Tuesday, August 31, 2010

A Soul Sickness


There is a new Facebook page that is about adoption healing. Two friends of mine have written books about healing from adoption. Many others seek counseling and other means to heal from the ongoing pain of the adoption malady. And yet so many say that no one ever really heals from the pain of loss and unnatural separation and lives lived with shame, fear, distortions, secrets and lies. They are right on the money.

There is a Latin Proverb that states, "The sickness of the soul will renew itself." There are too many reminders in  daily living for us to be free of the pain all the time. Just as memories of any tragedy will cloud your mind with sadness, so will the reality of the strange and incomprehensible life of lies and seekings and painful realizations take you to that place of bewildered grief. Many mothers I know have referred to this unhealable pain as an open wound. What scar tissue that may form is thin, soft and easily torn open.

When we lost my stepson to the illness of severe depression which culminated in suicide, we sought whatever help we could find. The best help came from our peers...other people who had lost loved ones in this horrific manner. It was at one of those group sessions that I first heard the words, "It's not something you get over. It's something that becomes a part of who you are and you learn to live with it." This was my husband's only child. But his response was a lot quicker and more sensible than mine. I sat in anger for a long time.

My husband, however, decided that the best thing he could do would be to make his life a memorial to his son by living it the best way he possibly could. He has done just that, and pulled me out of my fury to take the journey with him.

Oh yes, I was furious with my stepson for throwing away the life he was given, knowing how badly he would hurt those that loved him. With time, I learned that he was dealing with life the only way he thought he could..by ending it. He was in a place of darkness with no hope. He was blinded to the light at the end of the tunnel. And he had a fatal sickness of the soul. I know, in my heart, that he has found peace.

While my stepson's soul sickness was fatal, the malady that attacks exiled mothers and adoptees is more chronic, although there have been suicides related to it. Getting to the point where the pain is manageable and intermittent takes some drastic measures, chief among them being the acceptance of the truths of our experiences. For many, that is a big, terrifying step to take. Mothers and their adult surrendered children are often the queens and kings of denial. Accepting the unacceptable as truth was often how we managed to make it until we found some way to see through the fog without letting it overpower us. Then we have to learn how to live with it.

We mothers have to accept the fact that we were not in any kind of control of the "decision" we made and that the assurances we received....you will 'forget,' you will 'get over it', 'you will have other children that will fill the void'.....were all lies and illusions. While the joy I have in my raised children will never be diminished by anything, you cannot replace one person with another. Each child has their own place in our hearts.

We have to accept, when we reunite, that our babies are gone from  us forever and the adult we meet is a familiar stranger with our features and talents, perhaps, but with ideas formed of the lies they were told and the big lie they were forced to live. We have to expect that the people who raised them, the people they see as their parents, were not the ideal paragons described to us by the social workers, but flawed humans, just like anyone else. We have to look on the damage done to our children and deal with that red-hot rage at those who inflicted it on them and on us.

The adoptee has to struggle with the reality of what they find versus the lies they were told. They have to struggle with the feelings they have long harbored of abandonment, especially when they don't jibe with the truth. Hardest of all is acceptance of their adopters' roles in their experiences that have wounded them. Going from living a lie to accepting the truth is a huge and terrifying leap. The adoptee harbors fantasies about the mother, as well. One mother relates the attitude of her reunited adult child who opined that it would have been better had the mother, with whom she reunited, been a drug addict or slut. For some reason, that would have made it easier for her to accept her separation from her mother. That is one of the most telling of the soul sickness symptoms...the clinging to a lie.

My own adult child asked about her father, quickly letting me know that it was all right if I didn't know who he was. Well, I was floored. OF COURSE I knew who her father was. The fact that she thought such a thing might be possible was an indication of the lies she had been told and the assumptions that separation of mother and child create.

There is the undeniable fact that both the adoptee and the mother exist with the presence of living ghosts, hovering just beyond the veil of separation. And when reunion tears that veil and the vision is cleared, it is earth-shattering.

All those are symptoms of the soul sickness of adoption separation. There are too many to list. I have laid a couple of my own symptoms to rest..those of shame and guilt. I medicate myself with life, with truth, with work, with facing the beast, even to baiting it in its own lair. And I realize that, like those suffering from the soul sicknesses of alcoholism, addiction and depression, that I can recover but am never cured. I can be gentle with my soul and strict with it when I need to be. And I can follow my husband's example and make my life count for something. Which brings to mind another Latin Proverb.

Live your own life, for you will die your own death.” When my time comes, I want to know I did the best I could. Until then, I live with what was and what is and make the best life I can make.

Monday, August 30, 2010

A Real "Resident Evil"


Some time ago, a video game was created called "Resident Evil." That game has been made into a series of financially successful horror films starring Milla Jovovich. As for anyone wondering what a grandmotherly sort such as I would know about this genre...well, I love it. In this genre, you usually have to sift through a lot of dross to strike gold, but there have been some shiny nuggets to enjoy.

The story begins in a futuristic (but not too far in the future) Metropolis called Raccoon City which is owned by a large bio-engineering corporation which is under the protection of the government. Jovovich's character and her lover are both subjects of the genetic manipulation by that big business with no conscience. All this chicanery takes place in an elaborate facility beneath the main building of the corporation.

In the story, the worst happens and there is an industrial accident in this buried laboratory. The biological agents are free to contaminate all who are there and they become ravenous, grotesque, flesh-eating zombies, even down to the guard dogs. Each bite to a human spreads the affliction. Jovovich is compelled to battle this menace, not remembering her own involvement as a lab animal for these villains. She is considered, with her superior fighting skills, strength and agility, to be a "success" for the corporation. Her lover is pushed even further into an unrecognizable mutation, huge, malevolent and violent.

As the subsequent films emerge, we see Jovovich and the few human survivors fighting hordes of corporation zombies, vampires and other genetic mutants who wish to feed on the humans and capture Jovovich to turn her to their master plan. And, for those of us who love horror movies and do not take them seriously, a good time is had by all.

BUT, as I opined in my previous post, there ARE monsters among us. Substitute social engineering for biological engineering and there you have it. I like to see mothers and adopted adults who came out of the adoption fog as very like the heroine in "Resident Evil." We are in a battle to take down the very entity that made us what we are....angry warriors.

We don't need special effects to see the  spread of the virus of entitlement and baby-bartering. For every good beemommy who walks into the maw of the Industry, we get a Stepford Mom, spouting scripture, beaming in joy and farting rainbows about adoption. And, because human beings like to think as little as possible, they can spread their pastel poison at will. Add to that the Industry's Madison Avenue approach and the support of another evil....the religious right wing....and we are battling monsters in our own back yards. As in the films, for every one that is vanquished, two more take its place.

I don't think that the people who create these games and films have to look very far for inspiration to add to their imagination. The monstrous nature of Big Business is becoming more and more a feature of our daily lives and it is something that is hard to combat. When it comes to Big Adoption, our weapons are knowledge, experience and the ability to see past the mirrors and smoke screens and into the reality of what is happening. Is it any wonder that I see Margaret Atwood's "The Handmaid's Tale" every bit as horrifying as any of the horror movies and books that I love? The Industry is a horror of the many-tentacled variety. The NCFA, the EBDI, the church-run agencies, the independent agencies and the elected officials who accept the gratuities of the lobbyists are all the arms that reach out and bring the victim into the hungry maw of the monster.

The monsters look just like you and me. They are, to all appearances, normal human beings. What sets the adoption facilitators and promoters aside is that, somehow, they have lost their compassion and had their vision skewed. We are not seen as mother and child with a sacred and natural bond. We are seen as money to be made, mistakes to be corrected, and a chance to create a society in the image of their imagined Utopias. The adopters seem to be fitted with an entitlement gene that assures them they are more deserving of a child than that child's own kin or even country.

At the end of one of the RE films, Jovovich's character is forced to battle her unrecognizable lover, now a killing machine of flesh and cybernetics. At the climax of the battle, a tiny light of humanity is seen in his eyes and he refuses to destroy his former love of his human life.

