Thursday, January 31, 2013

What's Under the Rug?

In the early hours of the morning, shortly before waking, I dreamed I opened a trapdoor in a wooden floor and discovered a pulsing, hot ball of pain. I recoiled immediately, as if burned by fire. In my head I heard a voice saying "If you really want to heal, you are going to have to deal with this."

"Not now," I answered. "Not yet."

In a halfway state between sleep and waking, I asked myself: How can it be that even someone like me who has dealt with loss in therapy and writes and talks openly about trauma and healing could have such a well of undiscovered pain? Is it possible that my strongest pain is still beneath the surface ... that I haven't even touched it yet?

When adult adoptees speak about adoption using words like "loss" and "pain" and "trauma," we are sometimes countered with the statement, "Not all adoptees feel that way." And it's hard to argue with that. It's certainly true that no two adoptees are identical, in their feelings or anything else. And while I have met many adoptees whose experiences and feelings seem similar to my own, I have also met those who hold adoption very differently than I do.

I often wonder about those adoptees, the ones who are so unlike me. Do they have no trapdoor? Have they just not found it yet? Have they seen it and refused to open it?

I suppose there may be some who opened their door and discovered a milder, gentler pain than I did. Perhaps they took it out of its hiding place and carried it around for a while before eventually misplacing it and barely noticing its absence. Or maybe they keep it on a shelf and are not bothered by it.

But I can't help but wonder if there are some who opened the door and recoiled, as I did in my dream. Not now. Perhaps not ever. And then what? Cover up the door with a pretty rug and pretend it isn't there?

As I said, I wonder.

Cheerful! But what's underneath? 

Image courtesy of John Kasawa at

Saturday, January 26, 2013

The Adoptive Parent's Role in Adoptee Narrative

"Don't you ever mention that bitch/slut in my house again!" 
"If she gave a damn about you, she wouldn't have signed those papers. She only cared about herself. She didn't want the responsibility and work of being a mother." 
"Don't get any ideas about looking for her; she probably doesn't want to be found, and if you did find her you'd probably be disappointed anyway. She could be a crack addict for all you know."
Do these seem excessively harsh? Exaggerated? Perhaps it even seems impossible to imagine an adopted parent saying such things to an adopted child.

Full disclosure: the quotations above are invented. I made them up. But they are composites, based on actual stories I have heard from other adoptees about how the original mother was spoken of in the adoptive home.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Why "I'm Sorry You Had a Bad Experience" Doesn't Fly

When adult adoptees speak out against adoption practices, we are sometimes countered with something along the lines of the following: "I'm sorry you had a bad experience, but that doesn't mean all adoption is evil."


Yes, it is certainly true that some adoptees describe their experience of adoption in positive ways, whereas other do so negatively, and still others fall into the murky territory of ambiguous emotion. I myself fall into the latter category, and I tell my personal story because it is a part of my history and it is mine to tell. I tell my personal story because I belong to a group of people whose voices were long silenced. I tell my story as a means of personal healing and also to help today's adoptive parents have a fuller understanding of some of the things that their adopted children might be feeling.

But in terms of adoption reform, I acknowledge that my personal story is actually irrelevant.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Even Though

Deanna Shrodes has done it again:
We did not lose each other.
Even though my OBC was sealed.
Even though my a-parents moved us 147 miles away from the city where they adopted me.
Even though we didn't know each other's new names. (She married and changed hers. My a-parents changed mine.)
We were still connected.
-- Affected by Adoption ~ Body, Soul & Spirit
For many adoptees, the big lie of our lives is that one definition of family obliterates the other, that new connections undo old ones. This fallacy is driven home from day one, and reinforced in countless ways. We are given new names and new identities that obscure the original ones. Our parents, biological and adoptive, sign papers annulling one family and creating a new one, and we are expected to play along, as if the new, legal entity was all that ever was. Evidence of any pre-existing history is sealed away, and we are asked to pretend it never existed.

Except that it lives on, in us. In our faces, our hands, our feet, our mannerisms, our quirks of personality. A million sign posts mark us as different from those who are raising us as "their own," and we are expected to ignore them all. Or at the very least, to act as if such things don't matter in the least.

We are told the rules of our new lives, as created for us by others, and some of us excel at following them. Some of us even go so far as to become participants in maintaining the fallacy, repeating our well rehearsed line: "My only real family is the one that raised me."

But on some level we know, we always know (even when we think we don't), that regardless of what we may have all agreed to pretend, the prescribed "reality" is not the whole truth.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Open Adoption Blog Hop # 1

Where do you like to do it?

Get your mind out of the gutter! I'm talking about blogging ... of course.

Here's my favorite spot:

I'm posting this today as part of the first ever Open Adoption Bloggers blog hop. The prompt question is "What is your favorite room/spot/piece of art in your home and why?"

Blogging friends, I don't need to tell you why. You know. I also probably don't need to tell you that my family hates it when I'm in this chair. 

So like all moms, I must strive for balance. Too much time in the chair, and my family gets cranky. Too much time away from it, and I get cranky!

Thanks for stopping by. For more information on the OA HOP, please click here.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Featured on BlogHer: Why I've Been Avoiding My Spiritual Community

Featured on

For the past 10 years, I've been a part of a spiritual community that both nurtures and inspires me. I have been an active volunteer in this congregation. I have felt strong connections to the people there. I married my husband in the sanctuary. A few years ago when asked in a meditation workshop to close my eyes and think of a place where I belonged, it was the building where this congregation gathers that came into my mind.

So why haven't I been there in several months?

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Quoting Myself

Bear in mind that parenting adoptive children is very different from parenting biological children, and this is true whether one adopts an infant or an older child. It's not about love. You can love an adopted child just as much as biological child. But adopted children require additional support as they heal from separation and mourn the loss of the original family. Adopted children have unique challenges in terms of forming identity as they process what it means to be a member of more than one family. I believe that it's important for anyone who is considering adoption to understand that they are not bringing a single child into their life -- they are bringing an entire family. That's just a fact. If you adopt, the original family will always be a part of your life, whether you have an open relationship or not (and I hope you will!) because they are a part of your child. -- Rebecca Hawkes at Lost Daughters 
Salvatore Vuono

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Family Reunification Versus Inter-Country Adoption

Please watch the following video. It tells the story of one boy and his father, but is representative of  many other similar situations.

For more information, please visit
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