Sunday, December 30, 2012

Accepting My Adoptee Fate, and How That Differs from "Moving On"

Lately, I've noticed a shift in how I perceive my adoptee experience. It's possible that I have moved into the acceptance phase of grieving my adoption-related losses. I am feeling lighter, more balanced, and holding a greater appreciation for all that my experiences have brought me. As an adoptee who has struggled to make sense of what it means to be a member of two families, I am perhaps more comfortable with duality, complexity, and ambiguity than I might otherwise have been. I tend to see things through the lens of "both/and" rather than "either/or." I've come to appreciate this about myself, to view it as part of what I have to offer the world.

Please read the rest at Lost Daughters.

Image courtesy of Pixomar at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Friday, December 28, 2012

Five Survival Tips for Adoption Reunion

imagerymajestic FreeDigitalPhotos.net
1) Find appropriate outlets for your "adoption crazy."

Adoption reunions can bring out the nutty in the best of us. Adoptees and first parents may both enter the reunion process with wounds and scars created by their separation from each other. Reunion also frequently triggers regression to an earlier age; the adoptee may regress to the emotional age of a young child and biological parents may find themselves traumatically "stuck" at the age of relinquishment in some aspects of their development. We may understand certain things with our logical brains while simultaneously experiencing strong emotions that defy and overpower logic. Anger, jealousy, and fears of abandonment or rejection are all normal parts of the reunion experience. Our emotions are real and valid and often very insistent, but that doesn't that mean we have to act on all of them. Take some time to let your emotions settle down before you send that email or text or post that facebook status. Write the letter you never send. Paint a picture. Go for a walk. Call a trusted friend and rant to him or her. Find some strategy -- whatever works for you -- that will allow you to create some space before you say something you will regret to the person you with whom you are creating a tender new relationship. This isn't to say that you should never speak your mind. There may come a time in the reunion process when an open, honest expression of the hard stuff is exactly what is required to move the relationship forward. But proceed with care. Hurt people often do hurtful things, and the results can be devastating.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Helping Our Children Cope with the Sandy Hook Tragedy

David Castillo Dominici FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Children who have experienced multiple traumas in the past are more likely to be vulnerable to the emotional consequences of this latest rampage. -- Parents Key to Easing Psychological Impact of Conn. Shootings
If you are parenting a child, as I am, who came to you by way of the foster care system, your child may be needing extra support around recent events, but really all children are likely to need some parental guidance as they attempt to make sense of something that is beyond comprehension, even for most grownups.

How do we best support them? What should we do, and what should we avoid?

My Body Responds to Tragedy

For three days I read emotional reactions to the recent horrific events in Connecticut, while I myself felt … numb. Meanwhile, physical symptoms crept into my body: neck, shoulder, and head pain that did not respond to over-over-the-counter analgesics. At 3 a.m. on Tuesday, I awoke with a start from a dream involving gunshots. My pain level was at an almost unbearably intense level. Only then did I consciously connect my physical pain with the events. I spent the rest of the night sitting in a chair with my eyes closed. At some point near sunrise I felt my body shudder and understood that in doing so it was releasing some of the traumatic energy it had been holding onto since Friday.

I highly recommend the following 5-minute video. It was created in response to the Aurora shooting but is equally relevant to the current situation.

Friday, December 14, 2012

B.J. Lifton on "the Best Interests of the Child"

At the end of her book Journey of the Adopted Self, Betty Jean Lifton includes a short chapter on serving the needs of the adopted child. According to Lifton, the best interests of adopted children can only be met under the following conditions:
When society recognizes the need for standards in the adoption field that protect the child: placing adoption practice in the hands of unbiased child welfare specialists, trained in the psychology of the adopted and without a profit motive. This would eliminate the need to advertise for babies and safeguard their interests.
When the child is seen as a real person--not a fantasy child, not an idealized child, not a special child, not a comodity--but a child with his own genetics, talents, and his own identity.
When the child is allowed to grow up in an open environment without secrets about who she is or where she comes from, including the right to an unamended birth certificate and to contact with her birth family.
When everyone recognizes the adopted child for what he is: a child with two sets of parents that give him a dual identity.
When the adoptive parents and the birth parents respect how they have filled each other's needs so that they can come together in some form of extended family for the sake of the child.
When everyone realizes that the best interests of the child are in the best interests of the adoptive family, the birth family, and society.

Friday, December 7, 2012

National Adoption Awareness Month Is Over. Now What?

So, November's over. Now what? If only there was some kind of holiday or something I could focus on in December. Oh, wait!

We actually celebrate two of the December holidays in our household, so I will in fact be busy and certainly blogging much less frequently than I did in November. But I will be posting periodically here, and there's still a lot of activity going on at Lost Daughters.

For one thing, the Lost Daughters blog has added several regular columns focusing on areas of specialization. I myself will be writing the column "Foster Focus," which will explore issues related to foster care and foster-adoption. I published my first piece in the series, sharing the story my own journey as a foster-adoptive parent, earlier this week.

We also published two pieces in the new Round Table series: "Holiday Season Adoption Triggers, Part 1 and Part 2."

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Infertility, Part 2: Clarifications and Additional Thoughts

Thank you to everyone who read and commented on my recent post about adoption, infertility, and childfree living. I had hoped the post would spark discussion and it certainly did! In my responses to the many comments the piece stimulated, I clarified my position on several points. I would like to summarize some of what I said here in this follow-up post.

I do not consider myself to be "anti-adoption" and actually dislike that label. I do, however, consider the separation of a child from his or her biological family, and especially from the mother, to be a traumatic event that should never be taken lightly. I do understand that there are situations in which the biological parents are unable or unwilling to care for the child for various reasons, and I certainly never intended to imply that children should remain in unsafe conditions. I myself consider adoption to be a valid option in some circumstances, but I am also aware that it is an extreme measure, one that not only separates the child from the original family but alters his or her very identity. I believe that the adoption industry is very much in need of reform. I would like for there to be fewer adoptions. I believe that ethical adoption must be about finding parents for children who really need them, not about finding babies for people who want to be parents.

My previous post was not intended to be construed as advice to any individual about the choices he or she should make about family. That is a personal matter. I was, however, trying to make several points:

Friday, November 30, 2012

I May Never Completely Heal, and That's OK

"Adoptees may never completely heal, but after search and reunion at least they have the potential for growth. There is a chance to move forward from the traumatized self to the revitalized and transformed self." -- Betty Jean Lifton, Journey of the Adopted Self
One of the first pieces I wrote for this blog was a post called An Adoption Journey: From Trauma to Healing. It remains one of my most popular posts and is viewed daily. And this has bothered me for a while. Although much of what of what I wrote in that post still rings true for me, I worry that it gives the impression that my healing journey was over at that point. The reality is that adoption healing is more of an ongoing process; I work through one layer only to discover another.

