Friday, August 29, 2008

I have had a very emotional few weeks. Things have not be a fun ride. I have been coping with labor disputes at work, possible plant closing, issues with my childrens health and my own, the list goes on. My faith was rocked, my life was in chaos and I was ready to throw in the towel. So when Lori sent me Aunt D's email-my heart sunk. Every aspect of my life lately has gone horribly wrong, and now I was faced with contacting her. I was completely convinced that it would end in a heartwrenching way.

But I did it anyway. I was compelled to do so. Let me give you a little background so you understand where I am coming from.

Last year I was having a typical day, kids, dogs, school, getting ready for work. Normal stuff. Until the phone rang. It was Lori. All still normal, Lori and I speak on the phone several times a week so I was not surprised to hear her voice. Until she said "I have someone that wants to say hi"
I assume it is one of my younger brothers-why wouldn't I assume that? Then she says "Jim, say hello to your daughter"
Goosebumps rose all over my body, my knees got weak, my mouth went dry. And in my own classic/cool form, I respond "HOLY SHIT! ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME?!"
well 'respond' isn't quite the right word. I was shrieking into phone, swearing like a madwoman.
Nice first impression, huh? Yea, I'm cool like that ((pffffttt......))

So soon we were making plans to meet, see each other, meet some of his family. I was on cloud nine.
The day finally came and I made the drive to see him. I was a wreck and when Lori and I walked up to the building, there, directly in front of us was a man. His back was to us so all we could see was a long grey pony tail laying down his back, but she knew. "THATS HIM. Thats him-I'm positive" she said.
My palms were sweaty, my stomach was churnning and I wanted to turn around and run back to my car. But it was too late. He turned, saw her and smiled. He knew her immediately too. No doubt about it.
Then he saw me, I don't really have the right words to explain the look that came accross his face, but it was good. He has the most sparkling eyes I have ever seen. He was smiling broadly-you could see it even though his mustache hides a good portion of his face.

We had a couple beers, talked and did a WHOLE lot of staring at one another. Finally the time came to go to his sisters house. Now I seriously thought I was going to throw up. See, no one knew about me. No one. I had no idea what they were going to think.
I was shocked when they treated me like family. I was home. We had a fantastic afternoon. Many laughs, old stories, hugs. I felt a peace I had never had before. All the pieces had just fallen from the sky and fit into place. A rather big day for lil' ol' me.

Fast forward to now. Since the reunion things have been different. We have spoken a few times but not much. People are busy, things happen.
One day I called Jim's mother, just to say hello and see how she was. I was answered by another sister of his and it was not a pleasant conversation. Her distain of me was evident. She made no effort to hide her irritation about me contacting her mother or anyone else in the family. I got off the phone feeling like a chastised child. It was the beginning of a downward slide for me. I questioned my place in Jim's life and his families. I doubted his mothers offer to call her whenever, Aunt D's generosity, every aspect of my reunion with them.
Jim has been so busy these last few months that I could not even talk to him about this. We just can't catch each other. This only added to my paranoia. I was positive that he was backing away and the rest of them were just being polite that day.
I severed contact. It wasn't hard, like I said, Jim works all the time. There is no room in his life for me, so I simply quit calling. No one made any effort to contact me, so I was sure I was doing the right thing. After all, my intention when I started all this was not to intrude upon this family. I did not want to force myself on them, I just wanted to know them.

So there I was, reading an email from Lori, with Aunt D's address staring back at me. Aunt D had given it to Lori, but that didn't mean she wanted me to have it. My head swam with questions of 'what if....'
But I did it anyway. I sent the email and told her I would gladly walk away, no hard feelings. She wrote back telling me 'no way' I am family no matter what. She assured me I was welcome and wanted, no matter what her sister said. AND SHE SIGNED HER LETTER 'AUNT D'!!!!

I have an Aunt D!!!! ((doing happy dance right now))
Maybe things are looking up. Maybe a little of my faith has returned. MAYBE, the streak of everything I touch turns to garbage is over. I don't know. I do know that I have an aunt and grandmother that want me and love me.

