Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Have You Hugged Your Mom/Child Today?

In the midst of all that is frightening and sad in this crazy world of ours, there come moments of beauty. I felt my heart literally fill up and soar for a dear friend, yesterday. Her reunion with her adult son has been troubled and marred with many broken promises of meetings, painful phone conversations, anger and hurt. It isn't rare and that is sad to know, but when it happens to you, it is YOUR pain.

On April 18th, after many years with no contact other than sporadic phone conversations, my friend spent her son's 44th birthday with him and it was good. She also got to know her "other" grandchildren and an adorable great-grandson. A lover of warm climates, she made the trek north into the late, spring cold and warmed her heart. It was worth the trip.

I can't convey her feelings. I imagine she will do that at some point, herself. But I know that I felt a thrill for her. She now has one of those special memories to hold inside. Her reunion, over two decades, is why I say "Never say Never." You never know what might come to pass if you go about your business of making a good life for yourself and keeping the door open for the missing loved one.

I wrote a blog the other day about an adult child being rejected by her Mother. For many years, my friend felt the sting of this rejection from her son. I dare say that the rejections were caused by the same affliction...self hatred. The problem is that the other person has to hurt for one's hatred for oneself. Those that experience this hatred of self, often prefer to live in denial and lies rather than make that fearful journey into the unknown, to self-esteem. Self-pity and emotional distance are easier to handle because those are the devils they know.

No reunion is perfect. Only the best at wearing false faces never hit roadblocks or find themselves in contention with each other. Someone likened, on FB this morning, adoption to the "mental ward of the world." Good analogy! There are more old wounds, insecurities, misinformation and confusion in this arena than you can find, even in the world of politics and that is saying something. For the most part and from my observations, I would say that we and our children have been royally screwed and they didn't even buy us dinner.

It takes courage to go back, time and time again, to try to repair the damage, create a relationship and put your emotions on the line. Most of us have learned to cherish the good moments and work through the rough times. There are no guarantees.

Two people whom I hold in high esteem, put themselves out there in the past few days. One had a successful encounter and one had heartache on a sheet of legal pad. But they both are resilient and brave and I am proud of both of them.

There are people (some of them very arrogant and self-promoting) who insist that being anti-adoption is unrealistic. They say there will always be a need for it. I see that there will always be a need for some sort of secure, child-centered way to care for children that won't mess with their identities or heritage. But nothing, NOTHING, can make me see adoption as even a necessary evil to that end. I hate it. I hate what it has done to millions of Mothers and their children. I hate that it has created a minefield out of what should be a natural and comfortable relationship.

To my Sister Mothers, to my dear Adoptee friends...Kudos for your courage in walking through the minefield. Group Hug, anyone?

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Too Much Going On

As Marvin Gaye used to sing,
                                               "Picket lines and picket signs,
                                                Don't punish me with brutality,
                                               Talk to me so you can see,
                                               What's going on, Ya, what's going on.
                                                Tell me what's going on,
                                                I'll tell you what's going on."

A friend of mine, who is also a mother, made a comment the other day that sort of stuck with me. She told someone else that, these days, "adoption was the last thing" on her mind. I can understand her meaning.

I hate to say it, but I have been so derailed by all the horrible things that have been going on with the budget debates, tea party viciousness, the middle east becoming a powder keg with a lit fuse, the natural disasters here and abroad, that I am on frustration overload. There is too much happening to concentrate on just one issue.

To say that I am afraid of the idea of people like Trump, Palin, Huckabee, Beck, Romney, Paul, Gingrich, etc., inciting the fundies, the fearful and the ignorant is putting it mildly. While they rail against a bit of socialism, they are diving deep into fascism. They preach hate, fear and all the things that we fought against back in the 60's. They are trying to undo all the progress that was made and take us back into Reactionary Heaven. That any of the above-mentioned might actually make it into the White House is a thought that makes me nauseated. I would not want to live in this country should that happen.

