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


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.
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