Monday, December 31, 2012

Letting Go - Part 2


"Just let it go" "Let go of the past" These are things we hear a lot, especially mothers of adoption loss and these are things I tend to think about as we head into another new year. Letting go, like forgiveness, seems to happen in stages for me. Maybe not even stages but maybe just happening in bits, over and over again. If you've read past posts you know that I was railroaded into exile and ultimately losing my daughter by a number of forces. One of those forces was my family. I still have a relationship with the family so that's one area where the forgiveness has to happen again and again. Each time a thoughtless comment is made that touches on the subject of adoption, the old anger comes rising up. Of course the person who was most instrumental in me losing my baby is the one who makes most of those comments. I think denial is one powerful force. We've had many discussions (some of them were actually more like confrontations) about what happened with me and my daughter. I've also shared much of what I've learned about the current state of infant adoption and the coercion that still happens yet I sometimes still hear her say things like....

"I don't know how she could sign her rights away like that" - talking about another woman who surrendered her newborn.

"Why are you glad that K decided not to adopt?"

"Oh what a shame that M is not adopting another baby"

"But what about the pain of the infertile couple?"

When I hear these statements coming from this person I shake my head and once again say... "Do you realize who you are saying this to?" My hands start shaking, the lump in my throat grows, sometimes we go another round and I have to deal with the anger all over again. Sometimes I just walk away and say "I can't talk to you about this" This is when the forgiveness process starts all over again. There just doesn't seem to be an end to it. How do you just let it go when constantly faced with these attitudes, especially from people close to you who know what you've been through?

What led me to thinking about this besides the holidays? This post on Lost Daughters that Deanna posted on Dec. 23rd.

Deanna wrote:

 I've been a pastor for 25 years, and in all that time, I've never heard anyone advise a non-adoptee: 
"Just move on. Leave your family behind. Are you going to waste a lifetime thinking about your family? Don't you know God has bigger plans for you?"
No, you don't hear that, and it would be pathetic if you did. People are often encouraged, as it should be, to love their family, to be committed to them, to invest time.

Except adopted people.

We're expected to leave our families behind, shake the dust off our feet, and go on with our lives. And then we're supposed to profusely thank God we got the opportunity to go through it all.  



She could just as easily have been talking about exiled mothers. We were supposed to let go of the fact that we had just given birth. Let go of our children, our flesh and blood. Pretend nothing happened, move on and just have more kids. Would you expect that of someone whose child had died? Would say to a grieving parent - just move on, you can always have more? We're viewed as a different breed of mother, actually breed-er is more accurate. And yes, we were expected to be grateful that someone was taking care of our children so we could carry on with our lives whether that meant finishing college or just being young and having fun.

When you lose a child your life does change. There is no going back to being young and having fun. There is no picking up where you left off. You're not the same person anymore. Losing a child is not something you let go of, it's something you learn to live with one day at a time. Forgiving and letting go of anger is an ongoing process and it's something I work on for myself - my own peace of mind and my health. It doesn't change or benefit the other person. I've processed a lot in 2012 and I know there will be more to come in '13.

I hope we all have a healthy and peaceful new year. I hope for positive changes in the adoption industry such as the end of exploitation of pregnant women and more headway made in family preservation. I hope the focus returns to finding homes for children who need them rather than finding babies for adults who want them. At this point it may be a pipe dream but we have to start somewhere....




Sunday, December 23, 2012

Letting Go


Letting go. It means so many different things. It could mean letting go of the fact that I'm adopted by my step-father. It could mean letting go of the fact that I lost my first born to adoption. It could mean letting go of the anger I feel towards my family for forcing me to hide my pregnancy, forcing me to let my baby go to strangers. It could mean letting go of the children I raised as they grow up and learn to live on their own and make their own way. I kid around about creating a bubble of space, a family compound, in which my kids have to move around in as adults. We don't want them to move too far away from us. Is it me making demands on them that I shouldn't? They have the right to make their own way in the world. What right do I have to limit their range of movement? I don't have that right. I know that I resist their movement away from me and it's partially because of my own history. I know there's a part of me that wants to keep them close by so I don't have to deal with losing them. They shouldn't have to pay for my history.

Today is my birthday and I wonder... does my father's family think of me? After 54 years, do they wonder about me on my birthday? Does my Uncle Tommy wonder what happened to his brother's child? Does my Aunt Shirley wonder why I left the family? Do they wonder if things had been different, would they have more family to consider, more family to think of as the years go by? I don't know. I was never given the opportunity to have those questions answered. I was never given the chance to know those people. As a grandmother myself, did my grandmother grieve losing me? I was her son's child. Did that cause her grief? I know, having a granddaughter from my only son, that it would certainly cause me grief to lose contact with that little girl. I can't even imagine not having my little granddaughter in my life. What was that like for my grandmother?

Lately I've been wondering about my relationship with my (raised) kids and how their lives have been affected by the surrender of my first born to adoption. Do I smother them? Do I make them feel like they can't get away from us because of my need to "mother" them? Does my need to mother keep them tied to me longer than would be normal? Does my need to "mother" cause them to work harder to break away? Do they miss the relationship they could have had with the sister that was denied to them? My daughter grew up with a brother but she didn't grow up with a sister. Would that have changed her in some way? There are so many questions and many of them left unanswered.

Letting go is something to be explored.... later date..... another time......




Monday, November 12, 2012

A bit of a rant

I just saw this article about Catholic Bishops in New Jersey. It states:


"Every year, the NJ Catholic Conference of Bishops lobbies to defeat an adoption reform bill that would allow adoptees, as adults, to secure their original birth certificates (OBCs).  This opposition is based on unfounded fears and misinformation.  The bishops do have money, however, and they are significant players in New Jersey’s political arena."

This hits close to home for me as an adoptee from New Jersey who was raised as a Catholic. My OBC is held hostage in that state. It doesn't even matter that I'm a step-parent adoptee raised by the woman who gave birth to me. I still can't have my original birth certificate. There is no issue with the supposed "secrecy" or "promised confidentiality" that they claim to be so concerned about and my natural father is dead. There is no reason on this earth that I should not be able to have in my possession my own personal birth records.

As the author says, the Bishops feel as though their religious freedoms are threatened. They claim there's a war against religion because of a birth control mandate in the Affordable Care Act. The mandate simply requires insurance companies to include contraceptives in the policies for the people who CHOOSE to use it. There's a lot of talk about Christians being persecuted and religious freedom under fire. Hogwash. How about motherhood under fire? How about a war against single motherhood? How about a war against truth? How about a war against adopted people and their civil rights?

It's no secret to the people close to me that I have a problem or two with the Catholic church. The list is long and too much to get into here but for today the issue is adoption. They not only want to keep my and my daughter's OBCs locked up, they were a major player in taking my daughter from me 32 years ago through Catholic Social Services. They were the ones who somehow convinced me to sign a consent to adoption form when I was only 6 months pregnant. We had left NJ and were living in Florida. I checked the FL statutes. At that time it was illegal to sign an adoption consent before the birth of the child yet that didn't stop CSS from getting me to sign. It's still illegal.

