Monday, June 30, 2008

Who Am I

Blogging is no substitute for journaling. I've always known this, but every now and then I'm reminded of it in dramatic fashion. When I blog, I sit down with a rough idea of what I'm going to say. When I journal, the words just flow, and I often learn something about myself that I otherwise wasn't aware of.

Today I sent my first father another letter. This is my third. Over seven weeks have passed since the last attempt. So I try again. I'm not sure what else to do. Silence seems so bad because it doesn't tell you anything. I have no idea if he's reading the letters, throwing them out, trying to find a response, or simply hoping I'll go away. I won't. But I don't know what else to do right now. (I have some ideas, but I keep hoping that he'll just respond to the letters, rather than a phone call or asking someone else to contact him.)

I sat down to write about this in my journal, and something came out. My real fear in all of this, I think. (I say I think because anything that comes out in my journal is always open to revision. This is how I feel about it today. I reserve the right to feel differently tomorrow.)

I don't think I'm looking for acceptance from him. I have three parents that love, support, and accept me. If I don't have a fourth, I will survive. Having a relationship from him would be nice, but it isn't necessary. It isn't what I'm really looking for.

What I'm looking for is, in a way, harder. I have long disliked men, as a rule. I had many troubles with my peers growing up, and I don't tend to trust men. (I've found a few since that I love and trust, and so I hope I've gotten over this to some extent.) But the problem is more internal. As a male, I have a tendency not to trust myself, to think of myself as not compassionate enough. There are many people who would say I'm wrong. And I love them all for that. But deep down, I don't know if I believe I'm compassionate. That distrust of men, though overcome somewhat when it comes to others, still seems relatively entrenched when it comes to myself.

I think I need my first father to be a good, compassionate man. I need to believe that I came from that. If I find out that he's heartless, I worry that will simply confirm my own worst fears about myself.

I still hope to find a compassionate man who just is overwhelmed and doesn't know what to say to his long-lost son. But I realize I might need to prepare myself for the worst. Not rejection as such. But the confirmation that my father might not be a compassionate person. And if he isn't compassionate, I will need to find a way to believe that that doesn't say anything about me. Right now, I'm not sure how to get there.

So for now, I'll keep sending letters and hoping he'll show me that I might be okay, too.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Come and Gone

Well, Father's Day has come and gone. Still nothing.

I have a wonderful adoptive father. And I was glad to get to talk to him yesterday.

But not hearing from my first father is getting to me. Even filling out my dad's Father's Day card was upsetting.

I don't have anything useful or insightful to say. I'm just lamenting the silence. I wish I had any insight to offer. But nothing is coming.

I'm just sitting here... waiting...

Saturday, June 14, 2008

The Best Thing for the Child

Just a follow up to my previous post...

There is a wonderful post about this attitude from the first mother's perspective on the Adoption Animal House. (In case you aren't familiar with it, it's a blog written by an adoptee and her first mom.) "The Lie That Keeps Working" is the post.

It really hit home for me. And I wanted to share since it follows so closely on the heels of my own reflections on this issue.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Other People's Shoes

When someone outside of adoption says that adoption is best for the child, that it's a good decision (or something similar), it's very annoying. I've had enough pablum for one life-time. But it's also not surprising. Naivete and ignorance run rampant in our society when it comes to adoption. However much it might annoy me, it doesn't surprise me.

But when I hear it from a first mother, it really tears me up inside. I would think first mothers would understand that this is not the best thing for the child. That part of me that hurts from adoption doesn't want to hear women who have relinquished say that they know it was the right thing.

I have never, to my knowledge, felt angry at my first mom for relinquishing me. I know she was doing what she thought she had to do. And she has never told me that she "did the right thing" by giving me up. (She might feel that way. She might not. I'm not sure.)

But when I hear other first mothers say it, I feel hurt, and maybe even a little anger. Whether or not things turned out for the best, it seems dismissive of the pain and loss experienced by adoptees.

The more I have thought about this, though, the more I've tried to understand this reaction. I cannot possibly know what it's like to relinquish a child. And it strikes me that this attitude (that it was the right decision) is a defense mechanism. That doesn't mean it's never true (sometimes the right decisions lead to painful consequences). It's just that it must hurt to give up a child, and it may provide some consolation to believe that the child is better off.

As much as I don't want to hear it, maybe I shouldn't begrudge first mothers this consolation. I don't know.

But there is another wrinkle that has occurred to me while I've thought about this. I worry about the impact of this attitude on expectant mothers who might be considering adoption. Whatever adoptees feel about this, whatever first mothers need to tell themselves, I don't think this is a good message to send to expectant mothers. We should not be selling adoption as the best decision for the child. We should be trying to find ways to help mothers and children stay together.

First mothers likely don't want to hear that adoptees do not share the view that adoption was the right decision. And adoptees likely don't want to hear that there may be circumstances in which adoption was the best (though I suspect there are far fewer of these situations than people typically acknowledge). I know I don't.