Today is a GOOOOOOD DAY.......

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Just a teaser  

It is not my story to tell but I can't stand the excitement. Rachael got her first email from her Aunt D on her father's side of the family. Aunt D is taking my little girl under her wing on that side of things and I could not be more happy about it.

Congratulations Rachael, tell us more soon won't you please.


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A realization  

Monday, August 18, 2008

Since I have been involved with my daughter and other adoptees I have heard about the issues of being riped away from the first mother and the effects it has on children. This is something I never imagined when I decided to give my daughter up. I thought (like everyone else) that she would be a clean slate and bond with her new family and never give a thought to who I was or have any affects from being taken away from me the day she was born. Although I did get to see her she was strictly hands off. See her is all I was allowed to do. I think they were afraid I would change my mind. They could have been right.

Although I heard the stories, the realization didn't hit me until the last few day. Be it the same or not it brought the stories full circle for me. Some people will say there is no comparison but I beg to differ.

Here's what happened

I got a phone call from a friends son who asked if I could call his girlfriend, she wanted to ask me something. I said okay and called her right away. She seemed a little squeamish as she explained to me that someone had brought a kitten to her work. If you know anything about me I am a magnet for kittens, whether I want to be or not.

Anyway, this kitten is the last of the litter and is going to be put to sleep if someone doesn't take her. I already know that she can't take her, but am not amused by her asking me to. I had at one point 11 cats of various sizes and ages here in my home. Some got families and others were taken in for possible pet adoption. I have to face the facts, they probably didn't make it to adoption.

As I am listening to this girl try to ask me as nicely as she can to take this kitten and keep it from being put to sleep, I can hear in the background, this poor kitten screaming, and screeching. I told her to bring the kitten to me right away. I have a teenage girl on the verge of tears at the thought of this poor creature being killed for lack of being wanted and a scared to death baby kitten literally screaming from fright on the other end of my phone and although I can't make any promises, I can't say no. This young girl needs the relief of knowing she saved this creature and the poor kitten needs comfort immediately.

I insisted that they stop at the store and get me a baby bottle for the kitten, which she agreed to. When they pulled up there was an even younger child in the back seat of an older model car that was doing her best to comfort the baby. It wasn't working. After all the upset this kitten had experienced by being torn away from its mother, shown off and man handled by a gazillion hair dressers, lifted and examined, put down and picked back up, and then went on I'm sure what was a car ride from hell.

I took the kitten immediately, and held it to my chest. It did seem to settle down a bit. I was handed a bag that was to have a baby bottle in it for the kitten. As I opened it I see an actual infant bottle. They had no idea it required something that fit it's tiny mouth. I questioned them as to how I was supposed to get this into that tiny hole? The reply I got was that it will work, that's what the other person was using. This poor poor kitten.

I have had possession of this beautiful creature for 4 days now and it is finally settling in to her new (temporary) home. Yes I said temporary. I have 4 male cats and want no more. I did manage to find a home for her when she is ready, or should I say my son did. His girlfriend is going to take her. It has all been okayed with her grandparents whom she lives with.

Three days of screaming, shaking, being scared out of her wits, looking for her mother, her litter mates, the familiar smells and sounds. Feeding from something foreign to her touch and taste. Being bathed with cloth instead of the all to familiar mother's tongue, sleeping alone and no longer having the heart beat of others surround her. Eyes barely opened and vision probably blurry, she has barely come to know my touch and my voice as one's of comfort.

I recognized her fears as soon as I heard her cries on the phone and again when I saw how small she was, barely 4 weeks old. Why she was removed from the comfort of her mother I will never know, but it hit home hard as I watched it all unfold before my eyes. This is without a doubt the smallest and youngest I have ever taken in.

After all the things I watched this defenseless kitten go through in the past four days, I am sick with guilt, shame, and remorse, for all those who have experienced this, be they animal or human.

This is the plight of one little kitten, who will no doubt have a happy, healthy home as soon as she is ready to leave here, but the suffering I watched her go through and still do when she wakes up or is startled, is almost too much to bare. It hits very close to home.

