Tuesday, January 27, 2009

The Wise Adoptee

There are so many wise women among us. I have received much good advice from the women who have lived the pain of losing their child/ren or their mothers. Most of us are in our later years and have learned a lot and gained a lot from our years. One of these wise women is an adoptee in our age group.

My friend, and I am so proud to call her a friend, Celeste Billartz, poet, singer and songwriter and an adult adoptee, posted some reunion wisdom that blew me away in its profound truth and simplicity. Just about every mistake a mother of adoption loss and the adult adoptee could make is addressed and the watchwords are mutual respect and kindness. Simple and straightforward, these words of caution and instruction should become the new rules for reunion.

She also tells another truth.....that there are a small number among us that are so damaged, self-involved and, well, just not wrapped too tight, that there is no hope for a normal relationship. I've seen this in both adult adoptees and mothers...thank God/dess not too many of them.

If you want to know what you are doing wrong and have the ability to learn from another and critique yourself, click on that link in the paragraph above. These are simple truths and they prove that, when reunion in concerned, good manners and consideration are the way to go.

We tend to complicate things for some reason. My grandmother used to call it "going around your ass to get to your elbow." It took me a while, Grandma, but I finally figured out what you were saying. Who says we Senior women don't have something to contribute?

While we are not just about reunion, reunion is part of the picture. Many of us are past the stumbling stage and into mentally and emotionally confronting the injustice of our experience. Reunion was the spark that ignited us into overt grief and self-realization. It was the awakening and the emerging from the fog of denial for many mothers. Who knows but what a lot of us, mothers and adult children, could have handled everything a lot better if we had been blessed with Celeste's acquired wisdom?

Well, it isn't too late for mothers and adoptees new to the roller coaster of reunion. I intend to pass this one along.

Thank you, my friend.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Weary But Undefeated

Coming down from that hope-filled high, today, I realize my weariness.

Hope is not a pep pill.

I feel the ache and the stress of the struggle, deep in my bones.

The frustration and irritation have stolen over me...a soporific of annoyance...calling me to sleep....to cease caring....to give up.

I can't listen. I will rest, and I will not give up.

But I fear the day is coming, sooner than before, when I will not rise from my rest, refreshed and ready to join in the battle.

The urgency is as great as the enervation.

How can we bridge the gap in understanding?

How can we mend the tears in the fabric of our collective journey?

Why must we continue to try to answer questions contrived, by the askers, to be unanswerable? (Do you still beat your wife?)

Why should we have to justify justice?

Pick, pick, slap and slander...it is a litany of immaturity and insecurity.

We run that gauntlet and try not to feel the blows.

We stare into the mirror at the gray hair and lines in the face and invoke the inner strength of the younger us.

So, every day is given to work, to solving and reasoning, along with living. And we also have rest.

Dr. King was often weary. So was Gandhi.

In fiction, Don Quixote was on in years when he mounted his steed and charged the fearsome windmill.

Let us hope our courage is equal but know that our minds and targets are clearer.

I have not forgotten you, young girl with the sad eyes and empty arms.

I have not deserted you. Just let me rest and you rest with me.

We will rise from our bed.

I am weary but I am not defeated.

Robin Westbrook (c) 1/23/2009

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

If He Can, So Can We

The TV cameras scanned the crowd as one young, slender, fresh-faced, man of mixed heritage and strong vision addressed them. Many in the crowd, both black and white, were moved to tears by the moment and by his words. Many of us watching on television cried freely. America, the land of unbridled capitalism, international arrogance and conspicuous consumption, was seeing history and finding it refreshing for most, alarming for some.

Our president gave us a vision and a challenge and chided, gently, those who wanted the power and gain of the status quo. He was also visible, walking proof of the success of a struggle that was part of my social landscape in the late 50's and early 60's. He was a realization of a very famous Dream and those who died for this day have to be smiling in their rest. Despite all the bigotry, all the hatred and the fears of the establishment, we have come closer to being what our constitution says we should be. We are on the road to exploring the REAL meaning of patriotism.

