Fair weather daughter

I've decided to share a search experience. It's important to understand my intent in sharing so I'll first explain that.

I believe that adopted people think about how it would feel to find their biological people. They wonder if it's what they really want. I think the search itself can become a challenge, a quest. That the ramifications of success are impossible to know. Results are unpredictable, as are the ultimate feelings and effects on the adopted person's life as they know it.

So, the intent of this post is to share my feelings and reaction in an attempt to supply a known. To offer one small experience that was enlightening to me. There is no need to read into this post as what I plan to say is what I felt and am feeling, nothing hidden, nothing deeper.

The day before yesterday I was alone in my home. I got thinking what a perfect time it would be to call my biological mother (yes, I have her phone number as well as her address) so after writing a list of what was important to me to say to her, I started trying to call. I say "trying" as I must have partially dialed the number about 10 times and hung up before actually connecting to her number.

As I made these failed attempts I asked myself why. After much thought, I decided it was fear but first I debated with myself about why I'm afraid. Am I struggling because I don't really want to call? Because I'm worried about someone else answering? Am I afraid she'll be mean? I decided it was just plain fear, that I did want to try calling but was afraid. Knowing this gave me courage and I dialed the whole number and let it ring.

When I got the answering machine I was a little surprised as in my mental preparation for the phone call this likely scenario had eluded me. Out of instinct I left my first name and number asking her to call me when she had time. That's it. That's all, it was done. -Side note, she sounded younger than I'd expected.

But, now I'd left a message for her to call. And, I needed a shower as I had an appointment in a couple of hours. Ok, off to the shower I go, phone within reach. As I wash I contemplate what I'll do if she returns my call with my head full of soap, how it will be better if she calls while I'm on the conditioner stage. I ponder if she was really home and had decided not to answer, had screened my call and was listening to my message. What would she think I sounded like? I think I'd sounded upbeat and normal. I thought about how I'd forgotten to add to my written list of things I wanted to say that I was fine with her keeping me a secret, that physically meeting wasn't that important to me. That correspondence via email was perfectly acceptable as was snail mail although I'm really, really bad at mailing real letters.

Ok, out of the shower and ready to dry my hair. Will I hear the phone ring while my blow dryer is running? I stand the phone up so I'll see it ring, just in case. Hopefully she doesn't call before I'm done though as it will certainly be a bad hair day if I don't get it dried enough before she calls.

Ok, I'm all ready, but now I have to leave in a few minutes. I enter her name and number in my phone so that if she calls while I'm out and my husband is back from golfing he'll see the name and not ignore the call thinking it's just another long distance call from some phone center.

Off I go to take care of my errands, the last one being meeting my mom at her apartment to take care of some travel arrangements for my nieces. All thoughts of bio mom calling back are gone for the majority of the time I'm out, although I did check my voice mail at home once while I waited for my mom to meet me.

The travel arrangements and errands I took care of that day were a real load off my mind so I returned home quite pleased with myself and enjoyed the coffee my husband had ready for me when I got there. I listened to him talk about his day, he listened to me talk about how relieved I was to have gotten these "chores" done.

Eventually I check my call history and see there's been no return call as it was obvious no message had been left in my absence. There's a bit of thought about this, of course. Did she get the message? Is she maybe out of town? Has she not had a good time to call back yet? Ahhh, who knows, but what I do know is I want to just stretch out, watch tv, maybe have a nap, and relax. My brain is little fried from all the travel planning and it'll be great to do nothing for the evening.

As I veg out on my bed, flipping through channels, half dozing, the phone rings. Damn! Oh crap, I hope it's not her, I don't feel like talking on the phone. I grab the phone and check the call display and it's my mom, but not the bio one. I'm slightly relieved because since I'd just spent three hours with my mom that afternoon I felt no guilt in not answering, opting instead to check the message she'll leave just to make sure this time it's not something important.

And then it hits me. After all my trepidation, curiosity, speculation, anticipation and excitement, when it came down to it, I had dreaded the call when it wasn't convenient for me. When I didn't feel like being curious, didn't feel like talking, her call became just as much of an annoyance as anyone else's would if I wasn't in the mood for a chat.

This experience has been enlightening, a validation of the concern that my curiosity is fair weather. That my consideration of her circumstance is warranted. That my decision to value her privacy is a good one. That for me it would be selfish to push things further than I have because what I want is frivolous in comparison to what she doesn't want.

I still wonder, don't get me wrong. I wonder how she can not call back, because I'd not be able to resist. I wonder and worry if she walks around in a constant state of dread or fear, because I think if I were her I would.  I wonder who my paternal people are, because I don't know. I wonder what she's thinking, because I always wonder what everyone is thinking.

