Let Your Feelings Show, It’s OK

adoption vulnerable

I have a friend who is very open minded and curious about life and people. She is methodical in forming opinions and likes to gather all facts. I have talked to her often about adoption and what I’ve learned about the different sides of adoption, the less popular facts of how it affects the adoptee. I’ve talked to her about the myths and the realities. She has always listened with sympathy however, I could tell she really didn’t get it. I could see she really wanted to understand and became very curious about it but she really didn’t feel what I was telling her. So when I started watching Long Lost Family and saw just how raw and honest that show is surrounding adoption, I asked her to watch it. She became hooked.
After one episode, she “got it”. She started talking to me about adoption in my terms, with a deeper understanding, and became passionate about the injustices often incurred. We watch every week and confer about the cases they show. She has formed passionate opinions about how things should be. She has found our side and now doesn’t just sympathize…. she EMPATHIZES. What more could I ask for? Thank you Long Lost Family….. but wait… why was the show successful in making her understand when I had been trying for so long? I had to ask her.
She said that witnessing these people on the show baring their souls and explaining from their hearts is what made her understand the messy side of adoption. So I got my answer: I was talking cold hard facts without emotion. This surprised me and I had to really think about that. I thought back to all the times she and I had talked about it before. I watched myself explaining some things to her and I realize that she’s right. I talk a lot about it, talk about other people’s experiences and why things are wrong and need to be changed. I talk a lot. I don’t show her anything. I’m flat about it other than maybe a little anger. Wow. My number one cause that I’m wholly passionate about and one of my closest friends couldn’t see the emotion. How the hell does that happen? I’m a very emotional person; all I have to do is talk about one achievement of my daughter’s and my eyes well up with tears. If I think of a poor squirrel getting run over, I cry. I watch a sad movie, I cry. But somehow, when talking about my own adoption experience and the wrongs of the industry, I’m stoic and full of facts. Time to dig deep and figure this out because I don’t want this to be the case as I talk to others about this important cause. So I turn to my blog and write.
I was an emotional mess when writing my memoir but I was alone. When I’m alone I don’t have any trouble opening up so why am I putting on a stone face with others? I think I don’t want to be seen as weak. I want people to know that I can handle anything and am strong so that they can lean on me. Other people’s stories can make me cry and I believe that shows empathy however, if I cry about my own situations I see that as weak. I realize this is not healthy and I need to start opening up completely. I’ve noticed on social media (where no one fears anything) that when I’m open and raw I get so many reassuring and friendly responses. Being open is engaging and encourages others to open up, as well. There is nothing wrong with this and I need to carry the skill into my interpersonal relationships. I resolve to work on that even though it will be hard to even recognize when I’m doing it (or not doing it, as it were).
It’s not easy for me to be vulnerable because it feels unsafe and ineffective. However, my friend taught me that it’s just as important to show that vulnerability along with the facts because it more effectively tells the story. I have to do this or else I will not be successful in convincing others of the dangers and pitfalls of adoption in order to make it better. Because I do believe it can be better once the world sees the issues and we change the culture of adoption being a baby store and make it about putting children needs before our own. My story will help others but only if I show it as I tell it.

But Why?

Adoptee live love

I look back through my blog posts and watch myself go from being naive to aware to activist.Today I want to get back to why I started this blog; helping adoptees find peace and lead positive lives. I realize now this is not as simplistic as I once thought because of the many emotions and trauma that we have faced. No two stories are the same and that creates differences in opinion which sometimes causes arguments when at the end of the day, we should all be standing together. We are fractured and maybe we take out our anger, hurt, and fear on our brothers and sisters. Can we just do some soul searching and get to the root of our issues and stop deflecting? Stop debating other people’s opinions and start healing yourself.

