Friday, December 31, 2010

HAPPY 2011!!

Let's hope that 2011 will bring us more tolerance, understanding and justice.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

It's A Man's World

WOW...we definitely had a white Christmas in WV and enjoyed it. I did some reading while I was sitting by the fire and watching the snow fall. I have so many thoughts bouncing around inside my skull that I am going to have to take some time to sort it all out into some semblance of order. In addition to Rohan McEnor's excellent story, I read a bit in "The Purity Myth: How America's Obsession With Virginity Is Hurting Young Women," by Jessica Valenti. Meant as a feminist publication, it reaches into the heart of the reasons behind the way single and/or poor mothers are treated and have been treated in this society.

Simply and concisely, we were punished, NOT for being sexually active, but for being sexually active and daring to be fertile with no husband. It is a system by, for and in deference to the patriarchy. MEN decided the mores, the codes and creeds and women were indoctrinated and controlled by them. They have even managed to disrupt the sisterhood of women so that we prey on each other. Cat fights over boyfriends have become commonplace. A woman stalks another woman to procure a child and will have no compunctions about the pain she is bringing to one of her own kind.

All that stands between the Natural Mother and respectability is the absence of a thin membrane, the hymen, and the lack of a wedding ring on that fourth finger, left hand. Someone, somewhere decided that these things were vital to the worth of a woman and that someone was male. No, I don't think all men are chauvinist pigs. I am privileged to know many fine men who respect a woman based on who and what she is rather than her sexual activity, past and present. But, don't you ever wonder why there is no corresponding insult for the other gender to compare with "slut?"

It can be said that we have come a long way, but we still have a long way to go. I find it amusing that, while the fundies berate the Roman Catholic church, many of them are just as adamant that women are to be seen and not heard from in the pulpit. If they are, it is as a "helpmate" to their more acceptable husband. We are the only so-called "modern" nation in this world not to have had a woman either in high national office such as the vice presidency or even as head of state. Secretary of State seems to be the political glass ceiling. We are goods, consumables, products that produce and we had better do it King James' way or watch out.

I wonder what might have happened had the rulers of Judea been women? The Judeo-Christian system would be very different. Or what if there had been no religion at all and each person was valued for their contribution to life and society regardless of age, race, gender or ethnicity? John Lennon had it right even if he didn't know 100% of the reason why.

The fact is that many of us lost our infants to adoption, especially during the BSE, because some 2000+ years-old group of greybeards decided that we were not fit to do anything unless we were joined to a man as his chattel.  Ms. Valenti didn't tell me anything in her book that I didn't really already know. She just put it into a very coherent and readable book. She addresses the current movement of abstinence and virginity importance in her book and has some very good thoughts about the whys and wherefores of all this. She states....."I'm more than a little suspicious of those who see women's advancement as a bad thing....The regressive message the virginity movement pushes through...books and media is clue enough about what it really wants from women: not independence and adulthood but submissiveness, 'modesty' and adherence to traditional gender roles. Focusing on our sexuality is just one piece, and a tool, of the larger agenda. After all, there's a reason why the assumed role of women in virginity-movement screeds is marriage and motherhood. The movement believes that's the only things women are good for."

This also leaves the field wide open for old-style shame and blame baby-taking. The only good motherhood is male-approved motherhood. All else must be engineered to suit the patriarchy and their world view.

People often wonder why I profess no connection to organized, Christian religion. They think that I blame the  loss of my infants on a few prudes but it goes deeper than that. Following this model lauded by the patriarchy did away with my most precious possession next to my children...myself. That creed of shame and the unrealistic expectations placed on young, healthy women raped me of my autonomy, my self-worth and left me feeling, for a long time, that I did not, indeed, deserve the right to raise my two oldest children.

So I pay heed to Valenti's words and the message of her book. If we don't fight this anti-woman insanity and teach our young women about self-protection and self-worth, we are condemning another generation of our daughters and granddaughters to this same emotional rape, grief and despair. As long as we sit back and accept the idea that "it's a man's world," and let it be, then we are setting up more young mothers for the worst kind of pain.

And the bitch of it is that women will be doing it to each other.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Vacating For The Holidays

We'll be headed up to the hills again, this year, to spend Christmas where winter is really winter. Our plans to move have been slowed down by the housing market in FL. But we are going out to the land and doing some prelim work if the road is passable. Meanwhile, my hubby is making good on his promise that I never have to spend another Christmas in Florida.

I am taking two books with me and looking forward to reading by the fire where I can relax and really delve into the subjects. I usually read fiction, but I am taking Rohan McEnor's "Rebecca's Law: Sojourn Of A Stolen Father" and "The Purity Myth: How America's Obsession With Virginity Is Hurting Young Women," by Jessica Valenti. These are two decidedly different views that converge in the same tragedy and reach similar conclusions about how and why people are used and abused by the system, especially in the area of child custody. Rohan's story is more personal and Valenti's book is more..well, political and philosophical, but they both are important parts of a whole.

The picture is one we took on the 24th of last year while walking through the Carnifex Ferry Cottages area. It was sunny, but there was too much snow from the blizzard to melt and we had a very white Christmas. In fact, it started snowing again before we left and we enjoyed a walk up to the Civil War Battleground in the snow with our little guy in his argyle sweater. We'll have Dolly with us this year, but we will be missing Rocky. Like you cannot replace children you lost with another child, you can't replace one best buddy with another dog...but there is enough love to allow another one into your life. Dolly will be a, well...a challenge.

So I am airing out heavy coats and sweaters, making sure our cords and fleece are clean and ready to go and getting things packed, including our Christmas stockings and gifts for each other. We have taken the precaution of buying tire chains, even though we managed fine last year with our front wheel drive PT. You never know about those mountain roads and the cut-back to our property is steep and narrow.

There is no Internet at the cabins and I don't have an Internet-access cell phone. Us old farts are doing Jitterbugs, now and cutting costs. So I will be missing but thinking about everyone from Sunday the 19th through Tuesday the 28th. Of course, if Hubby can't pry me away from the hills, we will have to see about getting Internet service. There might be a struggle ensuing.

Meanwhile, to all those who have kept me blogging, I thank you, I appreciate you and I wish you all the Happiest of whatever Holiday you celebrate. I do secular Christmas, but I do it up big. See you after the trip. I am sure, after reading those books, I will have a lot to say.

Merry, Happy and Safe Holiday Wishes from Robin, Darrell and Dolly!!

And a word from Rocky..........

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Man Rescues Dog..Dog Rescues Baby Girl

This is supposedly a true story from the Mother Earth News. It seems a farmer in Scotland found a litter of puppies alongside a country road. Only one of the puppies was alive. She was bleeding from the head but was breathing and had a strong heartbeat, so he took her home and nursed her back to health. The puppy grew to be a valued member of the family and gave birth to a couple of litters of her own before she was spayed. She took care of her people and all the farm animals.

One day, she returned to the farmhouse with a bundle in her mouth and deposited it in her bed. The farmer took a look and was amazed to find a little, human baby...a girl, suffering a bit from exposure but otherwise healthy. The little girl went on to grow up and become a nice young lady. Her farmer friend and canine savior had long since passed away.

When I was born, my grandparents had a female lab, shepherd mix named Smoke. She was a really bright and well-behaved dog. From the minute they moved my crib in and placed me inside it, her place to sleep was under my crib. If I awoke, she alerted the household until someone came to see about me. She worked guard duty when I began toddling, pulling me away from the stairs by my diaper. My memories of her are blurry, but the stories told to me by my parents and grandparents are precious to me. I have a badly faded photo of baby-me and Smoke under the Christmas tree with bows on our heads.

It has recently dawned on me that, for these deluded mothers of today who are "choosing" specific adopters and "adoption plans (yuck)," that they might want to make sure that the PAPs have a dog. That way, since Mommy is being edged out of the picture, they could check out the canine family member and be sure that their little ones are getting unconditional love of the highest order. My Grampa once told me that Smoke would have fought off a grizzly bear to save me.

