Fragile, Fragmented, Fractured, but still a Family  

Thursday, December 31, 2009

I just got home from my daughters house after a couple days together. I can not describe the feeling it gives me. Something deep inside feels centered, quiet, and yes at peace.



What I wanted to share is what transpired while I was there.



First I thought about backing out. My youngest son got violently ill the night before. He is old enough to care for himself, but I'm still a mom and I was going to be a few hundred miles away. Other than any excuse to get together, I was going so my older son could get some head shots done. This was planned well in advance, and even though it would have been acceptable to not go, a reschedule would have been difficult to pull off once he goes back to college.



There was another reason to go and this one was purely self serving. There were going to be several adoptee's that Rachael and I talk to on a regular basis in the Ohio area for a one night get together. Coined as the "Mid West Bastard Hook Up" and I was invited to tag along.



On top of all that my grand daughter was coming home for the first time in 2 months. She was given a two month stay at the prestigious Lenawee County Country Club (if you catch my drift)



So many things were planned, scheduled, worked around to make this happen and then my son got sick. I would have cancelled in a heart beat, but he wouldn't let me. That's the first sign of a family.



My oldest son and I packed up all the clothes we were going to need and headed out. The 3 to 5 inches we were expecting was already starting to fall and I still had to get my tires put on before I could leave town. Another reason I didn't want to go, if my sick son needed something from the store he would have to get it himself or wait hours upon hours for my husband to bring it home. I got what I could before I left, but there wasn't much opened that early in our tiny town. I was worried my son would try to get out, get stuck and then what? But I really needed these head shots, really wanted to go to the Bastard Hook Up and really wanted to be there for my grand daughter when she came home. We made it happen. Tires went on first thing in the morning, sick son fended for himself and lived, I got there in just enough time to drive to Ohio for the Hook up and the pictures were done the next day. All that was left was my grand daughter.



It was fun watching my son and daughter interact. It always is. Both boys love their sister and that couldn't make me any prouder. A fragmented family coming back together doesn't always work out, especially when there are so many years between them. She is 20 years older than my youngest and 19 years older than the oldest. Needless to say her surrender affected me.



so we get done with the shoot, eat at the table like a family (something that never happens at my house) and we settle in for the evening. Exhausted we all pretty much called it a day early.



Next morning, we lumbered around, talked about D coming home, and tried not to get too excited. Early afternoon, the transformation on her room started. Something that needed to be done before she got home. It needed to be transformed back into a bedroom from the almost pig sty that it was. My son in law could see that it was difficult for his wife to get the motivation necessary so he initiated the task and she joined him almost immediately. There were things that Rach knew she would find in D's room and there were a few surprises. When it was done, Rach went into the garage by herself and sat for a few minutes. I waited and then went to check on her. It wasn't long before my son was in there too. We talked about what was found, how her problems aren't necessarily her fault, that through reunion they were able to discover and make sense of my grand daughters as well as my daughters fondness for alcohol. My son sat and listened while Rachael talked through her tears about the things she didn't realize were going on with her daughter. She even said she didn't know where she went wrong. I had to chuckle at that because its every parents thought when their kids slide into weirdness. I looked at her and then at him and told them both that with all the information given from both Rachael and I, that if they allow this to happen to them it is no ones fault but their own.

My oldest son has a fondness for alcohol too. He has been warned most of his life that there is the potential for either him, his brother or both to have inherited this defective gene and they need to know about it. Most of the time he blows me off as just being a mom who doesn't want her kid to drink. But I have learned from past experiences with my kids that even though they blow me off, later on when its needed, to my surprise they display behavior that indicates they actually retained most of what I had said.

My daughter feeling defeated, anxious and afraid about "her" daughter coming home, couldn't help but shed tears over the situation. I saw my son ache "for' her. He reached out grabbed her and hugged her so tight. Then extended his hand to me. (Sign two of a family) What I have tried to do is "knowledge it out". I can't breed it out, it's bread in. I can however use the knowledge I have and make sure that my kids understand that its real and serious.

It was at this time that I knew I had made the right choice by keeping our plans. It was worth more than I can say to have my son experience this family moment, mostly because we don't have many. He is of legal age now and his own man. I have never told my son he can not drink. I told him he shouldn't, and if he does he needs to keep himself in check. I think he believes that now.

He went with Rachael to pick up D when it was time. The two stayed up long past the rest of us. I hope what she had to say, increased my sons knowledge of what kind of genetics we come from, how it can in fact sneak up on you and one day your life is out of control, and that any facility like the one she was in wasn't high on her list of repeats.

It's been ten years that Rachael and I have been slowly putting our fractured life back together. This is the first family situation that extended past my sons that has come into play. As much as I wish it hadn't happened, I'm glad my son and I were there. Its one of the few times I've felt like I have extended family. Like life exists beyond my two sons.

So as Fragile, Fragmented, and Fractured as we are, we have managed to put back together, a Family.


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Looking for the Right Words  

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

I'm slow in my old age. I search for days some times for the right words that give me the most affect, and I eventually come up with them. This time is no exception other than it has taken a lot longer than a few days to find the right words.



I get on Yahoo Answers, in the adoption section waiting for women to post questions about surrendering their children. I point out many different things that surrendering women are not told about. The pain of being separated, the sealing of records, etc...



I just realized that signing away my own rights also meant signing away my daughters rights. I mean, I have heard it said, but it just didn't sink in. My signature meant "her"signature. How is it I didn't know that till now?

When parents sign away "their rights" they are also signing away the rights of the child. Those children will have less rights than non adoptees and it will not change until the law does.



I intent to use this true and accurate line from now on as it rings loudly about what adoption really does do.



Maybe it will have a more dramatic effect, maybe non adoptee's will understand better, instead of insisting I'm bitter and angry because I made a decision I don't want to live with or one I want to play victim over. I don't want to take back my decision, its too late, and I have always taken responsibility for what I did. But it never sunk in till just recently that by any parent putting their own signature on the dotted line, they are also putting their child's name on the dotted line. You as a parent no longer have a right to that child and that child no longer has a right to themselves.

As a parent you have rendered your child powerless over their own affairs, made them property of someone else, and branded them with second class citizenship. A stigma that is alive and well in the 21st Century as proven by the 44 states that remain sealed, and the ever growing fight to open records for all adopted citizens.

That is not to say that these children will not get good homes. (disclaimer) In fact this isn't about their homes at all. This is about them having the same rights to their records as anyone born and not adopted. I was about to say surrendered there, but that's not true. Surrendered does not mean adopted. They are two very different things and should be noted for their differences.

Upon surrender these children are not yet adopted. If an adoption doesn't go through or a disruption takes place (return the merchandise) the original records are kept in tact. IF an adoption does go through, the records are sealed, and often falsified to show the purchaser as the birther (adoptive parent as the natural parent). Those records have been and will continue to be sealed for 100 years. The good news if you happen to be one of those who does live that long, you can have access to your records then.

I'm still not against adoption. I know it sounds like I am, but I'm not. I'm against the crap laws that protect people from themselves, and how easily someone can put another in that position. There really aren't' too many adoptee's out there who agreed to having their records sealed. It's just something they have to live with because someone else put their own signature on a piece of paper.

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Slowly Coming Around to a New Way of Thinking.  

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Many know where I stand on the issue of OBC's, (original birth certificates). I had no idea they were sealed, no idea what problems this caused, no idea it was going to be impossible for Rachael to get one. So as time goes on and I do what I can to talk to people about unsealing records on behalf of those who live with it, I start to hear another voice rising up about first mothers having access to their childrens records as well. Everybody gets to know where everyone else is at.

I have to admit the thought didn't sit well with me. I was against it. I thought it was pushing it, and I was reluctant to get behind it. I was afraid it would open the door for those opposed to take the whole thing back to the drawing board for a few decades as a stall tactic, and I didn't want to be responsible for anyone losing out on a possible reunion because of it.

In a forum I frequent, this topic came up and I voiced my objections, as i often do. I was told that what I am presenting is more along the lines of an adoptive parents point of view, which I also do often. I can understand to a certain extent why some adoptive parents would be uspet. They were promised something that others are now trying to change. I can respect that. The problem is we were all promised something and all of us have been let down by the empty promises. If this is going to change, someone has to be the guy who takes it on the chin so things can.

So here is a chance to change the laws that exist for all current and future adoptee's. I suggested that we fight for their rights first and worry about ourselves another day. Wrong, and here's why. U.S. courts have ruled that there are no such things as "adoptee rights". No rights exist in law or can be upheld in court. Let that soak in for a minute. No matter how old you get as an adoptee, there are still certain rights that do not and will not pertain to you, because of a decision that was made for you. You are disallowed certain rights that pertain to the non adopted, but there are no other rights that pertain to you under the law.

As I listen, I begin to understand that this has been the problem all along. What I didn't understand was that there were no laws to uphold. How can anything be upheld when nothing exists?

I see the problem. I was told that as a first parent, one day we would reunite if my daughter wanted to. They didn't tell me that they were going to make it next to impossible for her to do so. So I feel a little betrayed, but I did sign the papers willingly, which makes me different than most during that time frame of surrender. I agree with most of what has been said so far but something still isn't sitting quite right for me about this proposal of first parents being granted access also. I know there will be lots of rebuttle and I don't want to be caught with nothing in our defense. So far I've heard their argument and I can't come up with anything to dispute it.

Then it slowly, over days, begins to sink in. When adoption started it was to hide the sins of an unwed mother and the embarassment of infertile couples. As time goes on, it becomes more about privacy for the parents raising the adopted child. Now, it's about my right to privacy as a damaged first parent.

