And your point is?

It's the strangest thing when a difficult parent is seriously ill. There's this push and pull that cannot be appreciated by someone who hasn't experienced it.

One minute your stomach is in knots and you're frightened for their life, doing anything you can to help them live. The next you're like, "did you really just say that to me after I just saved your life?"

Is it that they don't appreciate us or is it that they just don't appreciate their life? Is it that they know we'll always be there for them so shitting on us repeatedly has no risk?

Although never surprised at my mother's complete disregard for my feelings, I am always perplexed by it. How can she not care how hurt I am? How my own child feels, especially how I am making him feel, means more to me than anything else. I would never put anyone ahead of my child. Never have and never will.

Is it because I am adopted that my mother has such disregard for me? I don't think so though I do think my mother should have been screened more thoroughly, even though I realize there are worse mothers out there. At this point in time she'd likely not admit or remember it but she told me a long time ago, in a way that was meant to be critical of the social worker who was involved in my adoption, that she'd almost not gotten me. The social worker had said she was worried my mom was too intent on getting a baby just like the first one she'd adopted. My mom thought the social worker was wrong. I think the social worker may have been on to something.

I am awake and writing this because my mom called me fom the hospital to see if I was coming with her to another hospital for a test she's having. When she called it was 6:45am on Sunday and the test is tomorrow Monday at 2pm. Its my understanding nobody goes with her, the test is simple, painless xray. I got up anyway and chatted a bit with my mom, just to make sure she was ok.

Yesterday was a tough day as my mom chastised me for refusing contact with someone who has mistreated and taken advantage of me for many years, someone I have finally decided to cut out of my life. My mother disapproves of the fact I am refusing to facilitate her ongoing relationship with this person. In spite of the fact that my conscience is clear and I know I am not in the wrong, oh, and in spite of the fact that I am 50 years old, it still hurts to have your mom take the enemy's side.

Am I the only one going though this?


Lest We Forget

Remembrance Day, November 11th

In Flanders fields the poppies blow

Between the crosses, row on row,

That mark our place; and in the sky

The larks, still bravely singing, fly

Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago

We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,

Loved, and were loved, and now we lie

In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:

To you from failing hands we throw

The torch; be yours to hold it high.

If ye break faith with us who die

We shall not sleep, though poppies grow

In Flanders fields.

Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae (1872-1918) Canadian


I hate meeces to pieces! Especially the baby ones.

Great news! If your mom didn't want or like you, finally you don't have to take it personally!!

Ana Ribeiro, an author of the study and postdoctoral fellow at Rockefeller University, explains: “Once the gene was silenced, not only did the moms not nurse or lick their baby pups, but they wouldn’t even move the baby mice back into the cage or fight off a strange intruder. In other words, our study shows that, without this gene, the skills to be ‘a good mom’ were lost.” Looky here for the source.

This doesn't surprise me in the slightest. Hopefully this will contribute to an acceptance that not all females are born to be mythical matenal goddesses and that oxytocin isn't the magic mommy potion some people want to make it out to be.

If you feel like you're not cut out to be a mom, maybe you aren't and there's nothing wrong with that. Dont allow yourself to be badgered into it and please, try really hard not to get pregnant.

If you feel like you're not cut out to be a mom and you already are one, find someone to talk to about it. I know it's tough since most people hold women to unrealistic maternal  standards but there are people who understand that some women struggle and that there's nothing to be ashamed of. Seek them out and talk about what's going on and please, try really hard not to get pregnant again.

If you can't get pregnant and come to realize that you're actually ok with that, don't let society or your partner pressure or shame you into believing that you couldn't possibly be ok with it and please, don't "just" adopt.

Do you think all females are mommy material? Could there be a mommy gene in humans?    

This Just Can't Be Happening...Oh Yes It Can

When I used to consider searching for my biological people, mother in particular, one of the deterrents was ending up with two mothers giving me heartburn. Twice the hassle. More family to worry about, answer to. Do I really want two mothers? What if the second one is even more difficult than the first? Well, believe it or not, I found myself in just such a situation this past week.

I'm sitting with my husband and brother-in-law at a nice outdoor  patio, about to devour a pitcher of sangria. The sun is shining, I'm away on a short holiday and this is our first day there.

Part of the reason we've visited at this time is that my biological mother is also visiting this particular city. We've been in touch about getting together and it's supposed to happen at some point. We will arrange something via text once I arrive.

Back to my patio.

I'm rocking my shades, laughing with hubby and bro-in-law, sipping sangria, and soaking up the sun when it happens. My cell phone rings.

That's not supposed to happen when I am away. Who'd call me on my cell when I'm away when I rarely get calls when I'm at home? Home care for my mom, that's who would call. My mom isn't answering her phone, her door, they made an appointment earlier in the morning for that day, would she really forget within a few hours? Hmm, not likely. I call my mom's cell, scrounge for her boyfriend's number then call him, then his cell, and finally reach him. Nope, he'd just been to my mom's and she hadn't answered and her car was there. He'd been told to bring her a loaf of bread but now he was on his way home.