The idea that a budget debate should include anti-choice riders stunned me. The misinformation about exactly what Planned Parenthood does is unbelievable. Here it is again, folks. Only 3% of what PP does has anything to do with abortion services. What abortions are provided are, as the law demands, paid for with private funds, NOT taxpayer funds. Are we clear, now? Some nice people, among them the Gates, who believe women should have access to needed care in that area, have donated monies for that purpose. OK?

Just a few short weeks after tens of thousands lost their lives in Japan, our country was under the gun of Mother Nature. The tornadoes struck and lives and homes were lost. They are still studying the Chernobyl-level disaster at Fukujima and the effects it will have on Japan and the rest of the world.

In the middle east, students, women and people who are not afraid to open their minds and question are pitting themselves against despots and theocracies. People are dying so that some powerful leader can hire Beyonce' to perform at a birthday party and add another yacht to their fleet. Of course, we have to worry about the Taliban stepping in and using what these people are doing for their own purposes.

IF we survive all of this, then the environment needs immediate attention. We have abused our home, this beautiful, blue planet, for too long and she is going to strike back. Spaceship Earth is under attack from its passengers.

I had my two oldest children taken for adoption 49 and 48 years ago. We have been reunited since 1993. I have learned and grown in my knowledge of this crime against mothers and babies. I have also come to the realization that this is just one abomination among many. If there is a way to abuse, use and exploit others, the users will find it.

I unsubbed from a few alert groups, like Care One. I can't be all things to all people and I cannot support every cause that comes down the pike...some of them sounding absurd, though true. "Stop Painful Breast Ironing in Cameroon?"  Yes, that does indeed sound horrible. But someone else is going to have to step up to the plate on that one. My plate is full to overflowing.

There's too much going on.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Just A Note To Say......

She agonized over that letter. She was placing herself on the line. Years of hopes and longings and needs went into that carefully worded but heartfelt missive. She sent it off with her heart in her throat, hopeful, yet afraid to hope. She just wanted her Mother and Mother's track record, to date, had not been very good. She sent it Certified and knew when it was received. She just kept putting one foot in front of the other and functioning as she waited for a response.

What she received back from her Mother was more than a dismissal. It was an insult. It was cruel. It was hand-written on a piece of paper torn from a legal pad. It had phrases in it like "I made the right decision" and "have a good life" or things of that nature. She didn't even sign it "Mother."

I opined, and I think I am right, that this Mother really hates the person she was when she conceived her daughter, gave birth and surrendered. It was all her dirty little secret, something she wanted to pretend never happened. Her adult daughter gave the proof to the lie. But Good Old Mom keeps hanging on to the lie by her fingernails, determined to erase that which can never be erased. To protect the lie that she mainly tells herself, now, she must reject the product of an ill-considered relationship. The problem is, that she can't escape herself. Where ever she goes, there she'll be.

I want to tell her that one of my children was conceived in an act of violence...rape. But he is not his sire. He is my child. He doesn't make me feel bad about something over which I had no control. His presence doesn't bring up the horror of his conception when I see him or talk to him because I separated him from that a long time ago. Rather than lying to myself about it, I sought counseling and healing.

Our pasts are part of us all until the day we die. It forms, defines and refines us. You can learn from some mistakes and consign them to the memory vaults. But you cannot just dismiss, out of hand, an adult child without causing some real pain. This Mother is either heartless or is so numb to her own feelings that she is sure her daughter will not hurt. I won't begin to claim to know what convoluted reasoning is in her head. I just know she is wrong.

In the AA "Big Book" there is a passage called "The Promises." One of these promises is that "we will neither regret the past nor wish to turn our back on it." There was a time when shame and guilt kept me from re-visiting the events of my first two pregnancies. There was a weird kind of denial going on in me that I could be the person that I would have been if IT had never happened. That's hogwash. When I embraced the lessons I had learned and acknowledged my grief and loss, then I began to really grow. I am fortunate in that the growth began before reunion.

That need to erase the past and that denial can create an emotionally stunted human being if one is not careful. I understand why this woman is so resistant. I can even feel for her. But I cannot excuse her. It's past time to grow up and move on to the fullness of who she is. The young woman who was in an unwise relationship needs to be forgiven. I wish I could wave a magic wand and open the blind, inner eyes of many a rejecting mother...or rejecting adult adoptee for that matter.