Now I get it. They are using ME, my status to promote "their" agenda.

It was never about me. In fact they spent almost 30 years protecting my daughter and her new family FROM me. So now that they are losing on this false front of theirs, they have shifted their focus, their concern, their attention to me. The same people who kicked me to the curb like a mangy dog, who lied about my age and my status at the time, never returned any of my calls, now want to show compassion for my plight. Thanks but NO THANKS.

I will be joining this fight to unseal records for "all" involved, based on the lack of compassion that they showed me for almost 3 decades. You are not basing your argument on me not wanting to be found. I stand before you to say, I have waited for and always welcomed reunion, wanted to and do know my child, and am still enough of a mother and human being to answer any questions presented to me by "any" of my off spring. Most importantly their story of ancestry, heritage, and medical information that they can only obtain from their blood relatives. I never was, and am not now ashamed that my daughter was conceived out of wedlock. I accept full responsibility for my actions, and expect to be accounted for when you gather your statistics of how many first mothers do or do not want to be reunited.

The very clever underlying scenario behind all this is that the women who do not want to be found, also do not want to stand up and be counted. It would blow their cover. How convenient. I guess in order to have accurate numbers, those who do want to reunite need to be more visible than their invisible counter parts. How can you accurately account for someone who wants to be invisible? How can you honestly know how many exist if they will not stand up and be counted?

I've found MY justification for opening records to all. Consider me standing. Standing to be counted.

It makes sense to me now and I hope it does to others. If you want to be accurately counted there is no better way right now that to come out, join those who are not afraid to be visible, and tell them that you want to "establish" your surrendered childs rights. Rights you didn't know they didn't have. That you want to establish rights to reunite, and pass on info. Show them that you want accurate numbers in their study of just what percentage of first parents willing accept and look forward to contact with their adult child. Establish accuracy in Adoptee's Rights.

Off my soap box now.

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Missing You  

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

As the Holidays quickly approach I find myself sensative to the pressure that is over taking everyone around me. My family is no exception. It's difficult to watch as your children burn themselves out. My daughter Rachael is working almost as much overtime as a normally scheduled week's work. She's Christmas shopping, regular shopping, visiting relatives, getting kids wardrobes ready for school activities, looking for pictures to send off, trying to keep up with the bills collectors, and still find time for her husband. She's been sick, tired, sick and tired and functioning on little to no sleep.

I admire her dedication to her family. I worry about her lack of dedication to herself. I see for the first time what people have been saying to me for years. There needs to be more time for just you. I know she comes by it honestly, family is the most important thing to both of us. I never felt I was abusing myself, but I'm worried about my daughter doing the same thing I have been guilty of.

I can remember not having time to be sick. Sounds silly but it's actually possible. You just keep going because you feel you have to. You know everyone is depending on you and you don't want to let anyone down. You just keep pushing yourself to get that next thing done, knowing that a time will come when things will settle down and you can breath again. You'll be able to sleep in a little, sip coffee slowly and enjoy the morning. You keep that thought and a pretty picture tucked neatly away where you can get to it when things start to become overwhelming. You go there for just a minute or two because that's all the time you have is a minute or two. You tell yourself to hang in there, that the time is coming when this will be more than just a picture in your mind. But today is not that day and to be honest tomorrow doesn't look likely either.

In order to spread yourself so thin with all the extra things that need to be done at this time of year, it is inevitable that other things have to be let go. Things like the morning coffee sipped slowly, the ritual shaving of the legs, the extra minutes spent on makeup and hair for the day, and phone calls. Phone calls to people you don't necessarily need to talk to but you like to talk to and do as often as you can.

I was in a chat session this evening talking to a few adoptee's I know. They asked what was going on with me. I responded by saying I missed my daughter fearcely. She is spending way too much time working and not spending enough time on the phone with me. I sounded like a spoiled child. I know she's busy, spread thin and exhausted. I was light heartedly kidding but at the same time telling the truth. I do miss her. I miss our 40 minute phone calls about absloutley nothing at all. Okay 60 minutes but its worth it just to hear her voice.

After 10 years of reunion I still feel like I have missed so much. That we still need to make up for that lost time. Lingering on the phone searching for something to say so we don't have to say good bye. Unknowingly giving these two women reason to be envious. I forget about others at times and don't think before opening my mouth. I got the response "I wish you were my mother" Something that I have heard often, warms my heart, but also deeply saddens me for those who say it. It makes me grateful for my relationship with my daughter. It also makes me want to smack some women up side the head with a basball bat for being so uncaring.

So as much as I miss you Rach, I do understand. You're busy, you're over loaded, you're taking care of your family. I know the day will come that we will have those long non important conversations again. That compared to others I have no right to complain about how long its been since we talked. For us it has been days, for some of them years, and for others a life time. But I can't help it, I find myself missing you.

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BOO-YEAH....  

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Halloween approaches and it is my favorite time of year. The leaves are incredible here in Michigan and they simply take your breath away. That and the bitter cold that sets in, but hey, everyplace has it's pitfalls.
At this time of year I am always busy constructing costumes for my kids. This year I am facing twin ice cream cones and R2D2. The older ones will dress, but only to be cool....cause begging for candy isn't cool enough for them any more.

Windows are covered in Frankenstein, Dracula and mummies. Yards are strewn with mock tombstones, witches and black cats with arched backs. Bats and creepy crawlies hang from branches and a feeling of mystic static fills the air. We can be what we can't normally be in our daily lives. Princesses, super heros, silly things and scary things. We have that one day to shed any social stigmas and let loose. And who doesn't love that?
This year has a different feel to it than it normally does for me. I couldn't quite put my finger on it. I passed it off as my kids getting older and not having that accustomed wide eyed knaviety as in years past. I pretended the past few years had worn on my own inner child and I was just feeling more adult than I had before. I had a ton of excuses for it, a list as long as my hubby's arm. (and boy does he have long arms.) But I wasn't being honest with myself. It was easier to pretend, like I had for my whole life. But I can't pretend any more. I've lost that ability.

I'm not growing older and losing my stary eyed Halloween spirit. I'm growing into what I have always been but didn't want to admit. I am the skeleton in the closet. Me. With no costume. Just me being me.
Now this is quite a time in life to realize you are a big fat secret, one to be buried forever and forgotten. Or at the very least barely thought of. I'm getting close to 40, you would think this revelation would have happened years ago. I think part of it did, but I wouldn't allow myself to wrap my brain around it enough to give it a title or a place in my life. But as I age, I find it harder and harder to keep up false personas. I don't have the time or energy to devote to it and quite frankly, I don't care to. It is what it is. I am what I am.

I am the skeleton. That lurking looming presence that stikes fear into the heart of my father. The thing that he has worked so hard to lock away behind that closet door and leave forever. He tried to throw away the key, but I just kicked in the door. Who needs a damn key?

It was all fun when I thought I was donning a costume to be something else. Taking on the form of something I wasn't. It was exciting and freeing. But once you come face to face with the fact that you are and always have been nothing but that freakishly dark secret in someones emotional closet-it kind of loses the magic of dressing the part.

Maybe this year I'll be more honest with my costume. I'm thinking a plastic knife protruding out of my back and through my heart might be more appropriate and much easier to pull off this year.

Happy hauntings everyone. BOO!!! yeah....whatever....

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Snoopy Come Home  

Friday, September 25, 2009

I was at work just the other day, laughing with a friend about old 'Peanuts' episodes. We talked about the specials they came out with for the holidays and such and giggled at ourselves about how we waited all year to see those. It was a light conversation and very enjoyable. I told her that as a child I was not one to cry. But I clearly remember one thing that was GUARANTEED to make me sob hysterically and unconsolably. The Peanuts show called "Snoopy Come Home".

I told her how it was horrible for me, but I wait every year for that one show to air. My sister also remembered and had actually spoken over the years about my violent physical reaction to watching this, every single year. I was literally a blubbering mess, tears and snot, incoherant mumbles and jarring uncontrolable sobs that took HOURS to subside. Once about 2 years ago my sister was telling the story and said "this one here (pointing to me) NEVER cried. You could damn near lop her arm off and she wouldn't cry, but let Snoopy Come Home play-and she was bawling"

I found amusment in the fact that she remembered that about me. I felt slightly embarassed that a childs show was able to have such an effect on me. And I passed it off as silly kid antics.
Until now. Until just a few days ago. Thats when I had an adoptee epiphany. One that now explains so much about me. Who ever would have thunk that Snoopy would be the one to open such a huge floodgate for a 37 year old woman?

The episode is about Snoopy and his former owner at the puppy mill. She had fallen ill and needed him to 'come home'. He packed his little hobo pack with food dish nestled inside and said a hard goodbye to dear ol' Charlie Brown. Charlie was confused, worried and hurt. He wanted to know if he was coming back, why he was leaving him, what did he have to do to make Snoopy stay.
But Snoopy, in a strong bold move of unadulterated loyalness, said goodbye and set off on his journey to his former owner.
He sat at her bedside, nurtured her, loved her, tended to her needs and showered her in laughter and companionship. Then the time came, he had to choose. Charlie Brown and his family or the little girl that he used to belong to. He loved them both so desperately. He did not want to hurt either of them. He was confused and torn.

And I totally FELT that. No matter how many years passed or how many times I saw that same show, I still felt that pain and confusion for Snoopy. It was like it was me.

I never understood before. But now I do. IT WAS ME. That cartoon beagle was me!!!

