Monday, December 27, 2010

Christmas 2010

Cross-posted from Over A Candle.

Ronni and I hadn't been sure where we would spend Christmas this year. We toyed with the idea of staying home. In the end, we opted to visit my biological family in Missouri.

United Airlines, though, had other plans. Apparently, last week, Chicago had bad weather. Not bad enough to cancel flights, but enough to delay flights. We got delayed in Fargo, but our connecting flight was also delayed, so we thought we were okay. We finally got to Chicago, and waited around for our flight to Springfield. At the last minute, I got a call from United cancelling our flight and rebooking us on a later one.

So we trekked back across O'Hare to the new flight. Upon arrival, we found that the gate agent was at lunch. So we waited in line for half an hour. When she finally arrived, she informed us that we had been rebooked. For the next evening. I have never liked O'Hare, and I certainly didn't want to spend more than 24 hours in the place. So I asked if other airlines were flying to Springfield. Only American had another flight.

After lots of phone calls and being placed on hold, we managed to get a flight on American that would get us to Springfield before midnight. The gate agent told us that we couldn't retrieve our luggage, but that it would be going on the next flight to Springfield, arriving shortly before we would.

Further delays put us in Springfield after midnight on Wednesday morning. Sure enough, our luggage was nowhere to be found. The first flight on Thursday, we were assured. You can guess that it didn't happen. My luggage arrived at the end of the day on Wednesday, and Ronni's came in Thursday morning.

All of this confirms my initial opinion: I hate Chicago. If I never fly through O'Hare again, it will be too soon. I don't know why I thought this would be any different than every other time I've tried to fly through Chicago.

Still, upon arrival in Springfield, we had a very nice time. I didn't care about the luggage thing. I was just enjoying our visit. It was crazy and chaotic, and simply fun.

I woke up early Christmas morning, and sat with my brother Rick watching the tree while our mother slept on the couch. She eventually woke and we all sat talking quietly in the glow of the Christmas lights.

The Tree

The stockings had been hung. Not by a chimney, but with much care. And one for everyone who was going to be there.

The Stockings

Soon people were up, and we chatted while waiting for Santa to pass out gifts. Ronni, Audra (Ben's wife), and my brother Chris had the arm chairs.

Waiting for Santa

Rick, his girlfriend Katy, and my brother Ben were on the couch.

Waiting for Santa, part 2

Other people were wandering about, in the kitchen, sitting at the table, or just grabbing seats where they could.

Gifts were opened, and Rick had given mom a wonderfully soft dragon blanket.

Mom's dragon blanket

Of course, the star of the day, mom's new cat Pepper, had his own version of Christmas.

Pepper's present

Naturally, no get together would be complete if Ben and I weren't hamming it up together.


Needless to say - but I'll say it anyway - a good time was had by all.

The next day, very early, we were up and flying back to Chicago on our way home to Fargo. Thankfully, Chicago seems to only take it out on me during one direction of my flights. Going home was smooth, and even our luggage arrived on time.

I missed my family in Ohio this Christmas, but we had a lovely trip to Missouri.

Thursday, December 23, 2010


I am sorry for the long absence here. My life imploded in many unusual and nasty ways in the last five months. Things are getting better, slowly, and I won't go into all the details here, but they are getting better.

Earlier today, something kind of funny and cool happened, and I wanted to share it. This is the only place I really can safely share it at the moment, so I figured it was time for a post.

I am visiting my biological mom this Christmas. Despite Chicago's best efforts to prevent us, we got here very late on Tuesday night. Our luggage arrived, in stages over the last 26 hours. But we're here, and it is good. Actually, it is great. This is the least stressful Christmas I think I've ever had. It is affirming in ways that are hard to describe.

This morning, that validation took a very concrete form. My mom told one of my brothers that I had brought presents for people. His response, as she reported it later to me, was something along the lines of: "Even grandma? What do you give the bitch that made your mom give you up for adoption?"

My jaw about hit the floor. My mom thought it appropriate to share with me, my brother had the insight to see the issue, and I felt surrounded by people who had some small insight into everything I had gone through. It was amazing. And has provided me a source of chuckling ever since.

I'm the first to recognize that my mom's mom isn't really there anymore, so it's hard to be mad at her. The person who had a role in my adoption has been gone since before I met her. And I don't harbor a lot of resentment now. Still, it meant a lot to me that he would say that, that he would have some inkling of the emotional quagmire that this is.

Even before my mom told me, this has been a wonderful visit so far. That just pushed it over the top. I feel really lucky this holiday season.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Difficult Decisions

I know that this is National Adoption Month and National Blog Posting Month. But I just don't have the energy to try to write two blogs every day this month. Even though I still feel ire when I hear about National Adoption Month. I just don't have that much consistent writing in me at the moment.

But I also feel guilty that I've let this blog slide so much in the last couple of months. A lot has been going on, and I have no intention of baring it all here, but it's been kind of a roller-coaster.

And it probably isn't over yet.

Tonight we made travel plans to visit my wife's family over the winter holidays. But we didn't make plans to visit my (adoptive) family, which we usually do just before or just after the trip to my in-laws. This will be only the third time I haven't made it home for the winter holidays in my 40 Christmases on the planet.

I'm doing this for me. I'm trying to assert what I need a little bit more. This isn't easy for me. My sense of responsibility and obligation to others is pretty high. I'm not trying to punish anyone in my family, and I hope that they aren't hurt by my decision. But I need this, just this one time, if no other, that I do what I need to over the holidays, rather than what I think others need me to do.

We may visit my biological family over that time period. We may not. Depends on weather, on cost, on if the schedule works for everyone. But if not, we may just spend Christmas at home with our cats. Which is also something I'd really like to do.

Whatever happens, I'm scared of the aftermath of this. I haven't yet told my parents I'm not coming. I don't know how they'll react. But I'm trying to take care of myself just this once. We'll see how it goes.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

In Support of OBC Access

If all the hand-wringing amounts to just that - hand-wringing - then isn't it time to give all adoptees the same access everyone else has?

Saturday, August 14, 2010

The Self

I try not to cross-post between here and Over A Candle too much. But because of the adoption themes inherent in this post, and because I know not everyone who reads here reads there, I thought I should share this in both places.

I have, for many years, considered getting a tattoo. I knew that, if I got one, it would have to be a rune. And because runes play so deep a part of my spirituality, I could not trust just anyone with doing the art. It would invariably have an impact on my own spiritual life. So I needed someone I could trust.

Unfortunately, I never really met anyone I got to know well enough who also did tattoos. So I sat on the impulse for over a decade.

Earlier this year, I saw an episode of Flashforward where a woman had a Japanese character tattooed on her wrist. It occurred to me then that I should get a rune tattooed on my wrist.