I'm trying to find some equanimity about this whole thing. I don't want to deny the truth of first mothers. Just as I don't want my truth denied by others.

This attitude is the first thing that has really driven home the difference between adoptees' perspectives and that of (some) first mothers. Just another danger of the minefield that is adoption.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Adoptee Rights Demonstration Update

For more information, please visit

Hello everyone!

July 22nd is fast approaching! Here is the update for the Adoptee Rights Day demonstration in New Orleans. We will be posting frequent updates so folks will be in the loop with schedules and what the plan of action is for the next two months, and while in New Orleans attending the demonstration and Exhibitors Booth.

New Orleans demonstration updates:

The permit for Lafayette Square has been paid for and is in our possession.

The demonstration and march will be held Tuesday July 22nd beginning at 9:00 am (more details soon).

The Exhibitors Booth has been paid for and the Adoptee Rights Committee will be in booth #246 on the Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday following the demonstration.

We have received over $3000 in donations! Thanks to everyone for supporting ARD. Our goal for a full page ad in the print version of the New Orleans Times-Picayune listing adult adoptees and their friends and family who support adoptee rights is still in progress, if you haven’t done so already add your name to the list!

A writing campaign to Legislators starts on Friday June 6th (information and instructions will be available on the evening of the 5th).

We are asking for volunteers to assist the organizers while at the event, if you can help us out in New Orleans please let us know.

If you haven’t done so already hop on over to our mailing list where you can get immediate updates about our Writing Campaign starting tomorrow Friday June 6th, as well as interaction with all of the other protesters and supporters of Open Records and the Demonstration.

***We regret to inform people that Bastard Nation is no longer one of the Adoptee Rights Day sponsors. We wish them well and thank them for their efforts thus far. **

The days are counting down and the time is near, so much work is coming together and it couldn’t have been possible without you. Thank you.

For any questions about the demonstration, please contact "admin at adopteerights dot net" (replace 'at' and 'dot' with their respective symbols for a working e-mail address).

Sunday, June 1, 2008


With only a couple of exceptions, every adoptee I know is a female. And every adoptee in my search support group is female. I've never met a first father. So today, when I stumbled upon a blog post discussing a play about adoption, this part really stood out for me...

Adoption Drama, The On Stage Kind!:

I'd love to see a play about a male adoptee, expecting his first child and deciding to search for his biological father, complete with opinion from his adoptive father. We pay so much attention to the motherly side of things... isn't it about time for some fatherly spotlight?

I'm careful to not over-generalize from my experience. But I can speak to my experience.

I am not certain why finding my mother was more important to me. Maybe it's because, given the little information I had for much of my life, I thought there was a good chance he had died in Vietnam. But beyond that, I felt a connection with my mother. I yearned for her in a way I didn't for him.

Maybe it goes back to my distrust of males. I've long struggled with knowing how to connect with other men. In college, I finally started to make close male friends. But even to this day, I struggle more making male friends than female friends. I'm more comfortable around women. I'm not entirely certain why that is, though I have some suspicions.

For whatever reason, I wanted to find my first mom to start. And really, I needed to. No one knew who he was. Maybe I could have figured it out, but I don't know how. I had to find her to find him. So that's what I did.

What did my adoptive father think about my search? I have no idea. Before I could even explain why I was searching, he provided his own explanation: I needed medical information. That's what he told himself, out loud, when I told him I was searching. He has never brought it up again. And the one time I brought it up, he changed the subject. He said he had no questions about it (I had asked him if he did) and then began talking about my step-brother. My adoptive father has never been very expressive. If he feels anything about it, he isn't telling me.

My adoptive mother, on the other hand, was very excited for me. I think she might have been more excited than I was. She wanted to know everything. The difference between them was day and night.

And that difference carried over into my reunion. My first mom nearly dropped everything to come up here as soon as I found her. We talked and began exchanging e-mails immediately. She has, over night it seems, become a big part of my life. It's been emotional, but very positive.

What about him? Well, if you've been reading the past couple of months, you know that after two letters, I still haven't heard a word. Whether he's chicken, or cruel, or uncertain, or whatever, he hasn't bothered to even acknowledge my letters. While I still don't really know what's going on with him, he doesn't act as though he wants anything to do with me. The silence is deafening.

So what would the play about men in reunion look like? The few men I've known directly have reunited with their mothers. The few first fathers I've known about seem to reunite with their daughters. Maybe that's just because I know more female adoptees. But doesn't that tell us something, too?

I said I didn't want to generalize. So all I can say is, if the play were made about my reunion experience, women would still be the primary players. My fathers have opted out of the dramatic tale. They are absent. The looming figure, always just off stage in the wings. I would love to have a play, a story to tell, that involved the men in my reunion. But so far, there haven't been any men in my reunion, except by their absence. And that absence tells me a lot about those men. That's not a play I want to go see.

This is not meant as criticism of the original post to which I refer. I, too, wish more men were involved in this process. I wish more men were active in their children's lives. But those men seem in short supply at the moment.