Monday, April 28, 2008


Relating to my first mom is not the easiest thing in the world. Not because she's hard to relate to, and not because we don't relate. I just don't have any examples to follow.

Thinking about how I relate to my adoptive parents, I don't think that's the model I should follow. I love them, and they love me, but it's not exactly the height of a healthy parent-child relationship. I have felt like the parent far too often in those relationships. I'm always protecting them from what I really think, whether I ought to or not. Whether they want me to, or not. I have long kept myself at arms length. So I keep my day-to-day worries and concerns to myself, along with some of the bigger worries and concerns.

I don't want that sort of relationship with my first mom. It isn't worth it to me. I don't need another person I feel I have to protect from me. (Again, to be fair, I don't know that I really have to protect my adoptive parents. But I've felt that way for so long, it's hard to stop.)

So long story short... I don't want to relate to my first mom the way I relate to my adoptive parents.

But then how do I relate to her? This is uncharted territory. We don't have the last 36 years back to develop a relationship. We met, again, as adults, well-established in our lives and our ways of relating to others. But she's not just another adult I've met and befriended. She's my mom. I just don't know exactly how to define that relationship.

I know that I don't really need to define it. But I sometimes find myself wondering what to say to her, what to tell her and what to leave out, how to lean on her or be available for her to lean on. I think I just find it confusing.

I know I over think this stuff. But I keep trying to make sense of this, and I don't quite know how to do that just yet.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Consulting the Affected

Surfing around the internet, I found myself on, and the title of a recent "Since You Asked..." column by Cary Tennis caught my eye...

We want a kid but don't think it's right to have one

When I first saw that title, I expected to find the position that always annoys me: "We're not going to have kids because there are so many kids out there that need a home."

But when I started reading the letter, I found a different concern:

I desperately want a child. I want, my husband wants, we want.

However, my husband and I purposely will not conceive a child. The reason is, we feel that what we want is not the most important thing. The most important consideration is toward the person who is most directly affected. The most important consideration is toward the child.

Making a life-altering decision without consulting the one most affected seems wrong. Also, there is a chance that once the child is grown, he may look back and feel, 'I would have preferred nonexistence. There, I would have remained safe from all harm.'

That claim strikes me as incredibly important: "Making a life-altering decision without consulting the one most affected seems wrong." Of course it is. At some level, we understand that we should not treat people as objects. Rather we should take their feelings into account.

Tennis points out, in his response to this letter, that it doesn't really work. Not always. We cannot ask "potential people" what they want. We have, in reality, no idea what their interests are. In that way, perhaps the act of creating a child is inherently selfish, but it is probably too much to say that it's wrong.

The same is true about adoption. Even though the child exists, we cannot really ask him or her whether adoption is what he or she would want. But we can ask first parents and adoptive parents to do a bit more by way of thinking about what the child might want if s/he could express those desires.

That's what always gets missed, it seems to me, in these discussions. What would the child want? The child wants, by nature, to stay with the mother.

I'll admit that it's not always possible, but that's what the child wants. It strikes me, then, that if we cannot always accommodate the child's wants, we should at least make sure that the history of the child is not obliterated.

"Making a life-altering decision without consulting the one most affected seems wrong." I think I want that tattooed on every adoption worker and legislator's forehead. If you can't consult the one most affected, you can at least think about what the adoptee might want and what the adoptee might want as s/he grows up.

Monday, April 21, 2008

When Should We Grieve?

After much discussion, usually most people will acknowledge that adoption, of necessity, involves loss. A child loses his or her first family. Adoption cannot happen unless that loss happens. So the adoptee, very early in life, loses something exceedingly important.

But even when people acknowledge this loss, they often still think the adoptee needs to get over it. It happened (in the case of adult adoptees) many years ago. It is time, so they seem to think, to move on and quit thinking about it.

But that misses an essential point. If adoption involves loss, and it happened when we were too young to grieve that loss properly, when were supposed to have gotten over the loss? When should we grieve? When we suffered the loss, we were, in most cases, too young to understand what has happened and thus too young to grieve.

For many adoptees, especially those adopted during the closed-adoption heyday of the Baby-Scoop Era, we were not encouraged to grieve during our childhoods. Now we're adults and we're expected to be over it. But when were we going to have a chance to deal with that loss?

It is simply disheartening to have the grief of adoptees minimized and denied. Some would rather believe that we have other problems and need to quit blaming adoption for them. But that ignores the real issue. I'm not blaming adoption for my loss. My adoption is predicated on that loss. And loss must be grieved in order to integrate it into the psyche.

When I see this refusal to acknowledge the loss inherent in adoption, and the refusal to respect the grieving process of adoptees in reaction to this loss, I worry about future adoptees. If those who are so supportive of adoption today cannot recognize the dark-side of adoption, inherent in the process, then how will today's adoptees fare?

Tuesday, April 15, 2008


You don't want to hear me complain about hearing absolutely nothing from my natural father. I don't want to keep complaining about it. I take my promise to post here every week seriously. But I feel numb inside. If I think about adoption right now, I'm afraid I'll just collapse. I hope I can do something more before long, but every time I start to think about adoption, I just think about him. And I feel anxious. I know I'll either have to write another letter or call him. But right now, I don't think I can do either.

This is lame. And I feel so lost. It's not worth blogging about. If he isn't my father (though that seems unlikely), he should have the decency to tell me. And if he is, and wants nothing to do with me, he should at least have the decency to tell me that. For now, I just sit here, paralyzed by anxiety.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Something Else

It's a struggle to come up with other things to post about. I still haven't heard from my first father. But I did have a weird experience over the weekend.

I went to the county caucus where we were nominating a candidate for Senate. I had, at the local caucus a couple of months ago, put forth a resolution for the party platform. It was to work for opening records for adoptees. I was happy that my local precinct voted unanimously in favor the resolution. So I went to the county caucus in order to help shepherd the resolution forward.

Unfortunately, we could only forward 20 resolutions on to the state convention, and we had 61 resolutions. Mine received many votes, but not enough to go forward. That was disappointing.

I did, however, get elected an alternate delegate to the state convention. So I'm hoping to go pin down state legislators to get them to support open records, whether or not it's in the party platform.

In an odd moment of synchronicity, I met a woman at the caucus. I asked her to vote for my resolution. In talking to her about it, I found out she had relinquished a child for adoption. She was upset to find out that records were sealed. We had a good conversation about open records.

It was, overall, a disappointing day with my resolution failing. But I'm always happy to talk to another person touched by adoption. And maybe I can still do some good at the state convention.

I'm still trying to distract myself from thinking about my first father and his reaction to my letter. As you can tell, it's not working all that well.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

On Hold

I was hoping to be able to post some news. I really thought I might have received some word from my first father by now. But so far, there's been nothing. I feel like my whole life is in a holding pattern while I wait for some word.

My relationship with my first mom is still going very well. And she is anxious on my behalf for me to hear something from this man. I think she wants to call him or get involved some how. But I keep putting her off. I don't want her hurt by this man that didn't treat her well all those years ago. I don't want him to get angry at her or yell at her.

But I also don't want whatever his reaction to her might be to get in the way of what he and I might find by way of a connection. I don't think she would do anything, on purpose, that would make him decide not to have anything to do with me. But I don't know how he'll react to my arrival. And I don't know how he might react to her reentering his life. I figure better to do only one of those right now. And I'd rather start with me.

I hope that hasn't been a mistake. But I don't know what else to do. So I'm just going to wait for now. I hope that he's composing a letter and mailing it to me. And that could take a little while. But I don't know when I decide it's been too long. So I'm going to keep waiting.

Even though it's driving me nuts.