The stories of abandonment and the fears of being away from what was familiar are much more real to me now. Having been seen first hand through the eyes of a kitten.

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blissful ignorance  

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Ever wish you were blissfully ignorant? That is what I am wishing right now. I wish I didn't know so much about my genetics, so the trauma I am going through with my daughter would be just a bump in the road.
My aparents had it, they blissfully went through my childhood thinking I was just odd, different. They had no idea the defective genes I inherited from Lori and Jim. The defect that has the potential to destroy lives if left alone. The defect that can consume it's host and bring families to the brink of disaster.

I will spare you all the gory details, actually, I will spare myself the pain of rehashing what I have been going through lately. But I just want to say, I wish I was an ignorant schmuck that could shake their head and hope against hope that she will 'outgrow it'.

But I'm not. I am fully informed and (unfortunately for me) all too familiar the path she has chosen. I know the draw that attracts her, the lure of freedom and fun. I know it all too well. I lived it for quite some time. Lori was the same. We have our demons, they are unwanted and uninvited but they still lurk. They invade a wonderful soul and pollute it with their poison.
Those demons can shape a young life and force years of recovery and playing catch up with the rest of the world. I am still on the rebound from mine.

I blame no one for this. It is not the fault of any generation of my gene pool, it is a defect that can be traced back to our primordial ooze. No single individual is responsible. But all the same, it is there and must be faced. It must be beaten back for the mere sake of survival. If left unattended it will mutate and take on the life of the soul it resides in. Leaving a trail of toxic aftermath in its place. Burning through the fibers of any connections that threaten it.

I wish I was so blissfully ignorant to its potential. I wish I could scratch my head in utter confusion as to what will happen next. I wish I could look the other way and cross my fingers that it will work itself out for the good, relying on faith and hope.

But I can't. I carry my scars that it left on me so many years ago-as Lori does and many before her. I share the burden that Jim has endured in his coming of age. I have passed this on to my own, and now I must fight for something so much bigger and more important than myself-my child.
This is one fight I will not walk away from. I will take my beating-but I will get my licks in too. Maybe, just maybe, if i fight hard enough now, she will not be in my shoes later.
Oh how I wish she could be ignorant too. I would give almost anything in the world to erase the marks from her.
But that will never happen, not now. So I will fight. With every ounce of my being, until I can fight no more.

Knowledge is power they say......
I guess we will see........

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My Daughters Birthday  

Monday, August 4, 2008

Being a mother of relinquishment, I have had some strange feelings and strange behavior over the years as my daughters birthday rolled around. As I have said before, I was so proud of myself for doing the right thing in regard to giving her a better life. I felt like a real human being who had done something not only substantial but spectacular. Something not many others had done or would be able to do. I sacrificed my own feelings for the betterment of another. ( That's another story for another time.)

It was wonderful, until her first birthday started to creep up on me. About a week before her birthday I was very aware of the fact that it was coming. I suddenly had very mixed feelings about how wonderful I was. I became depressed, I was agitated, I couldn't think about my actions without getting a pit in my stomach. It was the ache of empty arms. When I explained to my family members why I was moping around and feeling so depressed, I was scoffed at and told to forget about it, as if my feelings were not valid. ( Also another story for another time.)

I tried. I tried to believe them. I tried to believe that I had no reason to feel the way I did and that I was just being a silly little girl who wanted attention. As the days passed in that week before her birthday, my stomach grew more and more knotted, my depression was more and more prominent, and my mind more and more distracted, until the night before her birthday.

Suddenly it was the day after her birthday and it was all over. I was surprised that I had forgotten her on such an important day. I was even more convinced that I would not have made a good mother because I couldn't even remember her birthday. I was ashamed of myself.

This went on for the next 10 years. I would remember the week before and suddenly wake up and it was the day after. No I didn't sleep through the entire day, I blocked it out and went about my business on auto pilot (for lack of a better term) until the entire day had passed and it was over and no longer able to hurt me.

