Many of you know that 3 1/2 years ago began an amazing journey of finding my birth family. You saw the reunion photos and videos. You read the unbelievable stories that unfolded around my birth and decisions made. What many of you don't know is the other side of my awesome "adoption story". November is marked as National Adoption Awareness Month, and honestly as an adopted person, I feel like it only gives one side of the story. In those beginning stages of adoption reunion, I began to write. Call it self healing, therapeutic, whatever.... I needed a safe place to say the things I never allowed my heart to say out loud. Up until today, I have kept this as more of a private side of my life, but today I'm feeling the need to validate the other side of the story. There's truly never just one side of a story.
Someone recently asked me if I would ever be at peace about my adoption story. What I heard was " why can't you just get over it". That's not what they said, but how I eternalized the question. Probably because I ask myself this every day. Why can't I get over it? It's like I've returned to this child like self wanting to be reassured that I'm loved, I'm wanted, and I'm enough. My answer to the question was, I'm at peace EXCEPT for the part that society only has a one sided belief on adoption.
It's beautiful. It's God's plan. I was given a better life. I'm LUCKY and my favorite "at least you weren't aborted". At least! You wouldn't believe how many people say that to my face. My mouth usually drops and I think, should my response be THANKS, YOU TOO?!?!
The other side of the story, and one I'm finally feeling brave enough to share is that being adopted isn't ALL beautiful. There isn't one adoption story that didn't first begin with loss. Close your eyes and imagine your mother or father being separated from you. Close your eyes and imagine your child no longer a part of your life. That's not beautiful....it's heartbreaking. There's science and data to back it up that even children separated at birth suffer trauma. I was told after asking if I'd ever be at peace with my adoption story, that I couldn't change peoples minds. That there was nothing I could do and I thought that was so crazy. They are right that adoption will always be around and needed in the case of child endangerment or the lack of resources to parent, but that's like saying we should never speak out against violence, racism, research cancer treatment....you get my point. The thought that I'm only one person and my voice won't matter is honestly a lie.
My decision to be vocal comes not only from the need to heal myself, but also help others who have yet to find their voice because it's scary to be vulnerable.
It comes from a decision that I was going to use my experience to help others navigate adoption with a view from one that has lived it. Up until recently the only voice elevated by adoption was that from adoptive parents. They have a wealth of knowledge in many areas but can never tell you what it's like to be adopted. It's like seeking skydiving instruction from the pilot instead of a skilled, experienced skydiver. You can't know, what you don't know.
My whole life, I never talked to other adoptees about ALL of the emotions of being adopted until recently ( I'm 43 that's crazy) and it's been SOOOOO healing to feel seen and understood. To hear them echo things and say ME TOO. I'm overly thankful for their bravery, vulnerability, and most of all this weird tribe that's become friends by the connection we share. I've had beautiful conversations with adoptive parents who desperately want to get it right and to understand how to talk to their children about adoption or understand things they may carry in a deep, hidden place. I've had adoptees contact me as they've struggled with depression and even suicidal thoughts. While I'm no therapist, there is an honor, a sacred feeling, that they saw me as a safe place to let it all out. I've conversed with birthmothers some young who are at the very beginning stages of grief after recently relinquishing their child, and mothers who have carried this pain and anguish for many, many years. I've yet to have one conversation with a first mother where they expressed not wanting their child. On the contrary I've heard numerous stories of simply lacking support.
So this November I'm asking you to think of adoption with a new lens and understand that there is no shame in sharing the full story. Admitting that sometimes adoption is hard doesn't make me ungrateful. It makes me beautifully human. The story is complex and often misunderstood, but it's my story to tell. Bare with me when its difficult. Those who know me well know that while adoption reunion has been everything I ever dreamt about ( I have them back in my life THANK GOD) the only way I can describe it is like having a very old wound where the bandage has been ripped off. Will I ever stop checking to see if they think I'm too much? I don't want to be too much, I just want to feel free to be real. I've been a little raw and bloody lately but I also know the only way out is through. No more stuffing or denying of feelings. Wasn't it Winnie the Pooh who said " How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye hard"? If I had to rework that statement to fit adoption it might read " How lucky I am to know how beautiful AND hard it is to say goodbye and Hello again. It means we are ALL worthy of being loved and known. and THAT is beautiful.