I keep looking for that light in the eyes of the Industry and its adherents. So far, I haven't seen very much of one. But I keep hoping.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Snacks For The Dragon

I think one of the most vivid symbols I get in my mind whenever I think of mothers and adoptees harvested and appropriated for adoption is that of a dragon devouring us. The dragon (the adoption industry) grew fat and strong during the EMS and now, is having to subsist on snacks which it hunts in disguise and beguiles into its trap. In the old legends, the fear-filled townspeople would choose a young girl, a virgin, and bind her to a post outside the dragon's den. Thus they ensured that the dragon would leave them alone.....until it got hungry again. Now that the young girls are less respectful of the town elders, the dragon has had to find another avenue to procure its favorite food.

The problem is that the dragon stays hungry. It wears many faces but they are all the faces of greed, envy, covetousness and self-entitlement. The dragon is the PAP lusting after the womb-fresh infant of another woman. The dragon is the adopters poisoning the adoptee's mind against the woman who gave him/her life. The dragon is the NCFA, lobbying in the halls of our government. The dragon is the elected official lusting after the votes and whatever other goodies the lobbyist offers. The dragon is the fundamentalist, reactionary, right-wing church, seeking to expand their numbers and prevent a woman from making a choice. (I believe it has a large lair in Utah)The dragon is every facilitator of adoption who profits from the tragedy of the separation of mother and child. The dragon is the media, ignorance of the truth about the tragedy, and the collusion of state, church and the Industry.

The dragon has so managed to cloud its true nature, that the victims go to it, thinking they are going to be saved, when what they get is devoured. Then, once these gullible snacks have passed through the dragon's gastric system, they laud and glorify the dragon as benevolent, warm, fuzzy and, Golly, just so RIGHT.

The dragon crosses oceans and skies to find its meals. The hunger in its belly, created by its own mythology, never goes away, is never satisfied and is always looking for ways to increase its food stock. It sings its siren song from pulpits, television and movie screens, social service departments and the ignorance of the townspeople. It is politically correct, brings a sweet tear to the eye and is a daggone, Martha Stewart-type, all-around GOOD THING. No one but the ones who have been eaten by the dragon really see the fiery breath and the dagger-sharp teeth.

We speak up, we shout, we write, we demonstrate and we sign petitions and so far, the progress is minimal. I have stopped wondering why it is so hard for the general public to listen to us. I know we are going to have to turn the dragon's fire against itself by chipping away at the myth and the stereotypes. We can try to keep new mothers from entering the dragon's cave. But we can't save them all.

The dragon consumed me and I passed through. But I am not going to be dragon shit. If anything, many of us, mothers and adoptees, are proving to be similar to another mythical creature...the Phoenix. We are breaking free of that draconian dung-heap to which we were consigned and refusing to let the blazing belches of the dragon silence us. For us, there is nowhere the dragon can hide and no way it can disguise its true nature from us. We know the Beast.

Hey, if it has scales, big teeth and breathes fire, it's a dragon.


Saturday, August 28, 2010

Being Offended

Most thinking people I know would be rightly offended by this picture. It exemplifies all that is wrong with religion, racism, arrogance and hate. But then, we are offended by many things.

I am offended by gratuitous vulgarity that is used only for shock effect rather than to make a point. I am offended by most Rap for this reason. I am offended by people who don't know how to behave in public with dignity and kindness. I am offended by badly-timed red lights and stores that run out of the special offers before I get there. I am offended by wife beaters, child abusers, date-rapers, loud car stereos, bullies and door-to-door missionaries. I am offended by Glen Beck, Sarah Palin, Rush Limbaugh, Richard Riley and Mel Gibson. I am offended by people who use handicapped parking spaces without a tag or mirror hanger. I am offended by political commercials that sling mud. If I tried really hard, I could spend most of my time being offended.

Richard Dawkins, an Atheist activist from the UK, presented a speech at UC at Berkely with this as the theme. He presented it well. There are times, he opined, when it is appropriate to be offended. There are times when something goes against the grain so badly, that so scorches your sensibilities to the core, that taking offense is the only way to respond. He is so right. I am not an atheist but I am an un-churched free-thinker and much of what he has to say appeals to me.

For me, it is the carefully crafted and ongoing efforts of the religious right and the government (on both sides of the aisle) and the adoption industry to turn back the clock and return us to the bad old days of maternity homes, shame and selective social engineering. What is especially offensive is the use of young, bubbly, natural mothers to promote this kind of horrific activity. Their website and facebook page are so saccharine as to nauseate. "Birthmom Buds," "Birthmothers Ministry" and "Ask A Birthmother" are among the greatest offenders.

I have, in the past, referred to these women as "Judas Goats" who cheerfully lead other animals to slaughter. It's really worse than that. They are participating in doing to the nation and to millions of young women what was done to them..brainwashing. The religious zeal that targets abortion rights has been handily incorporated by the adoption industry into a way to continue to promote infant adoption.

That brings me to another thing that I find offensive. Why do the adopters of infants insist on the idea that they are "rescuing" an infant from a fate worse than death? Why do they, in fact, want only the womb-fresh, healthy infants? Why do these self-entitled, Yuppie paragons ignore the multitude of older, special needs children in the foster care system that truly need the comfort of a home and people who care about them?

If what I have seen is any indication, they will have their fresh, warm, still-damp babies. The industry and its spin doctors and the churches and the pundits are carefully grooming a new generation of brood mares for the more entitled and that is what offends me the most...that there are those who believe that they are more entitled to a child than a child's own mother and that a mother-to-be will willingly walk into the beemommy trap believing the same damn thing.

1900 years ago, give or take a few, a cult was given a jump-start by a tax collector turned evangelist and prolific writer who claimed a vision on the road to Damascus, much like Joseph Smith later claimed a vision in the US that led to the LDS church. Both men were of questionable character and I can't see, from the teachings of either, where that was improved by their, so-called, divine messages. If you look at the dogma of most Christian churches, you will find, if your mind is open and you are Bible-literate, that they practice more Paulism than Christianity. Saul/Paul was a misogynist, judgmental and arrogant....all the things that the Jesus who is portrayed in most scriptures was not. The message of love gets lost in the regulation handbook, and religious extremism is spreading like wildfire.

Today, almost two millennia later, this dogma is being used to perpetrate the disregard for the most natural, biological and spiritual bond there is...that of a mother and her child. They have no trouble using God as a wedge to separate infant from mother and they do so with impunity. If nothing else, they use the old hellfire and brimstone fear tactics and lead the mother to believe that she will only be saved if she repents and surrenders her child. SS, DD.

So, yes, I am offended...I am offended by the machinations of an insidious industry that preys on the vulnerable in our society and I am offended that a religion, supposedly based on love, along with our national government, is in collusion with them. This treads badly on the principle of separation of church and state. I am offended by the unnecessary pain of millions of mothers and their surrendered children.

And if that offends YOU, too bad.

Friday, August 27, 2010

The Woman In The Mirror


"I'm Starting With The Man In the Mirror.
I'm Asking Him To Change his Ways.
And No Message Could Have Been Any Clearer.
If You Wanna Make The World A Better Place
(If You Wanna Make The World A Better Place)
Take A Look At Yourself And Then Make A Change
(Take A Look At Yourself AndThen Make A Change)" ~Michael Jackson/Man In The Mirror"

I received quite a few private responses to my post about Stockholm Syndrome. One of the most profound and moving was from a woman who has experienced this from both ends, as an adoptee and as a mother whose firstborn was taken for adoption. Things are dicey on both counts for her and she is seeking answers.

I was in bed with my laptop, reading, when I got her message. I sent a reply but felt it was so inadequate. When your mother is fearful and your adult child is distant, with what are you left?

Well, we are left with what we all have...ourselves. My parents are dead. My children, raised and surrendered,  live 600 miles away. My oldest just ended a 17-year reunion and my reunion with my second surrendered child is a hit-or-miss proposition. I live with my husband, my little dog and ME.

The past 25 years or so have been both the best and the most trying of my life. There has been divorce, remarriage, reunions, tragedy, joy and sorrow...the mixed bag that is life. But, for the past two and a half decades, something has been happening to me that makes it all worthwhile. Every day, it seems, I discover more of who and what I am. It's a journey, not a destination, but I am happy with what I have found, so far. The imperfection of a decent human being is no longer a cause for ashes and sackcloth. I no longer depend on others to define me.