But I still needed someone to do it, and I needed a design. At first I thought I would have just a simple character, but I realized I should get something a bit more unique. I did look at designs online, and I found one or two I liked, but I wasn't sure I wanted the runes I was finding (including Eihwaz, the rune for defense). I liked them, but I wasn't sure.

Earlier this week, I finally decided I needed to get a rune tattooed. It was time, and I had to do it. But I still needed a design. When I began thinking about it a couple of months ago, a friend had offered her services. This is a good friend from the online adoption community I'm a part of.

I told Devon what I wanted. The rune for the Self, Mannaz, seemed the only real choice for the tattoo. I showed her a picture and told her what it meant. Then I gave her almost no direction in designing a stylized version of the rune.

Here is how Ralph Blum describes Mannaz in his work The Book of Runes, which I have used as a resource for more than twenty years. The following are the opening and closing paragraphs from Mannaz's entry (in the upright position):

The starting point is the self. Its essence is water. Only clarity, willingness to change, is effective now. A correct relationship to your self is primary, for from it flow all possible correct relationships with others and with the Divine. . . .

If you take the Rune of the Self and cut it down the middle, you will see the Rune for Joy with its mirror image. There is a subtle caution here against carelessness. The dancing acrobatic energy of balancing is called for now - the Self is required to balance the self. Nothing in excess was the second phrase written over the gateway to the temple at Delphi. The first counsel was Know thyself.

With almost no guidance, but for a few comments on early drafts, here is the final piece of artwork that Devon came up with for me.

Here is Devon's original artwork.

There is a lot of meaning in this for me. The first thing I noted in her original draft was the wooden look of the various stems of the rune. It seemed natural, made of twigs, and that look really appealed to me. That is preserved in the final artwork.

More, though, on the first draft, she already had the wrapped joints. I couldn't exactly say at the time why they appealed to me, but I can now. It looks to me as though the rune is actually several parts joined together with twine. I do think that does wonderful job representing the different parts of myself, bound together, but not fully united as a single whole. My Self is made of various elements. Notice, too, that the central wrapping binds together Wunjo, Joy, with its mirror opposite, as Blum suggests in his entry. Devon didn't know this when she created the piece, but her bindings were perfect.

She then mentioned to me that she was thinking of adding roots but worried that it could be offensive in some way. It was the whole adoptees not having roots thing that she was thinking of, I believe. But I liked the idea. My Self, cobbled together as it is, still has roots. So I encouraged Devon to add them, to see what they looked like.

She added roots to both the top and the bottom, but we agreed that it was a bit too much. She took them off the top, and I knew she was on to something. A couple of changes to the proportions of the legs and the width of the rune, and you see the final product.

When she sent me the picture above, it was a text message on my phone. And I knew immediately that she had given me the design I had long wanted. It was perfect. She had gotten everything so perfectly... I was in awe. I immediately wanted to show everyone. Heck, I wanted to go out and get the tattoo that day.

But I had to wait. She needed to hook her scanner up so that she could send me a clean copy. That happened Thursday. But I was too busy with other things Thursday to go to the tattoo parlor. So Friday, I went almost as soon as it opened at noon.

I guess Friday the 13th was good day for tattoos. The parlor was packed. I went up to the counter and showed them the artwork Devon had created for me. The guy thought that going smaller would lose too much detail. But a woman behind the counter immediately took an interest and set up and appointment with me for later in the afternoon.

I left for a few hours to pass the time. I was anxious to get the work done, but I managed to wait. Barely.

When I returned to 46 & 2 Tattoo, Stephanie had me fill out some paperwork and then ushered me into her chair. We discussed how it should go on my wrist, and she convinced me that, rather than going up or down the arm, it should be sideways, so that I could look at it upright, and also show it to others.

She shaved my arm and placed the ink trace on my arm. After discussing the process, I sat down and she got to work. It didn't hurt much at all. I don't know if I have a high tolerance or if I have few nerves on the inside of my wrist, but it was an easy twenty-five minutes.

As she worked, she talked to me. She asked me if my mom knew that I was getting this today. She said that she asks everyone, no matter how old they are. I said that she didn't. Then I remembered I had mentioned it to my biological mother, so I said that, actually, she did. And then, in a fit of the weirdness that happens to me as an adoptee, I explained that I have two mothers, and one of them knew.

She then said, much to my surprise, that she was an adoptee, too.

Seriously. I mean, come on. There is a way this whole thing was unreal. She talked to me about my search and reunion. She asked me about my relationships with all my different families. She mentioned that she was from Kansas (one of two states that never sealed records) and had gotten her information five years ago, but had yet to actually search.

I knew, somehow, that this was right. In Devon, I had found the perfect person to design my tattoo. And in Stephanie, I had the perfect person to actually ink it into my skin. Sometimes, the universe will have its way with or without our planning.

I know you're probably wondering by now, so here it is...

Here is what my left wrist looks like.

Now I really want to take excellent care of this. I want it to look good for years to come. I think the lines are even sharper in person than in this picture, but this gives you a pretty good idea what it looks like.

I cannot stop looking at it. It's a beautiful piece. Thank you to Stephanie for doing an amazing job. And thank you especially to Devon for designing exactly what I wanted.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Confirmation and Loyalty

Even while so many things seemed determined to fall apart... Okay, now I'm not owning my own agency... Let's try again...

Even while I seem so determined to torch so much of my life, this seems to be the week for validation.

Yesteday I had a long, and long overdue, talk with my best friend in the whole world. If my (biological) mom understands me so well because we are so alike, this friend understands me because she has been with me through so much. She has known me for over twenty years, and she has seen me at my worst. Repeatedly. And she is still my friend despite all of that.

We talked about a lot of things, but at one point we turned my search and reunion. I mentioned that my reunion had brought up a lot of things for me, including anger at my adoptive parents. I felt sheepish even saying it, but I was trying to explain everything to her. She immediately jumped in and said she was so glad to hear I was finally angry. She confessed that she had been angry at how my parents had failed me ever since she first met me. She seemed to think it was about time.

That took me aback. I think I had long worried that my anger was a product of my search and reunion, that that process had colored my perceptions of my childhood. Hearing from her that the problems I had come to see were really there, were evident twenty years ago, reassured me that it wasn't just that the reunion had changed my view. Rather, it allowed me to see things that had always been there. That was very therapeutic for me.

And yet, I still struggle with the loyalty piece. I still feel as though I owe my parents something. I still feel compelled to visit as often as I can manage and to be the good and happy son and adoptee. I don't want to be that, anymore. I don't think I CAN be that anymore. Somehow, I need to break that cycle. And I am working on it.

It amazes me how healing it can be to feel validated by people that know me.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Kindred Spirits

I have been going through a really rocky time. I don't know what my life will look like when I come out of this. Right now, it's hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel, but I'm trying to find that end, trying to find my way out.

