Monday, March 31, 2014

Akin to the Truth: A Memoir of Adoption and Identity

By Lynn Grubb

Had I not known beforehand, I would have never guessed this was a book about adoption.  Author Paige Adams Strickland describes a very funny, quirky, interesting family that reads more like a biography than a typical adoption reunion book.  Paige’s memoir is an everyday story of life growing up in the 60s, 70s and 80’s. It made me laugh and it made me cry, but most of all it draws the reader into her life growing up adopted. 

Paige was raised in the suburbs of Cincinnati, Ohio -- an hour away from where I grew up in Dayton.  Paige grew up in a very similar way as I did and many times, I felt as if I was reading about my own feelings from a journal.   I could identify with her vivid descriptions of popping Jiffy Pop popcorn and watching Lawrence Welk with her grandma Frances and playing card games like Fish and Old Maid.

I was smitten with the beautiful descriptions of Paige’s grandmothers -- wanting to crawl right into the book and experience those two amazing ladies.  I felt like I went along as a passenger on Paige’s annual family vacation to Florida to lounge on the raft she shared with her dad.  It was easy to get drawn into Paige’s book into another time and place.

The Importance of Photographs

Photos are important. They document the moment in time and freeze it for generations to come. Photos can remind us of people, events, or the beauty (or pain) of a place. I've always loved photos for the emotions they can invoke. One of my favorite activities as a child was looking through old photo albums with my grandfather, especially the pictures from when I was a small child. My parents' wedding album was another favorite book of mine, showing how much love they had for each other that day. Everyone looks so happy in those photos and I could always see the foundation they laid for an amazing 36 years of marriage. My desk at work has a few photo collages from various day trips I've taken with my husband when we were dating. I love the photos of changing leaves over a lake, and I can almost see the jellyfish from the aquarium dancing off the page. I'll never forget those moments, and I have the photos to remind me of that.

Lately I've been going through a lot of photos. We lost my adoptive mother this month and photos have been one part of the healing process. We put together photo boards and slideshows for her wake and funeral, and in the process remembered many fun times. I have several pictures of my mother smiling and happy, clearly loving life in the moment that I look at whenever I start to doubt things. I'm instantly brought back to that moment and remember how much I was loved. We shared some great memories over the years and we have reminders now to prove it.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Romanticizing Adoption and Reunion: The Modern Day Fairy Tale that Actually Isn't

The above photo was taken during the first few days in Korea that I got to spend with my Omma, upon finally reuniting with her in 2009...34 years after she relinquished me in 1975.

It's the kind of picture that everyone wants to see, because it's the type of picture that makes everyone feel so warm and happy and good about adoption. But it's exactly this kind of photo that can be so misleading, because it tells of only a single moment. It leaves out all the heartache and pain and sorrow that preceded the reunion and all that will follow in the years to come after the reunion.

The more I meet and interact with adult adoptees, and in particular adult adoptees in reunion, the more I have begun to recognize a common experience among us. I have started calling this experience “adoption reunion dissonance.”

This dissonance causes intense psychological distress and conflict.

It is basically the disparity that adoptees in reunion experience between how others perceive our stories and how we experience our realities post-reunion. (Adoptees not in reunion as well as our original mothers and fathers also experience this kind of dissonance, but being that I am an adoptee in reunion I will focus on the perspective from a reunited adoptee’s experience.)

Those who see and hear our stories no doubt cannot help but romanticize our adoptions and our reunions. Our adoptions and reunions have become modern day fairy tales in the minds of the uninformed masses. They cannot help but romanticize our stories because of the still dominant narrative in adoption culture (despite years of adult adoptees challenging this narrative) that idealizes, almost idolizes, the act of adoption.

Folks watch our adoption reunion stories and their eyes well with tears, their heartstrings are pulled, and yet they completely miss the point. Rather than take the tears they cry and the heartache they feel to understand the profound grief, loss, despair, confusion, turmoil that adoptees experience, they walk away from our stories telling themselves and demanding of us that we are the “lucky ones.” They insist that we have been saved by adoption and now via reunion we are finally made whole. So, ultimately, any pain or harm becomes null allowing for adoption to remain the unquestionable hero.

It’s the happy ending everyone wants.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Feminism and Adoption

Dear readers,

I am curious. Posts on feminism seem to be stagnant on our page. Please let me know how you feel about feminism and how it intersects with adoption … good and bad. Comment and discuss.


Saturday, March 8, 2014

Lost Daughters Roundtable – International Women's Day

Prompt: March 8 is International Women's Day.

As adoptees and women, how do you view the current social, political, and economic status of women in the world? What are some of the achievements or improvements that you celebrate and what are the areas that you hold as requiring further action? Do you see a connection between adoptee activism and challenging the status quo for woman's equality? What are some of the positive changes that you would like to see in these areas?

Rosita In terms of the US, I see improvements, though slower than I would like, but improvements nonetheless. There are more women in government posts, most recently, Janet Yellen as the head of the Federal Reserve. I also see victories in Tammy Baldwin’s recent win as the first openly gay senator, and Wendy Davis’ work in the Texas legislature. Our voices are getting stronger.

Also, refreshing for me is the digital dialogue about the portrayal of women in the media (TV, movies, advertising). Blogging and change sites are bringing issues to the forefront, take for example the #notbuyingit Twitter campaign to hold companies accountable for sexist advertising.

Monday, March 3, 2014

The Invisible Wall of Silence

I feel the creaks and groans emanating from my weary soul.
I suffer the pain from cracks and fissures running through my heart.
Persistent efforts to scale the wall have failed.
Scars I wear on the inside no one can see or understand.
Days of retreat I've spent licking and healing my emotional wounds.
Only to emerge to face the wall again.
An infinite insurmountable wall.
A timeless, everlasting, never ending, barrier.
The barricade that remains intact to keep me away.
And always at a distance from people, and faces, and voices, and truth.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Adoptee Reunion

For some time now I have felt like I wanted to write a post about this particular subject, but I haven't felt emotionally ready--- for different reasons. Now I feel like I'm finally ready to share it, as someone who is an adult interracial female adoptee. The subject I'm going to try to share more than explain, is the subject of adoption and reunion. By far not an easy topic to write about--- it's so personal, emotional and full of hurtfulness and other things.

In order to do this --- to make it easier to understand and relate to I find it necessary to venture back to the beginning somewhat. The year I was concieved was 1985 and I was born in one of the first few months the following year-- 1986. At that time my birth parents had endured and experienced many setbacks, they lost their social status in society, meaning that the need for a male child, an heir became even more needed. At the same time they also experienced a bad harvest and lost much of their cattle.

Therefore it became impossible for my parents to keep me, add to the fact that my Omma basically was dying after giving birth to me, then it seems like the best thing to do for all parties is to give the newborn child a fair chance to get a brighter future with better prospects to start of in life.