I had just arrived in Lakeland the month before. I was sent to live with a woman 2 hours away from my home because I was a disgrace to the family. I couldn't be seen in that condition. CSS arranged for my housing. They arranged the adoption. They made it very clear that the best way to handle my "situation" was for me hide, give birth, and then not see my baby at all - it would be "easier on me" that way. I could go home, start my life over, move on. Sure.

So, I rang in 1980 living with a stranger in a strange town and CSS gave me a form to sign giving THEM custody of my child at birth. They didn't have me sign this form when I was still living at home with my parents, they waited until I was alone. It was the first week of the new year and my daughter wasn't born until mid-April. I have a copy of the form now. It only took 31 years for me to get it. In fact, I was shocked when I saw the form. I have no memory of signing it. I don't know what that means. Did I block that memory? Why would they have me sign something like that except to ensure that they got their hands on my baby. They knew that if I didn't sign it, and I had access to my child, I could have fought to keep my baby. The form was their way of making sure that I didn't see my baby after she was born. It was their excuse for the BFA signs.

After my daughter was born, the final papers signed and I was back home, it was like I stopped existing. For CSS it was over, they had my child. There was no contact from them. There was no interest in how I was dealing with the grief. There was no concern for me whatsoever. So Bishops..... tell me again how concerned you are for mothers and their well being. Tell me again how you feel for the mothers who were "promised confidentiality" so as a result their children should not have access to their own personal records. Is all of this obstruction and lobbying against open records for my benefit or yours? Could there be some reason you don't want people to know about their own histories? The truth maybe?


Friday, November 9, 2012

From Vietnam to Australia


I just watched this documentary about a Vietnamese woman who was adopted by an Australian couple as a result of Operation Babylift. It's not only a very informative program but a very moving one. To see that babies, children and their families were used as political pawns was heartbreaking. This adopted person does a wonderful job of expressing what it's like to live with the dichotomy of being raised within one culture but come from another and have no knowledge of her original family. It's a very well done documentary so please take the time to watch but be warned..... tissues will likely be required.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Relief


I couldn't stay up late enough to watch the election returns last night but I was sure happy to wake up to the news this morning! I'm thrilled that the candidate I voted for will spend another 4 years in the White House. Watching the reactions on Facebook has been interesting. Most of my friends are rejoicing along with me but there are a handful who feel like the world is going to end - a bit extreme, a bit dramatic. Some are complaining that we're going to lose our freedoms and I'm still trying to figure out exactly which freedoms they feel we've already lost and which ones they think we're doomed to lose during the next four years. I find that particularly interesting because they don't seem to have a problem with the amount of reproductive freedom we could have lost with a Romney presidency.

There is a LIST of reasons for my desire to keep Romney out of the White House but this intense need the GOP has to be all up in our personal business was a biggie on the list. This little clip was alarming to me and one of the reasons I was worried when I saw the initial returns and the lead seemed to be bouncing back and forth between the two candidates. For one thing, his demeanor came across as extremely arrogant and short tempered. Then as expected he made it clear he's anti-choice and wants abortion banned. None of that is good or a surprise, but it got worse when he said he counseled girls to not have abortions but to "have an adoption" instead. Of course, being a Mormon, I knew that's what his stance was but it just brought it even closer to home. It's scary to me to think that we could have had a president who thinks women shouldn't have authority over their own bodies and even scarier to think he views adoption as just something to do instead - simple solution, sure, piece of cake, just have the kid and give it to someone else - easy peazy - why not.

The Handmaid's Tale anyone? Now that may seem to be extreme by some people's standards and maybe it is, but the lack of compassion that I saw in Romney is exactly where a story like this starts. I'm not saying that he personally would create this kind of horror but sadly his beliefs could be the beginning of something like it.


No thanks


I do and don't like this article. When I see the words "A word of thanks" I want to just cringe, or puke. When I read this article my heart ached for this little boy and for the mother who felt she had to let him go but I also feel for this adoptive mother who has to answer the questions and figure out what's best for the little boy that she and another mother share.

For me, as a mother who lost a child to adoption, I don't want to hear "thank you". I don't want to hear that I gave a "gift" of my daughter to the adoptive parents. I didn't give a gift. A gift is given freely. It's given with the intent of making the recipient happy without any return expected. Well, it did make the recipient happy but it wasn't given freely and willingly. When we give a gift we think about it ahead of time, we have fun planning and thinking about how that *object* would be received by the person. Giving a gift makes you feel good inside. There's joy in seeing the recipients face when they open the gift. You know that you made someone happy. In the case of adoption, many times the mother knows that she made the adoptive parents happy but she didn't give freely. She gave out of desperation. Was she deceived into thinking that this would make the adoptee happy? Is the adoptee expected to be happy/grateful that he was adopted?

"But of course, “Thank you” isn't quite right, is it? Adoption isn't a special gift on a birthday or a kind favor from a friend. It's a beautiful union often born of two griefs—the grief of the birthmother on parting with her own flesh and the grief of the adoptive parents after years of struggles and loss. It's a blessing and a wonderful solution. But behind the beauty, there is grief. And curiosity."


I don't like that this little boy is adopted. I don't like that his mother wasn't given help to keep her son. I don't like that this adoptive mother thought it would be easiest to not have to deal with photos to send to his mother or updates to keep up with through the agency. That just screams of selfishness to me. I just can't see adoption as a "blessing and a wonderful solution". I do appreciate though that this adoptive mother recognizes and admits that this is a very difficult road for all involved. She's now realizing what this means to this little boy who is questioning his roots. She's opening her heart to understanding that his mother didn't give her a gift. She's giving thought to how his mother feels and knows that she's thinking of him. She's promising her son that when the time comes she will help him to find his mother.

My thoughts are with all of them.



Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Sharing stuff


Today I thought I'd make a list of links. Some of these are blogs and some are articles that caught my eye plus a bit of info.

Articles that make you shake your head.....

This article states..... "In honor of National Adoption Month,Adoption Network Law Center is holding a submission contest, where the winner will receive complimentary adoption services.  All submissions must be received by November 17, 2012 and the winner will be announced November 21, 2012."    To me this equates to - "enter to win a baby!"

This one says that "Gladney will host events such as a birth mother Thanksgiving luncheon Nov. 11 to recognize them for giving a gift to loving families."   I wish people would stop referring to children as presents to be given away.

Sadly too many people think like this..... “Yeah. We had our first kid a few months ago and my wife said she just hated to be pregnant, so we’ll probably adopt next time- avoid that whole pregnancy thing.”

It's all about the advertising. Buy your baby by using a FB page plus "business cards, window decals, YouTube videos, a craigslist ad and a website"


Some great blog posts happening this month and we're only 6 days in......

Lost Daughters - Adoption Stereotypes 

Lost Daughters - Blogging Adoption and Everyday Life

Assembling Self

First Mother Forum

To Tell the Truth - Please Stand Up

Adoption Truth

The Declassified Adoptee - Am I Adopted at Work?