I’m no therapist but I believe there is a root cause to pain and the effects of it are symptoms of that root cause. If you’re being self destructive or acting out against your friends and loved ones, those are symptoms of something deeper. For example, adoptees sometimes have difficulty with their relationships. Maybe the significant other goes out for the night and the adoptee gets very angry and lashes out causing a huge argument. That lashing out is a symptom of the adoptee’s severe trust issues due to a feeling of abandonment – the root issue. That is just one example of a symptom.
Another example is low self confidence. An adoptee may constantly fear being fired from their job or fear being broken up with because the adoptee feels they are not good enough for the people they’re with or the job they have. Let’s take the work example and imagine an adoptee who has little confidence and is too scared to try something because they feel they will fail and be humiliated. It then becomes a self fulfilling prophecy because fear keeps the adoptee from standing out with their abilities. This low confidence is a symptom of being relinquished. An adoptee may feel they weren’t good enough to keep causing symptoms from this root issue. I have written an article called “pressure of perfection” that relates to this root issue.
A technique I’ve learned to understand behavior is just a form of root cause analysis. It is simply asking “why” until you get to the answer that answers ALL the questions. That is the root causing all symptoms. Address the root and you can reduce or stop the symptoms. If you have a runny nose and watery eyes, the root cause is probably allergies. Allergies is the reason you have those symptoms. It’s the same with behavior. But for our situations, there may be several root issues or just one. It requires a lot of soul searching and being honest with yourself, which is sometimes the hardest thing in the world to do! I once wrote an article about pointing the finger at others for your problems or even their bad behavior but sometimes you have to look in the mirror and figure out just what it is that is making you upset or miserable. Finding the root is the first step and then it will be easier to get the help you need to be happier. It sounds easier said than done but it is possible.
I want everyone to be a happy and positive person. I want to help people figure out how to be all they can be for themselves (which of course makes you a better person for those around you). I’m not a therapist or expert but I know what works for me so I just share that in hopes that it works for someone else. I consider all adoptees my brothers and sisters and I’m here for you.

The Pressure of Perfection

adoptee love (3)

There are many adoptees, myself included, that feel the need to be the perfect adopted child who made the most of their “second chance”. The pregnant, often scared, mother has high expectations for you to have a perfect life. The adoptive parents, often oblivious, have high expectations for you to make them into a perfect family. And sadly, our expectations (the most simple expectation of going to our mother’s arms) are not met, certainly not immediately and oftentimes, never. We adapt, we learn, and some of us even find happiness in our new family. But we never outgrow that unstated expectation of perfection.

If you’re lucky, you were told of your adoption early on in your life…. but then told about how you were chosen and special. Being special means that you’re different and maybe even a little better than all the other children who were born naturally into their families. I don’t feel special, but my parents are telling me I am, so I have to make sure I’m being “special”. Some kids take that to meant that have to live up to something they don’t even understand. All children are special, please stop telling your adopted children that they’re special because they were adopted. Tell your adopted child how special they are because they were born and they will find out what specifically makes them special as they grow. Make it about their own attributes; don’t make it about being adopted. All children are special.
Adopted kids are also sometimes told how their adoption made the family complete and perfect. “We have the perfect family now that you’re here!” Message received: Wow, I’m here to make your family perfect. Outcome of message: The adopted child spends the rest of their lives trying to maintain that family perfection. When we don’t exactly feel like a piece of the family puzzle but are told we complete the puzzle, we start to get lost and lose ourselves in the process. I’m sure it is an unintended outcome but it is the outcome, nonetheless. Educate yourself; read the hundreds of adult adoptee blogs on the internet and come out of oblivion in to the light. Talk about how no family is perfect but you can’t imagine having your family any other way. Please stop telling your adopted child that their adoption into your family makes it perfect.
And then there’s the scared and alone mother whose sole reason for letting you go was to give you the perfect life; a life you could never have had if you had stayed with her. She is told and even imagines for herself a magical life for you. She tells herself this because she hopes it will ease her mind and help the pain. She is traumatized and the only hope, no matter how small, is that you will have untold opportunities and all your dreams will come true. She imagines you in a big and loving family, happy as you could ever be because they have the resources and the hearts to give you what she can’t. We are told, of course, all of that. The weight just got heavier. We must fulfill our mother’s wishes and be the happiest we could ever be and fulfill all of our dreams and have the perfect life… for her, we have to. Please stop telling your child that your mother wanted this perfect life for you. Just let them know how much she loves you no matter who you become. And on top of that, let them know YOU will love them no matter who they become.
The problem is we have no idea what we’re doing anymore than anyone else who isn’t adopted. We happen to be normal kids that make the usual mistakes, but we beat ourselves up more about it because we might not be living up to the expectations that were placed on us when we’re adopted. It really comes down to love. Just let us know how much we are loved even through our flaws because trust me we have flaws. We just need to know our mothers loved us even though they may have had issues they couldn’t overcome. We don’t need the candy coating on our adoption. We need to just be loved because the only perfection in this world, is love.