And I have learned that whatever happens to my children, my family, or my friends is NOT ABOUT ME. Sometimes I think the years of this journey have been a steady chipping away at ego and replacing it with self-esteem. It is not something that is done overnight, although I had an epiphany of sorts that started me on my way. In fact, there have been a number of epiphanies that have kept me moving forward rather than resting on my fat, smug self-satisfaction.

My raised daughter was having some serious gynecological problems that landed her in the hospital and she was scheduled for a laparoscopy. I was in the doldrums, worried about what the outcome might mean to her and shared my mother's angst at a group session I attended each week. Afterwards, the group leader came up to me and said, "Robin, I'm not going to tell you that IT will be all right. But YOU will be all right." It dawned on me that this was not about me, it was about my daughter and that I needed to take my angst and shove it and be there for her, strong and without panic or pressure. I did no one any good by taking their problems on myself, crying, beating my breast and intensifying the drama.

Wow...what a wake-up call! This wasn't my first epiphany and I hope, not my last. But what I have learned from that is that my happiness, peace of mind and self-esteem are all inside me. I cannot let other people decide my state of mind or my self-image. And, should any of my loved ones turn away from me, I have to let that be their choice and their problem. As long as my love for them remains constant, I am the one who gains. You just can't stay sad 24/7 or you have a major problem. I've been down that road and it went no where.

While I was never a great fan, I loved Michael Jackson's "Man In The Mirror." The song is a lesson in the fact that the only thing we can change is ourselves. We can help "effect change" in laws and government policy if we are persistent. But changing other people is not possible nor is it healthy to attempt it. The biggest crime is making other people responsible for our emotional welfare and self-image. Adopters do this without even realizing that they are doing it. That child is supposed to take away their pain of infertility. Big job for a little one, huh? The more we depend on others for our happiness, the more disappointed we are going to be. And, we have no one to blame for that but the face in the mirror.


It has been helpful for me to learn from adopted people the things that help me understand my own adult children. But understanding the person does not change them...just me. That leaves me with what I am going to do with the understanding and that is where my responsibility to myself comes into the picture. What am I willing to do for the relationship and what am I unwilling to do? When it approaches the territory of changing my persona or my deepest held values to meet the needs of someone else, I call a halt. Sometimes the answer is "Love and let go."

Abraham Lincoln opined that most folks are as happy as they make up their minds to be. Having looked within, I have discovered that he was very right. My children, my husband, my family, my friends..they are all off the hook. My happiness is my own package to wrap.

Dearest Ones, you are the icing on the cake...but I am the cake.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Stockholm Adoptees


One of my dear adoptee friends made a comment on my  blog that had me doing some digging and research. She said that, while many adoptees strongly resist being compared to victims of Stockholm Syndrome, she found the similarities too real and too alarming to ignore. This was in response to  portions of a blog where I spoke about the adoptees feeling responsible for the emotional welfare of those who adopted them. This is the other side of the coin from mothers who suffer from PTSD and also suffer from the same emotional stress suffered by families of service people missing in action. For us it is suppressed, unresolved grief and anxiety. For the adoptee, it is survival and adaptation. All of the above is based on fear.


Per Wikipedia: In psychology, Stockholm syndrome is a term used to describe a paradoxical psychological phenomenon wherein hostages express adulation and have positive feelings towards their captors that appear irrational in light of the danger or risk endured by the victims. The FBI’s Hostage Barricade Database System shows that roughly 27% of victims show evidence of Stockholm syndrome. The syndrome is named after the Norrmalmstorg robbery of Kreditbanken at Norrmalmstorg in Stockholm, in which the bank robbers held bank employees hostage from August 23 to August 28, 1973. In this case, the victims became emotionally attached to their captors, and even defended them after they were freed from their six-day ordeal. The term "Stockholm Syndrome" was coined by the criminologist and psychiatrist Nils Bejerot, who assisted the police during the robbery, and referred to the syndrome in a news broadcast. It was originally defined by psychiatrist Frank Ochberg to aid the management of hostage situations.


The Wikipedia page goes on to explain: In cases where Stockholm syndrome has occurred, the captive is in a situation where the captor has stripped nearly all forms of independence and gained control of the victim’s life, as well as basic needs for survival. Some experts say that the hostage regresses to, perhaps, a state of infancy; the captive must cry for food, remain silent, and exist in an extreme state of dependence. In contrast, the perpetrator serves as a 'mother' figure protecting the 'child' from a threatening outside world, including law enforcement’s deadly weapons. The victim then begins a struggle for survival, both relying on and identifying with the captor. Possibly, hostages’ motivation to live outweighs their impulse to hate the person who created their dilemma.


My friend called herself an "AdAptee," readily adapting to whatever situation in which she found herself. It seems to all come down to survival and doing whatever it takes to make the most of the life into which they were placed. Even those adoptees who are the most devoted to their adopters will acknowledge the feeling of not fitting in with the rest of the adoptive family.


While I have no right to say that all adoptees suffer from a form of SS, I still have to say that this answers a lot of questions for me about some of the adoptees I know. That some would take this dependence on the good will of the adopter past the grave only shows how strong the conditioning can be. I remember being urged to consider the feelings of the adopters and thinking, very rightly, that the adopters sure weren't being urged to consider my feelings. If we dare say anything negative about adopters or adoption within the hearing range of some adoptees, we can expect a furious reply. Defending everything the adopters do, right or wrong, becomes, for some, a life-long vocation. It is a form of self-validation for many. For others, they are protecting the adopters' "as if born to" fantasy by stating, "I am of them. I am not of you. All you did was give birth to me." Even after all barriers are down and the truth is staring them in the face, they still cling to the image of the created 'family' over the blood bonds to the mother.


So, when we challenge or question any of the adopters' words or actions or even, as I did, relate our own, personal experience with adopters, the adoptee can react out of a learned fear for their survival and identity. These adoptees take upon themselves the duty to do battle in defense of the adopters as a matter of course, never stopping to ask themselves if the adopters really did do or say something outside the realm of decency. They believe it is their job to stand guard at the gates to the fantasy and only let those in who will support the illusion.


There is a new breed of Stockholm Syndrome survivors. These are the good beemommies (Such as the Birthmom Ministries group on Facebook) of today who praise the Lord, rail against abortion and simper about how glorious and good giving your own child to genetic strangers can be. It isn't just the adopters who perpetrate that dependence, but the industry as well. The clever facilitators, especially in the church-based agencies, know that they have to manipulate the mother's perception of their loss to show something they can live with..heroics and sacrifice and loving, if quickly deleted, motherhood. It's not just the adoptees who praise the takers and revile those who recognize that the Emperor is naked.


I have to thank my friend. I wish her honesty were catching. But she gave me more vital information that helps me understand my own adult, reunited children. That may not bridge the gap or reverse the damage, but it helps me, and hopefully, others, mothers and adoptees, to understand that the results of our experience have deeper and more complex roots than we knew in the beginning.


I don't have any answers to this dilemma. I am back to the truth that we can only, each, heal ourselves by accepting the truth and looking within.


That is a lot harder for some than for others.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Walking

First one month, then two,
And then I knew.
Because I asked an older friend.
I laid awake at night.
He was gone, two-thousand miles away,
I was afraid to write and tell him.
So I walked.
Down the hill to the mill pond,
Up past the grassy place where children played,
Knowing where to step.
So as not to fall over the tree roots,
Heavy and gnarled, breaking up the sidewalk.
Feeling the sweat on my face,
August ending in heat, sweat and fear.
Close to time for school again,
I didn't care.


