being adopted


Oocyte viewed with HMC

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Rob calls me “literal girl” because sometime nuance escapes me. I have often wondered if there had been an Autism spectrum when I was a child if I would have been slotted somewhere along it.

I make assumptions about the virtual people I know based on what they post and where they post it. If we are Facebook acquaintances, and your feed is a healthy mix of the personal and self-promotion, I figure that no question is purely rhetorical even at the crossroads of religion and politics.

Apparently, I am wrong about this. One can shamelessly promote causes and career and still feel that status rants are sacrosanct.

A blogging acquaintance roared a bit about the recent abortion scuffle during the almost shutdown of the U.S. government, which I personally feel has little to do with “life” and everything to do with stripping women of the few rights we still possess, and basically called out those of us who believe that women’s healthcare should number abortion among its many faces.

Why not just admit that abortion is about killing children, she asked. I would respect you more if you would simply own that fact.

I thought about it. And responded.

In retrospect, I shouldn’t have. The cheering section that followed her bluster was a clear indication that only those who believed as she did would be actually respected, but I responded.

Why? Because she asked for responses and because she’s wrong. Her position, grounded in motherhood and Christianity, presumes that those who support the ability to choose to abort a pregnancy think the fetus is a child or that life begins at conception or that the unborn have rights that supersede the woman’s before they are viable.

“You know it’s murder,” she responded.

But it’s not, in my opinion.

I don’t believe in any of that Christian nonsense.

Life doesn’t begin at conception. Existence does. And just existing doesn’t mean much. My late husband existed for months in a spastic body with a brain scoured clean of dura matter, taking in nothing, processing nothing and responding to nothing. That’s not life. The embryos left over from our 2nd IVF existed in cryo-storage for over three years before I gave permission for them to be discarded. Frozen potential but also not life.

I know the difference between life and existence. That’s the quibble and we are nowhere near ready to admit it or deal with it as a society.

But I also don’t think life is sacred. We are born and ,if the stars align properly, we live, happily or not so much, depending on a lot of circumstances of which a goodly number are not ours to control, and then we die. That which is me – truly me – continues on. Maybe my self is born again or maybe there is another plane of existence. I don’t know. But this one life, while I like it very much, is just a blip on a vast canvas and given what I have seen, read, watched and experienced in my short life, I have yet to be convinced that anything about physical life as we know it is all that special. We certainly don’t treat it as such on the whole if one excludes the moaning over potential life, which seems to attract far more interest than the real live children who suffer within walking distance of almost all of us every single day.

But the bottom line is that someone else’s religious beliefs shouldn’t carry more weight in the eyes of the law than my own where my internal works are concerned and forcing a woman to give birth (or to risk pregnancy because you don’t believe contraception is moral either) is wrong. Woman are more than potential incubators, which is what the pro-life movement reduces them to – slutty incubators with the maternal instincts of magpies. (And just as an aside, since when does using your vagina for sexual purposes automatically translate into allowing the government jurisdiction over anything that results?*)

And I said so. But that wasn’t, actually, where I messed up even though – according to someone who responded later – I was rude to have replied at all.

No, what I did was tread unwisely into the “why don’t women who don’t want their babies simply give them up for adoption because there are a lot of us out here who can’t have kids who could benefit from this.”

The unspoken companion fairy story spins off into the “win-win” weeds of how everyone gets what they want and a poor unwanted baby is loved and cherished.

I really hate it when it’s assumed that I was unwanted or that my birth mother was little more than a brood mare.

Being adopted, however, I take all sorts of issue with the idea that adoption is a panacea without consequences. There are oodles of studies supporting the fact that even newborns know their birth mothers, and how can anyone think that an infant separated from its mother and carted off by strangers doesn’t know it or that marks aren’t left as a result?

There is also the tip-toed about problem that, at its heart, adoption is a legal transaction that comes uncomfortably close to buying and selling a tiny human being, who will someday be an adult that the law still regards as a child where the adoption is concerned.

And finally, almost no one goes into adoption as a first choice. Unless you are Angelina Jolie, maybe, you likely adopted as a back up plan when biology failed you. There is nothing about this that makes you a bad person, but the disingenuous way many adoptive parents approach this obvious truth is insulting to adopted children. We know the truth. We only think less of you when you won’t admit it.

