Adoptee Rant

It's no secret my mom and I have been struggling with our relationship over the past several years.

Even more than normal.

I've been trying to deflect, defuse, defer and detox but something always happens to whip me back up again, mom manages to twist the knife just enough more to hurt me, which sets me off.

While applying bandages to our most recent scrap, my being adopted and meeting my biological mother came up. Again.

I cannot tell you how much this bothers me.

It seems no matter what I say or how I say it, my mom is incapable of looking at herself as being responsible for our tumultuous relationship, looking at herself as being the reason I have so much resentment toward her. It's just the way she is.

Problem for us adopted kids is is that being adopted is the perfect get out of jail free card for people like my mother.

It's one of my biggest pet peeves with the Primal Wound Theory, that those of us who are adopted are inescapably damaged. What if Verrier made some mistakes as a mother and her adopted kid happened to be the one who rebelled, more because of her personality than her adoptedness. I would even go so far as to say ok, because of our adoptedness, sometimes we adoptees might be extra resilient which could make us a little feistier but there has to be somebody setting us off. Somebody like a parent who refuses to look at what they may be doing wrong.

My mom wanted to adopt another kid and I'm what she got. I don't owe anyone anything for having been adopted. I'm lucky I survived after being left alone at a hospital, my well-being in the hands of the fickle finger of fate. I'm grateful for all the good things in my life. I am a competent, independent, thoughtful fifty year old woman and do not fight with my mother because I'm adopted or because I met the mother who gave birth to me. I fight with my mother because she is difficult, self absorbed, and incapable of compassion and empathy for others.

Please, look at yourself before you look at your kids when trying to find a reason for your poor relationship with them.

Apologizing to your kids and taking responsibility for your parenting mistakes goes a very long way in building trust and communication, not to mention sets a great example. One of the best things we can teach our kids is how to admit and own being wrong.

If you've never done it, you clearly need to because we all make mistakes.

Adoptive parents, despite all the crap you read, it may very well be YOU who has issues, not your child.

If you can't even entertain the possibility of that being true, I pity your kids and hope they are as resilient as I am.


(Still) The Perfect Dad For Me

Reposting. Again.

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.


Hear me

If you could just realize that this is the only you you've got.

If you could just figure out how to embrace yourself, accept yourself. If you could just understand that we need to surround ourselves with people who want to appreciate our best self. It's all anyone can do, put their best self forward. 
We can't force others to appreciate and love us in a way that we desire. We can make our needs known and then it's out of our hands. It will be what it will be. It will be enough, or not. The people we love will care how we feel, or they won't and we can choose to take it or leave it, decide if the good outweighs the bad. 

We are far more than how our parents treat us. We are impacted, influenced, and shaped by our relationships or lack thereof with our family but ultimately, we are our own person. It's incredibly freeing to say, here is my best, take it or leave it. Relate to me in a way that is good for my spirit and if you don't care to, or, at the very least, bother to try, I will limit or eliminate entirely the time we spend together. If I choose to allow you to stay in my life, accept the fact that in not caring about how I feel and what I need,  you will affect the me you get, affect how I relate to you, how I love you.

There comes a point when we need to be completely honest with ourself and accept when someone will never become the parent that we want. A point where we stop trying to be something we're not to win the approval and appreciation of someone who'll never approve or appreciate.

I don't mean stop being good and kind and true to ourselves, I mean stop expecting or yearning for an appropriate and fulfilling reaction to our best self.

Be your best self for yourself and if you are fortunate enough along the way to touch others in a way that moves them to show their love and appreciation in a way that we find meaningful, it's what love and life is all about.

Some of us will not have the parental relationships that dreams are made of but it doesn't have to prevent us from experiencing very real and meaningful emotional connections with other people,  we just need to keep the parental disappointment from hindering us in putting our best self out there for the world. 

If we can manage to appreciate and accept ourselves, we will find that others will begin to also, maybe even some of those parents who previously were impossible to reach.

Or maybe not, and if not, it's their loss.


Who killed the cat? Curiosity, stupid.

Reposting, from here Just because.

Are adoptees who don't feel especially curious about their biological heritage suffering from low IQ's? Are they unnatural, brainwashed, shut down, or paralyzed by feelings of abandonment?

