Wednesday, March 30, 2011

The Adoption Game: It's Craptastic

Honestly, I do start to feel like I'm a messenger of negativity at times. I start to grow weary and burdened by my own observations and discourse. I want to tell myself, "Okay, okay, enough already, just shut the heck up."

I look at my life and all the good in it, and I can't help but wonder whether what others accuse me of is true--maybe I am a whiny, self-centered ingrate? I begin to doubt whether I have the "right" to ask the questions I ask, to say the things I say. I begin to almost believe the critics and doubters to the point of internalization, and in turn become my own worst enemy.

And especially as of late, these doubts are surfacing fiercely as I try to manage my relationships with my four parents, specifically in the context of the recent birth of our son. The doubts creep in as I begin to question whether all of this "enlightenment and awareness" are worth it--is this "adoptee awareness" worth the strain and turmoil it brings to my relationships with my family, whether openly acknowledged or harbored within.

It gets so complicated and messy trying to emotionally triage the conflicting obligations and desires I face from within and without as an adoptee, and in my case, as an adoptee in reunion. All the sensitivities and offenses to consider tempt me to just give up and return to ignorance. Well, obviously, in reality that's impossible--so, more accurately, I am tempted to stop trying to work toward authenticity and just play the adoption game--the game I've played most of my life, the game with which I am all too familiar and hence, uncomfortably comfortable, if that makes any sense. I know the rules, and I'm a seasoned player. So, it's easy to just jump back in.

And to be honest, I haven't actually ever completely given up the game. I still throw on the uniform and run back onto the field when things get tense or awkward. It's easier to me at this point than trying to deal with the penalties and repercussions of not playing the game, of not abiding by the unspoken yet unquestionably enforced rules and regulations.

Fellow adoptees know the game to which I'm referring. It is the game that requires you to be the happy, compliant, bright-eyed adoptee with not a peep of criticism or dissatisfaction to utter regarding your experience as an adoptee. It's the game that expects you to gloss over everything with a thick layer of sticky sweet high fructose corn syrup to make certain that everything you say and do is pleasantly palatable, especially for your parents and family.

The game where you smile and laugh and play along--pretend that you're okay with the current dynamic, as though you're okay with not expressing how you're really feeling or what you're actually thinking--better yet, fake as though you have nothing to say or feel that might question the status quo.

It's the game where I am expected to be solely grateful. It's the game where I cannot express equal loyalties and affection for both my American and Korean families. It's the game where the regulations dictate that I must avoid referring to my Omma and Appa as Omma and Appa and must refer to them as "biological mother" and "biological father." It's the game where all my hopes and desires for having a merged family must remain unspoken, buried, because such wants and expressions are almost heretical.

And despite how awful playing the game can feel, I still find it easier and less frightening at times, than the alternative, to simply concede and comply and take my position on the field--where everyone else, including myself, knows my role and what to expect.

Even now I wish I could go into more detail to elucidate more clearly the context. But what's the point? I already feel defeated, because I know I would absolutely get red carded and be thrown out of the game once and for all, never able to return. Why try to reason with the ref, coach, or other players when it's clear that their understanding of the game is inflexible?

And you say, well, that would be a good thing--go for it, get yourself thrown out of the game.

But in my case, at this point, it's not so simple, it's not so easy. It might not turn out to be such a good thing, because--as much as some of you may cringe and cry out "coward!" or "hypocrite!" --playing the game seems to be the only way I can be close to those I love...and I do love them, all of them.

Still, as far as "processing" and "speaking up" as an adoptee, I can't stop, despite the danger it poses to my relationships. I am compelled to press on even though I wonder why I do.

And yet ironically enough, as a result, I get so weary and so insecure, so full of doubt and uncertainty that it becomes easier at times to play the game than to fight for authenticity--despite the fact that playing the game is equivalent to choosing to be a hypocrite and a liar for the sake of maintaining a pretense that has caused me a lifetime of confusion and strife. Talk about contradicting myself. It's like I'm taking crazy pills (and too many metaphors).

Just another way in which being an adoptee--to borrow a word from my husband--is the most "craptastic" endless cycle of that wonderfully contentious state of quandary we all hate to feel-- Catch 22.

