Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Critical Thinking

I had a good laugh over the weekend, as my family was driving home from a lovely weekend skiing at Lake Tahoe. I was catching up on blog reading on my nifty iPhone, finally able to devote an hour or two to things other than chasing after my children, thinking about reunion, cleaning out the garage to house Mark's new prize possession, and other humble pursuits.

The whole Dr. Kimberly Leighton exchange still bothers me; I find it vaguely irritating that an academic should be 1. an adoptee but so little devoted to thinking critically about what adoptees have or don't have, in terms of rights and 2. so thoughtless in terms of her contribution to a national discussion about DNA and searching. ("Wow, adoptees should be careful not to rock the boat. People could get hurt, and adoptees must be made aware of this." DUHHHHH.)

I wrote a post about why I felt annoyed by Leighton a while ago, and another blogger wrote a post in support of Dr. Leighton. Fine. But then another person commented as Anon on that person's blog, and apparently one pack of dogs thought it was *I* who had written the comment and tried to go to take their pound of flesh, only it wasn't *I*. I had to chuckle in the car and share with my husband and my two mothers, who all found it very humorous, as well.

Apparently whoever commented sounded like me and agreed with me, so I toast that person. But the people who then tried to shred that argument, and mine, were rather pitiful. I had brought up, in my post, a whole thread of discussion, saying that Leighton should have been taking the industry to task for promulgating lies, rather than adoptees (naughty Pandoras!) who want to search. Someone said that Leighton had never mentioned CIs. Wow! Bully for you for noticing that! That was in *my* argument, and you took one teeny part of it out of context without looking at the whole of it, rather like Leighton's misunderstanding the entire tone of the reference of Pandora's Box.

Both of my mothers, when I mentioned the myth of Pandora's Box, immediately said, "Wow, that's a rather harsh judgment to make of an adoptee." Because they understand the myth and what it means. It's not about oopsies and unintended consequences. It's about a woman willfully disobeying a command, carried away by curiosity (the issue of Hope is a nice add-on, but isn't the main thrust of the problem here). Pandora's Box a very, very misogynistic myth. It's about how a woman didn't *think* at all, who went against what Zeus said to fulfill her own desires and unleashed havoc and strife on humankind--evil is actually the wrong word, carrying medieval, Christian overtones. If Dr. Leighton didn't intend to make this connection, or carry across this meaning, then she was careless, and it doesn't say much about her intellectual grooming. We all make mistakes, and perhaps given another chance, she would choose another metaphor. I will send her an e-mail and ask her to clarify what she meant.

But back to intellectual grooming and silver spoons. The reference to an "Ivy League" school, and getting in on merit, rather than being a legacy was also funny. I am an adoptee. What kind of legacy would I be? Do you really think that my aparents went to the Ivy League? I went to a Seven Sisters college, and I earned my way there by merit. I studied and worked my intellectual ass off, from preschool on. If I'd been a legacy, I would have gone to Mankato State University! In my first family, I would have had more chance of being a legacy. My grandfather and mother went to the same prestigious private college, but I wasn't raised in that family. How you all crack me up.

My brother and I are both smart because we use our brains and have good critical thinking skills. He is well respected in his field of medicine because he reads widely, is a perfectionist, and doesn't tolerate half-thought-through bullshit (at least at work, can't resist that one, ha). As part of my academic training, I have been trained and whipped and scolded and taught not to be a lazy thinker, a la some of you and Dr. Leighton, and when I see people with letters behind their name, I am not necessarily impressed. The institution matters, as does how a person presents himself or herself. Some institutions hand out Ph.D.'s like candy, which is not something to be proud of. As Joy has said, degrees are not proof of anything, but academics like Leighton trade on their degrees, so her credentials are definitely fair game. If Leighton doesn't know her Greek mythology, she shouldn't reference it. Why argue about what she must have meant? You don't know.

And the silver spoon in my mouth? I was raised in a lower middle-class neighborhood in the Midwest. You make me laugh. I did live in Europe and have a horse and other fun things, and yes, I now move in different social circles where I am more comfortable, but that's thanks to my aparents who taught me to have great manners, and my first family, who blessed me with a fantastic temperament and great intellectual capacity. I have earned everything.

Although both of my mothers advised me not to bother to write this post, that it was a waste of my time, I had to write about being considered a spoiled "legacy" when I am adopted! It's too hilarious. I am damned either way. I couldn't have achieved what I did because I am smart and deserved it. No. Not possible. I can't be who I am because of myself.

