Saturday, November 3, 2012

NaBloPoMo Day 3: Blogging Adoption and Everyday Life

Today we’re continuing with Day 3 of NaBloPoMo here on Lost Daughters and the subject today is Blogging Adoption and Everyday Life.
The question posed to me as the writer assigned to this post is: How is blogging about adoption different from blogging about other topics? Do you maintain an non-adoption blog on top of adoption blogging? If so, how do they differ?

I have maintained a blog for the past seven years where I write daily. That blog is not  adoption related, at all. 

I have only recently started writing about adoption, and it has been an emotional rollercoaster ride to get here.  I have typed this post through my tears and come back to edit and polish it, and I realize I have verbally bled all over my computer.  I am thankful for the safe place Lost Daughters provides to share all of this.

 If you would had told me last year that I would be writing about adoption at Lost Daughters, or anywhere, I would have said you were crazy. Writing about adoption was the furthest thing from my mind, for several reasons -- the first of which was fear that had me in it's ugly grip. In this post I will tell you why, and the changes that have taken place since then, in what has become the longest blog post I've ever written. :) 

I am a writer, speaker and pastor who has served in this role for the past 25 years. My daily blog’s description is, “leading and relating from a faith perspective.”  My specialty is writing with candor about things many never dare to talk about. I do a lot of writing on my blog and other venues about relationships in the context of leadership, marriage, sex, parenting, and work -- from a faith perspective. My goal in writing is to create openness to discuss issues -- and to help people. 

A lot of people are drawn to transparency, but some hate it. I’ve learned that the only people who loathe transparency are those who aren’t free. And they aren’t just content to detest freedom of speech -- they tend to go ballistic on those who write freely.

For starters, some family members aren't comfortable with me speaking and writing my truth on my current daily blog. Fear of family disapproval was one reason I didn't blog about adoption.

When I wrote this post, an angry reader actually contacted someone at the national headquarters of our denomination. Apparently they believe minister's licenses shouldn't be granted to people who write things like I do. When I wrote this post, followed by this one, a married couple left our church and made clear their intentions to report me to our denominational state office. Thankfully I have a good reputation and relationship with our denominational leaders.

Then one day I was sitting in my office in Tampa and a call came in from the editor of a conservative Christian magazine I was a feature writer for at the time. One of their staff members read my blog post for the day, that was too candid for their taste. They called and demanded I delete it, and stated I would never write for them again if I didn’t remove my post immediately. (I'd link to the post to show what they were so upset about, but out of fear at the time, I complied with their request and deleted it. Since that day, the economy and declining readership hit them like a ton of bricks and they had to stop publishing. Maybe that was poetic justice! Ha!)

In response to magazine articles and blog posts, people have occasionally posted vitriolic comments and e-mails, and one adversarial reader even contacted all of the other bloggers listed on my blogroll and attacked them for being associated with me.  (I ended  up deleting the blog roll just to stop the insanity. The attacker wouldn’t stop and my blogger friends didn't deserve the harassment.) 

Speaking out about what you believe in can really affect your daily life!

In my case it even has the potential to affect my livelihood.  

I have made invaluable friendships online and been blessed to have countless people contact me and tell me their life was changed because of something I’ve written or spoken.  At the same time, the dark side cannot be denied. 

Aristotle once said, “To avoid criticism, say nothing, do nothing, be nothing.”

So it seems I’ve shared in writing about most everything to do with relationships, except adoption.

To have a successful blog you have to invite discussion. Once soliciting discussion, you need to show up for it. An effective blogger doesn’t put up with abuse but they do welcome honest conversation. They don’t cut it off just because someone passionately shares an opposing view. 

I don’t expect people to agree with me all the time and I have plenty of friends who don’t. I embrace people who may not share all of my beliefs. As far as it depends on me, I want to live at peace with those around me. We can have discussion and debate and emerge stronger for it, our relationship strengthened.

Except for one issue.


I just couldn't go there. 


In addition to fear because of  the experiences I just mentioned, there were two other big reasons.

The Pain

I suffer pain when people try to debate me about adoption. It has been my experience that every person who has disagreed with me thus far is not adopted. How opportune for people to disagree with someone whose shoes they have never walked in and never will.  

Every time someone said, “Why do you care about your birth family? Don’t you know your real parents are the ones who raised you?” I had to hold back from punching them in the face. The sting of these words is indescribable even for a wordsmith. The feelings I experience when I come across these stereotypes are unlike anything else that stirs in me.

I’m not a weepy person by nature -- I only cry when there’s something really wrong. I’m not one of those women who says, “I’m crying and don’t even know why!” I always know why, and it’s rare. I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to control my emotions if someone attacked me concerning adoption.  Maybe because it relates to my identity. I had visions of telling people off  (which could really affect my job!) or having an emotional breakdown. 