My first remembrance of her birthday was at age 10. By this time I actually found it odd that I did remember. I was so used to forgetting or blocking it out that it became acceptable to me. I didn't feel good about forgetting it. I actually beat myself up over it. I didn't understand that it was a defense mechanism. One designed to protect me.

After her 10th birthday my remembrance of them was sporadic. One year I would remember and the next I would forget. I began to remember more and more but I was getting older and more numb to the loss of my daughter and more able to cope I would imagine. Then we met.

The next 8 years seemed to go good for me as her birthday rolled around. I am not the best at getting cards in advance, in fact I suck at it. This is something she understands as she has inherited this awful trait from me and is actually pretty bad about it herself. (something we can laugh about together)

It is that time again and I find myself constantly aware that her birthday is approaching. I didn't get to the store in time on Saturday and our rinky dink town has only one store that is closed on Sunday. Compounded by the fact that I forgot again last year has had me on pins and needles for about a week now. I started reminding myself last month that it was coming and here I am 2 days before and still have no card to send. fortunately for me, I still have time. It should only take 2 days to get to her if I get it in the mail today. It should be perfect actually. My mother's mail, (when she sends me anything) always arrives within 2 days and my daughter lives very close to her.

You notice I said I forget again last year. That devastated me. How could I forget. Why would I forget? Is it the defense mechanism again? What did I need protection from? Or is it that I have not been a part of her life for so long that I am not used to remembering my own daughters birthday? What ever this is it sucks.

So this year I have decided in case this mechanism or what ever it is decides to kick in and protect me from myself again, I am publicly addressing the issue now. I only have two days left and do not trust myself to remember after what happened last year.

Rachael from the bottom of my heart, and the deepest depths of my soul. With every fiber of my being I wish you the HAPPIEST BIRTHDAY ever bestowed upon a human being. And if I forget to call you on your special day please please understand that it has been this way for me for 35, soon to be 36 years now and that I seem to have no control over it. It is not callous neglect or you don't mean enough to me for me to remember. It is a side affect. A casualty of adoption that makes this happen. I would change it tomorrow if I could but I'm afraid by tomorrow I will have forgotten again. ( you're supposed to laugh here)

I love you. I have always loved you. and I'm living breathing proof that the mind can be a powerful thing.

Happy Birthday Rachael


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knowing my place.  

I recently had someone remind me of something that i had all but forgotten about. It was a conversation with my sister that took place about 3 years after my reunion with Lori. I was talking about this or that, probably beeming with pride over my new found family, the love i felt from them and generally just on cloud nine.
She tried with all her might to be supportive and happy for me, but you could hear in her voice the hollowness.

I think i have blogged before about my sister. Our relationship over the years had been nothing short of caustic. We are the polar opposite of one another. Not one thing in common and it had caused many problems in our lives. We now joke that if a gift was to be bought for the other, each of us would go to the store and pick out something we absolutely hated and buy it for the other. It worked like a charm, if i hated it-she loved it and vice versa.
We were never a close bunch. They were, meaning mom, dad and sister. But I never blended in with them. My life was spent watching them and the comfort they had with one another and wishing I could have that with SOMEONE. Then Lori came into my life and I had that. I finally knew what it was like to be understood.
You can imagine my anger when my afamily didn't immediately warm to her. I tried to be patient and show them this was not about them. I WAS NOT LEAVING. But the fear never subsided in their hearts. Even if I was the outsider, the oddball, I was still loved. And wanted.

So as I said, about 3 years had passed and I was desperately trying to find a place in the whole mix where I could feel comfortable talking about Lori. A place where I didn't feel I was issuing a disrespect to the family I loved so much. Thats when it happened-sister finally came out with the truth. And it hurt.

I can't remember how it unfolded, but I finally got the nerve to ask why it was so hard for everyone. I asked if it was them-would they do anything different? Don't I deserve to know where I started life, where I came from, what my roots were?
My questions became increasingly desperate. I was hurt and angry. When I found Lori I was 28, hardly looking for a new 'mommy'. It was about me, not them. About who and what I was.
Sister-in her classic calm cool and collected persona (as usual) began to explain. About half way through I wanted to cover my ears and yell 'blah,blah,blah....' as loudly as I could, but I didn't. I listened. And to be honest with you-I truly feel in my heart-THIS one conversation was the turning point for many things. Including a whole new respect and love for her and the rest of my afamily.
She simply asked "what about me?"