Most recently, I've shifted in how I hold "healing." I've come to realize it's not about becoming "whole" in the usual sense, as if I had never been broken. Rather, it's about seeing the mosaic that is created from the fragmented pieces, and recognizing the beauty in that. It's about letting go of the selves I will never be, and embracing the self I am: this strange being who stands in two families and yet can never fully belong in either. It's about seeing that unique position as an advantage rather than a tragedy, about understanding that the person I am today is a product of all of my experiences. And being fine with that.

And so ends our month of awareness. Thank you for coming along.

I close with shout-out of deep appreciation to my fellow adoptees, and especially the Lost Daughters sisterhood. In them, I find pieces of myself. In their stories, I hear parts of my own. Within their companionship and comprehension, I am no longer alone. 

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Infertility: Adopting Versus Embracing Childfree

Disclaimer (added 12/20/2012): Please note that the following was my first (somewhat clumsy) attempt to grapple with a difficult topic. It was intended as a critical look at broad cultural responses to infertility and an attempt to place adoption and infertility within their current cultural contexts. It was written as an expression of my own personal opinions, preferences, and concerns regarding adoption. It was not intended as a statement about how any individual who is struggling with infertility should feel or as advice about the personal choices he or she should make about family creation.

This post is probably going to get me in trouble, but I'm going to write it anyway. I'll start with a quote from a recent BlogHer post:
I've learned that "I can't have kids" comes with its own set of questions ("What happened?" "Have you considered adopting?")...— Julie Ross Godar,  Yes, Childfree Is Normal: Why I Moved From "Can't" to "Won't" Today
There it is, that question: "Have you considered adopting?" How quickly it rolls off the tongue. How little, I suspect, are its full implications understood by many of those who ask it.

Can you imagine living in a culture in which it was not the norm to automatically leap to a parenting-at-all-costs strategy, perhaps even a culture in which infertility was interpreted as a call to do something meaningful with one's life other than parenting? 

No? Me either. We're pretty far from that place. Even the very notion of "living childfree" is a difficult one for some to embrace.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

NaBloPoMo/NAAM Day 28: Reunion

Reunion. Are you reunited? Do you hope to be? Are you thinking of reunion but not quite ready? Are you just not interested in reuniting? What are your thoughts on reunion, the experiences you've already had in reunion, and your hopes for reunion in the future.

I have been in reunion with my mother for 17 years and my father for a few months. I have learned that reunion is not the end of the search for self; it is part of a lifelong process. I will always be adopted. I will probably always be engaged in the process of making sense of what it means to be a member of more than one family.

But at least now I have some material to use. I know whose daughter I am: his and his, hers and hers. I am no longer thrown off balance by missing pieces.

I remember the profound loneliness I felt back before I had met any of the members of my biological family. I remember the confusion caused by the absence of knowledge. Reunion isn't always easy, but for me the time before reunion was worse. Much worse. I would not go back for anything.

My mother and my daughter in Cape Cod: One of many reunion moments.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Day 27 Ramblings (NaBloPoMo/NAAM)

So, I went to see Rise of the Guardians the other day with my daughters. In the film, the Jack Frost character is having difficulty figuring out his purpose and his identity -- his center -- because he doesn't know where he came from. Hmm, does that sound familiar to anyone? No?

Yeah, I didn't think so.

Shortly before going to the movie I read the following words by Betty Jean Lifton:
Even a reunion that is going well can bring an unexpected cycle of depression in its wake because of the emotions it releases. An adoptee can still have panic attacks and bouts of anger and grief, for issues are never completely resolved: they just get recycled and reappear when you least expect them. -- Journey of the Adopted Self
Can somebody please tell me who exactly it was who thought this whole closed adoption thing was a good idea. Sigh.

Have you had enough adoption awareness yet? I actually didn't plan to do all of NaBloPoMo this year, but once I'd done a few consecutive days I decided to try to keep going.

Just three more days! And then all these adoption issues will disappear forever! Oh, no, wait -- never mind.

Monday, November 26, 2012

NaBloPoMo/NAAM Day 26: The Intersecton of Adoption and Women's Issues

Today's writing prompt is about feminism. Let me start, first of all, by saying that I do identify as a feminist. This is something that I share with both my first mother and biological brother. The only time I ever heard the word "feminist" in my adoptive home was when my father jokingly accused my mother of being a "radical feminist" because she belongs to the American Association of University Women. My adoptive mother is not a radical anything, and I will probably never see her wearing a "This Is What a Feminist Looks Like" t-shirt, but I do believe she is a feminist in her own way.
Please read the rest at Lost Daughters.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Understanding

I met a therapist who had been invited to work with a group of adoptees.... He seemed puzzled. He said that the adoptees in his group, and the ones he has begun to see in private practice, seemed traumatized. They do not shed their symptoms like his other patients. Their trauma seemed deeper, as if it were very early—almost cellular. — Betty Jean Lifton, Journey of the Adopted Self 
Adoption Loss is the only trauma in the world where the victims are expected by the whole of society to be grateful. — The Reverend Keith C. Griffith, MBE
This thing that happened to me, that shaped my life from my earliest breaths, is no small thing. Nor is it something I can easily shake. As Lifton goes on to explain, "the adoptee who experienced separation and loss early in life, usually at birth, has no previous self—no pre-traumatic self—from which to draw strength. And so we may well ask: How do adoptees heal?"

Good question. For me, the quest for healing and wholeness is ongoing process. I sometimes say that adoption healing is something I "get" to do again and again. I work through one layer only to discover another.

I have met people, in real life and online, who truly grok the complexity and difficulty of my adoptee experience. I have also encountered many who don't. I suffer not so much from a lack of understanding from people close to me as from the discrepancy between my personal experience of adoption and the way it is held in the broader culture. I struggle, in part, because the very thing that has caused me pain is publicly celebrated by others as beautiful.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

NaBloPoMo/NAAM Day 24: Love

Today's prompt is about love. I've already written about relationships in a post published earlier this month. I also participated in the discussion that became today's post at Lost Daughters. To these I will simply add the following quote, which rings true for me:
A person has to have a good sense of self to be secure enough to get close to another without the threat of being unmasked as a fraud. Adoptees who have spent their lives covering over their real feelings often avoid intimacy for fear of being discovered for the impostors they know they are. Let down your guard, they think, and everyone will see that under the confident self you present to the world, there is really a weak and frightened child. -- Betty Jean Lifton, Journey of the Adopted Self
www.123rf.com

Friday, November 23, 2012

Moms!

