Friday, January 6, 2017

Differences

This week is a triggering week for me.  It's tough.  I was in foster care originally and the paperwork was dealt with December 31st.  My adoptive parents were skiing and it was a holiday weekend, so they didn't get the call they had been chosen until January 2nd.  They have five days to prepare for me and somehow with the help of all their friends and family, they were able to get ready for a baby in five days.

I've always known this part of my story, but I've never appreciated it as much as I do this year.  Saturday is my Adoption Day, and Sunday will be my own baby shower for my little one.  My experience has been so different from my mother's in almost every way.  We've been planning and figuring things out for months.  I was able to register, to tell my hostess my preferences (I'm really not into shower games personally and she agreed to keep them out), and to anticipate knowing what was going on.  My mom didn't have any of that.  She didn't even know she was getting a baby.  They had five days to get everything they needed, pick a name, and prepare to be parents.  The eight months I've had so far seems like it's been too quick, so I can't even imagine 5 days.

This year I miss my mom the most at this time of year.  I've never enjoyed celebrating my Adoption Day because let's be real, I lost a lot that day.  I've been more neutral about it the past few years because I've chosen to view that day as the day I gained my family.  I mean, I lost everything pretty much the day I was born.  The paperwork was signed a different day that I didn't know about until a few years ago so that was never a "big thing" for me.  And then we bacame a family in January.  I was over 2 months old at that point.

I've recently been watching the home video from that day.  My parents lived in a two family at the time and their friend lived upstairs.  He videotaped the entire day (with commentary) and I have to say it's amazing to have now.  As hard as it can be to watch at times, I'm so glad that I have it.  My parents were so thrilled and amazed to have me as their daughter.  It makes a girl feel loved!  And my entire family comes to the house to welcome me.  Other than a few insentive comments (cough cough looking at YOU grandma!), for the most part people are really respectful and it's nice to see how happy they are to welcome me to the family.  And it's funny to watch my dad almost drop me at one point.  And so many of the people in that video are gone at this point.  It's a nice memory to have even if I don't remember it first hand.

So I'm stocking up on tissues and will most likely hunker down for Saturday so that by Sunday I'm close enough to happy again.  And someday I'll share that video with my daughter, who hopefully will have a much different video of her first day home (is it sad that I already have the camcorder charged and ready to go?).  But some things will be the same, the love and welcoming she will recieve as she joins our family.

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

I was warned

I was warned.  So many people told me how lucky I was because I did reunion young.  At 22, I was younger than most when I found my natural mother and entered into reunion.  My biological sisters were at my wedding.  I've met many members of my natural family before I even hit 30 and I didn't have to wait until I was in my 40's or 50's.  And I have the benefit of having a lot of adoptee sisters, my fellow Lost Daughters, to help me through some of the stings of adoption that I had in my future, mainly children.

I heard so much good advice over the last seven years or so.  I heard about how it would hit me in strange ways.  That the delivery room would be a challenging place for me.  How I'd lose it at small things.

I never thought this would all hit before I even made it to the hospital.  I nearly broke down twice during childbirth class.  I had to fight back tears on the maternity floor tour.  It all seemed like too much, so I hired someone to be there for just me and provide emotional support.  I'm so lucky to be able to do that.

Giving birth without my mom is hard.  I miss her everyday and she would have been so thrilled to be a grandmother.  We would have had to work through some things I'm sure, but she would have been my solid support no matter what.  So not having her is rough.

And then comes the fun adoption stuff.  My natural mother never looked at me after I was born.  She asked them to take me away right away.  She never held me.  I was in a nursery for a few days before I was sent off to foster care.  The only love I got as a newborn was from people I'll never know, mostly nurses and a foster mother I've never met.

Being told "Skin to skin is amazing and you have to do it for your baby" and "Breastfeeding is the best way to feed your baby" and "You need to bond with your baby every day" has been challenging for someone who never had any of those things as a baby.  When they mentioned that my baby would be taken to a nursery for some tests shortly after birth I wanted to scream.  I don't want my baby to be like me at all.  I don't want her with strangers, I want her with ME and my husband at all times, never questioning our love for her or that we'll be there for her.

So we had a talk.  I'm giving up my husband while we're in the hospital.  Our daughter will be his #1 priority no matter what.  Where she goes, he goes.  He'll stand there and watch them do the hard tests that can be "a lot" for new parents while I'm recovering.  He'll stay with her to make sure that she's never alone with strangers who don't love her the way that a parent does.

My baby will have everything that I can give to her, especially a loving and nurturing first few days of her life.  She won't have "First Christmas" ornaments with the wrong year because she was in foster care.  Actually, she'll have one "First Christmas" ornament with the wrong year because my grandmother gave me one this year while she's in the womb.  But that's OK ;)  And most importantly, she'll know that she's been loved from day one.  And that's the important thing.

Sunday, January 1, 2017

2017 - The Year I Get My Original Birth Certificate


Today is no ordinary New Year's Day for me. I was adopted in New Jersey. This year, I get to see my original name on my original birth certificate, which until now was illegal for me to possess. 

For the non-adopted, access to my original birth certificate may seem incidental. I am in reunion, I have all the information about my parents, my history, my story. But, I don't need the birth certificate to find my family; I need it to find myself. The birth certificate feels like a treasure map to my original self. The original self that was covered up, locked away and altered to be something more palatable to society. 

But now I will be able to own my name, my origin, my self. 

