Friday, November 30, 2012

NaBloPoMo Day 30: Politics & Activism

"They threw their soda at us!"  The coordinator of the demonstration exclaimed to the group.  "Can you believe that they did that?"  Overhearing the adults talking, I held my sign closer to me as though it would protect me from those mysterious cups of soda flying from car windows.  I was probably ten, or eleven, or twelve at the time.  This event, "Life Chain," is something my family did every year.  Church members would gather with other churches and community members and form long chains up and down major roads holding signs with Pro-Life messages.  I always held "adoption, the loving option" sign, complete with some misguided "survivor's guilt."  People drove by and hissed and booed from their car windows.  Activism is scary, I thought to myself.

This was my first experience as an activist.  Or maybe it wasn't even the first.  I was the first to stand up and protest when I saw something wasn't fair.  Even as a small child, I was outspoken and always said what was on my mind.  As my high school chemistry teacher once told my mother, "Amanda is much too outspoken to be ladylike."  Oops, I must have missed the "ladylike" section in the manual that magically appeared with me the day I was born, "How Girls are Supposed to Be."

"Do you consider yourself an “activist” of any sort? If so, what areas of policy and social justice are you most passionate about? What outlets of activism (petitioning, blogging, writing op-eds, fundraising, etc.) have you done or would like to do?  What do you wish others would understand about causes that are important to you?" (Today's blogging prompt).

Today, I am still an activist, though I don't go to Life Chain events anymore.  I identify as a feminist.  I no longer believe that I should-have, would-have, could-have been aborted or that my mother's reproductive decision making process is even my business, quite frankly.  While I don't think anyone should have thrown soda at those ladies that day, I do still think that activism is legitimately scary.

The reason why activism can be scary is because it involves putting a piece of yourself out there for public scrutiny.  People are not always nice, especially on the internet, when it comes to sharing your opinions.  A lot of people become activists because an issue impacts their lives or the life of someone they love.  Activism can also be part of the healing process; it translates negative energy from tough life experiences into a positive force for good.

Activism doesn't have to solely consist of holding signs or speaking directly to legislators.  So many effective activists cut themselves short by not acknowledging what they do as activism or realizing that it does make a difference.

I have a few outlets for activism.  I blog.  I created Lost Daughters as a platform for female voices in adoption.  I am publishing a book.  I am a board member of three different adoption organizations.  I do speaking engagements and workshops.  I've written testimony.  I write editorials.  I regularly speak to legislators.  I still do the whole marching around with signs thing too.

In order to take both an activist and a holistic approach to our writing project here at Lost Daughters, we are moving in a new direction that will help us consistently cover important ground area in the experience of being a woman and being adopted.  Some of our blog posts will now be "columns" that consist of themes that will be regularly covered here.  Our columns will attempt to regularly introduce the biological, psychological, spiritual, and cultural aspects of being an adopted women.  We will try our best to engage in conversation on adoption, foster care, parenting, relationships, reunion, diversity, policy, activism, media and adoption in the news.

So keep an eye out for these new columns that will be appearing as time passes: Spiritual Center, Adoption Media, Policy Forum, Child's Eyes, Our Relationships, Round Table, Family Menagerie, The News, The Parent, Activist Realm, and more.

This concludes NaBloPoMo.  We hope that you enjoyed it!

Thursday, November 29, 2012

NaBloPoMo Day 29 - Adoption Culture Clash

by Julie

Today's adoptee-centric prompt  raises the topic of adoptees and the culture clashes we might experience. Now, the most obvious and socially-accepted take on this might come from an adoptee who was removed from his or her original culture through adoption and raised in another--an ethnic culture clash. Or perhaps, an adoptee who was born of a family with modest means and raised in one that had more from a monetary standpoint--a socioeconomic culture clash.

Welcome to Adoptionland
I cannot write from either of those vantage points. I'm an adoptee who was born of one Catholic, white, middle class New England family and raised in another Catholic, white, middle class New England family. My adoption was most definitely a lateral move. And seeing as Catholic Charities oh-so-responsibly placed me with people who lived only eight miles from my natural family, I hardly had to forfeit my logistical culture. So on paper, it seems as though this particular topic of clashing cultures in adoption doesn't pertain to me.