Thing is, I only wonder when I feel like it, and to me, that's not enough to alter other people's realities forever.


Dads matter. Imagine how things could be if only more of them knew it.

It's Father's Day, and it's making me a bit sad.

My father is no longer with me physically but he's in my heart and mind, not on any higher pedestal than he deserves. I try hard not to allow my dead people to become better than they really were. I don't see the point as I try to learn from their mistakes, as well as my own. Nobody is perfect, but their combination of goodness and imperfections can make for the perfect person for someone else, and my dad was that. The perfect father for me.

My husband is a father, but not to my child. My husband underestimates his importance to his children, as I think many fathers do. I hope I've added to his relationship with his sons in that I try to help him see how much a hug can mean, how saying "I love you son" or "I'm proud of you" once in a while is a good thing. My husband is a very good dad and has been there for his boys in ways I doubt they even know about.

My nieces have no dad as their father is my brother who died 5 years ago. My brother was a wonderful father and it's sad these girls don't have him. They need him and their life is forever altered by the loss of him at such young ages.

My son's dad. I'm careful when I talk about my son's dad for the simple fact he's my son's dad. I think because I'm respectful of this it allows my son to turn to me when his dad's not stepping up to the plate. I took the high road in the breakdown of my marriage, something for which I've been criticized by some who aren't my son, but it's been the right decision. My son is able to trust that he comes before any animosity I may hold or have held for his father, and I think that's huge. All kids know when their parent(s) suck, but they usually love them anyway and hold hope that some day it will be different. They don't want anyone trashing their mom or dad, even if they're doing it themselves.

I take responsibility for choosing this kind of dad for my son, because I did.

I'm sad today for those who are without their dad that's perfect for them and for those who've never had one.

Dads matter, and for those that know or knew  it, a very happy Father's day to you.


Everyone exists in a reality that was created by someone else

I've just been reading a blog post. It seemed so much like the blogger was reaching for trouble, creating their own drama, surmising about things that seem like a stretch in imagination. I get that it's in an effort to inform, to educate, to warn others about the possible ramifications of adoption but not everyone knows that's the intent, or will take the time to investigate. Take the time to think about the words and the feeling and care that goes into them. I know for myself as soon as I note that a blog seems unrealistic or ridiculous, (overly religious PAP's or AP's come to mind) I'm gone. Never to return.

It got me thinking about birth order and birthrights and gender at birth, not to mention circumstance of birth. How absolutely self indulgent and whiny adopted person's issues may come across to those who are biological to their family but yet still have their own personal crosses to bear, those who mean it when they say they "wish they'd been adopted". I also acknowledge that an adopted person may have their adoption issues as well as the problems I discuss here, sort of like a double whammy.

I mean just think about how many scenarios can and do exist. I'm going to list a few and welcome any I don't mention or haven't thought of. If you're touched by adoption, try and put that aside and think of "regular" folks for just a minute or two. I know some will say that's impossible, that they can't because they are, but for those that can, be creative or tap in to your own experience or the experience of those you know.

I mean seriously, isn't it supposed to be about children, period? Not just those of us who are adopted?

K, the first one I want to discuss is gender. I know of at least one person who insisted throughout her entire pregnancy she'd be terribly disappointed if she had a boy. No matter what was said to her, no matter how many times she was begged to not think that way, she was adamant that she did not want a boy and vowed she'd be unhappy if she had one. She did. Nuff said.

The unwanted, unplanned, yet kept child. This child could be the oldest, the youngest, or an in between but the timing of their conception was poor, unexpected, and inconvenient. The parent or parents cannot get over this fact and have an uncontrollable resentment toward this child for their entire existence.

The child born to a person of celebrity or infamy. The whole world knows who they are and their story. It is inescapable, the child's existence is forever compared to their famous parent, their every move under a microscope.

Order of birth. It can be huge you know. There are many traits and responsibilities automatically assigned based on birth order. There are unconscious attitudes toward other family members, peers, co-workers, and offspring directly related to the order of one's birth.

Poverty. People born into impoverished situations are affected by it, just as they can be affected by being born into wealth. It can be negative or positive, but they are affected.

Who a person is conceived to, and why. I'll use the example of a child conceived by people trying to "fix" their unhappy or broken relationship. I dare anyone to say this is effective in achieving the intended goal. If the relationship is broken a child will certainly not repair it but the responsibility to do have done so can be glaring to the child.

A child conceived of rape. I imagine no matter how "ok" the mother is with it all, that even if she's managed to somehow separate the act of conception and the process of giving birth and parenting, the child is affected by who and what their father is or was.

A child who is a multiple, but is the only survivor of birth. I know of people who've experienced this and there seems to be a measure of guilt and/or loss they carry forever.

