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.

National Adoption Month finally included the adoptee voice as we work to Flip The Script

adoptee flip the script

Flip The Script let us tell our own stories to each other… and the world. So what have we learned and where do we go from here?

Wow… What a month this has been! I’m absolutely amazed and excited about what has happened this month with the adoptee’s role in National Adoption Awareness Month. I’ve been whining about how we don’t get any media attention and that if we did, things would start to change. Finally, we got the attention we deserve during a month that typically muted our voices. In my blog posts, I consistently say that we need to be louder and let’s raise our voices and be heard. With the “flip the script” movement, we have done just that. Above that, I believe we were heard and that is phenomenal.
So what have we learned? Most importantly, we learned that we’re not alone and that so many others have the same feelings, whether they are good or bad, we can all relate on all levels. As complex as our feelings are, we can relate to each and every one of them. That is amazing! It means we have support where we never knew we had it. We learned it is ok to talk about our truest feelings. This was my biggest lesson. If you spend any time on my blog at all, you know I’m all about focusing on the positive so I tended to take the “it is what it is” attitude and talk about how to overcome it. I have a few posts that express some negative feelings on my part and now I believe those are my best posts. I have to be real. I have to tell it the way I feel it because others are feeling it too and don’t want it to be glossed over as if those feelings aren’t valid. I hope that my future posts are reflective of that lesson. I still believe we can all live positive lives but I need to talk about how I personally process the negative to a positive if I hope to help others. I learned that Adoption Awareness Month has always been from the adoptive parent and adoption agencies perspectives. You would think that I would already know that, but honestly, I didn’t take a moment to think about that. They work off the “script” and we never had a say in it. I do believe “awareness” means total awareness, which includes adoptees perspectives. How can people truly learn about adoption if they are completely dismissing our experiences? I learned that most people are well-meaning and just never thought about what happens after the adoption. Most TV reporters said they hadn’t thought about what happens post-adoption. There is so much hype about pre-adoption, but zero hype on post-adoption because that’s the not so pretty side of it. I never knew what adoptees and birth mothers meant by “not so pretty” side and it’s not all unicorns and rainbows until this month. I definitely think my adoption was the right thing to do for me so I always bought the script of how great adoption is but “flip the script”,and the vocal adoptees, have pulled my true feelings out of me and made me realize that although I’m in a great place and have a great adoptive family, it wasn’t all pretty and unicorns and rainbows. Wow.
So where do we go from here? Now that we know about each other and have this amazing momentum with the “fiip the script” movement, how do we stay connected and even increase the media attention we have received?I think The Lost Daughters will have more great ideas and I think that other film makers and media outlets will slowly but surely pick up our story. I also intend to do something to keep us connected and hopefully gain national attention with a conference that is FOR adoptees BY adoptees. There are several adoption conferences that either focus on adoptive parents, agencies, or even presented by birth mothers but I don’t know of any conferences that are strictly for us, our well-being, and for our interests. I will be planning this conference to be in November of next year (get it? NAAM) We are going to flip the script big-time and all come together for 2 days of healing, expressing, and learning from each other. I want to have experts speak on searching, DNA testing, reform, and the trauma we suffered. I also want to have a memorial service where we light lanterns and release them into the sky for the loss of our first families. I am so anxious to meet all the wonderful adoptees that I have met this month! I think this conference is a wonderful way for us to meet and further stay connected. Our power in numbers could even make a difference in adoption legislation reform.
I’m so sad this month is over but I know we are going to keep it going and we’re not losing each other (issues of abandonment) we’re gaining so much more. From the very bottom of my heart, thank you to The Lost Daughters for giving us the platform to speak openly and honestly and thank you to the adoptees who have been so brave and having conversations with me. I so value your opinions, your friendship, and your help in opening my eyes. THANK YOU!