And there I go again--being "aware" as the "messenger of negativity"...I guess I just can't help myself...because I suppose I just can't stop being an adoptee, and more specifically, an adoptee who simultaneously loathes and embraces--well, of course--being an adoptee.

The Business Of Adoption Agencies From The Inside (A Korean American Adoptee's Perspective)

If you have not already read this, it's a must-read. A former "insider" shares candidly about his years of experience as an employee, serving as adoption advocate and public relations, for one of the largest adoption agencies in the world:

Guest Post: The Business Of Adoption Agencies From The Inside (A Korean American Adoptee's Perspective)

Monday, March 28, 2011

"Yes, I love my parents"

Before you assume--because I offer thoughtful analysis (and, yes, that involves critical thinking) of my adoption experience and otherwise...because I experience a complex mix of emotions that includes anger and sadness not only gratitude and warm fuzzies...because I acknowledge the flaws and imbalance inherent to the current adoption system--that I don't love my parents or that I don't view and treat them as my "real parents," or that I must be a miserable, unhappy, raging, bitter person who hates my life--

Please stop for just a minute and consider what my tenth grade geometry teacher always said--

Don't always assume you know, because it makes an a** out of "u" and "me."

And then perhaps take a moment to read through more than one blog post, and maybe even read the synopsis under the tab labeled "The Journey" or read through several of the posts in the sidebar under "Popular Posts," say, for instance, "I didn't search because I was looking for a new family" or "Do you regret that you were adopted?" or even venture to watch the video of my reunion with my Omma...

It's always more complicated than what you think you know.

Enough said.*

*Addendum to address other inaccurate a**umptions commonly made:
  • No, I do not despise fellow adoptees that love adoption.
  • No, I do not dismiss fellow adoptees that speak positively of their adoption experiences, rather I question the status quo that favors their stories to the neglect and dismissal of adoptees who present more complex experiences and stories.
  • No, I am not anti-adoption, but I am also not pro-adoption. Again, it's more complicated than that, at least it is for me.
  • No, I do not detest adoptive parents. But and besides, this ain't about you, remember?

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Two Months Already!

Yes, I am completely reveling in our son.

These are just a few of my favorite photos taken over the past two months. I love the bottom one--he looks like he's shredding the air guitar and wailing out hard core to ACDC or Black Sabbath.

It really does go by fast, and I know this is only the beginning. Our little guy has been here for two months already. Unbelievable.

He makes me laugh and cry and everything in between.

Love you, sweet pea.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Actually, my mom is white--so do you accept me now?

I realized recently, as ironic and hypocritical as this is going to sound, that I find security in being able to tell other people that my Mom (Mom=American mom; Omma=Korean mom) is White, as though I will be more readily accepted and/or my perceived status will somehow be elevated once the listener knows this fact. It's as though I believe that since I am Asian having a White mom is necessary in order to legitimize my status and existence in the eyes of other Americans.

What made me realize this was a recent interaction I had with someone that asked me if I lived here in America. I proceeded to proclaim that not only do I live here in America but that I am a U.S. citizen, that my father is a retired naval officer, and that one of my brothers is currently serving in the army. I also made a point to mention that my Mom's first husband died in the Vietnam War, yet I felt compelled to clarify that she was not Vietnamese but Caucasian American. (And of course, all the meanwhile, I was also feeling guilty, conflicted, and purposefully misleading by conveniently omitting mention of my Omma, yet also feeling--or rationalizing?--that it would not be beneficial, helpful, or understood if I opened that can of demons in this particular conversation.)

I know, appallingly hypocritical on so many levels.

Yet although I felt ashamed that I went out of my way to mention all of this, I must admit that I also felt comforted that I was able to flash my "White Mom card" like credentials to silence this guy's doubts about my "American-ness."

But ultimately, this all reveals that I am just as influenced by prejudices and biases as anyone else when it comes down to it. It also reiterates how uncomfortable I still am, even as I approach 40, with my own Korean heritage. There is still a shame and embarrassment that I experience regarding the undeniable fact that I am Korean. Deep down it's still as though I think, believe that White is the superior skin tone and genetic inheritance, and that if I myself cannot look or be White then at least I can claim "White-ness" by proxy through my White mom and White family.