I have four parents. I refer to the two who raised me as Mom and Dad, because that's what I've called them since acquiring language as a child. I call the other two by their first names, because by the time I met them in adulthood the names "Mom" and "Dad" were already taken. It's not that I don't consider my biological parents to be parents; I do. But "Mom" and "Dad" are like proper names, inextricably linked in my mind to two specific people.

Ashley's Moms
(I was wearing the cow hat for the
amusement of Erica's youngest son.)
For my daughters, things are different. They have grown up with multiple parents, and as a result they are much more flexible with the language. Mackenzie has called both of her fathers (my first and second husbands) Daddy since she was two. Ashley, who joined our family by way of foster adoption, has called several women Mom throughout her life. I am not the first, but I have the honor of being the last.

These days, Ashley has two moms who are active in her life: myself and her biological mother Erica. Sometimes we are both with her at the same time, as we were yesterday for Thanksgiving. She calls us both Mom, and sometimes that leads to amusement. "No, not that Mom. The other one. "

Yesterday, we heard a new one. A couple of times she wanted either or both of us, so she called out "Moms!"

It works. :-)

Thursday, November 22, 2012

NaBloPoMo/NAAM Day 22: Open Adoption

Today's Lost Daughters prompt is about open adoption.

Mine was a typical baby-scoop era closed adoption. I actually find it nearly impossible to imagine what my life might have been like if open adoption had existed in those days. I am aware that open adoption is a social experiment; we will have to wait to hear from those adoptees who have lived it before we can really determine if it is a success or not. I hope we will listen.

My daughter Ashley's adoption is very open. My husband and I adopted her from foster care; she knew her mother and was bonded to her. The family had come into crisis, but the bond was never broken. Our open-adoption relationship honors that bond. It honors her identity and her history. It keeps her connected to people she loves.

Our open-adoption relationship works because it is just that: a relationship. We have come up with a definition of family that works for us. Today, when we sit down to Thanksgiving dinner, Ashley's first mother and her two youngest brothers will be with us.

I have concerns about adoptions that are nominally or technically open but lack a true spirit of openness. I have concerns about an industry that promises openness when wooing prospective mothers to relinquish, knowing full well that those open-adoption agreements are not enforceable. I worry that some people think open adoption has "fixed" adoption; it hasn't.

Today I am thankful for both reunion and open adoption as they play out in my life. I am
glad that both my daughter and I are connected to our original families. Neither of our adoptive situations are without sadness: we have experienced loss; we both grieve, at times, the ways that adoption has separated us from family. But in the end it comes down to this for me: Some is better than none. Knowing is better than not knowing. Connection is better than the severing of bonds.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Adoptee Laura Dennis on Biology and Genetics (NaBloPoMo/NAAM Day 21)

I am delighted to introduce you today to an insightful guest blogger, Laura Dennis. An East Coast US native, Laura now lives with her husband and two little kids in Belgrade, Serbia, where she blogs about anxious expat mommy life. Her memoir, Adopted Reality, is available on Amazon in paperback and ebook. 

Laura is also one of my fellow contributors at Lost Daughters, and I have enjoyed getting to know her recently. We have decided to do a "blog swap" today, with each of us responding to the NaBloPoMo prompt from Lost Daughters:

BiologyAccording to science, we all inherit something from our natural families. If you are in reunion, are there any traits or characteristics you know you inherited? How does that make you feel? If you are not in reunion, what do you hope to share with your natural family? How important is genetics to you personally?

Laura's response to this prompt is below. You may read my response, along with other great posts by Laura, on her blog.

* * * * * 

In my fifth grade unit on genetics, my teacher asked what color my parents’ eyes were. He planned to chart my “interesting” green-brown combo eye color in front of the whole class. (Wow, I felt special!)

I told him deep blue for mom and brown for dad.

Whoops! Something doesn’t jive! Mr. Han, perplexed, said, “Sorry, this doesn’t make sense.”

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Below the Water: My Pre-Adoption History

My ex-husband was a sailor. When we were dating and during our marriage, we were often out on the sailboat with groups of guests, some of whom were apprehensive about being on the water. When the boat would heel, my ex would explain to any landlubber guests about the keel.

"Do you have any idea what's below the water on this boat," he would say. "Don't you understand how much weight there is down there? Trust me, there is no way this boat could tip over!"

Knowledge of my pre-adoption history (ranging from names of ancestors to stories of my parents dating) is like that. It provides weight, balance, and a sense of security. It is good to know what is below the surface.

Photo credit: Mab Widdershins

Monday, November 19, 2012

The Bookish Child

I was the child who made her way slowly home from school, book in hand, reading as she walked. "In a world of her own," people said. The other night as I was falling asleep, I thought of that girl. I saw her as if watching from across the street as she moved slowly along the sidewalk.

I understand things about her that she doesn't yet grasp about herself. I know that though she is not unhappy (in fact, in some ways, she is perfectly content), she is also profoundly lonely. It is a feeling that she can't yet put into words. At this point, she can't even name it as loneliness or loss or disconnection. It is all she's ever known.

What would I say to her, if I could speak across the years? Perhaps only this: Keep walking. Keep reading. Keep turning the pages. There are better chapters ahead.

Postscript: The bookish child became a bookish adult and eventually discovered a new category of books: those that speak directly to her adoptee experience. Please visit Lost Daughters and read today's post by KarenPickell for more on that subject. 


Photo credit: adamr at freedigitalphotos.net

Sunday, November 18, 2012

NaBloPoMo/NAAM Day 18: Siblings

I have two brothers, one adoptive and one biological.

My adoptive brother is my parents' biological son and is six years younger than I am. (I wrote about some of the circumstances of his arrival in our family yesterday.) I can remember fighting with him about who was taking up more space in the back seat on long car rides, but for the most part we got along well. We were rarely competitive with each other, in part because of the age and gender difference and in part because we were naturally drawn to different sports, activities, etc. One thing we have in common is a shared appreciation for a good story. We like to relive moments from our past, such as the time we flipped a canoe in frigid waters. Over the years, some of these stories have, shall we say, improved in the retelling, with little exaggerations slipping in. My brother has no use for computers, refusing even to create a facebook account. As adults, we are friendly though not extremely close. He still lives in the town we grew up in; I see him when I go home, but we make few efforts to keep in touch in between. About a year ago I called him to ask a major favor. I emphasized that he could take his time to think it over, but didn't need any time. He said yes in a single beat. Because we're family.