That's the bitch of it. I can think of, right off the top of my head, 11 women, who would give their last drop of blood to receive the kind of letter from their adult, surrendered child, that this woman sent to her mother. They have been treated like crap by their lost children. The dynamics of having a child taken for adoption or being adopted and trying to search, to reunite...It's like walking into a mine field. The social engineers and the human traffickers have created a major cluster fuck and they don't even care. They are too busy counting the money.

They bill themselves as "helping to build families." What they have helped build is heartache.

I wish I could make it better, Sweetie.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Pissed Off And Proud

Yeah, I'm angry! What about it? You think it's "not nice?" Well, too freakin' bad for you. In many situations, anger is not only the appropriate response, it is the strong and righteous one! Do you agree? You might want to check out "One Million Pissed Off Women" on Face Book.

I have a good life. I have a wonderful husband, terrific children, raised and reunited, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, fantastic friends and family and two little terror..er, terriers to lighten my days. So, most of the time, things are copacetic and I am at peace. But then I turn on the news, read my Internet news feed or read on FB and I reach a state of fury in seconds.

Anyone who denies that the reactionaries and the theocrats are waging a political and cultural war against women, with women in their ranks for Crissakes, is in deep denial doo doo. The way to control a culture is to control the family and the way to control the family is to control women and their ability to determine their own reproductive choices. Women have been repressed for thousands of years because we can do something men can't..we bring forth life.

Now, one might wonder what this is doing on a page that centers on the injustices done to unmarried mothers in the last century. Well, isn't the right to keep one's infant and raise it also a reproductive choice? That is the alternative that is never mentioned in the old "abort/adopt" argument put forth by the anti-choice faction. I have NO doubt, whatsoever, that the adoption Industry is standing by and watching this, egging it on, greasing palms, doing a bit of creative directing, and rubbing its avaricious, stained hands in glee.

If we want justice, then we have to be aware that we are struggling, right now, against being taken back to square one where a woman's personal autonomy is concerned. Redefining rape, questioning culpability in miscarriages, defining "uterus" as a dirty word and cutting off access to birth control would send us back to the bad old days of housewives in pearls and heels, subjugated by hubby while Peyton Place seethes in the background.

For those who long for those "good old days" when things were simpler and they had cigarette ads on TV and twin beds in the movies and sitcoms, know that Grace Metalious wrote about the parts of life that no one acknowledged. It took me decades to see the hypocrisy of those days. We were taught lies in American History in school and Communism was Satan's tool and "Under God" was added to the Pledge of Allegiance. Meanwhile, in those legendary, smoke-filled rooms, the witch hunters and the fat cats did their business. McCarthyism was in full bloom, generals advocated use of the Big One, paranoia and discrimination were rampant, but, yeah...those were the good old days, right?

Those were also the days when millions of young women, mostly middle-class, white teens, were shipped off to "stay with an aunt" and prepped to surrender their precious cargo. We were the object of scandalized whispers. No matter what goodness and decency resided in our makeup, we were seen as deviant and delinquent while the boys who were 50% of the conception process got off with a wink and a nudge. It truly sucked to be female, single and pregnant in those days.

There are those who would argue that it's not that much better, today. But, whether anyone wants to admit it or not, women DO have more choices available and less criticism if they choose to be single mothers. Those choices are precious! They are part of the awakening from the Victorian blindness of the early part of the 20th century. They are milestones in the progress of the rights of women that were denied for so long.

Bit by bit, state by state, we are being forced back into that old mold of the compliant wife, responsible for our virginity even if it's taken by force, and prized only for that little piece of tissue being intact when we reach the altar. And it is all because of that same old issue...FEAR. Men don't want women running any part of the show. We scare them because we bring compassion and social awareness to the arena. If they don't control us, I think they fear we will control them. I don't know what to say about the women they have enlisted in their fight that stand by them except that I know some of them, care deeply about a few of them and am appalled and confused by their actions.