Damn. This is bad. I look at my phone. I haven't charged it since the night before and the battery is lower but not too bad. I call my son to see where he is, can he zip to grandma's to see what's going on? I have a key to her place but it's at my house. Maybe if I call the office of her apartment building they'll let my son in. Better yet, maybe they'll just go in to see what's going on because it's going to take my son a good half an hour to get to my mom's. I tell my son to head to grandma's and I'll call him back. I locate and call the office of my mom's apartment.  They're reluctant to go in but understand that the situation could be serious and saving time could be critical. They will check and call me back.

I check my charge on my battery. Getting lower all the time. I just need it to hang on until the office calls me back. I still need to call home care, my mom's boyfriend, and my son back. I'm trying to stay calm but my stomach is in knots. I am 99% sure something is seriously wrong and as all possible scenarios are swirling in my head, I receive a text. Oh no, I don't have the battery charge for this.

It's my biological mother, returning my "we're here" text I'd sent when we'd gotten into town. What are my plans? Did I want to get together that day? What did I want to do? What were we doing right now? Ugh...this CAN'T be happening.

I start to text back what's going on with my mom, I may have to head back home etc. and it's impossible. Too many details for a text and I can't call as I am waiting to hear back and cannot miss that call. So, I make arrangements to meet up later with bio mom while worrying my mom mom is laying dead in her apartment. Crazy! Everything ultimately turned out alright, my mom did need help but it wasn't life threatening and the visit with bio mom went well but for a moment or two, I couldn't believe that what I dreaded was actually happening.


Are you coping with a difficult, aging parent? How do you stay sane?

It's been a while since I've written here. I've thought about it but just haven't had much to say that was suitable to share publicly.

To say I've been struggling in my relationship with my mom would be an understatement and because of this I've been doing a lot of soul searching and a bit of whining. Ok, maybe its the other way around, you'd have to ask my poor husband.

How people affect us affects those around us, I think we can all agree that's a fact.

In my marriage to my son's dad I reached that point where I needed to shut up about all the difficulties, people had listened enough. I either needed to do something about the bad relationship or quit putting it on everyone else by constantly talking about our issues. Ultimately, I did something about it and got out of the marriage.

What does a person do when the difficult person in your life is a parent? I know some people just walk away, cut the parent out of their life but I just can't. My conscience won't allow it. So, how do I cope?

How do we deal with an aging, difficult parent? I googled it and found an article written on the subject. Judging by the hundreds of ongoing comments at the piece, I am not alone, something I found comforting,

I will figure it out. Figure out how to be myself yet disassociate (as much as possible) emotionally. Figure out how to utilize my support system without alienating and driving everyone crazy.

I will not let my difficult parent turn me into the kind of person who is a complete drag to be around.

All women are not mother material and I am not the only person who's never had the perfect mom for me.

How do you cope?

When was the last time you were around a day old baby?

My stepson and daughter-in-law recently has their first child. Wow, what a great experience. Full of many emotions, thoughts, memories, especially for us mother types.

It was when my son mentioned that he'd not ever been around a baby that was less than two full days old it occurred to me that most of us aren't around newborns very often. We're usually only around newborn babies when they're our own or one of our children's children.

When its our own baby, it can quite often have been many, many years ago. Memory fails us, or fades just enough that our facts our shaky or our ideas and knowledge outdated. Some things never change, I know, but the exact details of the way things were very often do.

I clearly remember looking into my son's eyes at birth, just how dark and inquiring they were. I remember my anxieties over a newborn, anxieties about starvation and choking. I remember the concern I had when my son slept a little too long, is he still breathing?

I took my mom to visit my new granddaughter yesterday. She's a sleepy baby. Tickles and whispers in the ear have no effect on this little angel, when she's out, she's out. So cute.

The new message for "safe sleep" is pretty much baby on its back with nothing but a sleeper. No swaddling, no pillows or blankets, no toys, no nuthin'! It makes sense to me although that's not how I did it 22 years ago. Live and learn, as they say. It's the way it should be, learning from the past and doing things better.

On the way home from my stepson's my mom and I discussed the fact that she didn't have me at home as a newly born newborn. A month makes a big difference. Mom talked about how we "boarder" babies didn't get the same attention as the other babies, perhaps that's why when I came home I pretty much slept through the night on my own. It's definitely why I had sores on my face because "I slept on unbleached cotton sheets that didn't get changed often enough".

Hmm. I take all this with a grain of salt. Obviously it could be true but I don't consider my mom an excellent source of factual information on any other subject so why would I assume this scenario was true. Not that it couldn't be, I just can't be sure.

Being around my new to the world granddaughter has reconfirmed my belief that although newborn babies could possibly recognize their mother's smell or voice, they don't feel loss when they aren't in her arms or presence. They aren't born perfect little nursers who automatically latch on to their mothers' breasts and they are totally cool with any Tom, Dick or Harry holding them. It's as they grow they begin to recognize people, become attached to parents and other family members.

Love and healthy attachment aren't just a given. Good parent/child relationships take time and energy to develop, it's not something that's just handed to you along with your baby upon giving birth.

You may be attached to your baby but don't kid yourself into thinking your baby is magically attached to you. You have to be there, do the work, thus developing a bond of love and trust.

If it's that way with newborns who've had no bad experience with adults, with anyone, how can people not realize how difficult it will be for older kids who've been screwed around by their "natural" parents for years or were never really cared for at all by them, have been let down by adult after adult their entire young lives.

It's so beautiful witnessing a much wanted baby become familiar with the world and her good, caring parents. It's a treat to be given the chance to develop a grandparental relationship.