Musings of the Lame - It's NOT About Vaginas

Out of the Fog

iAdoptee

More info....

Also want to share that I've reduced the price of Silent Voices for the rest of November. Here's the print edition and the Kindle edition.

This petition still needs signatures.   Department of Homeland Security: Demand states release original birth certificates to adoptees













Read more here: http://www.sacbee.com/2012/11/02/4957290/adoptive-families-adoption-network.html#storylink=cpy"

Monday, November 5, 2012

Adoption Lies


Now that I've gotten my hate list about adoption out of my system maybe this post will sound more reasonable to the folks who think that I'm just ranting because I was hurt. Do I have a biased outlook on adoption? Of course I do. I don't see how anyone can have their entire lives affected by something this huge and not have a view that's tilted in a certain direction. My hate list is mainly aimed at the infant adoption industry and it's exploitation of mothers and children.

Should I not talk about adoption then if my view is biased? Should what I have to say be discounted because of my particular experience? When I hear the words... "just because you had a bad experience", my jaw clenches, my back stiffens and my blood pressure rises. Yes, I had a bad experience. Does that mean that everything else I say about adoption should be ignored and dismissed as the ramblings of someone who is just bitter and angry?

Everything I experienced as a mother of adoption loss and as an adoptee colors my vision of adoption but I also have the sense to learn, read, study and listen to other mothers and adoptees. I don't speak for the entire world of adoption, I speak for myself and of my own experience. It's interesting though that my experience is remarkably similar to many thousands of others and their experiences. That in itself speaks volumes about why the dark side of adoption has to be exposed. Why else would there be so many groups and communities of people getting together online to share these life events with each other. We need each other's support. There's comfort in being understood and realizing that we're not alone, especially when the majority of people in our communities don't have a clue what life inside our side of adoption is really like.

I had a discussion one day with a dear friend who also happens to be an adoptive mother. I was saying that I didn't believe adoption was necessary, even in the case of children already available for adoption who are in the system and waiting. I told her I thought permanent legal guardianship was a viable alternative. Up until that day we had had many discussions about both of our histories with adoption and she has agreed with the work I do and my views on the subject. This one area seemed to be a sticking point though. She felt that the children needed something more than legal guardianship - they needed adoption to feel as though they were truly a permanent part of the family. I totally agree with her that we need to make a system where children have permanence and consistency within a loving family but I didn't see any reason a child couldn't have that within legal guardianship.

The word "adoption". This is where the trouble lies. Once we both got clear on what we meant by the word adoption then we realized that we really did agree. It was just that word that was getting in the way. In general when people think of adoption they think of a child joining a family, being loved, protected and cared for for the rest of their lives. Ideally, that's what would happen. But.... in our system the way it is, along with that possible scenario is the erasure of the child's entire history - family name, genetics, medical information etc... In too many cases, a child's name is changed without consideration for his natural family heritage. His legal documents are changed to become lies and the child is the one who is expected to "adopt" and adapt to a new family history. When broken down into it's most fundamental elements, adoption is nothing more than a lie. This is what I object to, not the idea of a child having a loving home.

A child can have the exact same thing - a loving, permanent home - without the lie of adoption. I don't believe the child will feel less safe or less loved if he's allowed to keep a connection with his original family. If he can't keep that connection physically then he should in the least be able to keep a family name if he chooses, be able to have all of his TRUE birth documents, be able to have a family history of his own in any form that's available to him. Encouraging him to stay connected to where he came from should always be part of that loving home he's placed in.

We have to get people to understand exactly what the word adoption means and what it does in order to change it. Adoption as it is today is nothing other than ownership. Dogs and cats should be adopted, not people.


Sunday, November 4, 2012

A Conversation

Reading this post - and please read it - recently brought back to mind a conversation I had with someone who had spent a few months working with a pregnancy center in my town. She felt that I was too negative about adoption. I'll post parts of the conversation here. There are a few small bits left out because of the personal nature of some of the comments but you'll get the gist of it. I started the exchange by asking a family member to ask this person if they had heard of a particular book and the following conversation was the result......

Me: Could you ask L if she's familiar with this book.....  The Missing Piece: Adoption counseling in Pregnancy Resource Centers by Curtis J Young

"Counselors must be trained to give women sound reasons that will counter the desire to keep their babies. One example is to reinforce the notion that it takes a strong, mature woman to place a child for adoption. Honestly addressing the issue of financial survival can be compelling as well. Counselors must communicate that adoption can be an heroic, responsible choice and that the child benefits tremendously ..." - From The Missing Piece: Adoption Counseling In Pregnancy Resource Centers by Curtis J. Young. Family Research Council (2000).

If this book and others like it are being used to train the people working in pregnancy centers then these people are also part of the coercion process. From what I've learned the industry also uses these centers to feed the demand for babies.

L:  "I have not heard of this book. I don't believe most (all) Christian pregnancy centers are part of the "adoption industry."  Adoption (here at least is only brought up if abortion is either stated as the mother's intent or in a situation where it is a very strong possibility due to multiple stresses.  It's not presented as an option because anyone thinks the mom might not be the best mom possible.  It is presented as an option when/if the mom sees abortion as the only option.  Also the pregnancy center here does not work with lawyers or "commercial" adoption services, but with a very well-screened group of 3 or 4 Christian=oriented adoption agencies.
Adoption is certainly a highly-charged subject.  In appropriate circumstances, it can be a great blessing for mom & child.  Our adoption advocate, who walks women who seek that option, thru the process had a daughter, who got pregnant as a senior in high school, who realized she was not prepared to parent at that time, and that her goals for herself and her baby were higher.  She placed her son for adoption in an open adoption situation & both families were there for the birth & they have maintained a close relationship ever since.  The daughter is his "tummy mommy" & there is much love all around."

"I believe in very many cases adoption IS "the loving option" and that "adoption" may be being a good mom.

I think it is very hard to go back 40 years later & try to second guess decisions made -- and the roles of everyone in those decisions.  I'm currently writing a talk for a prison retreat about choices == and one of the points in there, with which I totally agree, is that, in the end, unless threatened with some serious harm,  we are responsible for the choices we make.

Please don't tar & feather all adoption with the negative aspects of some, especially if you intend to publicize that.  That could be a death sentence for some of these babies."

Me: I must reply as I felt scolded by your email. You may not have intended that but that is certainly how it came across.

You mention the "adoption industry" in quotation marks as if you don't really believe that it's an industry. If this is not how you intended it to read then my apologies. In my view and the view of many, many others, it is indeed an industry. It is a multi-billion dollar a year industry that mainly serves the needs of adopters. It has become an industry that uses children as a commodity. It is there to provide children for needy adults as opposed to homes for needy children. If it were truly about helping children there wouldn't be such a huge number of older children in foster care whose parents have already lost their rights to them. there's a high demand for newborn babies, with 20-40 couples competing for each of those babies while those older children languish with no permanent home.

In a report submitted by M. Juan MigueL Petit, Special Rapporteur, to the UN States: "Regrettably, in many cases, the emphasis has changed from the desire to provide a needy child with a home to that of providing a needy parent with a child. As a result, a whole industry has grown, generating millions of dollars of revenue each ear, seeking babies for adoption and charging prospective parents enormous fees to process paperwork."