At my wife's encouragement, I called my mom, my first mom. I was scared. So many times, I have tried to talk to people, and I have seen them run away, or dismiss me, or just fail to understand. I have faced ridicule and judgment. And I was afraid, too, that she might be disappointed in me. I'm pretty sure I could handle disappointment from almost anyone else, but not her.

But I didn't want to fall into the same patterns with her that I have with almost everyone else in my life, so I found some courage to talk openly and honestly with her.

And she was kind. And she listened. And she told me stories to make me laugh. And she gave me advice. And she understood.

It is impossible, I think, to explain just how meaningful that is to me. We are so similar, down to the mistakes we make and why we make them. Every sentence out of my mouth, it seemed, she understood because she was that way, too. To know that there is one person on the planet who gets how I think, and thinks it's normal, and who has been through it enough to be able to give me some guidance...

I don't feel okay right now. But I feel better than I have felt in a very long time. To know that she is out there, that she accepts me, that she loves me, despite everything, or maybe even because of it... It is the best thing that I could have at the moment.

I like feeling special and unique. I imagine many people do. But sometimes, I just want to know that, even if I am crazy, I'm not the only one. Tonight I know that.

She said, tonight, that more she knows me, the more she knows me. And I knew what she meant. For those that need a translation... The more she learns about me, the more she sees just how alike we really are, and she can understand me more and more by thinking about herself. And it's true, for me, too. In finding her, I've found myself. I can understand myself a little better because she is here as a model. And she seems to know exactly what I need to hear to feel a little better. I don't know if I've ever had that experience in my life.

Even while my world seems to be falling apart around me, my mom seems to be a solid point for me to hang on to. And that truly is a gift. To have someone who is insane, just like me.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Louisville Protest Video

One more bit from the Louisville protest a couple of weeks ago. A YouTube video from still photos (including some taken by yours truly) has been put together by the organizers. I wanted to share it with everyone who might be reading here.

Please go view, comment, and add the video to your favorites.

That's it for the moment. I'm sure that details on next year's gathering will begin trickling out soon. Until then, you should go the Adoptee Rights Deomnstration website to see how you can help.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010


Spending time with my fellow adoptees the past few days was amazing. It's hard to know, even, how to explain it to someone else. Being around people who get it, really truly get it, is so freeing and validating. It allows me to be myself in a way that I don't often get to be.

Yet, trust issues don't go completely away. It's frustrating, really. I'm around people who have shown nothing but kindness and compassion to me for years, and I still worry that they don't like me.

I mean, I know they like me. But part of me feels foolish around everyone, and it doesn't go completely away. I worry I've said something stupid or offensive. I don't think I did, but that feeling wouldn't go completely away.

It's so hard to believe people might like me. I don't know why. Maybe because I have never felt like I could be myself, and now I worry that being myself would mean being someone others don't like. I suspect that doesn't make much sense. But for whatever reason, I struggle to believe that people like me and want me to be around.

I don't want to feel that way around other adoptees. And I did feel more comfortable around them than around nearly any other people. But moments of self-doubt did creep up now and then. They were moments of frustration in what was otherwise one of the best weekends of my life. I just want to trust people more. If anyone deserves it, it's my fellow adoptees.

Monday, July 26, 2010

The Louisville Protest

Yesterday, adoptees, first mothers, and other supporters marched to support equal rights for adoptees. In case you haven't picked up on it yet, adoptees in forty-four states are not allowed access to their original birth certificates. Every year they gather at the National Conference of State Legislators for the protest. This year that meant going to Louisville.

The night before, we made signs for use in the march. Much fun was had by all.

Sunday morning, we began to march to the convention center.

There was a lot of energy and excitement as we marched.

We got to talk to a few legislators on their way into to register for the conference.

But I would be lying if I said it wasn't hot. It was. Very. Everyone was committed, but we needed breaks from marching.

We were told not to sit on the wall, though, so we took our breaks in the park across the street. The heat index was supposed to be around 110, and it felt like it. By the end of the day, we were all pretty tired. But we were happy for what we had accomplished. Literature handed out, news interviews, people talked to, and awareness raised.

The party afterwards suffered from a lousy restaurant. Extremely poor service and a failure to provide adequate space marred an otherwise wonderful day. But once we quit the restaurant, several of us hit a nearby pub and enjoyed ourselves immensely.

The only downside to the whole event, for me, was how quickly the time passed. I didn't feel like I had enough time to visit with friends. Being surrounded by these people was both empowering and comforting. It was almost like a two-day long support group with a healthy dose of activism thrown in.

I originally did not plan to go next year, as San Antonio in late July is not my cup of tea. But now I don't think I can wait any longer to see this group of people. I wish I was still there. So now I'm going to try to find a way to make it again next year.

And I look forward to the day when we don't need the demonstration anymore, and we can just plan a weekend party. But until then, I cannot imagine a better way to spend two days than protesting with my fellow adoptees.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

The Day Before

We left by eleven to drive to the Adoptee Rights Protest in Louisville. It looked to be nearly a five hour drive, but that still got us there by four. Plenty of time to check in and eat before the sign-making party.

Plenty of time, that is, if nothing went wrong.

Twenty minutes down the road, and the engine maintenance light came on. We pulled off at a nearby gas station, and I checked everything I could, which basically consisted of the oil level and making sure the gas cap was on correctly. But neither seemed to be the problem.

There is something so typical about this, that I wasn't even surprised. Indeed, I think I would have been more surprised if nothing had gone wrong. It seems that lately all of our trips have some kind of snafu.

This was my grandmother's car, so we called my father, hoping he would tell us that it was normal for the car and we could ignore it. But it wasn't to be. Instead, he offered to switch cars with us. He drove down to meet us, letting us take his car, as he drove the other to get it checked out. (Turns out, it was the air filter.)

So we were back on the road, and on target to get to Louisville by five. The rest of the trip went smoothly and we found the hotel without a problem.

We met other adoptees almost immediately. First it was Theresa, then Jeff. There is something so cool about meeting other like-minded people, especially ones you have such great admiration and respect for.

We were starving and thought we had enough time to eat before the sign-making party. We found an interesting looking Irish pub, and it would have been perfect if the service had been timely. As it was, we got to the party about half an hour late.

I think I colored in one sign over the course of the next two hours. It was too hard to do that and meet people face-to-face who I had known forever online. Jeni, Kara, Julie, Dory, Joy, Elizabeth, Linda, Jim, Diane, Cheerio, Amanda, Spencer... I'm sure I'm forgetting people, but it was so much fun.

At the end, there was a brief workshop for how to talk to legislators. Gaye and Jeff did a terrific job. As a student of strategic nonviolence, it was fascinating to hear others employ the principles in a real training session.

After that, there was much drink to be had. Maybe too much. Though, for me, I'm usually so shy around other people, it may have helped loosen me up a bit, so I actually managed to talk to people. (I hope not too much. And I hope I didn't say anything too stupid.) We had a blast. We had been told the hotel bar closed at ten, but I think the bartender realized how much money there was to be made and stayed open until midnight.