Not Just a Simple Piece of Paper

adoption open records

 

No matter how you feel about adoption, good or bad, I think all can agree that every individual born into this world has the right to their original birth certificate. In case you really don’t understand why this is so important and a basic human right, I’m going to break down the major elements of a birth certificate.
Name:
Do you know your name? Does what you know to be your name match what’s on your birth certificate? If it does, then you’re lucky. Many adoptees find a different name on their original birth certificates when it is finally released to them. What does that mean? Well it means someone (the woman who gave birth) cared enough to provide a name that meant something to them. It also means that someone else (adoptive parents) changed that name to something that meant something to THEM. The adoptive parents probably didn’t even know there was a name given. How does that dichotomy make one feel? Torn? Lied to? Betrayed? “Special”? Whatever the feeling is, it’s unique to each adoptee who finds themselves with two different names and not something anyone should have to face or deal with.
Birth Date:
Do you know your birth date? What if the date you always knew to be your birthday didn’t match what’s on your birth certificate? What if this happened to you and what does it mean? It means that someone was careless or even worse, it means someone deliberately lied about the actual day. It leaves adoptees wondering why something as simple as a birth date can’t even be recorded in honesty. It causes one to feel like they can’t trust anything or anyone when it comes to their history.
Mother of child:
Do you know your mother’s name? It would be pretty upsetting not to know who your mom is. Think about that and then think of the many adoptees who don’t know and will never know the name of their mother because it is locked away. Some would argue that your “mom” is whoever you want it to be. It’s the person who raised you and loved you, named you and birthed you from her heart. I agree that my “mom” is the one who raised me as her own. But I never forgot about the woman who was my mother; the one who raised me in her body, spoke to me and nurtured me for 9 months. Why am I expected to forget that she existed and that is my history? Maybe she’s not my “mom” but she is my mother, no question about that. So many people will never get to know the name of the mother of the child even though it is DNA, it is history, it is fact.
Father of child:
Do you know your father’s name? I could repeat the above paragraph in this one but it is a little different. Many, many adoptees will never know the name of their father because he is typically not named on the original birth certificate. Unless you find your mother and she is willing to tell you who your father is, you will likely never find out his name. This is common even with non-adoptees so I think more people can relate to the pain of not knowing the name of your father. Yes, I have a dad who raised me and I love him more than any other man on this earth but it doesn’t make my history and DNA just disappear like it never existed.
There are other elements of a birth certificate that are like pieces of a puzzle that tell a person where they came from and who they are like place of birth and whether or not there are other children born to the mother. I’m lucky in that my amended birth certificate kept my real location of birth so I always knew at least that. I at least knew where I was born and believe me I was very proud to have that bit of truth my whole life without having to fight for it. As for siblings, no one can deny how huge of a loss that is, as well. Not only is a baby losing their mother and family, they may also be losing brothers and/or sisters. Yes, we also gained a new family and that is a true blessing! However, the addition of a wonderful and loving new family does not negate the loss of the original family.
There are fun elements like time of birth that most adoptees will never have the privilege of knowing. You know how mothers like to call their children at their time of birth to say happy brithday? It’s simple and not a significant piece of information but if you don’t have it then it feels like a hole on your timeline. Just the simple fact of NOT knowing when I was born on my birthday makes me feel like no one cared. It makes me feel like the entire period of time when my mother began labor until I was whisked away to the nursery for adoption was inconsequential and that it didn’t matter. Well it did matter because it was my beginning to life and it mattered.
Keeping all of this information from an adoptee is just plain wrong. And can we all just really ask ourselves WHY… Why is it or was it important to lock away someone’s true history and replace it with a new one? It is admirable to adopt a child who needs a home so why hide any trace of the adoption? Whether it is an open or closed adoption or something in between, every person has the right to know where they come from and who created them. The original birth certificate holds the key to unlock the secrets of our past that should never have been locked in the first place. So you see, it is not just a simple piece of paper. It documents our existence and is the basis on which we build our truths with basic facts such as our name, when we were born, and who are our parents. This is the foundation on which our experiences and environment builds who we become. Knowing that we have different original parents that relinquished us only enhances our ability to grow and appreciate the second chance we were given.
So I ask you, whether you are adopted or not, to please fight for open records.