Take a look at these....
http://www.adoptionnetwork.com/adoptiveparents/domestic-adoption.shtml?ap_h
http://www.adoptionsfirst.com/BirthMothersSite/index.php

Unfortunately, these are not the exception. This type of thing goes on everywhere. In their own words, they are results driven, use aggressive birthmother outreach, can get you a baby in 12 months or less, can give that pregnant girl airfare, sightseeing tours, all expenses paid and even scholarships for college. How do you think agencies can make these promises to prospective adopting couples and charge them anywhere from 10-50,000 dollars? They have to convince women to surrender their children. Follow the money. 

"I think it is very hard to go back 40 years later & try to second guess decisions made -- and the roles of everyone in those decisions.  I'm currently writing a talk for a prison retreat about choices == and one of the points in there, with which I totally agree, is that, in the end, unless threatened with some serious harm,  we are responsible for the choices we make.
There may be all sorts of influences brought to bear, but the final choice is our own, no one else's."

Are you trying to tell me that I'm second guessing what happened to me 30 years ago? That I'm not taking responsibility for choices? You weren't there, I lived it and have been living it for 30 years. Coercion takes many forms, it's not just about the threat of harm. One option does not equal a choice. There has to be more than one viable option in order for a choice to be made. When a girl is in a position of being pregnant, no father present, no money, no job, no place to live because she's been told that she cannot bring the baby home, she is surrounded by people telling her that she's not good enough to raise her child because she's single, that her child deserves more than she can give, is not given any information about resources available to her to help her keep and raise her child, is told that she can't be seen in public once she starts to show, is shipped out of town to be hidden from view, is told it must be kept a secret from everyone, gives birth and is not allowed to hold or even see her own child at all because there's a big red sign over her bed with the letters BFA - Baby For Adoption - which alerts the hospital staff that her baby is to be kept from her even though, as her mother, she is legally the only person in the world who actually has rights to that child, when you are told to sign a legal document with no legal representation and no explanations, when you are not given copies of that document, when all this is happening to a naive, scared out of her wits young woman who is totally alone, I would say there was coercion going on. When your back is against the wall it's not a choice.

That's how it was. During the time I lost my daughter and for the decades previous to that women and girls were coerced out of their children by not only Catholic Social Services but many, many other agencies. We signed documents and were never given copies of those documents. We were lied to, told our babies would go directly to their adoptive homes from the hospital. Just recently I found out that my daughter was in a foster home for 7 weeks. I didn't name her because the adoptive family was going to name her, she was to go to them immediately. Instead my daughter was a nameless, parentless infant for almost 2 months. I was told she would go to a loving home with 2 parents. I had to lose her because I wasn't good enough since I was single. Her adoptive parents divorced when she was only 3 yrs old. Her father moved out of state and she only saw him for 2 wks out of every year. Mark and I married when Liz was 16 months old and have been married for 29 years. If she had stayed with me she would have been raised with her own mother and with 2 parents in the home. I had to give her up because I was single and she ended up being raised by a single mother anyway.

In the past the industry and society blatantly shamed us into surrendering our children, now they use much more subtle tactics. It hasn't changed much, only in techniques. The National Council for Adoption is the largest lobbying group for adoption agencies here in this country. Past president Tom Atwood in his letter titled Reviving the Institution of Infant Adoption from 2006 said "NCFA is expanding it's efforts to revive the institution of infant adoption through sound pregnancy counseling and public communications that promote infant adoption awareness and understanding." They need to revive it because the number of adoptions is down meaning revenue is down. It's a supply and demand issue. The demand is high for white newborns. Counseling needs to be worded carefully so that more mothers will surrender.

Let me be clear, no one is advocating that children stay in dangerous, abusive, or harmful situations - NO ONE. When a mother or her family cannot take care of children and they can't stay with anyone in their original family then they need to go to a good loving home. We all want children to be safe and loved. What I'm talking about here is the industry working to find babies for infertile couples. The standard now is pre-birth matching of pregnant girls and adoptive couples - this is coercive. Calling her a "birthmother" when she is still pregnant is coercive - it implies that a decision has been made, she is not a "birthmother" she's simply an expectant mother. Using the lure of open adoption, 80% of which close in the first year and are all in the control of the adopting couple, is coercive. Open adoptions are also not enforceable. Adult adoptees still have no access to their own original birth certificates in 42 states. Unless adoptees are reunited with their original families, they have no access to their medical history which can be a dangerous situation for themselves and their children, they can't in many instances even get a passport. They simply don't have the same rights as everyone else. That's wrong.

I could go on and on about what is wrong with adoption and the changes that need to be made. I'm working for family preservation and adoption reform. Adoption is incredibly damaging not only to mothers but also to children. The damage done by adoption is much more common than you think. It's not a loving option, it's an act of desperation. It's a permanent solution for a temporary problem. Circumstances change. People shouldn't lose their children because they are single or don't have enough money. When my daughter's adoptive parents divorced no one suggested that her amother give up the children. When Mark and I were going through rough times with unemployment, no one suggested that we give up our children to people who could provide more yet this is what's happening to young parents. It's happening because there's a need to fill for infertile couples.


Books to read: The Girls Who Went Away by Ann Fessler, The Primal Wound by Nancy Verrier

Excellent blog by an adult adoptee, she has many good articles, videos and information if you want to wander around her site.

http://www.declassifiedadoptee.com/
good posts....
http://www.declassifiedadoptee.com/2010/07/when-i-will-get-over-it.html  
http://www.declassifiedadoptee.com/2010/08/how-far-does-20000-go-youd-be-suprised.html

L: 
 "It is very hard to respond to your response.
First, I'm sorry if you felt I was scolding.  It was certainly not my intent.
However, I do truly believe that you see only one side of the adoption issue.  And I can see from what you've told me of your experience, how you would feel that way.
I refuse to believe that all adoption agencies are just in it for the money.  I think most of the Christian ones are non-profits.  Adopting parents do frequently provide most of the  biological mother's costs...She & the baby might not be able to survive without that assistance and it seems to me to be an acceptance of responsibility for the child before birth, just as you accept the expenses of your own child.
I know that there IS an "adoption industry", just as there is, even more so, an "abortion industry."
Abortion really is a permanent solution to a temporary problem...although, for a large percentage of women that choice later has serious aftereffects.
Adoption may seem similar to you.  For the expectant mother, it may be a permanent solution to a temporary problem also, but for the BABY it may well be a permanent solution that in its best interests.
This certainly does not apply to all cases.  I have a problem with adoptions that are primarily based on "what other people will think." Realistically, it is not the adoption industry's fault that that attitude exists.  It probably always will.  But it certainly isn't the only reason for adoption.

I just think you need to be open-minded enough to admit that in many cases adoption truly is a loving option.
It takes a very generous and loving heart to release your child to another IF you would truly prefer to keep the child, if your motivation is the well-being of the child.  And also realistically many young, single mothers are either unwilling or unable to parent.  Should adoption not be an option for them?  Do you think abortion is a better option? 

