You can follow me there on my new account at:
http://instagram.com/babygirlb.adoptee if you are so inclined. 🙂
You can follow me there on my new account at:
http://instagram.com/babygirlb.adoptee if you are so inclined. 🙂
Well, a “new” talk is pushing it, LOL, it is very similar to the famous “Adoption and Addiction” talk of 10 or so years ago. There are some new thoughts though, and I think it’s always worth a new listen.
If you are not familiar with it, he talks all about the relinquishment of a baby as a trauma (on the baby), why, and how that plays out.
(Trigger warning: I mention sexual assault, not an actual one but a reference to that feeling)
This post may be a little too woo-woo for some, LOL, in fact it is more “out there” than I usually get even in my own off-internet life.
I was reading a book that briefly mentioned talking to angels, and how to go about doing that. I do believe in angels, but don’t think I’ve ever spoken out loud and addressed them by a “title” the way this book said to do (i.e. “Angel of Mercy,” “Angel of Relationship”, etc). I also believe in demons (fallen angels) so I also spoke out loud that it should be an angel that worships God that I am addressing, just to be safe! The last thing I need is more demons in my life.
Anyway, back to my life – I had a huge, overdue falling out with my adoptive father a few weeks ago. Besides, or more like “on top of” the relinquishment, his mental health (or lack of it) has been a big source of trauma in my life. I spoke to the angel and said, “Angel of Relationship, I need help,” and rattled on about how being in any sort of relationship with my adoptive father was painful and being away from it was also painful. And then I said something that has been mulling around in my brain lately, “He’s not even my father! I was forced to be in this awful relationship with him!”
My father, if I had to diagnose him, has borderline personality disorder with a heavy dose of narcissism. He’s very possessive in his relationships, extremely clingy, and demands they run a certain way with a certain amount of attention paid to him (i.e. all of it, LOL). His hugs are bear hugs that don’t let go when you are done, not until HE is done. There is so much more but it’s not the point of this post.
I realized in that moment how much being in relationship with him felt like assault, almost like some kind of psychic rape, since it was relational, and painful, and forced. I did not ask to be in a relationship with him, I didn’t WANT to be in a relationship with him — for 20-ish years I was stuck there, as I was a child, for 20+ more I stuck around because both parents had shamed me into staying and I had that underlying thought that A) I should be thankful to be adopted, and B) good people honor their parents. I know biological children are also stuck with their parents, but the added stress of the adoption fueled the fire, primed me for relational stress, and it’s just *different*.
It’s different like this – think about getting a present, a nice new…I don’t know….expensive kitchen appliance you’d been wanting for years. One with all the bells and whistles. Getting it and finding it doesn’t work well is like having biological parents who are difficult. Getting it, realizing your neighbor stole the one delivered to your front porch and replaced it with her broken one (and there’s nothing you can do about it) is like having adoptive parents who are difficult. Not only does your kitchen appliance not work, but you wanted the one that was supposed to be YOURS, and you are angry at your neighbor, and feeling shaken up that something was stolen from you, and are worked up because you always thought that neighbor was your friend and now you’ve lost a friend.
So back to the “psychic assault/rape,” I had never thought about it in such strong terms. I think I may have an angel to thank for that. No wonder I feel sick when I so much as see an email has come from him. It’s been 40+ years of being forced to be relational with him, forced to be nice, forced to be his adoring (cough) daughter. Shamed horribly for being anything less. Ugh. I’m feeling sick just writing all this so I’m going to wrap up and hope someone can make heads or tales of what I’ve written. If you’ve ever felt like this I’d love to hear your story.
I’m watching Blackfish on Netflix. It’s mostly about Tilikum, a performing killer whale that has caused several deaths, and what might have lead to that behavior.
According to the movie, killer whales are extremely family oriented and emotional creatures. Separating babies and even older whales from their mothers/families results in very clear grieving behavior. Creating an artificial “family” at a place like Sea World leads to all sorts of strange behavior and sickness. One trainer said, “That’s not a family! You know. Come on.”
“You’ve got animals from different cultural subsets that have been brought in from various parks. These are different nations. These aren’t just two different killer whales. These animals, they’ve got different genes, they use different languages.” (from a different trainer)
Hmmm. Society understands (or at least these animal trainers, and by the way they were talking, assuming the audience did as well) you shouldn’t separate killer whales from their families, but it’s wonderful and celebrated when it’s human babies. Makes me sick.
