Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Not a Gift

Maybe I need to stay off the internet. Much of the time, I just find things that annoy me. And then I feel the need to go onto one of my blogs and begin ranting about it. So I guess it's good for you, my reader.

Unless what upsets me causes me to say something that upsets you. Hmmm... It's a conundrum, I suppose.

I'm tired of seeing people refer to children as gifts. Once was enough. Children are not gifts to be given to a couple that cannot have their own child. Whatever you think about adoption, thinking about children as gifts to be given away turns them from people into objects.

For me, though, it is a thousand times worse when I see the "gift" talk coming from a first mom. It's not just a slap in the face. It's a stab in the heart. I don't want to be told that it was for the best that I was given up. And I don't want to be told that I was a gift.

I know that not every first mother had much choice. I know that many of them have been hurt by adoption, too. And I don't hold it against them. But I don't want to hear that my pain was for the best. And I don't want to be reduced to an object given away to strangers.

I am not a gift. I never was a gift. I am a human being. And adoption hurts me every day of my life. Good things have happened to me in spite of my adoption. And I have not let my adoption drag my down so far that I can't pick myself back up. But I am not a gift. And every time I hear someone say it, a first mom say it, I feel reduced just a bit more.

So please, say whatever nice things about adoption you want. But do not call it a gift. My pain, my life, is not a gift.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

The End of Fantasy?

I've been reading through B.J. Lifton's Lost and Found: The Adoption Experience. (It's back in print and in a new edition for those who might be interested.) As is often the case when I read books about the experiences of adoptees, much in the book speaks to me.

Early on in the book (p. 20), she discusses the difficulty many adoptees report in understanding where they came from. Since there are no birth stories (your mother almost didn't make it the hospital; you used to kick whenever your Dad would speak, etc.), adoptees often don't really think of themselves as having been born. They came from a hospital, or a social agency, or wherever.

For many adoptees, apparently, this leads to fantasizing about their origins. They may take on a mythical story as their origin: "[Adoptees] live in a mythical rather than a real past. There are no limits. Their fantasies could very well be true. As Florence Clothier warned her colleagues: 'Bear in mind that when we are asked to deal with problems occurring in a child who has been adopted, he may be living out his fantasy of a hero's or a revolutionary's birth.'" (p. 29)

I was one of those adoptees. I always thought that maybe I was an alien. Or some being of mythical origin, masquerading as a human. I always had trouble believing I was born in a mundane way and then just given up. I always thought there must be more to it than that.

Indeed, I think one of the reasons I may have resisted searching for my (natural) family for so long is the fear that I would become mundane as a result.

Where I am now, though, I don't know. I feel more whole than I ever did before reunion. I feel more connected to the human race. But I still don't feel fully connected. The fantasies have not been completely eliminated. Maybe that isn't a problem. But it causes some cognitive dissonance to know my origins (more fully than I ever have before) and still have the mythical hero fantasy hanging about in my skull.

I wonder if the fantasy will ever go away? And the flip side of that is my wonder whether I will ever feel fully connected, fully present in the world?

Monday, February 16, 2009


I've been thinking about some of my online interactions about adoption. So many people (especially on Yahoo!) have come to think of me as angry. Indeed, so much so, that I've Styx's song "Fooling Yourself" going through my head:

"How can you be such an angry young man
When your future looks quite bright to me"

This sort of thing always gives me pause. Not because I listen to what people think of me. But I do wonder why I give off the impression that I'm angry. Precisely because I don't feel angry. At least, I don't think I do.

Am I angry about adoption? Maybe I am. I didn't think so. I'm sad about adoption. I'm sad about children losing their families. And I'm annoyed. I feel annoyed that society doesn't understand, really, how adoption affects children. Those are my primary emotions regarding adoption.

So why does that come across as anger? Maybe it's that people are not used to hearing criticisms of adoption and any criticism comes off angry? I"m not sure.

I know that I don't feel angry. And I don't blame anyone for being angry. Not when it comes to adoption. I'm probably going to have to keep thinking about this. If I am angry, I'd like to better understand that.

The only thing I can imagine being angry about is dealing with people who refuse to at least hear what I'm saying (even if they disagree). I'm okay with disagreement. I do get angry when people twist and/or ignore my words.

Still, I hope that sadness and frustration are not being confused for anger.

But in the end, I suppose that isn't my problem. It's the problem of those who want to dismiss adoptees as having relevant contributions to make to the discussion.

Monday, February 9, 2009


One thing I've been thinking about a lot lately is how fair this time has been on my (adoptive) mom. This seemed especially noticeable with my (first) mom visiting last weekend. I had such a good time. But my a-mom and I barely have a relationship right now. It seems unfair that I am having a good relationship with one of them, but not the other. At the very least, I feel a bit guilty.

I suppose that seems a bit silly. After all, simply because I'm having a bad relationship at the moment with one person, it doesn't mean that I should torch my other relationships.

I think the problem is that I'm worried I'm acting as though the grass is greener on the other side. It's true that I don't have the baggage with my f-mom that I do with my a-family. But I don't really think I'm trying to replace one family with another. I'm just trying to enjoy the good relationship I currently have with my f-mom.

It's weird juggling all these different relationships. And while somethings in my reunion have gotten better and more stable, this stuff never seems to. Maybe I shouldn't feel any guilt. But the loyalty issues never really seem to go away.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Birthday Visit

My mom flew home yesterday. We had a wonderful weekend.

She got in late on Friday, and we sat up until after midnight talking. The next morning we went to brunch. We spent most of the afternoon talking, but she did take a little time to bake a cake.

She planned ahead. She mailed a package to me that arrived a week ago. It had my presents inside. But it also had a cake mix, frosting, and maraschino cherries. Ronni had told her that my favorite cake was cherry chip, so she had bought a cherry chip box mix. But one of my nieces made that cake by accident. So she sent a Jiffy cake mix and cut up cherries to put in the cake. It was delicious.

We went to dinner and then came home for cake and ice cream and to let me open my presents. She gave me plush versions of Darth Vader, Yoda, and Chewbacca. (Those were the characters she could find.) She put small figures of Darth Vader and Luke Skywalker on my cake. And there was a huge birthday card that played the Star Wars theme upon opening. I think she's figured out I like Star Wars. ;)

We spent some time watching the Weird Al Yankovic DVD one of my brothers had given us for Christmas (at my mom's prompting). It had a video of "The Saga Begins." The song follows the plot of The Phantom Menace, set to the tune of Don McLean's "American Pie." Very funny. (If you want to hear the song and see the video, you can watch it at YouTube: The Saga Begins.)

Then we talked until midnight. After a few hours sleep, we got up and talked, had brunch, and waited until her plane left just after one-thirty in the afternoon.

We just talked. Both of us sometimes worry the other wants to go do something else, but the truth is, we still haven't had that much time together. And we both just want to sit around, talk, and soak it all in. At least, that's how I feel. And it sounded to me as though she felt the same way. We probably seem pretty boring to everyone else. But we can't get enough of each other.

It was, in short, the best birthday I've ever had. And really, only the second happy birthday I've really had. It was hard to see her go. But I've been feeling more secure lately. I know we'll see each other again before the year is out. All in all, I couldn't have asked for anything more.

Here's a picture of the two of us on my birthday (a few hours before she had to leave):


I'm still smiling as I sit here thinking of this past weekend.