23 & Me Does It Again

Today’s story from an adoptee (not me) –

Just found some family members through 23 and me, and posted about it to a moms group that I’m in. One of these moms is cautioning me that it might be too upsetting for them to find out about me. I thought that group was supposed to be there for support for me? I guess that can’t really happen anywhere except among fellow adoptees have been told their whole life that their very existence might bother someone. I’m so done with that. My existence is amazing and wonderful and if it bothers anyone else that’s not my fault. I am treading lightly and my note to them was very sweet and sensitive I think. If they have signed up for 23 and me that, they know what might come. They don’t have to have their family tree public.

I am shaking and feel like crying now honestly. I’m so done with people lecturing me about how important everyone else’s feelings are. Wasn’t that what my whole life was about? Shame and secrets? Wasn’t that what caused the 20 years of connecting with my birth mom to be partly wonderful and partly stressful? I wasn’t even invited to her own memorial service. My own birth mom that I was close to, I thought, for 20 years. Connection and truth should not be traumatizing. If it is, the trauma was caused by other people and there is healing that is possible. That’s the energy and vibe I feel and I’m not going to march into somebody’s house screaming who I am, either literally or energetically.

I do have concern about how they will emotionally feel and let them decide how and when to talk to other family members if they ever do. Or not. That’s their choice as well. But I do think I have a right to know who I am and I’m very excited to at least know the names of some of my relatives in my ancestry a lot more.

Thank you for having this group (an all things adoption and foster care and not of the rainbows and unicorns sunshine always variety on Facebook) because I know that the adoptees feelings and experience is centered and of primary importance. They always talk about adoption helping the baby so much and how grateful we are supposed to be. We’re supposed to be grateful for being told our whole lives that we should be careful how everyone feels? And worship only the adoptive parents in this triad? Nope. Everyone in this experience deserves their feelings and thoughts to be fully 100% honored. There is no competition. I’m just sick of people making this like a competition for feelings.

Trying to focus to get ready to go to a job interview now and it’s pretty challenging with all of this on my mind but mostly I am very excited. (Oh, and I might’ve actually gone to school with one of my 2nd cousins….!)

I Am Adopted

Hi, my name is Meggan, and I’m a transracial adoptee. I picture myself seated in a circle with other adoptees as I type that.

“Hi Meggan,” they’d respond, and then I would share my story of heartache and sorrow to the only group of people who will ever truly understand. The truth is, though, that kind of support doesn’t exist for adoptees yet, and it should.

I am half white and half black, and back in 1982 that made me undesirable in most prospective adoptive parents’ eyes, so it took a few months until I was adopted. My adoptive family is white, so I never grew up understanding or connecting with my black heritage.

My mom kept in touch with my birth mother through letters, and I was grateful to have at least half of a connection to my roots.

Growing up, I was never around people who looked like me. I was constantly asked questions like “what are you?” or “what’s your background?” I was a mystery that people felt they needed to solve and as an adoptee, I trod carefully and simply agreed with their guesses. Kind of like this…

“What are you? What’s your background?”

“I was adopted, so I’m not sure what my background is.”

“You look Lebanese/Italian/Aboriginal/etc. That’s probably what you are.”

“Sure, maybe that’s it.”

It’s kind of silly, but I’ve had that conversation thousands of times throughout my life. I know people mean well, but this is often the plight of a transracial adoptee who is in the dark about his or her background.

I’m asked about familial history at every doctor’s appointment, and I only ever had half of it.

“Does cancer run in your family?”

“I have no idea.”

The look of confusion used to get to me, but I eventually got accustomed to it.

Adoptees don’t have a right to their history the way everyone else on the planet does.

I used to struggle with my identity feeling like I had none and floating through life like a chameleon. How could I have a voice if I didn’t know who I was or where I came from?

How could I speak my truth when people in my biological family told me not to?

No wonder adoptees have some of the highest mental health issues and suicide rates. We’re told to be grateful that we were chosen when deep down, we feel like we were abandoned.

We’re told we have no right to complain because we could’ve been killed instead.

We’ve been silenced for far too long, and out of respect for everyone around us, we’ve walked on eggshells trying not to disrupt the waters.

It’s only recently that I’ve been able to step into who I was created to be truly. We were never meant to live life without boundaries, without a backbone, or without a voice.