I'm a very lucky spite of the fact I quite likely slept on pukey, stiff sheets for the first month of my life.


The Perfect Dad For Me

It's Father's Day and I want to tell you a bit about my good dad.

What I say about my dad most likely would differ from what my sister or brother would say.

Quite often one child sees a parent differently than another, with many dynamics influencing the relationship. Gender, interests, sense of humor, birth order, and temperament are all factors in parent/child relationships. Also, relationships can change over time, for example I think had my brother not died so young he and my/our dad may have grown even closer as my brother spent more time being a father.

Anyway, that said, here's what I want to say about my dad.

My dad was the perfect dad for me. I know I disappointed him sometimes but I also know he truly forgave me when I did. My dad was completely dedicated to me, to all of his kids, to our family.

I know this because we talked about it once while canoeing. At this point in life I was a grown woman and mom. The conversation started out with me admonishing him for being snarky with my mom, before she even did anything annoying, almost in anticipation. I told him it made him look bad and if he was so angry with my mom, why hadn't they just split up ages ago and put everyone out of their misery?

Well, I never expected the response I got and will never forget it.

He told me there was no way he'd have ever left us kids. That if he and my mom had split up, there's no way back then he'd have gotten custody of us. He'd made a commitment to my brother and sister and I and no matter how difficult his life was being married to my mom, he would never have left us alone with her, never have put his own needs ahead of ours. In his mind, he was one of our needs.


And that was just the biggie.

My dad also coached my softball teams and never complained about the shit bag lunches I grudgingly made him. He came out to watch me participate in everything I did, and sincerely forgave me when I messed up. My dad set an example of being hard working, honest, and kind to others. He taught me about short term pain for long term gain and about pride in integrity.

I learned from him to walk away from trouble but that there's also times when there's a need for dropping the gloves to fight for myself or what's right. Yeah, at times there was a generation gap between Dad's and my beliefs but he understood and accepted that. Another lesson learned.

My dad was the most excellent grandfather to my son. How fortunate to have had a dad who provided my son with such a positive male role model. Oh how grandpa is missed.

My dad taught my son and I about finding joy in the smallest of things, a perfect butter tart or a pair of socks wrapped up for Christmas.

I was fortunate to see my dad in two lights, the frugal, hard working husband and father and the retired, laid back, "let me by you a drink" father and grandfather.

I loved dancing with my dad. Who didn't?

As an adult in the home I have now I loved preparing him a special meal, bringing him a cup of coffee, mixing him a perfect rum and coke, not too strong. He was always so appreciative, got so much out of being here with me, my husband, and my son, his grandson, his partner.

One of my last memories of dad was of him sitting here in my living room, smile on his face, and him telling me how much he loved being in my home. I cherish that and all my other memories of my dad.

I am so lucky to have had the perfect dad for me.

Happy Father's Day to all you good dads out there. You rock.

Avenge This

While visiting with my son this afternoon the movie The Avengers came up. I mentioned the big deal the "he's adopted line" from the movie has caused online, with some people being offended, others offended at those that are offended.

Surprise to me my son said he knew. What? How'd you know, I asked him. I know he doesn't intentionally read adoption related blogs and articles. Does this mean the issues people have with the line are so far reaching that average people can't help but notice the cries of discrimination against adoptees?

Well, yup. That's what him knowing about the controversy means.

It's no surprise I want to know what he thinks of the line, how he took it when they watched the movie. For starters, he made it clear how the whole theatre, including him, burst out laughing. Must have been some delivery.

My son went on to say he doesn't at all understand the big deal being made out of the line. That he didn't feel that it was meant to be derogatory against adoptees, that it in any way said people who are adopted will become murdering machines solely because they are adopted.

Having not seen the movie I could only speculate on what my reaction would be based on everything I've read online. What I thought of immediately is how I couldn't begin to count the number of times I've said, "I'm adopted" with my hands in the air as a response to some family member doing something stupid, bad, embarrassing, whatever.

I thought, well, why is it ok if I do it but it isn't if an imaginary superhero does. Things is, it is ok that it was said. It wasn't meant to insult or discriminate against adopted people. It's something that's jokingly said to distance one's self from a family member who's effed something up and much of the time it's said by the adoptee them self.

Why do we have to make a big deal out of nothing when there are real issues to make a big deal out of? Like denial of access to our own records of birth and adoption.

Now that's something anyone can get their head around. Really. Anyone I've ever asked agrees that every human being has the right to know the circumstances of their birth and who their biological parents are.

Problem is is that they won't hear us if they have their fingers in their ears and are saying stfu you bunch of whiners.


Birth Moms ... On TLC

Anyone watch it? Yikes. I can only imagine what will happen in blogland. Tons of crying on the show, girls giving up babies they'd rather keep, schlepping already born being raised babies to interviews with PAPS, asking PAPS to never tell adoptee it's adopted, thieving, alcohol swigging pregnant birth mothers, all taking place in Salt Lake City. Wowzer. I did not know what to think. One thing, I didn't share a tear along with the young moms. Not sure why. One of them was a pretty cool kid who just didn't have the means to raise two kids.


Here, yet not

The new Blogger seems not to be compatible with an Ipad. Boo! Be back when I can. Try not to miss me too much! : )


Radiation Red

Last night I celebrated my final radiation treatment for my breast cancer.