An Adoptee’s Poem

This is something I wrote tonight that is just me and about the raw emotion I often feel. I attribute it entirely to adoption; not because of any facts that tell me it’s because of adoption, but because I just know.

adoptee melancholy

Internal struggles

Feeling one way then another

At odds inside

Happy but melancholy

Battling that my whole life

Melancholy – but only for a moment

Then the moment is gone and I’m back.

 

 

Being happy is a journey

adoptee be happy

Being happy is a state of mind but getting to that state of mind is part of our journey. Everyone wants it but only a few have figured out how to get it. According to a Huffington Post article, a poll administered by Harris Poll found that only 1 in 3 Americans are very happy. Only 33% of our nation considers themselves satisfied and happy in their lives. What an interesting fact to consider. What would you say about yourself? I would love for this poll to focus on adoptees because I feel like the happy ones are silent and we don’t often get to hear how they have gotten to a happy state of mind. I am happy in my life overall; I am happy I was adopted, I feel joy in the family that I have found, and I am satisfied with every other aspect of my life at this moment. However, this is a state of mind that I constantly work at and overcome obstacles to maintain. Life would be very boring if I weren’t. It’s not easy to be happy but being happy and learning what it takes for me to be happy has made the hard work worth it. What are the secrets to happiness?
Stop depending on other people to make you happy. It is not their responsibility. They’re too busy trying to make themselves happy; why should they add you to their burden? It is 100% on you to focus on your own happiness and well-being. Imagine how it would feel while you’re struggling to be happy that someone else thinks its your job to make them happy! Who else knows better what you need than you?
I know that sounds easier said than done but here are some tips that could help you unlock the secrets, which are unique to each of us.
1) (This is my favorite tip.) You can’t change other people’s behavior, you can only change yours. If you’ve told someone over and over how their behavior is hurtful and they just can’t seem to stop then all you can do is change your behavior to effect the behavior you want from them. You know this person and how they react to situations so think about things you could do or say that would cause the reaction you want. Some call this manipulation but I call it looking out for myself. If someone isn’t giving you what you need then give it to yourself. I have cut people out of my life before on this principle. It was really hard and there was some pain associated but time heals all wounds and after it was said and done, I was much happier. I can’t change people’s behaviors, I can only change mine.
2) Don’t put unrealistic expectations on those around you. If you expect too much then they will fail you. I like to discuss expectations when forming relationships and continually talk about those expectations as they morph and evolve. Discussing what you want and need from your friends, spouse, kids, colleagues, etc… from the beginning will avoid surprises or complications down the road. Most importantly, the expectations are agreed upon so everyone is equipped to meet them. If someone isn’t meeting the expectations then they won’t be surprised by consequences.
3) Be ready to work hard and face fears. If you want something you have to be persistent and focused. It takes hard work and you have to conquer things like fear! Fear is the biggest obstacle to being happy! Some people fear meeting their biological family, some people fear making painful decisions even though they have to in order to be happy, and some people fear rejection. These fears plus all others will keep you from reaching your true potential in life. Be fearless and you’ll be happy.
4) Be flexible in your life. You can’t control everything around you so be ready to suddenly change course. It’s good to always have a black up plan in case something isn’t working out the way you want it to. It’s so important to not dwell on the bad things that happen out of your control rather to focus on rising above it and coming out on top. Reach out to experts or someone who has done it before for support. You have to accept changes and not take them personally.
5) Surround yourself with people who understand and appreciate you for who you are. The rest of them are expendable and bring no value to your life. Know who truly cares about you and nurture those relationships and let the others fade off. You will be a much happier person with the right people in your life.
None of this is new or groundbreaking and can probably be found on any “life coach” website or Tony Robbins seminar but I think we just need to be reminded sometimes how to be happy. It’s on us, no one else, and nothing feels better when you’ve gotten yourself to this great place. But remember it must be constantly maintained and evaluated. Give yourself the chance to be happy! Open your mind and your spirit will elevate you. xoxo
HuffPost article: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/06/01/happiness-index-only-1-in_n_3354524.html