A couple weeks ago, I opened up Facebook to a post shared by someone on my friend list. A post about a young, 5 year old girl, telling her adoptive mother her memories of her adoption story. I'll tell you what....this little girl was ADORABLE, but the viral oversharing of her sacred story was NOT. Did this young girl give permission to have such intimate details about her life go viral? That's the part that I think many people who are not adopted don't realize...that this so very sacred story ultimately begins with great loss. Whatever this little ones story is ( or my story for that matter) began with losing her entire first family, her heritage, ethnicity, and most likely a big chunk of her understanding of her identity. Reading the comments and the amount of shares this video got made me feel sad, misunderstood, and so alone in this world.
I can't share this little girls story, but I can share my own. I was once her age with so many emotions that ran through my little mind without the proper language or true understanding to explain any of it. I was a happy child and we loved one another truly, deeply, madly but no amount of love made me not think about my first family, wonder where they were, and as my young mind processed it, wonder why I wasn't enough. Something must of have been wrong with me. When people would ask " don't you want to know who your REAL family is" I would shy away from the question or say I didn't need to know anything because I already had a family to love. Do you see the half truth in that? Do you see how a little girl, who believes that if the one person who should love her the most walked away...that it's possible everyone else in her life might do the same? Don't rock the boat. Stick to the script. Be grateful. Smile and push it down.
When I hear this little girl telling the story that when her parents adopted her, that the first time she saw her adoptive mother, her heart "fell in love" with her I wonder if she could REALLY remember if that was what went through her little mind? It's more likely she was scared, confused, even heartbroken for all that she had lost. I have no doubt this sweet child loves her adoptive family, but what if her fairytale version of the story changes down the road 10-15-20 years from now, and this time she's wrestling with all of the hard emotions and questions of adoption. Will she still be considered adorable? In my experience the adult adoptee isn't invited to the adoption conversation unless they share a story of it being the best thing ever to happen to them, a Disney movie script, win win for all, God's plan for my life type of recollection. Bend from that narrative even in the slightest, and you are told to just be grateful you weren't aborted.
I want to throw up barricades to protect these young adoptees who's stories are being shared for the world. I'm sure the family is a LOVELY family, but the video didn't just magically turn on as the child shared her heart with her mother. There might of been some staging involved to capture the perfect moment, to place on the blog or social media platform of choice. All of a sudden the story turns from the child and it's really about the parent. You may disagree, but I see it time and time again in this social media hungry world we live in. Adoptive parents sharing away. No topic is off limit including the biological mothers drug problems, or the child attachment issues, or the financial costs of this child. All I can say is THANK GOD I didn't grow up in a time where my mom blogged about my separation issues or how horrible my birth family is and tagged it #adoptionrocks or that I might stumble across her social media trail later in life. What will we see from this next generation of adoptees? SMH
If videos like this make you have all the feels, I beg you to also consider it through a new lens. Think about if this were your child and while adoption brought you together, it was adoption that ripped her apart on the inside first. Consider your deepest pain and how you would like others to carry it. With great and gentle care or for the audiences appeal?
You might not be able to fix the pain
But sit with me through it
There might be hard truths, and messy understanding
You can give a soft place to land.
That doesn't mean trying to fix me, or avoid it all together
It means taking a seat in the back row and lighting a candle
It means less talk, and more listening
it's a YOU before ME mentality
This is holding space for the unknown...the path you've never walked
This is how you carry a sacred story
I've been thinking a lot about "God's perfect timing." What does that mean in my life, or anyone else on this planet?