National Adoptee “Flip The Script” Day

adoptee blossomIt’s not that I think National Adoption Day should be dropped, it’s that it should be re-focused and renamed. The whole “National Adoption Month” needs a face-lift. Who better to make the world aware of adoption than adoptees? It doesn’t mean that we can’t celebrate the success of adoption but let that come from adoptees who actually feel their adoption was something to be celebrated! There may be a couple of them willing to do that…. one or two? If the whole point of this month is adoption awareness, then how come adoptees are completely left out of it? It’s all for us, right? Without our voices, it’s not a complete story therefore, not total awareness. But I see something powerful happening… I see adoptees finding the courage to speak out. What is happening is we are taking back this month and this day. Slowly but surely, this month/day will be talked about and marketed from our perspective, as it should be. We’re taking back the control and it feels really good. I am really late to this party, I must admit. I only heard about National Adoption Month last year and did not know the other side of adoption, the not so pretty side. I knew there were adoptees that were hurting and I wanted to help them; but as good as my intentions were, I was too naive to really know how to help them. Thankfully Twitter has opened up the world to me and now I know better of the different situations that hurt adoptees. I hope that it will be easier for me to help through my blog just by understanding more. The Declassified Adoptee posted an interview with Dr. L. DiAnne Borders, who came up with the Adoption-Reconstruction Phase Theory and I realized my whole life followed those 5 phases of what I call “realization”. I hope that it makes me a better blogger. I have always and still want to share your stories on my blog. I would love to publish interviews with your unique situation. If you’re interested, let me know! I know there are a LOT of adoptee bloggers out there who are powerful and are making a real difference in giving us confidence. We need to use the strength in our numbers and continue to “flip the script” on national adoption month/day. Let’s officially rename this month and day! It’s OUR time now.

What are your triggers?

adoptee triggersAs adoptees, we all have triggers that cause pain, sadness, or melancholy feelings regarding our adoption. For me, it’s my birthday. Even though my birthday is my favorite day of the year, it was also the one day that I KNEW my biological mother was thinking of me. At the end of the day, I would stare up into the night sky and tell her that I was thinking about her too, as cheesy as that was, it made me feel better. It warmed my heart to know that I was connecting with her in some crazy way. Once I met her, my birthday was a source of complete happiness because I didn’t have to send messages into the universe anymore, I could just talk to her. Then last Christmas I got the message about my biological grandmother (the one who arranged the adoption) that let me know she thought of me every year on my birthday and now I am triggered again on my birthday, this time thinking of her. My heart hurts for my grandmother who did the only thing she knew to do and what she thought was the best thing to do…. who suffered as greatly as my biological mother and I did. I had no idea she was so affected by it because she is the one who made the decision and now that I know she hurt so much by the loss of me, I hurt for the loss all over again. It really is a never ending cycle of pain. Even though people argue that the knowledge brings more pain, I would say that not knowing leaves a deeper, wider hole because our imaginations wreak havoc on our minds and hearts. I would definitely rather know because then I can process it and deal with the TRUTH, not imagination. Unfortunately, adoptees rarely get the truth and that is the most unforgivable yet accepted practice. Adoption causes irreparable trauma and I believe many adoptees suffer from PTSD from that trauma. Triggers are a symptom of PTSD and are a reminder of the trauma. Let’s talk about our trauma…. because we can’t heal by going around the pain, only through it. What are your triggers? Get on Twitter and join the #flipthescript movement to describe how adoption affected you, the adoptee, the only one that matters. Our voices need to be heard.