Yes, maybe society should be providing more resources for single, pregnant expectant mothers...but, at this time, they are eligible for Pregnancy Medicaid, Food Stamps, and WIC which is a great help, especially considering medical costs.  They also do get assistance in various ways from pregnancy centers with stuff like free parenting classes, diapers, clothes, etc. And there are several homes available for single expectant moms, just in the Ocala area alone.

My concern, again, is that if you paint the all adoptions in a negative way, women in troubled situations, will turn to abortion instead and then have to go through the rest of their life knowing that they killed their child. 
I know many would be put-off by your description of the industry, especially if they have never seen the good side of it...and they are extremely pressurable in these cases, looking for the EASIEST out.  It takes a lot of courage and generosity to carry a baby to term, knowing that you are going to release that child to another, even if you know you really can't or don't want to keep it.   Anything that makes it easier to rationalize that that choice isn't worth it, I believe, is harmful ."

Me: 

I'm not going to go into another long discussion, I just want to make a few short points.

I made it clear that I wasn't talking about ALL adoptions.

You are making the assumption that I only see and hear one side - this assumption is false.

You are making a connection between abortion and adoption where there isn't one. Abortion is a decision made in the first trimester about whether or not to remain pregnant. Adoption is a decision about whether or not to parent and shouldn't be made until after the child is born, after the mother is healed from the birth, done dealing with post-partum hormone changes, has spent time with her child and truly has the time to make a fully informed decision free from pressure.  

"Abortion really is a permanent solution to a temporary problem...although, for a large percentage of women that choice later has serious aftereffects." - I agree.

"Adoption may seem similar to you." - That is the most amazing understatement! The lifetime of grief suffered by first mothers is astounding and beyond comprehension to those who haven't experienced it. Mothers are at risk for PTSD, suicide, severe lifelong depression, substance abuse and a whole host of other problems. I think it's very difficult for people to grasp the extreme damage that is done to not only mothers but the children as well. And I'm talking about "normal" adoption situations, not the ones where a child ended up with an abusive adoptive parent. I know too many adult adoptees who had very loving adoptive parents and yet suffer from the damage done by being separated from their mothers and original families. Adoptees are also at risk for the same problems as the mothers. I think too many times people make the assumption that if a woman keeps her baby she'll end up abusing it. There are abusers that are natural mothers and abusers that are adoptive mothers. Adoptive families have the same issues as other families - divorce, financial hardships, illness, death, etc.... There's no guarantees anywhere. What I'm trying to do is prevent UNNECESSARY separations.

Simply because some adoptions work out fine for all involved doesn't mean we shouldn't try to change what's wrong with the system and help make it less painful.

L: "I'll be brief, too. The only side you are presenting is the bad side, so I didn't know if you saw any good side.
Women who have had abortions have all of the psychological & physical problems you mentioned of those whose place for adoption, plus the guilt of having killed  their child...especially substance abuse, depression, & suicide..
I DO believe that, in some cases, there is a connection between adoption & abortion in that, if adoption is not a viable possibility, many desperate women will choose abortion rather than attempt to deal with the situation.  Do you honestly believe that all women in problem pregnancies would choose parenting over abortion if adoption were not available?
I'm basically saying, as I keep repeating, don't literally, "throw the baby out with the bath water."
Don't try to destroy the whole adoption system because of the things you don't like about it.
I have only a few months experience at the pregnancy center, but, even in that short time, I talked to one young woman who saw abortion as her only possibility.  She didn't want an abortion but felt she did not want to parent either.  She'd never even considered adoption, but seemed relieved and willing to hear more.
Also abortion is not a decision just made in the lst trimester...it's legal right up until delivery in FL & expectant moms considering adoption can change their mind right up until that point also.  The possibility of adoption vs either parenting or abortion gives them almost 9 mos. to think about what they are going to do.

I know it is very hard to be entirely objective when you have been hurt, but, if you are going to be crusading on this subject, you need to be aware that the media is very happy to show only the bad side of things w/o ever balancing it with the good."

So that was the conversation with this friend of a family member. At this stage in the conversation I didn't feel like there was any point in going on with it. It seemed like we were at an impasse. No matter what I said she was going to come back with the usual rhetoric about abortion vs. adoption and I wasn't going to change her mind about anything. I don't know if I gave her something more to think about or if we were just both beating our heads against the wall. What are your thoughts?

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Childhood

Childhood
48x36
acrylic

One week after getting "the call" - the call telling me that my daughter had been found and she wanted contact with me - I received a package in the mail. It was a large envelope from Ohio. I was home alone at the time and it was a cool November day. The sun was shining and the world outside was moving along at it's usual autumn pace. I took the envelope to the dining room table and just sat there staring. It took a minute before I could open it. On the outside was the handwriting of the woman who raised my daughter. This was the closest I had come to my own child in 22 years. Although Liz wanted contact we were taking things slowly. We hadn't actually had any contact yet. I spoke with her adoptive mother on the phone the same night as "the call" but this was the first time I was holding something physical from my daughter's world.

It's hard to put into words what that feeling was like. My heart stopped, a sudden intake of breath, I was dazed. I was about to see pictures of the baby I longed for, the child I carried and loved but had never seen. The lump in my throat grew until I was choking. No more waiting. I ripped it open and there she was. Photo after photo, I saw my own eyes looking back at me. The resemblance to my own baby pictures was uncanny - pictures of her as a baby, a toddler, outside playing, sitting by the Christmas tree, celebrating birthdays, hair in pigtails, standing in her new shiny red galoshes, at a party with her cousins, opening gifts, blowing out more birthday candles, her first day of kindergarten, school photos, Easter Sundays, her prom and graduation, holding her own first born child.

I hungrily scanned the photos through my tears. I spread them out all over the table covering the entire surface. I looked at them again and again trying to memorize my daughter's childhood. I couldn't get enough of them, I wanted to inhale them, make them part of me somehow. I tried to be there. I tried to put myself in her life, experience what she experienced. It hit me. It would never happen. Her childhood was in front of me but I could never know it. I could only know it in 2 dimensions. The sounds and sensations, the physicality and emotion of it were going to remain in another world. For a small moment in time, in the past, we were connected as one being but we have 2 different family histories. She'll never know what it would have been like to grow up with her brother and sister or with me. I'll never know what her little girl voice sounded like or what it was like to have her come home from school and tell me about her day or comfort her when she got hurt. I'll never experience her bringing me the latest picture she drew or a valentine that her teacher helped her to make. I'll never feel the weight of her little body on my lap or her child arms wrapped around my neck in a hug.

All of those experiences belong to another family, another mother. I have my daughter in my life now. I am forever grateful for that but I will never experience her childhood. All of those years were taken from me and reunion doesn't repair that damage. In spite of today's gratitude I will forever be angry at a system that cares more for money and catering to the wants of adopters than the sacred bond between mother and child, a business that takes newborn babies away from their mothers by convincing young women that they're not good enough for their own children. My heart breaks for not only what was done to me and my daughter but for the millions of other mothers and children who were separated so cruelly in the past and so coercively in the present.