I was cleaning out drawers, preparing for new carpet coming in a few weeks, which means all of the furniture must be moved. As I was sorting through the keep and discard piles, I came upon all of my saved adoption reunion papers. My birth records, the letters and photos my birthfather sent when we were reunited, my journals during this time, and folded up was a page from my calendar, April 2016. The calendar was filled with soccer games, work events, end of the year awards banquets for my children, and such. Looking through April 2016, I was washed over with a wave of emotions remembering the waiting. You see, I had located my mother in April of 2016 and sent her a handwritten letter and then I waited. I can look back at each scribble on that calendar and remember, oh yes, this is the day I sent the letter. This is the day I went to work and everyone kept asking me if I had heard from her yet. I remember having to tell them not yet, and pretend that I wasn't dying inside. I'm brought back to the dizzy back and forth of checking the mail and my email first with hope and excitement, and then quickly a gut punch. Day by day the month of April, 2016 I waited until the day marked "Emma- Academic Achievement Award Banquet 6:30". April 27th! This was the day I would open my email and see she was ready to meet me. There she was, and the moment I had waited for my entire life. I would finally meet my mother.
I recall back to that year, and I remember the excitement and buzz of friends and family. People could not get enough of my "story", and they answered "how wonderful! All in God's perfect timing!" I even said it myself writing it in my journal and thanking God for working it all out, making beauty out of ashes...in His perfect timing.
So now I'm sitting here thinking what does that really mean?
God wanted me to wait forty years to know my family?
My father in law passing away, much to young...perfect timing?
To the parents who are saying goodbye as we speak to their sick child in the hospital. God's perfect timing?
To the mothers, children, fathers, grandparents in war stricken countries, unsure if they will live...if they'll have a home, or food to eat? Is this God's perfect timing?
To the foster child who has bounced around from home to home. She doesn't even know what family and unconditional love really looks like. She'll soon age out, and the cycle of her family's past will swallow her. What happened to God's perfect timing?
Ann Lamont says "Faith includes noticing the mess, the discomfort, and letting it be until some light returns."
I'm beginning to wonder if this is one of those cliché things we say, when we don't know how to sit in the discomfort with someone. We mean well and we desperately want to know that God sees our story, and knows our heart- which let me be clear. HE DOES!! But is He plotting and planning, holding back, taking away in some secretive schedule?
"The opposite of faith, is not doubt, but certainty."- Ann Lamont
I'm not certain...but I ponder at the idea that more often than not when we say all in God's perfect timing it cushions the thought of rejection, the thought that the thing we want so badly may never actually happen or that we don't actually trust God. What would have happened had I never found my family? What if like many I found graves instead of open arms? What does this say to those who never see the end result of God's perfect timing?
I don't know?! I happen to believe that God is the farthest thing away from cliché. I imagine that He is like "so you mean to tell me, you believe that I sit up on a throne dangling hope, dangling love and your dreams like a master manipulator? That I would say my perfect timing is tangible for some, but tough luck for the rest? That one mothers loss and one mothers gain equals anything close to being perfect or at the hands of my divine plans?"
The moment we figure God out, God ceases to be God. Faith includes questions, and wrestling with lazy, easy, and cliché answers. Faith is embracing the mystery and embracing what it means to rest in God's love.
Adapted from Alcuin of York:
God go with us. Help us to be an honor to the church.
Give us the grace to follow Christ's word,
to be clear in our task and careful in our speech.
Give us open hands and joyful hearts.
Let Christ be on our lips.
May our lives reflect a love of truth and compassion.
Let no one come to us and go away sad.
May we offer hope to the poor and solace to the disheartened.
Let us walk before God's people, that those who follow us might come into his kingdom.
Let us sow living seeds, words that are quick with life, that faith may be the harvest in peoples hearts.
In word and in example let your light shine in the dark like the morning star.
Do not allow the wealth of this world or its enchantment flatter us into silence as your truth.
Do not permit the powerful, or judges, or our dearest friends to keep us from professing what is right.
I opened up Facebook today to see this quote posted from Brene Brown. Oh dear Brene, how many times have you nailed it for what my adoptee heart feels? How many times in my life have I felt the weight of those who have looked down, instead of meeting my eyes, meeting my heart when it comes to adoption?
I said: I thought of my biological family my entire life.
They said: think about all your adoptive family has done for you.
I said: I need to feel loved.
You said: God planned my separation from my family.
I said: I prayed that my family would not have let me go.
You said: We prayed that she wouldn't change her mind.
I said: Adoption was my GREATEST wound.
You said: #adoptionrocks
I told my story through raw vulnerability and tears.
You told my story at entertainment value, a fairytale with only happy beginnings and endings.
