How can something go so right?  

Friday, May 30, 2008

I have read several dozen stories about how adoption can go terribly wrong and I think about our story, mine and my daughters. Although I feel very strongly about adoptee's rights and placing children for the right reasons I don't want anyone to think that our story is another one of those didn't have the fairy tale endings like it was supposed to. Even with all the pain the three of us felt, my daughter, her father, and I. Adoption basically worked very well for us on levels I wasn't even aware of until just a few weeks ago.

Even though my adoption plan was at the tail end of the baby scoop era, I really hadn't heard much about adoption. I knew one couple related by marriage to my brother who had an adopted daughter. I was fascinated by this whole family, mostly because it was so different from my own. I was in a unique position to study their family practices from afar by being invited to all of their family functions. How that story ends I have no idea as I have lost track of these people over the years. My brother is no longer related to them by marriage and we have all grown up and gone our separate ways. But these people unknowingly set the standard of what my idea of adoptive parents were. Not should be but were. I honestly thought ALL adoptive parents were exactly like them. They were the image of Ozzy and Harriette, Ward and June, something right out of Father knows best, all popular television shows in the mid to late 60's. Television shows I grew up on. Nothing like my real life, but my dream of what a family could and should be.

When I became pregnant in 1972 at the age of 16, my mother was obviously furious with me. After all I was the first one on the block to create such a scandal. I remember her asking me what I intended to do with this child. Abortion wasn't legal yet but my mom worked for a doctor who could pull some strings, since it was literally a matter of months before Roe vs Wade would be settled in a court of law. The thought of coke bottles and coat hangers wasn't something I thought I deserved so I told her I was going to put the baby up for adoption.

The look on my mom's face was priceless. She had already dug in her heels and was ready for one of the famous mother daughter battles that seemed to be our interpretation of a relationship. Her eyes grew wide with surprise, her shoulders loosened, and her posture immediately relaxed. I can still see that look today. I had said something that not only threw her off guard but actually pleased her. Oh, with an upward tweak was all she could mutter as she walked away. I got her, I threw her right off track, I was so proud of myself, but more than that I was serious. I wasn't looking for her to say oh no that's okay you can keep the baby. That was actually the last thing I wanted. For the first time I felt in control of my life.

I had already talked to Jim, the father, about what we thought was best for this child. I still remember his words, "I will honor what ever decision you make". To this day I respect him for those words. I gave him my thoughts on adoption and my reasoning's and he agreed that it probably would be best all around. Although he was worried because of our age difference, he stayed with me secretly for the next several months. I refused to talk about who I was pregnant by to anyone. That made me a target for gossip, especially since I refused to stay in the house. I saw no reason to hide the fact that I was pregnant, everyone already knew, what was the point. I also took great pleasure in publicly humiliating my mother in front of her friends. Remember I was first. Ohhh but I had company shortly down the road.

My step father was a quite man who was by far the scariest person I had ever met. I would take a beating from just about anyone as opposed to one of those glares of disapproval from Henry. My mother did ask him if they should keep this child, (I found out much later) he said no. Thank you Henry from the bottom of my heart, for your insight and wisdom. He actually picked the agency I was to use. Being as my family was raised literally without any form of religion Henry went through his church to find Lutheran Social Services of Detroit.

I remember so little about so much. I do remember my case worker had the same last name as one of the local grocery store chains and that she was pleasant to me. I remember refusing to go into a home for unwed mothers, and I remember going to court after my daughter was born to sign the final papers.

I didn't have to grow thick skin to cope with this situation, I was convinced that I was making the most appropriate decision for all involved, Rachael, Jim and myself. After all who wouldn't want their child to go to Ozzy and Harriette, June and Ward? As the reel to reel tape player slowly turned in the corner recording everything that was said, I remember the judge and my case worker trying to convince me to name this child. I REMEMBER them saying that it would be virtually impossible to find her later on without a name. I declined. I figured her new parents were going to change her name anyway and I didn't want her to grow up and find out that she would have most likely been a Rachael instead of a Katy or Marsha. Yes Rachael is probably what I would have named her. I say probably because I didn't actually name her so anything could have happened. I did have other reasons, I didn't want to be tempted to start looking for her and I didn't want my family to either. I did not want my child raised by my family.