Friday, November 2, 2012

Have you been banned yet?



This is the official Facebook page for the NCFA. When it comes to adoption, they would like you to "consider the possibilities". I tried to tell them about the result of those "possibilities" but they banned me from the page - there's a big surprise. So, to balance out the copious amounts of rainbow colored propaganda that will be spewing forth this month from the NCFA and others, I have to post my own list.

What I Hate About Adoption

 1.  It separated me from my daughter for 22 years.
 2.  My daughter's original birth certificate is trapped in the state of FL.
 3.  My original birth certificate is trapped in the state of NJ.
 4.  Open adoptions close.
 5.  Open adoptions are not legally enforceable.
 6.  Shaming... my family felt the need to hide me from the rest of the world when I was pregnant.
 7.  My family felt the need to hide my own adoption from me.
 8.  Mothers of adoption loss don't get to speak their minds without being labeled angry and bitter.
 9.  Adoptees don't get to speak their minds without being labeled angry and ungrateful.
10. Most people believe I made a choice - willingly.
11. I'll never get my daughter's childhood back.
12. People are hurt by adoption every day.
13. The voices of mothers and adoptees are ignored or silenced and deleted.
14. Money is more important than people.
15. Coercion still exists.
16. Pregnant women are exploited by media for perceived entertainment value.
17. People actually watch the so-called entertainment.
18. Adopted people lose their ancestry.
19. Adopted people lose their medical history.
20. Adoption causes trauma.
21. Adoption begins with loss.
22. Adoption is not something you "get over". It's with you for life.
23. Reunion doesn't "fix" the trauma.
24. Adoption doesn't "fix" infertility.
25. Adoption is viewed as a "fix" for abortion.
26. Adoption is viewed as a "fix" for poverty.
27. Language is prettied up to disguise the truth in the form of "positive" adoption language.
28. Adoption is big business.
29. There are literally price lists of adoption situations babies.
30. PAPs are led to believe that they are "saving" a baby.

Thirty days in November and 30 reasons why I complain about adoption. If you feel so inclined, pick a thought from the list and let the NCFA know what you think about adoption. How long will it be before you get banned?

PS: I tried to find the credit for the lovely animated rainbow colored puke but couldn't find who did it. I couldn't resist using it so my apologies to whoever you are. :)




Thursday, November 1, 2012

Free today for the start of NAAM


To kick off the start of National Adoption Awareness Month I set the Kindle version of my book Silent Voices to be free for today. In this book I share the first 11 paintings and accompanying narrative poetry that I created about my experience with adoption.

So what is National Adoption Awareness Month?  Well, it began as Adoption Week in 1976 "to promote awareness of the need for adoptive families for children in foster care." That wasn't a bad thing. The thousands of children in foster care need families. Now the week has stretched into a month. A month of celebration according to these folks and many, many others like them.

How do they want to celebrate?

1.   One thing they would like you to do is donate to and support adoption foundations. Many agencies and foundations seek monetary support so they can give pregnant women scholarships for college IF they surrender their babies. One such foundation says....

"We proudly offer educational scholarships in deep appreciation to birthmothers who have chosen adoption for their children. They have enabled others to experience the joy of becoming parents and created futures, not only for those families, but also for their children."

I suppose they get around the whole coercion and "paying you for your baby" thing by saying that the mother isn't eligible for the scholarship until the adoption is finalized. They may have found a way to get around it legally (I still can't figure how it could be legal) but no matter how they maneuver it, it's coercion. If you want to participate in NAAM here's an alternative to supporting coercion:  help single mothers, mentor a young mom, help a mom with child care, job skills, supplies for her and her little one, donate to scholarships for single mothers. You get the idea.

2.   Another idea from the NAAM website is to write letters to your local newspapers to share the "blessings" of adoption. I can think of many things to call adoption, a blessing isn't one of them - not for me anyway. Instead, how about writing to your local papers and sharing the reality of adoption: coercion from past decades and coercion as it happens today, the falsification of legal birth documents, the trauma that mother and child face when being separated at birth.

3.   Ask your local library to display books about adoption. Instead of the ever popular "How to Adopt" books, ask them to display books like Ann Fessler's The Girls Who Went AwayThe Baby Thief, Rickie Solinger's Wake Up Little Susie

4.   This is a big one in adoption land. The powers that be want to be sure you use this time to learn about positive adoption language. Positive adoption language is nothing more than another tool in the coercion kit. Read more about it in my Language and Lures post. Adoption is a dirty business and pretty sounding language isn't going to clean it up.

5.   Another biggie in adoption is prayer. You can buy a bracelet to wear so you can be reminded to pray for your adoption. All the proceeds of the sale go to the folks at the foundation I mentioned earlier. I have a very hard time with this one. I often see couples on their blogs and pages praying and asking for others to pray for a child to be sent to them. To me this goes right to the heart of what's happened to adoption. In order for a child to go to these couples, the child has to suffer some type of trauma first whether the trauma comes from being taken from his mother at birth or suffering abuse at the hands of his own family and taken from them. Either way the child suffers. In praying for a child to come to them through adoption, they're actually praying for a child to suffer. Of course they don't see it that way. They're praying for their own desires to be met. There's nothing wrong with the desire to be a mother or father but there is something wrong with praying for that desire to be fulfilled when you know that the only way it can happen is if a child is harmed first.

So, if you pray, how about praying this month for mothers to find the resources they need in order for them to preserve their families.





Monday, October 8, 2012

The Shame of It



Early yesterday morning - ok, it was 9 something, that's early for a weekend - the phone rang. It was a co-worker of my hubby's calling to tell us about someone they know who's mug shot was one of the featured photos on our local newspapers website. We looked it up and there it was. It was one of 254 mug shots on the front page. You could scroll through the pictures of the many arrests made in the last 7 days. My stomach turned a little.

Later in the day I went to visit my son and I mentioned the phone call to him. He had the same feeling I did. We were both uneasy about it. He said that he didn't like the idea of mugshots being featured in the newspaper. He felt it really wasn't an advancement in human evolution. Honestly, I hadn't thought much about it until this conversation. At first glance, I thought, well having your mugshot out there for the world to see might work as a deterrent to people. No one wants to have a photo of themselves on one of their worst days shown to everyone online. So, people screw up, break the law, do something stupid - hey, they get what they deserve. I understand that line of thinking and I do think people should pay for the crimes they commit. There should be consequences for our behavior. After thinking about the mugshots for a while and trying to figure out why they bothered me so much I finally realized it was because of the public shaming. Do I think public shaming should be part of the punishment? No.

It seems to me that putting mugshots in the local newspapers is just a modern day version of putting people in the stocks or forcing them to wear a scarlet A. I'm seeing other forms of public shaming now. I occasionally see photos of teens or even younger children being made to hold signs that their parents made telling the world about their behavior. Judges in some areas are using public shaming as part of the sentence they hand down. The person convicted of the crime must stand outside holding a sign stating the crime they committed. Even in cases of past due child support one judge is giving people the choice of jail or holding a sign that says "I do not pay child support". The judge claims that it's not to humiliate or embarrass people but what else would you call that?

