Vulnerable, Disappointed, Exposed

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So, it’s been several months since I’ve written. I would like to say it’s because most days being adopted has no impact on my life whatsoever, and I don’t even think about it. But, that would not be true. I mean, yeah, some days being adopted means nothing more than I have lots of parents, siblings, aunts/uncles, cousins, etc. But that’s not why I haven’t written. I haven’t written because…

It all started in mid summer. My (adoptive) dad had a heart attack and needed to have stents placed in a couple of arteries. That was…weird. My dad has been really healthy for my entire life, so it was odd to see him in a hospital bed with wires and machines and all. But I didn’t realize how vulnerable it made me feel until I contacted my (natural) dad to give him an update and he said that he’d been really sick too. My (natural) dad has Type 1 Diabetes, so not feeling well is part of the daily routine most of the time, but this was different, and I knew it. Both dads are…mortal. Not good. Not good. After a few weeks of feeling out of sorts over the whole thing, both dads began recovering and I felt less vulnerable. But then this happened…

Over the course of a few weeks of mindless television watching, I heard the following phrase (or an equivalent) at least three times – “I would be okay with adopting kids, but I want the first one to be from us….” And there it is! The disappointing reminder that the “chosen” narrative isn’t quite as nice and neat as we all want to think in the world of adoption. I have thought (and thought) about the right way to explain this, and all I can conjure is a grade school narrative. At times, adoption feels to me like being chosen last on the playground only to end up on the winning team. I mean, it’s cool I get to be on the winning team, but it still stinks not to be picked first. And while I was blessed with a wonderful family in my adoption experience, I still wasn’t picked first – by either of my families, in fact – so it still sucks when I’m reminded. Don’t get me wrong, I’m cool with the fact that an individual knows he/she wants to have biological children before adopting. I am even more cool with the fact that they will acknowledge it and not try to act like having biological children doesn’t matter to them. And it’s my fault I over-think everything about my experience. But it still stinks. And I was going to write about it  a couple of months ago, until…

I often read old posts before I begin a new one. Helps me see if I’m covering new ground or re-hashing old material. So, when I began to write about being “chosen,” I read a bit and began feeling exposed, I guess. I’m sure that those of you who read this blog, but don’t know me, have no idea how hard it is for me to write anything about thoughts/feelings of a personal nature. It’s like torture. I guard ME with fierce intensity. So, coming off of feeling vulnerable and disappointed, exposed was just too much. So, I’ve been quiet. Hiding behind the wall I’ve built over time. And not just on here. I’ve withdrawn in other aspects of my life because that’s what I do when I feel exposed.

But I began this blog for a reason. And that reason was to share my thoughts as an adoptee in hopes that others can see things in a new way. And I can’t do that if I refuse to write. So, here I am…having felt vulnerable, disappointed, and exposed. And now you know. And it pains me to have told you, but I hope someone can read this and say, “Yeah, I’ve felt that too” and maybe that commonality will make them feel better.

 

 

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Why I’m Thankful to be Adopted and Reunited

For many adoptees, the adoption process creates an either/or type of scenario. You can either be with your natural family or your adoptive family. You can either be happy you were adopted or upset you were adopted. You can either love your adoptive family or your natural family.

For me, my decision to reunite with my natural family took away those restrictions. I have a both/and scenario, and as I reflect this week on the things for which I am thankful, I thought I would share the adoption-related ones with you.

  • I’m thankful to be adopted because I was raised and nurtured by a loving, encouraging family. My mom, dad, brother, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins. etc. are pretty cool people who have each impacted me in a unique and positive way.
  • I’m thankful to be reunited because I now get to be nurtured by another loving, encouraging family. My mom, dad, brothers, aunts, uncles, cousins, etc. are also cool people who are now placing their positive impressions in my life.
  • I’m thankful to have been adopted in the State of Tennessee because it recognized twenty-something years ago that adoptees have a natural right to their history and have been releasing identifying information at the request of adoptees ever since.
  • I’m thankful for a God who, while certainly not making my adoption occur or necessarily even wanting it to occur, was traveling with me every step of the way and blessing the choices others had to make.
  • I’m thankful the path chosen for me led me to my husband, Jeff, who supported me in finding my natural family and graciously welcomed my natural mom into our home so that we can develop the relationship that started 40 years ago while she was carrying me.
  • I’m thankful that more and more adoptees are speaking up about their experiences because it helps me see that my responses to being adopted are similar to others, which means they are normal.
  • I’m thankful for individuals in my life who treat both of my families with equal respect rather than suggesting one is more “real” than the other.
  • I’m thankful for the peace that has been created in my being because I now know the origin of who I am, both in nurture and nature.