Adoptee Uncensored on National Adoption Awareness Month

adoption uncensored

I usually try to avoid the debate on pro vs anti adoption. My focus isn’t whether it is right or wrong; I focus on the health of adoptees. I try to present all the different feelings we have and come up with ways to deal with them. However, as we all know, this is National Adoption Awareness month and I feel it appropriate to write about adoptees’ perspective on adoption awareness. I also think it’s time I write about how I truly feel, regardless of my families (adoptive and bio) feelings about the situation. I finally realized that muting my truest feelings aren’t really protecting them, it’s hurting me and those I’m trying to help so…. here goes.
One year ago, I sat on a couch in a TV studio set alongside my bio aunt and was interviewed about my book which describes my life being adopted, how I found my birth family and then about my decision to donate my kidney to my bio aunt. My life is a feel-good story. I describe the emotions and feelings I went through as an adoptee and the pain of needing to know where I came from. However, because I basically had a happy childhood and finding my birth mother was easy since Alabama became an open records state, I told my own truth, which was that adoption worked for me. I smiled about and raved about how happy I am with how my life turned out. I wasn’t lieing about that; I am very happy that I was dealt the best cards possible and I wouldn’t be where I am today without having had that journey and for that I a truly forever grateful. And then… I met all of you,
Not long after I went on a month long book signing tour in Alabama where I was born and Arkansas where I was raised, I discovered Twitter and the treasure trove of adoptees and birth families that talk and blog about adoption from the other side. At first, I was overwhelmed and saddened by how many people were saying that adoption is evil. I couldn’t, wouldn’t believe that adoption was evil, after all, look at me… look at my brother…. we turned out fabulous! But I kept an open mind and I read more and more about the downsides and the destruction that adoption causes and it was harder and harder to ignore and I obviously couldn’t discount it. Then I started absorbing it and the slow realization came over me that adoption isn’t always the right thing to do. I wanted to write more about the wrongs of adoption but then I found myself wanting to protect my birth mother and bio family from the truth of the pain that adoption brings. My birth mother already suffered for 30 years of her life over her loss and 30 years of wondering so I started censoring myself in my blog posts because I don’t want her to suffer more thinking she did the wrong thing. She did the only thing she knew to do and I have no regrets but there are things I hold back.
Don’t get me wrong, my truth has not changed. I’m still happy that my life turned out the way it did. I have so many wonderful people in my life and I wouldn’t have them had my birth mother not relinquished me. I’m not convinced that my birth mother would have raised me with the same unconditional love that I received from my adoptive family. A huge part of me believes that my birth mother was too immature to get past the resentment she was sure to feel by my presence. Mobile, Alabama in the early 70’s was still very much an old-fashioned and judgmental society that would have made her feel ashamed to be a young, single mother with no resources. She was also living in the same city as my birth father who didn’t know about me and in fact, she was still in love with him and was devastated by his breaking up with her. I would have been a constant reminder of that pain. I believe that our lives together would have been hard and maybe not as loving as it should have been. This is not to say that my birth mother is a bad person – she is a wonderful lady who has been good to me since we met and we have a great relationship but at that time, she was just too young and immature to handle those emotions. So yes, I believe my adoption was the best thing for me and her. But…… there’s always, ALWAYS, that small sliver of doubt in my mind that wonders if that would’ve been true and even so, would things have been just as good? I still to this day think about what things would’ve been like if I had stayed with her. So there’s that….
Then there’s the truths of so many adoptees and birth moms/dads in the world. I have learned about the TRAUMA (not the pain, the trauma) that adoption causes and that has been the biggest discovery for me. I had NO idea the separation was so traumatic for both mother and child. How could I have been so naive? The propoganda, I guess, “protected” me from those truths. Think about movies you’ve seen where a baby was torn from a mother’s arms and the pain that movie portrays, it’s the exact same thing for a birth mother who is relinquishing their baby. It is no different except that people would say that in this case, it’s her choice. Choice? If anyone thinks she really has a choice then they’re not paying attention. Adoption is portrayed as the easy way out. Can you believe that? The easy way out, not hardly. What is easy about a mother bonding with their baby in-utero and then having to pass that baby off to strangers knowing they will never see that baby again. People also discount or don’t think about the baby’s feelings as the baby has also bonded with the mother; that is scientifically proven. In my book I talk about how the nurses said I was very cranky and cried a lot. I say it’s because I went straight into the cold arms of the doctors and nurses instead of the warm arms of my mother. Babies have survival instinct and feelings, we’re not just machines that come out. Then there are the mothers who do get to hold their babies for a short time, which also develops the bond, and then the baby is passed over to someone else. The babies feel that loss, too. I urge everyone to go read about the Primal Wound Theory; there’s something to that!
