I am now blogging at my new blog Ripening Me http://www.ripeningme.com its not always adoption related issues, but sometimes it will be 🙂 Hope to see you there xo
I’m looking for a reform group that’s trying to reform adoption on an industry level. I’m not talking about just Open Records ( like that’s some lil issue 😛 ) I mean laws surrounding adoption, regulating agencies and lawyers, private adoptions…. where are these groups? Can someone point me to them? its been a while 😛
As some of you may have read in past posts of mine my grandfather ( the father of my natural mother ) passed away this past July. I had mixed emotions when processing his death as he was a core stone in the decision to place me for adoption. Most of the stories I have heard about my grandfather were unpleasant, he ruled with an iron fist, what he said went, and there wasn’t much laughter between him and the children. My mother came from a very large family, and at the time of my surrender her twin sister was also pregnant, and the 8 children and 2 parents were living in a 3 bedroom house, times couldn’t have been easy. As its been reflected to me my grandfather came to my mother on my 3rd day of life, at the hospital and told her she’d be coming home without me, and that it was time to go, and she did. Taking me home wasn’t an option and the shame he placed upon her thereafter when she got home, has infuriated me for years. When my grandfather passed this past July, I didn’t cry.
I met him once, I remained very quiet, I was unwed and pregnant with my first child when we met ( fitting I know.) He seemed joyous, he seemed good spirited, he told me stories, all of the stories he’d want me to know about him, how he swam around the pier in a contest and won in our town, how he decapitated men in Vietnam and earned the nickname the head hunter, he told me story after story and I just listened. Before I left as I went in for a hug he told me how wise men always listen, and the stupid ones talk forever and then he laughed hysterically and I left.
I woke up early on the day of his funeral and dressed my three daughters. I was nervous. We bought new black dresses for the occasion the day before, and I may have barely slept an hour that night. Not because I was weeping his loss, but because I was seeing all of my family the next day. All of my cousins, aunts, uncles, family I’ve never met, I will be there as my mothers daughter…I’m there known as her daughter. Me, her daughter, being recognized as her daughter. I didn’t have to stand in the back like the fly on the window, in fact I was reserved a seat in the front FOR THE FAMILY of my grandfather. A whole row for my daughters and myself.
We got there and again my step father was waiting outside for us, my mother inside making sure all of the ribbons were fluffed, the flowers were perfect and every last detail was how she wanted. My mother devoted her life to him in his final years and wanted and ensured that every detail to the direction of the Ukulele was perfected. We went in, and there was my family… they hugged and embraced me, they kissed my children and told us how much they missed us. Let me just repeated that part for the sake of my adopted soul wanting to hear it again….they hugged, embraced and kissed my children and me, and told us how much they missed us. Music to my adopted heart and of course my tears gushed from my eyeballs.
We went into the room, upfront was this table that held pictures and items from his life deemed most important by my mother. A picture of him in the military, he was a US Maine whom received 2 purple hearts which lay over his picture. A ukulele in front with leis, a younger picture of him, and one of him near his age just before he’d passed. My aunts, uncles and his friends spoke to him and us about his life and impact on them, I learned so much about my grandfather that day, my favorite part was a short film my mother put together with the help of a local amateur film student ( who ended up being an adoptee from Korea.) Not only were there pictures of my children and myself, but I saw my grandfathers life. He was so strong, he was so courageous, he actually got sent home from Vietnam in a Body bag, he was presumed dead, and only discovered to be alive after two days in the bag on a ship headed home with a death note. This man, was a hero. Suddenly this transformation in my thoughts and feelings towards him shifted and I couldn’t stop crying and grieving this lifetime we missed. He’s like the top of this pyramid of children, and family that all came from him, and here all I’d had for him was resentment and lack of compassion due to thinking he was the sole reason I was left behind and all I saw of him before me on this day at his funeral was how much he did for the lives of his children and how everything he did was to better their lives.
I think I cried all of my resentment away that afternoon. By the time we arrived to the after party where his sisters and family were singing old traditional Hawaiian songs with spoons and ukulele, dancing together and celebrating life I was home. My kids running around with their cousins laughing and playing card games. Eating, drinking, dancing in every corner we looked at, it was one of the most beautiful days of my life. I have never felt complete on the level I do now and have since that day. I don’t resent him anymore. I don’t know how or exactly when it happened but it’s just gone, gone. It happened. I was let go. It hurt me, he was a pivotal factor in letting me go, but he was amazing. I forgive him.
I find myself reading and reading and having so much I want to blog on and yet I get so emotionally involved in these posts I end up “drafting” them in order to not sound like a raging lunatic troubled by the frustrations and downright corruption in adoption and the foster care system….. I just want to scream at all these idiots like WTF are you doing THESE ARE CHILDREN, and then I cry….and save draft and move onto the next one…
I hope your day is beautiful.
10 years ago I wouldn’t have understood this to the depth that I understand it now, and for that I am grateful. Ten years ago this would have hurt me tremendously and I probably would have withdrawn into a wall building adoptee hiding comfort zone and disappeared from my mother for a few months until I felt strong enough to say hello again. Today tho, the only part of it that weakens me is the reality of what she has to do to keep going on, and what a reflection that is of how she has had to do it her entire life after losing me.
