Turning 18

I have sons that are 18 and 21. The 21 year old is more of an adult now than the 18 year old but maturity is making changes in the younger boy’s perspectives. My daughter grew up away from me. At 3 years old, she ended up with her dad and a step-mother because I simply could not earn enough to support the 2 of us with child care necessary to even to to work – added to that rent, food, pediatrician bills, clothes, etc. During her childhood, communication was always difficult. I didn’t live in the same town and felt the disapproval of her parenting adults when I tried to visit. I even gave her a prepaid calling card so she call me when it was the least disruptive in her family life. I do remember seriously looking forward to when she was mature and no longer lived with them. Thankfully, we do have a good relationship – maybe not perfect and I blame myself for the feelings of abandonment she has experienced.

Anyway, I do understand the perspectives in this birth mother’s story.

My younger child’s 18th birthday is coming up this month. We haven’t had any contact since last year, when his adoptive mother got upset that I had posted something about 17 years gone, one to go. Somehow she assumed that this meant that I wanted the kid to come live with me when they turned 18, but I just meant that the control freak adoptive mother would have less power over him then.

Meanwhile, a friend of mine who adopted kids from Russia with his ex-wife has been completely alienated from them, and posted that he regrets ever adopting them in the first place. I guess his ex won whatever game she was playing. (This blogger’s note – a lot of people who adopted from Russia experienced huge challenges with those children.)

I’ve been tempted to just post publicly that the adoptive mother wins, that I regret ever having kids at all. When I saw “Everything, Everywhere, All at Once,” I thought about how there is no universe where I would have chosen to have kids and have her adopt them. Even if I’d been dying of cancer, I would have picked someone else to raise my kids. She’s been horrible to me so many times over the last 18 1/2 years, and still every few years, she’ll initiate contact with me and just pretend like all the past awfulness didn’t happen, or maybe that we’re equally at fault. She’s never apologized for anything, I don’t think she understands the concept. She’s said that she wants me to respect her as a “mother”, but I can’t even pretend to.

If on their 18th birthday, I posted that I regret that I had kids, would that make the adoptive mother happy? Is that what she wants? If I was really a horrible mother, then wouldn’t it make sense that I regret attempting to raise children? What does she want from me in order to at least not guilt trip them about any attempt to contact me? If I groveled before the Queen (the adoptive mother) and apologized for trying to raise my kids instead of being a docile handmaid, would that improve my chances of ever having a relationship with either child as adults? How am I supposed to feel? I guess if neither kid wants anything to do with me, they wouldn’t be checking my Facebook to see what I post.

This blogger’s perspective – There are no win situations in life and we simply can only do the best we can do.

Often It Isn’t Intentional

Short again on time today. Seems to happen too often in this holiday season. Learned about a new “adoptee related” Facebook page today – The Healing Adoptee. Sharing some wise insight from there today.

There are lots of ways that humans experience loss. Most humans are allowed to grieve those losses. Those of us on the adoptee side of adoption have generally not been allowed to grieve the loss that we experienced in infancy and childhood.

Ungrieved loss causes trauma. When a person experiences trauma they develop coping mechanisms which generally are not healthy. One of these coping mechanisms is deflection. When we hear something that we don’t like the idea of (our self) having done (that) we will think, “No, I didn’t do that.” I know that I don’t like hearing that I hurt somebody else because it causes a loss to my sense of self respect, and how I want to present myself to the world at large.

When we use deflection immediately upon hearing that we caused somebody else pain it causes that person more pain, And then they lose respect for us. Me personally, I prefer to be respected by other people. Therefore when I was told recently, that I caused someone pain I took a few deep breaths and accepted that my words had been hurtful to that person, whether I intended those words to hurt or not. Having decided to use a coping skill of deep breathing instead of a coping mechanism, deflection, I saved my self-respect by not continuing to hurt the person that I had been having the conversation with.

I apologized for unintentionally using unhelpful coping mechanisms in my conversation with her. It would be nice to see the online adoptee circles benefit from taking a moment to stop when we feel as though someone else’s pain is triggering our grief, take some deep breath, recenter and move forward with the intention of being gentle with one another, by not maintaining the use of the deflection coping mechanisms.

Dionne Quintuplets

I stumbled on a reminder of these girls searching for something else. Blame it on being a Gemini and always fascinated by multiple births. The birth of these girls was quite remarkable in the days before fertility drugs. DNA testing proved that they were the product of a single embryo splitting into 3 separate egg sacs in their mother’s womb with 2 babies in each sack. One of the fetuses was miscarried early. There is so much more to this story than I will have time or inclination to go into. My source, where you can read more, is the LINK> Wikipedia article about them.

The identical quintuplet girls were, in order of birth:

  1. Yvonne Édouilda Marie Dionne (died 2001)
  2. Annette Lillianne Marie Allard (living)
  3. Cécile Marie Émilda Langlois (living)
  4. Émilie Marie Jeanne Dionne (died 1954)
  5. Marie Reine Alma Houle (died 1970)

Each girl had a color and a symbol to mark whatever belonged to her. Annette’s color was red and her design a maple leaf, Cécile’s green and a turkey, Émilie had white and a tulip, Marie blue and a teddy bear, and Yvonne pink and a bluebird.

The girls were legally removed from their parents and placed in the custody of the Red Cross, ostensibly to prevent their exploitation. In reality, they were exploited their entire childhoods. A compound was built just for them across the road from their birthplaces. The compound had an outdoor playground designed to be a public observation area. The sisters were brought to the playground, two or three times a day, for viewing by the crowd that would gather. It was surrounded by a covered arcade, which allowed tourists to observe the sisters behind one-way screens said to prevent noise and distraction from disturbing the children. The girls knew they were watched, as they could hear screams and laughter. The one-way screens did not fully block out the visitors, acting more like frosted glass.