But thanks my fellow Lost Daughter Rebecca from Love Is Not a Pie, I have come to realize that all adoptees face a culture clash of sorts. Ours is a very adoption-focused society. Please note that I wrote adoption-focused. This is very different from adoptee-focused. Here in the United States, our culture has an overly romanticized and idealistic love affair going on with adoption that brings to mind unicorns, rainbows and puffy hearts. Some days it seems like everyone is prancing around in Adoptionland where the clouds are made of spun sugar and the roads are lined with red licorice. Nothing bad ever seems to happen in Adoptionland and all of the adopted children should feel nothing but gratitude for being placed in this world where they make the dreams of adults come true. Because here in Adoptionland, the focus is on the people who want children instead of on the children themselves. How wonderful! Uh, yeah. Not.

This just in from Bioland
For many of us adoptees, adoption is an extremely complicated experience rife with confusion and mystery. This is because the adoption industry does not respect us or serve our needs. Seriously. If you see a bunch of adult adoptees floating down the fruit punch river in a candy cane canoe waving their original birth certificates and flags representing their ethnic backgrounds, let me know. There are people out there in Adoptionland who actually fight against the restoration of an adoptee's right to obtain their own, factual birth certificate. There are adoptive parents out there in Adoptionland who relegate the original mother of the child they are privileged to be raising to the role of "birth person." There are adoption agencies out there in Adoptionland that have fee schedules for different types of kids. There are state governments out there in Adoptionland making sure that so-called open adoption agreements are not enforceable. And all of this is totally acceptable within this adoption-focused culture!

As an adult adoptee, I do not fit in here in Adoptionland. Never did. Never will. I was taken from my home turf of Bioland where I would actually know from who and from where I came and then forced to live in Adoptionland where I was handed a fake birth certificate and people started telling me how grateful I should feel about it. Talk about a culture clash.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

NaBloPoMo Day 27 : Diversity - or a sacrifice due too diversity

By Jaesun 

Before you start complaining that I didn't write about what the supposed title says please hold your horses. I'm not an American adoptee yet I'm an adoptee and I'm extremely grateful that the creator of this blog has graciously invited me to write here as I have been doing for 5 months or so now. I am a European adoptee as well as Korean adoptee. 

No, it's not only the US who adopts children Europe is doing pretty well trying to keep up altough some European countries like mine only supports and promotes international and/or intercial adoptions. If that is not a proof of diveristy I'm not sure what is.

Recently, not that long ago I finally recieved a letter or rather short reply on my long and honest letter. The decision reached was one of mutual agreement; we all felt it would be better to bide farewell. They are still my birth siblings but we're as different as night and day. And to be honest since i wasn't able to get that deep feeling of connection I suppose it was expected. While I longed to know my siblings to them I was a stranger yet my birth parents seemed more interested in me, but not much.

I used to prood of the fact my birth family is fairly diverse considering that they're Koreans and that one of my siblings married a western man and thus have biracial children. Now I know why they seem to accept such a different person into their family. It has to do with basic survival and pride.

A reunion does not always end the way you imagined, hoped or thought. Of course I tried to convince myself that I was ready and aware of what this process would bring me... yet it now seems, I have to admit that I might have been a bit delusional.

This process has learned me that a relationship or friendship cannot survive on purely love no matter how deep. There has to be a mutual agreement and understanding but acceptance and respect is just as crucial. And you'll need a lot of patience , especially if you like me have to consider cultural differences with customs, religions and languages. And prepare yourself for a lot of bumps on the road... in the form of minor, huge or trivial misunderstandings with potential of growing larger...

If you had the oppertunity to visit the country of your birth the same country where your birth family lived would you feel inclined to let them know of your whereabouts or not ? When I say adoption and then diversity what's the first thought that pop up in your mind?

One thing I learned out of all of this is that if I hadn't insisted on going to visit my birth family when I did. But waited a few years, perhaps until I had my own family by then I might have been more mature and prepared. But if I had done that I probably wouldn't have been able to meet my birth parents when they still were alive...

All I can do now at this point is appreciate what I tried to do and the only news I can expect to hear from my birth family is news about my family member's death... This person is terminally ill fighting a potentially deadly disease...

All good things must come to an end...
And everyhing is due because of this diverse world we live in now but I blame nobody. 

Monday, November 26, 2012

NaBloPoMo/NAAM Day 26: The Intersecton of Adoption and Women's Issues

Today's writing prompt is about feminism. Let me start, first of all, by saying that I do identify as a feminist. This is something that I share with both my first mother and biological brother. The only time I ever heard the word "feminist" in my adoptive home was when my father jokingly accused my mother of being a "radical feminist" because she belongs to the American Association of University Women. My adoptive mother is not a radical anything, and I will probably never see her wearing a "This Is What a Feminist Looks Like" t-shirt, but I do believe she is a feminist in her own way. 