What about you?! Yeah, what about you? This isn't about YOU....it's about ME....'what about you?' <>
She then spoke of how mom and dad had been her whole world, that she was very close to them both and all she ever wanted was to have this with me too. But it just didn't work out that way. I never was able to mesh with them. I just didn't fit in.
Now I had this whole 'new/old' family that I adored and wanted to spend so much time with and made me so HAPPY, where did that leave them? Where would our relationship be in 10 years. I had already made long term plans with Lori, but did I have any with them?

That was a ton of bricks. I was hurting them, scaring them. They thought I was going to run off with Lori and never come back. AND IT BOTHERED THEM. For years i rebelled against their whole way of life. I lashed out. I was the root cause of the problems. I was an angry, hurt, spoiled little brat that never took responsibility for my actions. I blamed (silently) them for not understanding me, but it was me. Not them.
And even though I put them through hell-they STILL wanted me. And Lori scared them. She had the power to take me away forever and they knew it. Yet they still tried to be supportive, they never bashed her or shunned me for her. They simply nodded and smiled. But you could see it in their eyes.
I put myself in their shoes. I am a custodial step parent. Not quite the same thing, but it was all I had to base off. I imagined my step children's mother coming to take them back forever. I had raised them, I may not be their mom, but I was THE mom. It made me angry, it made my heart ache. It made me slightly understand how my family must be feeling.
Sister wasn't trying to steal my glory about finding Lori, she was asking where her place would be in the future. She was timidly asking to be a part of my world, she wanted to be my sister. Not just that girl I grew up with.
My head started to swim at this point. My stomach was in knots, relevations are never easy and this one was a doozey.

She didn't miss a beat though. She could feel that I was listening and was finally 'getting it'. She went on to say that when something happens to mom and dad she would be alone. I would have this great new family that loved me and I would not want or need her. Where would she fit in? Imagine-all those years I wondered where I fit in and now here she was, in MY shoes. She was just as lost as I had been for so long.
I was so wrapped up in what I was feeling I never stopped to consider what they were feeling. I am sisters only sibling-if I left she would be alone.

What she didn't know was, I would never let that happen. EVER. I reassured her that she was my sister, we were a package deal. I would never leave her or mom and dad. I was just trying to find myself. I needed them too. I loved them. More than words could explain.
She didn't know, because I never took the time to tell her or anyone else.

Since that day, we have made huge progress. I have never felt more at ease with who I am and where I belong. I know one day mom and dad will not be with us. Its inevitable, no wishing in the world can change that. But now my sister knows that no matter where I am, she will always be with me. I will never leave her or the rest of my family. Lori, Jim and the rest of my 'new/old' family does not change my love for my afamily. It just adds to the fun.

We can and will make this all work. IT IS POSSIBLE. And if anyone can do it-I can. And I will. And I will leave no one behind.

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When They Turn on You  

Friday, August 1, 2008

I have been alone most of my life. I may have had a family and a home but what went on behind closed doors in my home was torturous and volatile to the family unit. I was the youngest of 3 and the only female child. I witnessed violence, caustic conversation, and was the victim of abuse from a very early age that lasted for what seemed like an eternity.

My mother has been emotionally unavailable to me most of my life. My doing I suppose, I wouldn't let her in. In order for me to do that I would have to give up the secrets that held me captive. The ones that I was threatened with more harm, more abuse, and yes even death if I revealed.

I was poked, prodded, analyzed, reanalyzed, hospitalized and institutionalized. No one could get in. I was passed around from one specialist to another, one psychiatrist to another, one family member to another. Until one day at age 13, I finally opened up to the one person who had gained my trust. She was not a professional but a family member by marriage.

I told her half the story. She insisted I tell my mother to make our relationship right again. Armed with the confidence she instilled in me and the guarantee that she would be by my side every inch of the way, I faced my mother and told her tales she never thought possible. I expected something much different than what I got.