My biological brother knew from the age of 10 that he had a sister out there, somewhere. At moments in his life, unbeknownst to either of us, "somewhere" was very close by; for a time, we lived close enough that we could very easily have walked by each other on the street or in the grocery story. By the time we met, he was in high school and I was a young professional working in publishing. During my first reunion visit, our mother watched us talking to each other from across the room and decided that if we had grown up together we would have had our own language, so similar were we. I agree that he and I are very much alike (except that he is much smarter and hipper than I am). We are similar in our political and spiritual views. We each work, in our own way, to create social change. We read, we write, we post, we tweet. We live both in the world and in our computers. We grew up apart and we now live on opposite sides of the country, and yet I do feel close to him.

I feel conflicted about many aspects of my adoptive experience, but in matter of siblings I am simply doubly blessed.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Talking to my Adoptive Mother about Infertility and Adoption

Today's writing prompt from Lost Daughters is about adoptee connections. I've written about that topic here and here, so today I've decided to use one of the prompts suggested by Megan of Earth Stains:
Adoptive parent narratives about infertility: If you were adopted because your parents couldn't conceive a child: How did your a-parents discuss their fertility issues with you? What do you know about their medical diagnosis? Do you even know which parent had the fertility problem? How do you think your parents felt about not being able to conceive? How did your parents' dialogue about fertility make you feel? If you parents could conceive but chose to adopt anyway, how do you feel about that?
I was aware of my adoptive mother's infertility issues from a young age. When I was 3-years-old I spent a week at my grandparents' house while my mother was in the hospital for an operation. I had a young child's understanding of the purpose of that operation. I understood that if it was successful I might eventually get a brother or a sister out of it.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Quotation Collage: Adoptee Rights

I believe that all adoptees have the right to their heritage and to meet their birth families. They had no say in being separated from them or any way of objecting to this crisis in their lives.... It doesn't matter if the birth mother hasn't yet told her parents, husband, or other children that she surrendered her baby. That doesn't change the right of the adoptee. -- Nancy Verrier, Coming Home to Self, pp. 240-41
Yet when an adoptee rights legislation is pending suddenly the rights that the mother surrendered (permanently) are resurrected by adoption agencies, adoption lawyers, adoption advocacy groups, as inviolate. They even include a new right not spoken of in the surrender document that is called confidentiality or right to privacy, and trumps the right of the adult child to their original birth certificate. -- TAO, The adopted ones blog
I’m angry about this. I’m pissed in fact. I JUST WANT MY BIRTH CERTIFICATE PEOPLE!!! How hard is that? -- Jenn, Insert Bad Movie Title Here

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Adoption Blogger Interview Project 2012

Today's the day! I'm super excited to introduce you to Jill of Adoption Ain't For Sissies. Jill is a mom by way of kinship adoption who writes about parenting, open adoption, and infertility. I hope you'll enjoy reading her thoughtful replies to my questions. Please also visit Production, Not Reproduction for links to more interviews. 

R: Well, first the basics. I understand that your journey to adoption was a long one and that your adoptive situation is a bit atypical because it is a kinship adoption, but I’m wondering if you can briefly sum up your journey for my readers. How did you come to be an adoptive mom and an adoption blogger?

J: The story on how I became an adoptive mom starts very similarly to others... infertility. My husband and I started trying to get pregnant in the end of 2006, 3 1/2 years after we got married. In April, 2007 we succeeded in getting pregnant. We were beyond excited and completely naive so we started telling everyone. Unfortunately, two weeks after we got the good news I started bleeding. Blood tests confirmed I was losing the pregnancy. I was devastated but also convinced that once we started trying again we would get pregnant and be fine next time. 90% of women who miscarry go on to have a normal pregnancy afterward (or so I was told). The second time we started trying, though, we didn't have the same luck. Almost a year passed and no pregnancy. Despite our fertility issues we hadn't yet started considering adoption. That all changed the first week of February, 2008 when my sister-in-law Angie (the nick-name I use for her on my blog) came to visit for a family baptism. While she was here she let us know that she was expecting, considering adoption and wanted to place her child with us if that is the route she ultimately chose. Cory and I both felt the same... we were honored that she was considering us.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

NaBloPoMo/NAAM Day 13: My Birth Certificate(s)

I love and admire my adoptive mother. She is a smart, honest, and energetic woman who is a role model for me in many ways. She has nurtured and guided me throughout my life. She is accomplished in many other ways as well. But the one thing she did not do was give birth to me.

So why does the primary legal document of my life say that she did?

In the summer of 1966, my adoptive mother was still unable to conceive a child, though she later had an operation that made it possible for her to do so, resulting in the birth of my brother. On the day of my birth, according to a hand-written note now in my possession, my adoptive parents were visiting my adoptive grandparents, unaware that they were soon to become parents.

And yet there are their names on my official birth certificate.

Monday, November 12, 2012

NaBloPoMo/NAAM Day 12: Significant Others

The prompt: Significant Others Has being adopted affected your romantic relationships? If so, how? What is your relationship like with your adoptive family? Do you feel connected to your extended adoptive family (grandparents, aunts/uncles, cousins, etc.)? If reunited, do you feel connected to your extended natural family? Are there disconnects? Explain.

For many years, I wouldn't fall in love unless I could see the end from the beginning. My "type" was a guy with COMMITMENT ISSUES stamped in bright letters on his forehead. Alternatively, I liked a situation that had an expiration date -- my preference was the summer romance. I was addicted to the falling, but I was also addicted to the breakup. I jonesed for the emotional intensity of the entire cycle.

Was I reenacting an adoption separation scenario, over and over again?

There's really no way to know for sure. I have no non-adopted self to function as the control for comparison. Certainly there are plenty of non-adoptees who struggle with commitment issues, as well as plenty of adoptees who don't. Does that mean that my own relationship issues are unrelated to adoption? I don't know.
Read the rest of the post at Lost Daughters.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

NaBloPoMo/NAAM Day 11: Personal Opinions Regarding Adoption

Today's Lost Daughters prompt is about personal opinions regarding adoption. Here's a reprint (with a few edits for clarity) of something I wrote back in March.

