ways to obtain those answers.
  • You should not fabricate a cute anecdote for your children to use in explaining to others why they look different from the rest of the family. Allow them to be honest with those curious enough to ask and allow them to provide as much or as little information as they wish to disclose. It is their information to do with as they choose, but you must provide them with that information in the first place. Should people ask before the child is old enough to respond you must be willing and able to share a very small part of the truth, which is that you adopted them. Nothing more...nothing less. No big hoopla about the why or where or how of the story. Just a simple..."our child is adopted".
  • You must not allow your own fears and inadequacies to get in the way of what is best for your children!
  • If at all possible you must allow your children to have a relationship with their b-parents. While looks might be reflected through photos all other personality traits can only be revealed through direct, personal contact.
  • Finally, you must ALLOW your children to feel uncomfortable. It's not a reflection on the quality of parenting. It's allowing your child to feel what is inevitable. You cannot change your children's physical appearance and you cannot change the fact that YOU chose FOR THEM to join your family. It is what it is. They look different because they are different and no amount of wishing OR love will change that. The only thing you can do is empathize with them and be there for them when they come to you. If you are honest with your children from the begininng they will learn to trust you and they WILL come to you when they are ready! No matter how hard you try, you cannot force the relationship to happen. All you can do is nurture it and then stand back and allow it to grow freely!

A Journey of Discovery

As I have already written, I entered the realm of adoption research with very little knowledge of the AA world. I never defined my adulthood by my adoption. I certainly told people I was adopted, especially when discussing unique characteristics or personality traits. However, when introducing myself to someone or even having a conversation with someone who already knew I was adopted, I NEVER thought to refer to myself as an "Adult Adoptee". In fact, I never heard the term "Adult Adoptee" until I began my adoption research. I was one of those "politically incorrect" adoptees who referred to my b-parents as my "real" parents or "bio" parents and my a-parents simply as my parents. Before now, if I chose to talk about myself as being adopted I would refer to myself as an "adopted child" (gasp....horror, I know)! I never thought to connect any of my personality traits to my adoption. I never assessed my behavior or attitude enough to wonder why I might behave or act the way I did. Nor did I ever question my reactions (or lack thereof) to the different aspects of my adoption experience. That is...until now!

I am beginning to wonder if there are thoughts and feelings that perhaps I have always felt deep inside but never allowed to surface. Even within some of my posts on this blog I see an evolution of thought and emotion as I begin to express my feelings about my own adoption. I am finding that I will start a post or blog entry with one opinion before ending almost 180 degrees from where I started. Usually I don't bother going back to change my original statement because I like to see my own metamorphosis as it occurs. I will often begin by stating that something never bothered me or that I never even thought of such a thing and then by the time I conclude my post I'm writing in a way that reveals to me that I actually have been affected by the very thing I said wasn't an issue. I find this whole process very interesting while at the same time somewhat frustrating. I like to have control of my emotions, yet when I begin sharing information about a particular event or circumstance that occurred in my life I feel as if I am losing control of that emotion, writing things that I never even knew were part of me.

Ultimately, I have discovered a lot about myself in the 6 short months that I have been on this journey. Some things I already knew and have just validated. Other things are completely foreign and I am just beginning to figure out how to express them and deal with them. No matter what, I will continue to view my adoption as a positive experience. I am learning that there are some things that could have been done differently yet I will never question that all parties involved, including my b-parents, my a-parents, and even the adoption agency had my best interest at heart. And for that I will always be thankful!

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

A Simple Question…A Not So Simple Answer

The 2 things I am most frequently asked whenever I tell someone that I am adopted is “Do you know your b-Mom?” and “Have you thought about searching for her?” The simple answer to both those questions is “No” and “Yes”. But then there are no simple answers in life, are there? So here is the less simple answer to both those questions.

“Do I know my b-Mom?” NO. I know a little about her from what I was told by my a-parents but I do not KNOW her. I was once told by my a-Mom that she and my a-Dad had my OBC with my b-Mom’s name on it but since I started the process to adopt my own child and needed a newly issued BC I learned from my a-Dad that he in fact does not have in his possession my OBC nor is it possible for him to get it. I was born in NY and records of my closed adoption were sealed with no one, including myself, ever permitted access to them.