I am a woman, an adoptee, and a mother (by way of both biology and adoption). These are the lenses through which I look at the world. Last March, on International Women's Day, I spent some time thinking about ways that adoption issues and women's issue are intertwined. The following are two areas of concern that I believe deserve our continued attention: 

(1) Violence Against Women is Rife Worldwide* People don't often think of violence against women as an adoption issue, but it is. My own daughter, whom I adopted via the foster care system, originally came into state care as a result of a domestic violence incident in which her mother was the victim. Trauma as a result of abuse and domestic violence was also a significant factor in the addiction that prevented my daughter's first mother from parenting effectively. I have also heard of women, in different circumstances, who have made the decision to place a child for adoption because they did not trust that they would be able to keep the child safe from violent family members. Violence is certainly something that can be a contributing factor in the separation of a child from his or her biological mother.

(2) Women Are More Likely to Suffer from Poverty and Lack of Education* Lack of monetary resources and education (the later of which can result in greater access to monetary resources) is another significant factor leading to separation of children and biological families by way of adoption. Adoption moves one person (the adoptee) into a situation in which some of his or her basic needs can be better met but does not examine the larger social and political issues at work. It is a tragedy, and a societal failure, when biological parents cannot raise their children because of lack of resources, but the seeming 'fix' of adoption prevents us from seeing it as such.

Adoption creates a family, but it is important to keep in mind that it also tears another family apart. It has serious implications, including trauma experienced by the child and the biological mother. Those of us who believe that in a perfect world adoption would be a rare occurrence must continue to examine all of the various social and political factors that contribute to adoption, many of which are tied to improving the general lot of women worldwide. 

*The two boldface statements above came from the article Top 5 Reasons You Should Care About International Women’s Day, by Nada Zohdy. 

Image courtesy of Idea go at

Sunday, November 25, 2012

NaBloPoMo Day 25: Understanding

Today's Prompt: How important is it to you that your friends and/or spouse can understand you and support you? Do you think they can ever really know what you're feeling and going through? How do you help them to understand things from your point of view? Do your friends and/or spouse seem interested in furthering the discussion? Do they read books, blogs, or otherwise educate themselves about adoption issues? Do you disagree about any of the fundamentals? Do you agree? Do you think that your relationship with that person has altered their view on adoption in general?

When my husband and I first started dating, adoption came up pretty quickly, not only because I'm an adoptee but because he was an adoptive parent. Over the years we've had many conversations about adoption, often helping each other see a different perspective.

We were already married and I was pregnant with our second child when I decided to search for my birth mother. Luckily, he was very open to the idea of even his own adopted children searching for their biological relatives, therefore he supported me completely. Without him in my corner, I don't know if I would have had the strength to go through with my search. He watched me wrestle with all the questions and emotions that came up along every step of my journey. He put up with my scouring the internet all night long while I was searching, then emailing constantly after I reunited with my birth parents. He held me when I cried. He listened patiently when I ranted. He pushed me when I needed to be pushed and comforted me when I felt raw. I'm lucky that he's pretty even-keeled emotionally, because I have been up and down and all around.

Even though I know he always supports me, there are still times when I realize even he doesn't completely understand how I feel or what I'm going through. It's not his fault. He's always known his biological family, so he's never experienced how it feels to not know. No matter how many times I explain to him how I have felt throughout my life, he will never be able to feel that way himself. But I keep explaining, because every time I do, I know it helps him relate to the scope of the loss I've experienced and helps him remember that the pain is still there.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Love and Marriage—Day 24 NaBloPoMo

Once you get the Lost Daughters writing juices going, it seems as if there’s no stopping us! Below is an excerpt from a lively conversation on just a few aspects of today's prompt.

Love. As an adult adoptee what are your thoughts on marriage, love, and family? What are your thoughts on sex before marriage and common law marriage? If you're an interracial adoptee do you think it matters of your partner is the same ethnicity as you are? Have you ever been in a relationship with another adult adoptee? If yes, what was that like? Was it harder or easier than other relationships you've had? If no, would you ever consider dating another adult adoptee? Do you think it would be easier or harder?