In July my grandfather passed away. My mother has been taking care of him for the last 5 years of his life. I get mixed feelings from his passing, he was a crucial influence in me being left behind at the hospital 3 days after my birth and its hard for me to let go of that. I did meet him once however and it was a nice comforting visit. He was a very strong man, remembered for decapitating men in Vietnam war and eating raw liver, one of the last things I remember him telling me is the wise men say the least and listen most. He said this to me after I sat around him very quiet observing his every move.
Now that he has passed away my mother has come out to my area to plan his services and is here for a few weeks to make sure it all goes smoothly and to visit my children and me. We sat around the table at our visit that I blogged about yesterday and I noticed more than once my mother made reference to never experiencing a pain like that of losing her father since her brother died and then her…. and each time she got to “her” her eyes would meet mine and I “know” she was going to say “her daughter” but she would catch herself and stop. She doesn’t speak of her loss of me.
Ten years ago I would have felt like that meant my loss wasn’t significant enough to mention. That it didn’t impact her life in the way these other two deaths had, and that I wasn’t a big “loss” when we parted ways on my third day of life. Today however, I know that means something very different. I know that society doesn’t recognize a mother surrendering her child and continuing on with life as a painful experience. I know that that loss, when spoken of is often met with “what a selfless act, what a wonderful thing you’ve done, how incredible of you to have done that” which in return suppresses that pain even deeper.
I can relate to this. I did it for years when faced with adoption related topics or topics of loss, because my mother did all of that FOR me to have a better life, what a selfless thing for her to do and I must be so very grateful for that opportunity at a better life. It FEELS BETTER for outsiders to believe that. Hell it feels better for insiders to believe it until the truth finds its way out and eventually it always does. I mean that’s really the core of being in the Koolaid drinking happy adoptee land, you’re believing the happy myths…. that surrendering you was wonderful, well you might not be “believing them” because your soul doesn’t lie to you, deep down you know it hurts, but you’re saying them, maybe even convincing yourself of them or trying very hard to, because should you realize that reality isn’t reality at all, suddenly “reality” becomes very scary and vulnerable.
What would have happened if instead of pausing when my mother wanted to tell the waiter that she hasn’t experienced a loss like this since she lost her daughter, how would he have reacted? Would he have assumed I was dead? Would he have empathized with her? Would he have recognized it as a loss and told her how sorry he was for her loss? I believe these to be viable outcomes had this happened. Humor me for a moment and imagine what would have happened if she had then told him, she hasn’t felt a loss like this since she loss her daughter to adoption. Would she have been met with the same empathy? Maybe from you or me, because we’re reading adoption blogs and up to “par” on adoption loss but the average stranger… no, no I don’t believe she would have found that sympathy. Instead the suppressive rhetoric begins doesn’t it? Oh you gave a daughter up for adoption? How wonderful of you!! OMG you’re a birthmom how selfless!!!! What a heroic act of kindness you did!!! Immediately invalidating the tremendous loss that would follow a mother losing her child to adoption regardless of how that “choice” came to be…. pain is what it is.
It reminds me of growing up…often I would get depressed thinking about why my parents gave me up and I’d almost be ready to reach out to someone about it and as soon as I’d say how I was adopted i’d hear ” oh you’re so lucky I always wanted to be adopted! ” “how nice of your mom to give you a better life” “you must be so grateful you weren’t aborted” its the same kind of suppressive “support” I spoke of in reference to my mother above. It has to be societies way of not understanding this in-depth reality we find in adoption and their poor attempt to “get it.” I don’t feel like they have bad intentions in saying these things but they just do… because it’s all over the media, its in all the magazines, its in the adoption agencies this false propaganda of happiness following separation and loss its polluting reality.
I see it happening with people who have had miscarriages or found out they’re living a life with infertility. I personally have never been in that shoe, I have 3 natural children of my own, but I watch it happen to them. It happened to my adoptive parents, as SOON as infertility was discovered ADOPTION was pushed. Why? Adoption doesn’t cure infertility. Adoptees don’t “fix” the loss of not having children of your own. The two aren’t connected and yet society just doesn’t get it or want to hear it because they haven’t before and its easier to make all that “ugly” “uncomfy” “icky” feelings be portrayed as minor problems that can be fixed with adoption….and yet….they can’t be.
It’s okay to feel pain from loss, in fact it’s very healthy to, and it’s just as okay to own those feelings, talk about those feelings and correct people when they misinterpret those feelings, they are YOUR feelings. I know that for a long time I tried to drink that kooliad, I wanted that bullshit fake “omg you were so lucky to be adopted” to be true, I wanted to be lucky…but when you spend a lifetime trying to convince yourself that pain = happiness destructive patterns are bound to happen and that can be very dangerous. If you are one of these people who are having to hide your pain from the average Joe because you’d rather not “go there” with the ignorant…I get it…and I feel you. If you’re living a life where people are continually telling you to be grateful about something that hurts so bad you could scream in frustration from the highest mountain…I get it…I feel you…and I’m sorry. I’m here for you. Don’t be afraid to own your truth. Its yours and nobody can take it from you. The more you speak out about it, the more we can fix this broken part of the industry, the more we can make the road smoother for those who walk down it after us and the more we can help each other heal….god willing…we might even prevent it one day ❤