No. They're not.

They say curiosity is a sign of intelligence. That may be so. I know something else that is a sign of intelligence, the ability to look outside your own experience. The ability to learn new tricks.

There are many, many people who just aren't that curious about their heritage. Some of them need only talk with their parents or visit an aunt or uncle to learn about it. Some can easily hit Ancestry.com or a local library and find all sorts of family background and info. But, they just aren't all that interested, not that curious. Does this make them stupid? Of course not.

I know some will say, well, that's because they can, they know who their real parents are. To that I say, so what? Some adoptees feel like their adopted parents are their real parents, end of story. They feel and see themselves no differently than other people. Why should they be held to a higher standard than everyone else?

Curiosity about circumstances of birth and relinquishment is not surprising, but it isn't a reflection of intelligence. A person uninterested in "what happened" or who their immediate or distant biological relatives are could very well be curious about many other things, things that are far more important to them personally.

It seems to me that when it comes to curiosity about one's own circumstance of adoption and/or heritage, it can vary in degree. It can be nonexistent. It can be mild. It can be all-consuming. It can be both mild and all-consuming from one day to the next, from one hour to the next. It can be stifled due to outside influences. Lack of curiosity can remain in spite of outside encouragement to be curious. It can be there when we're young and vanish when we're older. It can be nonexistent in our youth and then overcome us when we have children.

I've read harsh judgements on adoptees searching for such a frivolous reason as "just being curious". I have had to question myself about this, if simple curiosity was a good enough reason to potentially disrupt the lives of others. It's a big fat no-no in some circles to search out of curiosity as opposed to searching to find and embrace our real parents and/or a new or different family.

For some adoptees just seeing a picture of their parents would suffice. For others, an explanation for having been adopted and a picture, never really feeling the need to actually meet anyone. There are adoptees who want full blown familial relationships with their biological relatives. None of it is wrong or an indication of intelligence or necessarily a reflection on anyone else. To say so, at best, is not very nice. At worst, it's not very smart.


Ohhh so that's all I need to do to find out who my (other) daddy is

Something I don't understand about some adoption reform activists is their determination to always paint everything as black and white, to over simplify, to make useless (sometimes embarrassing or insulting) comparisons.

There is nothing about unwanted pregnancy, adoption, adoption reunion that is simple and when we declare things should be this way or that, it sets people up for failure and misinforms or misleads Joe Public who has no hands on exposure to the issue of adoption and reunion, sealed records, adoptee or parental rights.

We can not like a circumstance we find ourselves in and most times all we have control over is how we react to it. This lesson in itself is hard enough to learn and remember, how is it helpful to have our heads filled with mommy magic notions? Or told that if we just did this or did that, poof we'd have access to our heritage, our birth records, or medical history?

Talking about the fact that adopted people should have the right to their own personal information about their birth and familial medical history is a great things to do. Romanticising it or saying if we would just stop waiting for our parents (adoptive) to die before saying what we think or want everything would be rainbows and unicorns, to borrow a common adoption reference, is counterproductive. I think we need to look at the situation with as little bias as possible, as much understanding and compassion as we're capable, and with the intelligence to know how very complicated and situation specific unwanted pregnancy, infertility, and adoption is.

My mom (adoptive for those that don't know I refer to the woman who adopted and raised me as mom) gave me the newborn picture my biological mother left for my parents in my 50th birthday card. When I look at it and think about that baby being left alone and at the mercy of the government and hospital I thank my lucky stars for how well things did go for me. It's amazing that I am ok and I am proud of myself for surviving and at times, thriving.

Adoption and any resulting reunion is unpredictable. I nor anyone else can tell you what will happen, how involved parties will or should behave. All we can do is talk about our experience, if we want to, and respect that others' circumstances are different from our own.

Nobody loves me, everybody hates me, think I'll eat some worms

I have been so depressed lately.

I have somehow managed to allow my self esteem to take quite the beating.

There's such a fine line between listening to people's criticism in order to improve oneself and letting oneself be destroyed. I have always struggled with knowing whether I am actually feeling sorry for myself, being hypersensitive, or if I am actually being treated poorly.

