In The Fog

When I first started learning about all of the impacts and issues surrounding the practice of adoption, I didn’t know what this concept really was like.  Both of my parents were adopted and both of my sisters gave up babies to adoption, adoption was the most natural thing in my life.  I really didn’t see a problem with it and while this concept more commonly refers to the adoptee who discovers the reality and “wakes up”, what I didn’t expect was that as the child of adoptees, I too was in the fog.  And I have woken up as well and that is the purpose of this blog, to share these new understandings with whoever is moved to come and read these little daily observations.

Learning about adoption trauma can be a big surprise for someone like me.  For the adoptee, this can prove to be a nagging feeling that you didn’t know how to name.  This concept answered your question as to what it was.  For some, their love and/or gratitude for their adoptive parents can make them not want to learn about adoption trauma, even though generally speaking, it affects every adoptee to some degree, whether consciously or unconsciously.

“Happy” may not be the right word to describe coming out of the fog. It’s more accurately about being able to authentically traverse and articulate the variety of effects that adoption had on your life, good or bad, but the bad often does far outweigh the good.  In my case, it is a sorrow that for over 60 years I did not know about my own biological/genetic relatives.  Now I do have some contact but it is like being slightly removed and an outsider no matter how kind they are to me directly.

It can be easy to be judgmental.  Rationally, you may know your original mother was struggling and yet still find it impossible to understand that she could ever give up her children.  In my own life, I lost physical custody of my daughter, even though that was not my intention but that I was struggling financially was the reality.  Seeking to find a way to support us, I left her with her paternal grandmother temporarily.  That decision with the expectation that it was temporary became permanent and I can never get back the years I lost.  My mom told me of her perspective on my situation – she would have just toughed it out.  Maybe true but then she coerced one of my sisters to give up her own child.  I guess my mom’s fog was quite thick.

In the end, I lost my daughter to my ex-husband and a step-mother.  He had refused to pay child support but ended up paying to support our daughter.  I ended up paying a steep price to gain that support.  I have never stopped grieving and have tried to come to terms with it, through accepting that it is simply our reality.  So much damage is done when a mother is separated from her child, no matter why or how.

 

Adding Insult To Injury

We are living through uncertain times.  Many people feel un-moored from their usual sources of confidence that all will be well.  Children who have been adopted or are in foster care find their worlds upended.  Lacking consistency, routine, and an overall feeling of stability and security as their personal worlds are being shaken up again by the Coronavirus and the efforts to contain the spread of that infection.

Schools have closed and public community events through which diverse people usually bond are cancelled.  Instead of joining together in common experience we are forced to isolate ourselves from one another.  At least we have modern technology to keep us connected while maintaining a safe distance from one another but life is not routine or what we would conventionally expect as we wake up each day.

For those parents who still have jobs to go to while their children are alone at home, the struggle can be significant.

One of the responsibilities that foster parents face is transporting the children in their home to visitations with their birth parents and biological family members. Often times, visitations take place at child welfare offices, while other times, visitations may occur at public places, such as parks, restaurants, churches, and other public venues. Visitations are important as they help to maintain the relationship between both child and adult. Along with this, many foster parents have very strong relationships with the birth parents and during visitations, trust is built and children can grow and develop in a healthy fashion, as a result.

Yet, those public spaces are now closed to most of us in most locations throughout the United States.  And coming out of the usual wintertime season of colds and flu can complicate things because many of us have all had one thing or another since Thanksgiving and our immunity is generally low.  Essential services such as therapy sessions, drug counseling, and even court appearances have also been affected by Covid 19.

All families face difficulty at this time in our collective history and families with the additional challenges of trauma and regulations face an additional burden on top of the difficulties they face every day.  All families are concerned, and confused, looking for answers and receiving little guidance.  There is no school, foster care related visits are being cancelled, church services are cancelled, and generally all children are now isolated from the friends they depend upon in their everyday lives.  The challenge in an era of social distancing is physical, and tangible, but can’t be solved by throwing dollars at it.

Stay safe, be well.  Come together – though at a distance.  Keep the efforts to slow the spread of this virus going until the assurance that it is once again safe to have greater contact with our fellow human beings becomes more certain.  Patience is necessary and flexibility too.

Why Adoptees Wish They Had Been Aborted

This is not the first time and it probably will not be the last time.  For those of us who are grateful we have a life (and I am one of those), it can be hard to read that adoptees way too often wish they had been aborted and not given up for adoption.  It flies against every happily ever after story you may have ever heard about how wonderful it is to finally create your family thanks to a woman losing her child.  It is not wonderful for that woman nor is it wonderful for that child.

