Feelings About Searching

For those who have searched for birth family, talk about the impetus that lead you to search, the emotions leading up to making contact, and the reactions of those family members you found.

For those who have been found by birth family, talk about your emotions upon being contacted and your response to the person who found you.

For those who have not searched nor have been found, talk about whether or not you feel you ever will search and the reasons for your choice.

Catching up on some old prompts for National Adoption Month.

I have always been insanely, but quietly, curious about my birth family.  The mostly unspoken but highly suggested theory (by my parents, by society) was that searching was BAD.  I would be intruding on their life, maybe I was a secret, maybe she was a drug addict. There was never any suggestion of, “Maybe she is smart and caring like you, and found herself in a difficult situation. I’ll help you find out.”  There was also a strong undercurrent (from my father, mostly) of How Dare You, Little Girl, Mess Up the Lives We Have So Carefully Constructed.

What kills me is that those carefully constructed lives were at my expense.

At 23, in grad school and about to be engaged, I told my mother I wanted to search.  Her face steeled due to what she needed to say next: “You better talk to your father.”  Oh no. Commence that feeling like I’m going to pee my pants.

“OK.”

Talking to my father went about as well as I expected.  As in, he flipped out.  Flipping out, for him, was this weird combination of crying, anxiety, and this sense of a barely controlled rage.  He’s a big man, and I was terrified. He begged me, every way he knew how, not to do it. Not to do that to him.  I hated (hated hated!!) that my need to be whole could do this to him.  It was, however one in a long line of times I broke myself in two and hid the real me away so as not to  hurt my family.

Sloooow forward about 20 years and five children.  In all that time, I had considered searching but never really did anything about it other than some googling of my birthday and looking at old high school yearbooks from my home state for people who looked like me.

One by one, my children came and started having health and other problems.  I finally couldn’t take it anymore, I *needed* to know my background for their sake.  I waited, unsure I could handle the fallout from all sides.  Finally, DNA testing became popular and I took the plunge.  Who knew that when I spit into a vial that a month later I would be reunited with my birth family??  I found a cousin who knew my mother. We exchanged emails for a few months.  Her reaction was definitely guarded at first…she did not expect to be “found.”  But she is a wonderful (smart! kind!) woman and we soon warmed into a pleasant relationship. We live very far apart so it is mostly an emails and facebook relationship.  I’m also facebook friends with several cousins. The “welcome to the family” has been mostly good.  I would not say any of them are “close to me” relationship wise but it is all extremely surface pleasant.

Before meeting any of them in person, I was so nervous.  I felt so sick for an entire week.  My body took over, nothing I could tell it with my mind calmed it down. This Was a Big Deal.  I’m still quite nervous before seeing any of them. They are a big, loving, extended family, and I’m the outsider. I fear any weird move on my part is going to send them all scurrying away, shaking their heads.

I still feel torn in two, also.  My father’s reaction to the news that I had found my first mother went even worse than it did when I told him I wanted to search all those years ago. This time, I feared for my mother as well. She needed to put up with his anger, depression, and drinking. I was at least out of the house.  Many phone calls later, with me shaking, and swearing it was nothing personal, and something I needed to do for my children for their health, and apologizing, he slowly got control of himself.  I don’t think he will ever “Get over it.”  It’s just something we don’t talk about at all.  (This reaction came after telling me, “I’ll do anything I can to help you find out information from your past to figure out why your son is so sick.”  My father is nothing if not totally confusing.)

So this was all over finding my first mother. No one but an aunt and a small group of people in a Facebook group I’m in know I just sent an email to someone I thought was my father yesterday.  I’ve been sick and I think lack of sleep made me bold, and probably stupid.  It was sent to his personal business, so only he and his wife would most likely be one to read it.  Turns out my aunt had also called this person.  After hearing about his reaction, I don’t think it’s him, and he hasn’t answered my email that I’m pretty sure he would have gotten.  So probably back to the drawing board. Or not. At this point I am so tired of it all.

Tired of having to pussyfoot around everyone’s emotional reactions.  Tired of searching, tired of being scared of what I might find.  Waiting for them to figure out who I really am, and leave me like everyone else (with the exception of my dh) has done.  But hell, my FATHER is out there. My flesh and blood father.  Don’t I deserve to at least look into his eyes, once, and say hello??

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Keeping warm

(If you can’t see it, because sometimes it disappears, there is a meme above that says “You are not required to set yourself on fire to keep other people warm.”

Except, we were.

Well, at first other people set us on fire. First, those who thought it was a good thing to keep us warm. Then, by people who wanted to be warm themselves.