She didn't adopt me. She didn't see me as a replacement for pups she didn't have. She saw me as her human responsibility and a pack leader in the making. My mother would cringe when Smoke gave me a kiss, but I would just chortle in delight. Smoke fetched my cup, my blanket and my toys and would present them to my mother to wash off and return to me. I first walked holding on to her back. She was Nana, Lassie and Rin Tin Tin all in one. Her love for me was uncomplicated by her own needs and fiercely protective.

I was a lucky kid. I was 9 when she died. I do remember that as a very bad day. She stayed with Gramma and Grampa when we moved to SC because she was already getting on in years and the trip would have been hard on her. It was a tearful goodbye and would have been worse had I known it was our last time together.

Perhaps the smart thing to do to screen PAPs, better than the home study, would be to have them adopt, YES, ADOPT, a dog that really needs a home from a local shelter or rescue group. These canine babies come with issues and that would test the unconditional love factor. If they pass that test, then MAYBE, if there is a child that needs the guardianship of others not of their kin, then they could assume that legal responsibility. But no game playing.

Oh, we call ourselves, "Mommy and Daddy" to Dolly but we have better sense than to indulge in a fantasy that she is our real child. Indulging in that fantasy with children born to other families is just as dumb and very damaging in the long run. When the need to fulfill that "as if born to" impossibility becomes obsessive, you have very screwed up children growing up with a lot of heavy baggage. What we do to our children in adoption, we wouldn't do to a dog.

Right now, there are more domestic, companion animals needing homes than there are homes for them. Thousands are euthanized every week. It is such a simple thing to spay and neuter our little friends. It is such a simple thing to teach our adolescent children about birth control. It is such a simple thing to put the money we were putting into 5-figure tax breaks for adopters and tax cuts for the affluent into helping a mother and her child get a fair start in life. It's such a simple thing to honor the mother-child bond without bringing judgment and Victorian attitudes into it. It's such a simple thing to recognize and address the crimes committed against these mothers and their children over the years.

It's all as simple as a dog's devotion to people that would move that so-called "dumb" animal to rescue and guard a human child. Nature's wisdom seems to beat out the assumed wisdom of humanity every time.

Thanks, Smoke.

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Caution; Raw Nerve-Do Not Touch

It seems I touched a few of those raw nerves with my blog, yesterday, about codependency. I'm glad I did. It's time, I feel, for those of us who have been abraded by the brier patch of adoption to put some salve on those wounds and get over ourselves. There comes a point when we have to quit trying to hold a house of cards together against the wind of truth.

I'm back to the jackass in the ditch, again. We all know how the dysfunction of adoption separation has adversely affected both adopted people and natural mothers. But isn't it past time that we stopped using that past trauma as an excuse to fight among ourselves and started fighting back and allowing personal growth? Let's get the jackass out of the damn ditch!

This is personal stuff. This is the only life we have. We can allow misperceptions and mythology to continue on being in control, or we can take back the helm and steer our own course.  We just have to have the courage to hear and accept the truth and learn that it isn't always about us.

When I was a little girl and someone said something I didn't want to hear or I wanted to win an argument without having the words, I would stick my fingers in my ears and sing, real loud, "La, la  la, la....." until the other person shut up or left. Yes, that was childish. I was a child. But I see a big bunch of adults doing the same damn thing and it is very unbecoming.

PAPs and adopters are good at this. If you refuse to hear and accept the truth, then you can keep on at what you are doing, guilt-free....sorta. But that's their own character defect with which to deal. If any of them can listen and learn and be honest with themselves, good for them.

Many adopted people don't want to hear the truth about how they came to be adopted. It's easier to be angry, believe every word their adopters told them and blame it all on Mommy. Many mothers don't want to let go of that fiction of the sacrificing mother/heroine. They might have to admit we were powerless and/or got scammed and that would be to admit we were vulnerable (weak) and/or naive (stupid). Boy, do we have our hang-ups or what?

And BOTH adopted people and mothers want a perfect (as they think it should be) resolution to it all, and there ain't no such animal. The part about regaining our emotional health and equilibrium goes way beyond open records and redress for the maltreatment of mothers. It is about who we choose to be now, how we choose to be treated and to treat others and whether or not we are brave enough to accept and integrate the truth into our hearts. It starts with one step in the direction of the realization of the fact that none of us know it all, that we cannot control everything and everyone around us and that we can all have the right to be respected if we give respect.

In some cases, unfortunately, we also have to learn when to let go. It is hard for someone who has no self-respect to respect others. No one, mother or adult child, should be an emotional punching bag for the other. If it doesn't work out, it's sad, but there is still a life to be led. When one or the other is severely dysfunctional, then taking it personally is really self-defeating.

I was just out back watching my husband play keep-away with our little dog. She has had it rough..lost her people, had little real training in life skills and spent a lot of time being barked at, having her food stolen and being pushed around by bigger dogs while in the kennel. They call her condition, "Kennel Shock." The dog running circles around her "daddy" is not the same dog we found at the SPCA kennel six weeks ago. Every day I see her grow. She no longer has "accidents" in the house. She is less fearful of strangers and other dogs. She walks with a prance and her tail up when before she stayed nose to the ground and wanted to run home if she saw anyone. While we were outside, the little dog two houses down started barking. That was usually a signal for Dolly to run back to the door and beg to go in. This time she ran to a good vantage point to investigate what all the noise was about. When she saw that Krista just wanted in, she ran back to play a bit longer. She is living in the now. She is forgetting what happened that led to the fearful and aggressive behavior she was showing. She's erasing the old tapes. She's living in the moment.

Now I don't think that we can just erase our memories and go blithely about as if none of this adoption separation crap never happened. But we can try living with what is. We can fight for justice for past and even
current  injustices and we can fight for equal civil rights, but we don't need to be fighting, blaming and carping at each other. We are adults. Dolly is no longer a puppy, and, while she has us, she needs to learn how to get on in the world in a healthy way. So do we, together in reunion or apart as in, "Oh well, it didn't work out," we have a right, all of us, to pursue happiness and enjoy peace of mind.  Being imperfect human beings, that happiness and peace of mind won't be perfect, either.

But wouldn't it be a lot better than that constant knot in your belly? The tears, the crushing need and the resentment are products of an unnatural situation that, yes, was unfair and horrible to us and to our children. But we can't change what happened then and the blame needs to go where it belongs.

As long as we fight each other and blame each other, the Industry and those that the Industry benefits are getting exactly what they want from us. Think about it.

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Codependency And Real Relationships

An adopted friend had a quote on his page that I immediately stole from him. It says, so succinctly, what I have been trying to say for years. It was written by an English psychiatrist and author named Anthony Storr who, himself, underwent bouts of depression and had a childhood that was less than comforting. Dr. Storr said, "‎It is only when we no longer compulsively need someone that we can have a real relationship with them." - Anthony Storr

When you examine the dynamics of adopting and, later, reunion, you find a lot of that kind of codependent need. It is for this reason that I believe adoption is a dysfunctional arrangement from the get-go. In the traditional infant adoption, this is an arrangement that calls upon the adopted child to fill the emotional needs of the adopters. Growing up with that kind of emotional pressure is damaging and a breeding ground for all manner of emotional disorders. Unfortunately, for quite a few adopted people, this kind of relationship is their model for what they think is "Love."

Many marriages and love affairs are of this ilk. Being "in love" and loving are often very different. When one is starry-eyed, swept away and stirred with passion, it's hard not to grow addicted to that feeling. The endorphins literally pour into the lover's system. It is too easy to attach one's self-image and worth to the responses of one's beloved and a crash is inevitable. When one leans on another for any sense of identity, the results can be disastrous. But it is wise for married people to keep a bit of  adventure in their lives together.

I have been in this kind of relationship and we are both better for it having ended. Learning about codependency and where it can lead has saved me a lot of heartache. In my marriage, today, my husband and I offer each other a whole person, not mirror images and certainly not the offer or expectation to carry the other, emotionally.

People who can't take rejection, who pine after the person who has ended the relationship and who may even go so far as to take their own lives or attempt to do so, have based their entire self-worth on the acceptance of the other. That's NOT love. Love can let go. It can be sad and hurtful, this letting go, but an emotionally whole person can face it and the life ahead with optimism.

