Saturday, December 30, 2006

As The Internet Turns

Yes, it has become a soap opera in many ways. There are factions, feuds, cliques and those who feel excluded and disregarded. People make deep relationships with people they have never laid eyes on and, in many cases, with whom they have never spoken.

Disparate views are treated with the same attacks that might be reserved for someone doing something REALLY bad and there are those who just want to be at the top of the heap, no matter what. There are self-designated "experts" and those who criticize and those who want 15 minutes of fame or more. Then there are our friends, the people on OUR side, who feel they need to set themselves up as the hand-slapping conscience of the groups and decide what should be said and what shouldn't be said. Add to that the depressed and self-involved that see every commission and omission directed solely at them. That already looks like a giant, dysfunctional family, doesn't it?

I have seen online news forums used, usually by adoption facilitators, adopters, grateful adoptees and "happy burfmuggles" to attack activist moms and those moms who still grieve their loss. Some of the comments are so hateful ("she's the one who spread her legs" as if this person made it to marital bliss untouched..right?) that they can take the breath from your lungs in sympathy with the person or groups attacked. Mothers of adoption loss (yes, I think we suffered a terrible loss and I use this term without apologies to those "fer us and agin us") are prime targets of this vitriol and the individuals among us who speak out are targeted, with relish, by some of the above-mentioned persons.

I sometimes want to laugh and say, "hit us with your best shot," because we Moms of the BSE have already been there and done that. We're old hands at being called loose, sluts, promiscuous, etc. "Crackwhore" is relatively new, but I am sure that if crack addiction had been a social problem of that magnitude in our era, we would have had that label affixed to us, as well. That is something for the adopters of today to point to whenever their greedy need is in question.

So, one of the greatest tools for fast communication, education and enlightenment ever to emerge on to the scene, the Internet, is becoming a sad combination of feuding ground, gossip column and hate-mail purveyor. For every heartfelt story that is published in a blog or website or on a mailing list or forum, there are dozens of people who will argue, cut, abuse and ridicule and safely do so, to the point of slander, from the safety of their anonymous keyboards.

Sometimes I take a bit of a break away from the larger Internet out There and concentrate on my real life and smaller groups where there is less turmoil. Even then, on these private groups, you can run into some sticky situations. But, in my own living room, away from the one-eyed monster, I remember what life and love is and that the faceless people with their smugness and hate and self-interest run riot are just words on a screen with a nick-name attached. What is said or not said, a year down the line, will probably not matter at all in the larger picture of real life.

I'm 61 any my husband is 67. We are watching retirement for both of us becoming a reality within months and I probably will not spend as much time at this keyboard. Our life together and the good use of the years we have left are my number one priority. Yes, I care about the struggle against adoption and I will continue to write and send my letters to the editors and congresspeople. But, I am still waiting for some cohesion, some justice and some kind of activism that puts egos and dogmatic absolutes to one side to do more. Right now, the Internet turns and anarchy reigns.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Keeping Christmas

There have been years when I felt like a female, modern Scrooge. I went through the motions, but felt no lifting of the spirits or extra warmth towards my fellow man/sister women. I shopped, I bought and I decorated, but it was all done on "Holiday Auto-Pilot."

You'd think that, this year, I would really be a Grinch on Wheels. I missed the opportunity to go visit my children and deliver their presents due to a bad case of the flu which turned into something worse (I'm much better, now). My 92-year-old Mother-in-law's significant other passed away, early yesterday, and I heard Mom cry for the first time in the 18 years I have known her. My younger daughter is having a spell of bad luck, job-wise and the dishes I ordered came to me with half of them broken. One of my nieces is being a total putz and my sister-in-law is heartbroken over it. My grandson is spending Christmas in the DMZ in Korea, and I won't see my kids, grandchildren or great-grandchildren this Christmas.

Why is it, then, that I am croaking out the Carol of the Bells as I do housework and humming while I wrap the last of the gifts? Why am I walking around the neighborhood after dark, now that I am able, to admire the lights and decorations? I'm not even put off of the spirit of the season by this terrible, non-winter weather that I have complained about for the past 10 years since I moved here to FL. Have I been visited by the three spirits, Past, Present and Future, and seen the light?

Nah! I just think that, by the grace of whatever Power there is, I am living in the here and now and not sweating the small stuff. Even the biggies come with that invisible label that I have learned to read that says, "This, too, shall pass." I have come to a place of peace with my reunited children and have a more philosophical attitude and less expectations. I am grateful that all are alive, well and working at life, even if they screw up from time to time. I have my husband with me and he's well and doing what he wants to do which is work...a lot. Right now, I am better, the lights are lovely and the fight against the adoption industry and adoption injustice will still be there after the Holidays.