First, after work, I met and had drinks with my best girlfriend. We've been friends for a good forty years now and we had a great visit as always. We toasted me and talked about how great I am and I even allowed her to talk a bit about herself and the struggles she's been having lately in life. We left happy and refreshed with thoughts about taking a trip together somewhere this summer.

After that, I grabbed my husband and we went for dinner and indulged ourselves with whatever we wanted off the menu. I'm all for rewards when we achieve or conquer something and I feel like I've endured and conquered quite a bit these past 10 months so stuffing myself with rich food and wine for one night seemed like just the right thing for me. I even ordered dessert.

Today I awake knowing I am finished my radiation. I think back to the beginning when I didn't have a clue what to expect. I think about the good information and support I got from people I know who've survived cancer and realize I am now one of them. Another club I belong to.

On my second last day of radiation, while I waited for my technician to fetch me from the waiting room, a woman with a cane wearing a turban sat down near me. It was hard to tell her age but I did feel she was a few years older than me. I had arrived a little early so had poured myself a coffee and mentioned it tasted pretty good when I noticed the woman looking at me. We got to talking and it turns out she herself has survived breast cancer. She'd endured a double mastectomy (and all the other procedures that lead up to that point) and had been cancer free for 9 years. Now its been discovered she has brain cancer and she's enduring all that that entails. The ease with which we discussed such a terrifying and exhausting situation blows me away when I think about it. I only teared up when I talked about her to the radiation technician and then my husband the next morning. I will remember that lady forever and wish for her to eventually be well again.

I'll also remember the older gentleman I saw on my first day of radiation. As I waited for my name to be called, a total newbie amongst cancer treatment veterans, some with hair, more without, a man's name was called. It was a gentleman of 78 (which I knew because they ask our birthdays every time we receive treatment) and as he walked with the tech they excitedly talked about how it was his last day, and he told her how he was going to celebrate with a bottle of Boost. Too cute.

There have been a ton of special people I'd never have even known existed had I not had to do this cancer thing. It's been tough in ways I could never have anticipated, easier than I thought it would be in other ways, and I have no reason to believe I haven't beaten it. At least for now.

I've seen too much in my life now to not know that shit happens, so I am as prepared as I can be for anything. If its good shit, I will enjoy the hell out of it. If its bad, I'll fight as hard as I possibly can to kick it's ass.

I still think they should make a paint or stain colour called Radiation Red.

Maybe donate a portion of it's sales to cancer organizations?

What seems to always happen

See, this is what seems to always happen.

Strong blanket statements are made and then I feel an obligation to contribute, compelled to say how I feel about being adopted. I don't get why that is so surprising to anti-adoption activists since it's what they themselves are doing.

I do not feel abandoned and that's because of having been adopted. Had my biological mother left me on a doorstep with no attempt to ensure my safety or my having a family, then I'd feel abandoned.

Not every adoptee feels or should feel that way, we're all different with unique experiences, but that's how I feel and how I feel matters just as much as anyone else. I also feel very much a part of my family, more so than some friends who are biologically related to each other.

To those of us who were provided with a family through adoption and aren't angry about our own situation, it's impossible to be completely against it even though we're not stupid enough to think reform isn't needed. Is that so hard to understand?

I wish every child conceived could be kept and raised by the people who created it but that's completely unrealistic. We all need to work toward helping parents plan their parenthood, make the best, most informed decisions when unplanned, unexpected, and unwanted pregnancy occurs. And, it does occur. We do each other no favor pretending every human is born to be a parent.

Sensational or sugar-coated blanket statements are no help to anyone as they so easily dismissed.


If you don't care, why not?

I've been reading around and there's some discussion on people making comparisons in adoption, such as comparing adoption to slavery or the Holocaust.

As I read I think about what I could compare adoption to and I realize, it's just not that simple. It's too personal and there are too many portions or aspects to an adoption to make it comparable to much.

I could take a portion of a specific person's adoption experience and compare it to the Holocaust I suppose. The problem though, with a general comparison of adoption to something horrific, is that adoption isn't horrific for everyone who has been involved in one whereas I think in the Holocaust, we can all agree, it is.

It always comes back to credibility for me.

I read stories of parents who have had their babies stolen from them. It's horrific to imagine. I read stories about adopted people who landed in horrific adoptive families and it angers me to my core. I think about how I don't really know the circumstances of my conception and birth, who my biological father is and, if I let it, it pisses me off.

When I talk to my friend who was adopted by a woman who just had to have her little girl and then ended up ditching her with a father who never wanted her, it makes me really mad. I marvel at my friend's resilience, her ability to be a great mom in spite of the fact she herself never had one.

When I look realistically at specific negative incidents, circumstances, situations, or experiences people have in adoption I can get on board with reform. No problem. It makes sense. It's believable.

You tell me adoption as an entity is like slavery or the Holocaust? I think you're hysterical, dramatic, self-absorbed, and/or attention seeking.

I and many other people needed adoption. We needed families who wanted us. There are many people who will need families and never get one. Even a subpar, adoptive family would be preferable to many people who have nobody.

The problem I have with comparing adoption to something universally terrible, to crimes against all humanity, is that for this adoptee, it doesn't compare.

