Seems most other adoptee blogs have one post or another about adoption language. So I thought I’d throw in my two cents.
The really honest (and hurt) side of me just wants to say a big FU to anyone who tells me what terms I should be using – that goes to adoption “professionals”, APs and first parents – all of you. I didn’t ask for any of this so who are you to tell me how I should refer to certain members of this arena? Especially when most of what adoptees say are ignored and oftentimes we are still treated and viewed as children.
And then the empathetic side of me says “okay, what term doesn’t hurt you?” and I’ll refer to you as that because I don’t like hurting so I certainly wouldn’t ever want to purposely hurt someone else. I really do understand why certain terms bother people – I can see the meaning behind the language. In real life I just use the term mother – for either one. When writing, as we all know, to make the reader aware of which mother we are referring to, we need to use some sort of descriptor. Obviously “adoptive” is okay and correct for my amom. So that leaves the other mother…….
I’ve used many terms over my life and moreso the past few years. Lately I tend to use “first” more often than any other one as it is deemed acceptable and in essence, it is true. But I’d like to discuss the word “biological.” I’ve heard a lot of people say that biological reduces her to only that. This bothers me. Why? Because to me, and this is MY opinion only (I hate having to feel I need to preface stuff with that but), biology is not a reduction in any sense. Biology to me would be at the top of the life pyramid. Biology to me means creation. She created me biologically – there was no other way. I am flesh of her flesh – her blood pumps through my heart – her DNA is inside of me – I am her feet and her hands and her walk and her hips and so much more. I have personality traits that are biological. I am of German and French ancestry due to biology. My eye color, my hair color, my freckles are all from biology – there is no nurturing involved in what I look like.
And then I add my son to the mix. My son, who was created by me and his father, in only one way – biologically. I love that he is genetically linked to me. I love that he has my red hair and fair skin and even my three dimples – two on one side and one on the other. I gave that to him. I love that I look at him and see his mommy in miniature. He really lucked out too – he got the best parts of both of us and is absolutely beautiful. I see no reduction there and I am proud beyond belief that he is my biological son and I am his biological mother – and of course, just mom in real life.
May 23, 2007 will be the birthdate of my second son if all goes as planned. Meaning if I don’t go into labor prior to that. Please please please don’t go into labor. It sucks that I have to pick my sons birthday and have a c-section but due to a prior extensive surgery I am at high risk for uterine rupture so this baby, just like my 1st baby, will be born through a hole in my stomach three weeks early. The doctor actually wanted to go four weeks early this time and I said NO. Three weeks was hard enough on my last little guy – his sucking reflex wasn’t there yet and breastfeeding was a nightmare. But with perseverance and two months working at it we finally got it down. I hope it goes better this time around. For some reason I actually feel positive about it which is an unusual feeling for me to have.
However, I just don’t feel “ready” yet. I’m nervous and a little scared. Having a toddler who keeps me very busy and exhausted makes me wonder how on earth we will adjust. How will my son adjust? I worry about him feeling like he’s not getting his quality mommy time. I worry about the sleepless nights. I don’t do well on no sleep. Last time around I had a few meltdowns where I turned into some crazy person that I didn’t recognize.
Ironic that it took us 8 years to conceive E and this new little guy came along as a complete surprise. We were actually in complete disbelief, scratching our heads trying to figure out how it happened – I said my toddler keeps me busy and exhausted. Eight long years of tears and frustration, eight long years of this adoptee yearning for some biological connection. E happened after we put trying (and the thought of adoption) on hold to search for my first family. E happened right after I met my first mother – no trying, no timing and a picture perfect pregnancy. To me it’s just so obvious that something was healed immediately, something that allowed my genes a future now that I found my genes of the past. And now, this second time around, with it happening so effortlessly, especially at my *cough cough* advanced age and prior history of infertility just assures me yet again that finding my roots allowed me to finally breathe.