I showed you real life experiences, statistics, and scientific data on trauma.
You called me ANGRY and dismissed me.
When my father in law became very ill from cancer and passed away about 5 years ago, we felt buried in grief. There was a pain that ingulfed our family, and we felt so alone. My father in law was larger than life, and didn't understand the definition of a stranger. He loved tinkering with cars, particularly Fiero's. He belonged to a Fiero Car Club and loved the connection and community he found with these people who became friends. They dined out together, went to car shows together, and even vacationed together. I would guess it was the aspect of finding your tribe and loving them well that attracted him to such a group. My inlaws lived in Omaha, Nebraska which is 3 1/2 hours away from our home. Our friends didn't know my father in law. They didn't know what a loving man he was, they didn't know his favorite pastimes, they didn't know his wife, his other children, his sibilings. Here's what they did know. They knew how to show up in the middle of our pain. When I called and said I had put together a prayer blanket to send to my father inlaw while he went through several rounds of chemo, they showed up. They kneeled on my living room floor, clutching that blanket, and prayed with us while tears rolled down our face. It felt beautiful to not be alone. When he passed away, we never expected our friends to drive 3 1/2 hours to attend a funeral for a man they never knew. They showed up because they loved us and wanted to ease our pain. I will never forget that feeling or what they did for us. They could have easily stayed home. Maybe say something cliché like " God needed him more", but they knew that's bullshit. They know God doesn't need us, but on the contrary we need God, and sometimes that comes in the form of people who show up. Even when it's hard. Even when it would have been easier to look away.
Life is messy, but don't look away. Don't pretend to not see hurt. Find the people who can look you in the eye. And remember, today you might say " I'm sorry you had such a bad experience, but most adopted people are happy",...but what if 5 years, ten years, forty years down the road your child says
Don't look away
Don't pretend to not see the hurt.
Even when the pain is overwhelming.
Adoptee Out Loud
I've been thinking a lot about loss lately. The past few years it seems like my family has been dealing with one loss after another. 5 years ago we lost my father in law to cancer. A long, and grueling battle, that would take the one grandparent in my children's lives who deeply worked on a connection with his grandkids, It seems so unfair and in our face always.
Within months came the loss of my grandparents. First Ruby Jean, my beloved Grandmother who was never afraid to talk about the hard stuff. She knew there never came healing from pretending there was never pain to begin with.
Over the next few years followed my grandfathers, almost exactly one year apart. Saying goodbye meant losing the role of granddaughter. It meant losing the one person who taught me the most about faith, loyalty, and the rare gift of being an expert in "the pause". My grandfather never spoke out of anger, hurt or jealousy. He was skilled in sitting with that feeling first. Praying with total trust, and making sure his response was intentional, loving, and well cared for like a fine gift.
Within the last couple of years we have also said goodbye to my parents who up until recently lived ten minutes away. They moved 1,085 miles away from their family and grandchildren. I wish I could say that the loss is felt because they used to spend quality time with my children or that they had this awesome grandparent relationship. That is not the case. Even when they lived ten minutes away, they were pretty much absent from my children's lives. They could attend birthday parties, an occasional sports event, and grandparents day at the elementary school once a year, but that was the extent of their relationships. Now 1,085 miles away they never call their grandchildren, they never check in, they don't seem to really care. Over the Christmas break my parents were here for two full weeks. They spent next to zero time with my children. Each and every one of my four children expressed wishing they had grandparents who actually wanted to spend time with them. I suggest we go see a movie, and my mom said " oh yes, I really want to see The Mule." A rated R movie about drug muling. I explained that the kids really shouldn't see something like that, and that I was thinking more of a family movie. They went to see The Mule by themselves. I suggested they come over to decorate Christmas cookies and go see the local Christmas light display with our family. They came over for 15 minutes, sat around like lumps on a log instead of making memories with their grandchildren. When I gathered everyone with coats and shoes to leave for the Christmas lights my parents said, "well, we're just going to go now" and headed back to their hotel to sit on Facebook. They filled their week with visits with friends, distant relatives, and never once thought we should make our grandchildren feel like we've missed them. For two weeks I heard my dad say how he couldn't wait to get home to his dogs and how he missed them terribly. Oh, my heart hurts. My kids are pretty dang fantastic, and I will need to stop killing myself trying to make them see that. The loss is technically theirs, but it ripples through my family taking us all down.