Now either these people were very good at their jobs or I really did have control of my situation. I had suggestions made that I either accepted or rejected. I felt so big. I was so confident, but I don't remember being coerced. I had made up my mind what I was going to do. It was explained to me that there was no changing my mind once I signed those papers. I was told that I was not to look for her, that she was going out of state, that I had to wait until she was 18 before having any kind of contact with her. But I do not remember being coerced. If I didn't like something, like the home for unwed mothers, naming her father, naming her, I simply said no, and they would come up with an alternative.

Now after meeting my daughter Rachael 28 years later. I found out that the agency lied to her parents about me and that I was lied to as well. She grew up right here in Michigan. For the most part an hour away from me, but at one point for about a year and a half only 15 minutes away. We could have actually been in the same store at the same time we lived so close. To them I was a 13 year old girl on drugs who had no idea who the father of this baby was, nor did I care because I had run away from home.

All in all, I have to admit that everything I had planned on, happened exactly the way I had hoped it would. Although her parents did want another child to compensate for the loss of one of their own and another pregnancy was out of the question for her mother, my daughter got a great home, good solid parents who were the television image I so naively expected, and a sister who she built a bond with that will last an eternity. This relationship with her sister came to light for me a few weeks ago when Rachael could not hide how devastated she was over her sister recently falling very ill. I simply wonder sometimes with all the stories of adoption gone wrong, human trafficking, sex slavery, indentured servitude, inhumane conditions and treatment, how could something I saw in my minds eye, that I naively believed, turn out so right?

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a teachers work is never done......(bah!!!)  

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

this has nothing to do with adoption, but when you come across a story so utterly disgusting and pathetic, you need to share it with whomever will listen. i found such a story. one of pure evil and vindictiveness. of one person preying on the weaknesses of another, devouring an innocent soul. intentional disregard for the feelings and emotional trauma that could possibly be irreversible.

this blatant, horrid act was inflicted upon a 5 year old-BY HIS TEACHER.

a trusted adult that is supposed to be a guiding force for young minds. a person that is supposed to nurture and lead our next generation. a woman that is supposed to set examples on how interact with adversity and individuality with basic humane understanding.

i want you to read this story, pay attention to the update on the left side of the page. read it and put yourself in this child's shoes. soak in the words and imagine that was YOUR child.

this woman's name is wendy portillo. she has been a teacher for years. she has stood in front of countless young children and taught them what they need to function in society. there is a saying "all i need to know in life i learned in kindergarten"
and we wonder how society got so bad. we ask who is to blame, why people do such terrible things to one another. why, why, why.......

maybe because they learned it in kindergarten, from their teacher, whom they look up to and respect. who they see as an ideal adult.

now this has a personal note for me. my niece has aspergers. mostly it affects their social skills. but overall, they are high functioning, intelligent kids. their brain just is wired a little different. but the is not the point of this, NO ONE should be subjected to this type of abuse. that's just what it is ABUSE. he was singled out, made a spectacle of, ridiculed, shunned, verbally beaten and persecuted. all at the hands of someone they love. children love their teachers. they feel they are part of their family. especially at such a young age.

when i first read this i was furious. beyond furious, i was literally sick to my stomach. who are we entrusting our children to? what lesson did she teach the others in that class? how will they react to someone else that doesn't fit HER cookie cutter image of normal?

i am asking you all to spread the word. this woman has no right to continue teaching her polluted ideas to other impressionable minds. she has to potential to taint thousands of minds and reinforce prejudice and cruelty.

use your voices now to stop this, speak out against any further dissolution of human compassion. show people like this that using their position to knowingly destroy another will not be accepted.
blog, write letters, make some calls, whatever. send a message-a message that we are not going to take this any more, that this wendy portillo is WRONG. that morningdale elementary in port st. lucie, florida is WRONG for allowing her to maintain her job.

help this boy and others like him, find a safe place to grow and flourish.