I just wanted it to be not so.
For one little prayer to be answered,
I made promises to God,
But I guess they weren't the right ones.
I walked and passed the houses,  
Of people with perfect lives,
Or so I thought.
Pure daughters living behind those doors,
Not stained and soiled like me.
I walked and prayed,
Mile upon mile,
Day after day.
He came home and then was gone,
Rejecting me..rejecting us.
I packed my books and tried to pretend,
And when I came home,
Each day after school, homework forgotten,
I  walked,
Hands over my belly,
Big, loose sweater,
Tears held back by the fear they'd be seen.
When I told them, my mother cried.
Then, with no asking for my wishes,
Told me my fate.
I had no hope, no one else to help.
I was gone for months.
I came home in the Spring.
Empty belly, empty heart,
Only the memory,
Of a warm, sweet little body in my arms.
Same old road, same old sidewalks, so I walked.
I still do that, on cool days,
When my heart is troubled.
I walk.

Robin K. Westbrook
(c) 08/25/2010

The Twilight Of The Moms

"When they discover the center of the universe, a lot of people will be disappointed to discover they are not it." ~Bernard Bailey
I awoke to a very poignant post on Musing Mother's blog, all about reunions ending, entitled "Love You Forever." If, 10, 20 or even 30 years ago, we were the pioneers of the search and reunion phenomenon, we are now the pioneers in the results of that phenomenon. For too many of us, the results are both sad and freeing. The dichotomy is livable, though. When you reach the seventh decade of your life, you have a bit of sadness from a lot of sources in your make up. You learn to live with it. You learn to acknowledge it. You learn to not dwell in it or allow it to master your existence.

The sadness is something we had all along, from the time our babies were appropriated for adoption up to the day we realized, through our adult children, that our babies were never coming back. Sadly, we have no baby pictures and fond memories of their infancies. All that was taken by another woman by virtue of social workers, judges, attorneys and all the other players that took the joyful birth of a child and made it into a business deal.

On the upside, that freedom from walking on eggshells, biting our tongues while the adopters are worshiped at their thrones or their shrines, and feeling constrained to withhold the truth is a very big relief. It has made me realize, even more, how our children were raised in a lie. In reunion, our adult children often want to require that we participate in that big lie. Some Mothers do it willingly, willing to take whatever crumbs they can get and bite their lips until they bleed. Some of us get tired of the eggshell walk and bloody lips and speak the truth, even if it means that the adult child will bolt.

I used to wonder why they would cling to the lie. I understood the love they would have for the adopters, but had a hard time with the obligation and protectiveness of the adopters' emotions. But then I learned from adoptees, themselves, that it was what they were adopted to feel and do and what they were trained to feel and do and it is the only identity and life they know. Add to that the feelings of abandonment and pre-verbal grief, and the adopter's gift to many of our children, a sense of self-entitlement, and it's a bomb about to explode with the least provocation on our part.

The act of ending a reunion by an adoptee seems to be 50% fear of the truth and 50% the need to punish Mommy for something over which she had no control. Well, I am not going to stop telling the truth and I am not going to accept punishment. I'm enjoying the peace and absence of drama. I felt a little guilty about that until I read MM's blog. There is so much validation there. When a reunion is ended by a mother it is either a case of extreme short-sightedness, too much adoption Kool Aid, extreme fear or, for a few of us, pure exhaustion.

Maybe, one of these days, someone will come out with a primer on reunion which will really be effective. Perhaps people will go into counseling prior to reuniting to deal with that inner girl who was shamed and used and that baby who pined for Mommy. It's a wide-open field for the mental health professional who wants to approach it with eyes unclouded by adoption propaganda. 17 years ago, reeling from the grief realized in my conscious mind by reunion, I addressed the County Mental Health Commission meeting in my home town. I asked them to look at the mother of adoption loss as a case of unresolved deep grief and unearned shame. Later, I would learn that it was more. It was also the very real presence in our lives of Post Traumatic Shock Disorder.

We are still reaching out to each other for healing. I have even received healing and understanding from many adult adoptees I have met in my journey. Since I am not their mother,  therefore not someone in whom they have an emotional investment, they can help me understand things from their end, as I can help them understand things from ours. One lovely woman, who is funny and brave and hurting from the rejection she has received, told me that facing the truth about their adopters' roles in their pain is one of the most difficult and painful things to do for an adoptee but necessary for growth and healing. Yes, I can see that.

But, you know what they say about the truth. It CAN set you free. I love you, and always will. But I cannot lie to you, re-raise you or settle for crumbs.

It is what it is.


Tuesday, August 24, 2010

As The Brain Is Washed


In a recent review by the Washington Post, NPR's Scott Simon was lauded for his book, "Baby, We Were Meant For Each Other." The reviews that I have read are all of the "Oh, Isn't that just wunnnnerful" variety.

Once again, the defenders of this practice come to the fore with horror stories of Chinese orphanages and the assumptions of sainthood for the adopters. "Meant to be," is a trite concept and one that assumes that the natural mother must have been ruled by fate to conceive and then lose her child. I have a lot of trouble with that concept, just as I have a lot of trouble with the trauma dealt to the psyche of the internationally adopted. Bye-Bye homeland, language and culture along with family and home.

In this picture of Simon, wife and new acquisition, which one is NOT smiling? The happy couple are obviously successful and probably waited too long to conceive. Old eggs don't do a good job. This is another failure of the "You can have it all" idea. Children should be born to young, healthy mothers and allowed to stay with them. But "having it all" obviously means raiding another woman's womb or even the womb of a woman in another nation in order to "create a family" when natural children are not in the picture.

Adoption is a construct of human beings. It has nothing to do with fate or "God's Will" or destiny. It has everything to do with social engineering, the disruption of nature and the sense of self-entitlement of those who adopt. Add the greed of the facilitators, and there you have it. I hope that, one day, whoever came up with the idiotic phrase (I think it was Rosie O) about God putting a baby in the wrong tummy, will have to eat those words, dry with no water. What a pile of harmful crap to tell a child. And what a total lack of regard and respect this is to the mother who lost that child to adoption.

In a major case of synchronicity, my daughter's adopters gave her the same first name I gave her but dropped the last letter. It was still pronounced the same. In my one short and painful conversation I had with the woman who adopted her, when I pointed this out, she used that as an argument that it proved the adoption was "meant to be." Whenever I hear that phrase, I either want to scream or vomit. I don't think she even knew or cared how much that hurt me. She just wanted me gone, dead, in Timbuktu or Antarctica. My pain and loss meant nothing to her.

I have neighbors who adopted from China. The girls are precious and well-mannered and it breaks my heart for their mothers and families and for them every time I see them. My great-niece, whose mother is Caucasian and whose father is African-American, asked the oldest girl which parent was which race. Now Leah is only 4. She wasn't trying to hurt any one's feelings. She was just curious. But the adopter got a bit miffed and told her to go home (she and her family live just a couple of houses down). Now, I am sure that this is an extreme case. I would not think that anyone who adopted a child of another race would pretend that these children were anything other than adopted. But it still seemed to be a bone of contention with this woman.

I am so tired of the excuses and fantasies being used and spun to justify this kind of unnatural act. If they are going to do it, then call it what it is. Stop tying bows and farting rainbows. A tragedy had to happen to "create that family." If adoptophiles don't think it is a tragedy, then they need to speak to some mothers and adult adopted people. We're all, domestic and international, tired of being dismissed and our pain ignored.

That's why there are these blogs. That's why there is that rumbling you hear and why the industry and the likes of Mr. Simon have amped up the rhetoric. They have the money, but we still have our voices.

They can't out-shout us forever.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Robin, Confidential

I was fifteen and in love as only a teenage girl can be. I was sure that my daughter's father would always be the love of my life. The relationship was becoming painfully passionate and sexual and I really wasn't ready for that and didn't know how to stop it. I was only a few months away from the conception of my oldest child.



A year later, I was in a maternity home, alone, isolated, outcast from my family, friends and all I knew or from whom I had ever felt any comfort. It was the beginning of a change in me that lasted my entire life. I would never see myself in the same way again, would never trust the way I had trusted before and would feel, for years, that I was unworthy of any happiness.

Twenty-eight years later, after counseling and hard work and raising two kept children, I was beginning to allow myself some self-esteem and happiness. I was about to marry the man I am happily with today, and reaching out to life. A few years later, I would have my world rocked again when I reunited with the two adult children who were taken from me for adoption when I was so young and helpless.

These pictures have brought all this back to me in a way that has caused tears and even more anger. My human rights were violated in more ways than one. My two oldest adult children, who may not even care, have lost a precious civil right by being denied access to their original birth certificate.

