Spreading the word  

Monday, February 8, 2010

Work has been a real hoot lately. There are tons of new faces, so many that I believe the newer people out number the old timers like me. During a conversation with a man we'll call T, I found out he is adopted by his step dad and has no real inclination for reunion with his biological father. Seems the circumstances surrounding his conception was not on the 'up and up'. I offered to hook him up with some of my sleuth-like friends if he changes his mind. In the average male adoptee, he smiled and changed the subject. Which is fine, I understand how rattling a conversation like that can be, ESPECIALLY with someone you barely know. And statically, men are less likely to want to search and reunite. I can't say why that is, but it's just that way.

Flash forward to last night. A new girl comes to my area. I have met her before, but only briefly. She seems nice and slightly pensive of us. I don't blame her, working with people you don't know can be rough. You never know where your boundaries are, what these guys are like or if you can just be yourself. We'll call her S. Now while standard and safe talks about children she makes a passing comment about her family and how her dad was adopted. "REEEAAAALLLLLYYYY....." I say. He is Puerto Rican and was adopted (it sounds) at birth. I giggle slightly and tell her that we have lots of adoption in our little area, T, me and now she is a product of an adoptee. Her eyes widen and she stammers out 'YOU'RE adopted????'
I'm not quite sure why she seemed so stunned, guess I wasn't wearing my "HELLO, I'm adopted, what's your name?" nametag. I smile broadly and tell her yes I am. I'm amused by her utter surprise.

As things go along and the more I talk (it's my given gift in life, man can I talk) she quickly asks the age old standard question that every adoptee gets "did you find your real parents?"
Now I won't split hairs about her terminlogy. I personally think this whole debate over titles is rhetorical. I understand the plight, I really do. But to waste so much time and effort on titles such as birth, biological, natural, first, real....sigh, I don't have the time nor the passion for such stuff. There are bigger fish to fry and I'm moving on to that. But there is ONE term I hate, hate, hate. Thats 'real'. OH HOW I HATE THAT TERM. To have someone ever even insinuate that ANY of my parents are not real makes me furious.
So I ignore that term and again smile as big as my face will let me and nod my head. YUP-I found them. I know my 'real' parents.
By this time poor S is in awe. Her mouth is slightly ajar and the look on her face was priceless. By now I'm wondering what direction this is about to go in. Am I going to be bombarded with questions about them OR....I'm I about to be verball and morally attacked for being so selfish and awful as to look for the parents that BLATENTLY didn't want me? It's a coin toss as to which way it's gonna go every time.

She opted for an onslaught of questions (whew!) that I fended quite happily with. I don't think her mouth ever fully closed during the entire conversation. She literally hung on my every word. I was pleased that she was so open and only slightly uncomfortable with the honed in focus of this more or less stranger. But in my typical form I forged ahead and offered up every scrap of info she wanted. She was amazed, she was blown away and rather happy for me. I then asked MY standard question, "are you interested in finding your family?"
I have to admit her answer threw me. She said "My family? It's not MY family-my DAD was adopted, not me"
I actually had to blink a time or two to process this statement. I guess I never realized how the offspring of an adoptee was so quick to separate themselves from the adoption itself. Not her family? Those are her aunts, uncles, cousins, etc...too. They were her blood just as much as anyone else. I gently reminded her of that and the look of confusion was undeniable. She had honestly never thought of it like that. It never crossed her mind that she was also missing part of her life. So were her kids.

This went on most of the night. Every spare second she was in front of me, first apologizing for being too nosey or making me uncomfortable. I assured her it was fine, I enjoyed telling her. It WAS nice to have someone be responsive and not take personal stabs at me and judge me like I was a criminal because I looked, found and developed a relationship with my roots.
Later in the night I brought up again finding her fathers and her family. Now this time she showed more emotion, this time she answered with a small bit of venom and hostility in her voice. I'm not ashamed to say that I was slightly taken aback. Her response was a very blunt and flat "Why should we? They never tried to find US-they don't care. They never came looking for my dad."
THERE WE GO.....there is some fire under it all! Good! I can use this, she cares, she just doesn't want to show it.