Today, I read one such comment – “I literally would have rather been aborted than adopted. Fuck adoption. It did nothing good for me and only led to years of self hate.”

Another said to a mom who just gave a newborn up for adoption – “Your kept children will be 50 and still talking about the one you gave away.”  This is probably true.  When I found my dad’s genetic family, they said as much.  They knew about him.  Wanted to know him and said his mother NEVER got over giving him up.

One woman gave her daughter up for adoption 14 yrs ago.  She admits it was the hardest thing that she had to ever had to do in her life.  The story gets worse.  Back then the agencies only offered a 5 year open adoption, not an 18 year one.   Guess what ?  the adoptive parents vanished without a trace after 8 years. This mother has’t seen or heard anything from them. She asserts – “I will find her one day.”  Then admits that she has other offspring who are already “looking” for their lost sibling.

Fact is – whether they were family friends before your pregnancy or not, once they have your child, you are pretty much disposable.  Sadly.

And the fact is, most friendships, or even family relationships, aren’t strong enough to stand up to the power imbalance of adoption. It’s like the sword of Damocles hanging over your head.

Yes, there is a decided power imbalance between a desperate pregnant soon to be mother with no access to resources and the people with the money (the adoptive parents, the adoption agencies, the lawyers, the social workers).  The deck is stacked against you and you will need to face this directly, before you take that permanent step.

If you are lucky, someday your child will find you and like my own mom wanted to do, let you know that she survived and is okay.  Worst case, your child will hate you for how her life turned out and wish she had been aborted instead.

 

It Is Odd Now

Twenty years ago Genealogy was not a consideration in my own mind.  After 10 years of marriage, my childless husband decided he wanted to have children after all.  For those first ten years, he was glad I had been there and done that and there was no pressure on him to become a father.  We had seen a short news piece that said that woman who conceive at an older age live longer.

Over Margaritas in a Mexican restaurant he boldly told me that he wanted to become a father.  My mouth fell open in amazement and then I said “okay”.  So began our adventure together.  We used ovulation kits and did it faithfully as much as possible at the appropriate times.  Nothing resulted.

One day at my general practitioners office in consultation about my cholesterol with the nurse practitioner, I told her about our efforts to become parents.  She said to me, “I’m not saying you are infertile but at your age you don’t have time to waste.”  Then recommended her gynecologist to me.

I made an appointment and just before that we saw another news piece that informed us of our low odds of success at my age.  I was devastated and went to the place where I often poured my heart out to my God, the place where I had stood to marry my husband, and lamented that he married such an old woman.

At the gynecologist’s office, we saw on ultrasound that I had an egg developing, so the doctor prescribed a shot to jump start my chances.  It was the very last egg I ever produced.  When the doctor’s effort failed, he said there is a way and we rejoiced.

Thanks to advances in medical science we have two wonderful sons.  When they were conceived I knew nothing about my own genetic roots and so it was not an issue to me.  Fast forward twenty years and inexpensive DNA tests are available.  My whole family has had our DNA tested at 23 and Me.

On my page there, I see my daughter, my nephew and a whole slew of cousins.  I have also been able to discover who all 4 of my original grandparents were (both of my parents were adopted and died knowing next to nothing about their own origins – my mom did have her DNA tested at Ancestry, as did I, but it didn’t help her during her lifetime).

I carried my sons in my womb and they nursed at my breast.  No one could be more their mother than I am.  I’ve been with them almost every day of their lives, though I have had to be away from them occasionally.  My husband has never been away from them.  He is genetically related to them.

It is odd to wrap my own mind around the truth.  They are not related to me genetically nor to anyone else I am related to genetically.  There have been times, when in an argument with my husband, I have felt keenly he has more right to them than I do.  Even so, I love them with all of my heart.  My youngest son did lament to me that he has none of my genes but he would not exist otherwise.  The reality has to be absorbed by each of us.  In fundamental ways, nothing has changed.

Complete Moving Forward

It is that end where nothing actually changes but we move forward into the next one which this year also sees the change into a new decade.