The "confidential" stamp across the picture of me as a teen is symbolic. But the scarlet stamp of unworthy and unfit was put on us deliberately and we refuse to wear it any more.

I'm ready for a fight.

Generations

Yesterday, my old friend, Sylvia and her newly-reunited daughter visited again. This time, she met her granddaughter and her great-granddaughter and great-grandson. Until a few weeks ago, she didn't even know they existed.

These precious children will be able to grow up with something their mother and their grandmother didn't have...knowledge of their true heritage. They won't have to cling to a paper heritage pressed on them by genetic strangers. They won't have to feel obligated or "grateful" for anything but will be able to accept what is natural as any child does.

As one of my own reunions takes another dip on the roller-coaster, I can only be happy knowing that what I didn't know before, I know now. I also know that my grandchildren and great-grandchildren will know who I am and where I am and what kind of people form their true and natural history.

I had a dream, last night, where I saw my adult, reunited daughter standing on the edge of a precipice. She was looking for ways to climb down or a safe way to jump off and I was fearful for her. When I tried to talk her out of making that climb or leap, she said to me, "But I am going to have to if I am to get anywhere. The only other thing I can do is run back from the edge." She chose to run back from the edge.

So many of us, mothers and adopted adults, stand on the edge of knowing and accepting truth and either keep standing or run back from the edge. It takes courage to jump or even climb down. It takes an open heart and mind to accept the truth. We sit on the peak of our fantasies and pre-conceived notions because the truth is scary. The problem is, that mountain-top can get lonely.The lies and false constructs of adoption have been the way of life for so long for so many that breaking out of that trap can be terrifying. But is the alternative any better? Courage is not the absence of fear.

I try to tell the story of my journey as it happened to me with honesty. If I say something that someone doesn't want to hear, that has to be okay. It is my experience. It happened...all of it. It is truth. Truth might just be the only weapon we have in our battle to find justice for mothers..to get recognition of the fact that our human rights were ignored and our children's civil rights were taken when they were taken from us.

It's not my job to protect another adult from the truth. That kind of thing is really not fair to anyone. No matter how close you are to someone, no matter how much that person means to you, you owe yourself and them the truth. Only is adoption-land and the ins and outs of reunion can the truth cause such rancor. However, to tell the truth means that you respect the other person enough not to patronize or condescend. I refuse to treat anyone I love like they are emotional idiots.

Today, we take our Rocky back to the oncologist. The poor little fella has had to have another malignant MCT removed and now must be treated for the cells the vet wasn't able to get with surgery. Life goes on. It may not be ideal, but it is good. I do have a life. But, on the outs or in like Flynn, I carry pictures of what is true and all the whos and the wheres in my heart.

No one can take that away from me, now.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Let The Truth Be Told..Money Talks

The adopters are now giving lessons on how to pay cash for your womb-fresh infant. Said article on the site linked above gives you the how-to:

"Testimony from David and Melissa


The best piece of pre-marital advice we ever received came from my Dad just over nine years ago. He suggested that if we ever hoped to be a one-income family giving me the freedom to stay home with our children, we should budget only on that one income from day one.


We decided to take that advice to heart and right from the very beginning, my income (I’m an elementary teacher) went straight into our savings account. Over the years we’ve used those savings to help pay cash for several different things; the biggest of which was for the adoption of our daughter."

Well, Golly, Melissa. How terrific for you...not. I cannot begin to count how many adopters, facilitators and adoptees who are in the denial stage want to claim that their adoption cost nothing but "expenses" and that no one made a financial profit. Booool-Sheeeeet. Good Old American free enterprise means EVERYTHING is for sale. Why would they not find a way to market infants to infertiles?

If you access the article by the link, you will note how much these people paid for fertility treatments. That's another industry. It's not like people can accept the fact that it just hasn't happened for them yet and move on with their lives. No. It's like a deranged Muppet..Baby Monster, "Me want Baby Now..Om nom nom nom." The age of self-entitlement has hit its zenith. And what PAPs want, PAPs will get.

The marketing is so slick, so pervasive and so woven into the tapestry of our national culture that young mothers-to-be, sans husbands, just swim headlong into the net like a school of tuna. I have learned, to my horror, that many of these young moms, with pain and sadness, went through with the surrender because they didn't want to disappoint the PAPs. So, somewhere along the line, these moms were persuaded that their rights as mothers were overruled by the desires of the PAPs. If I had a time machine, I would go back about 49 years and disappoint the Hell out of four PAPs.

Now, other than their medical expenses and, most of the time, not even that, these mothers do not receive money for their precious cargo. Women who would actually sell their babies are not in numbers worth counting. But they, like pretty-meat-on-the-hoof Beauty Pageant Contestants, will accept the "scholarships" offered by Gladney and other agencies. I can guarantee you that these agencies make a whole lot more from the adoption than the amount of the so-called "scholarships." They profit from another lie that contradicts what is done all the time..that a young woman cannot finish her schooling "weighed down" by a baby. What nonsense! Young women do it all the time. Single women raise healthy and successful human beings on their own and, often, can prosper while doing so if just given a bit of a boost in the beginning.

I am so tired of the facilitators and those that keep the industry alive, ie; the adopters, saying that it isn't a money-making proposition. Someone, somewhere, gets compensated, even if it is just a guaranteed, continued paycheck for a social worker. Their employer states get federal goodies when they facilitate adoption.

This is why, in a capitalistic society, it is so hard to fight the Beast. Our revolution was more about funds than freedom. We are a Republic, not a Commonwealth and our ties to the Mother-Country were broken with blood and mayhem. And, although our founding fathers were, for the most part, non-religious, or Free-Thinkers or Theists, the judgmental, fundamental and harsh thread of the early Puritan colonists' dogma is woven throughout our culture. Other "First-World" nations laugh at our obsession with the sex lives of our elected officials.

In order for there to be any real, measurable change in the toll taken by adoption, we are probably going to have to strike at the very heart of our government on a Federal level. Open records may have to be obtained state by state, but the damage done by the Industry to both mother and adoptee needs to be addressed by the very apex of our power structure. It is clearer and clearer every day that we serve the government rather than the government serving us. We have to challenge, with vigor, the idea that our families are fodder for the market place.

We can start by using our voices and our blogs and forums to spread information, such as the article on which I based this blog. We don't have to search too hard to find a gold mine of examples and experiences on which to base our written and verbal protests. We have already succeeded in lighting a fire under the complacent fanny of the NCFA. Let's keep it up and continue to deny that idea that anyone is more entitled to our children than we are.

Sooner or later, they will trip over their own greed.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Those Saintly Adopters

If ever a segment of the population was beatified by myth and misunderstanding, it would be those who adopt. Somewhere, in our Puritanical melange of sexual fears and foibles, infertility became another word for purity. Those who adopt became the rescuers, the icons of parental perfection and, most damaging of all, the more ENTITLED.

We were promised something that, at the time, we didn't know couldn't be delivered when we were shorn of our infants by the "adoption good shepherds." We had to believe because we had no other option. It was either believe that these paragons that were being described to us were real or go completely insane with worry. Through the veil of secrecy and judgement, we saw Ward and June Cleaver...clean and wise and oh, so parental. These people were presented, as it was told to one of my friends as "the better parents for your child."

We had already become less than worthy in the eyes of our parents and society and, often, even in the eyes of the boys who fathered our children. Being presented with Joseph and Mary as alternatives to shameful us was dirty pool. With our backs against the wall, we hung on to that picture in our minds in order to do what we were being compelled to do. It was also implied that, since these adopters would be so perfect for our children, our children would never have a need to know us. Indeed, we were threatened with jail and worse should we ever try to find our children.

Imagine the surprise, horror, fear and frustration of those who adopt and the facilitators when our adult children started searching for and FINDING their natural mothers. As one adopter put it when the woman they had adopted as an infant told them of her wonderful discovery, "How did this happen? We were told this would be impossible." With the search and reunion phenomenon came the realization that those who adopt had a very human set of horns beneath their halos.

