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Adoption and Child Separation at the Border

On June 1, 2018 Rebekah Henson published an important thread on Twitter critiquing the hashtags #FamiliesBelongTogether and #Ke...

Monday, October 29, 2012

Adult Adoptee Centric Blogging Prompts for NaBloPoMo and National Adoption Awareness Month are Here!

November is National Adoption Awareness Month.  The month was originally a state-based initiative meant to raise awareness about the legally-adoptable children in foster care.  Once recognized as a National holiday, NAAM has deviated from its original intentions.  Large adoption stakeholders, such as agencies and other adoption facilitators, have begun using this month as a way to market all of their adoption services as well as celebrate the institution.  Rather unscrupulous marketing has taken away the focus from the needs of kids in foster care, overshadowed the needs of those who have already experienced adoption, and spread misinformation about the institution itself.

November is also NaBloPoMo, a month where brave bloggers everywhere dedicate themselves to making one blog post per day, throughout the month of November, to support the art of writing.  In the adoption bloggosphere, many adoption bloggers use this month to put the focus back on the needs of foster kids, bring post-adoption needs and realities back into focus, and correct some of the misinformation about adoption that is spread during this month.

"Writer's block" is a challenge to those who attempt NaBloPoMo.  Various websites offer writing prompts; however, these prompts often do not address the needs of topic-specific blogs.  This keeps some adult adoptee bloggers from blogging during NAAM/NaBloPoMo. Lost Daughters wanted to change this.

Our co-editor, Jenn, was so kind as to put together a list of blog prompts, suggested by our authors, for NaBloPoMo and National Adoption Awareness Month.  Feel free to do the entire list or suppliment your own blogging plans with our prompts.  You can let everyone know you've joined the Lost Daughters NaBloPoMo/NAAM effort by using our icon.

Friday, October 26, 2012

What I'm Doing to Help Orphans

A Facebook friend who is a pastor just updated their status:
  
Tomorrow is Orphan Sunday - an appropriate time to ask ourselves, "What am I doing to fulfill James 1:27?"

I commented that I am helping friends who deal with post-adoption issues as well as getting help for my own. 

I'm sure it wasn't the warm and fuzzy answer they were expecting. In fact, what followed was...silence. It stopped the previously active comment thread in it's tracks. Nobody knew what to say once I threw a verbal cup of ice water in the mix. Oops.

In the circles I move in, (among Evangelical Christians and vocational ministers) most people wouldn't know a post-adoption issue if it thumped them on the head with a Bible. When they think of the word adoption they don't even associate it with words like trauma, grief or therapy. They think of words like miracle, gift, and family. 

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

The Essential Adoptee Question: Who Made Me?

Where do babies come from? ... A quintessential childhood curiosity.

Heck, at her insistence, I’ve already had to explain to my unsqueamish (biological) four-year-old the important distinction between a stomachdigests food, and a uterusgrows a baby.

As a mom, I enjoy reminding my kids that they used to be tiny, tiny beings inside me; that Daddy and I made them.

Perhaps biological children are secure in the knowledge of their origins, so they simply want to know about the process, the details.

Do adoptees ask different questions?

Trying in vain to fill the void

As a child, I certainly thought I knew where babies came from.

Clearly, you get a baby from a birth mother, and it has something to do with her “loving the baby enough to give it up.”

Instead, I wondered, Who made me?

Being adopted defined my sense of self, and yet the severing from any connection by the State of New Jersey to who I was before I was three weeks old left a hole in this identity.

As I entered pre-adolescence, I couldn’t put the emptiness into words and felt guilty for not being grateful to my mom for adopting me. We never went to counseling or socialized with adoptive families. I was left without any point of reference that others had been through the same thing.

Hoping to recognize myself, to find the person who made me, I stared into each late-twenties female face I saw. It didn’t occur to me that the probability of seeing her at places like Laurel Mall in Prince Georges County, Maryland, was slim.

Testing my adoptive momWould she give me back?

Late at night, I often worked myself into crying fits about meeting my birth mom. My adoptive mom tried to comfort me, but really, what could she say? She would hug me and leave me to cry myself to sleep.

I wondered about my self-worth. Literally. I accused my parents of buying me. Even if they just covered hospital expenses for my birth, I insisted that they paid money to get me, like a slave. 

The unspoken, subconscious test was this ... Do my adoptive parents also “love me enough to give me away”?

I tried to hide my curiosity about my birth mom but would nevertheless explode in anger. My adoptive mom was unable to connect with me emotionally, to talk through my feelings so that both of us could understand them and work through them.