Truth be told, caring about my birth certificate is a relatively new thing for me. It wasn't until being part of the adoption blogging community that I learned to question the amended birth certificate. I hadn't thought about how it's the only legal document that is a purposeful lie, that the facts of a person's birth are fictionalized. I hadn't thought about how every other person, other than the adopted, has the right to their birth certificate and the information it contains. I hadn't thought about how changing the facts about my birth tells me that who I am is shameful, and tells me lying to protect others is more important than my truth. I started to see it as a social justice issue, one of equal rights. 

My birthmother told me she named me Petra. Power is my birthmother's last name, but she was told she should put a false last name for me and so put in "Petersen," as my last name, so I'm not sure which name is actually on there. 

But while I was told that my name was Petra, I've never seen the official birth certificate. I tried once, just to see what would happen, explaining that I was in reunion and that no one in my family objects to me having access to my birth certificate. I was still denied it. It wasn't a surprise, but the absurdity of the denial stuck with me. 

My name has always been a central part of my reunion story. I was given the name Cathleen by my adoptive parents. What they didn't know is that my birthmother's name is Kathleen. When I met my birthmother I found out my original name - Petra, the feminine of Peter. What she didn't know was that my adoptive father's name was Peter. Their naming of me bound me in a loop of connection between birth and adoption. My names have represented the two parts of who I am: Cathleen, the adoptee who has lived the life I was put into; but also Petra, the first grandchild of the Power and Wozniak families who was sent away and shrouded in secrecy. 

Soon, I will know my original name, and have proof of the existence of my original self. 

(If you want to read more about the adoptee's right to original birth certificates, my fellow adoptees have done amazing writing on the subject: fellow Lost Daughter, Amanda, did a brilliant job laying out the whole amended birth certificate debate in a post on her blog, The Declassified Adoptee. There is a great post written just a couple weeks ago in Dissident Voice by Doris Michol Sippel, and I'm always learning about the adoptee's right to their birth certificate from fellow Lost Daughter and Adoptee Survival Guide editor, Lynn Grubb - her post in her blog No Apologies for Being Me is just one example. There are a ton more, of course, but that's enough to get you started!)

Friday, December 30, 2016

It's been a while

This past year was interesting.  It started out rough for me.  I was dealing with some personal family stuff and it was just a lot to handle.  Slowly as the year progressed, we were able to work through so much of it and move forward a stronger family unit than ever.  Which was a great thing!

March was a rough month in particular because days after the anniversary of my mother's death, I lost my mentor.  Losing her at that time was devistating, especially because we didn't see it coming.  She was a third grandmother to me and I couldn't have survived the last five years without her love and support.  It took me a long time to recover from that loss, and there are still days when the grief washes over me like a rouge wave.  That's the thing about grief; it manages to catch you unaware months and years after the initial loss.  It never truly goes away.

Fast forward to April, when we took an amazing vacation.  The highlight of the spring as far as I'm concerned.  It was great to reset and prepare for the rest of the year, and a great way to reconnect with my amazing husband.

And then we got to June.  Oh June, you amazing month.  Right before Father's Day I got to tell my amazing husband that next Father's Day is going to be a little more special for him.  And pretty much right after that morning sickness yuckiness hit with a vengeance.  Worst.  Summer.  Ever.  Most of my summer was spent on the couch trying not to throw up with the AC blasting and an ice pack on my head.  Plans were canceled, we left weddings early, and I had to give concert tickets away.  It was a fun time.

But then we managed to make it through until the fall.  And now here we are post holidays (finally) getting ready to meet our little one in the next few months, whenever she decides to make her grand entrance.  And man oh man the adoption issues are in their glory right now.  Full on adoptee panic attacks are not fun.  Luckily my amazing husband has been around long enough to get that he's going to have to make some adjustments to make me happy and not freaking out.  It's fun.

So that's been my year for the most part.  At this point I'm trucking along, hoping for all the good things to come, and working my way through lots of scary things that the hormones like to exaggerate.  A good therapist really helps...  To Be Continued.

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Ready for 2017

2016 was a rough year for a lot of us at Lost Daughters, for a variety of reasons.  We're still working through figuring out how we're going to move forward, but I know most of our writers and editors haven't been around as much.

Sometimes, people need to regroup and recharge.  That's my plan anyway for 2017.  This new year is going to bring a lot of changes to me personally and I can't wait to move past 2016 on to a brighter future focusing on all the good things that are to come.

I wish peace, love, and acceptance to those who need it, and strength to all of us.  Hold on, just a few more days and we'll get a new beginning.

Monday, December 26, 2016

Fragments and Forgotten Memories

My Soul
Come To Life
When I Hear
Something in Korean
My Heart and Soul
Starts Singing
I Feel Happy yet Sad
The Smells
From Korea
Feels Like Home
To Me

source


My Soul
Longs
For Me
To
Come Back
I Once Was
Born But
Forced to Forget
Everything
About Myself

My Heart and Soul
Has Not Forgotten
This Is Why
I Must Return
My Happiness
Could Be
In Korea
Have To Find
That Missing
Piece

source




Before I Was Born
Even Created
There Was A Woman
I Was Supposed
To Have Called
Mother
Just As
There Once
Was A
Proud Man
That I Never
Got Know
As My Father

Older Sisters
Whose
Voices And Laughter
I Never Got
To Hear
An Entire Life
I Was Erased From

Memories Soon
Turned In To
Fragments
Suddenly Forgotten
A Blank Space
In It's Place


source