I have always loved to dance. As an adult adoptee, a bio mom, and an adoptive mom, I dance between love and loss regularly. I dance with joy over small victories and small signs of acceptance. I dance to escape pain and to avoid obvious rejection from my family(ies). Let me continue to dance with the pain, the understanding, the surrender, His plan, and not faint.

Posts tagged ‘adoptee’

Practicing Ekphrasis

 Practicing Ekphrasis

Reading My Birth Mom

For thirty-seven years of my life, I could only read who my birth mom was from a piece of paper with “Non-Identifying Information” on it.

Birthmom

Hair:  Light Brown

Eyes:  Blue

Height:  5’3”

Weight: 120

Nationality:  Polish

Hobby:  Dancing

I’ve been trying to define her, describe her, to find her essence, her form, to bring her to life.  My whole life.  As an adoptee from the era of closed records, I practiced ekphrasis (way before I knew what “ekphrasis” was) from this 8 ½ x 11 yellowed sheet of paper.  A representation of her.  In print.  Its edges and creases worn with years of wonder.  Memorized.

I hold on to her hobby.  I carry it on, still.  “My birthmom’s hobby was dancing,” I tell everyone.  Ballet (my favorite), tap, jazz, modern.  I earned toned and defined legs over my years of dance instruction.  Tendues, pirouettes, and pliés.  Pink ballet tights, pointe shoes.  My daughter dances too.  She carries it on.  “Dancing is in your blood,” I tell her.  Ballet, tap (her favorite) and modern.  She too, at age eleven has toned shapely legs.  She dances on stage, eyebrows lifted and engaged.  Easy grace.  Beautiful placement.  A natural turn out.

Dear birth mom, did you take dance lessons?  Did you walk to dance class or did your mom take you?  I’ve always felt connected to you because as a young girl I believed that my love for dance came from you.  I mean, that’s what the sheet of paper told me.  That’s pretty much all I had to go on until I found a yearbook picture of you when I was thirty-eight.

Reading This Print

https://i1.wp.com/www.londonartsgroup.com/images/040310_6468.JPG

This woman.  This print.  This representation.  She is not you.  She is Joanne Seltzer—daughter of Leo M. Seltzer, M.D.  She did take dance lessons and piano lessons in 1954.  I can follow the paper trail.

Check #1582 on 2/20/1954 for $90 to Mr. John Hiersoux for piano lessons.

Check #1846  on 10/26/1954 for $24 to the American Academy of Ballet for shoes.

Check #1914 on 12/14/1954 for $32 to the American Academy of Ballet.

Joanne Seltzer.  Pink parfait tutu—probably a poodle skirt.  Loose long and feminine hair.  But no sign of ballet in this print, no grande battements, arabesques, or pas de chats.  Instead, Joanne’s ghostly girly figure reaches see-through arms up, towards a partner’s neck, as if to hold on.  Did she learn ballroom instead of ballet?  Did she practice with her dad, Dr. Leo Seltzer, M.D.?

Dear birth mom, did you sometimes practice with your dad?  Did you dance with my birth dad?  I don’t like ballroom much, do you?

Reading the Backdrop

Dance lessons in 1954.  I imagine money for dance lessons was hard to come by in 1954.  But Joanne’s daddy was a doctor, and I (perhaps naively) assume the Seltzer family could afford dance and piano for their sweet daughter.  Still, in Joanne’s print—I read the backdrop of sacrifice in the backdrop of the checks her daddy wrote.

You sacrificed for me, didn’t you, birth mom?

In fact, that’s kind of the standard definition of adoption, isn’t it—the birth mom sacrifices raising her child to give the child a better opportunity in life.  My adoption story tells me my birth parents didn’t feel financially prepared to get married and raise a family.  They were both seniors in college at the University of Illinois—my birth mom in accounting and my birth dad in geography (going on to be a pilot).  They got pregnant in October 1969 of their senior year, and my birth mom dropped out of college. Her parents were befuddled and dismayed, I’ve learned; they never knew why and they took the mystery to their graves.  My birth parents never told anyone—not their parents, their siblings, no one in their family that I know of.   I can read the sacrifices.  My birth mom sacrificed finishing her college degree. She sacrificed her body for nine months and then more.  She sacrificed the joy of keeping and nurturing and nursing her first born child.  She sacrificed living in freedom and truth.