It’s time to change all that, step into who we were meant to be, and live our lives as authentically as possible.

Are you coming?

💛 Meggan Larson has a Facebook group for trauma overcomers: www.facebook.com/groups/weareconquerorsnow

💛 Connect with Meggan on IG: www.instagram.com/sheinspiresfreedom

💛 Website: https://megganlarson.com

💛 Please take a moment and leave Meggan a few words of support, encouragement, and love in the comments.

💛 Join me in raising awareness of adoptee mental health by sharing this post.

#adopteementalhealthstories #nationaladoptionawarenessmonth #naam

Abandonment Part 1

Abandonment is a common, often unconscious, trauma issue in adoptees. However, there are many variations. When parents divorce and when one or both of the original parents of a child re-marry, it is not uncommon that the parental relationship of either the mother or the father suffers. More often it is the father, in my case in the mid-1970s, I was the absentee parent though I never thought of myself as having abandoned my precious daughter, she may have had experiences of that because at times I was not accessible to contact due to the partner I was living with.

Today’s story isn’t my own but another one where the abandonment behavior was even more extreme and where the original mother is considering adoption because her daughter wants a sibling (and many times after my divorce, my daughter did express to me the same desire for a sibling). In her case, her dad remarried a woman with a daughter from another marriage and then they had a daughter together. A yours, mine and ours family. Quite a bit later in time, I conceived and gave birth to two sons with my current, second husband. Here’s that story from a woman who has joined my adoption community.

I’m a 38 year old married woman with 2 children. 20 year old female stepdaughter and 14 year old bio daughter who is not my husbands. I had a hysterectomy 4 years ago and was devastated. My hubby and I don’t have any children together. I was invited to join this group because we have seriously been considering adopting. I wanted to learn as much as possible before starting the path.

Here’s my realization and questions. My 14 year old is amazing. Her bio dad and I had a great relationship until he met his now wife. Once she came into the picture his relationship with his daughter started to change. He saw her less and less, skipped visits, ignored me, etc.. then one day when she was 9 he served me papers and wanted to sever his custody. I was shocked. I didn’t understand. His daughter loves him. We never had any issues, I didn’t even ask him to ever pay a dime in child support. I have only just wanted them to have a relationship. There was no talking to him or his wife. They made up their minds. I refused to sign off.

They wanted my hubby to adopt my daughter and even though my hubby would do it in a heartbeat I refused. I wanted my daughter to be able to go to him one day and have the right to know why he gave her up. So I have full legal and physical custody and he has waived all visitation. I told my beautiful 9 year old girl that her daddy just needs a break from being a dad. That he has a lot of work and I’m sure he will see her soon. Yes I lied. I was hoping he’d come to his senses. So far he hasn’t.

During this time I have really tried to foster a relationship between his parents and my daughter. Also his sister and her kids. I WANT my daughter to have a relationship with her family. They really don’t know why he did this other than to say that his wife doesn’t want kids, did not like that her husband and I were on friendly terms (I am happily married, just wanted a good relationship with my ex for the sake of my daughter), and gave him an ultimatum… his daughter or her. He chose wrong.

Over the years the relationship with his parents has gotten strained. I have to be the one to reach out to them. They always mail birthday and Christmas gifts but don’t ever ask to see her. I offer to drive her to their house and pick her up, really everything to keep peace and give her a good relationship with them. She’s 14 now and hasn’t seen her dad since she was 9. She does know the truth behind his abandonment now.

We have been through YEARS of therapy. A suicide attempt, partial hospitalization, etc… she has a lot of issues in regards to this. We work on it every day and let her know how much we love her and that she is not worthless. She just doesn’t know/understand why her dad would do this to her.

Anyway, that’s my back story. So here is my other situation. I want to adopt. I want to be able to give a loving home to a child who may not have one currently. I’m not delusional in thinking that adopting is this sunshine and rainbows situation where there wouldn’t be trauma and issues. Seeing how my daughter has suffered with abandonment I have some insight.

Yes, I know it would be different because my daughter still has one bio parent where an adopted child possibly wouldn’t. I’m also completely open to having an open adoption where the child would have a relationship with their parents. I’m not going to lie to you all and say there isn’t a selfish component here. Yes, I DO want a child. I have grieved over the loss of being able to have any more children biologically. I just feel that we have a lot of love and support to offer.

