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. 
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