Laura Dennis - I think most of us are a little bit "older," and are not in the dating pool right now. My thoughts on love are related to secondary rejection, as was addressed earlier this month. Perhaps we could chime in on how our adoptive-ness relates to our love life and marriages?
Personally, when I told my husband about the "not wanting to be rejected, and yet pushing my significant other as far as possible, just to see whether he'd reject me." Well, my husband said, "Other adopted women are saying that? It makes so much sense to me."

Others' thoughts?

Sex before marriage

Jenn - I'm game! I'm currently engaged, and it's definitely something that has come into play in our relationship. I want to get married. I want to start a family. And I want to do things the "right" way. I always felt growing up that my natural parent's didn't and I wanted to do better. I didn't have much to go on about them, but that's one thing that I always picked up on.

I think that sex before marriage happens and I think that we need to better educate people about how to be safe about it.
My fiancé is not adopted so he has a hard time relating, but I think that's a good thing. No two adoptees really feel the same way about everything and I think it would be hard if he was in a different place than me. If I dated an adoptee who felt as though adoption was the best choice for them and had no desire to search and couldn't respect my decision to do so, I probably would have a hard time in that relationship. Instead, my fiancé supports me no matter what because I'm going through it and he doesn't have firsthand knowledge.

Rebecca Hawkes - My baby-scoop era teenage parents were treated as if they had done something unforgivably shameful, but I refuse to let anyone put that shame on me. So my parents were teenagers who had unmarried sexbig deal. The real shame, as I see it, was in how they (and especially my mother) were treated once the news got out.

I did once have an adoptee friend with whom there was some potential for romance, though the relationship never fully developed. We were in our early 20s. He had no interest in searching, ever; I wasn't ready yet, but I was inching in that direction. I've always wondered if our "adoptedness" would have been an issue if we had gotten together. I suspect it would have.

There’s more than one “right way” to create a family

Karen PickellI'm very open to all variations of "family." For example, I have close friends who I consider just as much a part of my family as my adoptive or bio relatives. My definition of family is people who love each other, period. There doesn't need to be any blood relation or even any legal document, in my opinion, to make two people family to each other, and I think I feel this way because the family I grew up in was basically formed by strangers coming together.

If you think about it, every family begins with two strangers coming together. That's not to say that I don't think biology is important, just that it's not the only way to be a family.

Rebecca Hawkes - I think I have a very flexible definition of family, too, and I'm sure it's rooted in my own adoption. But I also have a keen appreciation for biological family and tend to recoil from clichéd statements such as "'parent' is a verb."

As is almost always the case for me with adoption-related stuff, it's complicated. My adoptive parents are my parents in spite of the lack of a biological connection, and yet my biological parents are still my parents in spite of not getting to parent me. The one does not negate the other. I guess you could say I have a "both/and" view of family rather than an "either/or" view.

Karen Pickell - That's how I feel, too, definitely "both/and."

I tell people all the time that I have two mothers and two fathers. After I reunited with my birth mother, someone asked me if it was strange to suddenly have another mother. I told her, no, because I always knew I had two mothers.
Also, I do use the argument of, "If a mother can love more than one child, why is it so hard to believe a child can love more than one mother?"

Jenn - I'm the same in that I accept people into my "family" very easily. I guess I don't get caught up with labels because I'm tired of being labeled myself. When a new boyfriend or girlfriend comes around in my extended family, I often reach out quickly because they become "one of us" very quickly to me. I don't always wait for them to have a ring, something that my other relatives are a bit more cautious about. When I was at school, I lived with another family. They have become a part of my extended family and I accept them as such. We didn't need a legal piece of paper or biology to live like a family does.

Friday, November 23, 2012

NaBloPoMo Day 23: What Should we Call People Connected to Adoption?

Today's blogging prompt is about terminology--more specifically--what each person connected to adoption ought to be called.  Some might call this semantics.  Personally, I feel how an individual or a group identifies themselves is more important than that.  The words you use to refer to a person or group can mean the difference between hurling and insult or giving respect.  So what do I think people should call the various individuals connected to adoption?

The prompt: What do you call your natural/first/birth/biological mother/father/family? Why? Are there different rules for different family members? What term(s) is not acceptable to you? How do you refer to them to others? If you're in reunion, do you introduce them the same way? How does your natural/first/birth/biological mother family feel about the term? Does it matter to them? What about your adoptive family? Do you use a qualifier when speaking about them? If not always but sometimes, when do you use it?"