We just need “real talk”

adoptee censorBeing an adoptee is complicated in every way. It impacts the way we relate to others, how we feel about “normal” situations, how we feel about ourselves, how we feel about family; it literally impacts the way we see the world. I believe that even adoptees who say they don’t feel adopted are impacted in these ways but don’t realize it.

What’s NOT complicated is how we talk about it. I detest how I’m told what is appropriate to say or not say and what isn’t “cool” to call the woman who gave birth to me and relinquished me to adoption. It seems like everytime a new, politically correct term comes out for her then someone else complains. I am told my words and my feelings are offensive to others and how I should be conveying those thoughts and feelings; sometimes that criticism is coming from other adoptees and sometimes that criticism is coming from other mothers who have relinquished children to adoption.

In adoption land, every single person’s situation and feelings are different about their own place in the adoption. We are all different human beings, not all the same, like snowflakes falling from the sky. We each have our very own DNA, the blueprint to what makes us individuals. It’s the beauty in this world that we are all different. Why must we always try to make “groups” of people and then make them conform to a couple of people’s ideas of what’s the right way to think and right words to say?

We are grouped into adoptees and mothers and adoptive parents, which typically pits one group against another – reminds me of the movie Divergent. My mantra is always “We’re all in this together”. Why must we pick at each other when we’ve all had different experiences? We don’t have to be in one group or all have one thought. Let’s be free to speak as we want to speak; it’s the only way to truth. We shouldn’t candy coat things, we shouldn’t be told not to say “birth mother”, we shouldn’t be told we’re wrong for feeling.

I don’t need politically correct words, I don’t need fancy clinical terms, and I don’t need your theories. I need real talk. I need another adoptee, mother, adoptive parent (who probably feels differently than I do) to tell me what their own words, thoughts, feelings are, not mine. I need to hear your raw and uncensored words. This is how I learn from you. And at the same time, know that I’m going to speak my own truth in my words. If you don’t like them, tell me how you like to portray it instead of just telling me I’m wrong. Maybe I’ll like your words better than mine, maybe I won’t, but at least I won’t shut you off because you’re telling me what to do.

Let’s learn from each other but not by speaking in circles or in big, complicated words and theories, or criticisms. Tell me your truth that comes from your head, your heart,  your gut, and I’ll tell you mine. We’re all in this together, let’s start acting like it.

An Adult Adoptee Conference – For us, By us

adoptee conference

Friends, I have a dream but I need to know if I’m alone in it. My dream is to organize a conference for adult adoptees. There are so many conferences focused on adoption, orphans, and even conferences focused on birth mothers but there is not one conference that I am aware of that is strictly for all adult adoptees that focuses on what happens when the child adoptee grows up. Thanks to the Lost Daughters creation of the #flipthescript movement, adult adoptees began to speak up about how adoption affected them. I have found a lot more friends through this movement and I have learned so much about the myriad of emotions and situations that we all navigate. I think we all learned from each other and through it, we found support and love.