I am not a puppy. Here are my papers, bundle me up and take me home. Woof.

My birth mother was seventeen, Catholic and it was 1963. She had no choice but to put me up for adoption.

My parents were infertile. If they wanted a family, they had no choice but to adopt.

Kudos to my parents for never pretending I wasn’t adopted or that the reason for it wasn’t the fact that they couldn’t have biological children. It never mattered to me. I knew nothing else. I was torqued, however, when I found out as an adult that not only was I not entitled to contact my birth parents for a health history, but that my dad had torched all the papers the agency had given them that might have helped me find out the information I am entitled to.

Dad took that tongue-lashing with an uncharacteristic meekness, I might add.

What was annoying about the responses I received on my take on adoption (one I think I earn by being an adoptee and therefore knowing something of what I speak) is the consensus that I was “wrong” and “need help”.

Seriously?

Really?

“Aren’t you glad that your mother cared enough to give birth to you? Wouldn’t you just hate it had you been aborted?”

What kind of backward logic is that?

Being a fetus, or even an infant, is not something I can recall, so if I had been aborted, how could I possibly know or care about it?

And if I had been and being born was important to me, wouldn’t I have simply been born to someone else? Or what if simply being conceived was all I had to do to complete what assignment this go around had me down for? What if my only task had been to blink into existence and then cease to be in a cellular form. providing my birth mother with the opportunity to have an abortion, which was part of her life’s lesson plan?

Of course, I had a more active curriculum to complete and to help others with this time. Being adopted was part of that though I still feel it is just a slightly harder to justify form of the whole ownership thing we pretend doesn’t exist where our children are concerned anyway.

It’s too bad, I suppose, that abortions have to occur. They are no picnic for the women getting them either, and it’s incorrect to assume why women have abortions by stereotyping them in the same category as those who take established lives.  But life is hard. Choices can be hard, and abortion is one of the hardest and making it harder, or impossible, might make you feel like a good person but it doesn’t solve the issues that bring women to choose it now, does it?

*Ah ha, I hear the righteous squeal, then why do my tax dollars have to pay for STD and PG checks via Planned Parenthood? If you want privacy, take care of your own damn health. To which I reply, good point. And let’s add getting old to that because my tax dollars shouldn’t have to replace a knee or hip you didn’t take care of when you were young because you were too lazy to exercise, right? Or that heart by-pass or the diabetes you developed eating nothing but processed food. Or the cancer you have because you couldn’t suck it up for the hot flashes and took hormones for too long.

And while we are at it, shouldn’t you have to fund your own retirement? It’s not my problem you thought your house was an ATM or that your children need five star summer vacations, is it?

There are a lot of things that tax dollars cover. Bank bailouts. Sketchy military actions. Corporate welfare. The list of waste is long and shifts depending on your politics, faith system and socio-economic status.

Lighten up.


Goddess (comics)

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Reading Rick Riordan‘s new Olympian heroes series to Dee has only increased her polytheistic leanings. As we stood at the bus stop this morning reveling in plus 1 temps and a pleasant semi-Chinook wind, she wondered if perhaps the wind gods were angry and the blowing was a sign of their displeasure.

She has a habit of mulling before giving her growing philosophy voice. Perhaps I should have seen this coming, but it was still quite a surprise when she asked,

“Do you ever think you are a god, Mom?”

I frowned. Surely, a goddess would live a much fancier and risk-free existence than I was my first thought, but instead I asked,

“Wouldn’t I have super powers? Or be able to work magic if I was?”

“Not if your godly parents were hiding you for some reason,” she replied, smiling that pleased way she has when she’s puzzled something out and come up with – to her mind – the best explanation.

“Well,” I said, sitting down on her bed to level our eye contact, “I don’t think so.”

“You were adopted, Mom,” she explained patiently, “right? And maybe Zeus and Hera gave you to Grandma to keep you safe.”

“You think I am the daughter of the king and queen of heaven?”

“Oh, yes,” more pleased beaming.

“And does that make you a demigod?” I asked.

Dee longs to be a demigod. If she could choose her godly parent, it would be Hestia but as that means giving up me – and getting around the pesky fact that Hestia was a virgin goddess.

