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.