The codependent person goes into a relationship, be it marriage, friendship or reunion, expecting emotional needs to be met by the other person. When that doesn't happen, in reunion, the road becomes bumpy and harsh. One of the most inane lines ever uttered by anyone was spouted by Tom Cruise in "Jerry McGuire" when he said to his lady-love, "You Complete Me." Whoa there, hoss! If you weren't complete to begin with, what would she want with you? But so many sighed and smiled and brushed away a tear at that sentiment.

Natural Mothers and their Adult, Surrendered Children have spent years wondering about the missing part of their family to the point that the emotional investment in the other person is huge. Reunion is based on expectations and needs, not all of them healthy. We are meeting familiar strangers, people who have their own likes, dislikes, politics, religious views, and attitudes. Not all of them are going to jibe and mesh with the greatest of ease. As I have said in an earlier post, the bond never really breaks, but it becomes very twisted and knotted. Many have referred to reunion as an emotional minefield and, when you add in the codependent expectations, you are in danger of a major explosion. We get angry and it starts a cycle of resentment and frustration. I was introduced to this model of the codependency/anger cycle when I was in treatment for my eating disorder.

I have watched this happen in more than one reunion and each participant always blames the other rather than looking within. Two human beings with so much to gain can sabotage themselves with their own insecurities and fears unless they can take a step back and an honest look within.

I wanted to be able to offer my two lost children a mother they could respect. I wanted them to see that they came from loving, decent, good, solid people. I was unprepared for their ambivalence and the insecurity of their adopters. I felt frustrated with my children who were adults, yet kept in this perpetual, dependent childhood by the entire construct of adoption. But this was all they knew. Knowing that I surrendered them against my will was not enough to re-build their sense of self. I couldn't do it for them. Only they can do that. This is sad but true because there is enough of the mother in me that I wanted to do that for them. Standing back and letting them find their way is tough.
There is enough pain and strife in the human condition without the trauma of surrender and separation. I know now, that I was codependent and totally vulnerable when I lost my two oldest children to the Industry. I folded, collapsed upon myself and waved the white flag and one of the pressures put on me depended upon my need for the approval and acceptance of my family. I also spent years being obsessed with the father of my first born and that was really unhealthy. So I am no stranger to codependent thinking and behavior and I am not one to judge anyone for being immersed in that strange malady.

But I do look askance at those who choose to remain in such a pit of emotional quicksand. It's scary to face it and overcome one's codependent nature, but the rewards for doing so are tremendous. It doesn't guarantee that you never will be hurt or sad or miss someone.

But it usually guarantees you will survive it all. And those of us who have been battered by adoption need the survival skills.

Monday, December 06, 2010

The Adoption Grinch Lives

I have been reading some very sad, pain-filled and frustrated comments on Facebook and elsewhere. Adopted adults and Natural Mothers, alike, have been fairly cursing the Holidays to the extent that one of my dearer friends would like to go into hibernation until Christmas is over.

I can't say too much against that, because I remember feeling exactly the same way. I would frantically try to make a perfect Christmas and push down the sadness, but it always caught up with me. When there is a hole in your heart and your family, it's hard to be Ho-Ho Jolly. There is pressure enough at this time of year without the added burden of being separated from a vital part of yourself.

If anything, we try harder than most to make the Holidays fulfill the unformed wishes of the lost and taken. I know that I loved Christmas with a passion until the first one I spent without my firstborn. After that, the lights lost their sparkle, the colors seemed duller and smiles were suspect. The once-soothing candlelit church services and sweet music became drab and meaningless. Had it not been for my raised children, I wonder if I would have even made the effort. I was desperate to make their Christmases good ones, but they never reached my frustrated attempts at perfection. I spent years trying to replicate the Christmases of my childhood.

I wish I could take all my friends with me, in spirit, to the lodge in the mountains of West Virginia where my husband and I and our little Dolly will spend the week of Christmas. We will not be rushing around, decorating, buying, wrapping and worrying that things are not good enough. Our time will be spent in front of the fire, baking goodies, enjoying the view, spending some time in the hot tub and watching the weather...hopefully, snow. There will be no crowds and jostling in line for concerts and cantatas. Our music will be from our own library of favorites and we will drink egg nog by candle light on Christmas Eve without having to rush anywhere. Since life is real, we will take what comes and if those plans go awry, we will still be glad we went, glad to be together and enjoying the adventure of whatever comes.

We did this last year and it was the best personal Christmas I can remember. Never mind that we came into WV on the tail end of a blizzard, with two feet of snow on the ground. Never mind that we had to spend two days and three nights in a very, very nice motel with a fireplace, a big tree in the lobby and good food nearby until the power at the cabin was restored and the road cleared so we could get to it. We talked and laughed with fellow stranded travelers. We laughed at Rocky deciding, after two days, that it was okay to go potty on the white stuff. We took pictures and read, watched TV and ate veggie plates and cornbread from the Cracker Barrel. We availed ourselves of some hot chocolate and goodies, courtesy of the motel. The cabin was beautiful when we got there. We stashed our goodies, put our little tree up (took 15 minutes, tops) lit a fire and settled in with smiles of appreciation. We even stayed a couple of extra days.

I think that was the first Christmas that my heart no longer felt partially empty and ravaged. The scars are there and sadness is part of the Holiday package when you have lived long enough to experience life. But this private, laid-back and quietly beautiful Christmas was my best one since childhood. I don't hold the same expectations for this one because things can always happen. We found that out last year. But we will still keep it simple, private and quiet. I don't expect Christmas to be provided by Currier and Ives. I gave up on that a few years back. I think spending Christmas in Florida did that to me. But, even if there is no snow, it won't be hot and people won't be wearing shorts and tee shirts on Christmas day.

Unlike our green friend, I sort of doubt if the Adoption Grinch even has a heart, much less one that will grow two sizes upon hearing the sound of Christmas cheer despite his attempts to sabotage it. Unfortunately, Old AG has succeeded where the other Grinch failed. And little Cindy-Lou Who (who was only two) is asking, "why?"

For some reasons, the platitudes of the industry and those that benefit from their work tend to fall a bit flat at this time of the year.

That's why we have made a new, personal tradition of love, adventure and peace of mind. I spent too many Holidays enduring and hurting. No more. I know where all my children are, they know I love them and that is better than I had before.

Merry Christmas, Dear Ones. Don't let the Adoption Grinch get you down.

Saturday, December 04, 2010

That "N" Word (Natural)

A very nice mother in Canada got a very rude email which took her to task over her use of the term "Natural Mother," to describe those of us who had our children appropriated for adoption. The writer of this malicious missive was, of course, an adopter. Now many disagree with me, but for reasons of my own, I don't apply parental titles to those who adopt. I have certain principles that make it impossible for me to bring myself to call an adopter a mother or a father.

In my mind and my philosophy, each person born gets one mother and one father. That is how biology works. But to identify ourselves as mothers who were not given the right to raise our children lost to adoption, many of us prefer the term "Natural Mother." It used to be the correct and legal term until some adopters and others decided that by calling us that, it was implying that women who adopted were not natural mothers.

Well...uh...that's nothing more than the simple truth. There is nothing natural about adoption. It's a man-made, legal construct that, as with all things man-made, tries to overrule nature and the power of nature that is conferred on the females of all mammals to give live birth to our young. The term "birth mother" was first used by author and adopter Pearl S. Buck, and passed through the network until it became the title it is today, one that is used to distance us from our motherhood and make the adopter more comfortable.

For as long as there have been human beings, there seems to have been a fear, on the part of patriarchal societies of a woman's sexuality. Our genitalia is internal, a little dark cave that performs a miracle. We bleed every month but don't die from it (although there have been times many of us wished we could) until that miracle is conceived and then we do something no man can do. We produce life. Yes, it does take the cooperation of a man to conceive, but, with donated sperm, we can, if we wish, do the entire thing ourselves. A man still needs our wombs, presence and cooperation in order to have offspring.