In their own words: "After all we have given you, you want to know that slut?" "She didn't want you then. Why should she want you now?" "Poor people don't deserve to raise children. They made their own problems." "That little bitch decided to keep OUR baby. That baby should belong to US. We deserve it more than a 16-year-old whore." "If you insist on seeing that woman you can forget about your inheritance." "I always knew you had some bad blood in you. Why else would you do this to us?" Please note that these statements came from adoptees relating them to their natural mothers or on support groups.

The jealousy, insecurity, possessiveness and all the other results of never directly addressing their infertility issues and other problems  came pouring out in disparaging and hateful remarks. They had paid for "as if born to" and they were not going to admit the didn't get their money's worth. Then there were those who pretended support, but only in order to control the reunion. These are the women who would sit with the mother and share photos but never offer her copies. There are the women who were sure to be first at the table of family goodies.

For the majority of us mothers in reunion, we learned a sad truth. Our children may have been loved, but that love carried conditions. Our children were there, not to be raised in a better family and protected from the label of illegitimacy, but to salve the adopter's emotions and fill their need to be seen as parents. There were a few note-worthy exceptions but they only proved the rule.

Now, we are not talking about those who adopted older, special needs children who had been languishing in foster care. We are talking about the adopters who lusted after the womb-fresh infant. These are the adopters that drank the Kool Aid of their group, which made them believe that they were more worthy than the natural mother. Most of them knew the pain this must have caused that mother, but they really didn't and still don't care. They also turned a blind eye to the primal grief and confusion of the child they adopted. The emotional impact on the adoptee was tremendous, but that has not been what the majority of adopters wanted to know. One of their own, Nancy Verrier, wrote about this impact in "The Primal Wound" and still the demand for fresh baby-flesh prevails.

When many of us emerged from our "good little beemommy" fog, one of the first hard lessons we learned is that St. and Ste. Adopters did not exist. Human all, some were worse and some were better but all were just as flawed as anyone else. And some did some really hateful and nasty things to us and to the children they purported to love. The attachment many of us have noticed between our adult children and their adopters is more co-dependent than familial. Even to the grave and beyond, many an adoptee is doing their duty to protect the feelings of the adopter and losing themselves in the fight.

The mother usually sits back and lets this happen because she cannot be drawn into this dysfunction without losing the tenuous relationship with the adoptee and causing more emotional harm to herself. If the adoptee is willing, they will notice who puts the pressure on and who doesn't. Sometimes, we slip and let it out and there is a confrontation and a back-off.  And sometimes, self-esteem refuses to let us stay silent so we say our piece and let the water find its own level. Sometimes it works out. Sometimes it doesn't. That's when you love and let go.

I don't apologize for being angry and mistrustful of those who adopt. My experience and the experiences of many of my friends, mothers AND adoptees, have shown me that the superhuman adopter is a myth told to vulnerable young girls and the general public. I have to wonder how many people adopt just to catch a halo for themselves? It is their pretension to superiority. Right now, I am talking to an old friend and her reunited daughter...said daughter having been emotionally abused for most of her life by the "superior (read rich)" adopters. It hurts to hear her talk about it, just as it has hurt to see the results of adoption trauma in my own children.

We all really need to take another close look at Ward and June,

Friday, August 20, 2010

Mother, Behold YOUR Child

A friend of mine saw a bumper sticker, probably from an anti-choice group, with a picture of a fetal ultrasound image and the words, "Woman, behold your son." That is from the Bible and was supposedly said by Jesus to Mary while he was being crucified as he turned her care over to his apostle, John.

The thing is that this message, this bumper-sticker, can backfire on these folks because that picture proves that motherhood begins with gestation, not adoption. How I wish that we had been able to avail ourselves of this technology during the EMS. I wonder how many of our parents, once they saw their grandchild in utero, would have re-thought the idea of surrender. I wonder how many of us mothers might not have dug in and fought a bit harder.

The bond I felt with my unborn children began the moment I could feel that first little flutter of life. I went with my granddaughter to see an ultrasound of my great-grandson when she was expecting him and I was hooked. When you can see your flesh and blood developing inside you, how much more difficult would it be to surrender? We were not even supposed to be allowed the joy of feeling that life within because we were waiting for that moment when our babies would be born and lost to us. Most of us still, as is natural, were overwhelmed with love as we felt each little kick and shuffle.

There is a new bill being introduced on a national level..an "Adoption Support Act" which will offer even more monetary goodies to the saintly adopters and which will allow the Adoption Industry to raid the dwindling Social Security coffers. Most of us EMS mothers are now dependent on that Social Security Income , which many of us paid into for years while working. It's OUR money. That they want to use it for adoption incentives just really rattles my chain, big time. Musing Mother will be blogging more about this issue.

I wonder, if the legislature passes that idiotic insult, if we can sue for more benefits since we certainly gave our all to that endeavor? What about using the money to help mother and child stay together. In any event, KEEP YOUR DEWCLAWS OFF MY SOCIAL SECURITY!! (I am, after all, a Senior Mother)

To me, this bumper sticker, with its supposed "adopt, don't abort" message is a good one for our needs. It shows us the fact that we are doing something ordained by a higher power than a government or a court. It says, plainly, "behold YOUR," NOT, "behold someone's" child. The insidious methods now being used to try to implement pre-birth agreements and brainwash the mother into seeing the child inside her as belonging to others is becoming more and more prevalent. That is the legacy that we leave if we remain silent about the truth of surrender and its effects.

The next time I hear someone claim to be "paper pregnant" I am going to ask to see their ultrasound. Will it show an image of a drawing of a baby inside the PAP? There is no way that hoping/wanting to adopt and expecting a biological child can be compared. I think that is why I enjoyed being pregnant so much with my two oldest. While they were inside me, they were still MINE. I would sit and sleep with my hands over my growing belly as if protecting the life inside me.

The pro-adoption rhetoric is growing stronger and the benefits offered to those who prey on the mothers is increasing. We were told to go and remain silent. Now that we have disregarded the instructions, the industry lobbyists are gearing up even more. I think we have scared them. I think they see angry mothers and adult adoptees as a real threat.

And they most certainly should. I am out to take them down.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Reasonable Expectations

Just about everyone except the hermit from the mountaintop cave has heard the famous line from "Forrest Gump," and can even add in the drawl.."Lahf is lahk a box of chaw-klets..you nevah know what you'ah gonna get." As trite as it seems, it is still a very sage observation. I mean, how many times have you bitten into a luscious-looking bit from a fancy box only to get something totally unexpected and maybe not as palatable as you had hoped?

Adoptees who are campaigning for access to their original birth certificates are, basically, wanting to open that box. Yes, I know it is about civil rights just as justice for the mothers of the EMS is about human rights. But let's get real. That OBC leads to one destination...the natural mother. I can only observe, since I can't get into any one's head any more than they can get into mine. But I wonder about the expectations of the adoptee once they get that document that is, after all, rightfully theirs. How many of them are prepared, as much as anyone can be, to accept what they find?

Most will find a normal woman...everywoman...who has tried to make a life for herself after the most traumatic loss a mother can endure. A few might find a grave and, perhaps, siblings. Some might find a mother who overdosed on the Adoption Kool Aid and won't come out of the closet. Some learn painful truths such as the occurrence of rape and incest. Here and there, you will find a mom in an institution or deep into senile dementia. You sure can't count on the non-identifying information that you receive from the various agencies and state facilitators for accurate background information. The social workers from the closed, secret adoption era (EMS) were good at twisting facts to suit their agenda.

There are a lot of things that fall under the heading of unreasonable expectations. It is unreasonable to expect the mother to forsake all others in her family and give her adult child 100% of herself. She has had to share you, trusting in whatever Higher Power in whom she believes to care for you, for decades. If she has a husband and other, raised children, you will have to share her. Do not expect her to fit herself, willingly, into whatever niche you have in mind for her. It's almost better to have the mom in some nebulous category than to deny her motherhood by fitting her into the "friend" or "auntie" box.

Don't expect someone who will bow to all your needs, especially the need to control. This person who gave birth to you has been through a trauma of her own. She also will have a few years of life experience on you. If she is in her senior years, it might be that she can't tolerate a lot of angst and drama. She can't fix you any more than you can fix her. Mutual respect is the key, here.