I really wish that NOW weren't so laden with those who adopt. Perhaps, if they weren't, they could see our plight as a valid reproduction issue rather than concentrating on birth control and abortion rights. It is interesting that they list adoption as a reproductive right, which it isn't, and yet leave out the right of the single mother to keep and raise her child. NOW has disappointed me badly and I question their leadership in the light of what is going on now.

To me, it looks like we are going to have to roll up our sleeves and keep a sharp eye on what is happening. The only weapon we have is our voice. Speak up, speak out and don't let them get away with this horror. Write letters, emails, talk to people, discuss the issue and be careful with your vote.

Help stop the War On Women.

Monday, April 04, 2011

If Anyone Wonders Why.....

This past weekend, my oldest child's paternal grandmother passed away. She was a sweet lady who always treated me with kindness and a gentle respect. The same was true of her late husband.

I don't know what happened to her son. We were both teens, close together in age, and my family was adamant that there would be no marriage. So was my errant lover. He was scared to death. I wonder if my family had allowed it, would his folks have made him marry me? From what I know of those fine people, yes, they probably would have, if only to give their grandchild a name.

But it had already been decided, on my family's part, that there would be no marriage and that "the baby" (MY BABY!!!!!) would be given up for adoption. They decided that, not me.

When my daughter contacted me in April of 1993, I was ready with any information she wanted, including the name of her father. For her, it was important that "the circle be closed." I knew that, where her father was concerned, I was persona non grata, especially to his wife. So, we decided we would contact her paternal grandparents.

No one could have been sweeter or more welcoming to her than her grandparents. They considered her family, at least until her father decided that he didn't want that happening. She had met him only once and he was not eager to acknowledge her even though she could tell he knew she was his daughter. He eventually cut off all contact with her.

She sent a floral arrangement when her grandfather passed but the family had it removed. He spent years denying that she was his to anyone who would listen. His family knows better. However, they ARE his family, so my daughter is a subject not to be discussed because he wants it that way. He has a sister that is kind and open to her and to me, but her loyalties are, first and foremost, to her brother.

So if anyone wonders, this is why I get frustrated with the "good old Dad" stuff that I hear from a lot of adult adoptees. When I say that many of us were abandoned in our time of need, know that the "putative" fathers were usually the first ones out the door and running down the road. This didn't just happen to SOME of us. It happened to MOST of us.

Remember young love? Remember the lovely ache of it, deep in the chest, the fire in the belly and the stars in your eyes? Remember the sweet dreams and the joys of just being held and kissed and hearing those sweet words? I would have carved out my heart for him, back then, and handed it to him in an ivory box lined in silk. I lived to see him look into my eyes and smile.

The reaction of my family and some of my former friends really hurt. Being sent away like a dirty little secret hurt. Being a social outcast hurt. But one of the things that hurt the most was that uncaring rejection, that being kicked to the curb like so much rancid garbage by the one I loved. The only other thing that hurt worse was the loss of my child.

He spoke about me to others in the most disparaging of ways, hinting that I was easy and promiscuous. He lied like a politician who was losing. And, stupid me, I still loved him! It took me years to get over him and, when I  finally did, I felt a thousand pounds lighter. Obsessive masochism is a heavy load and he wasn't worth the damage it did to me.

He is now doing the same thing to our daughter, kicking her aside and refusing to acknowledge her. She offered to have a DNA test done just to still his protests, but he refused. And the ultimate insult to her is his refusal to allow her to join in the mourning for her grandparents.

I remember them both stumbling over words, way back when, trying to make excuses for him and apologies to me. I was, and still am, grateful to the core for their kindness. Their hearts were in the right place and the world is poorer for their passing. I see the best of them in my daughter.

I lit a candle for Hazel. I hope there is something there, on the other side of death, and that she is with her husband again. I hope they both are at rest.

I just wish my daughter didn't have to mourn, alone.

