Sunday, February 24, 2013

Adoptee Restoration: When It's Hard to Breathe

Please click on the link below to see an amazing video. It was created by some non-adoptee friends of adoptee Deanna Shrodes, who has recently emerged as an important voice within the adoption community. As Deanna says, her friends Steve and Indy Dixon "get it," and they have created a moving song and video combination that captures that understanding.

Adoptee Restoration: When It's Hard to Breathe

Monday, February 18, 2013

Adoptive Parents and Adoptee Rights

I registered my daughter for a new soccer league the other day, one that requires that we show her birth certificate as proof of age.

"Oh, can I see it?" she asked, with excitement in her voice, when she saw me with the copy in my hands.

I hesitated. This was it: the moment when I had to tell my daughter that the primary legal document of her life, the one she will be required to produce for identification purposes countless times throughout her life, is a big fat lie.

Ashley, who joined our family by way of foster care and is now our legally adopted daughter, knows and has regular contact with her biological mother. She has also seen the hospital records of her birth. She has read the minute by minute description of her first moments on the planet. Among other things, the record indicates that she was placed on her mother's stomach and that "bonding was noted."

Monday, February 11, 2013

The Strange, Strange Life of a Traumatized Adoptee in an Adoption-Loving World

I'm what some people would call an "unhappy adoptee" or an "angry adoptee." I get these labels because I speak up about the negatives of adoption, including sharing my own personal story of trauma and loss experienced as a result of my separation from my biological family, and in particular from my mother. I am aware that this loss has affected me throughout my life and continues to affect me to some degree even into the present day. I will never be "not adopted."

And yet, I am neither unhappy nor angry on a regular basis in my actual life. In fact, I would describe myself as relatively happy, on the whole. It's been a long road, but I find myself in a fairly good place here in middle age. I'm aware that my personal adoption story has much that is positive about it when compared to the stories of other adoptees I have met. I was relatively well-matched with my adoptive family. When I was ready to search for my biological family, the information that I needed was available to me and I had the support of my adoptive parents in searching. I have been able to process my adoption issues through therapy, writing, and other means. I have been able to learn about myself and to experience the relief of genetic mirroring through reunion. I currently have good relationships with four pretty awesome parents. I have a supportive online network of adoptee friends who "get" me.

Not a bad situation, all in all.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Understanding Adoptee Loss

If you are an adoptive parent and your journey included infertility, you likely had to mourn the loss of a hypothetical biological child ... the one who would never be born. If you came to adoption by another route, you may have experienced other kinds of mourning. Beginnings are always endings as well. When we choose one path, we walk away from another. Feelings of sadness are normal even in times of joy and new beginnings.

But I'm going to guess (with a high probability of being correct) that you probably didn't have to exchange an actual biological child for the adoptive one you now love and cherish.

www.123rf.com
Imagine for a moment that you had been required to make this unthinkable exchange. Actually, go further still and imagine that you didn't have any choice in the matter. One child was taken from you and another given in its place.

What emotions might come up for you around this exchange? Sadness? Anger? Confusion? I imagine you might experience a complex mixture of emotions at best. Even if you came to love the replacement child, would you not still feel the loss of the original one? What emotions might come up for you each year near the anniversary of the exchange? Even if you still got to see the first child sometimes, if you knew where he or she was and got to exchange gifts, make phone calls, and even Skype, wouldn't you still miss the child? Or imagine that you were reunited with the original child years later ... would you not you not still grieve the lost years, years you could never get back? Can you even imagine that in some ways, you might never fully recover from the loss of the first child, regardless of how much you might love the second?

When adoptees speak of loss or pain or trauma, we do not do so to be mean to adoptive parents or to make them feel bad about their families. We do so because this is our experience. Even if we appreciate our adoptive families, even if we wouldn't exchange the life we ended up with for another, loss is always a part of the equation for us.

And then there are the original parents ...
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