I wish even more of my online friends had been able to make it. There is just something so amazing about meeting some of your favorite people on the planet.

And in just over an hour, we'll be gathering to go do what we came here to do.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Green Shirts

In just over four days, my wife and I will be driving to Louisville. We're going to visit my adoptive family in Ohio, but we're taking a couple of days out of our visit to go to the Adoptee Rights Demonstration. I still feel a little a residual guilt over taking time away from visiting my family, but I'm trying to ignore it. I hope they understand, but whether they do or not, I need to do this for me.

In preparation for attending the demonstration, I bought us green shirts to wear at the protest. I think this is my sixth shirt emblazoned with an Adoptee Rights message. I can't have enough.


I am really excited to meet more of my fellow adoptees face-to-face. The visit I had with several of them last winter was terrific. And getting to meet so many more, while demonstrating for adoptee rights... Well, that's just too cool.

If you want your own green shirt, you can buy one at Cafe Press: The Green Shirt (just be sure to select Kelly Green as the color).

Hope to see you in Louisville!

Friday, July 16, 2010

New Open Records Report

The Evan B. Donaldson Institute released its latest study on granting adoptees access to their original birth certificates. The summary is below. You can click on the title to read the whole report.


Authors: Dr. Jeanne A. Howard, Susan Livingston Smith, and Georgia Deoudes.

Published: 2010 July. New York NY: Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute

For the Records II: An Examination of the History and Impact of Adult Adoptee Access to Original Birth Certificates" is based on a years-long examination of relevant judicial and legislative documents; of decades of research and other scholarly writing; and of the concrete experiences of states and countries that have either changed their laws to provide these documents or never sealed them at all.

The Institute's report suggests that, while a growing number of states have restored OBC access to adopted people once they reach the age of majority, efforts to accelerate the trend have been impeded by misunderstandings about the history of this controversial issue, misconceptions about the parties involved (especially birthmothers), and mistaken concerns about the impact of changing the status quo – e.g., legislators often assume that negative consequences will occur but, in fact, they do not.

Among the findings in the 46-page Policy Brief, which updates and expands the Institute's November 2007 report, "For the Records: Restoring a Right for Adult Adoptees," are:

  • Barring adopted adults from access to their OBCs wrongly denies them a right enjoyed by all others in our country, and is not in their best interests for personal and medical reasons.

  • Alternatives such as mutual consent registries are ineffective and do not meet adoptees' needs.

  • The vast majority of birthmothers don't want to be anonymous to the children they relinquished.

The recommendations in the Institute's new Policy Brief include:

  • Every "closed" state should unseal OBCs for all adult adoptees, retroactively and prospectively.

  • States that already provide limited OBC access should revise laws to include all adult adoptees.

  • No professional should promise women anonymity from the children they place for adoption.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Pieces of the Puzzle

My wife asked me, as we drove home Saturday, if it felt good to have all the pieces of the puzzle now. Never one to answer a simple question simply, I had to clarify. I don't think I have all the pieces of the puzzle.

Meeting my father was the last step. I can't imagine what more there is. Sure, there are some extended family members to meet, but that's not what I mean. I have the pieces. I can even see how they fit together, I think.

But, for me, there will always be some serious what-ifs. They can't be answered. I can speculate. I can contemplate. But I'll never have those answers.

And I'm okay with that, I think. That doesn't mean I won't ever wonder, but I'm okay with the realization that I'll never have the complete picture of my life because of adoption. Some of those pieces are lost, gone forever.

I know there will be drama. If my adoptive dad ever finds out about meeting my biological father, he may feel hurt. If my biological father wants to have a continued relationship, that could lead to issues. But overall, I feel rather comfortable with what I know and where I am right now.

I'm sure that means something is going to go wrong now, but I'm a pessimist that way.

The short answer, then, is that I do feel like I have a kind of peace and satisfaction with my reunion as it stands. I may not have all the pieces, but I have so many more than I did when this started. And that is a good thing.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

The Reunion That Almost Wasn't

My biological father and I very nearly did not meet. And I was ready to throw it in. I actually still feel a little conflicted about it all.

I didn't meet him yesterday as I expected too. When I first talked to one of his sons, he explained that my father wanted to meet me alone, before meeting me with the rest of the family. So I thought we would meet and then meet with his sons for dinner.

When I finally got in to meet with him, I heard from my brother that my father was busy during the afternoon, and wanted to meet me today for breakfast. So I just met my brothers and their families yesterday. We had a good time.


My brothers explained that my father would call me this morning for breakfast.

Nine o'clock came and went, and I began to figure that he wasn't going to show up. So I went to breakfast with my mother before coming home. Just as we started to wrap breakfast up, one of my brothers called and told me that my father wanted me to call him.

I have to admit, I didn't want to. I had driven half a day to meet him. And he bailed. He refused to talk to me directly, preferring instead to go through my brothers. And now he wanted me to call him to meet. I know he was feeling guilty, ashamed. I get it. But how many hoops would I have to hop through to deal with this?

I very nearly just left. Part of me still thinks maybe I should have. But I did the least I could do. I asked my wife to call him, tell him where we were, and tell him we were leaving in twenty-five minutes. If he wanted to meet, he had that long to get there. He said he would be there in ten to fifteen minutes.

So we waited. And waited. My deadline came and went. I decided, for some reason, to give him five more minutes. He should have been there fifteen minutes earlier, and he wasn't. The last five minutes passed, and we got up to leave. We were out the door when we ran into him and the older of his sons.

We turned around and went back into the restaurant. We talked for about forty-five minutes. It was a good conversation, if not terribly deep. I'm not entirely sorry I stayed. And maybe I reassured him that I wasn't mad about something that had happened forty years ago. I don't know when I'll see him again, though he seemed open to continuing to stay in touch.

After everything, I very nearly didn't ask for a picture. But at the last possible minute, I did.


All of this happened less than twelve hours ago, and I had a long drive after that. I'm still decompressing. But I did, finally, meet my biological father.

Thursday, July 8, 2010


In less than 24 hours, I should be meeting my biological father and my two brothers on his side.

I'd be lying if I said I wasn't nervous. And that's putting it mildly.

It feels a little like the spinning in my stomach before my first reunion three years ago. I don't know if they will like me. I don't know if I will like them.

But I will know the answers this time tomorrow. Stay tuned.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Under Pressure

I've been with my biological family for the last few days. I'll be here the rest of the week. So far it has been a great deal of fun. Hanging out with my mom and my brothers seems really normal. It has been over two years since my first visit and it is as though no time has passed.

Then I start thinking. I want them all to know how much I enjoy being around them, how much I like them. How important to me it is that they have accepted me as part of the family. But I worry that I seem aloof, distant. I don't know why I'm worrying about that, but I have started doing it. I still feel awkward talking to them, sometimes. Self-conscious. And I don't know why.