Another loss felt over the last couple of years has been our little church. We've consistently met together since my children were babies and it was a group that taught me more about love, family, Jesus and community than any other collected group ever has in my lifetime. Roughly around 10 families give or take over the years that worshiped together, served together, ate together, raised babies together, celebrated together and wept together. They were the people I could trust the most, and be brave and vulnerable with, and I knew....we all knew it was rare. As perfect as this little group felt, we were not perfect nor were we immune to loss. 2016-2017 brought on tough conversations about politics, race, questioning what side of the fence is good, and noble, and true. Feelings were hurt and the pain of it appeared unable to move forward. Some may argue there were other underlining issues, and I'll say there probably was, but to me it was clear. A line was drawn between us and them. So some went in one direction and others in another direction. Our once tight knit group worships in separate buildings, we saw less of one another, and once again the loss sunk in. This one felt like a ton of bricks. This is the group I've always stated felt more like family or the family we CHOSE, but once again there came that inevitable outcome...loss. It's not my friends job to make me feel less abandoned, more whole, you know whatever. It's an unfair role I've placed on people, maybe.
All I know is I know what my heart feels right now is real. Loss is hard. It's hard for us all and for the adoptee it comes at a whole new level. We spend our lives waiting for people to leave. We might even self sabotage. What might be easily brushed off by someone else, we hold onto, certain that there is something shamefully wrong with us. Who could ever love us?
I was watching my dog, Bella the other day. She is a Westie who is mostly adorable but also a lot of crazy. Here is one thing she does though that I need to take notes. Bella will search for the sunny spot in the house everyday. Without fail she finds it. It moves day to day. Some days it's on the stairs, some days in the bedroom, or the kitchen. She'll find that spot, lay down belly up with her heart towards the sun. I know this is true. When you want to feel loved look for ways to love others. When you need a friend, look for ways to be a great friend. When you feel lost or drowning in loss know you are probably not alone. Love to you all friends! If you are feeling the aftermath of loss and letting go- look to the sun and know you are not alone.
There's a tightening in my chest. It's getting harder, and harder to breath. My heart races, and there's this flutter of a rhythm that is off. I'm off. Oh God, I'm so off! Why am I crying again?
The last two years has been the most beautiful and terrifying times of my life. Pre adoption reunion, my adoption wounds were present, they were real, they were also like an out of body experience because there was no room in my life, in the way society views adoption, in the secrecy and shame to be real and honest about those feelings.
Post adoption reunion became the great unraveling, thread by thread...piece by piece. Anxiety and depression tried to take me under. At forty I was meeting my biological family for the first time and I was feeling like I was dying. When I went to the hospital for a complete 360 degree scan of my heart, certain I was having a heart attack, the technician smiled, said you have a perfectly healthy and strong heart. Do you have any stress in your life right now? That's when I smiled. If you only, knew dear sir.
There are waves of feeling so overwhelmed by the love and open arms of my new found family, and then it's always met with thoughts of maybe they think I'm too much. Loving me means facing my cracked open heart, and it's so damn messy.
There are highs and lows of feeling alone in this world. Even the people closest to me will probably never fully understand. It's like I'm trying to communicate without words, or without sound, a sign language very few can understand. It's maddening, so the tears flow, the anger takes over, there's that pain in my chest again....why on earth can't I take a deep breath right now. God, I just want to breathe. Then you find others who know your language, know that unsteady rhythm, and you're like ok maybe I'm not alone. Maybe I'm not absolutely crazy.
To some of you looking in from the outside you might be thinking who would put themselves through all of this? You'll want to protect your loved one from any of this madness, but hear me when I say, it doesn't work that way. The best parents I know do not guard their children from pain, but teach them how to grow through it. I needed to know and feel all of this. I needed to know who I am, feel all of the love, and to work through all of the highs and lows.