Now the re-coup time of viewing this show was a couple days. It literally drained me of everything I had. We as a family passed it off as flu/cold, as all kids get. No big deal, but now, I'm convinced it was more. I had a mental meltdown everytime that show played and I was rebounding.

One more thing that I remembered that had long since been forgotten, was that I don't ever remember Mom and Dad being there to watch it with me. I was always with my older sister. That was an evening they seemed to have plans. And I don't think it was a coincidence. I truly believe they couldn't stand to see me like that, they didn't have the words to make it better. No amount of hugs and soothing was ever enough. And I think that they felt utterly helpless and possibly worthless. I can only imagine what went through their minds at this time. I'm now a parent, and if I saw my child have such a reaction to something, I don't know I could handle it either.

How is it that a cartoon can so easily and accurately capture the emotions of adopton? How could it take me decades to figure out that was why I reacted the way I did? It should have been obvious to me, but it wasn't.

Snoopy brought me to my own feelings, something no one on earth was able to do-and I didn't even know it was happening. I have to stop here, I can feel the same old emotions creeping in.

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And The World Turns...pffffttt....  

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

I'm sure most of you have read Lori's post, the parental meeting was a bust. Lori was there and we did have a great time. But Jim was MIA and I was beyond heartbroken. Yes I do still question my place in his life, especially now, after a war online with his dear dear sister.

I can not believe things got so far out of hand. The venom that oozed from those emails was shocking. She took horrible personal stabs at me and my entire family, but Lori took the brunt of her focus. But I got my spanking too, trust me. Lori is right on when she said she painted a very unsavory picture of Jim. She projects him as a pathetic momma's boy that is incapable of making any life decision without guidance from sister or mother. There was even a comment made to me about him being violent. She claims that she was locked in her home crying tears of fear because she was convinced that either Jim or Lori were coming to get her.
So lets recap....Jim is a complete pod person that is too weak to make a choice for himself, he can be manipulated very easily (because I have done that), he is excessivly violent and hostile, and he does not care about his family in any way.
Thats some great things to say about a man that you claim to love more than life itself and are closer to than anyone else in the world.

Now I have ended contact with her. I will not call Jim either. I promised him that the ball was in his court, I was obviously moving too fast for him, so he can take the lead now. I want to talk to him, I want to hear his voice to reassure me that this will not end OUR relationship, but it's his move. Maybe soon, maybe....

This is exactly what I feared when I first had contact with him. I battled with the fear of disrupting his life, exileing him from the ones that he has had in his life all these years, basically being a thorn in his side. The deed was not by my hands, but it did happen, due to my presence. I feel responsible. His life was quiet, calm and just the way he liked it before me. Now it is riddled with pain, confusion and down right nastiness. And who is the eye of that storm? YUP...good ol' Rachael.

Lori has talked to me, assured me, comforted me. I am so thankful to have her, I don't know what I ever did without her. And Jim will one day call me, he will promise that all is fine, he took care of it. But in my heart, it won't be fine. I have ruined his peaceful life. I know this because dear ol' auntie put that out there. His serenity will never be restored. Not as long as I am in his life.

I guess the only thing I can do is sit and wait. If he calls, great. If he doesn't, then I move on. I can't possibly blame him if he doesn't, that is his family. His sisters and brother, nieces and nephews, his mother. I can not and WILL NOT ask him to choose. But I know they will ask him.

AND THE WORLD TURNS.....END OVER END.....

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How Sad  

Our get together was Saturday. We did have a good time. I spent some time talking to Rachael's family members, walking around the pond, cruised her neighborhood, and fished with my grand son. We ate excellent food, and Rachael's sister made me cry, (bitch). It has been ten years since our reunion and I had seen no pictures of her as a baby, toddler, or per teen. I had seen a few of her as a teenager that she had, but the rest were in her parents house and some digging had to be done to resurrect them. I understand completely, I just did the same thing for my son's graduation.

Rachael's sister presented me with a scrap book that brought tears to my eyes. Try to imagine seeing your own child's baby pictures for the first time 36 years later. Definitely a tear jerker, and there was hair. Her sister put a lock of her hair in the book. And there was a sticker that said something about "how can a child know where they are going if they don't know where they have come from. It is one of my most treasured possessions, that's for sure.

We missed Jim's presence, but we managed just fine without him. The whole reason this afternoon food fest was possible was because I had to come down anyway to pick my son up from the airport. We just worked around his schedule and made it happen. Not the easiest thing to do, schedule all these people in one place, we all have different things going on at all times.

When Jim called and told me he just couldn't make it, I reassured him that although I was disappointed, I definitely understood. I didn't have the heart to tell him it was a big mistake. That there would be no more offers. It wasn't my place and I wasn't comfortable with it sounding like an ultimatum. We ended the conversation on his hope that it would happen another time.

On Sunday, Rach, two of her kids and I left hours early for the airport. We went to Jim's place of work, it's a really relaxed place of work so it wasn't like we invaded, embarrassed, or got him in trouble in any way. He was feeling uncomfortable and apologized for bailing on her. He could see that she was upset. I'll leave out most of the details, their personal. As we were leaving, she hugged him and headed for the door, I gave her my keys so she could keep walking, I knew she was going to cry. Her daughter and son hugged him. His grand daughter he had met before. His 6 year old grand son he was meeting for the first time. I don't want to tell you what it did to me the day before to see the disappointment in his face when he heard his grand father wasn't coming. It was the worst part of the whole day. I brought up the rear with my hug and whispered in his ear that she is convinced he doesn't want her, that she is feeling rejected for a second time and it is hurting her more than he can know.

He immediately took off after her, unable to get past the kids in a narrow hallway. When we got out side I called her and took my keys from her. I asked the kids to come with me, leaving her there with her father to try and smooth out the myth that he doesn't care. When they were done he walked her to the car, he hugged her and held on to her in an attempt to let her know that she is not being rejected a second time. I believed every bit of it. I still do. He was given a family portrait that was recently taken of them. I showed him some of the pictures in the scrap book and I asked him very quietly if it was okay that I brought them there. I was assured it was more than okay. I believed it, all of it. I still do.

The next day Rach got on face book and posted that we had a great time in spite of missing the guest of honor. I commented on her post in an attempt to reassure her that it wasn't intentional, but rather just not the right time for him, which I have been saying all along. He just wasn't ready and no one understands that better than I do. I've been in his shoes. Talk about feeling like a failure. It makes you examine every decision you have ever made before and since that one decision. You look at your life from every aspect, run over and over in your head, the things you have done, mostly focusing on the not so parental ones, comparing yourself to people who have been sanctified by the whole world for adopting a child and rescuing them from the clutches of their evil breeders. Now they want the evil breeder to step up to the plate and show their face. Harder than you can imagine, much harder.

I used the words of the man himself, I responded with "just another bad choice by him". He admitted to making bad choices in his life. We all have bad choices we have made, but he feels he has made more than some and he's not proud of it. I'm not proud of some of my choices either, biggest one being letting my daughter go. Not my proudest moment, nor his.

This set off a reaction in his sister that she felt needed to be addressed publicly and intentionally misdirected. She knew it was my comment, yet she went after my daughter on a public board because of it. You tell me, was this just the excuse she was trying for, for months?

When we first met Jim and his family members, it was at her house. She was the perfect hostess. I did notice one thing though, she took no time in pointing out that my room mate all those years ago, after having Rach and surrendering her, was in fact in love with Jim. She never told me. I thought it was odd and in bad taste to go on and on about this woman who bought a gown expecting him to invite her to prom. I blew it off.

Then came the weeks after the meeting, where she suddenly had an email address, that she insisted she didn't have at the time of the meeting. That's okay, maybe it was down. Next was Jim himself asking that we don't use his full name on the Internet. I don't blame him for that one, and it was followed by, please don't post any pictures of me. Okay, a little disappointing but wish granted. Within weeks his sister has started posting all kinds of family pictures that weren't there when she originally accepted myself and my daughter through the Internet. That was great. There were video clips and old photos, newer ones of all the gang and my daughter was really excited to see so many relatives.

It didn't take long before Dear Auntie made it clear that she didn't want me around any more. I had told them that they did not have to have a relationship with me in order to have one with my daughter. That was all debunked in an instant. Auntie and Jim himself insisted that we are all family now. That my kids and my husband will be accepted as readily as my daughter was. It was wonderful, things were working out better than I had expected. I didn't really care if we ever got together with his family, it was Rach that needed that connection not me. I remember most of them from school. It was a nice gesture that made her feel great but didn't last long.

Rachael was told that there was just something about me and she didn't want me around any more. Actually I was a bit relieved, as I smelled something foul in her air anyway and now I didn't have to keep it to myself. I remember her from school, and the picture she was painting wasn't exactly what I remembered. But some things are private and I will not go any deeper into that on the Internet.

Now that I have been removed from the picture, she stops answering Rachael's questions about family. New pictures would go up and Rach would ask one word "cousins" with a question mark behind it. No reply. Rach asked about some additional medical history, minor stuff really, but none the less she was told she can ask any additional questions she wants, no reply.

Then the subtle insinuations that Rach is bothering Jim. Vague, but still detectable. Then a few small bashes at me, gently, yet still said. Leaving both of us wondering if its just her or if Jim is actually feeling these things, relaying them to her and expecting her to do his dirty work.