Five Reasons the Adoption Establishment Annoys Me:

1) Adoption is a solution that does not take into account the full range of needs of the adopted person. Though many needs, both external and emotional, can be met in an adoptive home, the need to know where we come from and the need to see ourselves reflected back by way of genetic mirroring are given short shrift. Too often, biology is not part of the conversation of adoption. Open adoption is a step in the right direction, but we should not assume that the adoption establishment has been "fixed" simply because open adoption exists and works in some families.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Coming Soon to a Blog Near You

Adoption Bloggers Interview Project 2012
It's almost here! This Wednesday the Adoption Blogger Interviews will be published. Am I the only one who feels like a kid counting down the days until Christmas? This year's list of participants is impressive in and of itself -- I can't wait see the results of our efforts. I should probably plan to take the day off from work because I just know I'm going to want to spend the whole day reading.

My interviewer asked some great questions. I've been busy answering them, and I'm excited to introduce you to her as well. Just a few more days!

Friday, November 9, 2012

NaBloPoMo/NAAM Day 9 - Becoming a Parent

Today's Lost Daughters prompt is about becoming a parent. Here is my response:

When I gave birth to my daughter, a part of me came alive. I had long had a buffer on my emotions, but motherhood broke through that. The love that I felt for her was like nothing I had ever experienced.

When she was three weeks old, I looked down at my sleeping daughter as a wave of emotion washed over me. Those three weeks had felt like a lifetime, rich with moments of connection. Already she had changed so much. And I had changed, too. I couldn't imagine my life without her. Three weeks. Three amazing weeks. The same amount of time as the "missing weeks" of my life, the time between my birth and placement when I belonged to no one. I was struck by the contrast between my daughter's first three weeks of life and my own, which were and are a void. For a moment, I stopped breathing.

A few weeks later my first mother visited me for a week. I spent the week gazing lovingly at my daughter, and she took advantage of my absorbed attention to spend the time gazing similarly at me. At the end of the week she said to me, "The way you feel when you look at Mackenzie, that's how I feel about you." And I understood. 

Five For Friday: Five Gems from the First Week of NaBloPoMo/NAAM

I may be conflicted about Nation Adoption Awareness Month on the whole, but I am loving some of the writing it has inspired this year. Here are five of my favorites so far:

By adoptees:
By an adoptive mother:
I could have picked many others, but these five are definitely worth a click if you haven't read them already. 

Thursday, November 8, 2012

NaBloPoMo/NAAM Day 8: Adoption in Fiction

Today's prompt from Lost Daughters is long and multifaceted, so I'm just going to use a piece of it: As a writer, do you have a fictional adopted character? What issues is this character dealing with? What is their deepest secret or desire? If you have a desire to educate your readers about adoption, what do you want them to learn?

As it happens, the answer is yes. I have recently started working on a novel that focuses on three characters, each of whom has a connection to adoption as well as a connection to the other characters in the book. One of the characters is an adoptee. I'm not very far along in the project yet; the adoptee character is still young. At this stage, the novel is primarily focused on the two other characters. The adoptee will emerge more strongly as a character as the book progresses. I have a pretty good idea of some of the issues she will face, having dealt with them myself, but I don't yet know the specifics of how they will play out in the story.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

NaBloPoMo/NAAM Day 7: Childhood Adoption Narratives

My childhood adoption narrative wasn't so much false as it was incomplete. My adoptive mother told me that my original parents had been young and unable to care for me. She emphasized how much she and my adoptive father had wanted to become parents and told me that I should always understand how much I was wanted by them.

As an adult in reunion, I have a fuller understanding. I know about the shame and secrecy surrounding my birth to unwed teenage parents. I understand how difficult it would have been for my original parents to envisage a way to parent me in a context marked by a complete lack of support for the parenting option from family and society. I understand that my mother was required to sign papers saying that she hadn't been coerced to relinquish me, but that signing those papers seemed false to her; it was true that no one was holding a gun to her head, but it still felt like coercion. I understand that my adoptive parents weren't the only ones who wanted me.

This was 1966 -- the tail end of the baby-scoop era.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

NaBloPoMo/NAAM Day 6

Today's Lost Daughter NaBloPoMo/NAAM prompt is about taking a breaking … from blogging and, well, thinking about adoption issues. I participated in a conversation on this topic with some of my Lost Daughter sisters; I invite you to peek in on that conversation by clicking here.

To be completely honest, I sometimes wish I could take a complete break from it all, but that would involve taking a break from being adopted, and I haven't figured out how to do that. I understand the need to take occasional breaks from reading and writing about adoption because the whole business can get overwhelming at times. Sometimes I need to turn my focus away, but the issues don't disappear. As my friend and fellow Lost Daughter Deanna said in her post the other day, "I wake up every day, still adopted."

Monday, November 5, 2012

NaBloPoMo/NAAM Day 5

The prompt: Around the Blogosphere. Do you read blogs of other members of the "adoption triad"? If so, what do you learn from reading those blogs? When you disagree, what's your preferred method of dealing with it (such as leaving a comment, writing a blog post about it, or ignoring it)?

Yes! I read; I comment; I post links on facebook and twitter. I love how rich and interactive the adoption blogging worlds is. Often, I find companionship. I learn that I am not alone thinking and feeling as I do. When I disagree, I usually choose not to engage, but I have been known to get stirred up enough to blog something in response.

This is a short post today, but there you have it. Day 5: done.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

NaBloPoMo Day 4: The Natural Father

The writing prompt: According to biology, it takes two to make a baby. However, when it comes to adoption often the natural father seems to be left out of the conversation more often than not. Do you feel that’s a valid statement? Were your natural parents treated as equals in your adoptive household? As a child, did you wonder about your natural father? Were you given any details about him? How did that make you feel? What is your view on natural fathers’ rights?

I've known that I was adopted for as long as I can remember. But what did that mean to me as a child? My earliest understanding was mother-focused. I understood that I had not grown in my adoptive mother's "belly," as was the norm, but had joined the family through some other way. Eventually I was given a word for the woman whose womb I had been in: "birth mother." At what point in my life did I become aware that there would also have been a male involved, that somewhere out there was a man who was in some sense a "father" to me? I don't recall.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

NaBloPoMo/NAAM Day 3: Adoption Blogging

Here's today's writing prompt from Lost DaughtersBlogging Adoption and Everyday Life. How is blogging about adoption different from blogging about other topics? Do you maintain a non-adoption blog on top of adoption blogging? If so, how do they differ?