I know this print is about Joanne, but I can’t stop thinking about you.

I would read every letter of every paper trail of yours 1000 times.

  

Reading Natalie

The Doner auditorium goes dark, and I light up the paper program with my iPhone.  My daughter’s ballet routine is next.  Budding 5th grade girls, budding ballerinas in light pink leotards and tights under soft blue light, light blue sashes made of see-through taffeta float from the girls’ wrists.  On stage, her hair pulled up in a bun, held in by bobby pins, my daughter wears a little blue eye shadow, a little blush, mascara, and a little red lipstick—just to keep her from getting washed out by the stage lights.  I read Natalie as a leader on the stage.  She tells me she is nervous, but she knows what she is doing.  And without trying or forcing or faking, she expresses the message of the composition to the audience.  I can tell and I know—she feels a fullness in her heart when she dances. Gentle grace in her eyes, her legs–curves of muscle that match mine and match the dancing training she has taken so far, her arms and fingers extended . . . soft billowy poise. She communicates with her eyes to the other dancers on stage, her friends, and she shares herself as she dances.

Natalie and I read each other well.  She sometimes says exactly what I’m thinking, and vice versa.  I wonder about my mom.  When she saw me on stage at dance recitals, what did she see?  My biological daughter gives me moments of self-recognition and self-awareness I never knew I was missing.  I recognize my hands when I see Natalie’s hands.  I recognize the shape of my legs and arms when I see Natalie’s figure.  I recognize the hugs I give and like to receive when I hug Natalie.  And I recognize the many personality traits of hers that are also mine.  She writes.  She talks.  (My dad always called me “windy” growing up.)  She likes to learn.  She likes to read.  She likes to dance.  She likes music.  I recognize what I see.

Dear birth mom, do you give good long hugs?  Do you like to learn?  What else do my daughter and I have that is also yours?

 

Reading my Birth Mom’s Picture

I found a picture of her in my thirty-eighth year of life.  It wasn’t easy.  I chased a paper trail which began with my adoption file:  her upside-down, written in cursive, complicated long Polish name on the folder of a file (which I am not supposed to see), to a computer that tracks births and deaths in the state of Illinois, to a Polish obituary that lists my birth mom as a survivor, to searching on the internet for recent addresses and such, to digs into the archives of libraries for yearbooks, to finally a friend’s mom who still had her yearbook from the University of Illinois and found your picture in a sorority composite photo from 1968.

Dear birth mom, you were beautiful.  Simple stylish dark hair.  Petite young woman.  A beautiful smile.

I tried to see myself in you.  Everyone who knew me tried.  We compared smiles and hair color and eyes and cheekbones and ears and eyebrows and noses and chins and expression.  We poured over your photo.  The joy of seeing you in print.  The joy of imagining you as a sweet, full of aspiration sophomore at the University of Illinois recently pledged to a sorority.  When I look at your picture, I see the hope of your future and the terror of an unplanned pregnancy around your corner.  I feel like I want to say sorry, but I don’t want to apologize for my life, really.  I love my life.  Could I say thank you?

Dear birth mom, did shame make you a pink ghost?  Were you vibrant and visible before you gave me up?  Did your dancing attract my birth dad’s attention in college?  Your dancer’s figure? And now, do you regret it?  Because now, you hide.  You hide from me.  I found you.  I wanted to know you.  But you say you don’t want to know me.  And so I research who you are, I find images of who you are, but I can really only imagine who you are.  I found you, but I still can’t make you surface. 

Stuck in ekphrasis.

Wiki on Ekphrasis:

“Socrates and Phaedrus:

The painter’s products stand before us as though they were alive,
but if you question them, they maintain a most majestic silence.”

Your majestic silence breaks my heart.

 

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Unexpected Experiences

I told her.  “Put me at the top of your list, girl.  I wanna be the first one you call if you go into labor and need a ride to the hospital.”  I love babies, and I love her (my sweet friend).

Sure enough.  I got “the” phone call at 2:30ish a.m. a few nights later.  Her water broke.  ??  I hopped out of bed, pulled myself together (kind of) and picked her up.  She, herself, had only that very night packed her own hospital stay bag–just in case she went early.  And she did–two weeks early even.