I am sobered and humbled by the ugliness that this look in the mirror has revealed.

Even with the birth of our son, I find myself inwardly consoled that he is not 100% Korean, but that he is also Mediterranean and Caucasian, or White. And then, I shake my head and scold myself for having such a thought.

Yet, conversely enough, there are other moments that I am compelled to reject my "White roots" and flash my "Korean card." Those moments are more rare, but increasing in frequency, especially now that I have reunited with my Korean family.

In a similar way, I find both relief and discomfort as an Asian woman married to a White man. Just as being able to claim my White mom makes me feel more accepted or somehow elevated, being able to claim my White husband does the same. However, on the flip side I also fear being perceived as the stereotypical "foreign Asian bride" who "connived her way into a White man's heart to escape an oppressive and empty life in my home country," accompanied by the matching stereotype that my husband married me, because he has some sick fetish for Asian women and their perceived image as exotic, compliant sex objects.

Overall, basically, I see that I am susceptible to doing what I loathe--when it is convenient or beneficial I find myself flipping back and forth in staking my claims to one or the other to manage my insecurities and legitimize or elevate my perceived status among others based on prejudices and stereotypes that pervade in American culture. (Wow, that's a mouthful of a run-on thought...)

It's ridiculous, I know. And it cries out hypocrite. But it's honest.

I know folks would say, and I even say it to myself, "C'mon, Melissa, you're over thinking it. Really you're both, you're not one or the other. Just let go of the perceived stereotypes and embrace the whole of who you are. Don't waste your brain space concerned with how others might see you."

Well, folks, I haven't quite figured out how to do, be, embrace both. And I have a hard time shaking off how others perceive me, because in reality their perceptions affect how they interact with and treat me.

So, for me at least, the overused cliche definitely applies--much easier said than done.

Although, I suppose one could argue that just by living each day I cannot help but do, be, embrace the different parts of who I am. But it's less a dilemma of acknowledging the different parts of who I am than it is of merging all these fractured pieces into a whole that, although may appear whole to outsiders, continues to feel painfully and irrevocably divided and broken...

Thursday, March 24, 2011

But she LOOKS Korean...

It is a complicated question, you know—when you ask someone, So, where are you from?

Seems simple enough. I'm from Dallas, Texas. Or…I was born in California, but I grew up in Chicago. Or…my mom grew up in Ohio but she's actually Brazilian, and my dad was born in New York but his parents came over from Ireland. They met in college and after they got married, they ended up moving to North Carolina, where I was born. But when I was ten, we moved to Atlanta. Then, well, they got divorced when I was sixteen, and I went to live with my mom in Florida because she had family down there. Now, I visit my dad and his wife in New York for Thanksgiving, sometimes. And my mom and her boyfriend live in Arizona.

This is a complex, often fragile, question these days—when you ask someone of his or her origins.

I never really know what to tell people, because I never really know for what exactly they are asking. Do they want to know where I was born? Are they inquiring in response to the color of my skin, the blackness of my hair, the shape of my eyes? Or do they want to know where I have spent most of my life?

In their minds, it is a very simple question.

However, a simple question does not indubitably produce a simple answer.

Honestly, I don't even really know what to tell people most of the time. So I just say, everywhere and nowhere.

Sometimes, an uninterrupted stream tumbles out in a single breath—Well, I was born in Korea, but I was adopted by an American family when I was an infant, and my dad was in the Navy, so we moved around every one to two years, so really, I didn't grow up in any particular region, but I'm basically American, because I was raised by Americans.

And I feel just as idiotic every time I blurt out my little synopsis of origin. I'm basically American, because I was raised by Americans? I make it sound as though I’m some kind of Tarzanette or the lone human infant raised by a pack of wolves.

But it all seems that complicated in my mind.

Do I view myself as Korean? Or more specifically, do I feel Korean, do I think like a Korean? Absolutely not. Especially when I am in the presence of “real” Koreans. I always refer to Koreans as "they," never "we." "They" are so nationalistic. "They" are so exclusive. "They" this, "they" that.

Now, do I view myself as an American? Or more specifically, do I feel American, do I think like an American? Perhaps, more so than I feel or think like a Korean. But even so, most often I refer to Americans as Americans. "Americans" are so arrogant. "Americans" are so spoiled. "Americans" this, "Americans" that.