“Have I thought about searching for her?” YES. But thinking about it is as far as my mind has or will probably ever take me. There are many reasons for this.
1) I had a very comfortable and happy life as an adoptee. Sure, there were situations that I wish had happened differently. But I was happy. I never thought of adoption as a bad thing. Adoption in my family was “normal”. I was adopted. My brother was fostered and then adopted. My a-parents fostered my brother’s brother. And my a-parents served as “emergency” foster parents well into my teen years. Fostering and adoption were a way of life for my family. It was a way of life that I didn’t question or think too much about. It just WAS! This was how our family was formed and to put into motion the act of searching would be to question the comfort and happiness, the way of life, my a-parents provided for me.
2) My a-Mom was diagnosed with cancer when I was 19. She passed away after finally losing her 10-year battle with the disease. I feared that if I ever broached the subject of my adoption and a possible search during these 10 years my a-Mom would have thought I was trying to replace her before she was even gone, and I could not bear to think of causing her this worry and pain. Now that she is gone I do not want my a-Dad to think that I am trying to replace the mother that I no longer have. It is a vicious cycle. My a-parents loved me with all their heart and soul and I cannot imagine returning this love by searching for the woman who chose for me to be raised by them rather than raise me herself.
3) I cannot begin to imagine the reasons my b-Mom chose to place me for adoption. But she did, and I cannot change that moment in history. While I once considered her decision a “great act of love” I now know it must have been a painful choice…one that she may have decided to put behind her and not share with her present family. I do not feel it right to put my own desires before hers and barge through her door announcing my arrival with arms outstretched waiting for her embrace. My hope and prayer is that she HAS moved on with her life and that she has a loving family who fills the void that I created. I cannot be the one to rehash the pain and heartache she must have felt when she said her last goodbye to me…I WILL NOT!
4) Again, I do not know the circumstances of my b-Mom’s life. And at this point in my own life I do not have the emotional ability to face more rejection and heartache. I could not stand to learn that she wants nothing to do with me, or find that she has since passed away. I am happy in my world thinking that she wanted a better life for me so chose to end my 2 years of neglect by placing me for adoption. I am not ready, and I may never be ready, to learn the truth of my adoption and her relinquishment. It is not a story I want to hear.

I am in a good place in my life right now. I have been happily married for 12 years to the most wonderful man in the world. He loves me and cares for me and supports me in everything I do, including if I decided to search for my b-Mom. He and I, together, decided to adopt our first child from Guatemala. Our daughter will know her story and if possible she will know her b-Mom so that when she is ready to have a relationship with her that bridge will already be in place.

So, NO, I do not know my birthmother. And, YES, I have thought about searching. I do not doubt that I will continue thinking about it for the rest of my life. But for now I am happy with the life I have and with the people who are a part of it. I know there are questions that I so desperately want answered. But those questions and answers will have to wait until the day when I am ready to ask and then to listen. Until then I will continue to simply answer NO and YES when curiosity leads people to ask me those 2 simple questions.

Why Can't We All Just Get Along?

As I entered the arena of adoption research I was amazed at the many different viewpoints and the strong emotions reflected by each member of the adoption triad. I started off only exposing myself to the writings of families experiencing the same things as myself…those families adopting internationally. Then I ventured out beyond those walls of the Message Board and began reading posts and comments from families adopting domestically. That soon led to reading the stories and thoughts of birth mothers-something I tried to avoid for fear of where it would lead my feelings in regard to my own birth mother. And of course that eventually led me to the websites and forums created by and designed for those of us who were adopted.

Through this journey I have read many comments posted by each member of the triad as they respond to the thoughts and feelings of “opposing” members. And I am disheartened. There is nothing that I dislike more than name calling, especially when we don’t even really KNOW the person we are calling names. Personally, when I begin reading posts and comments that aim to attack and hurt individuals the author of that comment immediately loses credibility in my eyes. And when that happens, regardless of how valid their position might be, I have a hard time referring back to that person as a source of information and knowledge.

I most recently came across this name calling in a discussion about returning adopted children to their birth parents if it was proven that they were coerced into relinquishing their child. This is a very legitimate and thought-provoking question…one that certainly incites a lot of emotion and very clearly some opposing viewpoints depending on which side of the triad you sit. However, since my own opinion about this is very much on the fence, and since I represent two opposing views within the triad, I wanted to expose myself to some other thoughts before putting my own opinion into words. Unfortunately I didn’t find much. What I DID find was a lot of personal attacks based on misinterpretations and misunderstandings. And the most offensive attack of all was directed to the birth mother who raised the question on her own blog.