Don't we care what non-adopted atrocity victims' and their descendants' reactions are to these kinds of comparisons? Care what the would-give-anything-to-have-been-adopted's reactions are to these kinds of comparisons? Care what people who are completely satisfied with their adoption experience think? And if you don't care, why not?

You already have each other's support.


It's Ok, Stop On By, It's Not Contagious

So, I've been doing a bit of breast cancer for the past six or so months.

I hadn't really planned to write about it until I saw this documentary and felt inspired to, at the very least, share the doc and draw attention to the website for the Harold P. Freeman Institute for Patient Navigation.

"Successful patient navigation supports those diagnosed with suspicious findings by eliminating barriers to timely screening, treatment, and supportive care of cancer and other chronic diseases. Patient navigation saves lives and improves resolution rates of patients. When implemented at the organizational level within a community, it results in increased efficiencies and improved outcomes"

See, I'm in Canada and I haven't had to pay, nor am I in debt for, one red cent for the amazing care I've gotten and continue to get. I do pay for the Letrozole I am now taking and will be taking for 5 years but thankfully, one of the benefits from my employer is to cover a (significant) percentage of my prescribed drugs. Otherwise, it's about  $100 a month. For 5 years. I could pay for it if I had to and no doubt my budget would feel it, but it's doable. I'm lucky.

After watching the documentary my heart was breaking for those who can't afford to treat their breast cancer, or any life threatening disease, early enough and have no insurance, benefits, or publicly funded health care system.

How does one experience this and also worry about money? There are already so many things to think of and try not to worry about, I can't imagine pulling this off if I also had to worry about paying for my care.

So there it is. You have the links. You know I'm doing breast cancer. If you want to talk about it, welcome.

I've had tons of support, support from family and friends who have and have not had breast cancer but not everyone is as fortunate as me. So, here I am. If you want to talk about mammograms, biopsies (fine needle or core), lumpectomies, sentinel node biopsies, lymphedema, radiation or any other breast cancer related topics on which I am no expert...I'm here if you need.

I had so many people to talk about it all with when I needed that the thought of someone having no one literally brings tears to my eyes.

Feel free to use this post to talk to me, to each other, or just to vent. I will still write a post here and there about this experience, there's one in particular I need to write, a post where I need to talk about my friend who died from cancer in the summer, an old friend that I drew tons of strength from through this insanity. The grace and dignity with which she conducted her battle against cancer left a huge impression on me and little did I know at the time I was learning such a valuable lesson.

Hmm. Life. Doing our best to love and appreciate it while we have it.


Guest Post: more on telling the truth in adoption.

Telling Your Other Children About The Surrendered Child

BY Mary Anne Cohen
From Origins NJ Newsletter,revised 2004. 2012

One of the hardest but most necessary tasks facing first mothers is telling their other children about the surrendered brother or sister.

The longer a mother has kept the secret, the harder it is. Some mothers want to search but feel unable to come out to their families. These women are not deliberately deceptive or cowardly. They have the best motives towards all their children, but are frightened and confused about the possible ill effect of revealing their secret. They fear that the knowledge will harm their children, and add more guilt and damage to their already fragile self-image as adequate mothers. This is even more common in mothers who are found, who thought that the surrendered child would be a secret forever. Some may have husbands who are opposed to telling the children, which adds an extra source of anxiety.

Most mothers who surrendered in the years after WWII have told their husband about the surrendered child, and perhaps one or two close friends, but beyond that, it usually has not been discussed or shared. A few have not even confided in their husband or another living soul.

As a mother who is searching, chances are your home is suddenly full of adoption-related material, that you are glued to the TV whenever the word “adoption” is mentioned; that you spend hours on the Internet seeking search assistance, and that you have long phone conversations with your new adoption search buddies.

Although physically you remain in your ordinary surroundings, your mind and heart are caught up in a quest as profound, challenging, and consuming as any mythical crusade. You are in a state of emotional turmoil, as you face the challenges posed by each phase of search, contact, and reunion. Life is not really proceeding as usual, much as you might try to separate your home life from your “adoption life”. How can your family not notice that something is going on?

If you have been contacted by your adult child, either directly or through an intermediary, and are secretly corresponding, or in the hard place of trying to decide how or if to respond to the initial contact, your inner state and outer demeanor are probably even more upsetting and puzzling to those you live with, if you have not shared with them what momentous occurrence has transpired.

A secret like this has to come out, and it will, in ways that you may not like unless you take the initiative and control how your family is informed. Even if the found adoptee is patient and sensitive to your need for privacy for many years, the secret can take a toll on both of you and your relationship, and be revealed by some happening beyond either's control.

Your family are already affected by your search, despite your efforts to protect them. Why not let them be equal partners, persons you respect enough to share truth with, rather than confused spectators of something they half comprehend or misinterpret?

Children can draw some surprising conclusions from your unexplained erratic behavior. They may fear that they themselves are adopted, or that they have done something to upset you that is so awful you cannot talk about it. Older kids may imagine you have a secret lover, or are about to be divorced. They may fear that someone in the family has a fatal illness that is being concealed. The imagination of children is unlimited—and so is the needless suffering it can cause. Kids who have imagined any of these scenarios will be relieved when you finally reveal the truth, which in many ways has little to do with them, or their day to day family life.