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a funny thing happened on my way to reunion...  

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

reunion has brought about many changes in my life. i found my hands and thighs (thanks lori) i found my nose, but more than that, i found a lot of needed peace in my world. i have always been the oddball in my family. mom and dad are quiet people, very reserved and in check. sister was boarderline perfect. aced high school, college, did everything by the book.

i was a non-conformist, i was not like them.

i was raised listening to patsey cline, johnny cash and boxcar willey. but my heart was in rock and roll. i was raised to not rock the boat, find a way to cope with what was in front of me. my gut told me to kick in the door and make the whole world notice. i was raised to be an upstanding pillar of the community. my very being craved adversity, the fast lane and self pollution.

in their eyes, i was crazy as a loon. but they loved me. they did their best to understand and feebily support my outlandish ways. i know i was an embarassment to them, i didnt mean to be, i was just different.
over the years they have grown to appreciate my personality more, even welcome some of the craziness that spews from my mouth from time to time. i have always been and always be the clown of the family. they simply dont know what to expect.

it took me a long time to figure out that i wasnt 'wrong' just not cut from the same mould.
--then i found lori--

wow did so much make sense. it was like we shared a brain. she honestly understood me. i would start to explain myself and she was jumping in, she already knew what i was going to say. i was and still am in utter awe of this. is this how 'regular' families are? is it normal to be able to almost read one anothers mind and feel what they feel?

i have some of this with my daughter, but not as strong. i would assume because she is a teenager and i am a complete moron in her eyes. nothing i say means spit to her right now. you can see it in her face when i speak to her. but what will happen when she is my age? will we have the same bond that lori and i have?
strange that i would have to ask that, but being an adoptee, i have no link to base off of. no roots to refer back to. i found lori and jim when i was an adult, maybe that was the key. no deep seeded hard feelings for all the crap i put them through as a child or teen. no looming disapointment over getting into trouble or causing a scene in the past.

just us, now, grown up. adults sharing stories and genes.

but a funny thing did happen-i realized how much i actually enjoyed my oddball status in my family. i found peace in knowing i came into my strangeness honest and purely. it was something lori had given me and no one could take away. it survived 28 years of separation, 28 years of attempted reform, 28 years of exasperated sighs from frazzled parents wondering what was going to become of me later in life. it not only survived-it took on a life of its own. it squirmed and grew into something all its own. it became me.

now i am not perfect by any means-and this gift/curse she has bestowed to me has caused plenty of problems in my life. i laugh at the wrong times, inappropriate things tumbled from my lips before the brain has a chance to intervene and sometimes things seem like really really good ideas at the time-but in the long run they arent. is a force. a dominent blinding light that fuels who and what i am. it gives me a different perspective on the hum drum, everyday situations. it makes people respect my opinions-if they are brave enough to ask. (dont ask if you dont really want to know). it helps me weed out the crap in my existence, walk away from the people that are dead weight and move on. and somehow, i can see hope in almost everything. there is always a 'maybe' or 'what if...'
life is not black and white to us, it is a full spectrum of color and gray areas. twists, turns, nooks and crannies. more under the surface, you just gotta dig.

when we feel something is wrong, we barrel in to fix it, lori more than me. i am passive compared to her. but i think in time i will get to her level of intensity. when someone is hurt or shunned, we step up and protect them. always for the underdog. and if someone damages someone we love-you better pack a bag, we wont stop until you are destroyed. family first, always.

so a funny thing happened on my way to reunion. i didnt just find my dna, i found myself. who'd have thunk it?


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Paying Tribute on Memorial Day  

Monday, May 26, 2008

I want to make sure this morning that I pay tribute to all the men and women from all the wars who made the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom. Freedom is not won without bloodshed and the fact that their blood was shed is worth a few moments of my time to honor their memory.

The only way I can think of to do this is to write about the men who've touched my life. These are the men who were fortunate enough to come home. I'd like to start with Henry.