So, in the here and now, I am going to relax, enjoy my husband, play some Christmas music, spend some time with my Mom-in-law and be glad I can do those things. Sometimes you have to just slow down and be a regular person rather than always being a Warrior Mother. I keep reminding others that we do have a life that is apart from these blogs and groups and adoption. I'll practice what I preach then, right now, I think I'll wait for my screen-saver. It shows a snow-storm. Merry Christmas.

Friday, December 15, 2006

The Pain Competition

I'm a little bit miffed by a some recent posts on a few online support sites. Here's my rant;

I have noticed, within the adoption support community online, a definite trend towards a sad and unecessary competition. There is the adopted person who says that, because they were innocent babies with no choice, their pain is worse than that of the mother. There are mothers who suffered from secondary infertility who seem to believe they can claim a deeper wound than that of those mothers who went on to have other children. There are the frozen moms who are sure that their world will collapse if they have to deal with the truth in the person of their adult child and, within each group of moms, moms who didn't have more children, frozen moms and adopted people, there is jockeying for "most damaged" position...PTSD, bi-polar, name it...someone has had "more terrible damage done to me than to thou." Somehow, everyone in this equation seems to have forgotten that heartbreak and trauma are just that...heartbreak and trauma. We all have drunk from that well.

There are those so deeply into their own wounds that they enter reunion seeming to believe they are OWED something by their opposite number. When they don't get it, then mommy is a lying bitch or son or daughter are spoiled, hateful brats and everyone tries to push everyone else to one side to claim what they think is their rightful place at the top of the wailing wall. While no one should accept verbal, emotional or any other kind of abuse at the hands of their reunited adult child or mother, there seems a great dearth of understanding on the part of some people. These people, whom we call "familiar strangers," have lived a life apart from us. They are who they are. Life happens!

There is no law that says the person you find at the end of your search should solve all your problems, make you feel wanted and loved, be comfortable accepting your love, or be the epitome of your fondest imaginings. We are all human beings..individual and varied. Someone said, about us moms, that we are "everywoman." It's true, so if an adult child is looking for the careless, promiscuous slut or the ethereal, tragic heroine, they are, more than likely, going to be disappointed. Nine times out of ten, they are going to find an ordinary woman who either managed to cope well...or didn't.

The same applies to our adult children. There are those who turned out well and those who didn't and those who want to blame mom for everything from their drinking to their anger to their ingrown toenails. There are those who want a pound of flesh, those who just want answers and, for the most part, those who are genuinely just looking for a lost loved one..just people. Expecting an adult version of Little Orphan Annie/Pollyanna/Tom Sawyer is unrealistic to the max. Unrealistic expectations on either end are unfair to the other person and, in the long run, ourselves.

In other words...these are PEOPLE...fallible and seeking the same thing everyone in the world seeks; happiness, peace and love. Some go about it right...others screw up. But the fact remains that all have been hurt, badly. So, when we don't find that pot of emotional gold at the end of the adoption reunion rainbow, we are left with what we had in the beginning...ourselves. That's where we have to turn to find what we really need, what we can't find in the form of that mother or adult child. Healing ourselves is our job and ours alone. No matter what we want to think, no one else owns any piece of us. Wholeness is there and it just needs recognition and accepting.

So, instead of debating who might be the most wounded/damaged/traumatized among us, we need to keep sharing and caring. We can't make Jane's Mom accept a reunion, but we can hear Jane's pain and let her know we care. We can't make Mary's son treat her with respect as his mother, but we can offer our shoulders on which she can cry. And, most importantly, we cannot hold our pain as being more sacred, more intense or more anything than anyone else's, I don't care what you've endured. Pain is pain, and terminal uniqueness is a dangerous path to walk.

Reunion between an adult adopted person and the mother is one of the most emotionally charged situations that can occur in a lifetime. I know...I've done it twice (as have some no competetion here..I am one of a crowd). If we all seem a little bit crazy when it happens, or when we are trying to make it happen, I would file that under "to be expected." But please, please ditch the grandiosity. Your pain may not have the exact same flavor, but it has the same heft. In our quest for justice and resolution, I doubt that self-exalted martyrs would make good warriors.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Just Musing and Recuperating

I've not done any posting here in over a week. We've been battling the flu at our house. Even though hubby and I both received flu shots, this one got in under the radar. I am just now emerging from my self-contained dungeon of misery, able to take a breath now and then without coughing and finally free of fever. This also put a major halt in my Christmas preparations and I am frantically trying to make up for the lost time.

Trying to get packages ready to go to SC is at the top of my agenda, now. Everyone else on the gift list will have to take a number and wait while I see to my children and the great-grands. Both my first-born and I are getting very frustrated with the fact that very few mail-order gift companies will ship anything good to the DMZ in Korea. That's where my grandson is, this Christmas, and it would be so nice for him to get something fun for the holiday he is being forced to spend away from his wife and son. Our bad, for thinking that all we had to do was log on, click and send. Humbug!!

