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!