Which brings us to the comment about Jim making just another bad choice. Maybe I could have used different words, but my daughter is getting sick of me defending him all the time, so I tried a different approach. Auntie, responded with a comment about some things being private, and some people not being able to be pushed, and that there was no bad choice made. This went back and forth a few times and I posted again that I took exception to the pushed comment. No one was pushing Jim, he was invited. Him and i had talked about that. He felt he had no right, and I assured him he didn't. Neither of us has any rights any more, we signed them away, but we were invited. I told him how scary and vomitroucious it was for me, I understood. But she just went into a self induced rage over airing HIS personal life on the Internet. This from a woman who took offense to the public airing of his laundry. A woman who took no time posting pictures of him after us being asked not to. Proof that she is closer to him than either of us will ever be, and the rules don't apply to her.

She got down right mean on the public board. Then she realized what she had done and removed all her comments. No one can stick anything to her now. She started with personal emails. Ripped my daughter up one side and down the other. Accused Rach of hounding him by showing up at his work the day after he finally decided to do something special for himself (the same day he was supposed to be with us). No subtle hint there that he spent that time doing "something special" it simply didn't include HER. That he was at such peace that day, like she had not seen him in years. Told her that she knew that Rach was going to tell Jim about the emails and to just try to ruin THEIR relationship. I had felt for a long time that something was bothering auntie about new women coming into his life. Not so much me, but Rach. Something about it just didn't set well with her. Now I wonder if she isn't part of the reason he never married.

Rach refused to do anything but respond to Auntie's accusations (which were flying like paper in a tornado) with truth, honesty, and politeness. I on the other hand took this opportunity to call Jim and tell him that in subtle yet very obvious fashion this has been going on for months and is now getting out of hand. His own sister had made him look like a wimpy ass in the eyes of his daughter and myself. She spewed things that insinuated he was incapable of making a decision without his family all being involved. That she was his official spokes person and she was taking this opportunity to expel Rachael from the family and his life. That his mother was the one who told him not to go. Jim is not one who can hide when he is annoyed. He was highly annoyed and said he would handle it.

Another email after being told to knock it off, lands in Rach's inbox accusing HER of taking no time in ruining a relationship between a brother and sister that had been long standing and now over in an instant all because of her. She was livid that her brother would not believe her. Probably because he knows her. Again Rach responds with truth, honesty, and calm politeness. Answering every accusation thrust upon her. At which point Auntie begins to soften briefly toward Rach, and responds with "then it must have been Lori".

A real brain surgeon she is. It only took her maybe seven or eight correspondences back and forth to figure out that her original argument was with me, not my daughter. She should have been able to understand that in the first comment I posted (everyone else saw it) but for some reason she needed to run the gambit on my daughter first. Unleashing all her penned up aggression about not knowing all these years that her precious brother slept with me and produced a child that she knew nothing about. I can see from her un-natural attachment to him that this is a huge slap in the face to her.

Her last email was so vile, and vicious, that I take great pride in printing ALL of the correspondence's off and sending them to Jim to read for himself. She may have deleted her comments from the board but since we were still listed as friends they are all in my inbox.

I don't want him to side with me. I want him to see for himself what has been going on for months, possibly years, maybe his whole life. Subtle little innuendos that have been deliberately chipping away at his relationship with his daughter and God only knows who else. Even his other family members got in on it. It didn't help his image any, they made him look like an even bigger ass as they said they can't wait till he starts kicking ass, meaning mine.

How sad that something that was supposed to be between the parties involved seems to be filtered by family members who feel threatened.

Would it have been difficult to go to the family get together? Absolutely, it's hard. Would they have been staring at him? YUP, but not in the way he imagines. Instead of staring at his long hair, his bushy mustache, his clothes.... they would have been looking at his eyes, his nose, trying to see past the bushy mustache for his mouth... to see if it resembled Rachael's in any way. They would have been studying his mannerisms, cadence, sense of humor, laugh, gestures, not his vehicle, status, or memberships.

I am sad for my daughter, she has done nothing to deserve this. I am embarrassed for him, he has lost much respect. I am relieved that my memory had not betrayed me, this is the family I remember from all those years ago.

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Rollercoater Richochet  

Saturday, July 25, 2009

What a week this has been. Not only was my youngest brother up for a huge opportunity in his life (and NAILED it, just for the record! yay!!) but this was the weekend I was to get my aparents together to meet my bdad. They have met Lori-and it was incredible. She was coming along, because they invited her back. They wanted her there and were truly looking forward to meeting Jim. I was on cloud nine as you can imagine. Seriously, how many adoptees have the chance to get the parents that gave them life in the same room as the parents that gave them a life? Not many, let me tell you.
At first, it was all on track, he said he would be there. He was nervous of course, but he was doing it for me. My father was stepping outside his comfort zone to give me something that I deeply wanted.
Then he thought about it and decided he couldn't do it. It was too much for him. Which I understand. I really do. I won't even pretend to know the emotions he felt. The fear of judgement, of the 'look' or any other racing thoughts that sprung into his head. But he could have told me first. Instead he told Lori. I can see why, she has been there. She faced them months ago and lived. She was just like him-the parent that willingly signed away their child. She could relate to him on a level that I could only imagine.
Eventually he did call me. He fessed up that he was not comfortable with it. That it didn't seem right to him. OK...at least we are being honest. I, being Lori's daughter, saw this as a time of honesty and I let him have some. I told him that this WAS NOT my idea. THEY wanted him there. THEY planned this last year when he bailed out. Not me.
I told him how they tried to help me when I was 14 and so desperately lost and in need of him and Lori in my life. THEY TRIED. For me, only because it meant so much to me. (of course the courts stopped them, but the point is they tried)
I told him I had never asked him for anything, that I never wanted anything-except to know him. Just to HAVE HIM, nothing more. That was enough. I told him I was afraid that one day something would happen to him and I, his only child, would be at his funeral learning about what kind of person he was, because I can't seem to be let into his realm.
Needless to say he was stunned. He truly seemed to understand that this was healing for me, mom and dad, but mostly him. He was being offered the opportunity to SEE FIRST HAND the life his daughter was given. My house, room, family...all of it. It could help him with his feelings of guilt. I could have released him from that pain he has carried for 36 years.
After a few moments of talking he said he could do it. That he would be there. I told him I do not take commitments lightly, if he said he was going to be there, I was going to expect him there. He said the words I wanted so desperatly to hear. "I PROMISE I'll be there."

I jumped on the phone to relay the news to everyone. Mom and Dad, Lori, sister...everyone. Hubby warned me, he told me not to expect it to happen, but I brushed his concerns off with not a second thought. HE SAID HE WAS COMING!!! HE PROMISED!

As the weekend approached, my nerves were maxed out. I struggled with concentrating at work, home chores were staggering to accomplish, I was extremely sensitive about everything. I just could not contain myself.

Friday came, Lori was heading down that day so we would have some time together. We were to meet Jim on Saturday and together we would head to my parents. But before she could leave her house, Jim called. He was not coming. He told her I had BULLIED him into agreeing, that he was no longer losing any sleep over this, that there was no reason for meeting them, that I cornered him. Best of all....he told her to tell me.
He never called me. Not once. I am not even worth the time or the dime to call and tell himself.

Lori and I went anyway-without him. I had a great time. We laughed, we told stories, my sister gave Lori a book filled with pictures and memories of me. We stuffed our bellies with bbq and brownies. And I know in my heart this is not the last time. There will be more days spent just enjoying each others company.
But not for Jim. Mom said she was done trying to open up to him. I don't blame her. I totally understood how she felt.

As much as I sympathize with Jim and is feelings, as much as I want to say it's ok...maybe next time. I can't. I won't. In 2 years he has made no effort to have me in his life. None. He love me, I DO know that much. But I am simply not the daughter he expected. I will never live up to the imaginary expectations he had. He gave me up to give me more. I assume he figures if I am nothing more than a factory rat then I could have just stayed in the town I was born in.
Yes I am feeling sorry for myself. Yes I need to quit being so dramatic. But I won't and I know that.

This is not about one weekend that didn't turn out. It was about the basis of trust, an outreach by him to show that he cares.
It was about me wanting to love him and wanting to have him love me back. Not for any other reason then he is my father and I am his daughter.

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PHILLY PROTEST  

Saturday, July 11, 2009

I have been so swamped with the normal things in life that I barely have time to breath. But there is one thing that has been standing out in my mind. THE PHILLY ADOPTEES RIGHT PROTEST. I can't get it out of my mind. I wanted to go so desperately, but the forces of nature stepped in once again. It was not in the cards for me to be there.

That doesn't stop me from sending my support. NOTHING could stop me from sending that.

TO ALL MY KINDRED PREPARING FOR THEIR TRIP TO PHILLY, I SEND YOU MY LOVE AND SUPPORT. MY HEART AND SOUL IS RIGHT THERE NEXT TO YOU, WITH MY FIST HELD HIGH!
Bless you all, give 'em hell!!!

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Legal lies  

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

I am feeling rather snarky today. I can't explain why, but today is a day that things are just pissing me off. Top of the list? MY AMENDED BIRTH CERTIFICATE. Why today? Hell if i know, but it's nagging me.

A very short time ago I had to travel to Lansing to get my birth certificate. Several years ago our house was broken into and my entire safe was stolen, with my birth cert inside. (along with a copy of ALL my adoption papers and a copy of my original birth cert that Lori signed)I haven't had any call for it in all this time, but now that I am looking into college, I needed it.
I travel there, wait in line and get my form. Right on the form it asks the standard stuff, name, address, etc....but the next section asks for 'name at birth' that is immediately followed by 'is this person adopted?'
That took me by surprise. So I walk back up to the counter and ask questions-as I am so prone to do.