The patriarchs have done all in their power to subdue and conquer our female nature. It seems to be the way of all men. If there is a river, bridge it or dam it. If there is a hill where he wants a road, then he levels the hill. He builds levees to hold back rivers and swamps and builds his artificial nests on the infirm soil. If there are minerals in the earth, he must go after them. Man seeks to control and mimic what he cannot be...that natural creator. Often, Nature gets back a bit of her own. Hurricanes, floods and the simple impermanence of human construction will  often roll over these man-made barriers like a Juggernaut, destroying in minutes what took months and even years to build. Even the pyramids are crumbling in spite of constant upkeep.

It is also the patriarchal need to control women that has led generations of women to believe that their only worth is in their fecundity. From that precept comes the old, "give me a child lest I die" school of thought that drives the potential adopter. Many segments of society still look askance at a woman who can bear children yet chooses not to do so. Yet, let a woman decide to bear a child without the active oversight and last name
of a man and she is scorned and seen as unworthy. And on this curious dichotomy, Man has created a lucrative industry that uses female fertility and restricted autonomy. Then he uses the onus of infertility to create the market. Due to the oppressive idea that a woman is less than worthy if she cannot produce a child for a man, they have their customers and "proper" women for their social experiments and engineering.

So adoption is not just unnatural. In its concept, it is sexist, anti-woman and done for reasons that have less to do with the ultimate welfare of a child than the idea that a child should be provided for a woman who is unable to bear her own....a child for a home; NOT a home for a child. Women are commercial objects and/or consumers and because of this, women predate on other women, can't cooperate or get each other's backs and that leaves men still pretty much in charge. They run the world while we wrangle over who should raise children.

To the woman who wrote that irate email to my friend, learn your biology. Adoption is NOT natural and giving birth is. I am a natural mother. You are an adopter of a child in order to fulfill your own desires. And while we are giving biology lessons, I'd love to give Rosie O'Donnell a heads up. Babies do not grow in our "tummies." That would be very uncomfortable. They grow in our uterus which is made just for that purpose.

So the adopters of our world can throw that "birth" word and that "tummy mommy" idiocy around all they like. That child you coveted and took as your own is created by the genes and the body of a NATURAL mother. This Natural Mother and many others I know would have given anything to have been able to rush a sick child to the hospital and sit with them while they healed. We would have sold our souls to be able to kiss the boo-boos and change the dirty diapers because, if you care for a child, that's what you do. Doing it confers no special honors on you that change the fact that you are not the natural mother of the child you possess.

It's not nice to fool with Mother Nature.

Friday, December 03, 2010

A Confusing Duality

There has been much said about Natural Mothers who, after surrender, suffered from secondary infertility and never had another child. Many of these women have been on support forums and their situation is a painful one, but easy to understand.

What I have real trouble understanding (and this is going to get me blasted by a few) is the Natural Mother who suffers the loss of her child to adoption and then goes on, herself, to adopt. I don't get it. My own response to this is also strange. I feel, somehow, betrayed by one of my own.

I have a dear, online friend, an adopted person, who calls adoption "woman's inhumanity to woman." I agree with her. That is why I have a hard time understanding how a woman who had her infant appropriated for adoption could turn around and do that to another woman. I can only surmise that there are some painful dynamics going on in her psyche.

I have a couple of theories that may or may not apply. Since the single mother has been denigrated for so long, and adopters are seen as the next thing to saints, it could be a desperate lunge for redemption and respectability. I know one such mother who would much rather be identified as an adopter* (not her term) than the mother of a child surrendered to adoption. There is some kind of psychological exchange going on there. I do think that this is not on a conscious level.

Some have expressed adopting as their duty, to do for a child what was being done "for" their lost child. After talking to adults who were adopted and to other mothers, I can't see holding on to that rationale. The true raison d'etre for the majority of adoptions is all about an infant for a home...not an altruistic thing at all. So that explanation just doesn't wash in the light of the facts of adoption.

One woman, a friend, actually, has confided in me that she adopted after losing her firstborn to adoption so that she could have a child to raise but remain "loyal" to her lost child. It took her many years of counseling to see the contradictions in that. It really came to her, fully, when she reunited with her daughter and realized the difference in the bond. She knew her adopted child better, but shared more with her surrendered child. And, though she didn't want to admit it, or to have her adopted child know, the emotional aspects were definitely not the same. She has been very troubled by this for quite a while, now. She withdrew from all the groups and is trying to make peace with what she can't change.

Adoption as an industry exists because there is a demand, especially for healthy newborns. What was done and is still being done to procure that product is heinous, slick and devious. The demand by those who want to adopt has not decreased, even though the number of adoptable infants has gone way down. The prospective adopter is the one who creates this assault against her sisters. Her desire becomes another woman's tragedy. A little family is destroyed in order to give her what she covets.

With that view, I cannot imagine ever adopting and putting another woman through what I experienced. I have to raise an eyebrow when a sister Natural Mother does just that. Why? What's the REAL reason for this? Can it be that, by adopting, a natural mother might feel justification for what she sees as her own role (guilt) in her loss? Freud would have a field day with this. Of course, the emotional damage done to Natural Mothers has never seemed to be a very important issue to the community of mental health professionals with a couple of notable exceptions, one being Dr. Geoff Rickarby who submitted his conclusions to the inquiry into adoption practices in New South Wales.

The bottom line is that the woman who loses a child to adoption knows all about that kind of pain. So when she goes on, herself, to adopt, I have to wonder at the rationale. I guess I will never understand it. Of course, I am not required by these women to understand it.

I am also not required to either like it or voice approval of it.

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

It's All Right...You Can Come Out Now

November is OVER and so is that pile of politically propagandized excrement called "National Adoption Awareness Month." Mayhaps, I can open a newspaper or magazine without seeing some saccharine article about the joys experienced by children saved from who-knows-what by saintly adopters.

Perhaps I can see less denigration of natural families and a slow down in the beatification of adopters. One can only hope. I realize that the best I can look for is an ebbing of the tide. We are far, far from the point where we can sing, "Ding Dong, The Witch is Dead."

Of course, as an adopted friend of mine noted, with December comes THE family holiday and the time when the absence of that someone-who-ought-to-be-here is keenly felt. Ya just can't win.

I have often preached on this blog about the fact that Natural Mothers cannot fix their surrendered, adult children and they can't fix us. In the long run, we are the only ones who can fix ourselves. If, after reunion, we still feel empty and blown about by every gale, then we need to turn inward for the answers. It's funny how "The Wizard of Oz" so reminds me of the adoption struggle. I have to note that Dorothy is an orphan, but is lovingly raised by her Auntie Em and Uncle and does NOT call them Mom and Dad. All of the protagonists in the story feel something is missing inside them and for Dorothy, the missing piece is the most poignant. She misses her home and kin.

Would that there were a good witch, Glinda, who could point us down the yellow brick road to self-realization. My biggest life revelation was discovering that I had, inside me, what I had most longed for...the ability to mature, find peace and be happy. Brain, heart, courage and home...they were all inside me all the time. Maybe it takes a tornado, a wicked harpy, some flying monkeys and a dissembling wizard to point the fact out to those that of us that are more stubborn than others. Well, that is a lot like reunion which can be a total cataclysm.

We do a lot of floundering about, I have noticed, while searching for the answers to why, and how and who. Too often we DO look to the reunion as the end when it is only the first step. The rest is up to us. I watch one very beloved person in my life trying to control every situation that even obliquely concerns her and becoming sick and frustrated with the attempts. The only control we have over anything is self-control. That helps us get through the storms created by others in our lives. My yellow brick road took me to Al-anon where I learned that lesson. So I leave "fixing" up to the powers of the cosmos and just see to my own issues.

We who have been, uh,..touched by adoption learn to gird our loins as we approach the Holidays. As if that were not enough the NCFA throws that Nasty November at us. Well, they can do their worst. We are finding, within ourselves, what we need to get through. C'mon, put 'em up!! Put 'em up!!!

And November? Eat our dust. We're off the see the Wizard.