“Oh no, you had me with a mortal person,” she said. “So I am just mortal.”

“Okay,” I said, “but I don’t think that I am a child of a god. I can’t do anything special. No magic.”

She shrugged with her little secret smile that says “I know better than you” and replied, “You never know, Mom.”

Indeed.

From there the conversation rounded back to reincarnation. She simply can’t understand why demigods don’t choose to come back as “part of nature” like the satyrs and the dryads do.

“It’s good to came back as a tree or bush,” she argued, “because it’s part of nature.”

Rather enlightened for eight because most people hanker to come back and give mortal existence and a chance for the brass ring another go rather than simply contribute to the scenery.

Being a daughter of Zeus would mean dealing with a great many inherited personality flaws. The power to do anything positive would be lost in the struggle, I fear.

More interesting to me is Dee’s not quite voiced curiosity about my origins. Understandable. I am curious myself though not enough to undertake any quest for knowledge. I am still firmly anchored in my belief that my birth parents would not view my presence positively and that more younger siblings  (as there undoubtedly would be some) would add nothing good to my life.

When I was about her age, I spent a period quizzing my mother about my birth parents – my birth mom in particular. I wish I could recall everything Mom told me because she and dad were given quite a bit of information about them. Dad burned all the papers and Mom’s recall was incomplete.

Dad knew a lot. Occasionally he would let things slip but for the most part, he refused to part with details. He didn’t want us going off looking for our birth parents and he wanted our “histories” to be his history, a goal he largely succeeded in as I consider his family history to be mine.

But, it’s a bit annoying knowing that he had answers and chose not to share them because he felt insecure about his place in our lives.

There is a discussion in the blogosphere right now about adoption as the solution to abortion. Which is idiotic. Pregnant teens and young women have two choices realistically – keeping their babies or aborting – usually before ten weeks. Those ultrasound photos of babies at 16 or 20 weeks are so disingenuous when abortions are nearly always done before a “baby” emerges from the clumps of dividing cells.

Anyway, the debate centers on the awesomeness of being adopted. It’s a “win-win”.

It’s neither.

It’s a trade-off like most things in life are. There is nothing awesome about being adopted. It’s wonderful, I guess, but mostly, it’s been something to deal with in one way or other all my life. It’s neither a good nor bad thing. It just is. I can compare it to nothing as I know nothing else.

I don’t know what to think about Dee’s spin on my lack of biological heritage to pass on. Another thing to deal with that, hopefully, as she gets older she will lose interest in.

If I were the child of a god, however, I would choose Hestia too. She was the only one guarding the home fires when the war came knocking after all and who wouldn’t want a mother who puts family ties above all? Though, ironically, I had that in my dad and cannot say the same about my birth parents, whose obligations to me stopped at the relinquishment – that awesome thing they did.

Overwhelms the senses, but in the end it’s not silence but unanswered questions.


As in … it’s not all about her. In fact, adoptive parents, in general, can step away from the victimization angle any time now. I am tired of hearing about how marginalized they are by the red-necking DNA loving society that picks on their lack of genetically connected family.

Why? Because from the way I see it, in the adoption triangle, they are the ones that come out the overall winners. They couldn’t, or preferred not to, physically reproduce. They adopted. Problem solved. Birth parents are the ones who relinquish their rights and their baby due to circumstances that are beyond their control to alter. Babies, by the way, have no say, no rights and are somehow expected to deal with a loss they are too young to mentally or emotionally wrap their wee minds around and equally too young to verbalize – and later when we do, we are mollified with fairy stories and ultimately end up feeling guilty for not being more grateful for being saved from the fate of being raised by people who loved us just as much as our adoptive parents do.

Being adopted is an emotional Kobayashi Maru. The no-win scenario that can’t be cheated.

Normally, I can muster up a bit of sympathy when adoptive parents sound off about the annoying media practice of pointing out the genetic status of celebrity children. It’s unnecessary, but I get the curiosity factor that drives it because many folks don’t know anyone who isn’t genetically tied to the family who raised them.

But what irritates me to words is the victim feel to the rants of adoptive parents driven to blog or otherwise express themselves. Sarah Coleman is the latest adoptive mother to cry “foul” when what is considered the “alternative reality” of adoption finds its way into the mainstream.

