Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Birthday Surprise

I'm not terribly fond of my birthday. I know this is not an uncommon trait among adoptees. It is hard to celebrate the day you were born when you don't know anyone who was there for the birth. I don't like to think about that day. It's just a painful reminder of the day my life changed forever.

Last year was a little different. I had been in reunion for six months or so. My (first) mom called me and sent me gifts. It was a good day.

This year is going to be a lot different.

It started simply enough... Months ago, my mom asked me for my wife's e-mail. More recently, my wife told me that I should keep my birthday weekend free from any plans. This is unlike her. A plan for the whole weekend? Would we be going somewhere? But I didn't push her on it. Then I idly asked her what my mom had e-mailed her about, and she said she couldn't answer. That's when I started to put it together. My mom was coming up for the weekend and would be here for my birthday.

For the first time in my life, I will celebrate my birthday with my mother.

This is almost a scary kind of experience. My birthday has been such a source of pain and confusion for so long. It's hard to know how it will be with my mom. I'm glad she's coming. Very excited, even. But it's scary, too.

Being scared of being with my mom on my birthday... It just confirms for me that adoption screws us up forever.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

A New Euphemism

I was reading my local paper this morning, and they had published an article from the LA Times from a few days ago. It was about how genetic testing has led to people uncovering family secrets.

In what has to be the funniest thing I've read in the newspaper in a long time, the author of the article summarizes the hardest surprises uncovered by genetic testing:

As genetic testing becomes more widespread for medical information, forensics and ancestral research, more people are accidentally uncovering family secrets. Among the most painful are so-called "non-paternity events," cases in which Dad turns out to be someone else.

A "non-paternity event." A "non-paternity event"? I know what the term means, obviously. But how much euphemism do we really need to say that the man you thought was your dad wasn't really your dad?

The article goes on to ask the following question:

How many of us are not our fathers' children?

And I think that's when this article really became about adoption for me. I know hundreds of people who are not their fathers' children. Nor their mothers'. People who have experienced both non-paternity AND non-maternity events. So I can feel for people who might uncover this.

I'm just not sure we need the new euphemism suggested in the article to describe the experience of finding out you were (are) being raised by people who aren't your blood relations.

The story from the LA Times: DNA can reveal ancestors' lies and secrets.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Buy A T-Shirt and Support Adoptee Rights

A few weeks ago I posted the logo for the Adoptee Rights Day in Philadelphia this coming July. I'll probably post it in the sidebar before too long here. (I should probably do that anyway.) But here it is, just to remind you until I get to that:


If you like this design (and why wouldn't you) you can now wear it. It is available at CafePress: http://www.cafepress.com/adopteerightsPA. There are lots of shirts and other items (mugs and the like). All the profits from these sales will go to the Adoptee Rights Demonstration (purchasing permits and the like). So please help out, and show your support for Adoptees.


Saturday, January 17, 2009

Against Adoption

I know I've written about this before, but one of my friends said she really liked an answer I gave on Yahoo! Answers. The question asked (again - this question comes up so often is disheartening) why people opposed adoption.

Here is my answer (edited to avoid the particulars of the original asker's details). I thought I'd share it here as perhaps a more succinct statement of other things I've tried to express.


As an adoptee, I want people to understand that adoption is a very complicated proposition, rife with emotional pitfalls. I have never felt unequivocally happy about my adoption, even while I love my adoptive parents. Why? Because adoption starts with loss. The one person in the whole world who should have loved the child and cared for him or her more than anything in the world either couldn't or wouldn't. That's a loss. That loss needs to be acknowledged by society, and it rarely is.

In most adoptions, when the adoption finalizes, the birth certificate is changed to something that is a lie. Mine says that my (adoptive) mother gave birth to me. But that is simply false. And my original birth certificate is then sealed away forever out of my sight. People on a daily basis tell me that I should be grateful for having parents who loved me, as though I didn't deserve love and care. We even get asked if we would rather have been aborted, as though grieving our loss is somehow impermissible because we could have lost more. Adoptees and their perspectives (please note the plural - I am not saying there is only one perspective from adoptees) are often marginalized. We have little voice in the discussion.

Until society is willing to have an honest discussion about the effects of adoption on children (the ones that adoption is supposed to help), I (and many others) will speak out about it, and will be called "fringe" and worse.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Not Just a River in Egypt

One of the things that amazes is the unwillingness of adoptive parents and prospective adoptive parents to hear anything negative about adoption.

I'm not saying there are no adoptive parents who are sensitive to the problems and issues surrounding adoption, but so many people that I see comment online in various places simply dismiss the voices of adoptees (at least adoptees who express some ambivalence about adoption) as simply screwed up by their bad experiences.

I think I can understand the reaction. Presumably, these are people that have bought into the line that adoption is a good thing. Suddenly, they are confused. It must have been something the parents did. The adoptive parents screwed up.

It has to be the parents because the other possibilities are more worrisome. For if it's not the parents, it is either something wrong with the adoptees or adoption itself. If it's the adoptees, then how can they know whether their children will have similar "defects" that lead them to express ambivalence? And if it's adoption itself, then all they believed about this "wonderful" experience may not be true.

While I don't like adoption, I'm not trying to make adoptive parents feel badly for adopting. Not really. But I want them to have a better understanding of what they're getting themselves into. I want them to better to understand what their children may be going through. I do this because I want those kids to have a better chance at working through some of these issues when they're younger.

The lack of curiosity (or perhaps just fear?) of some adoptive parents about the issues surrounding adoption is frustrating.

I just keep hoping that some day, society will get over it's rose-colored-glasses approach to adoption. Until then, I expect this will be an ongoing struggle.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Slow Down

I got a letter from my (adoptive) mom. She explained how she saw things and apologized (sort of). It was a sincere letter. But it left me feeling a bit cold. She said that she would have come home if she had known that I had needed her more than her sister. But that just misses my point. I wanted her to want to be home for us, for me. I don't want to wait until I'm sick or dying to have her around. I didn't need her more than her sister. I just wanted her to be around as my mom.

I'm not mad at her letter. It was better than the letter I feared, though not as good as I had hoped. I'm not sure how to react. I wrote a response, but I'm not going to send it. At least not the first draft of it. I think I'll reread my draft in a day or two and see how I feel then. For now, I'm just trying not to let it get to me too much.

Sometimes I wish I weren't related to anyone.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

A Beginning

Today I called my (adoptive) mom. It wasn't a long call. And it wasn't a deep conversation. It was just a brief call to wish her a happy new year. We talked for maybe five minutes. I didn't want to get into all the things that have passed (or not passed) between us.

But I want to start the year off on a better foot. I want to be more forgiving and compassionate, both towards others and towards myself. I wanted to open the door to rebuilding some kind of relationship with her. I don't know how to move forward, exactly. But I didn't want to let it go so long that I was paralyzed and incapable of moving forward.

I don't forgive often or easily. I don't usually get upset with people easily. But once I am upset, it isn't easy for me to forgive or forget. And I have written many people off. I had no desire to do that with my mom. So I needed to do something at some point. I had thought I would wait until we got home from our trip, but then I thought the first day of a new year was a good time to make a fresh start.

I can't say I'm not still upset. But I feel less upset than I did last week. So that's something. And now that they holidays are just about over, the hurt has faded some.

Happy New Year to all of you. I hope this one is better than the last.