Sunday, April 03, 2011

Birthdays Are Getting Better

I think one of the hardest things for Nmoms and Adoptees is the birthday. I noted, on my daughter's card, that her birth is the one thing that no one else can share with us...it happened to the two of us and no one else. When you are in the limbo of closed, secret adoption and not reunited, birthdays are horrible. It is the anniversary, for many of us, of the beginning of the end.....Motherhood legally deleted and baby gone away...not a good thing to remember.

I had a ritual during the years we spent apart. On each child's birthday, I would buy a cupcake at the bakery, put in a candle and go off by myself for a bit. Often I cried the entire time I was "celebrating."

My daughter's birthday is Wednesday. April is such a lovely month but it was always hard for me to get through as was June, my son's birth month. The cards I send each year are an affirmation that I have mourned the loss of my babies and accepted, with love, the presence in my life of these two adults who are my flesh and blood.

I mentioned, in my previous post, that I considered myself my children's only true mother. I need to emphasize the "I" there in that sentence. My children know how I feel. They also know that I respect their feelings for those who raised them. That is how I, personally, feel, many of my adoptee friends also understand that feeling in me and it hasn't been a "deal breaker" for my reunions. I can never and will never bow at the altar of the adopters.

One reason is that awful concept of "Gotcha Day." What idiot adopter thought that a child would like this kind of celebration? Their birth is as important to them as non-adopted children. To me, that Gotcha thing is as inane, facetious, and distasteful as female adopters taking hormones and trying to breast-feed their acquired children.

One thing that I have learned in the past 17 years since I emerged from the good beemommy fog is that adopters are NOT a lot of things. They are not perfect, saintly, superior or deserving of praise just because they got what they wanted. They are human beings. They make the same mistakes that every one else makes in equal proportion. They can be hateful, hostile, possessive and insecure. A few develop the ability to bite their tongues and be concerned about what the adopted person needs. I'll bet that's hard to do.

I will never tell an adopted person that they shouldn't love their adopters or see them as rightful parents. That is their prerogative and not mine. I will respect how they feel. They have a shared history with these people that we, unfortunately, were denied. Just don't expect me to love them, too. Don't expect me to put up with hostility with my head bowed. For the sake of my children, when this has happened, I would just shut up and back off. But I kept my back straight and my head high when I did. I don't hate the adopters, and I am really no longer angry at them so much as I pity them their insecurities. I believe in civility, and respect is a two-way street. It might be hard to treat, with respect, the woman you throught of as a threat and a personal brood mare. But it can be done, and should be.

If I have any message for those who adopt, it would be that I did NOT give my children to you. I gave YOU to them because I had no other choice.

I also refuse to see myself as a part of any so-called "Triad." There is no equality in adoption and there are too many other players in the field to come up with a discernible, geometric representation of the experience. To me, it is nothing more than a great, big cluster F***...painful, confusing and damaging.

But, since I have reunited with my two adult children, I have finally mourned the forever loss of my babies. I have mourned the years we missed when birthday cards and calls and other things were impossible. I have come to terms with and have learned to direct and use my anger at the injustices done to us...Nmothers and Adopted. Those who say you don't make progress, don't try.

And yes, Birthdays are easier than they were, for me, anyhow.

Saturday, April 02, 2011

Floods, Rugs and Reunions

There are floods and there are Tsunamis and earthquakes. They all cause damage to homes and people. So does the separation of mother and infant. There is even good evidence that the stress of coercion and isolation and worry during pregnancy can cause life long problems for both the child and the mother. Like a flood, the water may eventually recede but the damage is done.

We have watched as the people of Japan try to pick up the pieces after a disaster of historical proportions. For some, still searching for missing family, the tides may return the bodies of their lost ones, but there will be no repairing them. There will be no joyful reunion for these people.

Anyone who has ever been inside a flood damaged home knows that much has to be discarded before it can be rebuilt and it will never be the way it was. Many an opportunistic business will try to convince you that if you use their product or call their service, it will all be just like new. That's not a reality where there has been a true disaster. Sometimes, when the waters soak the rugs and the walls, there is nothing to do but rip up the carpet, tear out the drywall and try to build up again or throw up one's hands and relocate to an area where the danger of such a catastrophe is lessened.

