Friday, August 16, 2013

Being a "bitter" and "angry" adoptee is hard work

How many times have I been accused of being an "angry adoptee"?

Well, usually I am accused of this when I point out something blatantly wrong about the adoption industry.

Usually, it is a non-adoptee or an adoptive parent who says it.  It is usually never another adoptee unless they have not dealt with their own adoption issues.

In fact, I've been accused of being too adoption-loving by some adoptees.  That one just blows my mind!

I'm usually accused of this through electronic communications (probably because adoption is not my favorite topic of conversation in real life) by people who have big computer screen kahunas, but would never call me up and say "Hey, help me to understand your perspective here." 

I have been told not to show so much emotion on my blog.   I've been accused of stepping off my spiritual path.  I've been told I have "anger issues".

And you know what?  I take all of these comments as a compliment.

I know -- sounds crazy, doesn't it?  But what it really means to me is that I am not in "the adoption fog" or "numb to my feelings".  It means that I can feel the ups, downs and heart breaks of this journey called adoption.  People who can't feel are in a world of hurting. They just go through the motions of life without really experiencing it.  They make decisions with only their heads -- not their hearts.

It may be hard for some people to believe, but adoption is only a very tiny aspect of who I am as a person.  You may know me for three years or a lifetime and have never heard me discuss adoption with you (unless you asked me a question adoption-related).  I would never try to pressure another adoptee to search for birth family or join the Adoptee Rights Coalition because I truly believe these decisions are very personal and should be made only when and if one is ready or interested.

I love my life. I love to make jokes and have fun.  I love people, animals and sunsets. Basically, I'm pretty much just like you, except that I was raised within an institution that I do not agree with.

Does that mean I don't love my adoptive family?  Absolutely not.  Does that mean I am not thankful for my adoptive family? (grateful needs to be permanently removed from adoption)?  No! 

What it means is that I do not agree with lying to children about where they came from.  I do not agree that falsifying documents is a good legal practice.  I thought the law was supposed to be about justice.  Call me naive, but that is one of the things I like about working in the legal field -- the justice aspect of it.

Currently, I see very little justice within private adoption in the United States.  I don't see any justice in the Veronica case either. (a little plug for Two Worlds Radio that will be interviewing several Lost Daughters including myself and Trace DeMeyer, a Native American adoptee, about this case--this Sunday night at 10:00 p.m.)  You can visit Trace at her blog.

Does adoption give children a safe and loving home? Hopefully, yes.  Sometimes, no.   I hope that adoption gives all adoptees a safe loving home because isn't that what adoption claims to be about?  I hope all current and future adoptees grow up to become happy, healthy and whole.

Part of growing up happy, healthy and whole is knowing where you came from.  Knowing that the people who say they love you aren't lying to you.  Knowing that you are treated equally as a U.S. citizen to every other person in this country.

I did not grow up whole and yes, it makes me angry.  I don't want other adoptees to grow up feeling like I did and then have layers of guilt to uncover to get to the truth of who they are.  I get really tired of non-adopted people who say that their life was so much worse growing up with their biological families.  (and have some silly adoption fantasy about how their life would be better).  This is not a comparison of whose life was better or worse.

What you can compare is that the greatest majority of biological family members take it for granted that the people who raised them are their genetic family.  They take it for granted that they can call their grandmother for information or research their family tree and have an accurate starting place.  They take it for granted that their birth certificate has accurate information on it. 

 It makes me angry that I am still trying to piece together my history like a whole series of Who Do You Think You Ares but instead of answers by the genealogists, they are scratching their heads and going, "Sorry, we just don't know". 

Angry people are the change-makers.  Do you think women were happy when they couldn't vote?  Do you think slaves were content with their plight?   When people get angry enough about mistreatment, generally, they stand up and try to to fight for change.

I do not want to be remiss in thanking the overwhelming majority of you who read my blog and post comments and message me privately with support.  That means alot to me.  In fact, knowing your stories helps me to heal my own wounds and continue to fight the good fight.

So when you accuse me of being angry -- thank you.  I will continue to be angry about the injustices I see in adoption and I will continue to fight for change.






Thursday, August 8, 2013

It only takes one person to believe in you


As I was cheering a friend on today through a really ugly drama, I remembered a story told by Dr. Laura Schlessinger.  I have read all her books so I believe I read it first and then heard her talk about it on her radio show when I used to listen.  (Please don't even go all "I hate Dr. Laura" on me because I love her even though I disagree with her ideas about adoption).

My friend referred to has been in an isolated situation within her marriage.  For years, she had nobody to talk to. She always reminds me that I am the one person she can talk to (for which I feel honored).  We met by chance when she thought my dog (a white Maltese) was her lost dog (a white Shitzu) one day at a children's playground.  Our kids are like siblings at this point and we see each other every day.


 But back to Dr. Laura's story . . . .

When Dr. Laura was in practice as a marriage and family counselor, she counseled a woman who had past drug issues and not a very supportive family.  Dr. Laura found this client to be highly intelligent and throughout the counseling, mirrored this and other positive attributes she saw back to the woman.

This woman, not only went through drug treatment successfully, she went on to receive several college degrees.  Why?  Because Dr. Laura saw something in her that nobody else had cared enough to see.  Dr. Laura believed in this woman which in turn helped the woman believe in herself.

This may sound like a hokey story for the average person who has many supportive friends and family.  But there are people in your circle right now who confide in nobody. There are people who feel alone in their pain.

How does this translate to adoption?   I had one person for years who supported me throughout my search for my roots -- my husband.  He was my rock and for that, I will truly be forever grateful.  Later, my search angel, Greg, mentioned that he was helping me in my search to "pay it forward".  Thinking back to how he put his neck on the line for me (a complete stranger) brings tears to my eyes.

If I accomplish nothing else, I want this blog to be a safe place for adoptees to come and know that even if nobody else in their lives are supportive of their need to know who they are, I am. If nobody else in your life understands the frustration of having no records, information or clue about your identity, I do understand, because I've lived it. 

If every single person in your life is saying "just get over it -- let sleeping dogs lie"  -- know that I will never say that and will be cheering you on when you accomplish each and every milestone in this life-long journey of adoption.

Many adoptees feel stifled, afraid and alone. Many only feel safe in speaking to one confidant or none at all.  Many only speak freely in the private Facebook adoption groups.  I listen and converse with adoptees every day.  Many of them are very well-adjusted, from loving adoptive families, are well-spoken professionals who have everything in their lives together, but this one piece (adoption).

There is shame involved in being adopted, but it is more of a hidden shame than what adoptive parents feel about infertility and birth parents feel about being unmarried and pregnant.   It's an un-named shame which some will call the "fog" and others will deny because we didn't "do anything" to earn it.  But it's there, along with the fear and the denial. 

As a society, we have a long way to go to allow honest dialogue from adoptees without the bashing, assumptions, myths and glamorization that come along with adoption.


It only takes one supportive person to help another believe in themselves and push forward.

Be that person.