Children who exist in a family and have suffered the loss of a sibling, suffer their parents loss of a child. This can come in the form of death, adoption, mental illness and/or substance abuse and addiction, incarceration whether it be wrongful or warranted. I think of the family of an American woman who is in prison for murder in Italy. I saw some coverage of how the rest of the children in that family are affected and it's heartbreaking, all around.

Children who suffer the loss of the important parent or parents when they are young and still need their mom or dad and have to make this difficult journey through life without the person they needed the most.

Finally, I think of children born to evil or demented parents. Children like those born to well known women who have put their sick husbands before their own babies, or who abuse their babies themselves, either after they are born or before.Children conceived by horrible men who do horrible things to others and/or their own children.

I understand, accept, and empathize with adopted people who feel a primal wound or experience trauma because of it. I believe some people are more affected than others, whether it be because of their personality or because of their circumstance or a combination of both. I think though that we don't have the corner on misery, trauma, loss, rejection, guilt, obligation or even abandonment. Nothing is ever perfect, one can ever know what if's or what if not's. These are our lives, these are our families, both created for all of us who exist without any one of us having been consulted or given choices.

I think every child deserves to be born planned and wanted, just the way they are, to responsible, caring and thoughtful people who've given thought to what they are doing, what choices they've made and will make for this new human being so that when the rest of the crap happens, at least they've had a fighting chance to make it.

Idealistic, maybe unrealistic, perhaps even ridiculous I know, but thank you for sticking around to the end even if you think so.


Got your headstone, assholes.

Going to buy a headstone today. Finally.

It's not an easy task, keeping my mom on track sometimes while keeping my temper. I have to keep my temper, or she tells everyone I'm having "mood swings". Hah, writing that actually made me chuckle.

I'd made an appointment about a month ago to do this but ended up canceling because I realized that we weren't in fact going to buy the headstone but instead I was just going to be chauffeuring my mom on a second shopping trip to a place she'd already been. Thankfully she'd said "oh, I'm not planning to buy anything today, I'm still looking around" to which I replied call me when you've decided on a place and we'll go. There was a bit of "oh, well, ohhh kaay, *sigh* I'll buy it there" but I'd said nuh uhh mom, not having you going around feeling like I bullied you into using this place. Do what you have to do and get back to me.

So, here we are, going to the same place to actually get 'er done.

I spent much of the day yesterday with my mom, first driving her long time girlfriend to the airport, then, back to my mom's to figure out this headstone business. I got her to dig up the paper confirming proof of purchase and location of the four plots my dad had bought at his home town cemetery for $25 dollars in 1982. I vaguely remember him buying said plots, and inquiring as to why there were only four plots when there was five people in our family. I think his reply was something to the effect of "oh, I'm sure at least one of you kids will get married and want to buried somewhere else".

Now, the shopping around for the best headstone price isn't wrong, or uncharacteristic of my mom. Both my parents were/are frugal so my dad would be happy to have not paid too much for his headstone, I know this. But I also know he'd be right pissed off if the plots he paid $25 for in 1982 went to waste and he sat (in the form of ashes) on the entertainment unit in their living room for eternity, even though he and my husband did assemble the unit together and both were quite proud of the achievement.

He'd be happy to know, and I think pleased with me, for using the following in my closing argument in presenting the case for this particular headstone store to ultimately convince my mom to commit. My closing argument was that they're actually getting a fantastic deal since the headstone will in fact be for three people, not just dad, as my brother will be included on the headstone as will my mom when her time comes. I mean just think about it, one headstone for three people. That may even be environmentally friendly too!

My mom has confided to me she's a little hesitant to let the ashes of my brother and my dad go. That it's kind of far away, my dad's home town. And, she doesn't like to drive out to the country herself anymore so it will be hard to visit the headstone. Anymore? Shaking my head I remind her she's never been one to drive herself out to the country and that although I understand, she really has no choice in the matter. These are my dad's wishes and they must be honoured.

It's important to my mom, and to me, that my brother's daughters are able to see a memorial to their dad somewhere on this planet. After drawing a headstone on a piece of a paper and playing around with a few words we've decided to include that my brother was "devoted father" to his daughter's names and something like "I'll love you forever and always" as if he is saying it to them. I like the idea, and I think if I were them it would be meaningful to see something like that.

For my dad, it's simple. It will say "this was the best life I ever had" as that was always what he said no matter if it was a vacation or a home cooked meal or sweet dessert (butter tarts). It was always the best he ever had.

If my brother and my dad could read this or know I blogged about their headstone, well, I think my dad would kind of smile, roll his eyes at my mom and all the hassle, and pat me on the shoulder. My brother, well, he'd just think it was funny as hell and laugh and tease me about it all.