My aunt, when I was visiting a few weeks back, made a great comment: "C gave you life, and your parents gave you the life you have." I am fortunate to have two such wonderful families, both of whom love me. That's what counts, and I am thankful, also, for my critical thinking abilities, which I honed on my own.

I would rather see all the world, in its horrifying darkness, than be limited and scared to see anything at all. Why bother?

I don't even consider myself to be all that smart. If you want to read a blog by someone truly brilliant, try this. Don't fuck with her.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Not for the faint of heart

It's been a bloody couple of weeks in adoptoland, but so what else is new? There's always someone attacking someone about something, engendering hurt feelings. More than two blogs I read have now gone dark, mostly because of rudeness heaped on by people who just want to flog a person rather than have dialogue. Repulsive. Another blog switched venues to shake off idiots, and the rest of us soldier on.

In one case, a first mother friend was accused of bullying (again, that nonsensical "bullying" bullshit when people don't agree!) and then had harpies send private e-mail and stalk her placed daughter, among other things, "wanting to do the right thing." Ugh. I have now lost another one of the few people who actually stands up for adoptees because the troops of zombie non-thinkers attacked her. I actually had a good laugh when one of the brigade started writing about cyber-bullying and cyber-harrassment but posted links to Utah (surprise!) statutes that don't govern interstate commerce and the Internet. Get it straight, people: Utah doesn't run the country. At least not yet. I hate that my friend felt pounded to a pulp for standing up for herself. APs and beemommies in Utah need to do some real soul-searching before they start labeling others. THINK.

As it turned out, the woman my friend had wanted to engage in discussion ended up listening to what adult adoptees had to say, which I suppose we can see as a victory. Again, we were told that a private e-mail would have been sufficient to help her change her mind. I rather doubt it, however. It's easy to brush off one little e-mail as one person's opinion. Guerilla tactics may be dirty, but they certainly get a lot farther for the cause than politeness. I am fucking finished with politeness, especially after that episode. My friend was badly hurt, and I don't forgive that stuff.

Then another first mother was shredded to bits by APs who didn't know thing one about her story. It was complete bullshit. She had asked APs, honestly, if they felt jealous about the relationships their adoptees have with their first families. I don't think it was a bad question, even if it wasn't perhaps worded in the floweriest of ways. Who gives a shit, really? This was one woman's question, one woman's story. She was lambasted within an inch of her life, psychoanalyzed in the cruelest of ways, and measured up as unworthy of her son. It made me SICK.

In yet another delightful episide, an AP provided commentary on a story published in the Modern Love column of the NYT, documenting one adoptee's journey to reunion and her ambivalent feelings about it. While I believe every word this adoptee wrote, as did the AP, the commentary was directed toward the adoptee's APs, who may or may not have made good decisions regarding communicating with their daughter about her first family (or so the narrative seemed to say). I agreed with the commenter. Even if I hadn't, it was her blog, her opinion. But of course, the uptight upright AP brigade, who has done so much good this week all around, had to throw tomatoes at the AP blogger and adult adoptees who shared stories that reinforced AP ambivalence about reunion.

There have been times with my own beloved aparents that I've known they're not really comfortable talking about my first family, and I know that. Do I wish it were different? YES. Am I allowed to say so? YES. This stuff stems back to childhood for me. I can read every word, every tone, every arch of the eyebrow, every silence of my amom's. I know what my aparents are thinking or doing from their presence and absence from discussions. I used to feel it was my duty want to take care of them emotionally, but now that I am 42 and really doing reunion, I know it's not my job. I know they love me and want what's best for me, and I love them, but I am going to take care of my own adoptee feelings for a change. I am sure they can respect that.

So when the writer mentioned her amother's "wobbly voice," asking how reunion went, I could hear it. I know it extremely well. When the adoptee's aparents handed over a thick file of information about her first family, without a word, without offering to discuss it with her, if she wanted--well, that's a parenting choice, but a loaded one. Adoptees know the avoidance tactic. It's okay, but it's not value-free. To say that it is: that's wishful thinking on the part of APs who don't want to look hard at themselves.

Anyway, adopto-blogland is full of packs of bloodthirsty hunting dogs (not like my own adorable lurcher, to be certain) who derive pleasure from tearing flesh from people, preferably first mothers and adult adoptees.