Slowly, though, we were expected to take over the fire lighting.  Do you know what that’s like when a six-year old, or a nine-year-old realizes she must (metaphorically) strike a match and light herself ablaze because the SHE she is isn’t what was expected, what was wanted? Watch and feel the agony as she burns to a crisp, roots and all,  along with everything she holds dear, because her “new family” wants the warmth, but can’t stand the tree.

Then we are told how wonderful it is that we are doing this.

It’s a hard habit to break, but I am attempting to rise from the ashes.

I’m struggling

(first published March 2009)

I’m struggling today, as with many days. A friend sent me this link from Holy Experience(one of my all time favorite blogs BTW…how *does* she read my heart on a daily basis, and turn it back out onto her page with such beautiful turns of phrase?). This talk of “being known,” “being seen”…she says:

God sees me, and I am loved: His child, chosen and redeemed, bought with a
price and free from condemnation, a citizen of heaven, called His friend,
appointed to bear fruit. It is only in the silence, we are fully seen, that we
hear Him serenading us to our real selves. … who we are in Christ.

“God sees me and I am loved.” How do you believe that? I certainly feel tolerated, like a pesky little sister, but loved?? Ann even shares a handy link to convince me, and I remain, I suppose, hard hearted.

I don’t WANT to be hard hearted. I try. I cry out for love, but only feel used. I pray like a madwoman, and God remains silent, or at least unseen by my searching eyes. I try to trust. I try.

How does one love and feel loved when she has been treated as an object all her life?Used? Or downright vilified? When one has been told all her life “She loved you so much she did this for you?” Did what? Abandoned me? Oh yah, that’s love.

So from the moment of my conception, I’ve been treated as an object of disgust, fear; a complication, a problem. Then, while I know my parents did *truly* love me, I was also an object for their “use” – “We need a baby. We want a baby girl with blue eyes and brown hair. Here’s one. Perfect.”

Except I’m not perfect. I’m human. I’m the most *imperfect* person I know. So now add “disappointing” to the list of things I am. “Oh, I didn’t think this baby girl would have *problems*. Eesh. We didn’t sign up for that.” So hard in a family that is about things looking just right, about image, about ease. I was none of that.

So “love” to me is from the beginning associated with fear, revulsion, abandonment, disgust, resignation. What does real love feel like? I only know the stuff that got taken away when I showed my less than perfect side. By, like, um, being conceived. Or asking to go to a friends house when someone wanted me to stay home. Or (heaven forbid) getting one C.

I expect God’s love to be different. But I don’t feel that either.

I got married and had a family, hoping that this “new family” would really love me. But my kids don’t listen, treat me with respect, obey. Isn’t that how kids would show love? My poor dh, too, jokes that “If I were twice the man I am I’d still be half of what you need.” (it’s from song lyrics). He’s probably right. The hole he’s trying to fill is bigger than the both of us.

I try so hard to be a good mom, but I guess my kids are sensitive to the fact that it’s all “faked” – ’cause how can one give what one doesn’t have? It’s no wonder they are mostly screwed up. Chalk up one more failure on my board.

I’m oh so tired.

Like I said, I’m struggling. Thanks for listening. I think I’m all talked out now.

I am not a prize to be won

(first posted Nov 2008)

Heh, that’s my favorite line from Disney’s Aladin.

Just a little “getting off my chest” here. Non-eloquent, as I’ve been up all night with a sick baby (shot reactions AND virus at the same time, poor thing).

What is buzzing around my brain lately: I used to be so PRO-adoption. In a way I still am – after all, I’m completely anti-abortion and don’t want children to be abandoned or abused so adoption is often the best choice.

But lately I’m much more FOR trying to support mothers in keeping their children.

I just read a blog post where the adoptive mom was calling adoption a miracle, and thanking the birth mother for the gift of her child, and the birthmother was thanking the adoptive mom for the gift of the adoption. Ugh. I think sometimes only the adopted children can see what is wrong with that picture.

Adoption, as abortion, still treats children as a commodity. I am not a THING to be traded when you don’t feel like raising me, or picked up when you want a child and God hasn’t given you one. I am not a prize to be won.

That is all.

The Mockery of Being

(first published July 2008)

Dr. Jeff Mirus, writing on a totally different subject than I am about to, discusses “The Mockery of Being.” Because it’s a very hot topic and not the focus of this blog, I’m not going to get into his article (or allow comments on it) except as it relates to what I’m about to say — and of course, as this is my adoption blog, how it relates to my feelings on adoption. 🙂 Pardon the lengthy quote, but I wanted to include enough information as a set up for the second quote below.