Me-"excuse me, it says here name at birth. do they actually mean like when I was in the hospital?"
Guy-'umm...yeah....'
Me-"what if I don't know that? or if I didn't have a name?"
Guy-'are you adopted?'
Me-"yes, I didn't have a name. I wasn't given a name at birth."
Guy-'well, then just put in the last name of your parents'
Me-"my adoptive parents? or my bio parents?"
Guy-'your bio parents. we need that'
Me-"BUT...what if I don't KNOW their names?"
Guy-'oh, then we may not be able to help you. we need that information.'

So can anyone tell me how this is possible? THEY are the ones that changed my birth certificate, THEY sealed it away and then made me a new one. THEY won't allow me to have any of that info not matter how many times I ask. Now THEY are telling me I need to know all of that, but they won't give it to me, and they may not be able to get me what I need because THEY are not at liberty to release it, because THEY sealed it away, but yet I'm supposed to magically know some how.
DOES THIS PISS ANYONE ELSE OFF?

Ok-so yes I knew I didn't have a name and I knew what was written in place of a name. Yes I have Lori's name and she verified the info on what I once had was true, but that is so not the point. The point is-WHAT IF I DIDN'T KNOW? What if the state got what they wanted and I never got to see those papers and I never found Lori and Jim?
I know what would have happened...I would have been screwed. College would be gone and so would anything else I ever may need my birth certificate for.

My anger stems from several aspects, like they just expect me to know this stuff, even after they have taken it from me and told me (and I quote) "you are not entitled to have that info"
That if I were to alter legal paperwork I would be checking out the inside of a comfy cage, but they can erase, alter and add whatever they like-then seal it up. And on top of that they can deny me things that non adopted people get with ease. Like a passport or college funding or any number of inalianable rights.

I have it easy, I found both bio parents. I know my info on my birth certificate it accurate and I was adopted early enough that getting a passport might not be impossible. But how many of us are there that are just turned away and punished for the adoption they didn't choose? GRRRRR......so not fair.

Some people don't have the correct date, time, state, etc on their papers. HOW CAN THAT HAPPEN? In what world is it ok for officials to come in, write whatever they want on that form, even if it changes someone birthdate, then seal it up and punish you for their actions? Is there any other place in the world that this is acceptable practice? I think not. But we are adopted, so shut up and be grateful. PFFFFTTTTT.....not gonna happen. I hanven't shut up for 36 years, why should I start now??

The other thing that angered me about all this is that when I did finally get my amended birth certificate, it wasn't like everyone elses. NOPE. There was no weight, length, birth order, time, hospital/city/county of birth, nothing. It had my adopted name, aparents names, birthdate and thats it. The look I got from the woman processing my college paperwork was classic. She asked me where I got that from. She has never seen one like mine. I had to chuckle and give a brief explaination, which by the way-appalled her. GOOD, it should. It's a sick practice and I'm tired of it. No one else has to endure this, why us? If a non adopted person found out their birth certificate was altered, they would flip out, lawsuits would follow, news and press at the door. But me? Nope, it's all legally justified somehow and acceptable.


BULLSHIT

This has been fought and fought over the years to no avail. I just can't understand how this is justified and ignored. How it is an illegal act for someone not adopted, but perfectly ok for me and the rest of us.

SIGH....end rant now....

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By Joe, She's Almost Got It.  

Monday, June 1, 2009

Okay, because of my age and the exposure to old movies I can't help but feel a little like the original Dr. Doolittle in the the movie My Fair Lady. He takes a street urchin (Audrey Hepburn) with badly broken English and turns her into a socialite. Months of hard work on his part and hers, turned an ugly duckling into a beautiful swan. To which he exclaims, "By Joe I think she's got it" (might have been George instead of Joe but you get my drift)

Another weekend down state staying with my mother so my son can get to his training. SHE brings up a Dr. Phil segment that she taped so I could watch. Oh yippee, just what I want to do. She says it's about two kids who aged out of Foster Care. I about slid off my chair.

WHAT!!

You taped something, anything, about kids in foster care? ( not out loud)

Really, I questioned, calmly. She starts talking about the injustice to these kids.

Aliens ate my mother and stole her appearance, moved into her house and are posing as someones next door neighbor. Gotta be, because this is not my mother.

We started watching the tape and talking about these kids stories, how the one girl was thrown out on the street at age 18, never being adopted because she was deemed a danger to other children because she watched her methed out mother kill her baby sister. Not only that, she froze her little body for a week, laid her out in the closet as a sort of make shift funeral viewing and then her and her husband hacked her into bits and burned her in the homes fire place, spreading her ashes later in the river. Mom was convinced that the kids were demons and vampires and she put drops of bleach in their ears and eyes, and made them drink bleach to exercise the demons.

My mother was outraged. I made her stop the tape. I pointed out to her that there are millions of people who honestly believe that "I" am on some form of level playing field with this woman, because I surrendered my daughter. And that when they threw this girl out on the street, not only did her support stop, so did her medication, if she was on any. We talked about kids being unnecessarily drugged to near catatonic states with psychotropic drugs so they won't be a bother.

Resume tape.

A young man tossed to the curb when reaching the age of 18 by the foster care system, can't get a job because he has no birth certificate. He has been moved so many times no one even has record of him any more. He's literally not in the system, (or so they say). When the case worker would come new clothes were purchased and hung in the closet, only to be returned for the cash after the visit was over. Again no where to go, couch surfing, and spent most of his nights sleeping on a wooden bench.

STOP TAPE.

MOM DO YOU REALIZE someone has been collecting money off this kid for years who is now mysteriously NON EXISTANT? ARE YOU AWARE that since 911, tons of adoptees can not get a passport, because the only legal document they have access to is a falsified birth certificate which is no longer accepted by the very same people who FALSIFIED IT? Which is illegal.

Although Dr. Phil and a few other distinguished guests, managed to get each of these kids something. The girl got a crib full of stuff for her 8 month old baby so she didn't have to sleep in a play pen any more, a $20,000 scholarship to obtain a career to support her child, and a $1,000.00 gift card for clothes from JC Penney's. The guy got the same gift card and someone to help him look into documentation so he can obtain a job, and i can't remember if they offered him a place to stay or not, I was getting irritated by this point.

My mother asked me if I was disgusted yet? Taking the focus off of the fact that Dr. Phil just helped 2 out of 500,000 people and returning it back to the fact that my mother seemed to understand what the program was about, I started to tell her about some of the stories of the people I talk to on line. The Canadian foster care system, children stolen and sold, how much an adoption costs these days as opposed to how much it cost in my daughters day. How some women were told their children were dead, only to find out years later that it was a lie. How one adoptive mother staged the death of her adoptee and had a funeral so the first mother wouldn't search. How lots and lots of men in our prison systems are in fact adoptee's who were kicked to the curb just like these two she just watched, labeled as habitual criminals, because they have no life skills and they get cold and hungry. While the whole time someone was collecting money off their existence as an income. The least they could have done was taught them something that would help them when their time was up in the system.

It was a riveting, and stimulating conversation, she actually knew something about something that mattered to me. My mother, the never have an opinion, never make waves, NEVER speak out against your government, was finally starting to pay attention to something that mattered to me and we actually had a discussion about it.

I felt a little teary eyed with pride, when I told her to imagine she was an adoptee, who like my daughter had already found her entire family, at her own age, 76, was told by some snot nosed, and i paused, "LITTLE BITCH" she says, (holy shit who are you) (who ever you are I like you sooo much better than the woman I have known all my life,) that you CAN'T HAVE your original birth certificate, that it is in fact NONE OF YOUR BUSINESS. My pollyanna, 5ft. nothing, petite, gray haired mother said "GOD, that makes me want to reach across the counter and rip her throat out."..... YES! OH MY GOD YES!!! who ever you are I don't care what you did with my mother, don't bring her back. You stay. Pleeeeeease.

It has been T H E most riveting conversation I have ever had with her. We talked about my grand son who needed his WHOLE medical back ground, not just half. We talked about generations lost and what some people had to wait through for all the tests to be run to find out what they would have already known had they SOME FORM of medical history. My mother has passed kidney stones before, she remembers what that felt like.

When talking about International adoption, and some domestic, I asked her how she figured there were so many orphans in the world, with no one to care for them. She looked at me and with a puzzle in her voice she replied, "I don't know".

I started on the grateful bit, and alas my mother had returned. SHIT, I lost her again. She sees no reason why an adoptee shouldn't be eternally grateful.

Al in all, it will probably be the only conversation with her I have ever felt had any substance. We made great strides, and I shouldn't expect perfection. I should not be disappointed, but I do want to know if the alien who took up residence for such a brief time will be returning in two weeks when I have to go down state again. I deliberately hung around for a few hours patiently awaiting their return. Nope, she was back, but it gave me a glimmer of hope.

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How do you let go?  

Friday, May 29, 2009

In a recent conversation with a friend, I found myself suggesting she let go of her daughter. Not to adoption, but rather to life itself. This child is 18 and smart, but for some unknown reason, she clings to excuses rather than the fact that she needs to get out there and make a life for herself.

It is so hard for me to say those words without feeling the pain of surrender. The mother is afraid that her daughter will never forgive her, she will leave and never come back, she will blame the mother for throwing her out instead of standing by her. I understand the mothers feelings, I really do. All too loud and clear comes back the feelings of "she will hate me", "she won't want anything to do with me", "she will never look for me", and it hurts. But there comes a time in every child's life that they need to go. They need to step outside the realm of the family unit, and find out who they are as an individual. Especially if that child's actions or lack of action is causing problems within the family unit.