Don't expect her to worship at the same adopter altar, either. I think that, in many cases, civility is about the best you can hope for, IF the adopters are on the same page with that. She can respect the feelings that the adoptee has for the only parents they have ever known, but she cannot be expected to respect the actual people, especially if they are hostile and possessive. To expect her to like and respect people who really don't want her anywhere around is one of the most unreasonable expectations you can have. Everyone has a right to be treated with civility and natural mothers are not doormats for adoptees or adopters. And, it is not the adoptee's responsibility to be a caretaker for the emotions of other adults, including their adopters.

It will be reasonable to take everything you have ever been told about your natural mother and place it to one side. Many lies are told to many an adoptee and it can come as a shock to the system when they find a decent, respectable woman with values and accomplishments. It will be reasonable to curtail any attempts at control. She was just as controlled by others as you were. The only difference is that she can remember it. She will have her fantasies too, and if she finds that all was not roses and lollipops for her surrendered child, she will be angry and disappointed and hurt but she will deal with it. She was lied to, just as much as you were.

There is and will always be her motherhood to consider. Even though she didn't change the diapers and clean up the throw-up and shop for the school clothes and give time-outs, the act of gestating and giving birth made her a mother. For nine months, her body and emotions were being prepared for mothering. It is like a stillbirth without the grave or the closure. They took her parental rights and responsibilities. They did not take away the love, hope, worry and all the other things that make up her motherhood. No matter how you see her, in her heart of hearts, she will always be your mother and you will always be her child. Mother Nature did what no adoption decree can do. Deny if you wish, but it will not change facts.

Expect to have your misperceptions and assumptions challenged by what you find. Yes, a few find a rejecting and less than upstanding citizen. Most find open arms and a woman with a hole in her heart left by the infant you. She will have just as much adjusting and processing to do as you do so keep the communication honest, but not harsh. Don't find and then back away without an explanation. If you need time, tell her.

These ideas about expectations extend to the exiled mother, as well. Too often, a mother is shocked and dismayed to be the object of resentment and even hatred. That flies in the face of all the things she was told. She was told you would thank her for her sacrifice. Most want neither the anger nor the thanks...just a chance to know the person their baby became. For the mother to expect to become the only Mama and numero uno in the adoptee's life is unrealistic, except in some very rare cases. The adoptee is already torn so the mother needs to be aware.

For many, mother and adoptees, there are very damaged people at the end of a search. Adoption, itself, is damaging on both ends. I was once a part of an online support group for exiled mothers and the majority of us had adult children with addictions and emotional illnesses. Some adoptees also have found mothers with emotional difficulties and who struggle with substance abuse. These are the casualties of the Industry's actions. Same coin, different sides.

It is reasonable to expect that this will be a deeply emotional meeting with a hard road ahead in forming a relationship. Some work and some don't. In the event that it doesn't work out, it isn't necessary to carry a burden of blame or chew on it forever. The damage was done long ago, by a voracious industry and smug social engineers with their "perfect solution." There is still life to be lived and happiness for those who work at it.

 One of my favorite adoptee friends, a lady with an unreal sense of humor and an ability to learn and grow, said that the hardest part of finding healing is realizing and accepting the role of the adopters in their pain. No matter how good the intentions or how much love was given, the act of adopting a child and the unreasonable expectations placed on that child can cause a lot of damage. Being honest with yourself is hard, but what in life isn't? We are not the most persecuted or traumatized group of people on this earth. There is always someone who had it rougher than you. Pain contests and terminal uniqueness lead to addiction, depression and a life wasted.

It's all about playing the hand we were dealt and examining our expectations. Let's keep them reasonable.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

There IS a Difference


To look at them, you wouldn't think that there is a difference other than the obvious physical traits. But, imagine that one is a natural mother and the other is an adopter. They both stand the same chance of divorce, dysfunction, addiction, abuse and other things of that nature. That is something that I have never argued.

But there is still something that happens in most adoptive situations that very seldom occurs in natural families. All Mother jokes aside about guilt trips, most normal, natural mothers do not make their emotional welfare the responsibility of their children. Most children raised by their natural mothers don't feel the need to protect their mother's emotional well-being. That is primarily an adoptive thing and here's why.

The adoptive situation is dysfunctional from the get-go because there is no real altruism in adopting, especially in infant adoption. That baby, and it could be any baby because no adoptee is "chosen" by anyone, is adopted, usually, because the PAPs cannot or think they cannot conceive. That inability to conceive is never addressed through any kind of counseling so it is a part of the psyche of the adopter. It is just assumed that adopting will solve the problem. So, from infancy, that baby is there to make the adopters feel better about their life situation. This is what the Industry promises. The very construct of adoption is a fantasy with the idea that "as if born to" means that child will take on the characteristics, likes, dislikes, talents, etc., of the adoptive family. I cannot begin to count the number of times I have heard an adoptee say, "I never felt like I fit in with my adoptive family."

The adopters are usually not very happy about there being another mother "out there" and, should she appear in the flesh, they are often faced with a hard reality. They cannot erase DNA. So they, either subtly or overtly, expect loyalty and a sense of obligation that will keep the mother and natural family at bay. Often conditions are attached to the love the adopters give the adoptee when the mother is in the picture. A lot of adoptees don't like to accept this as fact, even as they are evincing the behavior that proves the point. While they may have felt a sense of not belonging, they cannot risk the only security and identity they have ever known by trusting the adopters to love them unconditionally. So they defend and protect and hold on tight.

In order to do this, they will often try to build a niche into which they can place the relationship with the natural mother. The problem with that is that we mothers don't go easily into the niches, especially those of us who have fought for and regained the self-esteem we lost when we lost our children to adoption. I think a lot of mothers are in a type of fantasy, as well, when we expect to reunite and become "instant Mamas." Of course, we get disabused of that fantasy in a big, hot hurry. For me, I would not want to try to "re-raise" an adult child.

We get a lot of mixed messages from "you will never be my mother" to "forsake all others and be my MOMMY." There is every level in between and when you factor in the lies, the subtle messages and, at times, overt hostility, there is no big, happy, extended family waiting in the reunion scenario for most of us. At best, it is an on again, off again walk through an emotional mine field. Now I don't know how other moms handle this or feel about it, but I am 65, retired and tired and just want some peace. I don't really care if there are those who disagree with me about whether or not adopters act like...well, adopters. But I am not going to pander to the obligation, fixation and dysfunction.

There is no way I will be batted back and forth like a badminton bird in order to have a relationship with any of my children, raised or reunited. But, there are also no conditions on my love. It is there and I am there for all my children. If they are angry with me for any reason, unless I feel that I have, indeed, wronged them, they can just scratch their mad spot, as my grandmother used to say. They will always know how to find me if they need me.

Denying the truth of the fact that adoptees are made responsible for the emotional welfare of their adopters is, to me, like denying the inevitability of death. It is what it is and it is obvious to all who really look. I guess the reason it is denied is a lot like a friend of mine was describing..whatever situation you are raised in , you think it is normal for everyone. She was raised by an alcoholic father and a codependent mother. She was in her teens before she realized that heavy drinking and the results of that addiction didn't happen in every household.

So I disagree that this kind of attachment is as prevalent in natural families as in adoptive. To be honest, in most natural families, we don't need that kind of emotional reassurance from our raised children. Love is most often easy and comfortable and, usually, not questioned. Yeah, there are a few natural parents that lay harsh trips on their children and are dysfunctional. But they are a minority just as adopters who kill the children they adopt are in the minority.

But that emotional obligation thing? Hey, that's the majority in adoptive territory.

*Note: I have put in bold face the sections that I think a few should re-read. Yes, I know that there are some dysfunctional natural families where a natural parent will try to lay an obligation trip on their raised children. I also know that, not being adopted, most of these kids rebel and go their own way without hang ups from "deserting" their parents. I suggest that everyone read in CONTEXT, not just CONTENT. I stand by every word as my honest observations. OK?