Official party line is that though there may be bumps and adjustments, the adopted children are all right. And mostly, we are. We aren’t maladjusted. We live and love and don’t seek therapy or take psychotropic medications any more than those of you blessed with “flesh of my flesh” families.

Coleman had her panties in a twist over the new movie, Mother and Child, which tells the story of a birth mother, her daughter and an infertile woman who eventually adopts in a way that portrays – in her opinion – adoption in a negative light. But the reality is that there are birth mothers whose lives stopped in any meaningful way when they gave up their babies. There are adoptees who resent having been adopted for reasons as complex as they are as people. There are adoptive parents who will admit – without guilt – that they would have preferred to have had genetic offspring and that adoption was their second choice.

Oh, wait. That last thing. The second choice? Yeah, I’ve never heard anyone admit that. Even though it’s true.

And maybe that’s Coleman’s real problem. Her inner Queen Gertrude feels guilty? If so, she should get over it. It’s not as if adopted children don’t know the score and – news flash – we still love our parents anyway.

My bottom line is this – as the baby in the whole adoption scenario – I am the only one with a legitimate right to take offense and I’m not. Why?

I know that birth mother. She’s my youngest sister who gave up her daughter at birth. And I know that bitter adult adoptee. My younger brother. I know the woman struggling with infertility who saw adoption as the last resort – she would be me. They are not far-fetched inventions of Hollywood. We are real. Our point of view should get equal play.


I miss on out all sorts of atrocities because I don’t watch television. One that I recently discovered via Girl with Pen was a recent NBC show that culminated on Mother’s Day called America’s Favorite Mom. It’s one of those American Idol-ish contest shows with a “theme” and “ordinary people” contestants and that perennial American favorite, audience participation via voting. Or something awful like that. The reality show as contest genre is about as simple-minded as entertainment gets these days. I would personally rather watch reruns of Happy Days after Fonzie jumped the shark than any of these 15 minutes of fame shows. Read Full Article


My daughter was asking me today about St.Patrick and why he needed to drive away snakes. I was getting her ready for school at the time, selecting the proper combination of green to ward off pinches. I keep forgetting that her in Canada it is not verboten to discuss religion in schools, so Katy is often reciting to me the public school version of my own Catholic school education. To tell the truth, I don’t remember the circumstances that led up to Patrick’s expelling of the snakes. Patrick was not Irish but a missionary from Britain trying to convert the heathen Irish. His snake trick has more ties to the paganism in practice there at the time to anything he may have actually done. I told Katy I didn’t remember why which prompted another question. Ignorance is not an out. She just keeps asking questions until I know an answer.

 

“How did he drive out the snakes?”

 

“Magic.”

 

“Who helped him?”

 

“God.”

 

“So God was his assistant?”

 

I had to smile. It’s an odd way to put it but in a way she is right. God is just there for the assist. Everything else is up to us.

 

“That’s right.”

 

“Who is God?”

 

“He’s the one who created the universe.”

 

“How’d he do that?”

 

“I have no idea.”

 

This time she let me off the hook. Perfectly green and sure of her Irishness, she bounced off.

 

I’d forgotten that it was the 17th.  St.Patrick’s isn’t one of those holidays I paid much attention to even as a child. As a teacher, I took care to remember the days when I was expected to wear specific colors, but the emphasis on drinking that is so heavily associated with the day where I grew up and where I settled as an adult, really turned me off to marking the holiday beyond color coordination. One of the things that struck me about today this year was that Katy knew she was Irish. She is more Irish in ethnic heritage than she is any thing else thanks to me. But, this is relatively new information. When I was a child and a teen, I wore green not really knowing if I was Irish in any part at all. Being adopted, I did what I had always done which was to adopt my parents genetic make-up as my own even though I was clearly different in most aspects from the physical to the intellectual to personality. I was in college when I learned that I was indeed half Irish though I suspected from my red hair and fair skin that I likely was. Still, it was such a big deal to be able to say that my ancestors came from Ireland. Mine. Not the ones I borrowed. People who gave me a true genetic link to that far away island.

 

It’s just an odd thing that came to me today in an innocent moment with my child.