Ding Dong! The Witch is dead. Which old Witch? The Wicked Witch!
Ding Dong! The Wicked Witch is dead.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

It's That Day Again

Today is National Strange and Mournful Day, an observance that began in response to the designation of November as National Adoption Awareness Month. We mothers wear our ribbons all month and tell anyone who asks what they mean. The last day of the month is an observance of the validity of our motherhood and the dreadful nature of our loss.

I came up with the name because certain lyrics from Paul Simon's "Mother and Child Reunion" resonated, so deeply, with me. All through this past month, many Exiled Mothers have  been wearing our ribbon badges of black for mourning, red for righteous indignation and passion for our cause and white for hope and healing. Some of us will adorn our ribbons with the birthstones of our children that were taken for adoption. I have a diamond and a pearl for my ribbon....April and June are the months in which I gave birth to, and was forced to surrender, my two oldest children.
While we refer to the lyrics of Simon's wonderful tune, this observance is not about reunion, but about the devastating effects of loss to adoption on the mother. I have high-lighted the pertinent lyrics in red and boldface.

music and lyrics by Paul Simon

No I would not give you false hope, On this strange and mournful day,
But the mother and child reu-nion, Is only a motion away,
Oh, little darling of mine, I can't for the life of me,
Remember a sadder day. I know they say let it be,
But it just don't work out that way. And the course of a lifetime runs,
Over and over again.

No I would not give you false hope,On this strange and mournful day,
But the mother and child reu-nion, Is only a motion away,
Oh, little darling of mine. I just cant believe it's so,
And though it seems strange to say, I've never been laid so low,
In such a mysterious way, And the course of a lifetime runs,
Over and over again.

But I would not give you false hope, On this strange and mournful day,
When the mother and child reu-nion,
Is only a motion away.

While most of the support groups online for Mothers of adoption loss tend to deal with the ups and downs of reunion (and God/dess knows, it is a rough ride), SMAAC is focused on the pain and injustice of our ordeal leading up to and including the "Strange and Mournful Day" when we realized our babies were lost to us.

So today, on the last day of what we now call "Adoption BEwareness Month," we honor ourselves and remember the injustice of the EMS/BSE and renew our determination to be an active and vocal part of bringing justice to the mothers.

And to my daughter and my son that were lost to me in those dark days, always know that I loved you and losing you was neither my choice nor my wish. Some day, some how, some one is going to have to make restitution for what was lost to us. Not in dollars, but in acknowledgement, atonement and public awareness of the pain and the dark underbelly of the adoption myth.

Happy Strange and Mournful Day, Sisters. I am so sorry you had to suffer this loss.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Unconditional Love Ain't Perfect

It amazes me each time I meet people who seem to believe that love will cure everything or save anyone if you just love enough. If you believe that, then try loving a fear-aggressive dog out of growling and biting, or an addicted loved one out of drinking or using. It just doesn't work.

You can love the children you raise with all your heart and soul, but unless you have created rules and boundaries and taught life skills, they can still sink into a sad and futile existence. I think that PAs (potential adopters) believe that loving the child they adopt will make everything okay and that is one of the biggest fallacies, going. In thinking that way, they overlook the fact that there is a very real and painful issue in the life of that child which needs to be acknowledged and addressed. Sending the woman who gave birth to that child a few pictures and a letter once a year is NOT going to cut it.

I love all of my children, no matter what they say or do. But I do not support them in destructive, self-defeating or criminal behavior. My grandmother once said about my father, the proverbial black sheep, that she loved him and if he were to kill someone (which he never did..he wasn't that far gone), she would hold his hand all the way to the electric chair. But she wouldn't try to save him from facing the consequences of his actions. It's hard for a lot of people to see the love in that, but it's there.

When we finally are reunited with our adult, surrendered children, I see a lot of us wanting to indulge, coddle and coo while the adoptee is wondering what the Hell is going on. This is, for many an adopted person, a new concept. Most of us were made mothers when we gestated and gave birth and we will react and respond as mothers. To expect anything else of us is unrealistic. And, for us to expect an instant response and understanding of our motherhood is also unrealistic. So we're screwed from the get-go if we don't get a handle on expectations and understanding early on.

When raised and surrendered children are born, they don't come with how-to manuals with clear guidelines. Most of us just do the best we can and learn as we go. We love our children with all our hearts and souls, but we can make mistakes along the way. That is when love should be the fuel that runs the problem-solving engine. Love, on its own, is not enough.

Loving unconditionally doesn't mean loving perfectly. And it doesn't mean that we give until we are empty and expect nothing in return unless you are one of those professional martyr moms and that is a whole other blog. It means that, no matter what our child might do or say and how bad it might be, we love that child anyway. It does not condone nor accept bad behavior, verbal or physical abuse or emotional manipulations. It doesn't accept disregard for our worth and rights as people. But it does pretty much guarantee forgiveness when it is asked of us.

Mothers are human beings. We can be cracked, broken, burned and bedeviled by our traumas and miseries as badly as our children can be by our errors or the trauma of being adopted. Some mothers, unfortunately, don't know how to love themselves, even a little bit, so, though they may feel love for their children, expressing it appropriately is difficult.

Above all, even the best, wisest, most unconditionally loving mother in the world cannot fix their adult child. I remember the line in "Independence Day" when the estranged wife of Jeff Goldblum's character said that "love was never the problem" when speaking of their estrangement. Love, even of the unconditional variety, is not a miracle tonic. You can love with all the intensity of a mother and not be able to surmount other roadblocks to a relationship. We are left with what is and how we deal with it and each other is up to each of us.

But, for most of us, the love is there, unconditional, forgiving and even a point. The bitch of it is, as this nasty month of adoption-worship finally comes to a close, we wouldn't have to worry about any of this if we had been given the support to remain together as a family. Again, I am not speaking to the minority but to the many of us who truly wanted our children...ALL of them.

I would hope to see a day when this issue becomes a non-issue, when caring for children in need is done with true altruism and human, imperfect, unconditional love can be enjoyed by all. That would be Utopia with a bit of an edge, don't you think?

Saturday, November 27, 2010

No One Likes To Be Afraid

We are working with our new dog, Dolly, another Rat Terrier, who has many fear-based issues. She started off our Thanksgiving gathering by sharply nipping a 3-year-old who ran up to her and frightened her. Now it's muzzle time whenever she is in a group of people. The point is, she didn't bite because she's mean. She bit because she's afraid. She has been traumatized and suffered a lack of socialization and it shows. One of her first fears that we have conquered is fear of men. As you can see, she isn't afraid of my husband. Of course, there are a lot of other men out there.

There is a very sweet little pooch under all that fear, so we called a real-life Dog Whisperer in and he gave us some guidelines to follow and exercises to do and a lot of good input on what we were doing wrong. He figures it will take months, consistent work and determination to bring out the real Dolly. We can already see the progress and I have found that the stronger and more supportive her "Daddy" and I are, the more content she is.

Of course, I had to think about parenting and feeling secure and it instantly related to the pain of surrender and to being adopted. I went to my parents because I needed the support and strength of my "pack leaders." They reacted with fear of what people would think and how I may have ruined my life and my family's as well. So I became fearful that I could do nothing right, that my child was going to be taken from me and that I was not a very good person. My children felt fearful that there was no permanence in parental love or consistent support without working hard for it. After all, their child-brain processed the surrender as being unwanted.

I became eating disordered. I know other mothers who struggled with agoraphobia, panic attacks, drug and alcohol dependency, relationship problems and over-protective mothering based on the fear of losing more children. Fear is a powerful, powerful thing. It can take perfectly good people and turn them into biters. I know I carried a chip on my shoulder and could turn and growl with the best of them. Regaining self-esteem and confidence that I could face the harsh waves in the sea of life and ride them brought out a better me. Oh, I can still nip, but only when it's appropriate..*wink.

Many of our sisters still live in that fear that was instilled in us when we were isolated and coerced into surrender. Some of the older Moms also struggle with the social mores of our era, the idea of "sin" and fear of the loss of what they have built over the years. Many also fear having to revisit a very traumatic time in their lives. Many who fought to regain their "respectability" fear losing it again. That fear can make them behave in a very unnatural way to their adult child. That adds to the adopted person's feelings of being unwanted and abandoned and it becomes a vicious cycle.