My rule of thumb is that I always refer to someone and their loved ones in the way they wish and in the way they feel that they are most respected.  While I am not a fan of the term "birth mother," this includes the "birth mother" term.  It is not up to me to undermine someone elses' thought processes and the meaning they place on an event, and their role in it, in their lives.  I refer to people how they would like to be referred to.  After all, how can I expect that same courtesy if I don't extend it to others?

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

NaBloPoMo Day 21: Biology

Today's prompt: According to science, we all inherit something from our natural families. If you are in reunion, are there any traits or characteristics you know you inherited? How does that make you feel? If you are not in reunion, what do you hope to share with your natural family? How important is genetics to you personally?

Who would have thought a preference for mint chocolate chip ice cream could be inherited? I certainly wouldn't have, until I found out that my birth father's favorite flavor is the same as mine.

I expected to have obvious physical similarities to my birth family members, like the freckles I share with a birth sibling, the hair color I share with multiple relatives, and the small hands that are like my birth mother's. But I didn't expect an aunt's home to be decorated in the exact same teal color as my own or to find a sister who is just as fanatical about purple as I am.

I've heard many adoption proponents claim that a child's biology is less important than the environment she is raised in. These people attempt to skew the nature vs. nurture argument in their favor, to prove that someone who lives her whole life with strangers can be just as content as the person who's always known her biological relatives.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

NaBloPoMo Day 20: Jealousy

Nobody’s perfect and sometimes we become jealous of other people (just as others become jealous of us). Has a non-adopted person told you they were jealous of you (due to adoption)? If so, how did that make you feel? How did you respond? If you are in reunion, has jealousy come into play at all? For example, if you have siblings, have they expressed jealousy about a difference in lifestyle? Are you jealous of them? How do you handle this? If you are not in reunion, do you harbor any jealousy toward anyone? If not, why do you think that is?

It's funny because most of the comments I get about being adopted or adoption related situations comes from people I've met online.  I have heard the "I've always wished I was family drives me crazy sometimes!" line more times than I can count.  It hurts, to be honest.  I mean, how can someone wish they had grown up with a family that was not their own?  How could you want to have a fake birth certificate or not know what happened to you in the hospital in the six days after you were given up by your mother and before you were dropped in the laps of strangers in a cold adoption agency waiting room?  I will never understand someone wanting that to be their story.  And on a more personal level, as the survivor of abuse at the hands of my adoptive parents, I want to shake them and say, "Your life is fine!  I would give anything to have grown up with my natural family to have been spared the pain I suffered!".  I do try to explain that to the misguided people who believe the grass is greener on the adoptee's side of the fence but I know that it probably falls on deaf ears.

I am in reunion.  And yes, jealousy has come in to play.  I have met all of my relatives on my natural mother's side and have spent an extended amount of time with them at family gatherings and a long weekend trip to celebrate my grandfather's 80th birthday.  Seeing the easy way they all were with each other made me realize what I'd been missing all my life.  I did fit in well with them...our sarcastic wit binds us all together...but they have inside jokes that I can never be part of.  My aunt Julie told me that it was like I was away at college for an extended amount of time but that I was home I was always part of the family.  And while for the most part, I agree with her, another, more bitter part of my soul, grieves intensely for the lost time.

In regards to my adoptive siblings, they have never expressed jealousy towards my being adopted.  They adore my mother and she adores them...and me.  It may have something to do with the way they found out about me though.

My mother and their father got divorced when the kids were little and he had visitation every other weekend.  When my brother Greg was six and my sister Cate was three, he was driving them home after their visit.  He said to them, "Make sure you are good for Mommy so she doesn't give you away.  She gave away one bad baby already."  Can't really blame them for not wanting to be adopted, can you?

But on the flip side, I  fully admit that I am jealous of them. They grew up with my mother in a house full of love and of acceptance.  They were allowed to make mistakes and to grow from them without fear of being hit or screamed at.  They got to experience unconditional love...something I only learned was possible when I gave birth to both of my own children.  I don't harbor some deep resentment against them for their upbringing though.  I'm glad they didn't have to go through what I did. 

Monday, November 19, 2012

NaBloPoMo Day 19: Adoptee Writers

Today's prompt: Every adoptee's experience is different. Even so, the more we learn and read about other adoptee experiences, we realize we are not alone. Choose a book, paper, or blog written by an adoptee about adoption. If you're adopted, comment on similarities, or not, with your experience growing up, searching and/or reuniting. If you're non-adopted, could you relate personally in any way to the writer's emotions? Generally, were your views on adoption confirmed, changed, enlightened?