It is important to realize that while your children may be interested in their lost sibling, and ask many questions, they will never have the intensity of feelings, especially painful ones that you have. They did not experience what you did; the birth, surrender, and years of secret guilt. They do not bring any of the baggage that you do to the whole adoption/reunion scenario. Telling them does not lay an equal burden of suffering on them. They may or may not eventually form their own relationship with their sibling.

We need to keep our boundaries clear and not project our feelings onto our children when contemplating “the talk” about the surrendered child. While the adoption issue is central to us, to most of our children it will be peripheral at most until they actually meet their sibling. Rather than experiencing a loss, some children are overjoyed to learn that they have suddenly “gained” a new sibling, often the big brother or sister they have always wanted, and approach the news with curiosity and wonder rather than horror.

A common reaction is, “Where is she? When can we see her?” If you have been contacted by an intermediary, or by your searching child, how wonderful to be able to reply, “as soon as possible!”. Another common reaction of adult children is that knowing you surrendered a child explains a lot about aspects of your behavior and emotional state over the years that may have been puzzling to them.

There is no ideal age to wait for. Right now is always the right time. It does not get easier with the passage of time, and can get more difficult. Teenagers and young adults may resent the fact that you underestimated their capacity to deal with reality, and treated them like babies rather than as maturing young people. They may feel betrayed that you were not honest with them sooner. Often, the oldest feels slightly displaced, and some sibling rivalry issues can be evident even if there is no reunion as yet.

Older children may be angry at having been deceived, rather than grateful for being “protected” from the truth for years. But like all things, this too will pass; just as it is never too early, it is also never too late. Many mothers who are already grandmothers have told middle-aged adult children of their other sibling, with no ill effects. Much as many of us fear that our subsequent children will fear rejection after being told that their mother gave up a child, I have never heard of any who voiced that concern, or acted as if that were a possibility. Your children have the right to know they have a sibling, and it is best that they hear it first from you.

Young children are generally trusting, and accept whatever you do because you are their mother and they love you. Children who grow up knowing that you had another child and placed her for adoption accept this as part of history, just as they would deal with knowing about a previous marriage of either of their parents.

Some of you have long passed the stage of telling little children, and are faced with the task of telling teenagers. Many mothers of teens fear that their children will lose respect for them as people, and will flaunt their mother’s “immorality” when told by their parents to wait to have sex. “You did it at 16—why can’t I”? Some young people, mostly male, have reacted with anger, judgment, and disbelief, and have shown resentment at their mother’s supposed “double standard.” But they get over it.

You could use your unhappy experience as an example of the problems created by sex without adequate protection, commitment, or maturity. Teenagers respect honesty; they hate hypocrisy. They will ultimately respect you for admitting you were not perfect, and may become more open and honest with you in return. Once they know and have incorporated your story into theirs, your teenage and adult children can be your greatest source of comfort during search and reunion. Don’t shut them out of something that could bring you all closer together.

Present the subject in a way that is appropriate to the age, maturity, and temperament of your child. Each child is unique. Some mothers prefer to tell all their children at once, others take each aside and discuss it with each separately. You know your own children and family dynamic best.

Once your children know, don’t go on too much about the subject, but do involve them in all the important points of your search and reunion. Any picture you have of the lost child, either from infancy or any current one you have been sent is helpful in “making it real.” If your husband is against telling the children, try to educate him, and help him to see that honesty is best for your whole family, while secrecy is already doing harm. Go forwards towards reunion with courage, truth and love—and follow your own heart and sense of ethics. It may help to introduce the subject of medical information that could be vital to all your children, and how in reunion it can be exchanged both ways.

You may want to wait to tell the children about their sibling until after you have had some contact with the adoptee, and know that he wants you in his life. In this way, you feel you are protecting your children from disappointment and rejection. This is a very common assumption, but it is wrong. In fact, it is easier for all if your children know before any contact is made, no matter what the outcome. If the adoptee is delighted to be found, or finds you, he may want to meet his siblings right away, which means you will have to either put him off, or tell your other children in the midst of the turmoil of a new reunion, rather than letting them hear and absorb the news in a more relaxed fashion. It is not fair to the adoptee to contact them, and then insist on a covert relationship where they remain a “dirty little secret.” If you are found, in most cases your surrendered child will be understanding, but eventually you may want the secret to end and true openness to begin.

Wherever you are as you read this, if you have not yet told your family, the right moment is now. There will never be an easier or better time, no matter what your present situation might be. The past is gone, but you can take an active and honest role in the future.

In case of rejection, or finding something tragic or distressing, you will need the love and support of those in your family more than ever. You will not need the extra strain of grieving an additional loss or blow while continuing to hide your pain and secret. If you should die before being reunited, it would be best for your family to know of the other child, so that they could welcome her if she searched, or search for her themselves if they felt the need. Adoption and surrender are family matters for generations to come, not just your own sad secret.

The good news about telling your other kids is that so many of us who were just as scared as you are have done it, with no lasting ill effects, some of us many years ago. Many faced difficult situations, but all were relieved to have finally gotten rid of the burden of secrecy. The truth really will set you free.


Afraid of the truth coming out? Talk to me. Tell us what it's like.

"I wish I had her courage. I haven't told my kids yet about my first child, but my husband knows. Yes, I am terrified."

I just read this anonymous comment and I so want to talk to the person that wrote it. I want to ask anonymous about her story. I want to try to understand, to get a sense of what that fear is like, what it's actually a fear of.