I wonder, if I were not to visit any adoption forums, keep my TV turned off, not open the newspaper and eliminate myself entirely from the internet how many days could pass with there not being any reference made to adoption in my presence? Lately it seems like not many and it’s wearing me down. I come online when I’m ready to read and write about adoption – it is my choice at that moment. But I don’t like being ambushed with the topic when it’s not my choice. It ruins my day.
Now in defense of the people who refer to it in my presence, most don’t know I’m adopted and I usually don’t bring it up during said conversation.
Let’s see, this past week alone – Sunday before last at a 6-yr-olds birthday party. Sitting at the dinner table with hubby, hubby’s uncle and two people I just met. They were trying to make pleasant conversation by asking where we moved from. When I told them, I got the “my son lives there – oh, him and his wife just adopted a Russian girl” – then the ohhhh’s and ahhhh’s went around. “Yes, they are adopting another one.”
Friday – our sitter shows up – we go out every other Friday evening. She preceeds to tell us how she spent the past week caring for a 10-month old who was just adopted from Guatemala. The mom just got back with her and works so she is interviewing nannies and the kids is being passed around to different nannies all week. Oh, and she’s adopting another one next month who is two months older.
Saturday – at an indoor toddler playground with hubby and son. Run into cousin’s husband and child who explains cousin isn’t there because she had to drive in the snowstorm late last night to pick up her friends so-and-so who just returned from Guatemala with two children under the age of one.
I just don’t know how to react to these little adoption stories. I swear it’s almost as if people tell you these things and then take a long pause because they are so used to the “ohhhhhh, isn’t that special” speech that immediately follows. The only thing I manage to spill from my lips is a “hmm” – not even a long “hmmmmm” – just a “hmm” with a half smile. I can’t say what I really want to say. How on earth would they understand that the mere mention of a child being “saved” from a 3rd world country makes me sad?
So it turns out that there is a triad support group right down the street from where I live – literally – 7 blocks away. I found out about it because someone on a forum I belong to attends meetings there – an AP. I went last night and it was really nice – approx. 12 people, 3 first moms, maybe 8 adoptees and the one AP. I know it must be hard for her to hear the stuff that is talked about but she eagerly listened, really gets it and I’m glad she’s doing it for her kids. It really is refreshing and somewhat healing to know some APs who are open to what we experience and open their hearts in order to help their kids. I know some adoptees who just hate all APs and I told my hubby yesterday that it’s good for me to have some friends who are APs because otherwise it would be all to easy for me to lump them together and hate them all. It seems for every one I meet online that understands, there are 10 that don’t – I don’t care what they think of me – but I do feel concern and sadness for what their children could potentially have to deal with – I know it all to well.
All of the adoptees are in reunion except one – she used an intermediary to contact both parents and both turned her down. How incredibly sad. I tried to prepare myself for that as an inevitable outcome but how can you? I think logically we all know it can happen but you are really really hoping for that warm fuzzy reunion – and then to have BOTH doors slammed in your face? Where does one go after that? Do you continue regardless? It took my first mother six months to want to meet me. I knew her address and remember fantasizing about staking out in front of her house just to catch a glimpse of her – not to barge into her life – but just to see her in person. I’m glad it never came to that and that she eventually found the strength to meet me.
The stories at the group were all fascinating – everyone was wonderful and welcoming. It’s so invigorating to be in a room full of people that you know understand you. I told my story – which really – when I step back and hear it like it’s not my own – is also pretty damn fascinating. I surprised myself by getting teary when asked if my APs were supportive of me. I really thought I could talk about what happened matter-of-factly. But no – I had to hold back the tears. That caught me a little off guard and makes me aware that I’m more hurt than I allowed myself to believe.
We live these bizarre lives, uprooted completely and replanted elsewhere – sometimes where we DON’T belong, filled with identity issues, loss, fear, the unknown, loyalty issues, trust issues, relationship problems, fear of rejection and abandonment, playing the “good child” at our own expense because we feel we have to in order to emotionally survive – we live it – and we make it through – we survive it – somehow. I’ve realized lately that I’m a hell of a lot stronger than I ever thought I was. This strength will get me through, yet again, one more issue.