Their behavior is execrable (how I love that word); supposedly they are human, not beast. Yet they tear others down for fun, or to avoid challenging their own beliefs. Probably a little of both. Mostly they think they are mighty superior, but their insecurity is readily apparent to anyone who can truly see.

To those who hide, give up, or seek shelter: I can understand your desire to retreat. But we adoptees cannot. Just cannot. We must fight for ourselves and those who come after us, because we are still the ones who are treated like invisible ghosts, at best, or rubbish to be trod on, at worst. People still insist on speaking for us, saying that their children won't be like us, that it's okay to close adoptions, that it's fine to take children from orphanages filled with "stock" by corrupt practices. It's insanity, and I won't stop pointing it out to the naysayers. It's an uphill battle, and a weary one, but nonetheless important.

My brother, and mother, and uncle, and my cousin all said to me last week: you are so brave to come meet family, all by yourself. To fly to another state and not know what will happen, with strangers. To that I say: it was nothing! Nothing compared to being rejected, over and over; nothing compared to hating myself; nothing compared to most of the things I've done in my life.

Adoptees have the hearts of lions. The rest? Look deep inside yourself, and try to have compassion.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012


I have been back over a week, and I've been slow to write because things are, well, just great and comfortable. I can find a thousand words, a million metaphors for depression, longing, sadness, and feeling broken. Happiness and peace are harder to construct poetically. It seems so Disney and unfamiliar to me.

I could sum up the weekend I spent with my family with three marvelous sentences uttered by my uncle, as we were all waiting to be seated in a busy restaurant. Apparently we had missed a spot at our six-person table and had to squeeze into a booth. The host apologized, and my uncle said, "Don't worry; it's okay. We're family." I looked around at everyone, and it was true. I looked like everyone present, I was one of them, I was welcome, and I belonged. I sat between my two cousins and chatted away, enjoying stories about my grandparents and my mother and uncle. It was normal. I wasn't made to feel awkward, and I didn't feel awkward.

I didn't cry at all, except when I was with my friend Lori, at lunch, and she told the story of giving up her son (that always makes me cry). If you know me IRL, this absence of lachrymose behavior will seem unbelievable. I cry at the drop of a hat, even on my medications, so I must have felt protected. I am usually ill-at-ease in new environments and try to melt unremarked into the background, but that didn't happen.

C and I spent Sunday night at my uncle's house. We enjoyed a delicious dinner prepared by my aunt (she is a spectacular cook), and then looked at treasures and booty my grandfather had brought back from Germany after WWII. Our conversation flowed over the evening; I was able to ask questions, and I enjoyed gathering layers of information that told me about different family members: great-grandparents, grandparents, etc. I really wish I could have met my grandfather. Everyone says he would have loved me, and it sounds like his temperament was very similar to mine. Maybe in some small way, I form part of his legacy, and I can feel good about that. I certainly look like him.

Leaving to return to California was very difficult, but we all have plans to meet up again this summer. My family has pledged to get to know Mark and the kids, and not to let me go again. I trust them, and they are showing in all kinds of ways that they mean what they say. As you know, trust and loyalty are important concerns of mine, so this is huge.

As my uncle and aunt and mother said, our weekend together marks a beginning, not an end. The hard part is finished, at last. Certainly, there will be bumps and bruises and hurt feelings, but we are committed to pursuing our relationships and making time for one another. I have more people to love, and who love me. I never thought belonging would happen like this, or feel so good.

As Joy said, it's not all that surprising. I am a warm, loving, kind, generous person. What kind of family did I think I came from?

Finally, finally, I am at peace inside myself. That is the most amazing gift of all.

Saturday, February 11, 2012


It is Saturday night, and I feel different: wonderfully so. I was plagued by nerves on the flight, but I was confident I would be okay either way. I didn't expect anything to go horribly wrong, but I didn't know they could go so fantastically smoothly, either. You don't know what will happen.

I got off the plane, turned on my phone, and saw a text from my cousin saying they were stuck in Nashville traffic. It was snowing. I waited and breathed until they arrived, and before I knew it, I was folded in big hugs from my cousin and C. W, my cousin, installed me as navigator and we were on the way.