I watch as so many mothers and their adult, reunited children reach, hungrily, for some kind of normalcy in their relationships. It's not easy to do when there is so much damage that has been exacerbated by years of ignoring the waters that inundated the rooms of their perceptions, psyches and hearts.

Some folks, when flooded out, scrap the whole mess and build something different. I wonder if that is what we should do. We are more than mere friends. We share flesh, blood, DNA and the trauma of that separation. When we finally reconnect, we are familiar strangers...known but unknown..and it is awkward and emotionally draining on both ends, and hard work to find that place where we can be comfortable with each other.

It is a fact that many of us spend our time with each other walking on eggshells, careful of every word we say. Some of us suppress our true feelings and don't always respond with honesty for fear of chasing the other away. Using the flood analogy, we dry the walls as best we can, then throw on some primer and paint..cosmetically okay, but the rot is still in the walls.

From overly courteous to overtly hostile, these relationships run the gamut. Perhaps the best thing to do is to really scrap the whole thing and start from the ground up. We can't re-birth and re-raise our adult children and the regression so often seen where the adult adoptee goes back to being a wounded infant and we regress to the frightened, shamed and bullied girl can't make for a healthy relationship, especially if we lay that on each other.

Have you ever searched the racks, looking for a special occasion card for your reunited child or your Nmom and tried to find one that doesn't refer to shared experiences of a life spent together? That is what is missing. That is what cannot be repaired or renewed.

Here's a concept. What if, before we explored the relationship, we worked on those issues within ourselves with professionals, support groups, etc. and allowed those inner babies and girls to grow up along with the rest of our beings before attempting reunion? I know too many who have said, "had I only known......." The fact is that, when many of us entered reunion all those many years ago, we had no idea we had been in a flood. We counted on love and the excitement and drama of the event to carry us on into the future. WRONG.

Let's face it. The government isn't the one to do the healing and the Industry? Well that's laughable. To ask an adoption professional to help us heal is like asking the fox to look after the hens. They want us to just go away and shut up and they want our children to be good little life-long possessions and be properly "grateful." We have straight search groups. We have search support groups. We have support groups for reunited mothers and adoptees and for those in search. But we have no real, designated, pre-reunion support and information groups that are effective in helping those involved get off to a better start and how to anticipate and navigate the flood waters of old pain and confusion.

Right now, if you look at some of the forums where those in troubled reunions congregate, you'll find nothing more than a major, nasty bitch-fest. There is no progress...only spinning of wheels. Hostility is encouraged rather than explored and abated. I wonder how much of that fury and frustration comes from wanting something we just can't have?

The damage is done and the phenomenon of reunion has introduced a whole, new classification of parent/child relationships. Years, fears, secrets and lies have flooded the rooms of our emotions and psyches and, once the mess is cleaned out, then something new has to be built in its place. It is what it is.

I consider myself to be the only true mother to my surrendered children. I get a lot of flack for that but that is how I feel. That is why I use the term "adopters." That's my own, personal conviction. But I know that I was an absent mother for the first 30+ years of their lives and I understand, accept and respect the feelings they have for those who raised them. I just do not feel constrained to share those feelings. So I can't be Mother in the traditional sense and they can't be my children in the traditional sense. Like I said, the shared life experience isn't there. It was lost in the flood. But, maybe there can be a new class or type of the Mother/Child dyad born out of the simple need to connect and know.

So, perhaps we need to seek out this new model for the Reunited Mother and her Reunited Adult Child. Was our mistake always in trying to recapture what had already been damaged beyond repair? When all the flood has left is a foundation, then you build on that. I don't have any magic answers as to how, but I have a couple of ideas of my own..too late for me and many others, but maybe not for some of the younger members of the closed, secret adoption era. Don't have unrealistic expectations of each other and realize that you are starting from the ground up. I'm sure others might have wisdom to add to that.

Meanwhile, I have stopped trying to save the rug that was inundated with water, mud and worse. A shop-vac is not going to save it.

Who knows what we can build if we throw that rug away, tear out the soggy drywall and decide, together, how and what to build from the foundation?