Henry was my second step father who fought and lost his only brother in the Korean war. He was by far the most stable thing in my life. Although I begged my mother not to marry him I am glad she didn't listen. He truly has left his mark on my heart and my soul. There are many times I repeat either out loud or to myself his shared words of wisdom. My favorite being " If you have to have an answer right now then the answer is NO!" I have seen his face and used this line more times than I can count. Thank You Henry for giving me stability, insight, and some great one liners.

Walt was not a physical casualty from Vietnam but he returned a casualty none the less. He was one of my best friends. Voted class clown, he was the funniest person I had ever met. No one could ever make me laugh the way Walt could. He was extremely intelligent and was my first exposure to dark humor which I have a passion for. He was my protector before he went to war. He took me under his wing and showed me nothing but love, protection and respect. Thank You Walt for all the love, security, and laughter when I needed it most.

Jim was the man who taught me how to be a woman. Although I did not know him before he went to Vietnam, when I met him I felt like I was home. This man taught me all about love. He taught me to give love, receive love, make love and how to hold someone forever in your heart. He also gave me my first child, my daughter Rachael. Although we agreed not to keep her, she was our forever link to one another. Our lives took very similar paths after we lost touch with one another. We both had intimacy issues with others. We both self medicated over our losses. We both regretted the decision we had made in regard to our daughter. We both remained single, me for 30 years, he forever. I finally had children twenty years after Rachael was born, Jim remains the father of one child to this day. A reunion late last year between Rachael, Jim and myself proved to be the single most healing moment in all of our lives. In my honest opinion this man saved my life. His passion, compassion, understanding and unconditional love for me gave me a foundation to build my life on. It took me years to put it into perspective but the ground work was laid by him.

My husband Rene, who worries about nothing, has been my rock. He is a Veteran of Desert Storm. I sent him away shortly after meeting him because of our age difference. Three months later he was back, and has been my saviour ever since. No one has off set me more perfectly. He has taught me not to worry over things you have no control over. Which has been a huge revelation for me. He has shown me that love has no boundaries. He continues to show me how self control, self discipline, and self respect dictate how others see and value you as a person. Despite his age, he has proven to be an excellent father figure to my 2 teen age boys. Thank You Rene for not listening to me when I sent you away. Thank you for loving me and my boys.

I have had many people come and go throughout my life. The ones who touched me the most have all been soldiers. Soldiers who had the good fortune to return home from war. Return by the grace of God and the shed blood of others.

Thank You to all the soldiers from all the wars that have made it possible for me to have been so blessed by the men who came home.

Lori A

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The Death of Enna  

Saturday, May 24, 2008

In the few short weeks I have been blogging I have learned so many things. My skills are still limited but I did not want to pass up the opportunity to help spread the word on how adoption can go so terribly wrong. I can not post links yet or add news article snippets but I can request that you take the time to read some of the thoughts of others linked here on our blog. Adopted Jane, Adoption Triad, and the Daily Bastardette all have posted links to the article about Enna, a 2 year old from Guatemala who was found dead at the hands of her adopters. They have given their thoughts on how many levels of tragedy this encompasses.

Although I stand firm on adoption having the "potential" of being a good thing, this by no stretch of the imagination falls into that category. I'm not sure this even was adoption. It is apparent from the article that even their 200 animals were better cared for, but not by much.

As a mother from the BSE (baby scoop era, where most adoptions were closed) it sickens me to think what must have been going through those children's heads and I wonder if their first parents will ever learn the truth. This is beyond sad, and it needs to be understood that adoption is not always a better way of life. People from all aspects of adoption need to become more responsible with their wishes for a child who has no say.

Lori A

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Friday, May 23, 2008

Living in a town of Adopters

At the time I didn't know that my town was so involved with adoption and I was just on cloud nine that I was finally in reunion. I told anyone and everyone who would listen. Shortly afterwards I started to notice that I was being avoided by people who used to have at least a hello in the past.