Everything was just EASY. I could tell they wanted me there and loved me. We joked and laughed for the hours it took to drive North to Indiana, and I was at ease. I didn't cry at all. I just belonged. And when we got to the hotel, my aunt and uncle were waiting. My uncle pulled me out of the car for a hug, and he told me how glad he was to meet me at last.

C and I spent hours looking at photographs, and I could see myself in her and her father.

I have been welcomed so openly and generously that I can see where I get my temperament from, if you know me IRL.

This weekend (and it is not over yet) has given me love of such an extraordinary degree that sometimes I am speechless. I just sit back and listen to conversations and drink in little things, such as stories about my deceased grandfather and great-grandparents. It is all new to me.

My brother calls one of us to check in periodically, and this afternoon, C, my aunt, uncle, cousins, and I were sitting at a table, chatting. C was on the phone with A, and asked if anyone wanted to talk to A. W said, "Yes, I will speak to Aunt C's bastard child," and I said, "No, I am sitting right here." Everyone laughed very hard.

No more secrets is the mantra here, and they mean it.

Wednesday, February 08, 2012

Less Than 48 Hours

Sometimes I feel convinced that I've fallen down the rabbit hole of someone else's life. Things like this just don't happen to me. Please don't wake me if I am dreaming.

It's almost time to go. I could/should be packing tonight. I work tomorrow night and won't have time. I am thinking about what to take, but the bed is warm, Finn is next to me, and I am finding it hard to stir.

Joy and I spoke the other day, and she asked me what I was wearing for the big meeting. "I don't know," I said. I am not fashion forward, and I don't have Joy's panache. Although I like to frequent Anthropologie, and I buy some beautiful clothes sometimes, I have a uniform from which I rarely deviate: t-shirt, cashmere hoodie or sweater, down vest or Barbour polarquilt jacket, jeans, and Danskos, Converse, or Frye boots. That's pretty much it. The tees, hoodies, Converse, and Danskos come in a variety of colors. Joy advised me to stick to black but wear good lipstick. I think I can manage that.

What about the cold? I have a wool pea coat that I bought ages ago for a trip to New York City in February. It's now two sizes too big, since the surgery and complications made me maigre. Even if I layered the heck out of myself, I would drown in it. I will have to swathe in hoodies and scarves and do my best with down, I suppose. I don't think anyone cares but myself. I will be fine.

The other day, C and one of my cousins called to say they were going through piles of photographs to make copies for me. Given that I'd written a fairly morose post about wanting photographs nine months ago, I was almost immediately overwhelmed by joy (and tears, to be honest). I didn't ask for the photographs. They were just did collecting them for me. And when I said how grateful I was, C asked "Why? Why should you be grateful?"

She is helping me see ways in which I make myself vulnerable and insignificant in ways I don't have to. It's okay to want pictures of your family, and you don't have to be grateful. You deserve them; you can accept and be happy about it, without shadows or reservation.

I know that in some ways, Friday is a watershed. There will be my life before Friday, and my life after Friday. And no, Dr. Moreau and the Correcters (to borrow a great term coined by Joy), Friday isn't just like meeting a pen pal for coffee. "Golly gee, just be practical about it all!"  C and I are walking into it with our expectations based in our friendship; that suits us perfectly. And yet you just can't get around the mother/daughter thing, or that I look like her, or that I'll be staring at her and checking out her gestures. I am sure that goes both ways, and that the rest of the family will be checking me out, as well. I can't help but be an oddity, as well as a person.

I am ready to have fun with C, while knowing that it might be emotionally difficult. Joy said that I benefit from being older, having been around the adoptoland block; having the support of adoptee and first mother friends IRL, on the forum, and in other places; and being a self-actualized person. This is true, and I am hoping she's right that it will help smooth things. I truly do feel much more stable than I did a few months ago. The little girl inside me finally feels that she is seen and loved and matters to someone who matters to HER. My aparents couldn't help that little girl, and for various reasons, only a select few people ever have been able to reach her. She is quite particular.

I am fortunate to have so many friends who have been texting and calling and writing to send me love for my journey, but I am also blessed by a wonderful family who are opening their arms to me. It will be a life-changing experience, to be certain.

I promise an update sometime over the weekend, although it will likely be brief.

Friday, February 03, 2012

"Birth Child"

Is it just me, or is the term "birth child" really icky?

I don't like being called my aparents' "adopted daughter" when I am introduced. I am their daughter.

C calls me her daughter, placed for adoption.

I don't want to be anyone's "birth child."