I am going to leave it here for today and not go into her questions or the responses because this is long enough.

Secrets

Even in this day and age, some prospective adoptive couples believe they can have a closed adoption and that their adoptee child will never know that truth.  However, secrets have a way of outing themselves eventually.  These adoptive parents could probably convince themselves that this child is 100% theirs and has no ties to other living human beings but that would be self-delusion.

A couple wrote, after 3 years of marriage it is clear that the husband is incapable of procreating a child of his own. This is the second marriage for the woman and she has a daughter that is 10 years old. It is said that it is this little girl that is motivating a quest to adopt a baby because she wants to be a big sister. Since it has become evident that the husband is incapable of causing a conception, they feel like a piece is missing from their family. They don’t want the adopted child to know that truth.  Therefore, they want a closed adoption.

The 10 year old isn’t going to know this sibling is adopted and can keep the whole thing a secret ?  I don’t think so.  Yet, this couple is so deluded that they are advertising their search on the internet ?  Like, don’t they know, stuff on the net is there eternally ?  Do they really believe these circumstances can be kept private ?

An adoption on this basis is set up on lies.

One adoptive parent admits – How many of us embarked on this journey not knowing much and blossomed and opened our mind to new things after having mentors and people who really cared about helping us learn. In fact many of us yearned for an open adoption and then life had different plans that didn’t allow that to happen? I see a lot of people passing judgement. I do think this couple will have a rude awakening, no secret big or small remains that way for a lifetime, however I hope that they can find the right people to educate them on their journey.

An adoptee shares – It’s hard enough growing up when you know you were adopted! Closed adoption is never, ever the answer, and closed *secret* adoption should be effing illegal. Well, all of it should be illegal but let’s start somewhere!

If there is going to be an adoption at all, then I am all for open adoption and keeping the birth family involved. To me you are not just adopting a child, you are adopting a family. Whether you have a closed adoption or an open one, that child will always have another family. You simply cannot erase that reality and what about DNA testing that is so prevalent now ?  That is how some adoptees that were lied to find out the truth.

Correcting that thought about “adopting a family” – that isn’t accurate and is impossible, even under the most charitable of situations.  The reason those impacted are turning against adoption is that bottom line – it is taking a child away from the family they were born into.

Once again – can’t we just support families ?  Financially, physically, emotionally and mentally.  Whatever they need to stay intact ?  Why is that so hard for society to come to terms with ?

 

St Anne’s in Maryland

Some charitable organizations endure. When I saw this article, I thought of Porter-Leath in Memphis but the outcome for my grandmother (losing her infant, for which she was only seeking temporary care until she could get on her feet) was not so good.

St. Anne’s Center for Children, Youth and Families in Hyattsville Maryland has existed for 160 years. They were originally an orphanage and a maternity hospital.  The organization founded during a crisis has reinvented itself time and again since.  The same could be said for Porter Leath as well.

The organization was created in 1860 to serve women and children during the Civil War and it continued to do so through the 1918 flu pandemic, both World Wars, the Great Depression and now, a new pandemic.

Over the years, it has changed its name and purpose. It went from “asylum” to an “orphanage” to a “center” that now houses mothers and children, sometimes for years, if that’s what they need to successfully escape homelessness.

In recent times, they have seen incredible successes like they had not seen before in terms of families leaving them and going into permanent housing. It’s nothing short of incredible how these families are doing that.

When a single mother with a young child comes to St. Anne’s, she and her daughter are given a furnished apartment complete with a bookshelf filled with children’s books. They share a kitchen, laundry room and playground with other families, but otherwise have their own space.

One such mother said –

“I used to say, ‘I don’t want her to remember any of this stuff,’ ” she says of her daughter. “Now, I want her to see where we were, and how we are in a much more amazing place. I want her to see, ‘My mommy did it, my mommy figured it out, she took care of what we had to take care of.’ ”

When they move into their new house, she says, she wants her daughter to know that from these hard times, her mom created something better for them.

Adoption Or Foster Care

I’ve been reading a book about one girl’s experiences in foster care to better inform myself about a system I have no experience with.  Adoption ?  Though not adopted myself nor have I given up a child to adoption, I have LOTS of experience – both parents were adoptees and both sisters gave up a child to adoption.  I also spend significant time each day within a private Facebook group that includes original parents, adoptees and former foster youth, and adoptive (or hopeful) parents.  I learn a lot there that broadens my perspectives.