What do we do with all of that support and love and how do we take it to another level? I have an ideal how: We come together in one place to meet each other, to laugh with each other, to cry with each other and most importantly, to heal with each other. I want to hold a conference FOR adoptees, BY adoptees. However, we wouldn’t just get together; this conference could accomplish so much more.
My vision for this conference would be the largest gathering of adult adoptees this world has ever seen. In this two day conference, we would begin with a welcome reception that will allow us to socialize, get to know one another and end with a memorial service where we release lighted lanterns for the loss of our first families. The 2nd day would include workshops and seminars on topics such as searching, reunion, adoption legislation reform, and healing. I have a list of speakers I’d like to invite and have a panel of first mothers from different eras to discuss the differing circumstances they faced when they made the decision to relinquish their children and then a Q&A session.
I want to hold this event in Washington DC in November (get it? National Adoption Month). The location is strategic, as I want this to gain national media attention. Obviously, the legislators are in Washington DC and this is the perfect opportunity to educate them on the positive changes we want to make in adoption. We could even have a goal of getting the 100,000 names on the petition to President Obama for opening sealed birth records for all states and deliver that petition during the conference! The possibilities are limitless. We can make real change by doing this together.
If this conference were successful, we could do it annually and in different locations every year across the country. This would give each of us a serious support network with an unbreakable bond; we could be our own family. The emotions we would break through together would bring so much comfort to so many of us.
I am somewhat new to this community but I do have significant conference planning and execution experience working for a multi-billion dollar industry. I also have experience in marketing and public relations so I do know what this takes. As you can imagine, this would be a huge undertaking and there are several things I would need to do in preparation. Before I go down this long road, I need to know that there is an adequate interest in attending this conference. Please either comment your thoughts and/or interest or email me at adopteesearchingforself@gmail.com so I can get an idea of whether or not I should move forward and if I am moving forward, how big this first conference may be.
This has the potential to be life-changing for all of us so I hope that there is enough interest! Thanks to each of you! xoxo

We’re ALL in this together!

adoptee holidays

Since Flip The Script, adoptees have finally started to speak up about how adoption made them really feel. It has also brought out those adoptees who don’t agree with many of the things that has been said. It has been clear from the beginning that the intent of flip the script was to provide a safe place for adoptees to speak without being judged, whether you have positive or negative things to say. I have watched this movement change lives and then I’ve watched us continue to be judged however; I was surprised to see other adoptees claim they are being judged for their all-positive views on adoption.