The Alcohol Anonymous Big Book identifies fear as one of the primary enemies of the addicted person. Fear, in and of itself, is another emotion that is a part of life. Where we mess up is when we, like our little Dolly, act out of fear. A brave person is usually not without fear. Responding with courage in spite of fear is real bravery. Doing what is right takes a lot more courage than doing nothing or doing something easy (wrong). For instance, we could continue to avoid all those situations that bring out Dolly's fear, but she would make zero progress if we did that.

I think we could use some "Reunion Whisperers" to tug on the leashes of fearful adopted people and mothers, poke us and say "hush" when we show our fear in rejection, blaming, whining, demanding, hiding and other such actions.

While we want a lower-maintenance dog out of this experience, what we want most is for Dolly to feel safe, self-confident and to face her fears and overcome them. We want her to relax and just enjoy being a dog.

I wonder what it will take for us to relax and just enjoy being reunited mothers and adult offspring?

Friday, November 26, 2010


This is the day I stay home and thank the creators of catalogs and online ordering. My list is very trim and we stick to the budget of fixed-income senior citizens. Today is when Mammon is worshipped, when Capitalism and Consumerism become religions. Today is when I sit back and realize just how easily things are bought and sold in our society, including human beings. There is no power on earth, save a need for a trip to the ER, that would get me out in that mob.

We have skipped directly from Halloween to slide by Thanksgiving and hit home with Christmas and let the buying and mayhem begin.

A Holiday, that began with an ancient observance of the Winter Solstice, was co-opted by the early Christian church as a "holy day" (if Jesus existed, he was born in the Spring it seems) and evolved into an international phenomenon, is a playground for the American Capitalist.

I admit to loving the lights, the message of love and hope, the beautiful music and the pretty presents. I can even suspend my agnostic scepticism for one night, Christmas Eve, and pretend to believe in angelic messengers and three kings and all that jazz. It hurts no one and is a good reason for good food and family gatherings. My husband and I will be taking our little pooch and heading for the mountains of WV to spend our holiday appreciating the natural beauty of Winter. Hey, a wood-burning fireplace and a hot tub are not bad ways to spend the holiday.

But, as I have evolved past the materialism of youth and realized that there can be such a thing as too much "stuff," I have to pause and reflect on how I became a factory and my two oldest children became commodities. Let there be a demand for ANYTHING in this society and someone will market it and find a way to profit from it. It took me six decades of living to get to the point where I questioned the American Dream and the "ideals" behind it.

Poor women in India, who could benefit from a little bit of true altruism, are now being marketed as "rent-a-womb" surrogates to provide product for the growing "give me a child lest I die" consumers. That makes me wonder if any Indian girl, old enough to gestate, would be pulled into this egregious "business." Young, middle and upper-class (financially) WASP high school and college student who become pregnant are being offered "scholarships" by high-end brokers like Gladney and all they have to do is give their infant to genetic strangers. Anyone who says that this is not an industry and that no one is making money is wearing blinders and ear plugs.

I have horrible visions of stores and catalogs offering newborns as Christmas gifts on Black Friday. Picture a Swiss Colony catalog with babies offered as part of a deluxe assortment. Maybe that's reaching a bit, but the reality is no less harsh and hateful. WE WILL SELL AND BUY ANYTHING, INCLUDING CHILDREN.

Now, like I said, I have no investment in keeping a religious idea as "the reason for the season." But the gathering of family and loved ones, the enjoyment of celebration...hey, it's all good. It's the money thing that is the spoiler. Early Christmases such as the ones in Victorian England, did not call for gifts to everyone within one's circle of family and friends. The gifts and goodies were for the children. The adults partied. Hmmm, sounds cool to me. And FAMILY should be the reason for the season...close loved ones and messages of love and give the kids some toys and let's party! And keep that precious family intact. Each individual is vital and non-transferable.

They don't celebrate Christmas, for the most part, in India. Poverty precludes the kind of Santa-fest we put on. But they should be able to live without having to rent their bodies for the needs of strangers. They should be able to feed their children without having to give birth for the self-entitled.

It would be a pity to see Black Friday go world-wide. Jingle them bells.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

A Thanksgiving Tale

Once upon a time there was a woman. She had a mother, a father, sisters, a husband and a little girl and a huge extended family. She loved all of these people most dearly, especially the little girl and the little boy she would have a few years later.

Because there were so many aunts, uncles, cousins and a special grandmother, everyone got together for every holiday. At Thanksgiving, there was so much chatter, the wonderful smells of a feast being prepared, the shouts of children playing and it was a picture worthy of Norman Rockwell.

The woman smiled and hugged and held conversations and helped fix the food and behaved as if everything were perfectly normal. She had a hard time understanding why she felt such a hard knot of sadness inside herself. After all, she had moved on, married, had children she could keep and raise and had the approval of her family. So why was it always lacking something? Why was there the feeling that there was something missing? They told her it would get better, that she would forget.

So she tried to do just that. She pushed it all so far down inside herself that she wasn't even really aware of anything except that the edges were off the holiday joy and the champagne of celebration tasted a bit flat. Emotionally, she was like a mouth after a visit to the dentist...partially anesthetized. She stuffed food into that empty hole but it never was filled.

It took years for what was buried to emerge and to be recognized for what it was....grief. For all the normality of the family holiday gatherings, something very abnormal had happened to the woman and it would affect her for the rest of her life. There was abundant love in her for many children and she loved both her raised children very, very much, for who they were. But she also loved two other children and they were not with her, were taken from her and she didn't know where they were or how they were or if they were even still alive. But her mother's heart bled and ached most heavily when there were family events and there were two family members missing. For the sake of the children she was raising, she acted happy and content.

When someone in a family is lost, there is grieving to be done, but the woman was not allowed to grieve openly and receive comfort. When she reunited with her two lost children, she finally gave voice to her mourning and it was heard. That was when she realized that, behind that Norman Rockwell picture of her family gathered at the table, was an 800-pound gorilla being ignored by everyone. In the living room, where the parades and football games played on, an elephant sat square in the middle, also ignored. It was as if, to the rest of her clan, her two lost babies didn't exist.

Today, turkeys will be roasted, pies will be baked and families will exchange hugs and kisses and it will be a very pretty picture, worthy of a painting. But one wonders how many women will sit at those feast-laden tables feeling that sadness and incompleteness? I pray that there will come a day when no woman will feel that way.

The End.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Dear Bristol

Honey, I hope you know, by now, that it wasn't about who hated who or who liked who but who was the best dancer and Sweetie, it wasn't you. But you tried and you worked hard and I admire the effort you put into it. Please don't take this loss politically or personally. I know little about the process that got you on that show, but you went out and did your bit for whatever reason and that is enough. I do question whether or not a reality dancing contest was the proper place to make a political statement.

Now, let me pass something on to you. I don't hate you and I don't hate your mother. I don't like her politics or her social views and I think the worst thing that could possibly happen to our country would be to have her in a position of national power. I am hoping that the rest of the voters in the country feel the same way. But I don't know her so how can I hate her? What I hate is what she espouses and the lack of respect she has shown to our current commander in chief. I hate her politics and her encouragement of the dangerous fringe elements.

Now, there IS something I like about her and you should know about this. I like the fact that she supported you when you were pregnant and when you became a mother. I like the fact that she didn't hide you away, push you to surrender your baby for adoption and was a mama bear when people tried to criticize or judge you. I guess I kinda wish my own mother had been like yours. Never once did she behave as if she were ashamed of you or angry with least in public and I hope she was that way with you, privately, as well.

So, please understand that I will fight with all my might to keep your mother out of national office, but I can understand why you love her. Do your thing, Kiddo, and remember that politics is a nasty business. You either roll with the punches or you distance yourself. Maybe you need to give yourself a few more years of experience before you talk about hate and haters. Some of us Natural Mothers from our era have first-hand experience with the real deal. We were really given a hard time when we became pregnant after loving, not wisely, but too well. Oh, and you are well rid of that pretty boy with the ego.