Regarding putting my adoption thoughts on the blogosphere, I feared losing control when answering negative commenters. I wondered if I could maintain professionalism. I also envisioned deleting and blocking anyone who disagreed with me, which kind of makes having a blog a moot point.

The People Group

The demographic of people I’m with most of the time also affected my silence about adoption. My primary sphere of influence is within Christianity.  I have discovered that this people group I'm a part of and love deeply is also unfortunately one of the biggest if not the biggest obstacle to equal rights for adoptees. For so long, I had no idea.  It was troublesome for me to discover that the powerful groups who fight against equal rights for adoptees are religious organizations.  I was embarrassed  and grieved by this revelation. 

Millions of Christians believe the stereotypes, myths and propaganda from these groups, who believe the lie that equal rights for adoptees translates to more abortions. I am a Christian. I am pro-life. And I am 100% for equal rights for adoptees. There is no conflict between these views when one is willing to accept the truth.

The issue is, many don’t want to seek the truth. Because the truth is painful. It is easier for many to look away and not deal with the truth. Because truth by it’s very nature can be messy. It doesn't go by a pre-determined script or fit in a nice neat little box that we so often try to keep it in.

Post-adoption issues are real. Adoption is not all teddy bears, rainbows and miracles as some Christians are inclined to believe.

I  live and work among a people group who are, for the most part, misinformed about adoption and a lot of them are vehemently opposed to hearing anything than what they already believe about it. A large percentage of my readership of my blog are Christians. I foresaw a tidal wave of criticism  unleashed if I were to write about adoption. So I held back. 

October…otherwise known as rOck-tober 
Last October everything changed. My world was rocked.

My husband took me on a date. I thought it was going to be like one of our usual dates - a time to connect and strengthen our relationship. Instead it was a horrible night where I cried uncontrollably for hours. As mentioned previously, I’m not a crier.

He took me to dinner and to see a Christian movie which happened to have a storyline about adoption.

It brought up so many adoption triggers for me, and I left the movie, sobbing.  I cried for reasons the majority of  Christians, including my husband, don’t understand.

He thought it was a fantastic movie and didn’t understand why I was so upset. He would have never planned for us to go to this movie had he known it would affect me as it did. He didn't know how to help me. We discussed it but the more we talked about it, the worse it got. 

We drove home with me staring out the window, tears streaming down my face. When we arrived home, I retreated to our bed where I cried until I went to sleep. 

Then I woke up the next morning and said, “it’s time for a change.”

The intense grief I felt the night before awakened a part of me that was content to be silent no more.  

What changed?

I realized silence was a horrible antidote to pain.

Staying quiet about my true feelings about being adopted festered a 45-year old emotional wound.  I played along with a script given to me for so many years, unwilling to stand up for myself, and for others. Where had that gotten me?

I came to terms with the fact that although my life was full and absolutely wonderful in so many ways, it was not complete until I acknowledged, dealt with and healed from post-adoption issues.

I've tried all my life to "get over my adoption" but guess what? I wake up every day, still adopted.

No matter how many goals I achieve in life, I am still adopted.

No matter how great the family I've created (with my husband/children) is, I'm still adopted.

No matter how much faith I have, I wake up the next day, and I am still adopted.

Jesus turned the water to wine, but He doesn't change adopted people into non-adopted ones.

Most Christians I know don't understand the trauma aspect of adoption.

Something that I see as tragedy they see as beautiful.
Something that I see as a reason to need therapy,  they see as a reason to dance.
Something that I see as painful, they see as a blessing.

They say, "Be grateful for life. Just be glad you were adopted, and not aborted."

My life was never in danger.
I was born in 1966. Abortion was not legalized in America until 1973.
My birth mother never considered an illegal abortion. Ever.
The thought never even entered her mind.
I know this because she told me so, after we were reunited in 1993.

I am grateful for life, the same way anyone should be grateful for life. But my thankfulness is not any different from that of my non-adopted friends who are also thankful for their lives.  There are parts of being an adoptee that are not pretty at all. In fact, there are ugly parts that rise up and demand a resolution. 

Before arriving at Lost Daughters, I was mostly alone with my thoughts of adoption. 

I've gone to counseling for post-adoption issues several times in my past. I tried so hard to move forward. God knows I tried so hard. One counselor even said, "You are running so hard Deanna, and you've been trying for so long..." But receiving assistance from Christian counselors who are all reading from the the same Christianized adoption script is not helpful. It just hurts more, because there is a denial of what the problem is. 

Telling someone to be grateful for the first and perhaps the most traumatic event of their life doesn't sound like good therapy to me -- in fact it sounds rather insane.

I was able to resist drop kicking the person who presented I Thessalonians 5:18 as the answer to all my post adoption issues. "Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus."  They suggested relinquishment was something to give thanks for.  