Sorry, in a mood today. Tired of pretending.
In Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird, she states:
One image that helps me begin to know the people in my fiction is something a friend once told me. She said that every single one of us at birth is given an emotional acre all our own. You get one, your awful Uncle Phil gets one, I get one, Tricia Nixon gets one, everyone gets one. And as long as you don’t hurt any anyone, you really get to do as you please. You can plant fruit trees or flowers or alphabetized rows of vegetables, or nothing at all. If you want your acre to look like a giant garage sale, or an auto wrecking yard, that’s what you get to do with it. There’s a fence around your acre, though, with a gate, and if people keep coming onto your land and sliming it or trying to get you to do what they think is right, you get to ask them to leave. And they have to go, because this is your acre.
She was talking about creating characters for her writing, but I immediately started thinking about how this applies (or doesn’t) to my (adopted) life.
I do admit that the parenting I received made this all worse, but I believe even adoptees with perfect parents may feel a little like this:
I feel like I didn’t get my own emotional acre.
I got an acre that was supposed to be the acre of my adoptive parents’ biological child. They tried for a child to put in that acre, and it didn’t happen. They eventually adopted me, and put me in THAT acre, but because it had lain fallow for so long, and untended, it became overgrown with scrub and weeds.
So I was plopped down in that acre. Since it was all full of brush and weeds, and I was just a little baby, I got very scratched up and hurt trying to climb around in it.
My parents could see nothing wrong. “What do you mean it hurts? It’s a fine acre! It is perfect for a child of ours! We gave you a whole acre, what are you complaining about? You should be thankful you even have an acre.” At some point they realized it was better for them to take off the gate and lock to get in and out of my acre more easily.
I very, very slowly learned to hack at and cultivate my acre a little bit. But I only had MY kind of seeds with me, and they developed a very different kind of plant than my parents expected. They didn’t usually say anything outright, but often enough I would see disgusted looks and hear, “Where are your tomatoes? Your zucchini? All I see are potatoes and apples.” *grimace*
Once in awhile I asked to look for farmers that grew apples and potatoes so I could learn to grow mine better, because I felt I was doing a terrible job. But my parents would wail and cry, “How could you do this to us?? Please don’t, please don’t look for potato farmers. We make good tomatoes here.”
So I secretly learned to hate my potatoes and apples and grow tomatoes and zucchini.
They would often look over my acre lovingly and say, “What beautiful land. What beautiful produce! What a good little farmer you are.”
I hate tomatoes.
This is so good…
I remember who I was.
I was Korean.
My mother tongue was Korean.
My name was MyungSook.
I was the daughter of Koreans.
They raised me as their own, someone I was not.
I was raised to live as their own and I became who I wasn’t.
They told me to be someone else.
I’ve been someone they told me to be for so long that I am who I wasn’t.
To forget who they told me to be means to forget who I am.
My mother tongue is French.
My name is Kim.
I’m the daughter of Quebeckers.
To remember who I am means to remember who I am not.
I’m Korean but I’m not really Korean.
I don’t speak Korean.
Her name MyungSook sounds like Chinese to my Quebec ears.
I am the daughter of nobody.
They raised her as their own, someone she was not.
They kill her, they created me.
The dead lives…
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Paraphrasing Dr. David Rock, Keith Evans talks about neuroscience and how we relate to others and the world around us:
… [Our} basic neurocircuitry is calibrated to our multi-layered and complex social networks. Absent the activation of another circuit, we will understand experiences in the world according to their social and relational consequences….
Dr. Rock further explained that there are five important, connected social domains or circuits in the brain:
- Status – always understood in relative terms and connected to our survival instinct.
- Certainty – craving predictability in all things is one of our strongest impulses.
- Autonomy – our anxiety goes down as our sense of control goes up.
- Relatedness – we function more effectively when we work on shared goals.
- Fairness – the value we place on being treated fairly is so strong it is actually correlated to health outcomes.
So let’s see this through the eyes of the adoptee.
