Honoring My Friend

Thanksgiving Day. So many unexpected blessings this year. As I prepared for our day of gluttony and joy, the excitement for my family’s favorite holiday came to a stand still as the calls started pouring in. Everything went quiet, the unthinkable. We lost another one, but this time it was my friend.

We grew up together, attending the same schools, moving in different circles. I wish we had known each other then, before our lives intersected just over two years ago. She found me during one of those moments. To understand the ‘moments’, one would have to walk in her shoes. She knew I had lived a life quite parallel to hers, and she was grieving, the kind of grieving that can only be understood by mothers that have lost their children to adoption. The haunting that never disappears, even though our agency promised us it would. The kind of grieving that can only be understood by someone else that lost their mothers at birth. There are many adoptee’s on this earth, and there are many mothers that have lost children, but there aren’t many that are unfortunate enough to be both. Finding one another was a gift because no one else understands what it means.

She wanted to find her son. So, I found him. I had a photo of his home, his address, and helped her compose the letter. But, the fear of his possible rejection paralyzed her. God bless her, she just couldn’t do it. She missed him every day. The world sees these experiences as beautiful, brave, and selfless. But, it’s killing us. I’ve watched members of Our Tribe dropping out of the race, giving up from the exhaustion. http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/early/2013/09/04/peds.2012-3251 

Until the lens everyone insists on using, shifts to the trauma left in the wake of adoption, we will continue to lose our own to the claws that keep pulling us under. To lose our first family uproots and disconnects us. Untethered, we are no longer part of something primal. We don’t belong. So, we make our way, fighting through the lies we are forced to live. The lie that family is interchangeable. The lie that biology doesn’t matter. The lie that we are resilient enough. The lie that we should be grateful for something we never asked for; no one asked our permission, but I’m 100% certain that every infant would choose to stay with their mother. No one asked Tracy if she wanted to spend several years in the foster system, and no one ever asked Tracy if she wanted to be separated from her biological siblings and family at such a young age. Right then, at that very moment, something broke in her. From that point forward, everything was a major accomplishment, and I’m so proud of her.
I see a pattern when we lose someone we love in such a confusing, senseless manner. I see words being used to help us understand the loss; how and why this happened. What could we have done differently? What did we miss? Strewn across the screen- ‘depression’, ‘mental illness’, ‘selfish’, ‘demons’..etc. But, for Tracy, it was none of them, sometimes it was some of them, but mostly, it was avoidable. Of course she had those battles to fight! It’s so unfair and I’m angry. I’m angry that I’m not shocked, and I’m angry that her precious children have to add this chapter to their story. I’m so sad that her grandson, the joy of her life, won’t feel her warm hugs. She was a wonderful mother. She loved her husband. She was such an encouraging, loyal friend. Her pain gave her great empathy for others. She was so loved and she will be terribly missed. I love you, Tracy. Thank you for finding me. I’m so sorry.

Dear Adoption, I’m Trying to Unravel the Mess You Made

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Dear Adoption, I’m Trying to Unravel the Mess You Made

I don’t have a bad adoption story. The family that adopted me were wonderful, loving, Christ-centered people. They gave me unconditional love, a childhood filled with traditions and memories, in a nurturing environment. But, it was hard, really hard, because I always missed my mother. My parents were very respectful when they spoke of her and they prayed for the day I would find her, never threatened by my search.

I relinquished my daughter at age 19, the exact same age my mother was when she relinquished me, to a couple that I truly love. From the very beginning they wanted me in her life. They never stood in our way and not only considered me family, but referred to me as her mother. Our adoption is the most “open” I have ever known. It was never hard until…

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Why Newborn Adoption isn’t Biblical

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Adoption has been a millstone placed around mine and my daughter’s necks for 17 years.

For years, I have heard “Christians” speak of the “blessings” of adoption. I have been confused as to what was wrong with me? Why could I not accept this endless pain as a blessing? Why could I not “get over” the loss of my firstborn?

I have realized that it’s because there is absolutely NOTHING Christian about adoption.

There is no biblical basis for newborn adoption.

We are told in regards to ORPHANS:

1)      To visit them (James 1:27)

2)      Not to mistreat them (Exodus 22:22)

3)      To bring them justice (Psalm 10:180, Psalm 82:3)

4)      Donate for their care (Deut 14:28-29)

Perhaps, an argument can be made that in circumstances of true orphans, adoption is the best way to visit them, bring them justice, and treat them well.

In regards to children who have…

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Healing.

I haven’t written a single blog post in almost a year. I went through and deleted most of them because they annoyed me- I see how my vision has evolved. It’s clearer now; I know what I need to say.

There’s very little peace in the middle of a search and any extra energy goes toward keeping a balance in everyday life. It consumes. Through DNA testing and Ancestry.com I was able to locate my biological family. Both mother and father. Both still living. I’ve received a warm welcome from my mother, the opposite from my father, which is fine. She was the one.