To listen to her talk on the phone, cry, say she can't live without her daughter in her life, is so familiar, that it almost haunts me. The thought of never seeing her daughter again is what keeps her from taking any kind of real action toward helping her daughter find out who she is and what she's capable of. The fact that the mother herself is an adoptee, complicates the situation even further. Because she was abandoned by her own mother, because she felt alienated herself growing up, she struggles with where to draw the line in regard to her own daughter. I do not disagree with her on this, but feel sometimes the best thing you can do is let go. This child is not an infant, she's by no means helpless. She is "quite" capable of not only functioning on her own, but very possibly becoming an extremely influential member of society, she just needs direction and a chance to spread her wings. She needs to fine tune her passion a bit but who didn't at her age. Passion is what creates influence. If you are not passionate about something, you will never convince anyone of your position on it, and this girl has passion, about a lot of things.

I don't have a crystal ball to prove that the relationship between these two women will survive, but I do have faith that as close as they are to one another, nothing, will stand between them in the long run. I base my opinion on my own relationship with my daughter. We had many obstacles, and still, still, were able to defy all the odds, all the naysayers, all the road blocks and put together a relationship. We did what we needed to do, no matter how painful, and it was painful, but we succeeded, we conquered, and we built a decent life for the two of us.

I know its completely different, as mine and my daughters life started with letting go. I can't help but believe that there comes a time in every parent child relationship that going, and letting go, is the very thing that keeps us together. Some baby birds fly out of the nest, others need a gentle shove, most find their wings. This young lady is so ready to fly, so ready to leave her mark on the world, her fear is of the unknown, and it is stifling her, eating up precious time, robbing her of her place in the universe, and causing very possibly irreparable damage to her family unit.

My problem is finding words that don't sound like an old pro at walking away from your kids. I heard it myself in our conversation, I felt it in the quiet moments when nothing was being said. It rang in my ears, "it was easier for you, you did it at birth". It wasn't easier for me. Nor will it be easy for her. But I can't help but feel that the focus in this situation is on the wrong aspect of it. It feels like the focus in on abandonment instead of succeeding, on being resented instead of helping a child find their way, on giving up on a child instead of that child finding out just how resourceful she really is, on letting go out of love and respect. Not to be confused with "your mother loved you so much she let you go", but rather I have every confidence in you that you will not only succeed, but kick some serious ass in this world, you just need to get out there and do it.

I also felt in those quiet moments on the phone, a new found respect for women who surrendered their children. This is cutting so deep on this mother, that she feels emotions very similar to those of us who never knew how our children were doing. I heard the unasked questions, "is this what your life was like?" "how did you live through this?" We didn't address those issues because this conversation was not about me. But the lines of similarity were there, and it was killing me to relive them again through her.

I will continue to express that the focus should not be abandonment or betrayal, but a normal aspect of life, and hope something hits a cord, that something brings my words into focus. I do fear it coming at the expense of my relationship with this woman. That would be devastating, because she means so very much to me. She is in every sense of the word, like a daughter.

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If Only You Were Here  

Sunday, May 24, 2009

I called Rachael a few days ago and told her I was filing my formal complaint with her. I told her not to take it offensively, but I needed to say it. GOD, "if only you were here", closer to me. I could really use your help. I have so many things to do, I am almost overwhelmed, to which she responded, I feel the same way.

My one son is graduating this year. Trying to get him to pick a college was like pulling teeth. He waited until the very last minute because he had two that were very appealing to him and he wanted both rolled into one. I have to admit, I found great humor in watching him struggle with this. Not that I'm trying to be mean, or am laughing at him in a hateful way, but more watching him make his very OWN first grown up decision. It was humorous and painful all at the same time. We argued, I pushed for a decision, he got frustrated, walked away, came back, tried to ignore it, and in the end chose to not move 4,000 miles away. His decision made me happy and sad at the same time, because either would have been an excellent choice and life experience. Now that he has chosen a college, it has been my responsibility to get him in. Due to him being in school all day and being part of the track team, there is no time for him to do most of these things himself. I am almost overwhelmed by all the paperwork. Add to that a graduation party and all the other stuff that needs to be done before he leaves, and I have enough on my plate to occupy my entire day.

My other son has been taking modeling classes, and is slotted for a rather large audition. Who knew this was going to go so far. I thought 6 months of classes and it would be over. NOT!!
We go down state every other weekend for grooming, so he will do well in his big competition. Since we don't have the extra cash for his plane ticket, hotel room, and everything in between, I have been fund raising during the day to try and come up with some of this cash. Add to that a new grand child on the way, and I chauffeur the newly expectant mother to and from doctor appointment, (not complaining) and my plate is pretty full.

Hubby had hernia surgery, needed a month off work with no pay, we have another kid living with us who is absolutely great, but also has needs that his own family will not help with, and all the little things like the lawn mower doesn't work this year, ( somehow that is my responsibility) all the vehicles need repair, (again up to me to make arrangements not only to get them fixed, but find the money to pay for it and still keep up with the bills) the yard and the house are in desperate need of attention, you get the picture.

All three boys are in track and our school won regional, this means extra meets in far away places. That translates into money for food times 3. They went to team state competitions yesterday, and will be going to individual state competition this next weekend, money times 3 again.

My business has all but defunked due to the lack of time I have to put into it, and the fact that the economy has most people buying less than their necessities. I am one person. I do the way more work than if I had a job.

So I called my daughter, who's life is eerily parallel to mine, she has the same things going on but on a younger scale. None of hers are off to college this year, but she has more of them.

We have talked about moving closer to one another, but neither of us will move. I'm not taking my son out of the school he has spent his entire life in, and his brother got to graduate from. I'm not moving back downstate where the crime rate is ten fold of what I have here. I'm not leaving without my husband who has a daughter in the next town, and I don't want to give up what I struggled so hard to set up for my family, which is residence in a small town. I moved here for peace of mind.

It's not that she lives in the big city, far from it, but it's still not like here. I know she would love it if she ever got the chance. Which brings me to why I am posting about it. Although I would love nothing more than to be near my daughter, see her face every day for the rest of my life, I have to admire her reasons for not coming. She will not leave her parents. I have to admit there is a big ouch for me in that statement, but it's not because she sees them as her parents. That's the part that gives me pride. I can't argue with that.

They have 20 years on me age wise and they need her to be close, especially now. I watch my own mother, who is almost the same age, and I am very thankful that my brother lives blocks away.

My daughters life is every bit as full as mine. If she moved closer with everything she has on her plate, how much time would we really have together?

I honestly believe we would be able to orchestrate a coexistence, but in order to do that our lives would be so intertwined that it would be blended into one. We would have to split the daily tasks of shopping, bill paying, appointments, down the middle each taking an end of town and getting it done. We would be able to attend those school functions and sporting events of each others children that each misses out on by not being closer. I could even help with her parents.

It will never happen. Her parents would never think of moving, their whole life has existed right where they are. Besides why would they even consider moving so that Rachael could be closer to me? Makes no sense. She would be too far away from her sister, who at the moment doesn't need anything, but might some day. Her husbands kids would be too far away from their mother, they would lose all their friends and have to start over in a new school system. My remaining kids will be grown and gone in two years time and I will be patiently awaiting my step daughters 18th birthday so I can get the heck on with my life. It just doesn't make sense.

As sad as this makes me, to know there will never be a way that we can live closer to one another, I have to accept that it is in fact our reality. We won't live closer to one another, not unless something ridiculous happens, and the thoughts that run through my head on that one are just plain scary. We never will have more time together, she won't get to see her brother run track unless he runs in college and he isn't planning on doing that. She might get to see her other brother if we can schedule a weekend, but most track meets are during the week. Besides, she just got called back to work, and if she goes on second shift, the time we do have together via telephone comes to an end too. They say nothing is impossible, but the possibility of us being closer geographically is looking as close to impossible as anything might.

So we both sigh, talk of what it might be like "if only you were here", and accept the fact that it just plain isn't possible. We haven't gotten to a point yet (and I hope we never do) that more is demanded of one another. We both would love more, but we both respect each others reasons for not being able to give more. This is our life, this is all there is, and we accept it.

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Outide looking in....  

Friday, May 22, 2009

Over time our reunion has taken some real turns. At first Lori and I treated each other with kid gloves, we were both cautious and leery of the other. My feelings are that this stemmed from the crap choices we both made in younger years. Neither of us seem to have much common sense when it came to the people we brought into our lives. We both had checkered pasts with people that had broken our hearts. Not just in romantic relations either, friends and family alos dug their claws into us and each of them left an invisible scar.
So when the time came for us to have our time-we both viewed the other as a threat. "what dose she want?", "what did she mean by THAT?", "is she setting me up for something?", "whats her REAL reason for wanting to be with me?"

the questions were unending, the uneasiness was evident and to be honest-it was diffcult for both of us to view the other for what they truly were-family.
It was slow and tedious for the first few years...yes I said years. When I say both of us were leery, I'm not exaggerating. Self perservation was very high in both of us.
But we both wanted it so bad. We were both willing to take what came and walk away broken, beaten and half dead. We are like that. When we commit-it's a fight to the death, we both had proven that by our past track record in relationships. We don't give in without a fight and we don't back down until the last minute.
Funny how we were doing the same thing in the same way and had never encountered someone else like this before. I was just like her, she was just like me. We were either going to make this the most glorious things in our lives or we were going to kill each other. And with the two of us-it truly was a coin toss on what direction it would go.
But as you can see-we made it.