Status – We’ve gone from, say, daughter to abandoned/relinquished daughter, adopted daughter. Neither are full status positions, equal to those who remained or who were there first (i.e. a biological child of our adoptive parents). Even if adoptive parents say there is no difference, there IS a difference. At the very least there is a huge biological difference and I think our subconsciouses know it. And lets not forget how we used to be known as “illegitimate” and “bastard.”
Certainty – When your own mother gives you away, you will forever live with uncertainty to some degree. “If she could do it, what is stopping absolutely ANYONE else from walking away?” This is terrifying for a child. Those tracks are very hard to break out of as an adult, where it only matters socially and not life-or-death that someone walks away from a relationship to you. But as this article suggests, “only matters socially” is still a big deal. There are also the lies told around adoption – from the seemingly kind “your mother loved you so much she gave you away” to the outright falsehoods of adoptive parents names on birth certificate, any lies told by the agency (and even in “good adoptions” I’m finding at least some lies.) We also have to live pretending we are our adoptive parents biological children. Talk about lies.
Autonomy – adoptees live with a lessened sense of autonomy even as adults in many states. We are treated as naughty children — can’t have your birth certificate and know who your own mother and father are because you might “bother them.” They are given all the rights, we are given none of the rights. As children something traumatic happened to us and we couldn’t do anything about it. We often can’t even get others to listen to that pain.
Relatedness – working on shared goals. Hmmmm, my goal would have been to be with my own flesh and blood, as all babies want to be. Everyone in my life worked against that goal. We also are often not like our adoptive families in temperament, gifts, etc. The artistic family with the scientist kid is just not going to gel the same way. And our sense of NONrelatedness is quite in-your-face…we are truly “not related” to those we live with.
Fairness – I did not know humans demand a sense of fairness as he states above (“so strong it’s related to health outcomes.”) But I believe it, because I feel it. I thought it was just me. Adoption is very unfair as seen through the eyes of the small child. Why didn’t I get kept like my friends did? Why don’t I get my birth certificate? Losing your mother is like a million times more “unfair” than getting a smaller piece of cake for dessert, which is enough to send a child into a fit of jealousy…so I’ll let you take that to its logical conclusion. At least I was so damaged (or “matured”) by that that I didn’t really care too much about the little things. Kinda sad, though, that I was not allowed to be a kid who got upset at cake like all the other little kids.
And it goes without saying that adding ANY sort of mental health issues to adoptive parents and you add gasoline to this fire. I’m learning that narcissistic tendencies are quite common in adoptive parents, at least from the adult adoptees I have contact with (including myself). An adoptee having narcissistic parents is particularly damaging.
So we have all five important domains damaged severely by adoption. I’m still trying to make sense of that and build a healthy human spirit at 47 years old.
I just read about a study:
…where butterflies remember a smell that they were exposed to during their caterpillar days. The caterpillar basically turns to goo…to GOO… rearranges, changes, and comes out a butterfly. And remembers things it experienced as a caterpillar.
And yet people don’t believe human babies, highly evolved human babies, who did NOT turn to goo at some point mid gestation … people don’t believe babies can remember their birth mothers and nine months in the womb.
Shakin’ my head…
This was so good:
Not exactly my experience, but having the “Matrix Feeling” explains my life very well.
Growing up I had a “friend.” Friend in quotes because looking back, the relationship was far from a healthy one.
Anyway, this girl was half Italian and half Norwegian, and so over the top proud of that. Wanting to be connected to her, wanting to be liked, I wished so much that I was at least part Italian and Norwegian, too. My parents really didn’t know. “I think I remember some Norwegian, maybe?” That was not good enough for me. It wasn’t good enough for my friend, either.
Also, my adoptive father was half Italian, so I felt left out of my own family not being those things. I felt like an outcast. (If I, who am often mistaken for my adoptive parents’ biological child because of our resemblance, feel like an outcast, how much more must transracial and transcultural adoptees feel?)
Fast forward 40 years and decades of scientific advancement – spit in a test tube now and you can find out just “what you are” down to percentages. It turns out I’m 23% Norwegian! (and a touch Italian somewhere). And my ancestry addicted aunt has traced us back to Eric the Red.
TAKE THAT, mean snobby friend! 😉 I feel vindicated.
It’s a bitter, bitter-sweet victory though.