I am in the process of writing my graduate thesis, and I owe a big Thank You to fellow adoptee Meg Kearney for inspiration. My poetry class read Kearney's book of verse, Home By Now, which includes many poems on themes of identity, loss, and search. After the class ended, I picked up her other two collections, An Unkindness of Ravens, and the young adult novel in verse, The Secret of Me, which is written in the voice of a teen adoptee (a follow-up, The Girl in the Mirror, was released earlier this year). Kearney's skill at dealing with the complicated emotions of adoptees via poetry demonstrated how I might be able to do something similar with my own story--I abandoned the idea of writing a straight memoir and decided I would focus on poetry. (Later I decided to add short stories to my collection as well.)

Besides genre, what speaks to me in Kearney's books is how she navigates the confusing tangle of emotions an adoptee feels toward her adoptive family, her birth family, and ultimately toward herself. Her poems illustrate the hope and fear, grief and joy, bewilderment and enlightenment that I think most adoptees experience through the course of their lives. Here are a few lines from her poem "Rescued:"

Though my heart wheezed like a bagpipe, I was
saved by my skin: illegitimate but convent
white. I thank God for that, and for the man
who gave me his name. Do you blame me?
Meg Kearney is just one of the many adoptees who have written about their experiences. Many of us here at Lost Daughters have found solace in the words of Betty Jean Lifton, including Rebecca Hawkes, Dorothy Sands, Cathy Heslin, and myself. Lifton penned three books for adult adoptees: Twice Born: Memoirs of An Adopted Daughter, Lost and Found: The Adoption Experience, and Journey of the Adopted Self: A Quest for Wholeness. She also wrote two adoption books for children, I'm Still Me and Tell Me a Real Adoption Story. (Lifton died in 2010 at the age of 84.)

Saturday, November 17, 2012

NaBloPoMo Day 17: Adoptee Connections

This is a picture of the baby alien in 1966...

I want to thank Amanda and Lost Daughters for allowing me this opportunity to write on the topic of Adoptee Connections. Growing up I knew many adopted children, more than I can possibly list, and I cannot imagine my life without these connections. They have been my kin, the people who understand how I feel about being adopted without my speaking a word. They know without question what it means to wonder and to search. I cannot tell you exactly how we all met or came to recognize each other. I could suggest an elaborate theory of psychological attraction, but it seems simpler and just as accurate to tell you we were just a bunch of freaky aliens, a new species of kid, finding each other on a foreign planet called Salt Lake City, Utah. How does one lost alien make contact with another? Whatever you are thinking, that is probably the answer.

In no time or place since, have I found others. I moved away from Salt Lake City in 1991 to attend college and never moved back, but I’m not so sure that’s the reason. I think I don’t meet new adoptees from my generation because we are masters of repression. I can turn my inner alien on and off like a switch, disguising myself as a non-adoptee any time the situation or company calls for it. At times it seems disingenuous, but it is what it is. I will never forget the day I first encountered an adoptee blog. As I began to read their thoughts, my thoughts, I felt as if I had just discovered a lost colony.

Friday, November 16, 2012

NaBloPoMo Day 16: When Adoption Narratives are Lists of Challenges

Every adoption conversation is in its own way unique. However there are definitely observable trends in adoption discourse. One such trend occurs in adoption reform discussions, whether in-person, at a meeting, or in the comments section of an adoption article online. Someone will suggest a problem within adoption that needs to be fixed or even suggest alternatives to adoption where families can be helped and preserved. Subsequently, someone will respond with an exhaustive list about all the things that were wrong with their child's original mother, or father, or their own original mother or father, as a reason why adoption does not need to be reformed or why there's no need to explore alternatives to adoption for children and families in need. While they may make their point in expressing how a child needed a new home and received one that benefited them (granted, if the agency/facilitator version of the pre-adoption narrative is accurate), this communication sends an additional message loud and clear: original parents are effectively reduced to "challenges."

For today's blogging prompt, Lost Daughters asks:

Some adoptive parents share more than others for various reasons. How much of your adoptive parents’ story has been shared with you? If they shared details about your adoption with you, how did that make you feel? If they did not, do you wish they had? Did your parents share with you why they choose to adopt? Did they share that story with others in your life? If so, did it affect you in any ways?