Dr. Mirus writes:

The answer lies in the widespread mechanistic and instrumental view of reality progressively adopted by our culture over the past two hundred years. By “mechanistic”, I mean the idea that anything and everything may be tinkered with, adjusted, altered, or manufactured to produce a desired result. By “instrumental”, I mean the attitude that anything and everything is an instrument to be used for my own ends. This view of reality can be traced back a very long way in various forms, but the explosion of material progress through the manipulation of nature and machinery beginning in the 19th century catapulted this view to dominance. The further dramatic explosion of both information and material benefits in the latter part of the twentieth century served to complete and intensify this gradual shift of perception. As a result, most of us now view reality far differently than would have been possible in an earlier era.

The problem with this shift is that it ignores the nature of being as a given, as something which we receive so that it might disclose itself to us on its own terms. If I instinctively see everything as an instrument for my own purposes (including my own body), and if I believe I can always figure out a way to manipulate things to suit my purposes, then two things happen: First, I become extremely self-centered; second, I become blind to any meaning which exists in the very nature of things, closed to the gift of creation which beckons me to live according to a purpose that has been stamped into my own being from outside.

and then

When an instrumental approach to reality becomes a substitute for love itself, it is particularly damaging. Though we may not understand this, we feel it very quickly whenever we are used by someone whom we love and who claims to love us. We feel cheapened; we feel betrayed; ultimately, we feel that we have been mocked. In fact, whenever love is replaced by manipulation, whenever what should be the object of love becomes a mere instrument for something else, things have gone terribly wrong. The same cheapening is at work. The failure to recognize and act on the true worth of the other is always a betrayal, always a mockery.

It is this last paragraph that I feel relates well to my feelings on adoption. I feel adoption can be seen as both “mechanistic” (anything can be tinkered with to produce a desired result) and “instrumental”(anything – or in this case anyone – can be used as in instrument for my own ends). Despite the fact that we adoptees are often told from birth that it was all because of love that we were relinquished (“she did it because she loved you and wanted a better life”) and ultimately adopted (“we love you so much that we chose you to be our child”), I’m sorry, but that love just seems to ring hollow. As we grow up we realize that we were very likely a “problem” from the moment of conception, and often remain a thorn in the birth mother’s side forever (in grief of having to relinquish, or in other ways). We’ve gone from being human, of “being”, to being mechanized, considered a “thing,” a “problem” that needs to be improved, hence the adoption. Birth mother could not live as she desired, so birth baby gets the shaft. Birth circumstances, if they are known, can mitigate or exacerbate these feelings, I’m sure. Knowing that my birth mother was employed and 20yo, and my father was also 20 and in college, makes me think my relinquishment was more a matter of me being an “inconvenience” to them than an impossibility, as might be the case of a much younger mother without support (or in any number of other circumstances). [eta: I found out after reunion that my mother was 18.]

It doesn’t end when you are adopted, either. The adoptive parents are also often trying to solve their own problems (infertility and the gaining of their “perfect family.”) We are seen not so much as a problem than as a solution, yet that still takes a chunk of our humanity out of the picture. I’m not a solution, I’m a PERSON. While I’m sure I am extremely lucky to have been adopted, and I *DO* love my adoptive parents, it doesn’t exactly erase the fact that “we feel it very quickly whenever we are used by someone whom we love and who claims to love us. We feel cheapened; we feel betrayed; ultimately, we feel that we have been mocked” as the author states above. In my family, I know my adoptive parents really DO love me, not just claim to, but that almost makes it feel worse! I think it is easier to forgive those who do something wrong and *don’t* love you, it hurts more when the person actually *does* love you. Although I bet not one adoptive parent thinks they are doing anything remotely like this to their adopted children! Probably because it is not an action being done or not done by either parent, it’s just a function of the adoption triangle/adoption process.

I have often wondered why I had so much anger bottled up inside me – I had a good upbringing and parents who loved me. Why all the anger?? I could never pin it to anything. This seems to explain a lot. Who wouldn’t be angry/sad/hollow when deep down they get a sense they’ve been used all their life?

******
Here is the place I usually say, “These are the questions, wish I had some answers!” LOL At least this article has a framework I can draw truth from, to replace the lies the adoption process and/or society imposes on me:
* I do have worth.
* It’s indelibly stamped on me by my Creator
* My adoptive parents did/do love me. Really and truthfully. No matter how the whole process made me feel.
* I’m not crazy for feeling this way.