When I first started this blog, I imagined that I would focus on adoption as well as other, more general topics. I think I managed to write two posts about parenting that weren't adoption-specific before adoption took over, demanding to be my only subject. I did try to start another blog once, under a different name. I was going to write as though I had no connection to adoption over there ... not mention the a-word at all
. I think I wrote one post, and it was probably about adoption, too, in some indirect way.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Why I'm Conflicted About NAAM

The official purpose of National Adoption Awareness Month is to focus attention on the needs of foster children who are awaiting permanency in adoptive families. This is a good place for our attention to be. Such children do need our care and support. 

I would be able to be more enthusiastic about a month devoted to adoption from foster care if there were also a month devoted to family preservation. But there isn't. And herein lies the difficulty for me.

I do believe that there are children in the system who have reached a point where adoption is an appropriate goal, and certainly preferable to the alternative: bouncing from foster home to foster home or residential center to residential center until aging out, without support, at age 18.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

National Adoption Awareness Month

Is it November already? Why, yes, I guess it is.

As many of you are no doubt already aware, November is National Adoption Awareness Month. Though it was originally intended as a time to focus attention on the needs of children in foster care who are waiting for permanent families, National Adoption Month has been largely co-opted by adoption agencies and others as a chance to celebrate adoption in all of its forms. To many adoptees, first parents, and others who have struggled personally as a result of adoption, NAAM can feel a bit like a long, loud party when you're not at all in the party mood. 

Saturday, October 27, 2012

All About Me: All About You


Adoption isn't a big deal. Being adopted into a family isn't significantly different from being born into one. The adoptee's position in the family is a little bit extra special because he or she was really wanted, but other than that, there is no difference.

How do I know all this?

I know because it says so right there in my adoption baby book. And if my adoption baby book says it's so, it must be so, right?

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Dystopia?

123RF Stock Photos
Imagine a world in which when a baby was born he or she was immediately switched with another baby who had been born to another woman. Biological parents were forbidden by law to raise their own children, but most people were fine with this because of firmly entrenched cultural beliefs. Baby-switching was commonly believed to be in the child's best interest because it was thought that being raised in a non-genetic family provided a counterbalance to genetic "flaws," rather than reinforcing them. Baby-switching was said to lead to a healthier, more psychologically well-balanced child. It was also considered to contribute to a more harmonious society because it prevented people from identifying too strongly with their own "kind," thus discouraging discord between groups. The identities of the original parents were legally sealed. The baby-switching was handled by agencies, many of them for-profit, but most people considered the practice to be beautiful thing. Many even believed it was part of God's plan. Baby-switching had been practiced for many years. Not only were most people unable to imagine a world without it but the majority didn't want to imagine it. There were a few dissenters who dared to speak up and criticize the institution of baby-switching, but they were generally considered to be extremist nut jobs. Something had gone wrong with their baby-switching, making them irrational and angry, but they were exceptions. They were not to be taken seriously.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Book Review: The Adoptive & Foster Parent Guide

Many months ago I was pleased to discover a list of resources for adoptive parents on Carol Lozier's Forever-Families website that included several of my own favorites, including books by Bruce Perry, Daniel Siegel, Sherrie Eldridge, and Nancy Verrier. I tweeted a link to the resource page and was delighted when Lozier  responded, beginning a conversation that ultimately lead to her offering to send me a review copy of her own book The Adoptive & Foster Parent Guide: How to Heal Your Child's Trauma and Loss.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Intergenerational Trauma

Intergenerational or multi-generational trauma happens when the effects of trauma are not resolved in one generation. When trauma is ignored and there is no support for dealing with it, the trauma will be passed from one generation to the next. 
-- Wesley-Esquimaux and Smolewski, quoted in Eyaa-keen Centre's Historic Traumatic Transmission (HTT) Information Sheet
Lately, it seems that almost everyone I know is struggling with some form of mental health issue. This might seem like a negative statement at first glance, but here's the flip-side: there's a whole lot of healing going on.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Grieving for the Might-Have-Been

"Dr. Randolph Severson, a writer and psychologist specializing in adoption issues, explains that behind many kinds of reunion rejection lies a grieving for the might-have-been. And people respond to that grief in different ways.
'I think there is a stage that some people go through where they feel rejected, really, by life. [They recognize] that all these things that could have been -- or, along a different kind of life trajectory, would have occurred -- simply aren't going to be. Too much of life has already been lived. And people withdraw. The anxiety is just too great, the disappointment is too great.'
-- The Second Rejection
This is a quote that hits me where I live. When I saw my biological parents together for the first time this summer, I got the clearest glimpse I have ever had into the might-have-been, and, quite frankly, it knocked me flat. I have been recovering ever since. I have been mourning the life I didn't lead.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Adoptees and our Uneasy Relationship with Words

I am moved to share the following quote, which I encountered this morning in an essay by Robert Allan Hafetz:
Simply put, as adopted adults we carry with us the same experience of anger and grief that we experienced as an infant when we originally lost our bonded first mother, but as we mature, we don’t translate those feelings into conscious thoughts and words. We feel without the words to express those feelings or the understanding of where they come from. This separation of what we think and what we feel as adoptees is the great disconnect of the adopted. It prevents us from finding the right words with which to explain what we feel. It inhibits our ability to comprehend, clearly, what happened to us making it difficult to resolve our thoughts and feelings. Some adoptees will throughout their lives try and build a bridge of understanding joining thoughts and memories while others will keep them hidden.
This quotes hits on one of the main reasons why I write this blog. I am a word seeker. I am a bridge builder. It is a challenging task but one to which I am drawn.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

The Adoption Records of Adult Adoptees

Since writing my post the other day, in which I mentioned my adoptive mother's knowledge of my original mother's name, I have heard from several other adoptees whose adoptive parents had access to identifying information about the biological family. Adoptees of my generation have either discovered paperwork in their adoptive home or managed to get a hold of records that were previously sealed and found evidence of adoptive parent knowledge of birth parent identity. One adoptee who shares my birth state, and was born just a few years later, was able to obtain her adoption agreement, which had her original mother's name and hometown on it and was signed by her adoptive parents. I now suspect that my adoptive mother obtained her information in a similar fashion.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

I Might Have Chosen Abortion

I consider myself lucky in that I never ended up pregnant except the one time I wanted to be pregnant. I therefore never had to deal with any of the difficult challenges and emotions that can accompany an unplanned pregnancy. But I could have ended up in that position. I was sexually active before I fully ready to parent. I wasn't always as careful as I should have been, and even if I had been, birth control is not a 100% guarantee against pregnancy.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Adoptee Jitters: Working Up the Nerve to Search

As an adoptee growing up I frequently had to process conflicting messages about adoption. For example, people would often ask me if I planned to search for my biological mother someday. The age 18 was sometimes mentioned as the magic number at which I might begin such a search. But I also learned that my original birth certificate had been sealed, and that the practice in that era of closed-adoptions was for the original parents' identities to be obscured, legally and permanently. So, although I gathered that many people seemed to expect me to search, I had no idea how one would do such a thing.