We mothers of adoption loss know how fortunate you are to have your child with you. For many of us, we never even knew where our children went or what became of them until years later. We missed out on all the milestones that our children passed through. You will get to see Tripp's first bike ride, his first day in school, birthdays, Christmases and summer vacations. You are blessed, because your parents helped you realize that of which so many of us could only dream.

No, I don't like your mother's politics. But I give her points on mothering.

Have a Good Life,
Another Mother

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

The Death of My Innocence

Forty-seven years ago, today, I was a shadow moving in the world of the living. I should have been preparing for graduation with the rest of my class, but was, instead, studying for night school to get my GED, all hopes of college gone. My parents couldn't afford it and I had blown my chances at scholarships by loving the wrong guy and being in the wrong place at the wrong time with another one. Less than six months before, I had surrendered my second child to adoption. Hope for what life might have in store for me or for any of us was dwindling.

I had just finished washing the dishes and making the beds in our house and was getting ready to do a book report for night school when my mother called me from work and told me to turn on the television. I sat there, in shock, as I watched reports stating that John Fitzgerald Kennedy, the 35th president of the United States, had been killed by an assassin's bullet while riding in a motorcade in Dallas, Texas.

There were actually some ignorant, bigoted, thumb-sucking, hate-mongering right-wingers who celebrated this tragedy. But they kept it low-key once they realized that their nation was in mourning. No matter what side of the aisle you supported, OUR commander-in-chief had become a target for, well., it is believed, a single nut job. There are still questions on that one. But it seemed that what sun there was in my sky went behind a big, dark cloud. I was already in deep depression and this sent me even further down that road.

JFK was the youngest president we have ever elected. He represented change, progress, tolerance and, most of all, HOPE, a commodity I had trouble holding on to. I never realized how much of my meager, personal store of optimism was held in this man's term of office. I had to wonder what kind of world this was that people could celebrate the violent death of a great leader, could take babies from the mothers who wanted them just because those mothers were not married and could label, as unworthy, so many people just because they were not White, Anglo-Saxon, Protestant MALES. For all the stories of mistresses, Marilyn Monroe and human failings, I still honor and respect the man.

A few years later, I was in the break room at lunch and people were talking about the deaths of JFK and his brother, Robert F. Kennedy and the tragedies that had befallen that family. I remember one of my co-workers, known for wearing cross pendants of different gems and metals every day to work, saying that she had no sympathy for Rose Kennedy. After all, she opined, she was rich and could have whatever she wanted. The buried bits of me that could be offended struggled to the surface long enough for me to say, with gritted teeth, "You show me the amount of money that would compensate any mother for the loss of her children, F******. I don't think there is that much money on earth. Are you so jealous of her financial status that you can't identify with her as a mother?"

I don't know what the reaction was because I stormed out of the room and went out into the parking lot to get some air. A couple of the ladies came up to me later and told me that they were glad I had spoken to the issue. That was 1970. I was married with a 5-year-old daughter and expecting my youngest son. Even then, and even married, I was required to resign in my 5th month. It was unseemly for a woman with a large, fecund belly to be seen in the workplace. And THAT was right before the stigma of unwed motherhood began to lose its grip on our society.

I can think of all the milestones, personal and national, and the tragedies and triumphs of the past 47 years that have affected me. But, like everyone else, I most clearly remember all about that awful day in November, 1963. That was the day that a grieving, hopeless, soul-sick, childless mother watched her hope for her nation die, and be buried. That was the day I knew that love, honor and decency were in dreadfully short supply. I don't ever want to forget that day or the days of national anguish, shock and sadness that followed.

I just have to wonder what we have learned. After all, it's been 47 years.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

A Birthday Card For My Husband

I am wishing my dear, dear Hubby a Happy Birthday on my blog for a very good reason. We had some adjustment problems in the early years of this, the second marriage for us both. But, through the entire 21 years, he has been unfailingly supportive of my reunions. There are times when he has wanted me to back away from the groups and the blogging because he saw me getting frustrated and, to be honest, hurt at times, but he listens to every one of these blogs and praises me for them.

He has never thought less of me because of my past, nor has he ever seen me as anything less that the mother of all my children. He once, while listening to a conversation about adoption, opined that, "blood is thicker than adoption papers." He has come to understand the dynamics involved and to appreciate the fact that I did not willingly surrender my two oldest children. Being an exiled, Natural Mother is part and parcel of who I am and he, Goddess Love Him, loves all of me.

He has never walked in the shoes of the coerced NMom, but he understands losing a child. He has also been privy to how people can be so inhumane and dispassionate towards each other. He has given me the most admirable example in how to honor those we have lost. His determination, after the untimely demise of his only child, was to live as good and full a life as possible as a memorial. Like our anger and grief as Moms has impelled us to want to make a difference, his grief has given him purpose. Now, all around him receive the gift of his compassion, decency and strong nurturing instinct.

Not all of my family, save my husband and my raised children, have been that understanding of this awakening, renewed grief and struggles of reunion. Many are still lost in the mist of propaganda such as is being spewed this month. I can only show them the truth in my journey. It is a hard one at times and they don't call it a roller coaster for no reason. I have many NMom friends who get my back and I get theirs as we tread this rocky slope.

But my husband walks beside me, and holds my hand when it is dark and holds me up when I stumble. You can't ask for more than that. It is more than many of us have and I know I am blessed. Happy Birthday, Dearest Darrell.

I am so glad you were born.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

About Healing From Surrender

When it comes to our healing, it is a matter of course that adopters, the industry, the NCFA and so many others opine that we are not in need of healing. To these people, our trauma is deserved, our grief is transitory and our lives are no big deal to anyone. The true wounds of our experience are reduced to terms like "bitter, angry, ungrateful, selfish" and whatever else they can come up with to diminish our pain and our person-hood. We get a nod in the direction of our mourning, but they expect us to get over that one FAST. "What? Are you still moaning about THAT?"

I learned that, for myself, the pain of loss to adoption is not something I will ever "get over." I have learned, instead, to live with the facts of what happened and channel my anger and hurt into activism as best I can. I have managed a happy and serene existence (for the most part) by accepting what I cannot change and working to change the things I can.

Call it healing or call it recovery, it all boils down to learning to live, to care for ourselves and to refuse to accept the judgments that were meted out to us as vulnerable and powerless girls. It's not as easy to shame and blame mature women who know the truth about life and people. Most of us are now well aware of the fact that having sex is NOT the worst thing we could have done and that we were not the only ones who did it. We are just the ones who got caught by our fertility and the carelessness of our lovers, abandoned by our boyfriends and families and were ground up like sausage in the surrender grist mill.

I hate to see this is still being done to young girls who reach out to these deceptive "Pregnancy Crisis Centers" and who are conned by slick spins on an old theme. You still have to persuade a mother-to-be that she is not what her child needs in order to pass that child on to the paying customers. It took many of us decades to emerge from the fog of the emotional violence done to us. I wonder how long it will take and what it will take to get to these new mothers. I know my palm itches to slap some of these happy-sappy beemommies into the realization that they have been had in the worst way.

Some agencies are now offering "post adoption counseling" to these mothers. All I see is some vapid Industry toadie slapping a band-aid on the bleeding wound and telling them that they will get over it. Some of these "counselors" actually believe the bullcrap they are pushing. Sad and sadder.

This is an adult pain...not some kid's boo-boo that you can kiss, wrap in a band aid and send the little darling back out to play. This is a trauma of a woman. Ages 13 or 30, if you gestate and give birth, then you most likely have a mother's heart, a woman's pain and the potential to nurture. Nature prepares you for it, physically and emotionally. Your breasts fill and become heavy and ready to nourish your child. Your brain is flooded with natural chemicals and hormones that, regardless of what anyone says, MAKES YOU A MOTHER.

Yes, there are those non-caring women who really don't want the child they bear. I have to wonder what they were doing by not protecting themselves from pregnancy or by not terminating the pregnancy in the early stages if they are so uncaring of the child. They sure didn't do the kid a favor. But these are not the women I am discussing and they are a small percentage of the victims of the surrender game.