So, I’ve given birth to four sweet babies prior and pursued and waited for our daughter from Haiti over a ten month period of time; and, I’m not unnerved by this situation.  Interestingly, she doesn’t seem to be either (too much, at least).  I have my own reasons why I believe she is taking this in stride.  My friend’s childhood into adulthood process, barring any strange or unexpected happenings during delivery, really was probably more difficult to handle than what she is about to face now.  And that’s a whole separate story; in fact, that’s her story to tell.  I”ll just tell mine.

We arrive at the emergency room close to 3:30 a.m.  I feel fatigue throughout my body.  She is focused and excited.  I’m wondering how she is feeling/if she is feeling pain due to contractions, as she shows no signs of such.

I think back to my first pregnancy.  The contractions woke me up.  My husband and I played cards until I was uncomfortable enough to know this was the real deal.  24 hoursish later–with a terribly painful and dreadful labor and two hours of pushing–our first boy was born via c-section.  Yes.  These thoughts go through my mind for this sweet young new mom friend of mine.  But, I keep them to myself.  🙂  She and her man have their own journey, and it is unfolding now for them.

We move from the emergency room to a kind of “testing?” room; the nurses there check her over–make sure that her water has truly broken (duh :)) and that she shows sign of labor.  As I sit alongside her–very Not pregnant, I recognize my role.  I am standing alongside her while her body and her baby do their thing.  This is my first time to stand alongside a pregnant woman about to deliver.

I think back to my birth parents.  How in the world did that all go down??  How in the world did she go into labor?  Where did she live?  Did she live with him?  Did she live with a friend or by herself?  Did her water break?  Or did she have contractions first like me?  Is the story of him being with her when I was born true?  Was he by her side as I am by my friend’s side right now?  I don’t know.  I don’t really have time to think about it much, and if I do think about it too much I will no longer be of much use to my dear friend who needs me.  Hmmm . . . .  What thoughts/feelings did my birthdad have to shut down and refuse to think about in order to be supportive to my birth mom and her baby as they did their thing?  Was he supportive?  How?

We move to the “Family Suite” where her baby will be born.  The place?  The same portion of the hospital where I visited (only a few years ago) my dear friends and their newly adopted little baby boy M.  My eyes and heart are flooded with images.

I wasn’t expecting to be ushered into that same place now.  I wasn’t expecting a phone call tonight.  I’m Not Expecting.  But we are now walking through hallways I once walked through with my dear friends (adoptive parents), a birth grandma, a sweet new baby in intensive care, extended family members and visitors, and a tucked away and hidden birth mom somewhere . . .  I wasn’t expecting to go there that night physically or emotionally.

I think back, in fact I can’t help from thinking back because the memories are flashing through my eyes, of my friend (little baby boy M’s adoptive mom) with red patches of stress on her neck.  Of her restrained (?) excitement over this precious new boy to add to their family as their first.  Of her feelings that she must dance (in front of others who are watching!) so carefully between loving on her boy and being thankful/respectful of his birth mom.  Of never having done this before–how to do it?  How to do it well?  Is there a manual for any of them?

Whoosh.  Focus.  I am here to help my pregnant and soon-to-deliver friend.

We get settled in the “Family Suite.”  She is in a much more comfortable bed according to her, and I am lying on the couch–hoping to catch a few zzzz’s before her man arrives and I exit the scene.  Interestingly, as the not Expecting one in the room, I can see signs of what is to come all around her bed–things she need not see.  All manner of contraptions exist under that comfy bed to assist in labor and delivery–things I did not know existed until just NOW even after delivering four babies.  That’s OK.  She is happy, her giggly self yet subdued, mostly unaware of her contractions, hungry, and tired.  I do not know what the next hours hold for her.  And again, I keep my mouth shut.  No need to share any stories of mine or anyone else’s labor and delivery experiences at this point; she is about to have her own.

Tests done.  Gown on.  Strap around the belly strapped.  Monitor on baby and on mama’s finger.  We are tired.  We both agree we would like to close our eyes and rest.  I try to and so does she.

I close my eyes, and now I have flashes of my birth dad (especially) and my birth mom in this very similar layout. My birth dad alongside my birth mom–perhaps tired, trying not to be selfish and talk about feeling tired, anticipating the birth of the baby, and nervous about how it will all happen.  I can’t really sleep yet.  My mind is whirring around what it must have been like to go through each step, knowing, at the end,  . . .

😦  the baby must stay.  The baby must stay.  The baby must stay here . . . .  We must move on . . .  The baby must . . .