I don't remember when I first heard about the state of Maine's adoption reunion registry. I have a vague idea that I may have originally read about it in a magazine, and a small window of possibility opened in my mind. The concept of a reunion registry is simple. If the parent registers and the adoptee registers, and the registry is able to make a match, they will send each party the other's identifying and contact information.

I was delighted to know that such a thing existed, but I tucked the information away in the "someday" file. Why? Because I loved holding the possibility that my original mother might have registered, and I was loathe to exchange that possibility for what I might discover: that she hadn't.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Tweaked

Context is everything

"Adoption is the right choice for some people. It isn't all evil."

Taken by itself, the above statement is one with which I do not disagree. I understand that each adoptive situation has its own unique set of circumstances, and in some of those circumstances adoption may be the best available option, though not necessarily a painless one. 

So why was I triggered when I read the statement earlier this morning? Why did feelings ranging from anger to despondency flush through my body?

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Ashley Shares a Song with Me

During the period when my daughter Ashley was first living in our house as an 8-year-old foster child, I often had the lyrics of a Sheryl Crow song in my head, but with a twist. In my version the word "man" became "mom," and the line came out as "Are you strong enough to be my mom?" In the early phase of things, when my daughter was in fact throwing punches in the air and showing me that she didn't care (as I struggled with depression and anxiety related to her placement with us), I wasn't sure if I was strong enough. But thankfully I found the strength within me and through the support of my husband and others.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Before I Knew Them: Growing Up Adopted

I have often been asked, "When did you find out that you were adopted"? I usually answer, "I always knew," though of course that isn't really true. I didn't always know, but adoption was part of the conversation from such a young age that I don't remember not knowing. My adoptive parents introduced the topic in child-friendly language from an early age and my understanding grew over time.

I was essentially told that my original parents had loved me but were young and unable to care for me. It was a satisfying enough explanation, but vague. My a-parents told me that they couldn't tell me anything more about my biological family because that was all they knew themselves, which was also more or less accurate, though they neglected to tell me until many years later that they did in fact know my first mother's name.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

The Beauty of Adoption

I'm trying to stay off the Internet this week in order to get caught up on some paperwork and other general life-management matters (which I haven't been handling so well lately), but I find I can't resist the occasional urge to peek at my blog reader and facebook. So far I've encountered two heart-breaking stories of soul-crushing first mother grief, and several stories of adult adoptees who are seriously struggling with a variety of adoption-related issues. This is not atypical. I read such stories every week.


Somewhere in the United States an adoption worker is telling a young expectant mother that she should do the "selfless" thing and give her baby a better life than she can provide, and that adoption is a beautiful thing that benefits all involved.

Need I say more?

Friday, September 7, 2012

Five for Friday: Teen Parents

I was born to, and then separated from, teen parents. My first mom was kicked out of high school two weeks before graduation for "showing," and she was required to turn in her National Honors Society pin. Here are five articles that I encourage you to read on the subject of teen pregnancy and young parents.

1) What’s Wrong with Blaming Teen Parents?
2) Quilting is not Geometry: Pregnant and Parenting Teens Deserve an Education Free from Discrimination
3) Teen Moms Look for Support, But Find Only Shame
4) The Truth About Teen Parenting
5)  How to Live Through the Discovery that Your Teenager is Pregnant



Thursday, September 6, 2012

Open Adoption Roundtable #40: Reasons for Choosing Open Adoption


Hooray! Here's the new Open Adoption Roundtable prompt:
What were your reasons for choosing open adoption? (Or, for adoptees, what are your reasons for continuing to invest in your relationships with your first family?)
And here's my reply:

I love the two parts of this question. As someone who is both an adoptee in reunion and an adoptive parent in an open adoption, not only do both parts speak to me but the two are intertwined. I maintain a relationship with my first family for one simple reason: they are my family. The threads that bind me to them remain unbroken in spite of the many years that we were separated. When I found them, I recognized them as my people, and they acknowledged me in return. I know this isn't the experience of all adoptees, but it was my experience. Given that I was raised to believe that my adoptive family was my "real" family and that nuture would prevail over nature, it was surprising (and yet somehow not) to discover not only how similar I am to my biological family, but also how bonded and connected I am to them. I ended up with four parents, and they are all "real." My relationship with my biological family doesn't detract from my relationship with my adoptive one, but it does add something significant to my life.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Alcoholism and my Adoption

I never met my biological maternal grandfather; he died before I reunited with my original family. I've long been aware of the role of my grandmother in my adoption but I'd never, until recently, considered the role of my grandfather.

On our recent road trip, my bmom and I talked nonstop for days. She was in the midst of writing a series of poems about alcohol, and perhaps as a result of this my grandfather's alcoholism, and his wife's habitual response to it, was a thread woven through our conversation.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Does an Adoptee's Experience of Reunion Influence His/Her Views on Adoption?

I have a question for other adoptees who have had contact with the biological family in adulthood. Do you think that your experience of reunion has influenced the way you view the institution of adoption as a whole, and if so, how?

Saturday, August 25, 2012

How Do You Raise a Selkie? Adoptees and Mythological Creatures

I've got a lot on my mind these days, not surprisingly. Meeting my bdad and having my bmom here for two weeks on top of my usual practice of following a lot of adoption-related blogs and twitter feeds -- yeah, I've got a few things to chew on.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

At the Museum: Another Adoption Reunion Story

My father and I move among the European masters. We have come to see Renoir’s dancers, but we are uncertain of our own steps. There is nothing on the map of the museum floor plan that can tell us how to navigate this adoption reunion. We must find our own way.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Shrugging Off the Shoulds and Shouldn'ts of an Adopted Life

Your adoptive family should be enough for you.
You shouldn't long for anything more.
You shouldn't be curious.
You shouldn't feel connected to your biological relatives.
You shouldn't love them.
You shouldn't need them.
You should always remember that your real parents are the ones who raised you.
You should be loyal to the adoptive family.
You shouldn't talk too much about being adopted.