I believe words means something. Even little ones. Words are powerful! There's a difference between IN and FOR. It actually says give thanks IN all circumstances, not FOR them. God never asked anyone to be thankful for trauma. I don't thank God for my first family relinquishing me any more than I thank God for a car wreck! But yes, I do give God thanks in the midst of all seasons.

I believe God does heal and prayer does work. But before you can go to God in prayer you have to actually get real. Once the problem is identified you can then address it and move forward. Healing from trauma in our lives is a process. Even the Bible says some were not healed immediately but were healed as they went. (Luke 17:14) 

A counselor would never entertain the idea of telling someone who faced any other tragedy to just give thanks and move on. But they don't associate relinquishment and adoption as problematic and furthermore, they celebrate it. What a disconnect!   Is it any wonder why so many adoptees never heal?

God uses many different means to heal. He has used the sisterhood at Lost Daughters to help me in a profound way. I have found the greatest catharsis reading the words of my fellow adopteess, writing about adoption, and connecting in relationship.  
I realized my silence was not acceptable as a human being or as a Christian.

This is not just about me. It’s about millions of people.  

Adoption rights are a human rights issue, affecting millions. 

Every adoptee is entitled to information about themselves -- their birth, their history and their original birth certificate. 

It’s convenient for those who have always possessed such to say it’s no big deal for those who don’t.
Not only are equal rights for adoptees unrelated to the abortion issue, it is inhumane to withhold this from adopted adults under the guise of being pro-life.

I am pro-life. I‘m just not pro-secrets. 
The time for silence is over.

Edmund Burke once said, “All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing.”

I must speak up. I must write. I must blog!

Secrecy is evil.

The Bible says God is light -- in Him there is no darkness at all.  He does not operate in darkness and secrecy. He delights in truth and transparency.

I realized God was calling me to make a difference.

I believe I am being called by God to influence Christians about adoption, from the adoptee point of view.

And guess what?  I've only been blogging on adoption for less than a year, but I’m already an expert!

Not because I’m a pastor. Not because I’m a Christian.

Because I’m an adoptee.

All adoptees are adoption experts. Because we are the ones who have lived adoption.  And we are the ones who can help people understand, if they will just try to.

My goals is to help Christians in my circle of influence understand. And, clearly my work is cut out for me.

I confided to a pastor-friend a few months ago that I was feeling a stirring in this direction and was preparing a new adoption blog.

His response:  “Oh cool!  That will apply to everyone in the body of Christ, because the Bible says we’re ALL adopted! So we’re all in the same boat! Isn’t that great?”

My response: “Hmmmmm…okay. So everyone in the body of Christ has been relinquished by their first family, experienced a primal wound, been placed in a home with strangers, had their personal information including their personal history and original birth certificate and thereby human and equal rights denied? Funny, most people I know in the body of Christ don’t have that experience…”

[shaking my head]

Where Things Are Today

I knew I could stay silent no longer for the reasons aforementioned, however I also knew it would be a process. I prayed for wisdom. How exactly should I proceed in writing about a subject that was sure to elicit more negative feedback than I have ever experienced in my life?

I don’t believe there are any coincidences. I soon landed on a blog called Declassified Adoptee. Each post was a healing balm to my soul. Amanda who writes there is incredibly gifted at bringing home the truth about post-adoption issues, adoption reform and so much more. Through her writings, I also became acquainted with the Lost Daughters blog. After devouring all of the posts there I took note that one could apply to be a contributor. I felt in my heart that I was to pursue being part of a supportive group, before I endeavored to write about adoption on my daily blog, or a future adoption blog of my own. This would help me get my feet wet, in a safe environment. I believed mounting up courage was paramount because soon I would be stepping out to share where everyone doesn't cheer and some may actually try to do harm.

I contacted Amanda  and she was so supportive. She not only welcomed me as a Lost Daughters writer, but I discovered an incredible sisterhood of support among the writers that has been even more beneficial for me than the actual writing itself!  It is without a doubt the greatest therapy I've ever experienced regarding post-adoption issues.

With each post that I create and each one that I read from my Lost Daughters sisters, I am strengthened.  In addition to learning from my fellow adoptees I am putting the finishing touches on a personal adoption blog and honing it's direction. My plan is to launch a support group for adoptees in Tampa, where I live.

As I venture into writing about adoption both on Lost Daughters and outside of it, and start a support group in my city, I know the waters of conflict may get high. The waves may threaten. I may pass through rivers dark and deep. The fire of criticism may get hot.  

God has prepared me through prayer, through my sisters at Lost Daughters, and through His Word.
Isaiah 43:1-3 is my mandate in this new endeavor:

But now, this is what the Lord says—he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine.  When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. For I am the Lord, your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.