So, if public shaming would act as a deterrent, why does it bother me so much aside from the fact that it is a form of humiliation? It's too much of a reminder of the shaming mothers experienced when we became pregnant without a husband. Shame is what sent pregnant women to live with strangers in other cities or states. Families hid their own daughters because of the shame a pregnant girl would bring to them. Reputations would be ruined and people would gossip. Shaming was supposedly used to protect a girl from ruining her life but it just resulted in a different type of ruin. Even now, when we talk about adoption and it's consequences, people try to publicly shame us by replying to things we write with comments telling us we should have kept our legs closed and calling us names like slut and whore. We hear that we need therapy and we're bitter, angry people.

When we were shamed into hiding we not only lost our children but for many of us, our self worth was ravaged. For some it took decades before being able to come out of the adoption closet. Wouldn't a similar type of damage be done to the people who are publicly shamed for the offense they committed? Is this kind of treatment ethical? What does it do to the psyche of a 12 year old who has to hold up a sign in front of her peers? What does it do to not only the man who is forced to stand on a street corner and hold a sign that says he doesn't pay child support, but what does it do to his children when they find out? This kind of treatment of people does more than affect the offender, it affects the families of the offenders. People love to talk. They gleefully share the latest juicy gossip. Why should the entire family be subjected to this for one person's offense? How will the shaming affect the person's work life? Will they have trouble finding or keeping a job? Could shaming actually cause more problems in the long run by creating anger and rage in the person being shamed? Could more criminal behavior be the result?

Maybe judges and others in authority are being short sighted with this form of punishment. Although it does get attention it may be the wrong kind of attention. We're a culture of voyeurism. We love to know what's going on in other people's lives - watching reality TV, rubber-necking at accidents, gossiping about others, looking at the mistakes that others make so we can feel superior and other people's pain becomes entertainment as in the Oxygen show I'm Having Their Baby. Publicly shaming people is just fodder for our egos. I guess we really haven't evolved all that much.

The shaming we dealt with was the kind that kept us hidden. This kind of shaming throws people out there  to be mocked. I can't see how that would end well. Shaming didn't save us, I doubt shaming is going to save anyone else.



Saturday, October 6, 2012

Write or paint?


There have been many times recently that I've wanted to sit down and write a post. An article would pop up that struck a chord or I saw something that gave me an idea for a post, then I thought - ok, I'll do that later but right now I want to work on this painting. Well guess where all those ideas went - poof, disappeared into the recesses of the grey matter somewhere! I have got to keep a notebook with me at all times!

The last few weeks all my energy has gone into the visual end of production. Like you saw in my last post, the book of art and poetry is up on Amazon. Outside the studio and classes, that took the rest of my time. Now I'm working on the next group of paintings plus working on an exhibition proposal and a grant application. Someday I'd love to have this series of work in a traveling exhibition that brings awareness to the topic of adoption. I have many more ideas than hours in a day. Along with this series of canvases, another part of the exhibition that I started working on is a group of paintings on watercolor paper. They will be painted on both sides and hung freely, unframed, in the middle of the room so visitors can walk around them. Included in the collages will be handwritten stories from mothers and adoptees.  At the end of the room I'd like to have a blank sheet where visitors to the exhibition can write their own adoption stories and add it to the collection. As the exhibition travels, more people participate and the story of adoption grows.

If you or someone you know would be interested in having your story included in the collages that I'm working on now, please let me know. I'd love to include you. All you would have to do is hand write a part of your story that you would like to share and mail it to me. Your paper will actually be glued into the design.  The reason for this part of the series is to show some of the many hands and hearts of natural mothers and adoptees and how they've been affected by adoption.

The hand print above is a little piece of the next canvas. It's almost done so I'll be posting it soon.


Sunday, September 30, 2012

Something new

 

I want to share some info. I've put together a book of my paintings and poetry in the Silent Voices series and it's now available on Amazon. The Kindle version of the book is free for today only. Here's the description....

The story of adoption is seldom told from the natural mother's point of view. Eleven full color paintings with narrative poetry tell a story of loss, longing, power, powerlessness, surrender, grief, family and meaning. It represents the spiritual and physical connection that women have with their children and what happens when that connection is lost at birth. It's about children losing their identities and their histories, their families and their truth. It's a story lived and seen through the eyes of a mother who lost a child and a person who lost a paternal history. Each painting represents one moment in time, one aspect of living with adoption.



To get your free copy click here. If you miss the free copy and you're an Amazon Prime member you can borrow the book for free. I'd love to hear your thoughts......


Sunday, September 16, 2012

Sorry We're Closed




This is a must share post from Lorraine at First Mother Forum. She's talking about the situation with the adoption agency that closed and left thousands of mothers hanging with no information about their children. When I lost my daughter to adoption there was no option of open or semi-open adoption. If it was adoption, it was closed - that's all there was to it. You were severed from your child, sometimes for life. You go through your life not knowing if your child is alive or dead, healthy or sick, well cared for or abused. When I first heard about open adoption I thought, surely that must be much better for the mothers emotionally. Boy, was I wrong.

I don't know how anyone or any agency can claim that what they're doing is open adoption or even semi-open. I think semi-closed is probably more accurate. The openness only seems to be on one side. In so many cases the a-parents know the full name of the mother and where she is but the mother knows nothing about the a-parents. Only first names (if they're the real first names) are shared with the mother and she has no idea where they are. She also has no control over contact. They can talk about agreements in the "planning" stages but it doesn't mean a damn thing. How can anyone even pretend that a mother has any control over the situation when she has to depend on the agency to forward any correspondence to the a-family and has to wait to hear from the a-parents? Even if she has some contact info on the family she still has to wait for return calls, letters or texts. If they're failing to live up to their end of the bargain the mother has to be careful to not be too pushy for fear of pushing the a-parents away. There is always the risk of the a-parents closing the adoption and there's nothing she can do about it. Again, she has control how?

I read over and over again, the heartbreaking stories of mothers and fathers who sit and wait, who had open adoptions that closed. The wound of adoption is bad enough but then to feel the betrayal of everyone involved from the agency to the a-family after promises of contact have been made just means the wound gets ripped open over and over again with each picture that never arrives or letter that's never sent. With every "open" adoption that closes there's another mother who has lost her child all over again. Infant adoption shouldn't be happening the way it is anyway, but then to do that to the mother AND the child is just pure evil.


Wednesday, September 5, 2012

18 Years





Is it meant to be.....
   that a baby cries for the only voice she knows?
   that a mother grieves for a lifetime?
   that sisters can't share secrets?
   that brothers can't protect?
   that a child loses trust?
   that what's primal doesn't matter?
   that the wound is ignored?
   that birthdays become burdens?
   that her childhood is stolen from her mother?
   that the state says no to who she is?
   that lies become ordinary?
   that a baby can't have the milk made for her?
   that the mother is stolen from the child?
   that a child lives life wondering?
   that a mother lives life searching?
   that strangers hold while family sits empty?
   that children become chattel?
   that money matters more?

