Tuesday, January 17, 2012

What adoption cost me

By Trace A. DeMeyer, author of One Small Sacrifice: A Memoir

Someone asked me recently what had adoption cost me personally.
What a loaded question, I shot back in my email. I said I needed to think about it.

Obviously I didn't ask to be adopted!
This situation was thrust on me by a damaged 22-year-old small-town Wisconsin girl who loved Chicago night-clubbing and partying too much. She didn't want me after my 28-year-old father (also a big drinker) kicked her out. He moved back to his Illinois farm-town and found a new wife. She went to an unwed mothers home in Minnesota and signed me away.
If my soul wanted a big test this lifetime, this was clearly the route to take.
Finding out neither would ever look for me? That painful discovery cost me.
What kind of man would desert a woman carrying his child and who would tell a woman she cannot keep her own baby? Who made them this way?  Belief systems, religions, social workers, neighbors, parents, judges, priests? Even your own family can be so damaged, it's risky to find them. There are times now I wish I had never looked but I had to know why I was adopted. Taking risks to find out the truth cost me years.
Being told by my natural mother to never contact her again? That rejection cost me.
I made all the moves, made all the calls, did all the travel and took all the risks to find both parents. I put myself out there to join a family who didn't even know I existed or cared that I did. That hurt cost me.

The adoption trade in babies was booming in the 1950s. In my opinion my adoptive parents were not carefully screened. Despite his raging alcoholism and their marital discord after two miscarriages, Catholic social workers still qualified them to be my parents. Very young I was sexually molested by my adoptive dad. That betrayal cost me.

I had to pretend for years I was alright when really I wasn't. I tried to live up to their expectations and be the baby they lost. That impossible situation cost me.
My adoptive parents didn't know adopting kids won't fix a marriage and might even make it worse! I had to suppress my shock and disappointment in them for too long. It took me years to get therapy and counselling that worked.  This delay cost me.
My lack of trust and being able to love someone cost me a marriage.

Many years later I was shocked to learn my ancestry. My father, who had the Native blood, didn't intervene to keep me. How did that make me feel? Betrayed.
I had no idea what to think about being Tsalgi since there was no one alive to reconnect me to my tribal culture. That cost me.

How can you measure cultural loss when there is no dollar amount or apology that can undo what happened? There is no way to get that back.

What did adoption cost me? Everything.
What did adoption give me? The strength to persevere.

Trace blogs at www.splitfeathers.blogspot.com

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

New Year Means New Beginnings

It's no secret that 2011 was an interesting year for me.  I reached several milestones in my life both as a person and as an adoptee.  For starters, I graduated college.  With a masters.  That's a pretty big deal for me seeing as my parents never went to college.  Ironically enough my first parents had more of an education that either of my adoptive parents.  So it was a pretty big deal for me to graduate.  After graduating, I managed to find a job a few months later.  Landing my first big job was another major milestone for me.  I'm not longer the "intern" but a full-timer.  I'm realizing that the real world isn't all it's cracked up to be... Oh to be back in college again!

I also met my first father for the first time.  Actually, it was the first time I met someone I was biologically related to.  How cool is that?  For the first time, I saw my own features in someone else.  And we're a lot a like personality-wise.  And we have some of the same mannerisms.  We both talk with our hands.  It may sound silly to people who have always known where they come from, but to someone who had no clue, the talking with the hands thing was huge.

Some not so great things happened too.  My adoptive mother's health took a turn.  My first father ended our reunion only to change his mind a week later, which I wasn't having.  And I had to move away from my boyfriend to help out at home.  But c'est la vie.

I think we need to take the bad with the good.  Besides, rainy days make the sunny days seem that much brighter.  And it means that I love the idea of a new year.  Because with the new year brings a new beginning.  It's a whole new world out there as far as I'm concerned.  This is going to be my year.  I know where I came from now.  I've been through hell and survived.  I know it won't all be roses and butterflies.  Who wants that?  But I know that no matter what, I'm going to make it through.  I may even have some fun along the way!

So I'm turning the page.  I won't forget 2011, that's for sure.  But I can't wait to see what the next chapter brings!  Happy New Year!