I put this pressure on myself to be a perfect son and brother. Funny, friendly, and considerate. I don't know why I'm doing this. They don't appear to expect such perfection. My mind likes playing head games with me, I suppose. I am so concerned about wanting to be perfect, I fear I'm coming across as distant.

Despite that, it has been a good visit so far. I just need to learn how to relax. Not a strong suit for me.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

A Week

In just a few days, I will travel to visit with my biological family again. This will be the first time I've seen my mom in over a year, and the first time I've seen my brothers in over two. I'm looking forward to it.

But it is also causing some agitation. I want this to be a normal trip to visit with family. But it doesn't feel normal. Even though I desperately want it to. I'm excited, but I'm also a little apprehensive.

Of course, it doesn't help that I may finally get to meet my biological father and his sons toward the end of the week (about a week from tomorrow, to be more specific). There was supposed to be a reunion. And just after I had resolved to go and told my brothers I would be there, I was told the reunion was off. I'm not sure why, exactly. But it's off.

Still, my brothers want to meet me, and I will be in the area. And they may convince my father to meet me. And if he doesn't, I don't know what to do. Do I try to force the issue? Or do I just let it go?

We're not there yet. And I am happy I may finally get to meet someone from his side of the family. And the emails I've had from my brothers have reassured me some that they do, in fact, want to meet me.

This whole trip just seems so... bewildering. I'm not sure what to think about it, and I'm trying not to have any expectations. I just want to go and enjoy the visit. And I think I will. But that hasn't made the agitation go away.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Adoptee Identity

As though it wasn't enough to be confused about my identity because of my adoption, increasingly I seemed to be confused about my identity as an adoptee. How do I fit into those who identify as adult adoptees? Am I angry? Am I calm? Am I overly-simplistic? Am I too nuanced? Am I holier-than-thou about my exceedingly clever views about adoption? Have I not thought through the issues well enough?

I'm not making sense. I know this. That's okay. This is my blog. I don't have to make sense if I don't want to.

I read so much about adoption. And I see so many adoptees speak with authority about their ways of viewing adoption. In books. In articles. On the web. Some of them I admire. Some of them seem condescending. Some of them seem confident, and some just as lost as I feel.

How I feel about adoption, about all my families, is... complicated. And I'd be the first to admit that I "deal" with a lot of that complication by minimizing its impact on my life. I live nearly a thousand miles from any relative, adopted or blood. I keep distance between myself and my families, as a result I do not have to confront and settle conflicting emotions about them.

I would never claim nurture doesn't matter. Obviously how I grew up affected me in profound ways. But I have worked so hard to forget it, going back twenty years, long before I was really willing to confront adoption issues. And it seems obvious to me that nature matters.

Growing up without other adoptees around meant that I didn't know what was "normal" for an adoptee (if there is such a thing). I had no one to talk about it with. Now, reading about how others think through the various issues, I still sometimes feel like I'm a stranger in a strange land. And the problem is, I don't know anywhere that doesn't feel like that.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

The Worst That Could Happen

I often find myself doing things I don't always want to do because I don't want to disappoint others. I am, in short, a people-pleaser.

And it has to stop. At least a little bit.

I beat myself up over it. I inhibit myself, which causes me to feel more isolated and alienated, which causes me to withdraw further into myself, which causes... Well, you see where this is going, I think.

The latest case in point concerns the Adoptee Rights Demonstration in Louisville at the end of July. For the last six months or so, I've been planning on going. Indeed, I thought I could arrange my summer visit with my (adoptive) family around the trip. They only live a few hours away.

As we began planning for our summer travel, however, I began to feel more and more guilty about taking a couple of days to drive to Louisville. I began to worry my parents would be upset by my shortened visit. And I thought I was being selfish in wanting to go.

Just this past weekend, I resolved to go. Of course events could conspire against me, but assuming they don't... I have been wanting to go to this gathering for almost three years. And this is my first real chance at being there.

What is the worst thing that could happen if I go? My parents are upset with me? Are they going to abandon me? Probably not. They haven't done so yet, so they aren't likely to do it now. Either they won't be upset at all, and all the guilt is just from my own internal voice. Or they will be upset. If they get so upset that they write me off (very unlikely), then I need to wonder if I really need them. If they are mildly upset, well... they are still being unreasonable.

I need to do this. For me. I need to gather with other adoptees in the fight for our rights. And I need to meet some of my good online friends. It's good for my mental health. And if I don't, I will just wind up resenting my family, which seems especially unfair since they haven't expressed, as of this writing, any distress about me taking the time to go.

All I can do is go, and hope that it doesn't upset them. And if it does, hope that they can get over it.

I know this may seem like a minor thing. For me, however, if I stick to it, it will be something of a breakthrough. I'm not used to thinking of myself.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

They Won't Like Me

Being friends with my biological brothers (my father's sons) on Facebook has at least one serious drawback: I'm almost certain they won't like me.

It's not that I lean politically to the left. I'm pretty sure they do, too. Maybe I lean more to the left, but I don't think it's a major obstacle. After all, they seem to be more left than much of my adoptive family, but I'm still able to maintain a relationship with them. Of course, we have decades of history to bind us together. I don't have that with my brothers. And it makes me feel on much more shaky ground.

But the real hang up, for me, is that I get the impression they are much more supportive of the military than I am. At least, I think this is true of the elder brother. And I worry that if he finds out my real views on the world, he won't want anything to do with me.

Hell, much of the time, I don't like myself. How can I expect people who seem to think some of my views are downright un-American to like me?

I think I've almost resolved to go to the reunion in July, but I don't know why. I'm not sure they really want me there.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Pious Words

This is cross-posted from Over A Candle. It Is a general post from me, applicable for many contexts. It seems especially relevant to adoption, though, as I have often been told similarly uncompassionate things by people when talking about adoption issues. So I thought I should share it here, as well. I hope you all don't mind.

Last Friday I attended a service at the local synagogue. It’s a reformed Jewish community, and I followed the prayer book carefully throughout the service. At the bottom of one page, I noticed this quote from Martin Buber:

When people come to you for help, do not turn them off with pious words, saying: “Have faith and take your troubles to God!” Act instead as if there were no God, as though there were only one person in all the world who could help - only yourself.

This is one of the most profound statements of compassion I think I have ever read.

Too often I have heard someone dismissively suggest something like “God never gives us more than we can handle.” Perhaps this gives comfort to someone, but I know too many people who have suffered mightily under the weight of their lives to believe it. It sounds rather unsympathetic to my ears.

Buber believes in God, but suggests that piety is not what is called for when someone is struggling. Rather, compassion is called for. It is not our job to tell someone to feel differently because God will handle it. We should instead listen to the person, not dismiss their pain. After all, they have come to us for comfort. It would seem heartless to pass the responsibility on to God.