I suppose the source of criticism or disappointment is an important thing to consider. As in, we value some people's opinions more than others. Even still, sometimes we may not value a person's opinion but their insensitive or unkind behaviour is extremely difficult to ignore, to internalize. It still hurts and is capable of shaking our self esteem.

I think part of what's happened to me lately is that I have kept in my disappointment, my anger, my hurt and strayed from my proven method of coping with the day to day disappointments in life.

I am not normally the type to give the silent treatment. I want to fix things now, not let them stew. I will give in or compromise to achieve harmony. I will also own and apologize for my culpability. I will weigh the benefit of putting an end to an argument and give someone I love and respect the benefit of the doubt. I don't like getting the silent treatment, and I've learned it doesn't do me a damned bit of good to force myself to give it.

I am turning 50 soon, something that doesn't bother me as far as age goes. In fact, after having breast cancer, I am extremely happy to get as many years older as I possibly can.

It does bother me to turn 50 with a negative opinion of myself. To turn 50 with less confidence than I had a year ago. It does bother me to turn 50 still needing outside validation to have healthy self esteem.

I don't think I am capable of having a healthy self esteem on my own but then forced or less than sincere demonstrations of love and appreciation mean nothing to me.

Personally, I think sometimes my need to feel special, valued, important, makes me act in ways that ultimately afffect my self esteem negatively. Hell, I don't think it, I know it.

Life ain't easy, is it?

I quit!

I had a milestone in January. I achieved a full year of being a quitter, quitter of cigarettes that is. Its such an unbelievable thing to me. I clearly remember all the times when I was smoking that I would wish that I magically just didn't smoke because the thought of quitting smoking was just too daunting, a completely unreasonable, unattainable goal.

Now, well, I did it. It's cool. It's weird. It's quite the feat.

Watching TCM was killer at first, mildly annoying now. Man those old time movie stars could make having a smoke look good and do they ever smoke alot! It's helpful there's no commercials so there's no time for a smoke break anyway. Mmmm...just picturing them.

I love smoking. I cannot believe cigarette companies can't come up with some kind of cigarette that's good for us. A smoke that's filled with omega 3's and antioxidents that would be as healthy as an apple a day.

That'd be sweet.

I don't miss being controlled by cigarettes. Thinking ahead, conserving, planning, hiding, freezing, stinking, craving...oops, to be totally honest the cravings I do still get now and then but nothing like in the beginning. I never thought I would get to a place where I could go a day without craving a smoke, but I have. Course, I am dying for one right now because I am thinking about it but these days, it's easily controlled. Huge, deep breaths work as well as anything.

I didn't use any smoking cessation products. Unless you count the gum I used a few times. It really burns the throat though and the one I used didn't exactly taste good so, no worries about becoming dependant on that.

When I was smoking, I knew there was no pill or hypnosis or laser treatment that would help me quit. I wished there was, but I knew that I liked smoking tooooo much. It had to be me all me, my stubborn, determined, resilient self that would have to step up to the task and really want it and suffer for it. I also knew wanting it for myself wasn't enough but when my son said to me, "Mom, now will you quit smoking?", that did it. When I said yes, that I would quit now, I knew I had to.

It helped to know I was perfectly capable of getting cancer. I think there are some people who are immune and couldn't it be possible I was one of them? Possible perhaps, but not the case. I was lucky enough to find and treat an invasive cancer before it invaded so who was I to keep on keeping on when the universe and the medical community were intent on keeping me alive, for now.

I think that was another big factor that contributed to my success in quitting smoking. Shame. I was quite ashamed to be smoking while all these people were working to get rid of my cancer and it felt real good to say I was a quitter at my radiation sessions, oncologist and surgeon appointments. Everyone was super supportive and really never appeared judgemental. Very cool people.

SO, if you're trying to quit, or trying to stay quit, keep up the hard work cause hard work it is!

If you know someone who is quitting, give them tons of support and encouragement. It really is a big deal to quit or try to quit.

If you've tried and haven't quite succeeded yet, don't be too hard on yourself!! It's ok to try again if you want, to try as many times as you want. If you mess up and have one smoke, just start over!

Quitting smoking is as difficult as it is enjoyable to those of us who love smoking but just remember, if I could do it, anyone can.

Deep breaths.