Yesterday was also my kid sister's 57th birthday which she spent being thrown from the back of a horse she is considering buying. She has a sore shoulder and a knot on her head and can't find her glasses. What makes this interesting is that, a little over a year ago, Debby couldn't even get on a horse at 420 pounds. One "hairy" bout of bariatric surgery and about 15 months later, she is down 196 pounds and back on top of a horse...her favorite place to be. She even rode in a local Christmas parade. Way to go, Deb, but PLEASE get yourself a more docile horse!

Blessings abound, though, in that she seems to be OK after her fall, my reunited oldest child was quick to call her "Mom" and see how "Aunt Debby" was doing and...ta daaaa....hubby's second follow-up ultrasound has confirmed that he does NOT have testicular cancer. Compared to all of that, flu blues and delayed schedules are small stuff. The lights on the tree look so pretty, today.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Dracula and Adoption

I read Bram Stoker's "Dracula" for the first time when I was only eleven years old. That was five short years before I would enter the system that would try to drain my motherhood from my veins. Even then, I was struck by certain images and, while I know most folks wouldn't see the book as great literature, I returned to it, time and time again.

The story, the morality tale, the thinly-disguised sexual references, the stilted Victorian speech and morality, whatever it was, the book, the folklore that inspired it and the imagination that created it, all fascinated me. I have yet to see a visual media version that does the book justice. From "Nosferatu" on (Lugosi was a joke), they have switched the characters around, punched it up, Hollywood-style, and the real thrust of the deliciously creepy story gets lost. For those who thought the last movie rendition was accurate..sorry. The whole "Elizabethe reincarnated in Mina who then discovers her undying love for the tortured count Dracula" is another pile of Tinseltown hooey. Drat! If I had the money of a Bill Gates, I'd commission a true-to-the-book movie, just to see it done right.

But, I digress. I wanted to explore the analogies I have found in the symbolism of the story. For instance, Dracula counted on the unnatural conversion of people from human to vampire to keep his kind going. He and a lady vampire couldn't just reproduce and deliver little vampires to carry on the family curse. He had to raid the homes and lives of his victims to produce his "children." So, that puts our cursed count right into the middle of the human being-stealing business.

He worked on allure and unholy promises(lies, mostly) and a form of mental seduction to lure his victims to him. He paraded about in polite society (at night only, of course) with his cloak and his sashes and aristocratic mien, and no one saw the monster beneath...he was accepted and even courted as a desirable part of society. Those who saw something more, were hesitant to say anything lest they be deemed mad as a hatter and thrown into Dr. Seward's loony bin. Those that actually knew the truth about him, in his homeland in the Carpathian Mountains of Transylvania, feared him and felt they could not prevail against him.

Yet there was the occasional hue and cry from those who fought him. Early in the book, Jonathan Harker hears a mournful cry from outside the castle walls. Dracula had gone a-hunting and had brought back a toddler to feed the unholy appetites of his "brides." Harker looks outside and sees a peasant woman, filled with anguish and despair, who has braved the terrors of Dracula's domain to reclaim her own. "Monster!" she screams, "Give me back my child!" Of course, the Vampire's response is to set his pack of wolves upon her and they savage and kill her.

We could stop right there and have a killer analogy between the story and the horrors of adoption separation. The woman, an exiled mother, appeals to the system to give back to her the child she bore, and the system sets the public media, the courts, and everything at their disposal to destroy her. I think of those wolves when I read the cutting apart of the natural mother and her rights at some of the forums and boards of late. Let's silence this bitch so that our master, Adoption, and his unnatural women can have their meal in peace. The wrong done in taking that child in the first place is never considered, their hunger being their primary focus.

There then emerges, in the story, a small band of heroes..Jonathan and his, now, wife Mina, the three loving suitors of Lucy Westerna who was lost to them by Dracula's hand, Lord Arthur Holmwood, Texan Quincy Morris, Dr. Jack Seward, and vampire expert Dr. Van old hand who had run up against this kind of bad boy before and becomes the leader of the group. They couldn't rely on an unbelieving public for help. They also had to contend with the Judas goat in their midst, "good bite-victim" Renfield, an insect-eating lunatic, who drew the monster to them only to be discarded when he was no longer of use and had begun to realize the depths to which he had descended.

This small group, then, sets out to destroy a powerful, supposedly immortal being who has held sway over those weaker than him with lies, cunning and brute power (legal, maybe?) for centuries. All they had on their side was virtue, the need to save Mina from Lucy's fate, and a bit of knowledge about the vampire's weakness. Holy water and crucifixes and communion wafers cripple it. A stake through the heart, exposing the demon to the light of the sun and cutting off of the head does the coup de grace..and boy, does that makes a lot of analogous sense, as well.