During those years when President Obama's father would have been denied a seat in a restaurant, there was another large group suffering punitive discrimination, just because the powers-that-were COULD. Millions of mostly white, mostly middle-class, mostly teenage young women were being warehoused and coerced into surrendering the most precious cargo they nurtured in their bodies. MANY of these young women did what they were told because they were given no choice. MANY were forced against their wills. They were the ones whose experience was never spoken aloud, who were told to keep a secret because an unjust society deemed it both shameful and expedient for its purposes. Many complied, some did not. This social injustice spawned a large generation of women who suffered an undying grief. It was passed on to their surrendered children who suffered confusion, pain and identity issues.

In that parade, yesterday, were some of the Tuskegee Airmen and the Buffalo Soldiers portrayers...reminders of man's inhumanity to man. They have seen a day they thought they never would see in their lifetime. Now, so many members of our silent, grieving sisterhood have placed a tentative foot on the path to justice, just as did Dr. King and his supporters over 45 years ago. Now, we have a leader with an open mind and ear. We're older, more tired and frustrated on many fronts, but we are learning. Call me a cockeyed idealist, but I believe, if you are in the right, you can eventually succeed.

If they can do it, why can't we? Yes, we can. Power to the mothers of the EMS!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Remembering Di

I am adding a permanent link to this website, created by Lily Arthur as a memorial and continuation of her work for the late, and sorely missed, Dian Wellfare. Di was a Senior Mother from Australia's nasty BSE. She was a pioneer and advisor and a fighter for the rights of mothers.

If you want to know what it was like during the Oz EMS, cast around and see if you can find a copy of the Australian TV documentary "Gone To A Good Home" which chronicles Lily's story and has statements from other mothers, including Di. I have watched this, twice, and cried both times.

The work of the original Origins NSW, founded by Di, has placed Australia in the forefront of genuine adoption reform. The number of adoptions, per capita, is astonishingly low when compared to the US of Adoption. Australian celebrities such as Nichole Kidman and Hugh Jackman are trying to bring it back into vogue, but the government and the activists seem to be holding a reasonable line.

I had several chances to exchange emails, ideas and information with Di and she was one sharp lady. On a personal level, she made no pretenses to being anything other than what she was...an activist and an advocate for others like herself. Her research was thorough and her views were acute and accurate. She was strong and persistent and cared, deeply, about those who had been wounded by the crimes against mothers during the EMS. She went through her final illness privately and with dignity.

Please visit Di's Site and you will be sincerely moved.

Thursday, January 01, 2009

New Year, Same Old Myths

What with open records going into effect in Maine, there just had to be someone who would trot out that old chestnut about NATURAL parent privacy. This time, the Portland Press Herald editorial board has at it and, as usual, conveys all the old, erroneous mythology and the abject terror of a tiny group of mothers who can't shake the shame from decades ago. You can read all about it at Bastardette's blog.

How many times are we going to have to say it? We have adoption facilitators and attorneys that, by twisting the truth, have perpetrated a lie that the general public still believes. The ONLY time we had any privacy or anonymity was when our parents were hiding us and our swollen bellies away from the sight of the neighbors. Those surrender documents that many of us signed had not a word about any kind of guaranteed "privacy" from our own children! The concept, in and of itself, is ridiculous.

The real scoop is that it was the adopters that had the guarantee of privacy and protection from the specter of the natural mother showing up, having changed her mind. I remember being threatened with prison should I ever try to find my children. Privacy stipulations were NOT put in place for the protection of the natural mother. They are there, solely, for the perpetration of the parenthood fantasy of the adopter.

Yes, there is a small, actually minute, number of mothers who never got past the shame that was placed on them by their families and the facilitators. They lied to the men they married and carried that lie with them for years until it threatened to blow up in their faces. I have seen many a mother tell her husband and raised children about the child she lost to adoption and, in most cases, these family members were lovingly supportive and even excited.

My biggest gripe with the Portland paper, the Evan B. Donaldson Institute, the NSFA, the AAC and others is that all these people take it upon themselves to speak for the mothers. In case they haven't been watching or listening, we have found our voice and we are going to tell the truth of our experiences whether they like it or not. No one has been given the right to speak for all of us. No one "voice" is the go-to for the skinny on the natural mother experience because there are different circumstances and eras.

It's time for the talking heads and the self-appointed experts (among them, sad to say, mothers who think that what was true for them is true for all) to step back and let us speak for ourselves. We have voices, we have brains and we have the real scoop for all to hear. One of those realities is that most of us would never elect to not be contacted by our own child of our body.

Take a seat and lend an ear, because you are going to hear from us. Happy New Year!!!