The Canadian government realized there was enormous public interest in the sisters and developed tourist industry around them. They made the girls wards of the provincial Crown, originally planned to be in effect until they reached the age of 18. An example of that exploitation was the doctor who delivered them. Up until 1942, when Dr Allan Roy Dafoe retired, he was known as the world’s best doctor. He wrote a book, numerous pamphlets, and had a radio broadcast. Eventually Dr Dafoe was viewed as taking advantage of his newfound fame. He was removed as one of the three primary caretakers of the quintuplets partly in response to legal action instigated by the girls’ father, Oliva Dionne, seeking to regain custody over his children. The general public did not know Dr Dafoe profited in 1943 dollars at $182,466, which is equivalent to millions of dollars today.

Even their father got in on the act. Oliva Dionne ran a souvenir shop and a woolen store opposite the nursery and the area acquired the name “Quintland”. The souvenirs, picturing the five sisters, included autographs and framed photographs, spoons, cups, plates, plaques, candy bars, books, postcards, and dolls. Available to the public for free in bins were stones from the area that claimed to have the magical power of fertility – the bins would need to be refilled almost every day. Women without children touched Oliva Dionne because they believed he could increase their chances of fertility. The quintuplets brought in more than $50 million in total tourist revenue to Ontario.

The sisters, their likenesses and images, along with Dr Dafoe’s, were used to publicize many commercial products including condensed milk, toothpaste, disinfectant and candy bars as well as specific brands like Karo Corn Syrup, Quaker Oats, Lysol, Palmolive Soap, Colgate Dental Cream, Carnation Milk and Baby Ruth Candy Bars.

Although the quintuplet’s trust fund was secured by the Canadian government, they were not rich nor living comfortably. They were making $746 monthly. The money in their trust fund decreased through spending on marriage, houses, child support, and divorce. It was discovered that their trust fund contained less money than what was made from advertisements and photographs of the quintuplets. The sisters requested $10 million from the Canadian government and received no response. They then turned down offers of 2 and 3 million dollars. They accepted 4 million dollars and an analysis of their trust accounts. Premier Mike Harris visited the sisters and apologized on behalf of the government. The quintuplets finally had their story in the public eye by challenging the Ontario government.

By 1939, the family was reunited because their parents made efforts to regain custody over their children. One factor was that the Dionnes had never agreed to the removal of the quintuplets from their custody. In 1942, the Dionne family moved into the nursery where the quintuplets had grown up, while they waited for their new home to be completed. In November 1943, the entire Dionne family moved into their new home. That building is now a retirement home.

When they were reunited, many struggles followed. They were not one big happy family and the quintuplets felt distanced from their siblings. They struggled to communicate as they spoke French and their siblings preferred English. Once Oliva received custody, he wanted the attention. He made police accompany his vehicle as he took the quintuplets out, constantly drawing attention to them and himself. The quintuplets were unaware for many years that the lavish house, the expensive food and the series of cars the family enjoyed were paid for with money they themselves had earned. They were aware of the fact that their upbringing meant they would never feel truly a part of the large Dionne family, and called their time in the big, new house, “the saddest home we ever knew”. The quintuplets left the family home upon turning 18 years old in 1952 and had little contact with their parents afterwards.

Christianity’s Role In Adoption

Today’s story –

3 years ago we went to an interest meeting for Bethany Adoption Services. 20 minutes in to that meeting and we confidently knew these were our people and this was our agency. Now we’re ALMOST to the finish line of the adoption process and are waiting {as patiently as possible} to become parents.

This has been quite a ride, no doubt. I sit here today thinking, praying, reflecting and can’t deny a sense of grief over our journey. Through teary eyes I type this out, that sometimes it hurts to be reminded how long our journey to be parents has taken. It’s not all rainbows and roses everyday. The joy and sorrow continue to go hand in hand.

BUT GOD. There is no denying and no getting around God’s faithfulness through this process and the peace that comes in knowing His plans > ours. The things we have learned about ourselves, our marriage, parenting, and mostly the kindness, the absolute sovereignty, and undeserved love of the Lord is worth every single hard day and tear.

Please pray for us as we wait. Pray for our future child’s birth mom to be comforted and at peace with her decision to choose life and choice for us to parent her child. Please pray for us to wait well, to prepare well, to finish this leg of the journey strong and expectant of what’s next. We are very excited and very ready and can’t wait to bring home Baby C!!

In general, the whole thing was triggering for many in my adoption group. I’m bypassing some of the comments with stronger language. Here is one of the tamer ones.

I hate using God’s plan as some justification. Like God’s plan is for a woman to give away her baby ? Same with God protects/watched out for. Like some God doesn’t? It’s all bullshit.

And the perspective from this side – Think they’d mind if I prayed for baby C and her momma instead? *sigh*

To which someone else replied – I believe in the power of prayer, but I also do not believe you pray selfishly or for someone else to be in pain. If she really believed in the power of prayer, why doesn’t she pray to get pregnant instead? I pray for the life and health of this young mom and her unborn child.

When we insist that God wants exactly what we want for our self, we are recreating God in our image, not the other way around.

My apologies for not getting this posted yesterday and I am going to have to cut what I am sharing here short. Things have been complicated in my own life the last 24 hours. Finally, last night there was forward movement again instead of battling strong headwinds and finding it difficult to make much progress. Later tomorrow or maybe not until tomorrow – there are always opportunities to say more. I wish you happiness and love in your own lives.