Mom was much better with action.

The Letter



As I entered fifth grade, she suggested we contact the adoption agency for more information about my biological family. Several weeks later, we received the two-page response I mentioned in my last post, My Adoptee Family Tree is Actually an Orchard.

The Letter, as I came to call it, had no pictures or identifying information, but I cherished it.

At seventeen, my birth mom stood five-foot-nine and was a slim 130 pounds (when not pregnant). Her four siblings were also tall and thin. Everyone was healthy, including her parents. My birth mom took ballet classes, but had to stop at age thirteen when her parents got divorced. She got all As and was a varsity cheerleader.

The relief I felt was palpable.

The Letter became my life guide

Picturing myself growing up to be the same height as her, same build, same weight, The Letter offered concrete information as to who I was supposed to be.

Ballet, check. Straight As, done. Future high-school cheerleader, no problem.

I never imaged my birth mother moving on, going to college and having a successful career, becoming a wife or a mother to another child. In my adolescent mind, she was a beautiful seventeen-year-old, stuck in time.

My plan became clear: I would do my very best to emulate her, so that when my records became magically unsealed at age eighteen, I'd be sure she'd be proud of me.

To be worthy of knowing the person who made me, I had to be perfect.

*  *  *  *  *


Read more about Laura's adoptee perfectionism in her memoir, Adopted Reality, available on Amazon. Connect with Laura @ adoptedrealitymemoir.com

Still Lost

The world seems gray, my soul is blue.
I hid it well, you never knew.
My smile was thin and waned quite fast.
You turned away my fate was cast.
The God's of hope they've passed me by.
This deep lament, I can't deny.
Without a word, without a sound.
I stand here lost, and never found.

Fourth adoption court petition denied after 14 years of requesting identifying information along with request for contact with my biological parents.  I am 53 years old and still have no names, no cities, no states, and pretty much no information worth anything for searchers to use to find anyone in my biological family.  Tracks were covered very well obviously so the truth about my biological family would never be discovered.  I am beginning to believe my natural parents will die with the secret that I exist, and I will never be able to find my siblings I have been told I have somewhere out there.

I'll never stop searching.  I don't think I would know how anyway.  Three more years until I can petition the court again, and I will.  Just to keep knocking on that invisible door to somewhere that I come from.

My heritage has been my grounding, and it has brought me peace. ~ Maureen O'Hara

Monday, October 15, 2012

Paradox (by Lynn Grubb)



While reading a book by one of my favorite authors, I was struck by what he said about paradox.  Paradox is:

 “a statement contrary to common belief, or one that seems contradictory, unbelievable or absurd but may actually be true in fact.” (M. Scott Peck). 

He goes on to say:

“If no pieces of reality are missing from the picture, if all the dimensions are integrated, you will probably be confronted by a paradox. When you get to the root of things, virtually all truth is paradoxical.  Thus, to seek the truth involves an integration of things that seem to be separate and look like opposites when, in reality, they are intertwined and related in some ways.  Many things in life appear simple on the surface, but are often complex; however not complicated.”  

“To understand paradox ultimately means to be able to grasp two contradictory concepts in one’s mind without going crazy.  It certainly is a skill of mental acrobatics to be able to juggle opposing ideas in one’s mind without automatically negating or rejecting the reality of either idea.”

 Adoption falls into this category of appearing simple on the surface (“Oh how wonderful! They adopted!”) to much more complex when you actually live it.  It inspired the following poem:

Adoption is 

a concept, a belief and an action
A lack of choice and being chosen
A legal solution to a spiritual problem
A spiritual solution to a legal problem
A loving choice and a thrusting upon
A nurturing touch yet a stealing away

it saved me; yet damaged me  
Provided for me, yet took away from me
Blessed me yet cursed me
Gave me a name and took a name
It creates a chance for love to grow and a door for misunderstanding
It creates a family out of strangers and strangers out of family
It inspires and teaches and it wounds and damages

Adoption is

My friend and my enemy
A thorn in my side and my shining light
A rainbow and a gravestone
Acceptance and rejection
Truth and lies
Known and unknown
Love and hatred
a casting away and returning

Adoption is

Not the excuse or the cause
Not perfect or evil
Not the reason or the scapegoat
Not who I am or who I am not
Everything and nothing

(copyright Lynn Grubb; may reproduce with permission)


Thursday, October 11, 2012

The importance of Doe v. Sundquist

When researching adoption law, I was reading about one of the most important cases to adoptees in the fight to have our own birth records. There are others; however, I believe the Judges in this case really “got it” so I’ve dedicated this blog to the case of Doe v. Sundquist.