Why do we need more freaking labels for children in all this mess?

Is it not a fact that I was born C's daughter, and that now I am the daughter of my aparents, end of story?

It might take longer to write it out "son/daughter placed," but being called a "bchild," or "bdaughter" or any such thing makes my skin crawl. It reduces me to no more than a pile of cells that came out of someone's vagina. It makes me even more Other than I already feel. Fuck. Then again, that's the point: the industry wants to distance us from our first families, as much as possible. Labels help with that!

I have two sets of parents, and I don't really like calling my aparents my aparents, because they are my parents. C is my mother and my friend. I wish I could refer to all of them without labels, but I get that there has to be some way of distinguishing between the two sets of parents for clarity. I guess, in protest, I could just start referring to the parents who adopted me by their initials, as well.

But a child is ONE person, not two. I don't need a label, as if to say I am someone's "real" daughter and another person's "fake" daughter. Parents hate labels, so why apply them to us? Oh yes, see my previous post about adoptees not having a voice.

I Googled "birth child" and and found this on Adoption.org: "A birth child is a child that is biologically related to a mother and father." Okay, this is true of almost every family not formed by adoption. Do I need to refer to my own sons as my "birth children" now, or would that be gratuitous? If not, why not? If I went around school or the neighborhood, calling my sons my "birth children," people would think I was crazy. And yet this whole industry bullshit set-up is crazy, no, crazy-making.

Do any of my adoptee readers feel comfortable referring to themselves as a "birth child," or "bio child"? I have never read any adoptee referring to him/herself in this way. Were we asked about this?

Does the industry care what we think? Ha, ha, ha, that was a rhetorical question, of course.

Thank you, no, fuck you, adoption industry, for yet another needless label to isolate adoptees. As if we don't feel strange enough! It's hard to be just a kid sometimes when you're adopted and have to explain relationships. Sometimes you don't want to explain anything, but if people are labeling you bchild, what chance do you have? Especially if your own first family calls you "bchild"? Why can't you just be their son or daughter? Seriously?

Thursday, February 02, 2012

Lies, Infantilism, and Lack of Ethics

There has been much buzz in blogland about recent discussion of DNA, searching, and adoption on Diane Rehm's show on NPR, with some focus on the contributions of a bioethicist from American University, Dr. Kimberly Leighton. Leighton is a philosopher and an adoptee, who has searched and found her natural family. While wearing her ethicist's hat, Leighton, given the benefit of the doubt, must have wanted to take the broadest view possible. It was tiresome, however, to hear the same, worn-out  terms that are not value-free.

When Leighton said that adoptees were using DNA to search for "connections," I could agree with that. But when she said, "When adoptees go searching, they're opening up Pandora's boxes of other people's lives," it is as though she believes adoptees go in, selfish and naive, doing thoughtless damage to otherwise "happy" families. Unleashing evil, as Pandora did, despite being told not to do so.

I did a tremendous amount of thinking and weighing of consequences before initiating anything through the CI system and paying my $1,000+ for someone else to represent me (and apparently, badly). I didn't necessarily expect anything different when I contacted C myself, once I knew her identity. I thought very carefully about what C's level of discomfort might be; I addressed that in a letter, and told her that I didn't want to hurt her. In the end, I did hurt her, but if I had done nothing, I would have been hurting myself.

I don't think it's ethical to expect adoptees to bear the burdens of the pain of the entire natural family, just to keep secrets that were promised by unscrupulous agencies eager for womb-fresh infant flesh, promises of perpetual anonymity that weren't even LEGAL.

It's a matter of weighing another person's burden against your own, and being willing to deal with the consequences, knowing that you might hurt that person. Knowing your limits, and theirs, and being willing to communicate those boundaries.

I don't think that C was promised perpetual anonymity, but she misspelled her name on my Pre-Adoptive Agreement. That didn't deter me; it just made finding her a little bit harder later on. The agency lied to HER about the care I would receive, and she was very, very sad about that. She was not told that I would languish in the NICU for six weeks and not be placed for another four. She was told that I would go home the day following my birth with my aparents. LIES.

None of this is ethical. The agency lied to my aparents and told them that C had received prenatal care throughout the pregnancy, from the time she told her parents about me. Which was, uh, let's see: maybe 10 days before my birth. Another LIE. My aparents wouldn't have cared either way. They just would have liked to know the truth about prenatal care; apparently, the truth was considered "too much" for them to handle. Nice.