Now last night we had a conversation. It really gnawed at my mind and I find myself struggling greatly with it. I have never had interest in Lori's family. In my mind, they are there, but meh, whatever. If I never met her brother or mother I would have been fine. And if I never ever meet her other brother, I will sleep just fine at night. OH WELL, he is nothing to me. I do search the pictures, looking for that glimpse of myself in those strange faces. It's not there. I don't share resemblance to them. Just Lori. But they honestly mean nothing to me. As long as I have Lori and my brothers, the others can take a hike.

BUT.......

Jim's family makes me crazy. I find myself daydreaming of their acceptance. I search the few faces I have seen online desperate to see myself. Not like Lori's family pics, that is curiosity, with Jim's family it's more like desperation. WHY??? Why do I feel that? Is it due to the deeply passionate but oddly distant relationship of Jim and myself? Is it because he so truly believed I would be accepted and told me over and over about how it was going to be so wonderful-and it's not? Disappointment? That whole 'wanting what you can't have' thing kicking in?

I don't know-but I hate it. I am not one to beg for love. If a boyfriend cheated on me I didn't slit their tires or bash their windows-I walked away. Screw 'em, don't need 'em. If a friend betrayed me I didn't drag them through the mud or spill any dirty tidbit I knew-I let them sit alone in their own mess. Oh well, hope they are happy, see 'ya.
But the entire mass of people (yes I mean mass, it's a huge family) want nothing to do with me and it eats at my brain like a cancer. I have met one aunt, her husband, my father and their mother (my g-ma) THATS IT. I don't think I ever meet the others. Jim continues with his dilusions that we are going to have family trips, spend time together, just get to know each other. But I am convinced he is making an effort to smooth over the huge build up he gave me from day one. He believed in his heart that his long lost, unknown daughter was going to swoop in and take her place in the family. He was happy to find me and he expected them to welcome me with open arms and all would be like a fairy tale. And they didn't. They literally want nothing to do with me. Not even to satisify curosity. I am nothing to them, will never be anything and I am certainly not worth the time to meet, even once.

Normally I would shrug and just move on. But this makes me ache. To add insult to injury, I compeltely question my value in Jim's life. At first when we spoke you could hear the excitement in his voice. Even if we talked about basically nothing-he was overjoyed to just hear me on the other end. But not any more. Now it's pleasant, he tells me how much he misses me, but I can't feel it any more. I understand that like all relationships things settle, I don't expect backflips just because I picked up the phone, but maybe, just once in a while HE could call ME. He could spend more than 10 minutes on the phone with me. He could say something other than "what do you need? is things ok? is something wrong?"
No...nothing is wrong I tell him, I just miss you. Now he works obscene hours. I would not be surprised if he literally worked 18-20 hours of the day. He completely comsumes he world with work, and there is simply no time for me. Maybe I am diluting myself. Maybe his curosity is curbed and so he is ready to drop it. Not that he doesn't love me, I know for a fact that he does. But more along the lines of he can not, will not make room for me in his life. And neither will his family. At least he had the decency to meet me and form an opinion of me before he cast me aside. They would not even be bothered by that. Out of sight-out of mind.

I hate, hate, hate that not one of them will give me even one iota of a chance. The one aunt I have met is gracious, she has befriended me online but I wonder if it is because she wants me around of if its more like she wants to keep tabs on me and streamline my contact. Her husband, well, he thinks I'm the greatest, but I don't dare initiate further solo contact with him. I did not come to them to cause civil unrest among them, I just wanted to know them. I can not and will not put him against their firing squad for my own piece of mind. He has to live every day with them, I do not.

I just don't know how to cope with the lack of caring in this reunion. Lori and I were leery but willing to go down in flames to make it work. We are fighters and we take care of your own, I really had no right to assume that it would be the same on Jim's side, but I guess I did. He told me it was going to be great, aunt told me that, grandma told me that and aunts hubby told me that. And I believed them. I should have kept myself on guard and stuck to my game plan, but I let them in and now I am paying the price. In the grand scheme of things with reunion I have been very lucky. There are some that have been in far worse positions that me and they survived. I just want to find a way to give up on it and walk away, let it be, without feeling the sting for the next 36 years.

Ahhhh....adoption. An emotional mind rape of a lifetime.

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The Blame Game  

Monday, May 18, 2009

In reading and communicating with several adoptee's, it seems that for some totally surprising reason, I am more accepted as a first mother than I ever thought possible. I root for the underdog, because I am an underdog most of the time. One of the little people who gets stuck on the bottom of some unknown shoe, size 900EEEE in the grand scheme of life and government.
But for some reason I am accepted in this small yet growing circle of never seen friends.

It's no secret that I chose adoption for my daughter 36 years ago. If you are unfamiliar with why I chose, you will have to go through old posts here to find out. I don't have the strength or the time to write it out again.

I have had my share of strangers judge me on my deed and not my reasoning for so long that I have accepted who I am in their eyes. I don't agree with their opinions of me or how they came about forming them, but I have accepted it none the less. They know less than half the story and it is not my responsibility to share every detail of my life with them in an attempt to gain recognition or acceptance. You don't like me, okay move on, next......

So to find that the very thing that got me my label as "one of those women" is now a source of recognition and respect, is quite surprising to me. You see, the envy I have felt toward the women who were indeed completely coerced into surrendering their children was overwhelming at times. I so wanted to be able to say that this had happened to me. I wanted it to be someone else's fault. I didn't want to be responsible for my daughter ending up being an adoptee. But I was responsible. It was my idea, stupid as it was, no one put those thoughts in my head but me.

Oh to be able to say I was duped by the system, I was taken advantage of, I didn't know any better. Which was half true, I didn't know any better, but I still didn't have to make that choice. I chose to send my daughter away to live with strangers, and it sucks. I have never found anything but sorrow in my decision.

So for me to find faceless friends who seem to think its respect worthy that I own up to being the boob who suggested my daughter become a statistic, is puzzling to say the least. I wanted to be like everybody else. I wanted to be duped and blameless. I wanted the same story as others who had no choice. Why did I have to be the only one who chose this?

But this is what I have learned, my daughter was the one who had no choice, I did, and I made my choice based on my reasons that I still to this day feel were sound reasons. Since I made that choice of my own free will, and admit to it, I have gone from "one of those women" to a woman of substance, but only in certain circles. I'm still a crack whore to some and always will be.

Without letting it go to my head, I have to admit it feels good to have the respect of a handful of people who understand first hand. Most of the opinions made about me in the past came from people who's only link to adoption WAS their opinion. So to say I am honored might be a bit much, but the opinions of a handful of people I have never met, have excommunicated a lot of the negative portrayals of me (at least in my own head) and given me a new look at my self. Maybe even a bit more back bone. Who knew that telling the truth, no matter how much I wished it wasn't the truth, being the one who didn't have, no matter how much she wished she did, anyone to blame but herself, would end up winning me respect in the end.

You know those stupid emails that say pass it along and something really cook will happen to you by....? Yeah, this is way cool.

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Preparing for Reunion  

Friday, May 15, 2009

Recently on a popular board that my daughter and I frequent, there was a comment made about surrendering mothers that sparked a private conversation between myself and another surrendering mother. It started off simple enough, she felt the sting of bad jokes made at our expense. I understood that feeling, I myself felt like she did for many years. Somewhere along the line I just got tired. I got tired of feeling bad on command. Some one would take a shot at me for surrendering my daughter and I would immediately feel bad, just like they wanted me to. I would love to say I don't know how it happened or when but that would be a lie. I know exactly how it happened and when. Like Pinocchio I got rid of my strings.



One day as my older brother, (I'm being covert here, I have two older brothers and in case you know me, you still don't know which brother it is) and I got into a heated discussion about how screwed up I really am, because I wasn't acting the way he wanted me to, I wasn't giving in the way I usually do, and he once again threw in my face that I needed a fucking psychiatrist. Before he could finish that sentence I had spun around and for the first time in my life I screamed in his face (spit included) "How did I get that way". It was the last conversation I remember having with my brother. So I know how. I remember almost every detail of the day I set myself free from other peoples power.



So this woman who is offended is trying to get recognition for her feelings and as much as I sympathized with her, I'm not there anymore. I don't let those comments bother me any more. Do they sting? A little, but not enough to ruin my day, not enough to make me want revenge, or even an apology. Besides the context of the comment was said in a group that I knew didn't include me, and probably not her either. It was an in general statement said in fun, bad taste maybe but hey, I'm just as guilty at times. Bad jokes and dark humor are the only things that get me through some times.



So this conversation goes on and starts to take a different twist. We went from bad joke, to being grouped together, to being re-abused by our children, to preparing for reunion. Well the grouped together stuff didn't get much attention from me either. People are going to group other people together from now till eternity. It's just the way we're wired. Blacks, whites, Asians. Christians, gays, "you people", hell I'm a crack whore at 53 because the current stereotype for surrendering mothers is skinny as hell (I wish) and all methed out. CRACK WASN'T EVEN INVENTED when I was pregnant, but that's okay, I'm a crack-whore.

