Archive for the ‘Reactions from others’ category

A New (for me, and here) and Important Perspective

June 10, 2010
Today I received a comment that I felt immediately moved by, and immediately replied to, and wish to share here. Rather than make you go read the comment under the post “NONONONO”, I will re-post it here, with my response (already emailed) below it. Wow. This has really moved the erath beneath my feet a bit, in a good way, and I am sure it will resonate for days to come. I have yet to get such a candid comment from the “other side”, the perspective of the family of the biomom. Whoa.
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_______________THE COMMENT_______________
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Hello,

I wasn’t adopted, but I can relate to your experiences. I think parents, in general, try to mold their children. I, myself, have to fight the urge to try to make my kids be someone I want them to be. My experience with adoption is that my grandmother gave one of her daughters up when she was born. My aunt was given to a friend of my grandmother’s, and she found out who her birth mother was while she was still a pre-teen. My mother has said it was awful. I also can understand what you say about being in the family, but being on the outside.

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My aunt comes around now occasionally to family functions, and it’s NOT the same as with everyone else. It IS like she is a guest. I wonder how long that will go on? I admit I’m not myself with her, like I am with my other aunts. It’s almost liek I feel guilty about my grandmother placing her for adoption. Although I wasn’t even born then. My grandmother practically raised ME.
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I feel bad for my aunt. My grandmother has 9 kids, and it’s a huge gathering when we all get together with grandchildren and great children also. My grandmother has never explained anything to my aunt about her adoption. I KNOW she feels great guilt and remorse because I tried to talk to her about it one time, and she started crying. My grandmother is a woman who I have never seen cry aside from then, so I haven’t talked about it again. I wish that she would give my aunt that chance to talk about the situation. She deserves that.
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__________________ MY REPLY__________________
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Thanks for sharing such a fascniating and resonant story with me. This is the first time I have ever heard from the family of a resurfaced adopted person and it does me so much good to hear it. I just cannot explain what, and how much, this means to me and how very very enlightening and …   (at an unusual loss for words…) well, it’s a huge first from a not-yet-explored perspective for me. And that you are so very candid about it — from how you feel and act to how others’ feel and act, and that your grandmother cried just that once. Well, it has the makings of an enthralling story. Actually, I’d love to hear more.
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Though I am close to one half-brother and very close to his wife, I still struggle to get along with biomom and have had minute successes but, on equal terms, not her terms, and those terms (hers) are a threat against my autonomy and independence and, most importantly, my true self. The root of that problem is that she is incapable of empathy so she cannot put herself in my shoes. I see this is her everday dealings and I absolutely see it with me. All she sees is the lack of what she wants from me. I also sorta wish I could reach out to your aunt. I think she is brave to attend any functions at all.
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Others — as in the bio family — often have no real idea how (though logically they know it to be probable), in the rest of your life you are this person with intellectual qualities and accomplishments and personality traits and everyday things and quandaries, hopes and joys, feelings, and groceries to buy; normal everyday stuff that has nothing to do at all with being adopted, but in the search-bio family you are a scarlet letter of sorts and like a walking neon sign for “the big secret”, and this is your identity, inevitably.
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That others simply cannot — for lack of experience, or even clues from watching sitcoms or shared anecdotes from acqaintances and friends — treat you as they would others merely speaks to the awkwardness of your being, and may possibly even signify that they care, for if you didn’t make them nervous, wouldn’t they be a teeny bit more at ease? Grasping at straws perhaps but I offer this hypothesis from my feeling that you care about your aunt, if only as a fellow human being, yet still feel ill at ease. It’s all so complicated and hard to tease out the myriad subconscious feelings and reasons when the surface ones are already so convoluted and confusing.
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Thank you very very much. I do take it that you must care about your aunt to have even perhaps googled the topic and found me. I get the feeling you are an extraordinary person and I am most grateful for this comment.
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You have added soemthing very precious and meaningful to my feelings on this topic. Thank you for taking the time to relate your experiences. I will share this with my therapist, and the close friends who know about this, my very secret and anonymous, adoption blog.
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best wishes,
Caramel (not my real flavor)  ;-)

“What do you want?” – The Big Question

November 28, 2008

ist2_2566912-sandwichLast summer I decided to do the search. I had only begun thinking about it for the past 3 years. Never before in my life had I even pondered looking for my birth mother. She was a concept, much like the symbol on a Ladies’ Restroom door. At times throughout my life I had thought of her and visually she took on the form of a fuzzy symbol seen from far, far away and in soft focus lens. She was not an actual person; she was a mythical thing, a concept.

Friends knew of my search and a few people knew people who had done searches and passed along their phone numbers with the assurance that they’d be expecting my call. It was a summer of sitting in my yard making phone calls that began with, “Hi, my name is Caramel (not my real name), and Daisy gave me your number and said I could call…”, to which they’d reply, “Yes, I have been expecting your call.” And I heard their stories and because of their advice (“Don’t believe the narrative you get from the orphanage, it is almost always fabricated”, and etc) I was spared a few surprises. Their advice was spot on, as I’d find out later on.

ist2_254630-neon-woman-toiletI have one friend who was adopted and that friend did a search that took decades and involved the aid of Orphan Voyage and some crazy and illegal tactics, for her adoption was a private one done through a lawyer and she’d been handed off in a ladies’ restroom at an airport. But she had a name, wrangled out of her adoptive mother, and she finally succeeded. Hers is a wild tale and one I am not at liberty to post. It had a beautiful ending but still when she met her mother’s husband he said, “What do you want?”. Everyone I spoke to, including mothers, had a “What do you want?” story. Everyone.