C is one of those mothers who truly didn't want to be found, although that has since changed. It's been a long process. She said that she is glad I didn't give up, and that God obviously had other plans than the ones she had made for herself. Our lives are richer for knowing each other, per both of us, and it's been a relief, she says, to be out of the closet. Had I been "ethical," and run away, and played the "good little adoptee," our relationship, and our peace, would be unknown. I know each situation is different, and we all have our limits, and what we are called upon to do and say with family members changes by the minute sometimes. I am not saying that anyone should follow in my footsteps. But at the same time, I think it's ridiculous to say that there is an absolute need to heed the manufactured promise of "privacy," "anonymity," or whatever you want to call it, in order to protect women, especially when this crap was made up by agencies to suit their need$. In my opinion, and it's only my opinion, my mother internalized the guilt and "need" for anonymity that society and the agency placed upon her to such a degree that it made her life, and her acceptance of me all that much harder later on. She is a warm, loving, wonderful person whom I treasure as a friend. The wall that went up inside her was unnecessary, and I despise the industry for putting it there.

There are definitely those women who still don't want to be found, never want to be found, and never want relationships with their children. They don't need laws or other artificial things to protect against this. They can 1. communicate this to their placed children, and they SHOULD. It's hard to say, but they need to own it, not have another person do it. 2. if they need something stronger to protect themselves from stalker-type behavior, there are restraining orders. Use the laws we have in place. DO NOT stigmatize adoptees any further with paternalism.

I have immense compassion for women who do not want contact. It must be hard for them to feel trapped by overtures from their placed offspring, but they should not have the ability to call the shots on other relationships their placed adult adoptee has with other family members. Sorry, no. It's called free association, and all adults enjoy this privilege.

At one point when I first contacted C, she went to an attorney to see if she could get a restraining order against me, but shown the letter I had sent, and the one measly phone call I had made, the attorney said there was no case. I am sorry that I stressed C out, truly, but my existence cannot be helped at this point. I was able to approach other people in the family, and with time, she felt more comfortable, and things changed. I am fortunate, in that regard. I think that if she hadn't changed her mind, I would have come to terms with her lack of interest, although it would have been very difficult for me. I am one of those who doesn't see the point in bringing a life into the world for which you have no love. Thank goodness that was not my burden, in the end.

One final point: there are people who like to roll their [virtual] eyes when we say that babies, in adoption, had no choice in the matter. "Well, duh," the snide ones say, as though we are completely stupid. We are making a broader point, people! See if you can follow: when we are placed, we are infants. No words, no choice. But we don't remain infants forever. We grow up. We become autonomous human beings, although within the confines of many of our claustrophobic familial relationships, we are still treated/named as infants. To wit: C's mother asked about me recently, and I am "The Baby." She always refers to me as "the Baby." Never mind that I have a name, that I am 42 and have two sons of my own. I play the role of the placed baby in her mind, and will forever. Refer to me by name, and she says, "Who? The Baby?" Get it now? Adult adoptees remain voiceless children, without agency, in too many situations. I think that is unethical.

As ADULTS, by contrast, we should enjoy the same autonomy and opportunities to make decisions as other adults in the constellation. We can decide to make contact, or not. To reciprocate when found, or not. To complain when treated badly, etc. We should have access to our OBCs because we are grown ups, just like everyone else. And yet adoption forever infantilizes us, and many, many rude people enjoy taking the opportunity to talk down to us and be supercilious, to scold us and tell us what we can and cannot do. To make fun of our feelings and even the words we use! I understand that I am "too intellectual" for some of them, which is quite a feat for a baby.

It would be socially unthinkable to treat any other group the way we're treated, except perhaps those with cognitive disabilities or the mentally ill, and even they get Public Service Announcements telling people to be nice to them. We stand up for ourselves, as we should, and then the holier-than-thou say we're bullies. LOL It never ends.

So yes, we need to be thoughtful about the feelings of others, but adult adoptees don't need protecting from our own identities, and we don't need to protect others at the cost of ourselves (been there, done that, haven't we?).

Oh, and agencies lie, frequently. Why didn't Kimberly Leighton point that out? Maybe we need DNA testing because our non-identifying information is all made-up bullshit, as my own recent DNA testing showed. Why is she assuming that adoptees are the influence of wrongdoing, and the agencies/sperm banks/etc. are ethical? The system is broken, and asking adoptees to back off isn't going to fix it. IMO, Leighton's focus is on the wrong part of what's rotten.