“M . . . ” I mutter to my friend my lingering thoughts–about my birth parents, my parents, my friends who have three precious children through adoption . . . and my unexpected feelings surrounding this experience.  She understands.  🙂  She suggests I go if it is too much for me–making me too sad.  Sweet of her.  I’m fine.

I am not Expecting in the expecting room for the first time.  I watch the Expecting through different eyes.  Ghosts of my unknown labor and delivery and unknown feelings and voices of my birth parents keep me from resting; sharing my thoughts with my friend out loud, however, chases my ghosts away, and we both rest for a while.  🙂

Happy news–easy delivery, sweet baby, challenges ahead (as with any earth-bound soul),  . . .

 

 

To be Known

Recently, sitting down to work through a project (specifically a Bible study), I faced this assignment–and opened a whole can of worms:

“Fill in the diagrams below describing both the positive and negative influences from your grandparents and parents.  If you never knew your parents or grandparents, substitute the caregivers you have experienced.” (italics mine)

Trouble.  The directions kindly make room for someone who “never knew” their parents or grandparents, which would be a sad burden to carry throughout one’s life.  I started to think about kids who lost their parents to death, divorce . . . foster kids.  And how about adoptees?  We fit into this category of never knowing . . . I am an adopted person who “never knew” my parents or grandparents (my biological ones); and, the directions suggest I “substitute the caregivers” I experienced.

Ick.  “Substitute”  “Caregivers”  The words do not taste good in my mouth.  My biological parents are definitely in the category of parents who I “never knew.”  But, my parents who actually raised me are NOT in the category of “caregivers,” and I am not filling in this diagram with “substitute” parents.   I am filling in this diagram with my Family.

Ponderings.  Did I need/have “substitute parents?”  What was wrong with me that I couldn’t keep my first set?  And how do kids treat and view their “substitutes?”  A teacher cannot/chooses not to be in class one day, so the students all get a “substitute?”  All these words/thoughts mingle around in my head together . . . .

In a deep emotional place somewhere inside of me is the feeling that my birth parents left me because I was too much, too much to handle, too much trouble, too embarrassing, too . . . , and substitutes were then called.  If that pill is too hard to swallow, consider my daughter Naika instead of me.  We brought her home from Haiti (which is her first home) when she was 2 1/2; we brought her here because her birth mom (birth dad unknown) had to leave her/couldn’t provide basic nourishment for her.  It was “too much.”  So, my husband and I are substitutes.  Caregivers.  And not only are we substitutes, but we are obviously the “wrong” color, so everyone can tell she has a substitute.  Ugh.  Kind of raw, I know.  But also a fact.  The first ones couldn’t, so now we fill in.  Hmmm . . .

So back to the assigned work.  Here is the diagram . . .

“Maternal Grandparents

Grandfather                                                                          Grandmother

Positive Influence                                                                Positive Influence

 

Negative Influence                                                              Negative Influence

 

Paternal Grandparents

Grandfather                                                                         Grandmother

Positive Influence                                                               Positive Influence

 

Negative Influence                                                              Negative Influence

 

Mother                                                                                 Father

Positive Influence                                                                Positive Influence

 

Negative Influence                                                              Negative Influence”

I set out to fill in the diagram with the knowledge of my family and the limited knowledge I have gained of my biological family over the recent past 4 1/2 years.  As I do so, I recognize that perception skews reality.  However, I also recognize my perception is my reality.  So, I set out to “fill in the diagram” from my own memory, reality, and perception.

Here goes:

I have hard workers in my family (adoptive), people who remained in one field of work for their entire adult lives, remained in one home/town for their entire lives, a grandma who preferred order over chaos in her home–and one who preferred just the opposite it seems.  I have a grandpa who I’ve only heard stories about because he passed away when I was a baby, people who are good savers, who try to do “the right thing,” who are loyal, and people with a sense of humor–just to give a brief overview.

On my biological side, I find dancers, a grandma who “loved babies” I’ve been told, a grandpa who had a tender spot for “little girls,” military people, people who are emotionally frail (so I’ve been told), people who sever relationships, some very welcoming family members, and people who keep secrets.

My pervasive response to this exercise?  As I look back over my diagram, I see on my biological half several family members who never knew me, don’t know that I exist, maybe suspect that I exist, or refuse to know me.  And this is where I am stuck emotionally–in a place of not wanting to be known.