I looked her straight in the eyes and asked how she knew that. HOW did she know so confidently that they never looked? "Well, they didn't find him. They never came back."
Another remark that I could not let go. I gently as possible explained how most things work. That the agencies lie about info, throw people off by giving false info, that biological families are told they will go to jail if they do look, that they are told how the child may not know/they will ruin their lives/get over it.....I gave her countless scenerios. I told her what they told Lori. She stared at me like a train wreck. She literally could not move. Poor S, she was trying so hard to absorb all that I was throwing at her, but I could see she was reaching her limit. It was time for me to back off and let her process.
For a few hours S was rather quiet. She didn't avoid me, but she certainly didn't go out of her way to talk to me either. Which was fine. She needed to really chew on the stuff I told her. It was things that she had never thought of. Soooooo many people THINK they know adoption. They know their cousin or neighbors dauthers friend or that kid in school they never talked to. Even some that have been touched directly by it (like S) THINK they know it, they understand it, it's cut and dried. But when that different skew is put in front of them, well, it can be overwhelming.

The end of the night crept in and we slowed down just a bit. I found myself looking at S again, she had more to say. I pat her on the back, she is a trooper and was honestly wanting to know. Good for her!
S stood there for a few moments, sizing up me and her choice of words. Mind you, S is probably 5-6 inches taller than me and outweighs me by quite a bit. When she stands in front of you grappling for words, you tend to stay put and listen.
Finally she gently says "You know, my dad is dying. I don't know if he would want to do this. He's not gonna make it much longer."
It hurt me to hear her words and to see the pain in her face. I have not buried a parent yet, but now that I have found Lori and Jim, I get to do that 4 times over. Include my mother in law (whom is ranked right up there with Lori and my mom) and I am going to need some serious valium when those times come. The idea of it pains me, so I can only imagine how it feels for her to watch this happening to her dad.
The words came out of my mouth before I had the time to fully think them through. This happens alot to me. They fall out of my lips and hang there.
"Then I guess you don't have a lot of time to mess around then. If you are gonna do it you better do it quick"
There it was. That final push. Part of me regretted saying it, she had already taken in so much that night and I have to turn that screw just a bit more. It's true though. IF her dad or her was going to do this-they don't have the luxury of time. IF they wanted to push forward, it could take years. All this is true, but I think I could have gotten my point accross without going there. She took it well. She nodded and agreed. (I told you she was a trooper). Did I mention I had also thrown out stories of sick and twisted adoptions? Stolen babies and women spending lifetimes without the child they thought died only to find they were taken instead? Yeah....I kinda took it too far. But I held her attention.

So tonight is another night. I am anxious to see how she responds to me. Will she avert her eyes and ignore me? Will she pretend our conversation never happened? Will she become angry with me for dumping too much truth on her? Will she embrace what I told her and want to know more????
I've had all of those options happen to me in the past. I've drove people away because they don't want to discuss such things.

Fingers crossed that she doesn't hate me. If she does, oh well I guess. It is what it is....a messed up world that can shake lives for generations. I didn't make it was it is, I'm just stuck in it like the rest of us. But I'm doing all I can to spread the word. So others see that things have to change. I have a feeling this is NOT over. We only slightly talked about birth certificates and the such. This is gonna get interesting.....

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2 comments: to “ Spreading the word

  • Lori A
    Monday, February 8, 2010 at 6:12:00 PM PST  

    If you read this before going to work tell her I said there would be no greater peace for her father than to have one ounce of info before he goes. AND that after he is gone her and her children may regret letting that go to the grave with him, it may just save one of their lives one day. Gather what info she can now while there is still time. Now on to you. LOL I can just seee the mouth a goin and the words just flying out. I do it all the time.

  • rachael
    Tuesday, February 9, 2010 at 4:10:00 AM PST  

    she was not quite so open to talking today. we were also quite a bit busier than we were yesterday too. so that may have played a factor.
    im there for talking, she knows it.


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