Monday, December 17, 2007

Holding My Breath

Last night, my first mother and I exchange Christmas gifts.

A tad awkward, perhaps, since we were 12 hours apart. But we agreed on a day to open gifts, and a time to call one another afterwards. She sent me a lot of neat little things. She got me a Star Wars pop-up book that's just cool. (My wife nearly got me the same thing, but told me she changed her mind at the last minute.) And she knitted me a scarf in the color of my birthstone. I have worn it almost constantly since opening it last night. (She sent my wife a scarf in her birthstone color as well.) There were some other gifts too, including ones from my brothers and nieces. It was just a very nice experience.

We had a good conversation on the phone. I wish I could see her for the holidays, but it just isn't possible this year. Maybe next. We are planning to go visit sometime in March perhaps.

Now I'm just holding my breath. She has a medical procedure today to take care of her cancer. It sounds like it should be simple. But it still makes me nervous, both the procedure and the cancer. She should be going into surgery as I type this, actually. I probably won't hear how it went for several hours.

I'm trying not to be a basket case about this. The emotional ups and downs just continue. I feel like I'm largely just at the mercy of events out of my control. That might not be so bad if it all wasn't so emotionally charged. I try to take it one day at a time. I'm not sure what else I could do.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Being Negative

One reaction that I've always experienced when I talk about adoption is something along the lines of... "Everyone has bad things happen to them. You can't dwell on the negatives in life." In other words, some variation on the "get over it" theme.

Understand that I say this as someone who had a relatively good adoption experience. My adoptive parents are good people who have given me lots of love, care, and support. They were, in a word, good parents.

But none of that changes the very real problems adoption brings with it. The lifelong struggle with abandonment fears, with trust issues, with being walled-off from people... These are real problems. My adoption caused some very real pain in my life.

When I talk about that pain, I'm sharing my story. I'm trying to educate people about what adoption really is (for some, at least). It's about loss and separation. It is basically a tragedy for the child, just as much as if the mother had died during childbirth. The loss and pain is real, even if good things happen later.

Recognizing the negatives about adoption, and about my life in general, does not mean I have not moved forward, that I am not functioning. I do think and talk about other things. I manage to have a job. I have friends and contribute to society. But that doesn't mean that adoption doesn't have a dark side.

As long as society doesn't want to hear our stories, as long as it wants to pretend adoption is win-win-win, the damage done by adoption will continue. It will continue for those of us who have experienced it. And it will continue to be visited on new generations of adoptees. We persevere and even succeed. But that doesn't mean the pain isn't real. And it doesn't mean the pain doesn't need to be acknowledged and validated.

I am negative about adoption. And it isn't directed towards my adoptive parents. Nor is directed towards my first mother. But that pain and sorrow is there. And I can't make it go away by ignoring it. I've tried that. For several decades. It doesn't work.