About a year ago I sent a post in response to someone who had lived with an abusive parent and that parent had recently died. I can’t remember if I sent it to her privately or to the whole list I belonged to. More than likely, privately. My question was, to me, so utterly taboo that I felt like the lowest creature on the planet for even asking it. Basically it was:
Upon the death of your mother did you feel a great loss or did you finally feel free?
I’ve known all my life to never butt heads with my mother, never tell her she’s wrong, never tell her she’s hurt me, never try to communicate issues because they will always be perceived as me calling her a horrible mother and never EVER EVER talk about adoption. I’ve had to walk on eggshells in silence my whole life.
When I found my birthfamily I can’t even begin to describe the fear that entered me on the thought of having to tell my mother. I KNEW I would be disowned. It was not something that might happen, it was something that would happen. So I never told them and I lived a double life that I hated. I knew at some point the truth would have to come out. My son has a relationship with his grandparents and when he would be old enough to understand everything I could not expect him to lie for me and pretend these people do not exist. Secrets and lies in adoption destroy everyone who participates in them.
My husband used to tell me that I should tell them for my own needs – to be truthful with myself and for myself. But I knew what would happen. I knew. He didn’t know and he didn’t believe me. But I knew.
And now, with everything that has happened, from something far less monumental as finding long lost family – he believes me. He knows now that I do know my parents and how they would react.
They chose, by their actions to my xmas present, to cut me out of their lives. They may still be alive but I have been freed.
There really is no other title that I could think of to suit this post. For those who read my “1st xmas sans afamily” – well, the saga continued and has now ended.
Before I go into it, I want to give a GREAT BIG THANK YOU to my friends IRL – which to me means all of you. You are all part of my real life. Those who I get to see face to face and those who I only see a picture and read your words. I cannot express how wonderful it has been to have the support, encouragement, shoulders to cry on, and love that you all have given to me. Some of you were even able to make me laugh when all I felt like doing was cry. I’d honestly have to say I’m grateful. Yep, now I know what grateful feels like and I am, grateful, to all of you for helping me get through such a horrible day.
I heard from my parents yesterday in the form of a piece of mail. My husband got the mail and I hear him say “wow” – or maybe more of a “whoa” from downstairs in my office. He comes down and hands me an envelope and says “I didn’t expect this.” I’m sure at that moment we both thought it was a thank you card, probably something simple, non-emotional or maybe even guilt laden. I really wasn’t ready to deal with her guilt at that moment and made a comment about my day being ruined. Little did I know what I was about to deal with.
I opened the envelope and in it was a folder 8.5 x 11 piece of paper wrapped around the gift card I sent and the pictures of my son. Typed on the paper in bold letters were two words – NO THANKS.
I went numb. I cried. I went numb. I cried. I went back and fourth. Hubby hugged me. Part of me wanted him to leave so I could just break down and have an all out bawl.
We talked and talked for hours – trying to figure out how to handle it. He wanted to call them and give them a piece of his mind. I honestly think he was more pissed than me. I told him that doing that would only give them the opportunity to hurt me more. We still have not come to a conclusion on how to respond or if to respond.
Thing is, I kind of expected it. I thought they would send it back unopened with “return to sender” on the outside. That would not have surprised me. For them to accept an olive branch after they calliously ignored our birthdays? That is just too much for them. That would mean admitting that their daugther “did the right thing.” That would mean shallowing their pride. But the fact that they opened it, looked at the pictures of my sweet little innocent 17 month old son – their only grandson – and returned them is totally beyond my comprehension. And the cold and calculated maneuver of typing those two words instead of hand writing them – sheesh – I don’t even know how to process that.