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

More On Reunion and Expectations

I got quite a response from my original post on this topic. Most comments were very much in agreement and citing the pitfalls of their own reunions. I got one negative response from an unexpected source. I also have done a lot of thinking about my own journey.

The picture at the left is me in April of 1989. I was 43, newly divorced and in a relationship with the wonderful man who is now my husband and the love of my life. I was all tied up in this new stage of my life and in this man who really seemed to respect me. I was still in the good barfmuggle fog and, although I was making stabs at searching, I was so frustrated by it all that I lost myself in new love, work, friends and trying to be reassuring to my adult, raised children.

Fast-forward to 1993 and it was double-whammy time. The daughter that I had been told by the SC DSS did not exist in their data bank (a lie) found me and we met each other the same day she called. Then in November of that same year, we found my son. I guess I thought that we could just go on with our lives but with the newly-found family members as an integral part. WRONG.

The truth is not easy to know, sometimes. Whether if fits the fantasy memory or not, the fact is that the adopters really wanted me put in and kept in what they saw as "my place." I wound up a dirty secret for my daughter, who saw me and talked to me without the knowledge of the adopters and this continued up to their passing. There were other hard and painful things going on in her life and it was a trying time for us both. My son, the young man I had told a friend would be, when we found him, either a minister or a convict, turned out to be the latter. I don't know where I got that flash of insight but it was true. He is truly a lost soul and remains one to this day. He wants me in his life but seems to go through spells when he wants no one around, period.

That same year, I quit smoking, lost my job, my father-in-law died, we started noticing that my stepson was having some serious problems and I was dealing with my new marriage. It was getting a rocky start due to the baggage we had brought with us from our less-than-successful first marriages. The only things that survived from that mess were my marriage and my non-smoking efforts, I still don't smoke. I found work on a less responsible, prestigious level, kept fighting to hold my new marriage together and dealt with the on-again, off-again reunion roller-coaster. My reunited son was deep into his addictions and violent behavior. My daughter was dealing with child custody and the demands of her adopters.

Over the years, life has gone on despite the fact that I was getting to know my own flesh and  blood and experiencing, again, the loss of my babies. My step-son, deeply depressed, took his own life just before graduation from high school. My marriage evened out and we moved to FL to start over. But it has always seemed that my reunions were static...neither excellent nor bad...just there. I spent a lot of time, and still do, trying to learn and grow and heal. I don't have all the answers but I do know that I am a lot better than I was and that I have learned acceptance of what was and what is.

I also know the difference between the things I can change and the things I can't. Nothing about the past can be undone. I cannot fix, even with all the love in my heart, the problems of another human being..even my own child. Healing comes from within and spreads outward. Looking for it in others is a form of emotional vampirism. No matter what trauma we have experienced through adoption loss, and believe me, there are many traumas just as bad or worse than what we mothers and adult adoptees went through, no one else can make us okay. If that were possible, we would do it and have things just the way we wanted them...and probably be bored to tears.

One of the things I learned about in reunion that still grinds my gizzard (southern, bless my heart) is the burden placed on adopted children, as small children, of responsibility for the emotional welfare of the adopters. I have also seen this behavior of people-pleasing in many other adoptees. That is an unbearable and unfair pressure for any child OR adult. To be fair, I don't think that many adopters realize what they are doing or why. It just seems that the need and the fears outweigh the good of the adoptee.

In a natural parent-child relationship, there is the truism that we seek whatever is both good for our child and what makes that child whole and happy. That seems to stop, with adopters, when what might be good for their adult child and might make them happy is a relationship with the natural mom.THAT is conditional love and I don't like it. This is the whole problem with that "as if born to"  fantasy that the Industry promotes.

So many of us stumble through reunion with our eyes wide shut. Some take whatever the opposite number deals out and walk on eggshells. Others learn, after a while to communicate honestly and set reasonable boundaries. It was many years from Werner Von Braun's first combat rockets to the Saturn V which launched our first astronauts into space. He was a pioneer. We are pioneers and, all claim aside, there are no experts except the ones who are living through it. It has just been in the neighborhood of 30 years since the search and reunion phenomenon began.

Until we begin to be taken seriously and are not seen as nebulous threats to each other (actually to the Industry and its customers), the only way we can learn is through experience and, if we are really smart, through the experiences of others. I am hoping that, by the time we learn how to get the rocket launched, it will be a moot point and there will be no more secrets, lies and mothers, babies and adult children in flux. I would love to see a nation that honors mothers rather than preying on the vulnerable ones and deciding who has a right to be a mother. Our constitution takes a beating on this one.

Until then, I would love to take some of the people I know, in reunion, and give them a Cher slap and say, "snap out of it!" Mama, your child is not your problem and adoptee, your Mama is not yours. Own your problems and you'll come a lot closer to finding solutions.

In the words of the late, great Bob Marley, "Let's get together and feel all right."

Monday, August 16, 2010

Formal Notice


Please see Musing Mother's (Sandy's) blog post with this title. We are becoming tired of being stalked. We have ignored, even when the stalking has invaded our homes and mailboxes and phones. Now we are seeking legal advice. We've really had enough. It is time for the Comments Section Stalker to go bye-bye.

The Paradox Project

A friend, an adoptee, is gathering ideas for a blog on paradoxes and I am going to send her to this blog for another entry. I am going to concentrate on one of the first paradoxical shocks to my system..the humanity of the adopters.

You see, when we were in the maternity prisons of the EMS/BSE, we were really given the old hard sell where the potential adopters were concerned. We were given information that made all who adopt resemble a combination of Donna Reed, Mother Teresa and Florence Nightingale for the ladies and Ward Cleaver, Saint Peter and Ben Cartwright for the gentlemen. How could we, mere mortals, young, alone and vulnerable, hope to compete with these paragons? That was one more nail in the coffin in which the SW's hoped to bury our motherhood.

Whenever I found myself beside myself with worry over what might have happened to my two lost children, I would remember the glowing descriptions of the PAPs I received all those many years ago and would find a small measure of comfort in that and in my prayers for their welfare. I had to believe they were in the best of all possible worlds or go crazy.

Coming out of the fog was a shock to my system in more ways than one. I learned that those who adopt are no better than any of the rest of us. They divorced, had substance abuse problems, went bankrupt, had affairs and abused, yes abused, the children they adopted in proportion to those who raised natural children. It has even been postulated that the incidence of abuse is higher in adoptive situations. I know that one of my children endured it, physically. I know of more who were abused emotionally, physically and, to my rage and disgust, sexually. Even when there is the best of all possible situations, there is still a form of emotional abuse in the fact that these children were adopted, not because they needed to be, but because they were intended to fill a gap in the lives of the adopters. I also found that adopters can be very insecure.

I am sorry, but I think that being made to bear the burden of an adult's emotional well-being IS emotional abuse. I saw the results of conditional love. I saw the pressure, the lack of acceptance of the adoptee as they were and are. I saw the frustration, confusion and pain of the adoptee. I saw the lies the adopted were told. There was either the specious, non-sensical, "she gave you up because she loved you," (huh?) or we were dead (I was killed in an accident..yeah, right) or uncaring sluts or an amalgamation of all three. Hey, they had to find a way to get the kid's mind off that woman!

I know that there are exceptions in adopter-land, but to me, they only prove the rule. The biggest paradox of all is that, as it is stated over and over again, adoption is NOT about a home for a child but about a child for a home. Adopters are human, the are prone to the same shortcomings as any other person and they seem, for the most part, to have an extra "self-entitlement" gene from somewhere. Most of the ones I know are convinced that they deserved that child more than the child's natural mother did.

This is a paradox from the view of the Exiled Mother. We who have tip-toed through the eggshells, taken whatever was dished out by adopters and our children in the name of the adopters, and done anything else we could do to keep that found, adult child in our lives, see clearly through the fog of lies and fairy tales we were told as we struggled to find anyone who would help us keep our babies. That clarity is something with  which we are cursed. Our tongues are scarred from the biting we do to keep the peace.

Just as all the general public has to do is look around them and the women going about everyday lives to see what an Exiled Mother looks like, all they have to do is look around them at the same people to know who the adopters are. Oh wait! With the adopters, there may be a slight glimmer of a halo.

They are saints, after all.