Something in me wants to be identified with neither one. I do not want to be identified as the Korean. I do not want to be identified as the American. Yet, inevitably, I demonstrate characteristics of both.

But she looks so Korean, doesn't she? She doesn't act like a Korean though, don't you think? Or maybe you don't look Korean. But then you all look the same anyway, isn't that right? Where did you say you were from?

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

i cannot save you

by Michael Konomos

i cannot save you,
but i will not look away.
or cover my ears.
part of me dies with you
but that is how i will remember.

our lives on the scales
we weigh the same.
i will carry this weight
and walk through the black
though we cannot walk together.

they will wonder why
i chose this way.
it is because you could not.

I [Michael Konomos] wrote this after seeing a story about a man that lost his whole family in the Japanese tsunami but somehow survived (if it can be called surviving), and another woman that lost her daughter but was able to survive holding onto a mat that floated by. I think of the countless people who were washed away and whose meaningful lives are just part of a body count now. It also makes me think about all of the other tragedies we have seen in recent years. We all wrestle inside about how to deal with them, whether or not to even watch or read about them, because it feels like too much. It's easy to numb out, especially when it feels like there is nothing we can do. Sometimes it feels like the best gift I can give, as pitiful and useless as it is, is to care and to remember. It doesn't make much sense to people, and maybe it is foolishly melancholic, but somehow it feels right to me.

* * *

Although written as a response to the recent tragedy in Japan, this poem speaks a truth that is universal...It is never useless or foolish to walk with those who remember those who suffer such feel the weight of the tragedies of our fellow feels right because it is right...

Sunday, March 13, 2011

She's a Broken Record: Why talk about Adoptee Loss again & again?

If you had been there to see my biological mother, my Omma, weeping uncontrollably, uttering over and over in the only English words she knew, "So sorry, so sorry...miss you..." maybe you would more clearly understand the loss, the grief, the heartbreak of the circumstances surrounding adoption...

If you had been there when I, trembling with tears, asked my Omma whether she had ever had the chance to hold me, and then witnessed her being overcome with sorrow, sobbing, and barely able to speak as she whispered that she could not talk about that time in her life, because it was too painful, maybe the grief would make more sense to you...

If you had heard my biological father, my Appa asking for forgiveness, saying "It is all my fault," as he acknowledged to me, "I know you must carry deep wounds and much pain. Although I cannot heal them one hundred percent, I will do all that I can to help them to heal" perhaps the complexities of adoption loss would be more palpable, more real...

And yet, I am expected to feel nothing about the loss of my biological family, about the loss of a culture, an entire people and language, about the loss of a life--because I was a mere infant when I exchanged hands?

You would tell me, "But you have gained so much." I do not argue with this. In my case (but not in all), I have gained much.

Yet in order for me to gain my American family, both my Omma and my Appa had to lose a child. They had to lose a piece of themselves--and I had to lose a part of myself...

To acknowledge this is not focusing on the negative. Rather, it is acknowledging the whole reality, the whole truth about my adoption and the loss that had to take place in order for my adoption to happen. I acknowledge these losses no more and no less than I acknowledge the family and the life that I gained.

I appear to talk about the loss and grief to a greater extent, because it is this side of adoption that is so often neglected, rejected, ignored--because it is the painful side. It is the side that no one likes to ponder or acknowledge. But one-sided thinking denies the very nature of what it means to live. Life is rarely one-sided.

It is simply that, in my opinion, there are many more layers and sides to adoption than what receive due acknowledgment.

Understand that grieving what I have lost does not therefore mean I am regretting what I now have.

But can I not feel more than one emotion, share more than one thought at a time? And can I not view my situation as complex, because, well, it is?

To know what one has gained, one must also know what has been lost. The converse is also true--to know what one has lost, one must also know what has been gained. These are not mutually exclusive experiences. They function together.

* * *

I know, I take up quite a bit of blog space discussing "adoption loss," repeatedly.

If I had the sense that very few people contested the validity of adoption loss, then I would not feel it so necessary to continue to discuss the topic. But alas, the issue of adoption loss and the associated grief still remain an often "debated" topic among adoptees, adopters, and the general public.