From 1951 to 1996, sealed adoption records were available in Tennessee only upon court order that disclosure was “in the best interest of the child or of the public.”  Tenn.Code Ann. § 36–1–131 (repealed).  

The following statute went into effect  July 1, 1996:

(A) All adoption records shall be made available to the following eligible persons:

(i) An adopted person who is twenty-one (21) years of age or older

(ii) The legal representative of [such] a person

(B) Information shall be released only to the parents, siblings, lineal descendants, or lineal ancestors, of the adopted person , and only with the express written consent [of] the adopted person


Several days before this law was to go into effect, Plaintiffs (birth parent, adoptive parents and adoption agency) filed a lawsuit and requested an injunction (to stop the law from taking effect).  The Plaintiffs stated they had a right to privacy and that the new Tennessee law violated that right. The Court disagreed and stated:

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

My Overtime Mind: Who's in Charge of this Reunion?

Your phone call takes too long to be returned. Your letter goes unanswered for an unnerving number of weeks. You concoct exaggerated scenes inside your overtime mind, clamoring to make sense of it all, to somehow feel sense of it all.  
Ah, reunion.  
-- Marcy Wineman Axness, The Second Rejection

Ah yes, reunion, with those crazy-making spaces between communication. For me, the cycle runs like this:

My biological father sends me a brief e-mail; I experience elation; I draft an oh-so-clever reply and hit send; I wait for a reply, and wait, and wait; my mood begins to drop; I become convinced that I will never hear from him again; I draft a long, crazed e-mail in my head asking him to confirm or deny my fears because I JUST HAVE TO KNOW; I decide to wait a little longer before sending said crazed e-mail because I don't want him to think I am, you know, crazy. Just when I'm about to abandon all hope, his name pops up in my inbox or on my caller-ID list. And the cycle begins again.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Letting Go Or Holding On


By Jaesun


I do believe in giving people second chances most of the time but not always and in this case I’m prepared to make an exemption and give my birth family another chance. The truth is I am not ready for just saying goodbye, not when I still want to have them in my life. Our relationship and contact seemed to have changed dramatically ever since my second trip to Korea. They no longer sent me short Korean emails, stopped to answer my emails and told me that they would write me later but they never did. Now I know why, someone  might have given me a likely explanation as to why our communication suddenly just stopped.



 I continued sending Birthday cards and gifts as a token of appreciation or so I thought. I probably should have realized something was wrong or had made them loose interest in me when I recently was met with just empty promises that seemed to mean nothing and that never were fulfilled.  I think I choose to ignore all of that even though I probably sensed something was wrong. But I think I was too na├»ve and blind sighted to really see what had happened, because I still loved them and therefore I think I choose to ignore those small hints of bad gut feelings that I had. I ignored them because I didn’t want to acknowledge them or the fact that something had changed between us. If I never did admit it then maybe everything would all be resolved. I know I was in denial but it was a letter from an extended family member that suddenly forced me to realize the truth.

I know that I recently said that I would like to stop all contact with birth family because of their demands for money and expensive label gods. Who could honestly blame me for that, I think anyone would have reacted the same way as I did. But the thing is that I have invested 10 years’ time of my life in this process with my birth family. So I feel like it would be too easy to just call it quits so I have decided that they deserve a second chance. So I have written another letter, I need to get it translated of course because my Korean knowledge is not that good yet. I could of course contact the social worker at the agency and ask them to do the translation. But I fear that they will probably censor my letter and then the meaning and feelings would be lost in translation.

This could either go in two ways; they could decide to not answer my letter at all, continuing to shun me out from having contact and ultimately keeping me from having contact with them.  Or they could actually be glad to hear from me again and maybe they will realize and appreciate that I for once told them of my feelings. Maybe it is time to put in yet another gear in this reunion process, one that could call for honesty without the silent messages. Despite how things will progress from this point I do believe it time for me to start another chapter in my life with or without my birth family.

Maybe my adoption has created an invisible yet indestructible wall between me and my birth family. The Confucian pirinciples so central in every Koreans mind and thought is unfortunately something I will never fully understand. I ask myself if it is possible to build a bridge of understanding, acceptance and love or if any effort of that sort would be too little to late... I have a hunge that it might be the latter but I might still get my happy ending, eventually... But it will probably have to be something I have to go out and look for myself...