To which I'd affectionately mutter, "assholes".


Conversation, IRL

In conversation this morning with son and husband, adoption came up, as it has a tendency to do.

It was a result of me asking my husband if I'd told him before that my mom had recently told me I was kept in the hospital for a month or so prior to them taking me home (I had to look back in my blog to this post in order to confirm the month as I'd said 6 months this, proof positive of how as story gets embellished) and how it doesn't appear to have affected me. I did confirm that "I seem unaffected, don't I?".

The discussion moved all over the place from there.

We covered how a psychology text book conveys the notion that a child isn't so much affected by being adopted but rather by who they are adopted to, that it's so different to be adopted by a family of another race in that it's much more difficult to escape the fact that one is adopted unless the adopted person is not with their family, or, as my son pointed out, they're at home with only their family.

We talked about the notion that adopted people are more likely to give a child up for adoption to validate their experience, to make it ok, a notion I cannot entertain in application to myself (it was always in my thoughts to NOT ever do this because my biological mother did), but understand it in the way that it's a fact that human beings do perpetuate cycles and behaviors that logically they shouldn't/wouldn't be as likely to perpetuate as someone else, as they are aware of how it feels.

We discussed how although some of the online discussion seems just plain "stupid" (my son's word) that much of it is necessary to attempt to educate and how although I think it's fantastic and helpful it always sticks in my head that people who could quite likely do a perfectly acceptable job of parenting a child they've adopted without all the extra information have the potential to become "afraid" of their child, and this will do exactly the opposite of what all the educating is (hopefully) meant to be doing. How an attempt to "help" prospective adoptive parents be better parents unintentionally could possibly do just what's trying to curb.

We talked about a supposed group of women who are talking about adopting out children intentionally with the purpose of supplying childless parents with a gift of a child, something to which my husband reacted in disbelief comparing the act to giving someone a golf club if they didn't have one of their own, that it couldn't be that simple, it wouldn't be normal. We talked about how this scenario was entirely different than a woman who finds herself pregnant with a child she doesn't want, that this scenario certainly does exist.

I'm off to a family gathering today where I'll likely see a baby, newly adopted by a cousin, and another cousin who, as he ages, is the spitting image of my beloved dad who I miss especially at these family events.

I'm looking forward to it all. I love family shit.


I'll take mine well done please

Death is a constant subject in my life, and in my heart and head. Most days it tries to rule my thoughts. Many times now I let it, as it helps me keep perspective.

It's not my death I obsess about, although of course I think about that too. It's the possibility of the death of those I love and need, and the deaths of two very important people in my life that always hovers near by, waiting to rein in the temptation to make a bigger deal out of something relatively unimportant. The temptation to get more angry at my son or husband than a situation truly warrants, the temptation to hold a grudge or drag out a disagreement to make a point or to punish a loved who's "done me wrong". I most always will ask myself, is this how you want things to be if this important person were suddenly plucked from your life? Poof, gone! It straightens me out every time.

Some may think it's unhealthy to think about the possibility of death as often as I do, so for the most part, I keep my thoughts to myself. There are those there is no need to do so with though, and those are the members of the "I know shit happens club". My son is one of those, something for which I'm sad and grateful. Sad because he had to do important, sudden deaths so much younger than I had to which not only makes him have to feel a sense of loss for much longer than I will and experience a loss of invincibility that I got to enjoy for many more years than he did. Grateful because he doesn't feel invincible which makes him more careful and caring of those who he loves.

I've recently observed someone who's just joined the "club". It wasn't that he'd not experienced loss before, but he's just experienced that kind of loss that shocks and rocks you to the core. The kind that makes you realize we're all not here forever, in the capacity we know anyway. The kind that makes you go wtf am I holding on to shit for?!? Why am I wasting time living without people I could lose forever in an instant?

I don't like being part of the "club", but I am. If I weren't part of it I wouldn't worry so much, or rather exist in a constant state of controlling my worry, not allowing it to consume me but instead using it to guide me and put it to good use in forcing myself not to sweat the small stuff. To let anger and hurt feelings go if the recipient or cause of it are worthy and are someone I'd regret never seeing or talking to again.

I've just been reading about a mom who feels she's not doing her grief of losing her son right and it made me wonder if there is one right way and I don't think there is. What I do think is there are ways to survive grief, that some grief, as in the case of a loss of a child, never goes away. It evolves, it takes on different weights and shapes and sizes, but it never goes away.

For me, it's what I do with my grief that is important. And what I do is use it, control it, feel it when it's safe, share it when it's necessary or relevant, and keep it close and private sometimes to protect loved ones who are still alive. Is this doing it right? For me, I can honestly say, yes. I do my grief right.

How do you do yours?