Thursday, November 15, 2012

NaBloPoMo Day 15: The Unexpected

Welcome to day 15 of NaBloPoMo at Lost Daughters. Today the topic we're covering is:

The Unexpected: Is there an area of your life that most people would not suspect has been affected by your adoption in which being adopted has been an issue? How do you handle that area when discussing with other people?

Since adoption is woven into the very fabric of who I am, it permeates every single area of my life. The expected and the unexpected areas. 

Although every area of my life is affected by adoption, I haven't always been aware of the reasons behind my feelings or actions. Concerning it's impact on  areas of my life that most people would not suspect, I find most people are completely unsuspecting about everything. They can't grasp the fact that something that happened to me 46 years ago would still affect me in any way today. Therein lies one of the biggest problems for many adoptees, including myself.  

With a majority of the world in the dark about adoption's impact on infants as well as post-adoption issues for adult adoptees, they expect nothing. 

So everything is a surprise to them. Everything is unexpected. 

"'re telling me that something that happened to you as a baby is causing you to have these feelings now?" [Insert skeptical look here that brings on mega-trigger.]
When you dare to open up and the first reaction is that you are hyper-sensitive, lacking in faith or simply need to get over the past and move on, it wounds all over again.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

NaBloPoMo Day 14 - The Things People Say (by Lynn Grubb)

The things people say

We have all experienced the things that people say that annoy or lift us up.  Many times the things people say take us by surprise.  People can be curious, nosy or just plain opinionated.  There is no way to avoid the things people say unless you live alone and never venture out into the world.  I chose just a few because they stick out in my mind.  I would love to hear comments from others about the things people have said to them that really stuck.

 How does it feel to be adopted?

If I had a quarter for every time somebody asked me this, I’d have a fat savings account.  Most of the time this question was asked by kids my age when I was growing up.  It’s one of those questions you can’t really answer because I don’t know how it feels to NOT be adopted. But I'll try to give you a   general idea:

It feels different, strange, unnatural, and at times comforting.  (as in, “thank God I’m not really related to some of these people!).  Other times it feels like it’s part of who I am and I embrace the positive of being adopted. Granted, I would have never chosen being adopted (notice the word chosen is not being used in the common way- i.e.   “chosen child”).  But despite not choosing it, I do feel it has enabled me to have greater empathy, concern and understanding for children’s rights, and discrimination against minorities in general.  (and make no mistake, adoptees are minorities with lesser legal civil rights than the non-adopted).

You’re weird because you are adopted.

I admit it.   I am weird.  But not any weirder than anyone else was in middle school.  But during one particular dramatic fight between my group of tweens in 6th grade, they all turned against me.  Why? Because I was weird for being adopted.    How do you fight that one? It’s not a disease you can catch.  It wasn’t a choice I made.  It just is what it is. 

 As a parent, I tell my kids that other kids will find something to pick on you for. I guess for me it was adoption at that moment in time.  Looking back, this may be a  good lesson for kids not to be so open about being adopted (like I was).  I tell my daughter that the fact she is adopted is totally her business and she doesn’t have to share that information unless she wants to (please note that this is not the same as keeping secrets; it is called having good boundaries).  I was a naturally open child and was raised in an environment where there was no shame in being adopted.  So I had no problem being honest with the world.  Sometimes that can backfire.

 How did your mother take it?  (when they find out I am in reunion with my first mom)

(pictured left are myself and my two mothers)

When I hear this, my stomach churns.  What this seemingly innocent question really means to me is this: 

“Wow . . you sure were disloyal to seek out your first mom.  How could you be such a terrible daughter to do such a thing to the mother who raised you!?  I bet she was really ticked!  To think her daughter would be searching for a woman who gave her away!  That woman doesn’t deserve to know you. She didn’t want you.  She certainly didn’t look for you and now you want to rub it in your mom’s face? The woman who sacrificed her life caring for you?”

That might sound dramatic to you but that is exactly what I hear inside when you ask me this question.  I believe this attitude stems from most women’s (mothers’) need to be the only mom.  It is unnatural to have two mothers; hence the conflict when a stepmother or a first mother enters the picture.  I have yet to meet a man who is not happy for me that I found my birth family.  I have yet to meet a man who didn’t congratulate my husband and I on adopting our daughter.  Almost every woman who knows or learns of this information has some issue with either my reunion, my daughter’s adoption or our decision to allow our daughter contact with her birth father. 