Over the past three years or so, I have been fighting the feeling of not wanting to be known.  A ha.  I have been jumping through hoops and crossing all sorts of boundaries to be known.  Strangers, family members, long lost friends, all sorts of people–I reach and I reach and I reach.  This is my reaction to being told by people I wanted to know and love (my birth family)–“We don’t wish to know you.”  😦

Now that I recognize this, I know what I am supposed to do; and, it’s not easy . . . .  I must sit with the realization/feeling that some people just don’t want to know me.  I am NOT comfortable with that.  Can I face not being known potentially for the rest of my life by people I biologically care about?  Given no choice right now, I have to (?) accept this.  And, can I recognize that the people who do want to know me are the ones worth spending time with and chasing . . . ?  What a switch.

My security blanket? . . . Remembering that God was present through “every single day” of my heritage.  “He was there . . . .  He knows every detail.  He knows exactly how you’ve been affected, and His expertise is reconstruction.”  He does not and cannot make mistakes.

 

 

 

 

 

October Baby Ponderings . . .

October Baby.  Have you seen it?

My best friend and I were so looking forward to seeing the movie!  We heard it was coming within driving distance and we made plans to go.  That night passed.  So, we made plans to go another evening.  That night passed too.

Subconsciously avoiding the movie . . . avoiding dragging ourselves through the emotions we both know all too well surrounding adoption?  Maybe.

However, at some point, I put October Baby in the “pro-life” box, and detached myself from the surrounding adoption issues we might view on the screen.  We purposed to go, again, and this time it was playing right in our home town!  No excuses . . . just a 5 minute drive.

Another dear friend of mine, Ruth, is a mom of two through adoption.  The three of us went to the pro-life movie . . . on the last day it played in our town.  Subconsciously procrastinating again?

“Please bring Kleenex,” Ruth texted to me.  I did.

I braced myself a little.  At a much different time during my search/reunion/lack of reunion experience for my birthmom and birthdad, I “accidentally” sat down with my husband for a “date nite movie.”  Juno was our choice.  I don’t watch commercials.  I didn’t know anything about the movie, and neither did he.  I think he thought it was a “chick flick.”  I was not prepared for this movie at all, and tears started flowing from my eyes . . . uncontrollable sobs within the first ten minutes.  Hubby asked if I wanted to leave.  No.  I wanted to stay, to imagine, to wonder what things might have been like for my birthparents.  I wanted to stay and cry.  I loveJuno; I have the DVD, and I have the soundtrack on my ipod.  Go figure.

So, expecting to get pummeled with raw adoption language from an uneducated (in adoptee stuff) film maker mixed with a solid pro-life message, I sat braced.

As an adoptee watching . . . here is what I Gained from this movie>>>

Validation.  At the very beginning of the movie, the adoptee experiences debilitating anxiety on stage.  Her body was frightened by its circumstances, and her brain drew upon past experiences that were frightening–her birth/attempted abortion.  From what I understand, parts of the brain override logical thinking when we start to panic.  So, even though the situation (being on stage) was not life-threatening, her brain interpreted the input of her experience as life-threatening.  I had my first panic attack in a Sam’s Club.  ??  Even though an adoptee cannot retell with words the experience of being separated (or in this character’s case–aborted) from his/her birthmom, the body remembers.  Validation of my own experiences as I watched hers.

Throughout the movie, I was validated by her anger.  She was sometimes alone and angry–not comfortable in her own skin. Other times, she was angry towards people she loved.  Her quirky and insecure ways of responding to even mild occasions of rejection from a best friend rang true to me as an adoptee.  Many adoptees are just that–angry at times, sensitive to even the appearance of being turned down/rejected/ignored, and insecure in relationships.

I giggled when she tried to share a hotel room with a “normal” and beautiful girl; the girl was rude, blunt, and judgmental.  And my little adoptee in the movie sat there listening to her hurtful comments, surrounded by her meds.  Yep.  Three or so little bottles of pills around her while she was being told by the “normal” girl how weird she was, how difficult she was, . . . what a pain she was to have around. I recognized myself in her–having my little bottles of meds around me.  She looked cute, and I understood.  Validation.