Adoptee friends, what Shoulds and Shouldn'ts did you internalize? Did you get them from your adoptive parents or from the broader culture?

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Update: The State of My Reunion and Other Matters

I've been a bit quiet on the blog lately. There are a few reasons for this. One is that I've been focusing more deliberately on my off-line relationships, trying to be more available to my husband and children. The reunion with my birth father caused me to turn inward for a while. I remember the same thing happening all those years ago as I was reconnecting with my original mother. I went through a reflective and somewhat antisocial phase, but it passed. A similar thing happened this time around, and my family noticed that I was with them but not fully with them. Now I'm moving out of that phase and trying to be more actively present with them.

Original Birth Certificate Access by US State

Adoptee Rights Coalition - the Fight to obtain our Original Birth Certificates: Adoption Info-graphic: OBC Access by US States: A Mess of Adoption Laws - Now all in one place; a simple chart and map to see where each US state stands in regard to restoring the civil rights of adopted adults.
See chart>>

Friday, August 10, 2012

Five Things I'm Excited About Today

1)      It's my birthday.
2)      I'm taking a half vacation day.
3)      I'm having lunch with Erica.
4)      I'm going to NYC.
5)      I'm having dinner with my brother.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Adoptee Rights Are Civil Rights

I wrote a post recently in which I talked about how much I have gained from my adoption reunions and how difficult it is for me to encounter stories of adoptees who can't get started on the search because of lack of access to identifying information. I ended the post by urging my readers to support adoptee rights. While it is true that a desire for search and reunion is one of the reasons why an adoptee might desire his or her original birth certificate, it's far from the only reason. I myself, for example, didn't need my original birth certificate for search-and-reunion purposes, but I sent for it anyway and, as I have discussed previously, I am extremely grateful to the adoptee rights activists in Maine who who fought to secure this basic civil right for me.

Friday, August 3, 2012

The Partners of Adoptees

The partners of adoptees and other affected by adoption are in for one hell of a ride. This is something that Nancy Verrier and others have written about, and I'm certainly aware of it in my own life. Adoption issues have affected me throughout my life, and they continue to affect me to this day. And sometimes they spill over into my other relationships, including my relationship with my spouse.

Adoption healing isn't something you get to do just once. You make progress, and you think you are okay, and then something happens and the wound gets ripped open again.

If you are really lucky, you find someone who sticks with you through it all. Instead of my usual "Five for Friday" post, this is a brief post of thanks to my husband, who walks with me through the crazy and helps me find my way home. Again and again.

Monday, July 30, 2012

One Perfect Moment: An Adoption Reunion Story

This seems like the perfect time for me to participate in Write Mind / Open Heart's Perfect Moment Monday.

Lori writes, "Perfect moments can be momentous or ordinary or somewhere in between." Mine was momentous. And it was ordinary. It was as ordinary as a hug. In fact, it was a hug. A simple hug between two close relatives. But it was momentous because it was an embrace between two people who never expected to meet.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Five for Friday: Five Things I Did on my Vacation

Is it Friday already? I'll be back to blogging more regularly soon. This week I'm on vacation, visiting my adoptive family home in Maine. Here are five things I did this week:

1) I saw the ocean
2) I hiked some trails
3) I ate a lot of lobster
4) I slept late
5) I read the book my biological father recommended

Yep, you just knew I was gong to slip in something about adoption reunion, didn't you? If things go according to plan (and there's a possibility they won't because a few pieces need to fall into place exactly in order for this to work out) I'll be meeting him in person in two days. Wish me luck!

Friday, July 20, 2012

Five For Friday: 5 People I Spoke to on the Phone Yesterday

1) My biological father
2) My biological mother
3) My  husband
4) My adoptive father
5) My biological daughter

There's obviously a lot more I could write about what's going on in my life at the moment, but I'm still processing it all internally. I'm also rushing around trying to make sure I get everything that needs to be done taken care of before I leave for vacation tonight. By tomorrow at this time I'll be at my adoptive family home (and I'll see my daughter, Mackenzie, who's been visiting there for several weeks). On my way there, I'll pass by the exit that leads to my biological father's town. On my way back home a little over a week from now, I'll take that exit for my first ever face-to-face meeting with the man who gave me half of my genetic makeup.

Image copyright (c) 123RF Stock Photos

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Another Post in Which I Try to Explain the Importance of the Biological Connection and Urge You to Support Adoptee Rights

One of the hardest things for me to encounter is an account by an adult adoptee who desires contact with the biological family but has been unable to access the necessary information or who successfully located the biological parent only to be met with rejection. The frustration, pain, confusion, and, yes, anger in such accounts cuts me to the core. It's personal for me, because it could so easily have been my story. Where would I be now, mentally and emotionally, were it not for my reunion?

I am one of the lucky ones. Finding my biological mother was ridiculously easy, once I finally got up the nerve to start the search. My adoptive mother had all the information I needed. She knew my original mother's name and was able to hand me a newspaper clipping of her wedding announcement, which included the biographical information that helped me find her. I did it on my lunch break. It took about 5 minutes to get a hold of her current address. I wrote her a letter, sent it, left town for a long weekend, and returned to find her voice -- her voice! -- on my answering machine.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Five for Friday: 5 Days with Brothers

Ashley has been attending a day camp at a local community center, and this past week two of her her biological brothers attended the same camp! These boys reside with their paternal grandmother, who unfortunately has not been open to visitation, so the siblings haven't seen each other in several years. The camp thing wasn't planned, but neither was it a huge surprise -- we live in neighboring towns. We got some advanced notice that the boys were going to be at camp that week. Ashley went to camp on Monday knowing that her brothers would be there, but the brothers didn't know they would be seeing her.

Monday, July 9, 2012

"Double Vision" at Adoption Voices Magazine

I have another piece up at Adoption Voices Magazine:

"I sometimes wish I knew what it would be like to not be adopted. If you are not adopted, please think about that for a moment. Think about the things that you take for granted. Think about the simple, natural connection between you and the people to whom you are related. Even if your relationship with your family is not 100% positive, there is a quality of your connection to them that you have probably never questioned; they simply ARE your family. They didn’t choose you; you didn’t choose them. You are connected to them by the interwoven threads of shared experience and biology."
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