I found my mother on Easter Sunday. I woke feeling weary from the toll this search had taken on me and my family. I had a new match (still quite distant at a 3.9) on GEDmatch and I wanted to take a closer look at her extensive tree. I said to the kids, “I’m going to find my mother today. Just give me a little time.” Four hours later, after combing through every descendant of my great, great, great grandfather and using adoption agency clues, I found her. This I knew: there was a conception in Syracuse in 1969. I knew she was English. I knew she was the middle of three daughters. I knew she had been a secretary. When I came to her mothers (my grandmothers) obituary and saw the three daughters listed, with their names, I knew I had found her… I stopped breathing. Of course, I turned to Facebook to search her name. When I found her, the school she had listed was a secretarial school in Syracuse. Bam. I immediately called my searchers and asked them to run a background on her age and to get me her cell phone number. They did both in less than a minute. I made the call. She told me later that she knew it was me as soon as she heard my voice. She said she had been waiting for my call. She said she never forgot about me. She said she loved me.

10 days later I flew out to meet my mother and the rest of my family. It was hard; draining and painful, and beautiful, and healing, and overwhelming and wonderful all at the same time. No words -when people ask, I have none. I can only imagine how she must feel, because, quite the opposite of me, I only get tiny glimpses into those deeply hidden memories. She hid me and our story for 46 years. After my birth it was never spoken of again.
This process will heal us both.

Reunion doesn’t happen overnight. Never again will you ever hear me say I’m thankful I’m also a mother of loss, but the fact that I am has helped me understand her better. If I had walked into her life as only an adoptee there would’ve been much more confusion. It has given us a common ground and many conversations of shared loss.
Something I notice with friends and family that have been on this journey with me is that they love the reunion story, the joyful, happy and romanticized version. But the suffering by mother and child is ugly and wretched. No one wants to hear that part; the broken hearts you can’t see in the photos. I don’t expect them to get it, only those that live it do.

A Road Without A Map

Last night my daughter had her Senior Prom. She’s been dating her boyfriend, Brandon, for about  a year. They fell in love last summer during a trip to Japan they both went on with other students from their school. Brandon is a great kid, and he also happens to be a Korean-born adoptee.

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So, before prom began, parents came to our house to take pictures. I had the opportunity to spend some time talking with his mother. Brandon is the middle of three children, each adopted from different regions in Korea. His mother isn’t aware of my personal views, only that I am an adoptee and a first mother. Brandon is a talented musician, a drummer, and he writes his own music. He was drawn to music without his parents urging because they didn’t and couldn’t have known themselves. His mother and I were discussing this incredible talent, and I saw it as a perfect segue into an issue I’ve been thinking about recently. I explained to her that, as adoptees, we don’t have the map for our future that children have when they are raised by their natural parents. Children are given this map as a way to see areas where they may excel or have a genetic bent toward certain subjects, trades, or skills. Without this parental/familial model, adoptees are left to figure it out on their own- we often flounder through our teenage and college years, trying to figure out what it is we are really good at, or what we want to be when we grow up. After explaining to her this map scenario I asked her if they had put him in drum lessons at a young age. She said no. She said he didn’t need the map, he did it on his own. She made it sound like he was literally crawling across the floor towards drumsticks, picking them up and making sense of it before he could even walk. This is so profound to me, that he knew because it’s just part of who he is. Most adoptees aren’t so lucky. It’s like we have these untapped parts of our lives that could change our entire trajectory, our future, but we just. don’t. know. It’s yet another reminder for us that we are different and it reiterates the importance of genetic ties to family and who we are.
I’ve avoided much talk about adoption with Brandon. I know he has moments where he struggles with it. I know he loves his family, but I also know he wonders, like most adoptees do, about who he is and where he came from… for some reason, I just can’t ‘go there’ with him. But, he knows that I know, and I know that he knows. It’s like a current surrounds us, bringing us silently together in understanding.

Patchwork Family

Being an adoptee is most noticeable within the adoptive family. The differences scream at you loudly and often. Your appearance, your interests, your strengths and your weaknesses are reminders that you have genetic ties elsewhere. My brothers are biological. Like my parents, I know they love me, but my impression is that they observe me with a perplexity, like a difficult math equation, or an unexplained bruise. Nature vs. Nurture. I was raised  in the same home, with the same rules and unconditional love but far too often my nature bumped up against my nurture.

First mothers and adoptees are a patchwork family held together by an invisible thread of loss . When you meet one and realize you have a shared adoption experience, it’s like being given a precious gift, “Ohhh! So am I! How old were you?, etc..” ((hugs ensue)), then the bubble that briefly insulated us from the rest of the world pops, and we go back to whatever it was we were doing before. From that moment, we’re related. This thread spans across the world- we are the same race, gender, sexual orientation, and age. I now have mothers and siblings all over the country, with the singular moment that ties us together forever.
In this deep sea of lost adoptees I’ve been so fortunate to meet others just like me- on an often futile search for truth, identity, and belonging. We’re on the Island of Misfits, each of us waiting for our plane ticket out of here.