So I will admit something here…. when I first came on the scene, I felt like I was being judged for being happy about my adoption. I didn’t like people telling me that my happiness was a farce. I became the one on the defensive and it just made me think even harder on how I can convince everyone that I am a well adjusted, happy adoptee who wouldn’t have changed a thing. I focused my articles on some negative feelings and how I had overcome those. In my mind, I was pitted against the adoption nay-sayers and became focused on proving how I was happy. Then Flip The Script happened and I came off the defensive and just listened because I finally realized that it was ok to have negative feelings. I realized those bad feelings didn’t negate my support for adoption. I can still promote healing and a positive attitude while having a hard time with some of the aspects of being adopted.
One of the unintended outcomes of the Flip the Script movement is that it has eradicated anti vs pro adoption labels and has blended the two ideals into one space where we can talk about adoption without compartmentalizing all the complexities into one or two boxes. Even if you believe there is not one thing about adoption that should be reformed, your voice is welcome in our space. In fact, I welcome your voice as long as you are also listening, just as I did. Because I listened, I was able to connect with the adoptees I had so desperately wanted to help.
Because I listened, I am able to see what issues there are that needs reform. No one and no THING is perfect, ever. All organizations and institutions have to re-evaluate their processes and business models  because the environment is constantly changing and we’re learning. It’s extremely naive to think a system that worked in the early 1900’s would work today. Women are no longer just here to find a husband and pro-create and clean the house and cook dinner. The world has changed so the systems have to change. It doesn’t mean they’re not needed, just means they need to conform to today’s environment and what is best for everyone involved.
To be honest, there are difficulties and challenges many adoptees endure that I actually can’t relate to, like holiday blues. I have never been sad during the holidays because of my loss in adoption. However, because there are so many difficulties that I do relate to, I can be empathetic to those issues. I don’t think others need me to go through those horrible feelings to be able to connect with them, they just need an empathetic ear and voice that says “I’m sorry” and “I understand”. They just need the free space to express those feelings. What is even more complex is that these adoptees are typically happy in their lives but do deal with these unresolved issues stemming from their adoption.
Let’s come together this Christmas. There are many of us that struggle deeply with the holidays and need us now more than ever. For those adoptees who don’t agree with things that others say, we respect your opinion too so no need to be defensive. Just listen as we listen to you. We are all in this together and together, we can heal. Let’s make an unintended outcome of adoption reform, as well. One Christmas, we will be able to celebrate open birth records and laws that protect the child’s best interest, not the adoptive or biological families. It’s going to happen, we’re forcing a culture change that will make adoption a better system for those who need it, not just those who WANT it.
Merry Christmas to all!! xoxo