So, I continue to try to provide insight and examples with the hope that something will break through to those who still disbelieve adoptees' claims to loss and grief.

I have heard the complaint before that adoptees are no different from other groups who get singled out or are "misunderstood." In other words, why are we crying a river--we're no more misunderstood or different from the other sub groups in society who endure comparable suffering.

Sure. I have never said otherwise.

My point is not to try to make the plight of adoptees appear to outweigh those of other misunderstood or under acknowledged groups.

This is not a competition for who has the greatest sob story. But each sob story often has its unique set of circumstances and complexities. It is crucial to understand these distinctions for not only practical but for humane reasons.

Compassion cannot be present when understanding is absent.

In most cases in which suffering or deep loss have taken place, the general population recognizes the consequences and responds with appropriate compassion and understanding or outcry and outrage. A wife loses her husband to war. A husband loses his wife to cancer. A child is abused at the hands of a caretaker. An African-American man is beaten without cause by a group of police officers.

A main distinction in adoption, however, is that adoptees, unlike the aforementioned individuals, are often expected to ignore and deny any emotions or grief that we may experience related to our experience of adoption. We are not "allowed" to grieve, and folks look at us as though we're crazy or ungrateful if we do. Or the loss and pain are treated lightly like a scraped knee or stubbed toe--the initial injury is acknowledged and tended to superficially, but then everyone moves on, and it becomes a "remember when" story--remember that time you scraped your knee...stubbed your glad you're all better now...

Other groups of people who have suffered or endured deep loss are often not treated in the same way (of course, there are additional groups who experience a similar lack of understanding and compassion, but that's a whole other dissertation...).

Again, I'm not saying that therefore our "cause" has more value or should win a prize. I am simply attempting to explain why I spend so much time on my blog trying to address adoption loss and grief--or as some would say, "the negative side of adoption." No one contests the loss and grief experienced by a husband who has lost his wife to cancer or a child who has been abused.

However, adoptees consistently have to field questions from skeptics and doubters--often almost as though we are being incriminated.

This complicates matters for adoptees who have the need to grieve and process our circumstances at a greater depth.

Being told that you should not be grieving or should simply "be grateful and move on" makes it all the more difficult to get resolved and come to terms with our situations. It's demeaning, patronizing, and simply not helpful.

Can you imagine telling a friend who has just miscarried "it happened for the best" or telling a co-worker who has lost his brother "it was meant to be?" I would hope not. But that's essentially what it feels like to adoptees like me who are trying to process our losses amidst a mob of voices telling us to "just let it go" or "to be more grateful" or "more positive."

Look, I never have a problem telling myself I need to be grateful. I never have a problem seeing all the good in my life, which sometimes makes what I have to face all the more maddening. Don't you think I already feel guilty for feeling sad, for grieving? I already have to overcome all the internal conflict, apart from the outside "feedback" I receive. Don't you think I've had to suffer through feelings of betrayal, of fear of hurting my American family? You don't know how many conversations I've had with my husband, tormented and in tears, about how selfish I feel, how conflicted I feel.

And for what? For wanting to know the most basic and fundamental knowledge--who I am, from where I come.

Why is it so criminal, treacherous for an adoptee to want to know these things? Implicit in this accusation is that I don't deserve to know, that I am somehow less of a human being who should simply be grateful that someone was willing to take me in when my own people would not. Implicit in this expectation is that I am supposed to be satisfied with not knowing because I may have died or ended up on the streets if someone had not adopted me.

What a load of Oscar Mayer.

If someone wakes up the next morning to discover that her right arm is suddenly missing and she does not know how or why, can you blame her for then proceeding to find out what happened with the hope of getting her right arm back, and if not, then at least figuring out how and why it happened?

Now, imagine losing an entire family, an entire people and not knowing how or why. Why is it so bizarre that one would grieve such losses (even if such losses happened when one was an infant, that infant will grow to become an adult who will inevitably grow to understand the implications of having to be adopted...)

* * *

Now with all that I've just expressed, I know I must include the following proclamation to appease and silence those who would accuse me of not loving my American family: The above discourse does NOT therefore nullify or invalidate the affection and love I feel for my Mom and Dad and my brothers. It simply adds to it...It simply begins to fill in missing pieces to the puzzle.