My own adoptive mother recently said, " We never knew you had any pain. We should have never told you, you were adopted." Avoiding pain doesn't cure pain and avoiding truth doesn't change the story,
" There is no coming to consciousness without pain. People will do anything, no matter how absurd, in order to avoid facing their own soul. One does not become enlightened by imagining figures of light, but by making the darkness conscious." C. G. Jung
So right now I am learning to walk on hot coals.Walking on fire is nothing new. It was practiced thousands of
years ago with records dating as far back as 1200BC. Walking on hot coals was akin to a form of worship in many countries.
People choose to walk on coals as an expression of faith, as rites of passage and for healing.
Having faith sometimes looks like taking a step through the fire and knowing you are not alone. Someone else out there is trying to catch their breath and full of fear of the unknown, fear of rejection, and fear of being too much. Take a step, grab a hand, tell your story, go through it. When we keep it in the dark, we give it more power. When you see God using your story, every messy bit of it, you will find healing. The scariest place to be in life, is when you feel like you are all alone. I am not alone.
This is what my adoption anxiety looks like. It feels scary to be vulnerable. It's extreme highs and heart wrenching lows. Sometimes I feel completely out of control mind, body, and soul and other times I feel more grounded, real, and raw then I have ever felt before. Somedays I'm annoyed with myself. Why can't you just get over it? Move on. Stop overthinking, and swallowing yourself whole with pity and self despair. It's returning to a child like self, taking that little girl by the hand, and saying we will get through this. We are not alone.
For those of us going through this we need to give ourselves a little grace.
To everyone else, give all the grace....give it all. We're all just walking each other home....or through the fire. Let's not walk alone.
I was forty years old before I ever honestly spoke about my adoption feelings. Why you may ask? I was loyal to my adoptive family. They had taken me in after all, and I should be grateful. The truth is I am thankful and full of love for my family, but no differently had I'd been their biological daughter. I kept all of my feelings to myself, because I'd rather spare my family any pain than be honest with my emotions. And then reunion happened and all of these bottled up emotions were like a dam that burst. What to do with this hurricane of emotion? I sat down and wrote. I gave myself permission to let the words come out, and it felt so good to be honest.
I felt this desire to let my wounds heal not only myself, but those who know what its like to sit in these adoptee feelings, and also to help those raising adopted children. I would never go jump out of an airplane thinking I know everything about skydiving because I love and desire to know how to skydive. No! I would seek an instructor who has actually been skydiving, right?
I've spent the last couple of days in some heavy conversations from each side of the adoption triads, We've talked about God's plan, open adoption, birth mother's rights, relinquishment. Conversation is GOOD, but so often we let our own hang up and insecurities stifle the progress of the conversation. I'm guilty of this myself and I'm trying to stop, take a deep breath and think before I speak. Seek to understand, and know that my junk is my own. How someone relates to or doesn't relate to my junk is out of my control.
Today in a post it was said by an adoptive mom " lately in the adoption community, it feels the adoptive parent voice is silenced." I know when I read it, I saw red. I'll admit I'm still unpacking this statement. For so long the adoptive parent voice, was the ONLY voice you heard, and still today it's the only voice that is fully accepted by the outsider looking in. This same adoptive mother was featured on the well known social platform Love What Matters telling their journey of adopting their girls. Do you know how many times I'm scrolling through Facebook and another story of adoption is being featured on Love What Matters? And whose voice do you think they are featuring? I took a deep breath, took a pause, and thought about how this mother must be feeling to write a post about how she feels as an adoptive mother, that she can't say anything right or has to push her feelings aside, and I began to see another side. A mother desperate to be understood. We may not see eye to eye on everything, but this I could look her straight into her eyes and say I SEE YOU.
How do we get to a place of putting down our white flags of surrender, and say how can I seek to understand? I've had beautiful, open conversations full of grace and understanding from all walks of adoption and some not so beautiful conversations. It's exhausting, isn't it? Many of us would never choose to be in the role we are had we been given different choices...different paths to walk. The adoptive mother who knows life would be less complex for her child and herself if they were born from her. The birthmother who would never plan motherhood looking the way it does. And the adoptee who wished she didn't know what it feels like to wrestle with what it means to be "placed." Sometimes sorting all of these emotions feels like sifting through a litter box, and you're just left with sh#t. I can't stay unpacked in that sh#t!.There's work to be done, and it begins with ME
The badass in me, sees the badass in you- Namaste!
