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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