Sunday, November 29, 2015

The Matrix of Reunion - Adoption Evolution - #FlipTheScript

Today’s Prompt: How has your viewpoint about your own adoption and about adoption in general evolved over the course of your life? Do you find yourself wanting to learn more about adoption in general, wishing more often that you could get away from everything adoption-related, or perhaps not thinking so much about adoption at all? How are your opinions about adoption different now, and what has most influenced your thinking?

"You take the blue pill—the story ends, you wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill—you stay in Wonderland, and I show you how deep the rabbit hole goes."

"Remember: all I'm offering is the truth. Nothing more."

The Matrix, 1999   All Matrix quotes are with thanks to 

I had a very clear understanding of my adoption growing up. To sum it up: It didn't matter. I had a loving family, a good life, the fact that I was adopted was inconsequential. I was sure that whatever reason my original mother had for relinquishing me was a good one and I was happy in the life I was given. 

I was confident, secure, content. I did well in school and had good friends. 

Neo was born as one of the billions of bluepills connected to the Matrix, where he was known as Thomas A. Anderson. As Thomas Anderson, he was a 'normal citizen with a social security number' ...
Somewhere during this time, Anderson became subconsciously aware that there was something wrong about the world around him. He couldn’t put his finger on it, but he knew something was different, out of balance.

I understood that some people pitied me. They had grown up with their own families, they couldn't imagine what it must be like to be left by your parents and given to another family. They didn't understand that it didn't matter. I had a family, just like they did. I didn't care that it wasn't my original family. 

If anything, adoption made me special. It gave me this unique and interesting quirk to who I was. My origination was a mystery and I relished the thrill of that. I could be anyone. 

A message interrupted the search, blanking out his screen: "The Matrix has you... Follow the white rabbit." Not making sense of the message at first, Anderson tried to restore his computer to its normal operating mode. A final message read: "Knock Knock Neo."

So, when I turned 18, I decided to call the number of the adoption agency that my parents had given me. It was the magic key to unlocking my truth, to be used when I was ready, anytime after I turned 18. I used it on the day of my birthday. 

What I didn't know was that as I turned my key, my birthmother did as well. She called the adoption agency the same day, for the same reason. To know. As the social worker went to put away the notes from the phone calls, she realized she had a match in her hands.

Neo refused (the invitation) initially--until he spotted the tattoo of a white rabbit on Dujour's arm, as hinted by the message on his computer. Anderson decided to tag along.

I met my birthmother soon after. I asked all my questions, and her answers plunked down into me with a momentary ripple and then all was still again. We parted, agreeing to stay in touch. 

After our meeting, I drove to my favorite park to have some time to myself and take it all in. My mystery was gone. I was no longer special. I had an ordinary origin. I should feel relief. But, for all of its ordinariness, it left me feeling unsettled. As if something had shifted, as if something big was going to drop. 

She confirmed his suspicions about the world, alluding to the Matrix, and adding more clues and confusion to his search for the truth.

The bits of knowledge about who I was, where I came from left cracks into my idea of who I was. Just hairline fractures, nothing significant, but over time, those small fissures would spread and grow until all I knew of who I was shattered to the ground with a crash. I stepped out of the fog I was in and into a world completely foreign and unknown.  

I was raw, vulnerable, confused. I was utterly alone. I didn't know what would happen next or if I would ever feel whole again.   

Anderson made it out of the building without being seen. However, as he was about ten stories off of the ground, he refused to negotiate a path which took him outside office walls. Fearing for his life, Anderson turned himself in... Anderson's mouth began to seal shut, blocking his screams of shock, outrage, and later, pain. 

Adoption didn't matter to me until then. Faced with the knowledge of what I lost, I became lost. Suddenly, adoption mattered. Everything I believed until then, felt like a lie. It was a world constructed for me to believe, to make life more palatable. Looking behind the facade, what I saw was ugly, dark and scary. 

Morpheus described to Anderson an entity known as the Matrix, depicting it as a prison for the mind. He offered him the chance to be shown the Matrix, offering him two pills: one red and one blue. 

I had seen behind the curtain. I faced a choice at that moment. I could take the blue pill, ending reunion right then and go back to believing the bright and happy adoption story I was given - that adoption didn't matter, that I was chosen, special and a lucky. 

Or I could take the red pill, stay in reunion and see how deep the rabbit hole went. It would mean I remain in this dark, murky, frightening world and see what I could learn about myself. There were no promises. But there was truth. 

I took the red pill.

A mysterious robot descended upon Anderson, disconnecting the wires attached to his body and dumping him into the sewers below. He tried his hardest to swim, but as his muscles were atriphied were discovered to be totally useless, as if they had never been used (which, in fact, was indeed the case). Before he would certainly have drowned, Neo was rescued by a mysterious craft floating above him. Aboard this mysterious ship, he saw Morpheus and others behind him. Before he blacked out, Morpheus said, "Welcome to the real world."

I haven't mastered this underworld of reunion, but I am grateful to understand more than what I had known before. I have come to value painful deep truths over easy pretty stories. Now and then, I'm even able to dodge a bullet that would have killed me in the pre-reunion world. I now see those who construct the imaginary happy adoption world as powerful enemies and the fight toward truth and wholeness feels insurmountable at times. 

I understand that some people think I'm crazy. I'm a zealot, ranting about things that they don't see. They dismiss me as ungrateful as they go back to their pleasant world. 

But, sometimes, out of the corner of their eye, they might see a shimmer of something that doesn't look quite right. Something that hints that there is more to the story than what they've been told. 

And then they'll face a choice. 

Blue pill, or red pill?


Cathy Heslin is a reunited adult adoptee of closed domestic adoption in New Jersey. She met her birthmother when she was just 18 and moved out to Portland to live with her after graduating college. She has been in reunion with her birthmother for over 25 years, and with her birthfather for 15. She now has a complicated extended family that includes all sides.

She writes about adoption with a focus on long-term reunion. She has written a memoir in partnership with her birthmother called Kathleen-Cathleen where she and her birthmother write alternating chapters sharing their experience of reunion from both the perspective of the adoptee and the birthmother (not yet published). They also write parallel blogs on shared themes: Cathy's blog is Follow Cathy on Twitter @CathyHeslin.