Monday, April 26, 2010


I'm still struggling with the invitation to go the my father's family reunion. The end of the semester has been keeping me well occupied, so I haven't actually dealt with anything. I have arranged my summer travel so that I can go if I want to.

And I do want to. I know that much about myself. I want to go. Curiosity, in the end, outweighs all the other hard feelings.

But shouldn't we talk before meeting at a large gathering? Does he really want to talk to me? I know he said (according to his son) that he doesn't mind me being there, but does he want me there?

In the end, I keep wondering, why do I have to do all the work? Why does this whole thing seem to rest on my shoulders? I get to drive eight hours, to go meet a lot of people I've never met before, to meet a man who doesn't mind if I show up.

I'm just setting myself up for disappointment and sorrow. That's how it feels. I guess I just need to get over it. Either quash my curiosity and forget the whole thing. Or I can go, lower my expectations to the point where I cannot be disappointed, and see what happens.

Two crappy options.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Adoptee Voices

Today I was listening to Minnesota Public Radio, as normal, when a show came on about Russian adoptions. I knew immediately I was going to be frustrated. But I listened to part of the show anyway.

The two guests were a doctor who founded the International Adoption Clinic at the University of Minnesota and an adoptive parent who adopted three children from Russia.

Anyone notice the problem?

It amazes me that people do segments and even hour long shows on adoption and do not include adoptees.

We heard a lot about the parents' struggles and some of the ways that early childhood trauma can affect children, but no adoptee appeared to give a first-hand account of his or her experiences.

Thirty-five minutes into the show, Kerri Miller, the host, finally read a comment from an online listener that an adoptee should really be included. I had sent in a similar remark as well. Thirty-five minutes in, and it finally dawns on her that maybe adoptees should be part of the conversation. And even then it takes a listener to point it out to her.

It's not as though adoptees aren't speaking out. There are so many blogs run by adoptees. Activists working on adoptee rights. And still, otherwise competent journalists do not think to consult us about adoption.

Sometimes it feels like screaming silence to an empty room.

Monday, April 5, 2010

An Invitation

About a week ago I got an invitation from my half-brother (my father's son). Apparently they are having a family reunion this summer, and he asked me to come. He assured me that our father didn't mind if I came.

Never mind that my father has yet to call me, write me, or otherwise acknowledge me.

I would like to meet my brothers at some point. But I'm not sure why I should go all that way to meet him if he won't even contact me. I have spent years trying to get some kind of reaction from him. Still nothing. But I can act the desperate son, looking for some kind of connection no matter what. Ugh.

And I don't know that a large gathering (though I don't know how large) is the best time to meet this part of my family face-to-face. That could get overwhelming.

I do want to meet both my brothers, and this might be an ideal opportunity for that. But still... There are so many conflicting thoughts and feelings running around inside me...

Sometimes I wish I had no family at all...

Monday, March 8, 2010

Subtle Digs

So I called my adoptive mom yesterday. I explained how busy I had been and had lost track of time. I apologized for missing her birthday, and she seemed okay with it. Who knows if she really accepted my apology. I don't. But she seemed to.

The conversation, however, took an odd turn at one point. She began to express some hurt over being slighted by one of her other children. Apparently, they delayed going out for her birthday by a day because they attended another birthday party (or two). So because they had been with other people, they couldn't be with her.

She was clearly upset by it. And she also clearly was trying not to dwell too much on it. She couldn't help feel hurt, but she was trying not to make a big deal about it.

I expressed my understanding that you want to be with family to celebrate special occasions.

I have to say, if she picked up on my dig, she didn't let on. I appreciated the karmic symmetry of her being abandoned on her birthday after abandoning her children for two holiday seasons in a row. Whether she understood the karmic implications, however, is beyond me.

I almost said something else, something to make it more obvious, but I realized I would be drifting into the realm of cruelty. As it was, I felt a little guilty for what I had already said. But I also felt a little better for having said something.

I don't want her to be hurt. And I'm sorry her children aren't always as thoughtful as she would like them to be. But she did teach them to be like that. And I would like her to understand how we have been made to feel by her absence.

Still, I'm not interested in punishing her. Even while I appreciate the symmetry, I have compassion for her, and I'd like to see her happy.


There's a lot of ambivalence wrapped up in all of this for me.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Bad Son

Well, my crazy life has finally caught up with me. I've barely been keeping my head above water, staying ahead of all the deadlines I face, and now I've finally managed to miss something important. Today was my (adoptive) mother's birthday. And I forgot to call her.

Is it that big of a deal? Maybe not. I don't know. I meant to call her. But today was another crazy day in the middle of a crazy year. And I lost track of this one familial obligation until it was too late. By the time I remembered, it was too late, and I was away from home with a phone whose battery had completely drained.

I think a few years ago, it would have just been a bad thing. No harm done. I quick (sincere) apology, and all would be forgotten. At least, I think so.

After the strain in our relationship over the past couple of years, I'm not so sure. And maybe I shouldn't have been five years ago. After all, in the past, she has held on to various slights and offenses. (It seems out of her character, I admit, but she's done it. She doesn't get mad; she gets hurt. And she seems to hang on to it.)

The main worry is that she might think I'm punishing her for all the things that have bothered me the past few years. But it was just an honest oversight. And I do feel badly about it.

There's nothing I can do about it now. And that, right there, is going to bother me until I can call her tomorrow and try to apologize and wish her a happy birthday a day late.

Birthdays... They always seem to get me, one way or another.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

True Family

I've written a couple of posts on Over A Candle about quotes from Richard Bach that have significance for me. There is a quote from Bach that seems adoption related, and that I have a changing relationship with.

The bond
that links your true family
is not one of blood, but
of respect and joy in
each other's life.
Rarely do members
of one family grow up
under the same

For the longest time, this made me think of my friends in college. They were my real family. We hadn't grown up together, but we took great joy in each other and respected each other.

I still think of my college friends, my third family, when I think of this quote.

But I also realize that, for an adoptee, this is such a layered quote. The quote works so well for people who were raised by, but didn't fit into, their biological family. For adoptees, we didn't grow up under the same roof as those people we're blood related to.

For me, I didn't fit with people I was raised with, but there was little reason to think I would: they weren't blood related. So how surprising is it that that bond was missing? And if the bond was missing between my blood relatives and me, well how surprising could that be since we didn't grow up together?

I had to go through two families before I found my true one.

Of course, I've gotten a little older. And I do find some joy with my adoptive family. And my blood family is still new, and we have connected pretty well, all things considered.

So maybe I come out ahead. And I hope so.

But with everything, I still relate better to people I am not related to, by law or by blood. Whether it be my third family, from college, or my fourth family, my wife, or my fifth family, my fellow adoptees. I often feel more myself around non-family than I do around people who are nominally family.