I am all too familiar with being shunned but this time I didn't know why. After years of living here the stories of adoption started to surface through the few people who would talk to me. I have recently started to be accepted again here in my two spit town (Two spits out the window and your on the other end of town.) and I have to admit it feels good. No more sitting alone through hours of children's sports or school functions. Actually having someone to talk to at the beach here in town on the week days when it's empty is a definite plus. I guess after 8 years the buzz about me has died down a little.

I went outside today to feel the sun on my face and noticed that my neighbor two doors down was also out. I walked over for some neighborly conversation. In describing a situation with another neighbor she let me know that all her children were adopted. I was surprised at first and asked if she had original birth certificates for them. She said she did. Like the rush of an avalanche, familiar feelings of being an outcast came over me. I remembered where I was living and how wonderful it was to be accepted again.

I let her finish her story and move onto another. I didn't say a word about my daughter. I wanted to. I wanted to tell my story of successful reunion, but instead, I made an excuse and walked back home never telling her how wonderful it was for both of us to be reunited for the past 8 years.

Sometimes it feels like I'm a an evil threat to adoptive parents everywhere. I know not all adoptive parents feel this way but it is so hard to tell by looking at a person what their perspective might be. I guess what bothers me the most is if I can't tell by looking at them what their perspective is, how can they tell by one sentence out of my mouth what my circumstances were?

Sorry Rachael I feel as though I have betrayed you by not feeling comfortable enough to talk about you, but I know you understand.

Lori A

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The Life That Lead To Rachael  

Monday, May 19, 2008

Growing up in the late 60's and early 70's I was the last and only female child my middle class parents had. I was sullen and moody most of the time. My father was a typical drinking, smoking, wheeling and dealing, loud salesman, who spent most nights in topless bars sealing deals and staying number one sales person in his company.

My mother was the typical stay at home mom who kept a clean house and assumed all the domestic chores. She prepared 4 course meals every night, had them on the table at 6 sharp and fed us kids while wondering where her husband was night after night after night.

I remember starting school at 4 because of my birthday. I remember going to the doctor for being left handed, something my father was dead set against. I remember being afraid most of my life.

Home was a war zone between my parents fights and my two older brothers sense of humor which usually involved torturing me.

I honestly believe my mother took advantage of me being able to start school at 4 so she could get a divorce and a job. That was pretty much the end of my nurturing years. My parents did divorce but my father stayed with us for a few more months until he could find a place to live. He slept in my room and I slept with my mother.

I was responsible for myself from that time on. My school was practically in my back yard, so it wasn't hard to get there and back alone, all I had to do was watch for the other kids and I knew it was time to go, either in the morning or when lunch was over.

By the time I was 16 I was no longer quiet, or afraid. In fact i was just the opposite. I learned that the only person I could trust was me.

I met Jim at a bond fire in the park. I had never seen him before but was drawn to him like a moth to a flame. I don't remember exactly how we ended up together but once we were we stayed that way for quite some time. I was skipping school every day and hitchhiking to his house. I would go home after school and go back in the evening.

There was a great peace about being with him. He was quiet, reserved, and dangerous. Although he was far from my first man, he was the first to treat me the way he did. I truly believe that man saved my life. He taught me about relationships between the sexes. He taught me love on so many different levels, hot to make it, how to receive it, how to give it, and how unconditional it can be. We were two misfits who just meshed.

I recently found out, after 35 years that he felt the same way. I helped him through many a nightmare bestowed upon him by the Vietnam war.

At the time of Rachael's conception his form of work was not exactly going in to do a nine to five. I had once again become afraid, very afraid. I was not afraid of being pregnant, not afraid of him abandoning me, I assumed total responsibility for my pregnancy and although he agreed to go along with what ever I decided. I refused to take her home.

You see all the men or boys who came before Jim were either related or friends of relatives. Bringing her home was not an option.

I insisted upon adoption and Jim as promised went along with my decision.