I give you permission to speak
I give you permission to have gratitude
I give you permission to grieve
I give you permission to be loved
I give you permission to be understood
I give you permission to lament
I give you permission to unpack that sh#t and keep moving
I give you permission to say it OUT LOUD
Adoptee Out Loud... some days this title seems laughable and maybe even a tad bit shameful. The title would make one believe, I was holding nothing back. I was loud and proud! The truth is Instagram and blogging are my safety net and so far I am in control of who I let in.
Remember that scene in A Few Good Men. where Jack Nicholson screams " YOU CAN'T HANDLE THE TRUTH!'
I suppose I feel the same way when it comes to protecting my loved ones. My adoptive family, my biological family, my friends who have adopted children, and my adopted friends who tell their story differently.
So many times on Facebook, I see fellow adoptees who I deeply respect share their points of view on adoption, God and adoption, trauma and adoption, family preservation and I want to chime in because I have a strong opinion. More importantly is the desire to be understood by those who love me, but I hesitate because I don't think they can handle the truth...my truth.
I don't want my adoptive parents to feel as if I don't love them or I am ungrateful. They are human and have faults like the rest of us, but they are my family and I love them deeply. I don't wish adoption on anyone because I know the aftermath, but I also can't imagine my life without my family.
I bite my tongue, in fear of placing anymore shame upon my biological mother or family. She has become an expert on stuffing her pain, and I don't think she is even capable of going there. The last thing I want to do, is to be the one to add more heartache. The truth is this inner turmoil is killing me. I need her to acknowledge my grief, but I'm not sure we will ever get there. My fear is we will always live on the surface.
To those friends "touched" by adoption I fear that you will see me as too dangerous as if my adoption clarity may rub off on you or your child. I'm afraid if I share my story, you will think I'm trying to tell your story.
Two years ago I faced more fears than I ever have in my entire life. I turned forty and in the same year I found and was reunited with my birth family. I had brave and truthful conversations with my adoptive family ( we NEVER talked about adoption before). Our President was outed for saying " grab em by the p@#*y", and it prompted me with a primal instinct to face the adoptive relative who abused me as a child and demand an apology ( and I got one). Thank you Mr. President for helping many find their voice in their outrage of "locker room talk" nonsense. I believe if you are looking for where did #metoo originate, there is your answer. In the same year, a fellow high school classmate private messaged me on Facebook with an apology of a sexual assault at a high school party. He wasn't involved, but he was there and he had lived with guilt that he never stepped in to stop what had happened. I don't know what prompted him some twenty years later to send me that, but he stated I deserved better and it made me weep. All of these years I have carried these attacks inside afraid that no one would believe me, and here I had confessions. I turned forty, and God was like...I'm going to show you that it's time to come out of hiding. Bam!
I think it's so funny that when I share about my adoption story, and people say I am brave, but I guess they are right, huh? As a society " we can't handle the truth." We want pretty stories, wrapped in bows, and told in a fairytale version. Life isn't always pretty, it isn't always neat and tidy. I used to say all of the time, I am such a hot mess...and the truth is I AM! But I now know that my mess is where I have felt closest to God, where I've met other beautiful souls, and one of the greatest teachers. It's where I've learned grace, forgiveness of not only others, but myself, and I'm learning to let go of the weight that was never meant for me to carry.
it seems that everywhere I go, there are conversations, songs, movies, images that trigger me out of nowhere. Some of the triggers, even someone with zero relation to adoption could identify why it might cause a sensitive moment, and other times I myself am surprised by the overwhelming rush of emotions.
Last night I was watching Anne with an E on Netflix. I grew up reading Anne of Green Gables, and watched the 1980's television mini-series with my adoptive mother. I loved everything about the character Anne. She was full of imagination, full of bravery and wasn't afraid to voice her opinion. The way she found beauty in people, searching for kindred spirits drew me to fall in love with Anne.
When Netflix announced a new Anne of Green Gables, I wasn't sure if anyone could take the place of the 80's actress, Megan Follows, but my love for the series allowed me to give the new version a chance. Let's just say I may have watched the entire first season within a few short days. I once again fell for the red headed, dramatic girl, with a wounded soul and the kindred spirit I needed growing up.