Amanda wrote a beautiful open letter to Dr. Leighton pointing out many of the flaws in the argument for "protecting" the privacy of natural mothers on her blog. I agree with her that it's a shame it pits one person's sense of security against another's, but I do not believe that it's the duty of the adoptee to give in, every time. What we give up, in the balance, is immense.

Wednesday, February 01, 2012

"I love you, but..." Redux

In many ways, broken things sadly don't change. My own personal circumstances have, because I am fortunate to have family members who are kind, humane, and mature. They are able to see things from my point of view, as I try very hard to see things from theirs. They don't tell me that my point of view is worthless, that my feelings are wrong, or that I am "mean" for feeling anger or loss. Imagine that!

When reading the blogs of many first and adoptive parents, however, I am struck, as usual, by the lack of empathy for the adoptees. And when adult adoptees, or even others from the constellation (more rarely) pipe up to say anything about how this might feel for the placed child--wow! The burning oil and screeching and moaning and saying, "Oh, that person is so MEAN and doesn't GET it!" commences. Really? The person doesn't get it? Or that person is presenting a point of view that is potentially in conflict with yours, or is uncomfortable for you to entertain? It's not all about YOUR feelings? Isn't adoption supposed to be about helping the ADOPTEE live the best life possible?

And the adoptee erasing, or the thinking FOR the adoptee, or the "It's all for the adoptee's good," or It was too hard for MEEEEE," or any number of the usual responses are thrown about.

I was talking to Mark about this pathetic phenomenon the other night, in relation to a blog where a child was placed and the mother is raising three kids older than the placed child. Someone mentioned that the placed child might feel angry about being the only one placed. It's hard to reconcile love with the fact that your older sibs are all safely ensconced with your mother, especially when the reason given for placement was that she didn't want to raise you as a single mother. But she's raising your siblings as a single mother. It doesn't compute. Yes, life is more complicated that that, but it's still a burden for that child to bear, let alone understand. Of course, the Anonymous commenter was hung, drawn, and quartered for even suggesting that the placed child might have some anger to deal with. I was tearing my hair out, but Mark simply said, "Remember, adoptees are inconvenient. Your feelings are inconvenient, your presence is inconvenient, your opinions are inconvenient. You are only wanted and welcome in discussions so much as you can stroke these people's feathers the right way." He is so correct. It's true, sad, infuriating even, and I feel for this little girl. I hope she will be given the space to express whatever she feels--and it may certainly be positive, but I rather doubt it.

Von wrote, very insightfully, apropos this subject: "It is a curious thing that comments by adopters are seen as positive and helpful while remarks usually from adoptees who see how it might be for the teen are viewed as negative and mean. Adoptees have a right to comment on what is put out there about adoption and to have it viewed with the same seriousness as other comments."

This was in relation to another sad story, a 15-year-old boy who was being "rehomed" by serial adopters who decided that they just didn't love him unconditionally. WTF? When you adopt a child, it's for life. You work through your problems. Parenthood should not be revocable. Adoptees are not items of clothing or appliances, as Von pointed out. These heinous APs want to give the boy to another family for a month as a "test drive." He is a human being! Furthermore, when adult adoptees pointed out that these APs' behavior was inhumane and WRONG, the adopters took umbrage and said that adoptees didn't have right to comment. Anyone who sympathized with the adopters and how hard it was for THEM was welcomed. Sound familiar?

The point of view of the adoptee--usually--is contingent upon our "good" behavior (meaning praising our parents), toeing the party line (adoption is a gift! it saved my life!), etc. Then our parents say, "I'll accept you, but I don't really want to let people know who you are if you don't behave in just the right way, or if I have to own my behavior, etc." It's a nasty, rotten deal if you look under that shiny, skittle-coated cover. But many parents don't like you to do that!

Ah, love is contingent, and that's what hurts the most. Censorship, parental self-pity at the expense of the child, and the continued lack of ability to take responsibility, as parents, come not far behind.

I cannot tell you, after so many years of reading these horror stories on blogs of "loving" parents, how fortunate I am to have two mothers who don't say, or act, in the horrible way of "I love you, but..." It's the stuff of nightmares.

And you say you wish you'd been adopted?