To understand the grief, you must understand that it is NOT my American family over which I grieve. It is not the life I have now over which I grieve. I love my husband. I love my American family. I love my friends. Overall, I have a fulfilling and meaningful life full of love and everything that truly matters. But the point is that I can acknowledge all of this yet still experience the pain and loss, the grief and sorrow of what had to be lost in order for me to have this life.

What I grieve over are the circumstances, the tragedies that transpired that made it necessary for me to have to be adopted. What I grieve over is the fact that my Korean mother felt trapped and forced into giving me away, when she wanted to keep me. What I grieve over is the fact that my biological father had no idea that I had been sent away to another country until it was too late. What I grieve over is the loss of my own flesh and blood...

I think to grieve over such circumstances is natural, because they not only had profound consequences for my life then, but they continue to have profound effects on my life today.

There are those who would tell me that I dwell too much on the past or that I am allowing my life to be driven by loss.

Again, this demonstrates to me a failure to grasp the reality that I spend countless words trying to make clear. I am not "dwelling"--I am simply trying to understand the past so that I can live a fuller, richer, more complete life in the present. And it is not that my life is "driven by loss." It is that the life I currently have began with and was subsequently built upon loss. The primary reason I live here in America, that I have my American family, my American husband, my American life is because I first had to lose everything.

If you had to lose everything to be where you are now, I do not believe that you would ever forget nor do I believe that the wounds and suffering from such losses would ever cease to inform and influence your life in ways both more obvious and more subtle than you could even fully grasp.

And if you say, Well, actually, Melissa, I do know how it feels to lose everything, then I would say in response, let such memories and experience teach you compassion, and then perhaps, you will be well on your way to recognizing the reality and complexity of the loss, grief, and pain experienced by an adoptee...

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

I Believe in Signs

Here's the link (or click on the title above) to my monthly post over at the adoption website, "Grown in My Heart."

Think adopted children are too young to experience or be aware of the dissonance, confusion, loss, and displacement that come with being adopted? Think again...

Here's an excerpt from the opening:

Recently, initially due to my husband’s insight, I had somewhat of a revelation–although it will seem dumbly obvious to some of you. Yet this “epiphany” reaffirms in my mind that as a very young child I was not only acutely aware of being adopted but I was already heavily processing my adoption and experiencing the accompanying dissonance and confusion of identity–even though it did not appear obvious to my parents, or to me, for that matter...

Monday, March 7, 2011

The New Generations of Adoptees Have It All

Of course the title of this is a little tongue & cheek--well, that is, depending on your personal perspective.

Some read the title and vigorously nod in agreement. Others read the title and feel frustration burning within. And still others react somewhere in between.

Recently, as I was corresponding with a fellow, but much younger adoptee, I realized something that might have been obvious to many of you (but was not initially to me). The upcoming generations of adoptees in some ways face an even greater pressure to submit to the "gratitude gospel of adoption."

What do I mean?

In short--"You newer generations of adoptees have so much more available to you than those who came before you, so really, you shouldn't have any major issues" or "Things are different today--adoptive parents know the realities now. Your parents have it on right this time, so you kids adopted in more recent years won't have the same issues as your predecessors."

I think today's adoptees are often viewed as the benefactors of the perceived progress in the adoption community: culture camps, heightened awareness and knowledge on the part of adoptive parents of the issues adoptees face, more acceptance and openness to the adoptees' origins and original mother and family, etc.

These factors do in fact represent a change in resources and awareness from what was available or understood when I was growing up. But, the presence of these factors does not change what will always be true--being adopted comes with deep lifelong losses and grief. And culture camps for adoptees and education courses for adoptive parents don't change that inherent truth or somehow make the hardships of being an adoptee magically nonexistent.

However, as the perceived benefactors, the newer generations are expected to, well, benefit and hence I think at times are expected to suffer less consequence and trauma. I'm not saying these changes don't benefit adoptees. I am simply stating that they are not a "cure." And their development has the potential to backfire by placing another layer of unrealistic expectation on not only adoptees, but on adoptive parents and original mothers.

The availability of camps or searches, etc. does not inevitably mitigate or counteract the pain and loss that come with being adopted. Yet, I think there can be this perception, this unspoken expectation that the newer generation of adoptees has it all and should be free of the heartache and trouble that can characterize the experience of earlier generations of adoptees like myself.