As I read the comments and the attacks I couldn’t help but ask myself how this was going to help in the campaign for adoption reform. As I wrote above, the initial question is a very legitimate one and one that deserves attention as we turn our eyes to adoption reform. However, if all that results from asking such questions is personal attack and feelings of “my opinion is the only one that matters because I am the one most affected by adoption” then there will be no reform. Those people responsible for actually enacting reform will not stand around and listen to grown men and women attack each other and call each other names. At some point we will all need to recognize that all of our intentions are noble and worthy of respect. Sure, there are some people out there who only have their own best interests at heart, but I believe (perhaps naively) that those are the minority. For the most part we all want what is best for one particular individual…the adoptee. And no amount of name calling and individual attacks are going to help make life any better for him/her. It is often said that those who speak the loudest accomplish the most. As individuals our voice is but a whisper, but if we join together we can insist that our voices be heard!

Thursday, May 24, 2007

No Greater Act of Love…Or So We are Led to Believe

I entitled my blog “No Greater Act of Love” because IMO the single greatest act of love that I have ever experienced was the day my b-Mom decided to place me for adoption. It’s not a moment I remember or even care to remember and I pray it’s not a moment that haunts HER, though I fear it might. I consider my relinquishment an act of love because that is what I was told, which giving them the benefit of the doubt, might also have been what my AP’s were told. Poor, neglected Irene…left alone in her crib for hours and days on end, until…poof…one day my fairy Godmother came along and whispered in my b-Mom’s ear that I deserved better. That she could not handle the responsibility, so why not give me to someone who could?

I have so many mixed emotions as I think back to that day, that moment in time. How was she feeling? Why, after 2 years, did she make this decision? What circumstances in her life changed? Was this an act of love, an act of desperation, an act of coercion? Who did she turn to for help? Was there anyplace for her to go? Why…whywhy? So many questions yet who is there to answer them?

As I have gotten older and reconsidered my na├»ve acceptance of the “truth” I have begun to wonder whether this really was an act of love. Certainly as far as my AP’s are concerned it was…for them. They loved me the moment they set eyes on me. They couldn’t imagine loving another child as much as they loved me. And you know what…I don’t doubt this for a second. And what about for me? Well…if I take the story I was told as fact then yes…it was an act of love. I was neglected for 2 years. When my AP’s adopted me I couldn’t talk and at 2 years of age barely tipped the scale at 20 pounds. I needed a family not necessarily for love or even material things…I needed a family for SURVIVAL!!! So it was an act of love in THAT respect.

But then again…a child loves unconditionally. At 2 years of age, regardless of the hell I might have lived in I am sure that I was very emotionally attached to and in love with my b-Mom. And what did leaving her mean and do to me? Did I not talk for my first year in my AP’s home because I was in shock from the trauma of being ripped from the only home I knew? And what about my b-Mom? I now know that there is no possible way she viewed this as an act of love. No matter how much she felt I deserved better, losing me after trying desperately to care for me for 2 years must have torn her heart and soul in two! She may have only been 16 when she finally made that decision, but she was ONLY 16! Perhaps, for the first time in her life, I taught her what it was like to be loved and depended on, and in the blink of an eye, in the single beat of a heart, I was gone. Out of her life, never to be seen or heard from again.

Yes…I was loved by many people but the act of adoption itself is not one shrouded in love. It is one to be reflected on and learned from, and for many people involved, viewed as an act of pain, heartache, grief, and especially LOSS! And to think that I once considered this an “act of love!”

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Why Don’t I Feel Like Everyone Else? Or Do I?

I have not gotten very far on this blog because… Well, just because. In just the few short weeks since my first post my attitudes and feelings toward adoption and AA’s has begun to morph. Oh, don’t worry…I’m not saying I’ve totally jumped the fence and have a whole new opinion. But I am much closer to the fence than I was before.

You see, when I first started this blog, "No Greater Act of Love", my intention was to counter the many negative adoptee blogs and anti-adoption messages I was finding on the WWW. But I am having trouble finding the words. I believe my problem is that there just CANNOT be “right” or “wrong” answers to the questions surrounding adoption. I can sometimes be a very black and white individual and unfortunately for me, in this discussion, those colors do not exist. I started this journey seeing only the “right” side of adoption…how it had affected me in a positive way. I started my research only looking at the warm, fuzzy stories. Stories about how, after a long, painful period of infertility families were finally created through the miracle of adoption, how children were rescued from impoverished situations and given a chance at a life they might not otherwise have had, how young women were given the opportunity to choose a better life for their child while also getting a chance to start their own lives over. How could adoption be “wrong”? Everyone wins!!!! The child, the adoptive family, the birth mother! It all seems so “right”!