Everyone also had a story about their new half siblings either asking that question and/or rejecting them, usually temporarily. I get that. I try to imagine how I’d have felt if, while growing up, my mother had one day announced that I had a half sister or brother. I honestly can’t say if I would be at ease with the situation. I cannot say with all honesty that I’d not resent that person, if only on a subconscious level, or if I’d be angry at her for having a secret.  Maybe I’d be jealous of that person for their special new status and place in my family. The phrase ‘sibling rivalry’ is not a new one and not one that anyone disputes. I am a kind and generous person and have an extraordinary capacity for empathy, but I am also a mere mortal. I know I’d have been conflicted. Human feelings are complicated. I find it hard to believe that anyone would not have conflicted feelings in such a situation. They are there, even if hidden from the surface. Hence my reticence.

ist2_6563341-under-constructionWhen I met my birth mother she did not ask that, and her husband and sons did not ask that. But it is possibly there and I feel a sort of outsiderness, and so I am determined to not ‘want’ a thing. They are wonderful people and they seem to genuinely love me but only my birth mother is possibly completely free of such feelings. I understand that and do not condemn it, for it makes them real, and human. I’d not expect them to be superhuman. I admire real people. I do not believe in perfect people. I am suspicious of seemingly perfect people who seem to never have a conflicted or negative or insecure thought. That cannot be possible. Not of humans.

ist2_7035453-private-propertyBut I did not want a thing actually and just wanted to meet her. I knew I’d possibly disrupt her life and I’d possibly be seen as an intruder and that freaked me out. This is why it took years to finally decide to do the search. You don’t know what you’ll find or how you’ll be received and I was totally against a possible disruption of her life. I was struggling with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder from a huge and painful family trauma and did not want to inflict trauma on anyone else. I had complete respect for what I imagined her circumstances must have been and I was grateful to her for that. But at some point the search agent at the orphanage from which I came said, “Are you just going to call me every 6 months as you have been doing for years or are you going to do a search?” So I made an appointment. Another friend, well aware of my reticence, informed me that she was taking the afternoon off from work and was going with me. And this is how it began.

It’s complicated.

November 27, 2008

UPDATE: Since posting this blog people have sent me many a link to the more personal and candid adoption blogs. And so I am adding links as I find them. It is reassuring to find so many people who are conflicted. Previously I had found more search stories and less assimilation into the no rules zone of becoming part of a new family. I have found so much. Thanks for the links.

ist2_7251173-3d-puzzle-xxl-12000x8000I have been searching the web for years for adoption search information and have found a lot of sites about adoption that include blogs as a sort of secondary aspect, and a far fewer personal story blogs than I thought I might. The ones I do find are just that – a personal story – but not a forum and really don’t delve into the deeper and larger issues of the whole journey, often stopping short of the complicated feelings involved. So I decided to sort of test the waters and see if there are people like me – people who have a story to tell and also want to share their stories with others who have been through the same thing. I am a big fan of support groups but cannot find a support group in my area for this small niche. Are we that few?

This all occurred to me yesterday on the phone with a friend who said, “I can’t imagine what it feels like to be adopted and I certainly don’t know anyone who has found their biological family. Do you even know anyone who has found their biological family? I imagine it is really complicated and overwhelming.”

ist2_6428830-international-chat-communityThank you for that, I said, it is really complicated and I only know one other search person and but for her, I don’t know any other adopted people. I know a lot of people and I have a lot of really close friends for support and all that but this adoption search has been surprisingly overwhelming and partly for the wide range of responses I have gotten from friends; everything from the aforementioned attempt to empathize and admission of not being able to fully comprehend to “What’s the big deal? Shouldn’t you be happy to have found your family?”

ist2_3920058-boring-meetingOf course I am happy. But it is a crazy thing, like a parking lot without lines, in a foreign dialect. It’s not instant Disneyworld complete with Tinkerbell floating about granting wishes. It’s complicated. Families are complicated, especially ones you did not grow up in. And you are entering a family not as someone who married in but as The Secret and that comes with a lot of baggage. It takes a while to learn the language and fathom the nuances. It takes a while to figure out where you stand and not feel like a guest. I will always be The Secret and I will always be a guest. It also takes a while for the family to understand you, and in the meantime so much is left to conjecture and, yes, judgment. I am a woman and as such I cannot comprehend what it feels like to be a man. I am white and therefor I cannot comprehend what it’s like to be black. I don’t know what it is like to be a twin or a houseplant. But not all of the people I encounter respond to my journey with that same level of humility and that’s just another place where it get’s complicated.

So this will be my story, and yours too if you want to share it. Maybe we can have a dialogue. We’ll see. It’s Thanksgiving and I am getting ready to spend part of the day with my new family. So it seems a perfect day to start this blog.