My new family member was horrified when my mother reached out slapped my face and called me a liar. I just looked at my new family member, I said nothing, I did nothing, and it was the end of what little relationship I had with my mother from that day on. It was also the end of my new family members respect for my mother.

The poking and prodding continued, so did the dead ends. No one could get inside me. My mother grew angrier and angrier with me. It was costing her a fortune and she had to drive miles to make these scheduled appointments that were getting her no results. Certainly not getting her her daughter back. The cute little thing that was once her pride and joy who used to smile all the time but no more. Not for a long time.

As a last ditch resort, the master minds of the most prestigious University decided it would be a good idea to have 6 panel members behind glass to watch as I was poked and questioned. I was told they were there, I was told how many of them there were. I was told they would be observing my gestures, mannerisms, and behavior.

As the questions started, I shook my head to represent no. More questions more shaking of the head. These were not yes or no questions. But the only answer I would, could offer was no. I would not answer their questions because I would be dead if I did. Dead the minute I got home. Dead the minute they found out I told.

The tone of my interrogator got more and more arrogant. He started accusing me of faking, being manipulative to get attention, of feeling sorry for myself.

In one quick motion I was off my chair, in his face and screaming at the top of my lungs that I would not answer his questions, ever. No matter how many appointments they made, no matter how many people, therapists, or what ever their title were, no matter what tactics they used I would not answer their questions. I turned to the mirror and screamed at the ones who could only see me as well. I don't remember all that came out of my mouth but I was exhausted by the time I got done. I was physically and emotionally drained, and I had developed a complete hatred for liars. It was the liars who had put me through all this. The ones who sat back and watched me go through all this and never said a word in my defense. Never confessed to what they were doing to me. The liars who threatened to kill me if I told their dirty little secrets.

As of that day my therapy sessions were through. I told them I would not come back, and if I were forced to come back I would still not answer their questions so stop waisting my mothers money and time. That was the day I was declared mentally unstable. But at least I was set free.

That information was shared with the entire family. I was the mentally unstable child who everyone stared at and stayed away from at family functions. I was isolated and as much as it bothered me it was better than having them trying to patronize me. My hatred for liars intensified. As I watched them pretend they were good upstanding family and community members, I loathed their very being, silently. I knew what they were, and what they were capable of.

They all used every opportunity to tell me that I was mentally unstable and that I need help, therapy, a psychiatrist. At first I would argue back with them, but I could never win. As time went on I just quietly slipped into myself and let them have at me. I would pretend I was somewhere else.

My hatred for liars began to spill out into public. I got very good with words, insults, one liners that most people had no comeback for. I was vicious, volatile, and unafraid. If I didn't like what you were saying I would crucify you on the spot. I would shove your lies down your throat until you choked on them. I would expose you to every member of society that would listen. I would do this to everyone but the people who I should have been doing it to, the ones who made me the way I was.

Years of therapy followed at my own hand. I tried several times over the course of my life to get help for my violent nature. Although I can't honestly say that none of it helped, I do believe in the end time was my best healer. As I aged so did I mellow. I lost enough friends and acquaintances to teach me that most people lie, most people have two faces, most people expect you to accept their fabrications and remain their friend.

I still detest liars but I have learned to keep my opinion of them to myself, unless they intend to hurt one of the few people I care for. For the most part I just keep my distance from them.

There are times when I feel the stress and pressure of everyday life building up on me. I know what will happen if I am provoked. I try my best to stay away from people when it's building, I ask people not to pressure me for things or answers. It doesn't happen as much as it used to but I am still very capable of going off on someone and being that volatile little girl all over again. I hate myself when it happens but if you insist on pushing me I will defend myself, and in the end lose another friend or acquaintance.

Why is it when people have no knowledge of the true source of a problem do they willingly jump on the popular opinion train and join in creating you more pain? Who's to say that any one person or thing is to blame for anther's behavior or defense? Why is it never addressed that what came to be, might have been a series of events?

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