But, alas, my research continues! I have allowed myself to read the stories written by BP’s and AA’s. In these stories I read about coercion and lies. I read about sealed records and lost families. What I have learned in just these few short weeks is that adoption is not and CANNOT be seen in black and white. While some things about adoption ARE “right” there are equally as many things that are so “wrong”! My experience as an adoptee might have been a positive one but my coping skills and my life are not another person’s and I cannot expect them to see things and feel things the same way I do. There are people who really struggle, on a daily basis, with being adopted. It affects their desire to parent children, it affects their relationships, and it affects their day-to-day function. The same is true for BP’s. The affects of this “adoption miracle” on their lives is anything but a miracle.

Once upon a time I firmly believed that the anger and pain felt by these 2 members of the adoption triad (and any other person with “issues”) was a result of their own inability to take responsibility for their lives! I felt that if they would just leave the past behind and not blame other’s in their life for their own problems then they would be fine. Hey, that’s what I’ve done, right? Surely if I can do it so can everyone else! I’ve had some pretty crappy things happen in my life but do I let that affect me? Well…maybe I do and maybe I don’t. But just because I feel that I am capable of moving on does not mean that everyone else has to or even CAN! Everyone is entitled to their pain and their anger and their heartache! EVERYONE! So, why don’t I feel like everyone else? Well…I think in some small way I do. And if I don’t…that’s OK! I’m entitled to my feelings and no one can tell me whether how I feel is “right” or “wrong”!

Friday, May 11, 2007

Ah Yes...Mother's Day

So...what does Mother's Day mean to me? Well, for the past 4 years, since the death of my aMom, Mother's Day has just kind of come and gone. Just another day in paradise. Just another Sunday sitting in Church only on this day watching as the Moms are recognized while I think about the mother I no longer have and the child for whom I long to embrace. But maybe...just maybe...this Mother's Day will be different. For, you see, this Mother's Day I have the knowledge that soon it will be my turn. Soon this holiday will have meaning for me not just as a daughter honoring her mother, but as a mother honoring her daughter!

No...Mother's Day shouldn't just be about the Mommies of the world who give tirelessly of themselves for their families and finally deserve one day of rest. For without the children there would be no Mommies to honor. So I say, let's turn the tables. Oh, I don't mean forget about our Moms. By all means...they deserve recognition for their hard work and sacrifice. But the children of this world also deserve recognition and honor. They deserve a break. They deserve a "thank you" for being who they are.

Yes...get Mom that cherished Mother's Day pendant or sweetly planted marigold in the Dixie cup. Cook her a nice dinner and clean up afterwards while she soaks in a nice hot bubble bath. But before the night is done, Moms, regardless of how much they did for you this day, turn to your kid(s) with a smile, wrap your arms around them, and thank them for the joy and happiness they bring to you.

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Why I Blog!

I am an adult-adoptee in the beginning stages of adopting my own daughter from Guatemala! It is a wonderful yet anxiety-filled process. Throughout our journey, my husband (Cie) and I have done countless hours of research. We read the required books given to us by our agency and have done a lot of perusing the internet.

During this stage of perusing I have found myself drawn to the many different blogs created by Adoptive Parents (AP's), Birth Parents (BP's), and Adult Adoptees (AA's). The angle from which all these different members of the Adoption Triad write are all so different and so eye-opening I find myself in awe of how such an amazing process can affect people in such vastly different ways!

Unfortunately, in my search, I have found very few AA blogs that reveal the positive side of adoption. Sure, the AP's mostly share the warm fuzzies while BP's mostly share the heartache and pain. And to me that is what I would expect from these two groups. However, I was astounded to learn that very few AA's view their adoption experience as one of LOVE! I had never considered the negative aspects of adoption before I started the process myself, and now I am horrified!

So, my goal, through this blog, is to share my thoughts and experiences. It might not be all warm and fuzzy because I certainly DO agree that there are areas of adoption that are broken and need to be fixed! BUT...my personal adoption experience WAS a positive one, and I WILL NOT state otherwise in order to appease the AA's out there. I am NOT in denial nor am I trying to please the AP's of the world...it's the truth! Not one ounce of me can look at my experience and question why it happened or whether I would be better off had it not happened! I LOVE my AP's and always knew that they loved me and wanted the best for me! As with anyone's life story there are some things that probably could have happened differently but they do not define my experience as an adoptee. First and foremost I was a child and am now an adult (NOT an adopted child or an AA) and my life and story that will weave through the posts of this blog will reflect that. My life is not defined by my adoption, but rather I hope to define adoption by my life. I hope you enjoy!