What are you afraid your kids will think?

What are you afraid your kids will do?

Are you not afraid of them finding out before you tell them? Is it possible you prefer they found out another way?

What does your husband or wife think, want you to do? Has that changed over the years?

Have your own intentions when it comes to telling your kids changed over the years?

How old are your kids?

Would you expect them all to react the same? As in, would it be easier to tell one of them than the other because of what you know of their personalities?

Are you in communication with your first child?

Do you really even want to tell your kids and are just afraid or do you really wish it would all just go away? It's ok and best if you're honest with yourself about this one. There is no right answer, except for the truth.

If you're a first/birth/bio parent who is keeping your adopted out kid a secret, from anyone, talk to me. I really want to hear how you feel, what it's really like to be "terrified" of the truth, what you think could happen if it comes out.

Although I can't know what it feels like to be afraid of an adoption secret coming out, I assure you I have compassion for the circumstance you now find yourself in. I am completely dedicated to protecting the identity of anyone who comments here so please don't be concerned about not being able to comment anonymously.

I have helped my bio mom keep her secret for years now so know that you can feel confident I would do nothing to jeopardize yours.


"Adoptees Using DNA to Find Family" My Review

I recently had my attention directed to this transcript of a radio program.

The first blog post that brought it to my attention was highly critical of the contributions of Kimberly Leighton, one of the panel guests on the program. Leighton is assistant professor of philosophy at American University and was, I assume, invited to be a part of the discussion because, according to her bio linked to above, "one question Kim asks is: how might current sciences of identity such as genetics and genomics, and the ethical problems they purportedly raise, affect current political, social, and legal critique, particularly in regards to articulations of rights and freedom?"

Makes sense, no? It's also interesting to note that Leighton herself is adopted and has experienced a successful search for her "birth mother" and says her life was improved knowing her and her story.

Seems to me an excellent choice of a guest for a discussion on adoptees using DNA to find family.

I loved that Leighton asked the representative of Family Tree DNA, Bennett Greenspan, how they "handle the more psychological aspects, as well as the ethical ones, of searching -- because many adoptees -- when they do find, they find more complicated situations than they expected."

I don't love that she asked because I think the Family Tree outfit has a responsibility to provide any kind of assistance to their customers in coping with the psychological aspects of searching, I love that Leighton bringing it up opens up (or should open up) discussion about the ethics and ramifications of searching, negative and positive, because it's a discussion worth having.

A large part of that discussion needs to be about our mothers and fathers and whether they want to be found or not, something that seems to be a terribly conflicted topic in online adoption discussions.

Discussing complications and ethics in adoption search does not deny adoptees a right to know or undermine a parent who wants to be found. It actually could aid in achieving openness. What's the difference between saying most mothers did not willingly give up their kids and want to be found and saying most mothers wanted and were promised confidentiality, anonymity, and have no desire to find or be found?

There is none. They both achieve nothing because both are true and if we try and make one or the other gospel, there will always be someone sitting there thinking "well, I know that's not true because it's not my experience", and when that happens, credibility is affected. Every experience is valid and it does no good to pick and choose only the stories that suit an agenda, does no good to minimize circumstances that are unlike our own.

I find the stats that say that the majority of mothers (sorry dads, nobody talks about you) want to be found and to reunite so far-fetched. We aren't going to see the parents who do want to remain anonymous, want their perceived promise of confidentiality honoured, jumping up and down yelling, "here I am!".

We can talk all we want about the world being so small now, the expectation of anonymity being unrealistic, but it wasn't always. My own bio mother said her being found was never supposed to happen. It's why she went "so far away" to give me up.

I'd like to share and comment on a few things Kimberly Leighton said. I think she's bang on with much of what she says within the context of her role on the panel which was as an expert in ethics and an adopted person who has searched successfully.

"When you go on an adoption search, you're not finding a static piece of information. You're stepping into an ongoing life of an infinite number of people." -Nothing to argue with here.

"So it's not simply the same as doing a genealogy. When adoptees go searching, they're opening up Pandora's boxes of other people's lives."
-Anyone who denies that an adoptee searching is different than real kids searching is in a big fat friggin' fog. It is NOT the same thing as doing genealogy for most adoptees. The only way it would be is if the adoptee was just researching out of interest and had no plans to make contact with anyone.

Leighton was asked, "In one case, at least reported in The New York Times, someone found a third cousin. What use is that?".

She answered, "Well, I think this opens up a large -- larger question, which is, what do we think family is? And I think adoptees who are using these services go in already hoping that they're going to find some kind of some kind of connection. And it raises a lot of questions about what the ethical issues here are. And that's probably where I would want to start, in some ways, in this conversation because, in a contemporary situation, when we have closed records, the women who gave up their children for adoption were, in many ways, promised confidentiality. So we have to think about -- as much as we like the happy ending story that these searches seem to promise, we do have to raise, at the first level, the ethical question of what about these women's or men's or larger families' right to privacy." -I guess if you're of the mindset that the only person worthy of privacy is the adoptee and that no mothers felt they were promised or wanted confidentiality then this comment is complete garbage to you but I think, at the very least, it would be helpful to acknowledge the fact that people/families like this exist and aren't as few and far between as people want us to think. Read a thread asking adoptees if their mothers were open or happy to be found, if they were immediately open and welcoming upon contact. In my experience, it's at least half if not more of the adoptees who were not welcomed by their mothers with open arms. Does it make it right? Maybe not. Is it reality? Yes.