Lori A

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From Rachael  

hello all, this is my first blog and i am not too familiar with how this all goes, so bear with me.

before i go much further, i want to send out my most sincere thanks to gershom and jane, the two of you have proven to be the most amazing friends. without your guidence and support lori and i would still be mucking around in the cyber-world. sending you much love. >>mmwa<<

let me give you some background on myself. i am Rachael, daughter, mother, sister, aunt. a simple factory rat trying to make a life for my family and still after almost 36 years trying to put myself in my niche in the world. in other words, just like you probably.

by the way, did i mention i am an adoptee? i was adopted practically at birth, i believe mom and dad said i was about 6 weeks when i came home. a mop of hair on my head and a clear personality already. i was more than they bargained for, but that is another story i will save for later.

Lori was a young teen from a troubled family. i will let her share her story, it is hers after all. but i will say, from where she came from the fact that she is the strong, passionate, sane woman is amazing. she met my bfather young and fell head over heels for him. he was a wild Vietnam vet with a dark side. but they loved each other. more than either of them probably realized at the time.
i think they were both looking for someone to accept them as they were, no hidden agendas, no expectations, no fronts. just each of them being who they were. and with one another they found that. then *poof* along came me.

i have always known i was adopted, it was never hidden from me. there was no one day i found out, no "gotcha day" celebrations, no grand commotion to remind me i was adopted. i was just me. adoption was and is just a part of who i am. same as my broad hands and unique nose.
i was raised in the closest thing to the 'leave it to beaver' household the real world had to offer. dad worked, mom stayed home and ran the house. i had my own room, we had a pool, lots of room to play, several pets and a comfortable home. we went to church every Sunday, were active in the 4H program and were just a normal family. i had one sister (their biological). just 'normal'.

except for me. i was not like them. i was wild, loud, rock and roll and black leather. they were quiet, never rocked the boat, fine upstanding citizens. very country. they honestly thought i was crazy. maybe i was. maybe i am, who can truly say? but i was definitely a square peg in a round hole. they loved me, supported me, but simply didn't understand me. overall, i had a wonderful life.
i am not angry about my adoption, i harbor no hard feelings or pain toward Lori or my bfather. i actually love them even more for what they gave me. their lives at the time of my birth was no place to raise a child. they saw that and what would almost certainly become of me and they chose to stop that. they gave me more than just the blood in my veins and air in my lungs, they gave me a chance. one that not many get, and even fewer have work in their favor.
at times i feel i am the luckiest woman on earth. i have 4 parents that love me, would sacrifice for me and think the world of me. forgive me if i gloat, i honestly appreciate what i have and know how it could have been. sometimes the underdog really does come out on top.

i will write more later. as of right now, i am exhausted. work is at full tilt and i am averaging 64-70 hours a week. i am currently at week with no days off. my children think i am just a figment of their imagination. so for now i must sleep.

thank you all for checking in. i hope you find our story interesting and return. so until that time, live life and enjoy!


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Ethical Adoption  

Thursday, May 15, 2008

This is a new blog site and I had every intention of letting my daughter whom I share this site with take the first post. However, I have only a few hours left to post about something that is close to both of our hearts and have it be part of Bloggers Unite. Being as she is at work and I will miss the deadline I'm sure she won't mind.

Ethical adoption would be the practice of making adoption about what is in the best interest of the child. Adoption practices today are anything but ethical. Children are being bought and sold like live stock and at times shipped half way around the world without any regard to the affects this is going to have on a child.

Ethical adoption, would be keeping children in their own countries with their own culture when ever possible.

Ethical adoption would be about caring for a child until they become of legal age and then handing over any and ALL information that pertains to that child's birth, ancestry, medical history, and first family.

Ethical adoption would be to empower every individual, not just non-adoptee's with the human and civil right to obtain not only information but relationships with whom ever they choose as an adult.

If you can vote, pay taxes, and fight wars, you should be entitled as an adult and a human being to have access to and control over your life and relationships like every other human being.

Please familiarize yourself with the unethical practices that are being performed in the name of adoption and the affects it's having on children of adoption everywhere. Even the ones who are grown.

Lori A

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