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Dealing with it.


Double Portrait, Lucian Freud           


I love this post on Lost Daughters by Karen Pickell. She's talking about dealing with grief. My best friend said to me one day that me and my family cry because it's Tuesday. She comes from a family that doesn't show emotion. It was always forbidden for her which I find very sad. At the same time I come from a family of criers. I cry over many things - commercials on tv, books and movies, compliments, anger, you name it - I can cry about it.

I'm a step-parent adoptee along with being a mother who lost a child to adoption. I know about dealing with grief. I've been living with the grief of losing my daughter for the last 32 years. It was a grief that had to be hidden and swallowed on a daily basis. I had to pretend that I had 2 children instead of 3. I had to pretend that everything was just peachy with my family even though becoming pregnant while single was the ultimate perceived shame upon my family and my daughter's adoption was the result of that shame.

What Karen's post reminded me of were the times when I was a little girl and my parents would find me crying for what they thought was no reason. I heard these stories for years, stories about me as a little child, sitting in front of the tv just crying. They told me they would ask... "why are you crying?" The joke was when I would say... "I don't know". They thought that was funny. They thought it was funny that a small child of 4 or 5 years old who was sitting there crying her eyes out, didn't know why she was crying. I've often wondered if the crying had something to do with the loss of my father even though from the stories I heard, there wasn't much to lose. Who knows. I just can't imagine having one of my children crying like that and not being concerned about the cause. Apparently I was suffering from some sort of upset but couldn't verbalize it. Did I somehow know that my father didn't want anything to do with me, even though he was gone when I was a baby? Was that affecting me or was it just something happening in the house that day that bothered me. From what I understand it wasn't an isolated incident. I guess I cried a lot as a kid. What I want to know is... why.

I learned a lot about my adoption experience of grief by going through a completely different type of grief process. I was extraordinarily close to my grandmother. In her last decade she lived very close to me and I saw her nearly every day. Her last weeks were spent in a nearby nursing home and I would sit with her for hours. We talked about everything under the sun including the fact that she would be leaving us soon. We cried a lot, we held each other's hands, the grieving had begun. She grieved with me about her leaving. When she died I was sitting on one side of her bed holding her hand while my mother held her other hand. The rest of the family was gathered around the room. As she took her last breath I felt peace. Of course I cried through the following days of dealing with the funeral and all that entails but I also laughed. We all had many good stories to tell about our lives with her. Of course I still miss her but now I can look back and think of her with fondness and love.

Losing my daughter and losing my grandmother were both devastating to me but there was a difference. I was allowed to openly grieve one loss but not the other. Although the people in my family cry easily, my pregnancy and shame meant that there could be no grieving about adoption. How could I grieve for her if no one is supposed to have known about her? As far as the loss of my father, how could I grieve something that I was too young to recognize or understand? For that matter, how could I grieve something that no one else even considered to be a loss for me at all?

What I do know from these grief experiences is, whether it's hidden or unrecognized, grief has to come out at some point. It has to be dealt with eventually. In the loss of my grandmother, the grief was hard but eventually there was peace because the pain was allowed to happen. When it's allowed it's easier to move through it. In the loss of my daughter the grief would explode out of me every year around her birthday. I could only swallow so much during the course of the year before it would spill over and her birthday was the catalyst. I then thought that reuniting with her would end the pain but what I found was, in meeting her, there was another layer of grief to come to the surface - it was the realization of all that I missed in her childhood and the anger at what was done to both of us. When I saw the photos of her growing up it hit me like a ton of bricks.

Everyone's process is different and we all need to do these things in our own way. For me, going through one type of grief gave me a much better understanding of the other kind, the kind that had to be hidden. In thinking about how I handle life situations, it's good to realize that maybe it's the grief that has to be dealt with and it's not that I'm somehow defective.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Mending



The Mending Project is an installation and performance art piece by artist Beili Liu. I discovered this project from a website called This is Colossal. It's an amazing website that offers the most creative, unusual, artistic, outrageous and ingenious work out there. It's become one of my favorite places to visit and share. In perusing the site today I came across Beili Liu's performance piece and was struck by a connection I felt with her work and with the work that I do relating to adoption.

If you go to the post about her project you'll see a video where she talks about her piece and what it means. She talks about difficult situations in life, fears we encounter and uncertainty in the society we live in. Traditionally, mending and sewing has been considered women's work and the mending that she's doing is about making something better, "bringing something smaller together to form something larger". When we face difficulty, she says... "The best thing we can do perhaps is something very simple and if we can do it with persistence and calmness, some change can happen." That is the line that resonated for me.

What we do is women's work. No one else can speak to what we've been through. Only women give birth, only women share their bodies with another human being and know what it feels like to feel another person move and grow within them. Only women know what it is to be connected to another human on a cellular level. Only women know the kind of primal grief that there is to experience when she loses the small being that she nurtured in her body. The pain of loss happens whether it's the pain of a miscarriage or the pain of losing a child to adoption. As women we feel this pain. It's a deep and cutting pain.

What do we do with it then? In some cases we spend years grieving. We deal with it in the quiet moments. We try to maintain a semblance of order. We focus on the outward things, the things that seem to matter. We hide. We pretend. We put on a brave face. We lie. We say that we're okay. Are we really? No, of course not. There is no "OK" in the world of losing our children.

What struck me with this artist's work is the idea of keeping it simple and proceeding with persistence and calmness. There's something to be said for the idea of making change happen in the slow and steady work of getting the word out there, moving forward with the slow and steady work of continuing the Silent Voices series. It's important that we continue with the slow and steady work of contacting advertisers about the horrendous show "I'm Having Their Baby". It's crucial that we continue to talk about what adoption did to us and what adoption did to our children. We have to keep letting people know that it's not all rainbows and sunshine, that there is real damage done in the world of infant adoption. We have to tell people about the corruption, greed, selfishness and profit that continues to separate mothers and their babies.

It's slow and steady work. It's many small gestures, many small comments. It's persistence. It's staying calm in spite of the fear. It's remaining cool in spite of the heat of battle. It's holding back the tears in spite of the choke hold they have on you. It's staying calm in spite of the rage you feel - the rage of being taken advantage of, the rage of being used as a vessel for someone else's wants, the rage of being used for someone else's monetary gain.

We take small steps. We must be tenacious. All these small steps will lead to something larger. They will lead to change and something better. We have to keep on talking about what we've been through. We have to keep on pushing. It's only through the recognition of the past that we can make the future better.


Sunday, August 12, 2012

Imbalance


Imbalance of Power

Small and fragile the nest sits
waiting for life, leaning and pushing,
releasing the crowning glory.

It's not to be kept.
The constellation approves.
The powerless see
 the powers that be.

Privilege and influence are the controls,
in the cool shade of an industry disguised. 
Under the force of decades,
the impotent surrender.

Twigs snap, hearts break.
The powerless see 
  the powers that be.