Thursday, March 31, 2011

Candles for the Cause

acrylic on canvas

I can't believe it's been at least a couple of weeks since I've been here to post. My schedule has just been crazy and I haven't had as much time to devote to the cause as I would like. Things will ease up by the end of April and I can get back to painting and blogging more often. For now I want to put this out there. I'm working with Origins-USA and I'm doing these small candle paintings to raise funds to help with their mission.

For the particulars, here's the blurb from Origins homepage -

"Birthdays hold enormous meaning for natural parents and adoptees. To commemorate what birthdays mean to us, artist and author carlynne hershberger is painting these birthday candles on 5x5" stretched canvas. they cost $30 plus $3 shipping. carlynne will donate $15 from each painting sold to origins-usa, so it can continue its important work.

Each painting is a one-of-a-kind work of art, so your painting will not look exactly like the one pictured. Each one will be personalized with the birth date of your child. Also, if you have a specific color you would like to see on the candle, let Carlynne know. To place your order, email"

So, let me know if you're interested in a painting, just send an email to Origins.

I also want to say thanks to those who wrote such kind comments on my last post. It was a hard one for me to write and I appreciate all the support I've received - thank you!

Sunday, March 13, 2011

What's in a name?

I watched a video today that was posted on Facebook. It was about adoptees getting their OBC's and seeing their original names for the very first time. As an adoptee-lite I had a similar experience very recently when I was given my adoption papers and saw my original last name on an official document for the first time. It was very strange and healing in a way. For people who haven't been through this particular experience, it's hard to understand the actual physical reaction a person can have when faced with an identity that's part of you but so unfamiliar. For me, it was another piece of the puzzle put back in place. It took away another bit of the confusion I felt for so long about who I was and who my father was.

Thinking about all that made me think about a conversation I had with my daughter. As I've written before, my daughter and I have been reunited for years. When I requested and received the paperwork from Catholic Social Services regarding her adoption I asked her if she'd like a copy. She said yes so I made copies and sent them off. Seeing those papers was very difficult for me - I think any natural mother who has been through this stuff knows what I'm talking about. The memories come crushing back and emotions flood. And, what I experienced with seeing my adoption papers probably doesn't compare to what my daughter felt when she saw hers.

It took a while for me to get the courage to open the envelope but when I finally did and read them, three major things jumped out at me:

1. CSS had me sign a form giving them control when I was only 6 months pregnant. It was an adoption release form which was the "consent to the release of custody and control of the child". This was startling to me since I had and still have zero memory of signing it. There was my name. It is my signature but I have no memory of it.

2. On all the worksheets that I filled out, the social worker's notes etc. there was the name of my daughter's father. I told them his name, gave a physical description of him and the state he was in. When they asked for information about him I told them everything I knew. But, on the final adoption papers it says Father: unknown. Now did they do that so they wouldn't have to search for him and get his consent for the adoption? What would have happened if they searched for him? Would everything have turned out differently? Unknown father? A big fat lie. They had his name.

3. My daughter's first name on the papers was Baby Girl. I didn't give her a name officially. I was told that it wasn't necessary since the adopting couple had a name picked out and she would be named right away. I had a name for her in my heart but I never gave it to the agency. I was also told that she would go from the hospital straight to the adoptive couple's home. These were nothing but lies. She went from the hospital to a foster home for 7 weeks before going to her parents home. When my daughter saw the adoption papers she said the thing that really upset her was finding out that she was a nameless, parentless baby for the first 7 weeks of her life. It breaks my heart every time I think about it.

When my daughter was 5 days old I was back in my childhood bedroom, in my parents house, on the bed, on my knees with my arms wrapped around my belly, rocking and crying uncontrollably - I want my baby, I want my baby, I want my baby - over and over and over again. I remember it like it was yesterday. I don't know how long I was in that position crying those words but it seemed like forever. At the very same time I was in that agony my baby girl was lying in a crib 2 hours away from me in a foster home probably crying for me. No one, mother or child should ever have to go through that. No one. Ever.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

All I have to say is AMEN!

This post says it all so there's nothing for me to add right now. Robin has done a wonderful job of giving us the facts so please read and pass it along so we can share the facts with others.


Monday, March 7, 2011

History Waiting

History Waiting

It's universal. We make family trees, we talk to and honor our ancestors, we trace the people that came before us, it's important enough to make reality shows about it - Searching For..., Who Do You Think You Are. We have websites about researching our ancestry.

Why is it that in adoption the biological connection isn't considered very important but in the rest of society it's huge? The adoption industry wants people to think that it doesn't matter how the family is formed - a person's roots are meaningless, what matters is who is there to change diapers and play ball. Of course parenting well is important, but many times adoptees are expected to consider their history to be from their adopted family. Good parenting should also include being honest with our children about who they are. I grew up thinking I was half Cuban. I thought my history was in Santiago de Cuba and Cayey, Puerto Rico. I thought I was a combo of the two islands - Cubarican if you will. Well, turns out the Cuban side was the adopted side. That's not actually my history. I love my dad and I do have an interest in where he came from and what that means but it's not the biology of who I am.

The biology of who I am makes me wonder if I look like Aunt Shelley. Do I have any of Uncle Tommy in me? When I look at photos of my children I see the same chin on all 3 of them and I see it in 2 of my grandchildren. There's a thread of continuity there that's important. Maybe some of the features that I passed down to my daughter lost to adoption are the same features from the father and family I never knew. When my daughter's first son was born she was looking for the very first time, into the eyes of a person who was biologically related to her. That's huge because her roots had been cut off from her. And, when her first son was born I wasn't there. I had no idea I was becoming a grandmother for the first time. I now have 4 grandchildren, 3 of them live in another state but I have contact with them, they're part of my life. The youngest is almost 9 months old and lives nearby. When I look at her I wonder about the grandmother that was taken from me when I was a baby. How did she feel knowing she had a grandbaby out there that she couldn't see? When I look at my little granddaughter I can't imagine being cut off from her. What did it do to my grandmother to be cut off from me completely. Was her grieving similar to the way I grieved when I lost my daughter?

Some of these broken links were the result of family decisions and some were because of the adoption industry. It's not ok for people in a money-making industry to make decisions about who we connect with and who we don't. Closed adoption is not ok. Closing an open adoption is not ok. It's not ok that I found out about my own adoption when I was 26 yrs old. It's not ok that my daughter had to wait 22 years to find out her own history.

There are still a lot of histories waiting.