So I am going to un-censor myself for this one time, for the sake of awareness, and talk about my truest feelings and the pain I have felt. After I found out I was adopted in the 4th grade, I was excited. I enjoyed that there was a mystery and more to learn about myself. When I got older, my a-mom and I had a really hard time relating to each other and we fought constantly. That is when I really started to become sad for the loss of my birth mother. I don’t think I was too un-like a lot of teenagers who “hate” their parents for not letting them do this or that but I felt like my a-mom did not understand me at all; and she didn’t. It wasn’t her fault that she couldn’t relate to me on those levels because we were just two completely different people. I remember sitting in my room crying my eyes out wishing I knew who my birth mom was and imagined that my life would be so much better if I were with her. (Sorry mom, but that is the truth, and it doesn’t make me love you less). My mom didn’t have my DNA; she couldn’t relate her own behaviors in her youth to mine like most of us do with our kids. I say all the time about my daughter – oh my gosh I was the same way! Being that I was the same way, I know how to deal with what she’s going through because we share DNA and deal with things similarly. My a-mom didn’t have that luxury so it was hard on both of us. She did the best she could but unlike most kids, I knew I had another mother out in the world somewhere and when I was upset I would cry for her, just like I’m sure I cried for her when I was a newborn. Once I got into the Army, I was too busy to think about all that stuff. I was on my own and doing well so there were no triggers. Once I had my daughter (whom I had considered relinquishing but thank GOD didn’t), and settled down then I began to try and find my birth mom. It wasn’t easy at first because Alabama was a closed records state. It was very frustrating as all of you adoptees know, but I was patient. I wrote the Congressmen with justifications for the law to open the records and it wasn’t long until they did! Knowing what I know now, I realize how much of a feat and accomplishment that was! How lucky was I to have only had to wait a short time for that to happen? Most adoptees will never have that luxury. I got my original birth certificate and it had some things marked off with marker. How is that open?? And then the names were different on the court paperwork they sent me. It was still not going to be that easy, but I handed it off to a PI who found her within a month. Again, I was pretty lucky that it didn’t take that long. Reunion has opened up new wounds I never knew existed. My birth mom has an amazing life with an amazing family and I struggle all the time with the fact that I missed out. I know, though, we would likely not have had that same fabulous life because things would’ve been very different for us. I also struggle with the fact that I’m not physically located with all of them and when I see pictures of the “whole” family together, I do get jealous and small stab of pain that it’s really not my family. We didn’t all grow up together and know each other like I know my a-family. My a-family really knows me but of course, that’s 40 years of knowing me. My bio family has only known me for 9 years; it’s a slow process and we’re working on it. As happy as I am to know all of them and as much as I love all of them, a small part of me is still sad that I didn’t have them and I feel like an appendage to their family. I know they all love me to pieces and everyone is so grateful that I’m back in the family but it isn’t easy. I don’t want them to pretend like it’s easy and I need to stop pretending like it’s easy. Ok – that felt good.
 So there – I’ve done my part to bring awareness to the other side of adoption, the not so pretty side of adoption. I want you all to know that wasn’t easy for me to really put myself out there but I thank you all so very much for giving me the platform and the courage to really be honest with myself and my family. I know some of them will never understand but that’s ok, as long as they continue to love me. I still think there’s a time and place for adoption but I’m slowly coming to the realization that it should be absolutely the worst case truly no other option scenario and adoptive parents should look into foster care children first, not newborns. I think more should be done to keep families together and I think there’ nothing wrong with believing in adoption while knowing there are changes that have to be made. It has to be a culture shift that it’s not the easy way out or the first thing people should think of in difficult situations. The first step to that culture change is speaking out on the truths of adoptions, all sides of adoption. I am so grateful to have found my bio family and I love them so much but nothing worthwhile is ever easy and we shouldn’t put our blinders on, we should work through the difficulties. I have a happy life but it’s because of how I have chosen to play the cards I was dealt. I had the best possible hand but so many others weren’t and I encourage them to speak out about it and I encourage others to listen – even “happy” adoptees. You may be happy (such as myself) but it doesn’t mean you didn’t have pain and suffering that you dealt with because of your adoption.
Here I am, one year later, and I wish I could go back to that interview and not only tell my happy story, but talk about the other realities of adoption. I didn’t know then, but if I ever have the chance again I will be sure to talk about the other truths and I won’t sugar coat it. I apologize to those who feel I just fed the beast with my happy story. I promise to move forward with the knowledge you have given me. And now, back to my regularly scheduled programming of writing posts purely to help adoptees live positive lives. Thank you all for listening and thank you to my adoptive and bio families for your compassion and understanding. I love you ALL.

Where We Are Today Is Where Our Minds Put Us