The abuse part got a lot of attention from me but it wasn't what she was looking for, obviously. She wants to be prepared, she wants the details from other peoples experiences as to how they handled their situations to store in the back of her brain as reserve in case it happens to her. I don't understand this at all. My mind reels with questions, "how are you going to know that its abuse and not just reunion garbage that needs to be gotten out and dealt with then put to rest"? We talked about drawing a line in the sand. My question was " How can you draw your line of enough based on other peoples experiences"? "How are you going to know when you have had enough based on the stories of others"? "Why are you so sure this is going to happen"? The concept of boundaries is all fine and well, but why run imaginary scenarios through your head like war strategies?


So when we get to the part about preparing for reunion, I envision two people standing facing each other. Each has a handbook, maybe labeled reunion for dummies or something. A sentence is said by one person, then the other person flips through their hand book for an appropriate response, that person responds and it's now the first persons turn to flip through their handbook and see what it is they are supposed to say in return to the comment made by the other person. This to me is where reunion has been taken too far. Without posting exactly what this other mother said, I will say that if you feel the need to study for this, you're going to fail.



There are books,TONS of books, there are web sites, hang outs, blogs, forums, places you can go and discuss reunion, adoption, what it feels like, what it "was" like for someone else, but in the end no two reunions are alike. Having resources stored in your head isn't going to do you any good because they were someone else's experiences. Besides, as I tried to point out to her, in my oh so eloquent manner, it takes up valuable space.



I understand not being able to shut this shit off, I lived it for 28 years. I drank to make it go away, (smooth move on my part, I ended up with a drinking problem) that's what bothers me about this whole conversation. Instead of working on herself, instead of forgiving herself, and understanding that on her child's part there is simply more wait time required, HE'S NOT READY, she wants to continue to beat herself up, hold herself down, and read other peoples reunion stories, in order to prepare for her own.



If you want to know how this "might" pan out for you, it cost me many relationships, a few weeks in the hospital, a lot of money, therapy, jobs and friends, and I didn't even do the strategy thing. Sound like something you aspire to? keep it up, you'll get there.



My daughter and I read NONE of the books on the market about adoption, self discovery, reunion, or the effects of secrets and lies. Mostly because neither of us knew they existed. We talked to each other. We got to know each other slowly, we creeped into one an other's lives. It took time, it took understanding, it took not getting offended, or angry. It took having little to no expectations, and a lot of patience. It took doing it anyway even though we were both afraid. That's what worked for us. I'm not saying its the golden rule of reunion, I'm saying it took US, working at it, taking it in little chunks, quiting when it gets too overwhelming, picking back up when we both felt like we could do it again. But the main ingredient was US. Not some book, not someone else's memoirs, not a guide based on past reunions, just us.

"Be ready for anything" is a statement used in regard to reunion. It means you may be rejected again, it may not be how you expected it to go, you may be over whelmed with emotion, you may even feel like vomiting. It doesn't mean, study hard, have all the answers, be mentally prepared for any question. Reading is fine, talking to others and listening to their stories is okay, but trying to prepare for reunion based on others experiences, having your response to anything that may come up ready and waiting to be used is setting yourself up for failure. This isn't a battle ground, or a game show.

Reunion is fragile yet liberating. It requires honesty, respect and lots of space.
I'd hate to see anyone lose out in reunion because they didn't have the sense to be themselves, to give of themselves, and to allow the other person the space they need to make it work.

So in conclusion of this conversation. I wrote a short piece about how I'm not trying to disrespect her feelings, but instead trying to point out that she can reach a point of self respect that affords her the room to let a few bad jokes pass without taking them straight to heart and ruining her day. This was after she said that maybe that particular forum was not for her, that maybe it was time for her to move on. All I can think is that she wants to surround herself with people who feel the same pain, even though she strategizes against it. I probably shouldn't have but I told her that there is no way in hell I would base my reunion on incerpts from books, or let people who have spit on me my whole life stop me from having a relationship with my daughter just because they don't think I deserve one, and I reserve the right to draw my own line in the sand. I'll decide what is enough. Its been two days and there has been no response to the message I left.

No two reunions are a like, I hope she realizes that and finds what works for her.

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Would a Committment Make a Difference?  

Saturday, May 2, 2009

For those who have not been following, Rachael and I have had several discussions lately about reunion, what makes some successful and what sabotages others. Most people know that we belong to a forum that allows opened discussion. Rachael posted a question about trying to regain that family bond early in reunion as opposed to starting off at ground zero as friends. Again most know that Rachael and I have chosen the friends path. I am her mother but not her mom. Our thoughts on that can be read in other posts on our blog. Come to think of it maybe I should use that as a topic and let it have its own paragraph or two. Something to ponder. Pffft, maybe I already have.

In reading some old emails I came across something that I thought might be helpful to others in reunion. It is something that Rachael had to do for me to get me to stop being so afraid of reunion.

Yes I was afraid of reunion. I wanted it more than anything, I was willing to do almost anything for it, yet I was afraid of rejection after she soothed her curiosity about who her first mother was. I wasn't sure I could handle that so I held myself in reserve.

To keep other comments I have made still in clear view, I feel it necessary to address some of the things I have said in the past that may give the impression I'm back peddling, but try to understand that reunion and surrender is emotion filled and extremes are not uncommon.

I have stated in the past that I was willing to let my daughter beat the crap out of me if she felt it was necessary upon reunion. I was willing to accept that in exchange for even a glimpse of her. I have also stated that after a few years in reunion that if I was to continue to be her personal punching bag, to be used when ever she felt it necessary to feel better about the issues she was left with because of my decision to surrender her, that I would probably walk away myself. I have had a long hard road accepting my decision, and no one could beat me up more than I could myself, and I took full advantage of punishing myself over my decision. Although very different extremes, I still mean what I said. I was willing to let her physically hurt me, but not for the rest of my life.

So this brings me to what I read in an old email. That she was in it for the long haul.

I was afraid of losing her again and I had grown so attached that I held parts of me back. She knew it, she could see it, she could tell that I struggled with responses at times because I was afraid of what she might think if I were to just be myself. After a few short weeks, (JOKING, it took years,) of her telling me that she was in it for the long haul, I started to believe it. I gave my true responses to questions, opinions, situations and tried to have faith that she would really accept me for who I am. Not only is she still around, but she actually likes me most of the time. I find it hard to believe than anyone could like me all of the time, but that's human nature. We have found that we have the same slightly ummm, okay we have the same "really" twisted sense of humor. And we are both very devoted to one another, fiercely at times, which is both scary and really cool.

So to get to my point, (oh yeah we're both fairly looong winded too) we would like nothing more than to find things that would help people in reunion. Every reunion is different, but Rachael and I are trying to find any thread of similarities that may help. She has already posted about a few and will continue to do so as they come up. By no means are we trying to state that if you "do this", you will have a successful reunion, but if we can find even one thing that could make the difference between successful and unsuccessful it would be worth it.

Do you think that telling the other person that you are in it for the long haul would put your mind at ease? Would it take away even a little of the fear of being rejected again as an adoptee or being rejected after soothed curiosity as a first parent? I honestly believe it helped me to forgive myself. If she could forgive me, accept me, and stay for the long haul, if she could give me that commitment, and that's what it is, a commitment, then I had no excuse to not forgive myself, begin to heal, and commit to my daughter for the time we had left.

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Unraveling reunion-Age  

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

How old is old enough? So many seem to jump into a reunion when they are young, 18 or so. I took longer. I was 28 when I found Lori. At 18 I had a baby of my own and I was focused on her not my personal things. I wanted to do what I could for my daughter. After some half hearted attempts I finally found put forth serious effort to find her. I felt in a much better emotional state of mind and believed I could handle it. Lucky for me, it worked.

So my question is...is there such a thing as too young for reunion? I fully back giving adoptees their info at adulthood, it is ours and we should have it. But emotionally are 18 year olds ready for such a life changing event? So much is new to them, responsibilities and expectations that have never rested on their shoulders in the past. Then adding a reunion, sometimes it can be simply too much.
I truly feel that if a reunion takes place at 18 and fails, then it should be tried again later. So much changes through our 20s, life forks in so many ways, its no surprise so many falter and fizzle out. Maturity comes from experience and at 18, you have limited experience. I don't care how you were raised, events you have faced, you are still limited in the ins and outs of the real world.

Speaking from my personal experience, I am almost fully convinced if I had reunited when I was 18-Lori and I would not have a relationship now. I can't speak for her, but I was not mature enough to tackle any of that. NO way...

So that brings us to an impass, do you or don't you?

Even though I willingly admit I would not have been able to properly cope with reunion at a young age, I also only have one huge regret in my life. One thing that if given the chance I would change. That is waiting to find Lori and Jim. Missing those years I could have had with them. It makes me so sad to look back and see that I could have had them sooner.
So...damned if you do damned if you don't....or something along that line.

I dont have the answers on what is the proper age, the safe age, the average age that reunion should take place. But I can say that if a reunion does not go well the first time around and years pass, then maybe a second chance should be given. So much can happen in a just a few short years. A life can change dramatically. If you don't succeed the first time around, don't compeletely turn write it off forever. I'm not condoning beating the dead horse, it can be exhausting to keep trying and put yourself out there time and time again. You do have to know when to walk away, for your own sanity. But people change. Events alter views and sometimes time can give a new perspective on things, or help heal some open wounds.

I wish I could be 100% comfortable with telling people to jump on the reunion train at 18. But I'm not. What I am comfortable saying is at 18, be very honest with yourself and prepare for any outcome. And don't lose hope, if at first you dont succeed, try again. LATER. Don't write it off as done forever. I know I am not the same person I was 15 years ago and neither is anyone else.

Next post to come in a few days. Until then, chime in, let's hear your views.

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