Busting the “Happy vs Angry Adoptee” Labels

adoptee complex

According to society:
“happy” adoptee = grateful adoptee
“angry adoptee = ungrateful adoptee
Something society cannot compute:
“happy” adoptee = outspoken on the unpleasant aspects of adoption (aka…. ungrateful)
Adoptees feel a much more complex mix of emotions than simply happy or mad. We’re deeper than that and have so many reasons to feel so many different ways. Below is my simple list of complex emotions all thrown into one human being.
Are some adoptees, in fact, angry? For me, yes, that is one of many different emotions I feel. I’m personally fighting mad that original birth records are closed. This is the one aspect of adoption that I can tell you I’m pissed off about and if I’m going to wage a war, it’s against the outdated legislation that is holding our identities prisoner. Yes, I’m angry that our histories (medical and genealogical) are locked away from us.
I feel sad about my adoption on so many levels. I’m extremely sad for my first mother who didn’t feel as though she had a choice to keep me and by my mom. My heart literally hurts for what she went through; connecting with me for 9 months, giving birth, and then never seeing my face until I was 30 years old. The pain and trauma she has suffered is overwhelming even now and she seemed surprised when I told her she had PTSD from it. She was telling me how she couldn’t even remember her frame of mind post-birth and trying to go on with her life. She. can’t. remember. anything. How sad that is missing a piece of her life. Yet, she is on the script of how adoption was the only choice and I was better off for it. Maybe I was, maybe I wasn’t. I told her, there is no way of knowing if it was better or not and THAT makes me sad too. I cry for her and the loss of what could have been. I cry for my grandmother (her mother) who just went along with the doctor when he just assumed they were going to do an adoption. He didn’t ask her what she wanted to do. He told my grandmother that she was pregnant and at the same time, gave her the information for adoption. My grandmother suffered greatly for the rest of her life from the loss of her grand baby. My birthday and holidays were very hard for her. She didn’t have the luxury of PTSD erasing her memory, as it did for my mother. I cry for her, too.
I feel guilty. Oh let me count the ways I feel guilty 1) I feel guilty for being the source of my first mother’s pain, although I know it wasn’t my fault. 2) I feel guilty for wanting to know my first mother when I had a family that loved me and even spoiled me. 2) I feel guilty for finding my first mother because my it hurt my mom’s feelings. 3) I feel guilty for spending more time with my first family than my adoptive family. 4) I feel guilty for enjoying that time with my first family. 5) I feel guilty for showing up into my first family’s lives, disrupting their lives and making my new found brother and step siblings feel uncomfortable not knowing if I had bad or good intentions of coming into their lives. They felt threatened by my appearance and I understand that; it made me feel bad. 6) I feel guilty for wanting my first mother to tell me who my first father is, knowing how much pain that caused and brought back her feelings of shame. 7) I feel guilty for wanting to disrupt his life someday and show up on his doorstep. 8) I feel guilty for feeling.
I feel confused most of the time regarding my feelings. I am supposed to feel “grateful” for a better chance at life? Yes, that was a statement with a question mark. I was raised knowing I was adopted. I was told that I was special and that I was chosen. Although those words made me feel special and chosen as a child, the older I got, the realization came that I wasn’t really special or chosen; I was part of a blind and closed process. The fact is, my adoptive parents applied for a baby and they got one. They didn’t know my first family, nor was I part of a line up of babies that they got to know and thus “chose” me. So how was I supposed to process that as I got older? For me, it manifested in me not just wanting to stand out but NEEDING to stand out in everything that I did, whether it was school, sports or work. If I don’t stand out then I feel like I don’t matter. We are told as children that we’re special to be adopted while at the same time told we’re no different than other natural families. That is a conflicting principle that children are supposed to sort out. Truth is, the adoptive parents were just repeating the script that had been told to them by adoption agencies and years of propaganda. We are raised in confusion; some of us just choose to ignore it while others choose to speak about it.
I feel frustrated that adoptees are labeled in the manner above by society. It’s aggravating that we can’t speak without being labeled. No one likes to hear the other side of adoption (everyone already knows the happy side of it) but refusing to see the other side limits the benefit of adoption. That is why we’re here, this is why we’re speaking; not to end adoption but to make it better. It’s frustrating not to be able to speak without being judged or labeled whether it’s by our adoptive or first families or the general public. My adoptive family can’t understand why I needed to find my first family; they never will. I know they gossip about me and my decision behind closed doors. Adoption agencies don’t want us to speak up because it will scare off their prospective birth mothers. First families don’t want to hear the down sides because it keeps them from feeling validated in the decision to relinquish. It’s frustrating as hell to be told how to feel and if you don’t say what someone likes, you’re labeled. We’re human beings with free will, just as anyone else in this world. We have the right to speak and now, we finally are, regardless of backlash. We’re breaking the chains that bound us and it feels SO GOOD.
I feel happy that I my own personal journey has landed me in a very positive and happy place. I did have wonderful parents and family. My childhood is stock-full of happy memories! I was afforded every opportunity that any daughter should be afforded by her parents. I am very close to my family and feel ties to my hometown where I was raised. I feel a commitment to them and love for my family. I am also very happy to have a place in my first family’s lives. I’m so happy to have them! I have fun with them and we are getting closer and closer as time goes by. Navigating the protocol has been tricky and I have to manage my expectations and feelings but it’s new and we’re all trying very hard to come out better for it. I’m so happy to know where I came from.
I’m grateful for the loss I’ve suffered and disappointments in my life because it has all led me to the biggest blessings. I wouldn’t trade much of what I’ve been through to have what I have today. But I choose to talk about those losses and disappointments in the hopes that others can learn from those lessons and can avoid those pitfalls. I choose to talk about the complexities in adoption so that industry, legislators, and adoptive families can learn from them and make adoption a more solid and beneficial system for children who truly do need loving homes and families. I’m grateful to be part of this process and a part of the adoptee community. We answer to ourselves only and we are compassionate to each other’s emotions and experiences; there’s no better community in this world.
While decades of script have dictated the above equations and emotions, adoptees have only just now begun to be heard on our complex and various experiences. Some might say we have a long way to go to actually flip the script but I think social media (and traditional media) are going to help us flip it quicker. To my fellow adoptees, we’re all in this together and we are making a difference. Let’s not let the “haters” or ignorance slow the momentum we have going right now! We’re going to be a part of history and one day, our “flipthescript” movement will be studied and we will be the group that changed the face of adoption.

Where We Are Today Is Where Our Minds Put Us