I feel a sense of completion this year as I have continued to learn about the impacts of adoption and the wounds of separating children from their mothers.  I have spent the last year reviewing the most significant events of my entire life.  One was being the executor of my deceased parents’ estate.  I have no doubt that it was a blessing that my parents, both adoptees and high school sweethearts who were married for over 60 years, died only 4 months apart.  I had to make arrangements for my mentally ill sister’s support in ways my parents feared to initiate.  Sadly, my lifelong close relationship with her was wrecked by my having to do so as there was no one else who could.

I also finally managed to come full circle in learning who my original grandparents were and because they are all dead, managing to find living descendants with whom I can begin to create new relationships.  I recognize that relationships are not instantaneous and we have lost decades but I do my best to go forward and feel a wholeness and peace that I could not even know I was lacking until I found that.

A year ago, I self-published a limited edition of our family’s true history and genetic cultural roots.  Sadly, it wrecked a relationship with one of my nephews.  Honestly though, there was barely a relationship there.  That he could not see the purpose of my revealing what I did related to his own relationships with his maternal line, I can’t help.  Though I regret his decision to close the door on half his family, I still feel the information was necessary within the family and so I accept the outcome with sadness.

I’ve spent the last year rewriting a commercial version of my story that includes the aspects mentioned above.  I had not gone into my parents’ deaths and the ramifications of those deaths in the previous publication but realized that to tell the story of my discovery of my grandparents, it was necessary to look at that difficult time in my own life to give context to the final miracle that unfolded.

In the coming year, I do hope to acquire a literary agent and find this book commercially published.  May that prove to be so.  Best wishes to all of you who have chosen to read my blog over the last year.  I hope you continue to follow me and if my hopes and dreams come true, will want to buy and review my book.  Happy New Year – soon.  Like in a few hours now.

 

 

Love Isn’t Always On Time

Since I believe reality is never wrong, I know that my parents conception, birth, adoption, marriage, parenting was all just as it was meant to be.  No one escapes this Life without wounds and some are more wounded than others but we were not promised a rose garden when we agreed to spend some time incarnated upon this planet.

So the romantic relationships and/or marriages that conceived my parents were not wrong.  I do believe my grandparents all loved one another.  The Great Depression and a lack of social safety nets certainly played it’s role in separating my grandparents and in separating their children from them.

In learning about my true, genetic roots, one of my joys has been to discover that every one of my grandparents eventually found a lasting love with someone else.  Every one of them remarried and stayed married until death.

So in a bizarre paradoxical way, I accept that all the sadness and grief were somehow necessary for me to be conceived.  It was also necessary for the souls of my grandparents to learn and grow into better people who could find love and stay married after their early failures.

Love.  It is what we are here to do.

An Un-fill-able Yearning

Now my adoptive grandparents did love us.  It is true and I’d never say they did not.  My adoptive grandmothers were both deeply religious too.

One of those Facebook quizzes that goes around quite a lot asked –

14. If you could talk to ANYONE right now who would be?

My answer was –

My real grandparents – never got to know them alive

Hearing about them from newly discovered “real” relations does help these nebulous persons become more real for me but nothing can fill the deep desire in my heart to be in their presence, to feel their personal energies and to be held and in deep conversation one-on-one with them.  That will have to wait for the great reunion that can’t occur while I yet live and breathe on the Earth plane.

The closest indications I have of their natures, is what my own two parents were like in life, and I do believe they embodied the deepest core characteristics of the parents that my own parents never had the opportunity to know because they were each given up for adoption and raised by strangers – even if the strangers were entirely well-meaning (which I acknowledge they were).

Prenatal Mental Illness Influences

Today is my youngest sister’s birthday but we are estranged due to her hostility towards me which cause is her mental illness.  I read about this book in a recent Time magazine.  It is listed as one of the 10 best nonfiction books for 2019.  I bought it so that I might understand what has happened to my youngest sister better.  This may seem like an odd topic for this blog but actually it is highly relevant.

I’ve only started reading the first essay but I was struck by this statistic – People diagnosed with schizophrenia are more likely to be born in the winter than in the summer – perhaps due to maternal infection during pregnancy.  I have previously written about intergenerational transmission of trauma.  There is a high likelihood of that in my family with both parents being adoptees.

Biological features may mark a susceptibility to already established disorders as well as what types of stressors are most likely to transform those susceptibilities into illness.  I suspect that my sister was always vulnerable.  Something happened to her at some point that caused a marked downturn in her mental health from which she has not yet and may never re-emerge.  She spent some time homeless, which is itself a stressor and I believe caused some of her delusions as she attempted to justify her unconventional lifestyle.