What kind of person does this? What kind of person punishes a child, their only grandson, because they are mad at their daughter? It takes a cold heart in my opinion. And mad at me – for what? For sheepishly standing up for myself. For saying “hey mom, I love you, but could you please respect my ability to make good choices for my son and stop criticizing me?” Could you please offer me some support as I’m trying to recover from a c-section, handle a colicky baby, learn to breastfeed, and attempt to go back to work at my home office way to soon but out of necessity? Could you do that mom? Obviously not. She is not capable.
If she is not capable of that, if she is not capable of unconditional love and of putting her childs needs first – and her grandchilds – than why on earth did she adopt me in the first place. I am not a possession for her to control and manipulate – I am a human being with feelings – feelings that have constantly been ridiculed, mocked, ignored and beaten down.
Or maybe, as one of my favorite adoptees has suggested was the case with her – I was supposed to be a band-aid for her fertility problems and I just never lived up to that baby that died. A few years ago, during a political debate with her and discussing trial lawyers and the right of parents to sue doctors, she told me that if her doctor had not screwed up 30-some years ago she would have had a different child. That comment landed me in my therapists office the next day.
A dear sweet online adoptee who I greatly admire said “Stop handing them a loaded gun and saying, shoot me again.”
Well stick a fork in it mom – I’m done. I’m done with letting you hurt me. I’m done with listening to you make fun of me. I’m done with your self-centered behavior. I’m done with your bullying. I’m done with your manipulation. I’m done with your controlling habits. You crossed the line when you denied my son. It is your loss.
Today is a new day. I made it through the worst, with a lot of help, but today I move on. Today I learn to walk proud. Proud of the mother I am, proud of the person I am, proud of the friend I am to others. Today I start to heal.
When I was a young teen I used to sit in front of the mirror and try to imagine what my mother looked like. I would squint my eyes, morph my face, imagine myself older in order to get a glimpse of what she might look like. Sometimes I would even pretend I could walk through the mirror and meet her, step into her house and sit down and have a conversation.
Biology matters to me. I know to some people it doesn’t. Those who have not walked in our shoes, to me, have no right to claim it doesn’t matter. They have had the luxury of knowing who they look like. Those who have been down my path and say it doesn’t matter, well, I have to respect their position but I totally do not understand it. It was torture for me to not know who I looked like. When I finally got that first picture of her, just two years ago when I was 36, it was not what I expected. See, I had always just imagined her as my twin. In fact, as odd as this sounds, I imagined her younger than me because she was frozen in time as a 20 year old. She was 20, she was my mother, she relinquished me and I never saw her again so therefore her existence froze in my mind until we could meet. It was odd to open that envelop and see an older woman. There were things that were very familiar, very similar, but she was not my twin. She didn’t have my thick strawberry blond wavy hair or my fair skin – both of which I got from my paternal grandmother. She did have funky glasses, a fun hairdo and was dressed in black – very similar to me. But physically I had to reach a bit.
My father thought I was the spitting image of him. In fact, he sent me a picture of himself as a child and we do look a lot alike. But I don’t see it as adults. I see myself as a combination of both of them. But at least I see myself fitting well on either side.
I have a wonderful photo of me standing between my mom and my aunt – and I fit. I fit perfectly. I can SEE it and I’ll tell you, it’s an amazing site. In a sense it even validates my existence.
To me my son looks like a combo of me and his father. Other people have said he looks exactly like his dad. He does have my hair color and my trademark dimples (one on one side and two on the other). But I’ve had so many people comment on this – even one relative say “boy, I bet if you hadn’t been there at his birth you wouldn’t even know he’s yours” – blech. So it’s very endearing to me when I get those few comments about how he has this of mine, or that of mine. Both of my husbands brothers are in town this weekend and one of the first things one of them said to me was that he could see both of us in him. That he was definitely a combination of the two of us. Now I know, and I tell myself regularly, that my son IS his own person. But I have to admit it’s nice to be recongized in him and it’s nice that it’s a combination because we both love him so much. I hope someday he looks in the mirror and likes what he sees – being a little bit of both.