Finding a way to deal with what happened is an individual thing. There are many good guides to healing that have some good ideas on self-help for surrender loss. But what works for one may not work for another. So we search until we find what works for us. For me, it was applying the 12-step program to the issue. During the process, I've found renewed self-esteem and have grown a new backbone. That is a delicious sensation.

Now, during this month that the Industry would make its own, I can thumb my nose, point my finger and say, out loud, "You Lie!" Big Adoption, Society, many adopters and our government have a lot to answer to. They are already scurrying for cover stories in Australia where an inquiry is imminent. I would love to see this happen here. I would love to see the agency doors closing, right and left. I would love to hear the irrational excuses that would be invented for such an inquiry here in the US. I don't really see how they can justify anything they have done without admitting to dabbling in a bit of Hitleresque social engineering.

Don't be misled. The Industry and those who lobby for and support it are already trying to be proactive where potential quests for justice are concerned. Read the 100+ page open records legislations in various states and you will see the fine hand of the pro-adoption faction at work. They would love nothing better than to lay all their trespasses in the laps of the mothers who surrendered and then let the mob have at us.

Healing, to me, means that I will fight that with everything I have, even if all I have are my words and this blog. I know I feel better for having done something, however small, rather than letting it go and sitting in my Ivory Tower. I became a mother when I felt the faint stirrings of life inside me in 1961. I refuse to let the Industry, adopters or anyone else tell me I didn't.

I find that attitude to be immensely healing.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Life's Little Triumphs

Sometimes, when we are in the trenches with Big Adoption and those that benefit, we can get to the point where we feel like we are Tokyo and the Industry is Godzilla. We get annoyed, then pissed, then we can act and speak without thinking. When I do that I am just another monster fighting the original one. Of course, it is hard to get a rational response to work with those whose career it is to promote and accomplish an irrational scenario.

I could be very jealous of the strides being made in Australia with an actual inquiry and the steps being taken in Canada...well, I AM jealous, but I am also happy for them and hopeful that the people here in the US who are affected by adoption will take a little courage from our friends in Oz and the Great North and join in the fight. In the US, we are definitely swimming against the current.

I want to celebrate those big victories because just getting started against the Adoption Machine is something to note. It is good that these things are happening in November along with Grayson and Ben reuniting and preparing to spend their lives as father and son. The court decision in MO to return her little boy to an undocumented alien is also one of the biggies. But I also want to celebrate little, everyday, life victories. These are the little, loose things on the periphery of the adoption zone. Some things don't make the evening news or the NY Times.

A friend of a friend, after trying for eight years, finally became pregnant. She was on bed rest from the 5th month on and delivered 5 weeks shy of her due date. Her little girl is doing well in the NICU down at Arnold Palmer hospital, gaining weight and breathing on her own. My friend went with the new mom to visit the little one and she had to pass on what this anxious but proud mother had to say.

She said, "Valarie, I cannot believe we were thinking about adopting. All I can think of is what your friend said about having people tell her she wasn't good enough to be a mother to her own child. I would die if someone were to take Lacey from me." Great thought, Leah. Pass it on. I think she identified because she had no idea if her daughter would be with her in the end or pass away from complications of prematurity. That is one more "civilian" who gets it.

My reunited daughter is sick. She has Lupus and when she gets an infection, it's usually a doozie. This time it's strep and more and she sounds terrible. Yet, as sick as she is, there was a member of her adoptive family who needed some tough love and a person to do that duty. She got out of bed, put on her big girl panties and did it! It was hard, it was painful, it was unselfish and it took a whole lot of courage. (Oh, and "it" is private.) I am so proud of her. She did what was right rather than what would make her "popular" with her family member. The victory over the adoptee people-pleaser in her is small by some standards,I guess, but huge with me. More than that, she showed the kind of person she is....a loving one.

I realized that, as I share my morning Facebook "I love yous," I can include my granddaughter. If my daughter had not been diligent in finding me, I couldn't have done that. I had a ball picking out Christmas presents for my great-grands..again, something I might have missed. For over 30 years, I would have given my eye teeth just to be able to say "Merry Christmas" to my surrendered children. I can do that, thanks to her and to a lot of good people who helped us both search.

Things aren't perfect for either of my surrendered children and me. But we know where the other one is and we can pick up the phone or send a card. The Industry was unable to prevent that and I call that a victory. Each time we have a problem with each other or a confrontation, and each time we talk and work it out, that is another victory. The Industry was unable to take our love away from  us.

Maybe these little things can, over time, whittle Godzilla down to what it really is...a man in a rubber suit, trampling a toy town. If I rightly recall my B-movie facts, monsters always get destroyed in the end. It's just a matter of finding the beast's weakness and using it against the Industry.

We may not have injured the Monster deeply, yet, but we have left a few scabs and minor wounds. Now, where's my salt? I keep it on hand for rubbing into open sores on the Monster's hide.

Monday, November 15, 2010

More On Excrement Occurs

I was in an inpatient facility for six weeks for an eating disorder. I learned a lot about what makes us use our drug of choice (in my case, food) and why we react to so many situations rather than making a thoughtful response. I learned the dangers of comparing my insides with the outsides of others. I figured out that I was a perfectionist and prone to dichotomous thinking and that I let old tapes about my lack of personal worth play on and on in my mind. I learned, most importantly, that I cannot control a damn thing but myself.

Life is an ocean and the ocean has waves and storms. In less poetic terms, shit happens. In those six weeks I heard more breast-beating, mommy and daddy-blaming and self pity that I thought existed. What bothered me most is that some of it came from me. I could, in that environment, step back and see that I was playing the tapes of "more unworthy than thou" and first learned the meaning of "Terminal Uniqueness." It was also in that environment that I heard words of common sense and hard-earned wisdom that stay with me to this day. Minnie O., bless her heart and may she rest in peace, a tough old raspy-voiced survivor of alcoholism and compulsive overeating, had a bit to say about our therapy. We listened because she had been in recovery longer than many of us had been alive.

"Hey," she croaked at one meeting. "You know how the jackass got into the ditch. Good for you. NOW, let's figure out how to get the jackass OUT of the ditch." Her opinion from her 80+ years (at the time...she recently passed at age 99) was that dwelling on what you couldn't control, things that had happened to you, without doing anything to change the effects it had on you was just "emotional masturbation."

Her other favorite was, "When I was young and they did this to me, shame on them. Now that I am an adult with the capacity to understand, if I keep whining about it, shame on ME." Her answer to that was to reach out and help others and it kept her sane, sober and at a dull roar with the food. One woman, who was abused as a child, kept crying about it. Minnie asked her what she had done about it. "It's a terrible injustice," she said. "Why not do what you can to speak out against that injustice and maybe help some others and learn how to live well in spite of the fact that it happened to you?"

Wow, what a concept! There comes a time when you start sounding like a broken record if you don't take it to the next level. I can sit around and talk about, cry about and relive the pain of losing my children to adoption all day, 24/7. OR, I can address the injustice and make things a bit hotter for the industry. I think I'll take door #2.

We've all been through a lot of crap, adoptee and nmoms. For the majority of us, none of it was our fault (moms and adoptees) nor were you unloved and forgotten (adoptees). Like the child who is born with a genetic defect and learns to live well with that defect (see references to Stephen Hawking from my previous post), it all falls into the category of "shit happens." The thing is, are we going to let the Industry and the NCFA and the legislative toadies get away with it, scott-free?

Anger is just an emotion, neither good nor bad, neither right nor wrong. Finding a constructive and worthy outlet for that anger is a lot better than letting it fester inside us, warping our perceptions and fuelling poor choices. I learned this from my treatment and, mostly, from Minnie O. I don't do it perfectly because it is a process and a journey..not a permanent fix nor a destination reached. But I am a lot happier for keeping at it.

We're all special but none of us are so exalted above or pushed below others as to be so very, very unique. I'm okay as long as I remember that I have no control over anyone or anything else but myself, that life is real and that shit happens.