My sister also gave up her only child for adoption.  Adoption was a natural condition in our family even though I now know it is not natural by any stretch of the imagination.  Still, it was her choice from the moment she was aware she was pregnant.  I’ve often wondered now that I know more about mother/child separations if this has been an additional stressor.

She speaks of a subsequent pregnancy that was murdered within her.  I doubt that one also took place but one never knows with her.  One of the ways I have coped with her odd mental functioning is to simply listen without judging the validity of what she tells me because I believe some truth always lies within the stories but the interpretation of the meaning of those stories is off in some manner.

In a review of the book I am reading, I saw this question –

Is there some inner self that lies beyond the reaches of mental illness, a consciousness that disease makes invisible but leaves intact ?

Because I do believe in an eternal consciousness that is ever evolving through a variety of physical lifetime experiences, I do believe there is a witness who knows all of the whys and wherefores.

Not Real

This is complicated.  It is weird growing up knowing your grandparents, aunts and uncles and cousins are not really related to you.  That is what it is like when BOTH of your parents were adopted.  Adoptees experience adoption as individually as any two people experience reality.

My mom had to stop creating the family trees on Ancestry because she said to me, it just isn’t real.  She somewhat hollowly said she was glad she was adopted but I knew from long years as her confidant that wasn’t totally true.  She was glad that as a Georgia Tann baby she didn’t end up in worse circumstances.  She ended up in a wealthy home with privileges.

So much so, that when she conceived me with a boy that came from very humble beginnings, her parents really felt disappointed that she had married below her class.  My adoptive grandparents never shared family holidays until I was well into maturity and then I only remember one occasion when the 3 of them were all present for one Thanksgiving (my mom’s adoptive father having died long before that time).

While my adoptive grandparents certainly played their roles for real and had an enormous impact on all of our lives, now that I know the truth of who my parent’s original parents were, that is who I think of when I think about my grandparents, even though I had no in life real experiences with them.

At my age, it is not uncommon for one’s parents to have died and if that is so, one’s grandparents have also died.  It’s not that I think those adoptive aunts, uncles and cousins are not really “good” people – they are.

Yet, now that I have cousins and one aunt who are genetically related to me, I’m all about slowly without a lot of force, experiencing their lives and all that unfolds in any human life as a way that I can become better acquainted.  To build familial relationships with people that share some of my genetic DNA during whatever time we have left in this world.

Difficult Mother Daughter Relationships

Having been able to obtain my mother’s adoption file, I know how over the moon happy her adoptive mother was when my mom was a baby and a toddler.  Having seen a photo of my mom’s original mother holding her, I also know where our big boned skeletons came from.

When I was growing up, I knew my mom had a difficult relationship with her adoptive mother.  What changed ?  I believe my adoptive grandmother was very hard on my mom due to her body size – not that she was fat.  Later in life, she may have been overweight and she struggled with that and was always dieting, but she was never obese.

I believe part of the explanation is the common issue that many adoptees struggle with – not feeling like they are good enough.  From my mom, I know that she described her adoptive mother as a perfectionist.  Since I knew this woman from childhood, I understand.  She was a perfectionist.  And she was extraordinarily accomplished at a lot of things.

My mom struggled with body image issues.  My grandmother’s own mother and sister were portly.  My grandmother was clearly determined to remain thin her whole life.  I remember when I was in England with her and sitting in a restaurant in our upscale hotel, The Dorchester across the street from Hyde Park in London.  In public view, she loudly admonished me for eating a dinner roll with butter.  I was so humiliated and angry at her that I wouldn’t speak to her until the next morning.  I was decidedly not fat at that age.  My grandmother feared I would become fat.

Mostly, I had a good relationship with my mom.  We had our moments but it would be remarkable if there had been none.  She really wasn’t wrong in those moments.  The issues were my privacy (she opened one of my personal letters) and a disagreement about a choice I made which she would not have (letting my daughter go and live with her father and step-mother when I could not support her financially and he refused to pay child support).

Yet, my mom had a terrible relationship with my youngest sister that came back to haunt me after my mom died and I had to assume control of my birth family’s finances.  My sister transferred those feelings onto me, once accusing me of hating her.  It is painful even now to consider that, for when this sister was homeless and when she was going through an unwed pregnancy, I was the only family member steadfastly at her side (and mostly, that was her choice).

I don’t have any answers to these situations but I do see how, even though they really were “good enough” parents, with both of my parents being adoptees, that a result was what I now describe as having been “weirdly detached”.