Some of the major differences I am understanding – foster care does not alter the child’s identity (doesn’t change their name or birth certificate).  Foster care is less permanent or certain.  The goal in a lot of foster care is eventual reunification of the family unit.  The quality of foster care varies but a bad placement can be gotten out of.  Not all foster parents treat the foster child well nor do they really care about what is happening to the child.  Some actually do it for the money (NOT saying most or all do it for that reason).

Adoption is a PERMANENT solution to what is a temporary problem when talking about an unwed mother or a poverty situation.  Adoption does provide a more certain home environment than foster care does but the double edge sword is that if it is an awful placement, most of the time the child is simply trapped there (I’ve read enough nightmare stories to believe this).  That said, there are also “second chance” adoptions where the adoptive parents want to be rid of a troublesome child.  This is very sad for the child as it sends a debilitating message about the worth of that child.

Most of the time, adoptive parents change the child’s name and to some extent their cultural identity if it is a transracial adoption.  Some adoptive parents hide the date and/or location of the child’s birth to place an obstacle in the way of the parent/child unit reuniting.  Genetic family bonds are broken or permanently lost.  Even when such direct family is recovered later in life, so much life experience and inter-relationship is lost that it is nearly impossible to rebuild.  I understand this as I have been able to learn what my own parents could not – who my original grandparents were.  Along with learning that, I have acquired new family relationships with genetically related aunts and cousins.

I acknowledge that not all children are going to be parented by the people who gave birth to them.  This is a reality.  I would also argue that as a society we do NOT do enough to keep families intact and could do much better.  I would further add that MONEY plays a HUGE role in perpetuating the separation of mothers from their children.  That money could be better spent with less traumatic outcomes on the natural family and its supports.

The Liar’s Club

It never ceases to amaze me how I end up reading books with no idea they are relevant to my interests here and then, near the end of the book, something happens and I’m like Wow !!

I don’t believe that what I will share with you would in any way spoil a reading of Mary Karr’s book. There is a mother/child separation and reunion story that occurs near the end of this book.

She writes – “Those were my mother’s demons, then, two small children, whom she longed for and felt ashamed for having lost. ‘It was like a big black hole just swallowed me up. Or like the hole was inside me, and been swallowing me up all those years without my even noticing. I just collapsed into it. What’s the word the physicists use? Imploded. I imploded’.”

“Mother did what seemed at the time the Right Thing, though had she Thought, she may have Thought Twice about how Right the Right Thing would wind up being, for surely it drove her mad. She tore up the papers giving her sole custody of the two minor children, Tex and Belinda.”

After she found a husband willing to take them, they were too big, “They didn’t want to come.”

And why hadn’t her mother told her subsequent daughters about the marriage and the lost children ? “It’s one of the more pathetic sentences a sixty-year-old woman can be caught uttering, ‘I thought you wouldn’t like me anymore’.”

Her sister hired a detective and they found those kids. They were damn eager to be found and within weeks arrived at her Mother’s house, bright and fresh-faced and curious as all get-out.

Karr tells her story with spunky narration that never fails to stay in a deep love for her admittedly flawed parents. Their flaws never seem to be a lack of love for these their children but more personal in nature, though impacting their ability to parent well. I do highly recommend her story. It is riveting and even scary at times. There is one significant sexual abuse episode that could be triggering for certain readers.

Without Us

It is difficult being a woman.  It is difficult being a mother.  It is difficult being a wife, a daughter or a sister.  Sometimes it is difficult having women friends.  Today is International Women’s Day.

I was in a difficult romantic relationship with a dangerous man. He lived in dangerous ways and he was dangerous for my own self to be with. More than once he physically hit me. I’m not denying that my own behavior may have pushed him over the edge those times but I also know that whatever holds a man back from harming a woman, if he is able to break through that barrier even once, the risk then exists that it will be easier for him to go through that same barrier the next time. So eventually I left his physical presence. I planned my leaving carefully to be able to safely go. I saved money from what was allotted to me for groceries by buying wisely over a long period of time and I left without saying goodbye. After I was safely at a distance, I notified him that I wasn’t coming back.