I think, for a long time, that seemed like a sad state of affairs. Now it just seems to be a normal part of my life, a simple observation that doesn't have to be awful. It is what it is. And I have a big family, some of whom I'm related to without relating to them all that well, and some of whom I relate to well, even though I'm not related to them.

If any of that makes any sense.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Worse than "Grateful"

I hate the word "grateful." In this, I know I'm not alone. Adoptees are often told they should be grateful for being adopted. To be sure, I don't often hear the word from adoptive parents. My parents, for instance, never said anything to suggest I should be grateful to them for adopting me. Most commonly it seems to come from either other adoptees who feel an intense loyalty to their own (adoptive) parents or from people who have no immediate connection to adoption at all.

Yet, there is something worse than being told to be grateful. Sometimes adoptees feel as though they are expected to bear the weight of hopes and dreams of their adoptive parents. Frankly, every child can experience this. It's not a uniquely adoptee experience, though I do think it's even more onerous when it falls on adoptees, who already have other issues to struggle with.

There is a song that gets at this, one that has always made me feel sad...

"What a Good Boy" by Barenaked Ladies

When I was born, they looked at me and said,
"What a good boy, what a smart boy, what a strong boy."
And when you were born, they looked at you and said,
"What a good girl, what a what a smart girl, what a pretty girl."

It's hard to hear that song and not think about the expectations that children are supposed to live up to.

For some, it can be more than just doing well and being successful. It can be an expectation to save the parents from some wound or other. People sometimes have children in the hopes that they will save their marriage, or provide what's missing. That puts a kind of pressure on a child that no one should have to bear.

And when people adopt with those ideas, it seems even worse. An adoptee has already lost so much, and now to be asked to fill some hole... It just breaks my heart.

So when I heard the story of a woman adopting twins from Haiti after the death of her husband, I felt a great deal of empathy for the children. Her husband died in the collapse of the 35w bridge in Minneapolis several years ago, itself a tragedy. And now she has adopted twins from Haiti.

The comment that really struck me?

"I don't think I rescued them," Sathers, 33, said of the twins. "I feel like if anything, they've rescued me."

Think about the pressure this puts on those children. How much will they have to stuff because they do not want to disappoint their mother, who already lost so much herself, and has invested so much in them? How could they ever find the courage to express how they might feel, knowing that they are expected to fill such a gaping hole in this woman's life?

You can read the whole story, if you want: Minn. bridge collapse widow adopts Haitian twins | Minnesota Public Radio NewsQ

I feel for this woman. But I feel even more for these children from Haiti.

Monday, February 1, 2010


Honestly, I don't think I hate my birthday. I just think I'm incredibly ambivalent about it. It's hard to explain, I guess. Who doesn't like cake, and ice cream, and presents, and being the center of attention?

Well, this adoptee, for one.

I don't know when I realized it, but at some point, probably in my teen years, I realized that everyone who wanted to celebrate my birthday had missed it. They weren't there for my actual birth. And I don't know why that bothered me, but it did. And I didn't want people making a big deal about the day because it just reminded me that I didn't know ANYONE who had been there for my birth. Except for myself, of course.

I went through different phases about this, but sometime in my mid-20s, I think I began to mellow a bit. I still didn't much care for the day, but I wouldn't hide from people who wanted to celebrate it with me. (I did do that for awhile earlier in my life.)

And when I met the woman who I would marry, she seemed to take so much joy in celebrating the day, that I couldn't resist going along with her, even while the ambivalence remained.

Now I'm in reunion. And last year, I actually got to spend my birthday with my first mom. And I was thrilled. This year, she couldn't make it. I completely understand. I didn't expect her to make it. But the ambivalence came back, a little stronger than last year. I still enjoyed dinner with my wife. And I appreciated all the well-wishes from family and friends. And I do like presents, even if I suck at accepting them.

And I know that the day won't kill me. That it's not even a horrible thing. But there is still that old habit of feeling melancholy about the day. I still feel as though, for too many years, I missed out on something. I try not to dwell on these things too much, but today, of all days, it gets harder to ignore it.

Still, as much as I still have my issues with my birthday, I'm glad I get to talk to my mom when it comes around, even if only on the phone. I don't think that will ever get old.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Discordant Notes

Reading the newspaper today was a nasty experience.

First was the story of the Baptists from America getting arrested for trying to spirit Haitian children out of the devastated country. Their story is that they were trying to take the children to the Dominican Republic to set up an orphanage. From there, of course, the children would be available for adoption.

It is a disgusting display of cultural imperialism. I must say I experienced a good bit of Schadenfreude at the thought of their arrest. I suspect, somehow, they will get out of it, but I thought I would enjoy it for the moment.

Then I turned to the Life section, and I find this story...

Americans Rush to Adopt Orphaned Haitian Children:

Gage, 38, of Stanberry, Mo., said her oldest daughter texted her the phone number of the National Council for Adoption while on the school bus. The family knows that adoption can take a long time, but plans to stick it out.

'Of course the sooner, the better, but I know kind of the process,' she said.

Gage and her husband Brad had discussed adopting before, but she was moved by the devastation in Haiti. 'Really, I wanted to get on the next flight out and help these people,' she said.

And I wanted to rip my hair out. I mean, seriously? She wants to help these people? By adopting? How does that help? Donate money. That'll help. Taking children, out of the country, away from their culture, how does that help Haiti?

And the newspaper seems to see no conflict between these two stories.

And it only gets worse. As I was locating the original stories on the web, I found an update on the Americans who were arrested. Here's an excerpt from the beginning:

Baptists say they were trying to do good in Haiti:

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti - Ten U.S. Baptists arrested trying to take 33 children out of earthquake-shattered Haiti say they were just trying to do the right thing, applying Christian principles to save Haitian children.

Prime Minister Max Bellerive told The Associated Press Sunday he was outraged by the group's 'illegal trafficking of children' in a country long afflicted by the scourge and by foreign meddling.

But the hard reality on the ground in this desperately poor country - especially after the catastrophic Jan. 12 quake - is that some parents openly attest to their willingness to part with their children if it will mean a better life.

It was a sentiment expressed by all but one of some 20 Haitian parents interviewed at a tent camp Sunday that teemed with children whose toys were hewn from garbage.

'Some parents I know have already given their children to foreigners,' said Adonis Helman, 44. 'I've been thinking how I will choose which one I may give - probably my youngest.'

Rather than adopting actual orphans, rather than donating financially, we have Haitian parents giving their children away to "foreigners" in order to give them a better life. Is this what we want? Is this help? Can't we find a better way?

My heart is breaking for this whole situation.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Simple Truths

Sometimes I need to remind myself of some things...

* I am an adoptee. It is not the whole of my identity, but my identity is not complete without mentioning this. Being an adoptee shapes so much of who I am.

* I do not dislike adoptive parents. I just don't want there to be any more of them.