Happy Thanksgiving!
Becky

Why I Share My Voice on Adoption

Yesterday, I posted a very raw piece on Adoption, Reunion and Forgiveness. The overwhelming response I received was supportive, affirming, and loving. And most of that response was public, so you can read it on Facebook. I also received some other responses (less encouraging), and while I’ve addressed those privately, I also feel some need to publicly address the general sentiment behind the less encouraging responses. So, here goes.

First, I want everyone to know that I didn’t search for my natural family because I have anger, resentment, etc. for my adoptive family. Part of the reason my natural parents chose to allow me to be adopted is because they hoped I would be raised in a loving home with two parents and, hopefully, even a sibling or two. I experienced just that – 2 parents, 1 big brother, lots of extended family, love, encouragement, and some pretty amazing opportunities to experience different parts of the United States thanks to my dad’s job as a preacher. I wasn’t rebelling against them when I started thinking about searching at a young age, and I certainly wasn’t rebelling when I finally went through the search process at age 36. Nor was I looking for something they never gave me. I had everything I could have asked for and then some. No, my search for my natural family was not about my adoptive one.

Also, I don’t think my adoptive family should feel responsible for my internal struggle growing up. While they loved and supported me the best they knew how, there was nothing they could do to take away my pain. My adoptive brother, upon reading my blog post yesterday, said, “I wish I could have understood your pain to be there for you in a better way. Sending my love to you.” This is the same brother who held me in his arms when I was 12 years old and crying about where I belonged and wanting to meet my natural family. He may not even remember that moment, which took place the summer I lived with him and my sister-in-law, but I’ll never forget it. Because he was doing all he could and I loved him for it, but it still didn’t make the pain go away, and I think he knew it. It’s a slightly askew analogy, but I think expecting my adoptive family to be the answer to my pain is like expecting a best friend to be the answer to the pain that comes from a spouse cheating on you. The love, support, and comfort of friends is incredible, but it can’t take away a hurt that has a different source.

And, I recognize that my natural parents did what they thought was best and it’s not my intent to hurt them when I write. I know they believe I was “raised well” because they’ve both said it. In fact, my natural dad recently said something akin to, “I can’t regret what happened because…look at you.” While we’ll never know what my life would have been like with one or both of them, I am confident I’ve had a great life with my adoptive family. So, I’m not trying to make my natural family feel bad or second guess their decision when I write.

Which brings me to…I’m not sure why I feel “compelled” to talk about my situation. For those who know me, you know how surprising it is that I’m sharing anything personal. I’ve actually had people tell others about me, “you can know her, but never really know her.” So, this whole process is difficult for me. I do believe writing helps me. I hope it helps others. Because I’ve read the results of some studies, and the data suggests adopted teens are approximately 4 times more likely to attempt suicide. 4 times! I can’t help but think that’s true not only because of the pain they’ve experienced, but because they don’t know how to talk about it, and don’t know others have experienced it, and don’t see how they’ll ever learn to live with it. I remember being 12 and being lucky that I had a big brother who listened and held me while I cried. I guess I hope the adopted kids who aren’t so lucky will stumble on my blog and it might help a little.

And, finally, why am I writing this public response to private comments? Because the sentiments behind the comments that sparked the paragraphs above:

  • That adoptees only search when they have bad adoptive families or are rebelling against their adoptive family or should have enough gratitude to their adoptive family that they never search
  • That having a great adoptive family should take away all pain an adoptee might experience (in other words, you had a great family, get over it)
  • That speaking your pain once you are an adoptee in reunion is disrespectful to your natural parents
  • That adoptees always make everything about adoption or are selfish or are just trying to get attention

are some of the reasons that adoptees often feel like they have to bear their pain alone. And you can help them understand that’s not true!

Thanks to all who assumed pure intent from the beginning!
Becky