"We never really know the full story of why someone has relinquished a child, and we can assume it wasn't an easy choice, no matter what. And to enter -- anyone who enters a search has to enter that process knowing that they don't know what happened. They don't know who's been told. They don't know what the circumstances were. And to find a third cousin and to begin a search backwards that way opens up the possibility that you're presenting yourself to family members who have no idea that this woman might have even been pregnant." -Hear this and believe it!

Hmm, reading through the transcript I could pretty much copy everything Leighton contributed. To me it all came across as balanced and realistic, an excellent assessment on adoptees using DNA services to find family.

Leighton definitely did not come across to me as an enemy, a traitor to adoptees, as only caring about herself and her own search. She didn't offer her personal position on the legal issue of one's birth record and kept her comments confined to the topic which was the use of DNA services by adoptees to locate family. She could hardly pretend there aren't ethical questions and concerns surrounding adoptees searching, especially when using a method that can involve 3 and 4 times removed relatives who barely know each other, if at all.

There was only one thing Leighton said that gave me pause and that's that Canada has no secrecy in adoption. Perhaps she meant in new or recent adoption and/or sperm and egg donation because there certainly is still secrecy and closed records in adoption here. I know this because mine are.

Lastly, I explored and enjoyed this link recommended by Greenspan and want to share it. The DNA Testing Guide .

Oh, and personally, I would use DNA to carefully ascertain who my biological father is. At this point, I am well prepared for anything I might find out. Well, except maybe for how much the DNA testing would end up costing.


Yeah, not my type

You know the type.

The type who is the perpetual victim, the type who is never responsible for anything because they are a victim. Oh sure, now and then they'll say they know they're imperfect, that they know they can be a bitch or an asshole, but they aren't truly sorry. They believe, being a victim, they're entitled to behave in any old way they feel like behaving. Something bad happened to me once, now you must all forever walk on eggshells around me. You must agree with everything I say. You must acknowledge my pain daily, cheer me when I lash out.

The type who tries to zero in on their perceived enemies' vulnerabilities, tries to manipulate and shame. Hit 'em where it hurts, or at least try. This type tries to get others to jump on the bandwagon by reminding them that they too are victims, that it's a shared enemy, that if you want to love me, you must hate and be hateful to those that I hate. You must never think for yourself, you must worship at the altar of my victimhood or be cast out of my circle.

This type never sincerely apologizes. How could they? They never think they've done anything to apologize for and if they have done something unkind or uncalled for, they are to be excused because they are victims and have it worse than everyone else. Life is hardest for them. Your feelings, needs, and experiences are unimportant to this type, even the needs of their own children can come second. Oh yes, I've witnessed this with my own eyes. One of the saddest things I've ever seen.

I'm sorry for everyone who has to regularly deal with this type. Nothing you do will ever be good enough, no mistake you've made will ever be forgiven. This type isn't capable of true generosity or compassion, capable of being genuine or grateful. My advice is to work hard against allowing them to poison your life, make you sick. To resist being drawn in by their taunts, their challenges, their attempts to control you, to make you feel badly about yourself and sorry for them.

I wish you the strength to stand up to them when necessary. The strength to say no way, you're wrong and I am not going to let you get away with, or encourage, your damaging, childish, self-absorbed behavior.

If you must cut them loose, do it, and don't let them make you feel bad for doing so. Too little too late and unless they completely own and are sorry for their actions, don't look back because he or she will be right there, planning their attack, figuring out how to draw you back in, trying to make you forget they are a teflon coated victim, make you think that they're just your type.


The holiday is over

The last day of a vacation is a weird one.

It's bittersweet, the fantasy is coming to an end, which is sad, but going home is always great. I miss my son. With the roaming fees for cell phones and shaky Internet connections I've had very little communication. It's only been two weeks but that's just me. I enjoy talking with him, getting a hug, having a laugh.

I had a cool moment yesterday. There's been more than that over the trip but this one is standing out in my mind. I had just gotten my daily, much loved, self-served mimosa to my table and promptly knocked it over, smashing the delicate glass it's served in. Sigh, orange juice and glass everywhere. The break was actually quite dainty sounding (not everyone in the restaurant stood up to gawk) but still, I was mortified at the mess I'd made. The woman who was to be our server started busying herself cleaning up the damage as I sincerely apologized (once or seven times), feeling genuinely terrible for causing her so much trouble.

The cool moment was when she touched my arm, looked me directly in the eye and said, in broken English, something like, "it's ok, ok?", with pure sincerity and kindness. As I nodded she gracefully moved to the next table, quickly prepping it for service, and gestured for my husband and I to come to that table. We gratefully moved over and sat down, my husband giving me the old, "there, there, it wasn't so bad my little klutz" as I pondered the possibility of this being an omen for the day ahead. "Are you going to go get another mimosa?", my husband asks. "Are you kidding? Not a freakin' chance", I respond.

We had just settled down and begun eating when there, magically, a brand new, delicious mimosa appeared in front of me, prepared and delivered by the sweetest server I have ever been fortunate to have had.

I will likely remember this woman forever. It's amazing how far-reaching a simple act of kindness can be.

Cheers to servers!