"We know so much more now than we did before..." This is true.

But what we know needs to be managed in a way that continues to acknowledge and validate adoptees--both earlier and newer generations--not to obligate or consign adoptees to more of the same.

The goal of "progress," in this case, is not the eradication of loss and grief--that's completely unreasonable--but rather a prevalent, sincere acknowledgment and understanding of the loss and grief (and the accompanying suffering and hardship) that reaches so far and so deeply that it it is viewed not as anomaly or neurosis but rather as the norm--not to allow the suffering to overtake us but that it is finally met with the compassion and acceptance that grief and pain long for and need in order to heal...

* * *

John Raible wrote a series of entries that happens to relate to what I discussed above.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Haiti, one year after the earthquake - reuniting children and families

Now this is what I'm talkin' about!

The International Rescue Committee dared to take on "the complex, painstaking job of tracking down and reuniting these separated families" and as a result has successfully reunited more than 1300 children with their families since the devastating earthquake in Haiti. Read the entire article at the link below (or click on the title above):

Haiti, one year after the earthquake - reuniting children and families

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

It's easy to be a heretic

My little rant for the day: It irks the snot out of me when folks conclude that adoptees and original mothers have no right to think critically about adoption. It's indicative once again of how others often view first moms and adoptees in a condescending and patronizing way, completely ignoring the emotional and social complexities of our situations. Even more maddening is when it's our own fellow adoptees and first moms that do this.

The above "rant" was inspired by an insightful observation (and the discussion that ensued in the comments section) made by Ashleigh at her blog, Not Just A Birth Mom. Ashleigh wrote:

People recommend that you do not separate a puppy from it's mother for at least six weeks.... This is for the overall physical and emotional health of the mother and the puppy..... So why is it that when it comes to human infant adoption, we try to remove the babe from its mother as he is drawing his first breath? Why is it that we can't extend the same courtesy to a MOTHER and her CHILD that we do to a DOG? Just a thought.

One of the readers, another birth mom ironically enough, responded to Ashleigh's observation with the following:

I used to have quite a bit of respect for you. Now I am finding your posts to be frustrating. You are sitting here bashing on the same thing you did TWICE! If you didn't support it why did you carry the same thing out twice?? Just wondering.

First of all, Ashleigh was not bashing adoption, but rather offering an honest and valid inquiry. Second of all, why does her status as a "birth mom" prohibit her from thinking critically about the practice of adoption? Again, it's the whole, what I call, "gratitude gospel of adoption." Adoptees and birth moms if not completely neglected in the first place are resigned to only being allowed to feel nothing but gratitude and unequivocal warm fuzzies for adoption. Anything else is treated as heresy. But the "plight" of adoptive parents is generally met not only with understanding and compassion but is also lauded as a noble, living martyrdom.

I'm not bashing adoptive parents nor am I saying that they've got it easy. Being an adoptive parent certainly comes with its own set of issues. But I've said it before, and I'll say it again--the current status quo is one that favors and upholds adoptive parents as the unquestionable heroes while it ignores, at best, and demeans, at worst, adult adoptees and original moms that question past and current adoption practices.

As I stated in response to the referenced reader's comment:

Lordy, people, there's nothing wrong with healthy, constructive criticism or asking questions based on honest observation. And the last time I checked nothing in this world is perfect, especially the practice of adoption.

My adoption situation is good overall but that doesn't mean I don't have a right to analyze and criticize it honestly, not to be a poopyhead, but for the sake of reform and positive change...

Thank you, Ashleigh for making this observation. It's a very insightful point. If we show a mother dog & her babies that much consideration & sensitivity, it stands to reason we should show even more to our fellow human beings.

And as Amanda (The Declassified Adoptee) responded, "What in the world is wrong with what she [Ashleigh] wrote? Why is it so heinous to discuss what might be healthier for mother and child that might not be currently suggested and respected in adoption."

Exactly, Amanda, what's so heretical about wanting to consider what might be best for a mother and her child? Apparently, everything BUT a mother giving her child up to be raised by a set of complete strangers.

Now, if that's not irony, I don't know what is.