It took that courage of leaving to put me into alignment with meeting my husband, so I could live in this deeply nourishing place where I feel very safe and am contented. And it took other actions too, like being brave enough to place a personal ad in a weekly entertainment newspaper in St Louis, without which I would have never come in contact with the man I married a little over a year later. Traveling through life is a lot like being in a car where I always know that I can never actually get truly “lost”. All roads eventually go somewhere and one can always backtrack and find a “somewhere” that we recognize. Leaving can be like backtracking to where you were comfortably confident in your own self, after the damage an abusive relationship can inflict upon a person. I know that all experiences – the good and the bad – end up somewhere else eventually. In that there is a great deal of comfort and a real confidence for living through it all.

My family supports the regional women and children’s shelter.  They support women and their children to survive domestic violence and end up in a better place.  They help keep mothers and their children together.  If you have the opportunity to do anything that will keep a mother together with her children, please consider doing so.  The future of our humanity depends on us being here.

Misunderstood

Suddenly, friends and family have discovered what I have been writing about daily for over a year and they are understandably confused.  I would not have understood before about two years ago myself.  Both of my parents were adopted and so adoption was the most natural thing in the world to me.  Both of my sisters gave up children to adoption.  What I can say is that ignorance is bliss.

But for adoption I would not exist and I never forget that.  But for adoption my mother would have grown up in abject poverty instead of the privileges of wealth as the child of a banker and socialite.  My husband has said that my story could be viewed as pro-adoption and that is the truth.

Even so, I cannot ignore the many voices of adoptees and the original mothers who have suffered because adoption carries with it inherent wounds and that is what I tend to try and explain in this blog.

Even so, today I read a heartwarming story.  I am sympathetic to the pain of infertility.  I do believe that couples who have struggled with that really DO need to seek counseling before adopting any child.

Back to that heartwarming story.  A couple was traveling on an airplane with their 8 day old adopted daughter.  The mother have given birth in Colorado.  It had been nine long years of fertility treatments, miscarriages and adoption stress for this couple.

A flight attendant announced that he’d be passing out napkins and pens for anyone who wanted to jot down a message for the new parents. The cabin erupted into cheers and applause. A steady stream of people came by to coo and congratulate the couple.

One of the napkins read: “I was adopted 64 years ago. Thank you for giving this child a loving family to be part of. Us adopted kids need a little extra love. Congratulations.”  YES, some adoptees are truly grateful and I do not doubt that but I pause on that thought “adopted kids need a little extra love.”  Hmmmm.

The flight attendants explained to the couple that they are married, and a fellow flight attendant had done this for them while they were on their honeymoon. They wanted to pay it forward.

The new father shared, “Adoption is wild with uncertainty.  You wonder, is this birth mother going to choose us? What happens if she changes her mind, if she backs out?”  The overwhelming support the couple felt during that plane trip was also a time when they were worried that their daughter might somehow be stigmatized.

Southwest Airlines released a statement saying, in part, that the crew showed “kindness and heart” on that flight.  Common kindness always matters.  I actually do care about every part of the adoption triad.  Just saying.

Gotcha Day

It is hard to believe but it is true, some families actually celebrate the legal finalizing of a child’s great loss as something like a birthday or holiday.  Gotha Day is actually a real thing.  I suppose it truly is a happy moment for them. But it seems to mistake what is happy for them when it is also a very sad day for others.

This official transfer of a child is a loss for the birth parents as well as their child. It is likely the natural mom and maybe the natural dad as well have never cried harder than they ever did that day they signed those papers giving another couple the legal right to call their child someone else’s own child. It is bittersweet. Nothing more and nothing less.

Now that I know about the wounds of adoption, it is even harder for me to accept that my adoptee mom actually had the nerve to encourage my sister to give up her daughter for adoption. Unbelievable but true and that is the reality.

Our own parents (both adoptees) were not willing to risk financial responsibility and so made it literally impossible for my sister to care for her daughter/their granddaughter as she would surely have done had she had adequate support. My sister even tried to get government assistance but was told that our parents wealth made her ineligible because she was living in their home due to her pregnancy. Another unbelievable but true fact.

Gotcha day is what some adoptive parents call the day the birth parents signed their rights away and often that is the day that the adoption agency and the adoptive parents stopped talking to the natural parents. They all got what they came for – except someone else had to lose to make that possible.

The adoptive parents now have possession and control.