* "Everyone goes through difficulties" is both true and a poor excuse for not having empathy for people going through a rough time.

* There is no way to make up for missing 30+ years together, but that doesn't mean I can't try.

* Not everyone can understand everything, but having one person who can understand even one thing is sometimes enough.

* Everything happens for a reason, but it doesn't always happen for a GOOD reason.

Friday, January 22, 2010


I'm still sort of in the closet. On Facebook, at least. Some of my relatives (both adoptive and first) are connected to me on Facebook, so I keep my anti-adoption stuff to a dull roar. (The sort of roar you might expect to hear from a very, very quiet church mouse.) I don't want to alienate my family. Any of them. And I don't know how they'd react to it.

So when I saw someone on my friend's list become a fan of "Adoption not Abortion" (I kid you not), I unfriended her. I wanted to just start railing. I hate, HATE the thoughtless promotion of adoption as an alternative to abortion.

But I couldn't bring myself to go on a tear. So I simply unfriended her and walked away from the whole thing. Probably not the most mature thing to do. Probably not helpful, either, as I didn't really spread any information, nor is she even likely to notice that I'm gone from her friends list. But for my own sanity, I had to get rid of that post, and the person who put it up there.

I wish I knew how to be more open about my feelings about adoption. I wish I knew how to civilly express my distaste for the practice in order to better educate people. But I don't. I hate it. And yes, it sometimes makes me feel like a phony. But I don't want to risk my familial relationships. I hope that doesn't make me too bad a person.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Compounding the tragedy in Haiti

This story is indicative of the several stories I've been exposed to today...

Klobuchar seeks help for Americans poised to adopt children from Haiti:

Alarmed about the fate of hundreds of Haitian children being adopted by Americans, Sen. Amy Klobuchar is pressing federal agencies to speed up the process.

Klobuchar has written to the departments of State and Homeland Security asking that officials "expedite the adoption process so that loving American families can finally welcome their children home."

A longtime advocate of streamlining international adoption, Klobuchar, D-Minn., is asking that the departments grant "humanitarian parole" for as many as 900 Haitian children matched with American parents whose paperwork has not been completed.

"Americans poised" seems so apt a description. I have images of predators waiting to pounce. Maybe I shouldn't have such a mental picture, but I didn't write the headline.

Senator Klobuchar is a good senator. I have supported her and want to continue to do so. But it seems another example of how an otherwise perfectly reasonable person gets completely turned around when it comes to adoption. Rather than focusing on the needs of the children, the emphasis is on the adoptive family's wants.

We ought to be facilitating getting aid where it is needed most rather than how to get kids out of Haiti, away from what relatives they may still have and the culture that is their heritage.

By all means, let us by pass various waiting periods, subverting the few checks their might be on making sure the adoptions are ethical, and streamline removing children from their native land.

Some days, it seems that there is no public figure we can trust to do right by adoptees.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Honest Discussion

I got an email from my (first) mom. In it, she expresses her sadness and guilt at having given me up. And because of a television show, she was reminded that the experience may not have been the greatest for me, either. And she was sad for me, too.

It caught me off guard. My (adoptive) family is not terribly open about talking about feelings. They aren't completely repressed, but we often don't talk about such things. So I'm not used to family, especially parents, opening up about something so raw.

I felt badly for her. I don't want any of my parents to feel guilty. I don't want any of them to feel badly. Indeed, that's probably why I haven't really talked to any of them about how I feel regarding adoption. While I don't like adoption, and I don't like that I was adopted, I am not angry at any of my parents. I don't think any of them have anything to feel sorry for. They all did the best they knew how to do. And they have all showed me nothing but love.

That's basically what I told her in my response.

Adoption sucks. But that's different than saying any of my parents suck. They don't. At least not in a way that makes me want them to feel badly about my adoption.

Still, I have to admit, I was glad to get the message. It helps me that I'm not the only one who feels so ambivalent about my adoption. I don't like that my mom is feeling down about things, but it would be worse if she were happy about my adoption.

This whole thing (which I know has come up before) just reminded me that I come from someone who communicates a bit more like how I wish I did. I wonder what it would have been liked to be raised in a family where emotions were more a topic of discussion.

Just another thing I'll never know the answer to.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

The Very Definition of Ambivalence

Sometimes I wonder how I really feel about adoption.

On the one hand, I cannot stand the very cavalier attitude that seems so prevalent in our society. People seem to think that adoption is such a good and noble thing. My experience with it, and that of many others, is that adoption is not such a good and wonderful thing.

This prevalent attitude drives me to the extreme of hating adoption. And often, I do hate adoption. With everything that I am. With everything that I've been through. Even though I don't hate my adoptive family. I just cannot stand the thought of more people suffering through the life that is adoption.

And yet... I wonder sometimes, if I really hate adoption. I certainly hate the way it is treated in the media. I hate the way it is often glamorized. I hate how adoptees' feelings are often ignored and minimized. I hate that our identities are stripped from us and replaced with falsehoods.

Is that enough to hate adoption? I don't know. I don't hate people who adopt. I don't hate people who relinquish for adoption. I sometimes have issues with their attitudes, but that isn't hate.

I don't know. I'm not interested in absolutes merely for their own sake. But I see so little straightforwardly good about adoption, and so much unacknowledged complication, that that I don't know what, if anything, could be salvaged about it. I just want to wash my hands of all of it.

But there's always the skeptical part of me that wonders if I haven't missed anything.

Monday, January 4, 2010


One of the stranger visits home is finally over. I survived.

After the bastard meet-up a week ago, it was all family, all the time. It was nice to see them all. But I won't deny that there were strange moments.

Truthfully, it was a fine visit. I have noticed, however, that the longer I'm there, the more I feel different. It's like my brain changes when I'm home. I begin thinking differently. I fall into old patterns. I feel more distant from the world. I begin shutting myself off from all my emotions.

That last one is just a return to form, but it's not ideal now that Ronni is with me. Shutting down emotionally is not conducive to maintaining a healthy relationship. But this is the habit I'm used to being in with my family. I just get to feeling like I'm walking through a fog. It's hard to think or to stay motivated.

I don't exactly know why. I mean, there are all the obvious explanations for why I was like that when I was growing up. But reverting feels so unsettling when I realize it's going on. It's not their fault, really. They never required this of me. It's just how I reacted to all the things around me.

Still, I love them. And I miss them. My sister and her kids, especially. But my youngest brother also seemed to warm up to me a bit, and that was a nice change of pace.

I'm glad I saw them all. And it was relatively drama-free, for which I'm eternally grateful. But I'm also very glad to be back home. And I feel a little guilty about that, too.

I want to spend one Christmas with my first family at some point, but I don't know how to juggle all of those people. And I know I can't just not see my adoptive family. It's a problem to which I don't see a solution yet.

For now, I'm just glad to have gotten through another visit to my family, and that it went passably well.