Last night while watching season 2, there is a scene where Anne has travelled with her bestfriend, Diana Barry, to another city to attend a party thrown by the wealthy aunt of Diana. When she returns home she is excited to share all of the details with Marilla and Matthew, the brother and sister who adopted her. As she sits at the foot of the bed ready to spill it all with Marilla, this is where I surprisingly had a wave of emotions wash over me. Before Anne can get one word out about all of the glorious details of the extravagant party, Marilla simply says, "oh Anne, I've missed you." It was Anne's honest response that made me weep. In three words, she rocked me to the core. She replied " you missed me"? It sounds silly doesn't it? That such a basic response could leave me choking on my tears. Her facial expressions, her tone of voice, said it all. She wasn't certain she was worth being missed. Had she ever known anyone to truly miss her presence?
There's so much about Anne, that hits my own understanding about myself. I adore how she perseveres through life's ups and down, and always looks for the beauty even in the midst of pain. She makes others feel confident in her admiration of them, and at the same time can feel clouded with the thoughts she holds for herself. Orphaned early in life, bounced around from foster homes, vulnerable and abused at a young age, and over looked because of her sex and physical features, Anne says " It was a very lonely place, I am sure I never could have lived there if I hadn't an imagination." Oh my goodness, Anne! Me too! I too had imaginary friends and a wild, and vivid imagination. I thought Madonna was my mother, after all.
" You missed me?" Beautiful, daring, Anne with an E....you get me. You understand craving connection. You understand that longing to be loved, cherished, and not forgotten. You didn't just want kindred spirits, YOU NEEDED THEM. Me too! Me too!
It's been a while, since I've put my thoughts into written words. My children are all home for summer break, and it's harder to find some peace and quiet and to just be still with my thoughts. Last night I went to bed feeling upset and defeated by a community of people who just don't get it.
An adoption author had post on Facebook a warning to not go see Three Identical Strangers, a documentary following the story of identical triplets, separated at birth, all adopted, and put through a private study on the impact of socioeconomic upbringing. It wasn't until they were adults that they discovered they had siblings....that they were one of three triplets . So this adoption author warns her followers not to go see this film, because it's too dark. I noticed that one of my dear friends, a former neighbor and adoptive mama, had replied to her post thanking her for helping protect adopted children and being careful not to lead them into dark places. I added to my friends post, that while I agree the story is not age appropriate for children, this film with reference to adoption trauma can absolutely be a story to teach us. Well known adoption author lady says " it is a story based on a sensational news story and involves adoptee suicide. Way too suggestive, Also, adoptive parents will not find hope there." I respectfully disagree that it is a "sensational story" this is real life. It really happened. We aren't speaking of fake news here when his story is shared, or we talk about the statistics being 4x greater for suicide risk in adoptees compared to non adopted people. This isn't opening ourselves to the darkside, like if we just close our eyes and ears it's not real. To me this mentality is like saying we should never look at or learn from cancer research, because it's too dark. This isn't opening ourselves to darkness, but perhaps not being afraid of looking at hard truths.
Here's the thing that really bothered me. It wasn't this lady or even the longtime adoption authors words that got to me. When you put yourself out there, there will always be those who question your motives and understanding. I'm used to people trying to put me in my place, for simply sharing my truths. What hurt me the most is suddenly my friend was silent. Where was she when my values were being questioned? Where was she when insults were being slung? We spent some time texting one another and she stated that my "opinions" mean a lot to her. Here we go again with " my opinions." There is actual data, statistics, spoken lived experiences of being separated from your first family, does irreversible damage and trauma, but they say it's just my opinion. I told my husband, that's like you saying that when your father passed away it hurt like hell, and someone telling you "that's just your opinion." No, it really hurts like hell...he knows, because he's lived it and continues to live with that loss.
Will the truth set me free? Here's what I know. I am no longer afraid of facing the fire in fear of being burned. I'm more willing to jump into the flames saving not only myself, but those around me. How do we find the light, without first stumbling through the darkness? there's much to be learned in the darkness.