Women are very territorial when it comes to their children.  This territorial nature extends to others' lives who have very different circumstances and life stories than they do.  I get tired of feeling like I have to explain my decisions to other people (women), especially when the majority of those people know who gave birth to and/or fathered them.  So many people believe absolutely in the stereotype that adoption allows a fresh start (think blank slate) for both the adoptee and the first parents.  Nothing could be further from the truth; however, I can see why people WANT to believe that.

You should feel grateful you weren’t aborted.

This statement wins number one way to get my blood boiling. Every morning I wake up and look in the mirror and smile and say to myself, “What a great day to NOT have been aborted!”   I then do a cartwheel across my living room just imagining how close I came to being killed.

Seriously, what possesses people to ask this?  Are you really that ignorant as to social graces to even go there?  My neighbor asked me this at church! I was sitting there eating my donut when this came out of his mouth!! (granted, he is an adoptive parent whose own two adult children (my age) had not searched out their biological parents as far as he knew).  A little too close for his own comfort maybe. 

I don’t have to be any more grateful than anyone else for not being aborted so please (I beg of you) do not say this to anyone you know, adopted or not.  Nobody wants to think about how they might have been aborted.  It’s kind of like thinking about your own funeral.  Most people don’t want to go there.  Married women have abortions.  Don’t assume that because somebody is adopted you automatically know their life story.  Many, many adopted people were wanted from the start.  

Most inspiring statement made to me by an adoptive mother:

 “I took my daughter to Russia to meet her family because I couldn’t imagine not ever being able to look into my mother’s face.”

FINALLY! Someone who gets it.

Monday, November 12, 2012

NaBloPoMo/NAAM Day 12: Significant Others

The prompt: Significant Others Has being adopted affected your romantic relationships? If so, how? What is your relationship like with your adoptive family? Do you feel connected to your extended adoptive family (grandparents, aunts/uncles, cousins, etc.)? If reunited, do you feel connected to your extended natural family? Are there disconnects? Explain.

For many years, I wouldn't fall in love unless I could see the end from the beginning. My "type" was a guy with COMMITMENT ISSUES stamped in bright letters on his forehead. Alternatively, I liked a situation that had an expiration date -- my preference was the summer romance. I was addicted to the falling, but I was also addicted to the breakup. I jonesed for the emotional intensity of the entire cycle.

Was I reenacting an adoption separation scenario, over and over again?

There's really no way to know for sure. I have no non-adopted self to function as the control for comparison. Certainly there are plenty of non-adoptees who struggle with commitment issues, as well as plenty of adoptees who don't. Does that mean that my own relationship issues are unrelated to adoption? I don't know.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

NaBloPoMo Day 11: Personal Opinions Regarding Adoption

Welcome to day 11 of NaBloPoMo at Lost Daughters. Today our topic is:

Personal Opinions Regarding Adoption: What is your opinion of adoption today? Are you in favor of or against adoption and how do various circumstances affect your opinion? Has your opinion changed over time? If so, what caused you to rethink your former opinion? What do you think is the biggest need for change in the adoption industry, or is the current model for adoption fine the way it is? 

My opinion of adoption has changed over time. What caused me to re-think my former opinion was... [wait for it]


Yes. That's really what it was.

I had a few decades to think. Particularly the ones where I was having children.

I allowed my mind to go there.  


Most adoptees know where THERE is.

Once you  have your own kids it's almost impossible for it to not go THERE. 

It's the place you had tried to block out in your mind so many times over your lifetime because you're not ready to go there emotionally. It's a horribly scary place where you contemplate how a woman you've been told all your life, "loved you so much and wanted you to have a better life" placed you with strangers.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

NaPoBloMo Day 10: Reactions to Searching (by Lynn Grubb)

Blog prompt:   If you've searched for or are thinking of searching for your natural family, what would you say to those who think your desire to search means you are unhappy in your adoptive family or had a bad childhood?

 If you don't have a desire to search, what would you say to those who wonder why you have no interest in knowing where you come from?

I count myself fortunate, with all the comments I get on a regular basis, one I have not gotten (as of yet) is someone telling me they believe I was unhappy in my adoptive family or had a bad childhood as an explanation for the reason I searched for my natural family. 

However, there may have been occasions where they have assumed this without saying it. It seems to me that people being curious by nature, need an explanation for everything and many times, when they don’t have a true understanding of the dynamics of adoption, they go with the most convenient explanation, rather than digging deep.  

Until we can understand the assumptions in which we are drenched we cannot know ourselves.
- Adrienne Rich