When the first rumblings of the exiled mother began to be heard, when we mothers and our adult children started braving the castle walls to call out the monster, the wolves gathered, but, unlike the book, they weren't able to destroy us. As George Hamilton spoofed in "Love at First Bite," "Children of the Night! Shut Up!!!" Now we are setting out to stake and behead a social experiment that has sucked the joy from many a new mother and given it to the baby-hungry to have his or her identity and heritage drained away.

The old boy's fangs are getting blunt and his cape is becoming ratty and that trick of turning into mists and other things is old hat and we can see right through it. We have spent a long time gathering our stakes and swords and holy water and crucifixes. The sun light is out there. It's time to turn him into dust. Monster! Give us back our children!

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Tilting at Windmills? Not Really

I am a female Don Quixote of adoption, I guess...I dream the (almost) impossible dream of enabling mothers to avoid the trap of adoption altogether. In the event that a woman is totally and truly unable to care for her child, I'd like to see us find a way to care for children in need that doesn't include requiring them to call genetic strangers "mom and dad" and to lose their original last name and heritage and extended family.

Someone, on another blog's comments page, suggested that we need to warn potential adopters about the pain and the problems inherent in being adopted or surrendering a child to adoption. It's not the potential adopters I want to warn except to warn them away. I want to warn the potential mother who will lose a whole lot more than the popular "view" of adoption would allow her to believe. But so many of them are resistant when they have the wannabe adopters love-bombing them and the agency shills telling them to ignore us. No, she usually finds that we knew what we were talking about, sadly, after it is too late. The online support groups and counselor's offices are full of these women and I feel their pain.

I find mainstream infant adoption to be totally avoidable since it involves the mythology that has been perpetuated in our society that adoption can be used like a benign form of extremely late-term birth control and confers the status of heroine on the surrendering mother (until the adopters want you out and gone) and the halo of a rescuing saint on the adopter. Rubbish! How would you like to know that YOUR mother didn't keep and raise you because she "didn't have room in her life for a baby right now, wanted to finish college first and have a career and these nice people who couldn't have their own babies wanted you?" It breaks my heart when I hear some of these adopted people refer to themselves as "9-month abortions." At least my surrendered children know that I was given absolutely no choice in the matter. The brainwashing of the American public and the manipulation of the modern-day mother is heinous and corrupt and sickening to watch.

It's all a frustrating insanity and I am through trying to fix an old car that is not running well or adjust the smeary picture on a bad tv screen...I'm for junking it all and bringing in a new model. OK..feel free to hack away at the rabid, bitter, angry, strident anti-adoptionist. I can't guarantee that I will pay any attention, though. ;)

Friday, December 01, 2006

Strange and Mournful Day, Every Year, Year 'Round

Yesterday was designated the first annual National Strange and Mournful Day. No, it wasn't a big, showy deal with the media in attendance and crowds gathering. Rather, the observance was quiet, with a goodly number of mothers, adopted people and assorted supporter making a polite but definitive statement..."adoption might be OK by you, but NOT by us."

In my immediate "orbit," my raised children, one of my reunited children, my husband and two of my dear friends all wore ribbons in black, purple and white. I was a teensy bit more flamboyant with ribbons in the aforementioned colors flying from my car's radio antenna and a huge purple, black and white bow on my Christmas wreath on my front door. Appropriate, I think, since Mary was a teenage, unmarried mother as well (and the religious among you can hold your horses...the facts are the facts).

I also, following the very smart idea of another Origins member, printed up cards with a picture of the ribbon badge on it and a short explanation of the day. Those cards are now in every waiting room of our local hospital. I also got permission to place them at the check-out counter at the restaurant where I had lunch. We are going to have to find out how to mass-produce those ribbon badges for the next observance because poor Claud's fingers are sore from making them, one by one. Yes....she had a lot of requests. Several others on other groups who made ribbons reported receiving requests for ribbons from members of their local, in-person support groups.

The release of the Evan B. Donaldson Institute paper was the big deal of the month yet it didn't drown out our day of observance. If the first annual observance was more of a quiet, collective murmur than a huge roar, that is how things get going and that murmur WAS heard. I am, personally, encouraged by the response and the recommendations of so many that we carry it over into other occasions and situations. For many women who are not as "out there" as some of us, this was a good way to carry their stance in public view without having to engage in a shouting match or tedious debate. Wearing these badges is the way most activism begins. One thing we know for sure after yesterday....that our particular issue and related activism is growing and it isn't going to end until we are truly heard and changes are made.

For all who have felt the pain of adoption separation and the ache of injustice, your DAY has come, in more ways than one.