Validation came to me as she packed her stuff and took off on her own.  “No one,” at times, seems to get it.  Some of the journey is ours alone.  In fact, most of it is, I would say.  I have been blessed with a dear friend who is not an adoptee but can finish most of my sentences when I’m talking through my “stuff.”  She does get it, and I do not feel alone.  But she has painstakingly listened to me for Years, and she has never shut me off or out.  That is a rare friend, wouldn’t you agree?

I was wanted.  I was always told that my birthparents loved me soooo much, . . . and then when I went back to find them, be reunited with them, my experience spoke a much different message to me.  I was their secret.  They had buried me.

At the end of October Baby, the adoptee turns back to her father and says, “Thank you.”  He seems bewildered, and asks her, “for what?”  First, let me stop for a minutes to mention, his bewilderment at being “thanked” was touching.  As a parent now, I read all over his face that he did not understand being thanked for doing what he felt was his job/his responsibility/his calling in life.  As a daughter now, I saw my parents’ faces in his.  How can I explain this?  Well, sometimes people try to make an adoptee feel “grateful” for their parents–even more so than children who are biologically related to their parents.  I shake my head.  I already am thankful for my parents, just as any child would be/will be eventually aside from being raised in abusive surroundings.  Likewise, my parents aren’t necessarily “more grateful” for me than parents who have biological kids.  Do you understand?  We are family.  My parents are my parents, and I am their daughter.  It’s awkward to thank each other for being family, . . . like somehow one of us did the other a favor . . . :/

Anyway, my favorite part of the movie happened now:  She says, “Thank you.”  He asks, “For what?”  She says, “for wanting me.”

Kleenex, please.  It hit me.  I was wanted . . . by my parents.  THEY wanted me.  They WANTED me.  They wanted ME.  !!  And they still do.  They take my calls, they call me, they talk to me, they lavish me and our family in the ways they best know how, they support me, they visit us, they have loved me unconditionally my whole life.  Who knew?  🙂

That was a layer of healing for me.  Being unwanted the second time around by my birth parents, six half-siblings, and a couple more devastated me.  I couldn’t see past it for a long time.  It still hurts.  I still hope they will come around some day.

But, this little October Baby girl reminded me that actually I was/am wanted.  🙂  And not only by my parents, but I have a whole list of people who have wanted me.  I want to name them, and I’m afraid I’ll leave some out . . . but let me try.

My Grandpa and Grandma Stirrett, My Grandpa and Grandma Inyart, Uncle Dick and Aunt Donna, cousin Lori and her husband and kids, Uncle Charlie, Aunt Carolyn, Elizabeth England, Uncle Tom and Aunt Betty and their kids and their kids’s kids, Uncle Charlie and his kids and his kids’ kids, Uncle Roger and Aunt Yvonne and their kids and their kids’s kids, Uncle Roy and Aunt Marlene and their kids and their kids’ kids, Uncle Richard and Aunt Rosemary and their kids and their kids’ kids,  . . .

And then on my birthfamily side. . . Uncle Vic and Aunt Eleanor, Diane (still to meet) Aunt Frances :), Uncle Jim and his kids–Vicky, Chris, Judy, Aunt Martha and her kids–Paula and Phil, . . .

My husband, my kids, . . .

and my Mom and Dad.  🙂  Thank you ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^for wanting me.  🙂

Why I Run

Well, there are plenty of reasons that I run.  I run so that I can eat.  I run because I can listen to music when I run, and I do love music.  I run because I love talking with my best friend while we run.

Why did I start running?  That’s a little different.  I started running because I needed to feel my feet hit the pavement.  Several years ago when my birth family told me to stay away, I felt . . . emotionally aborted.  There was something really strange about being told by the two people (and my newly found siblings) who saw me come into the world to “stay away” that made me feel as if I didn’t exist–that I had no affect on people.  Perhaps because I had put so much energy into finding them and friending them only to bounce off of a wall, I felt as if my life just bounced off of people.  I began to wonder if I actually got through to anyone and made an impact, or if my efforts, my love, my care, my life just bounced.

Oh, it was a strange stretch.  I just remember two times waking up in the morning and not being sure if I were really there.  Since they were trying to blot me out of existence . . . maybe it was working? . . . I know I know.  It doesn’t make any logical sense.  But my posts typically aren’t logical.

My posts are my attempts to share my feelings.  Feelings aren’t right or wrong, remember?  They just are.  It’s what you do with your feeling that could be right or wrong.

That’s kind of the “common rule” about feelings, isn’t it?  I’m not sure yet if really applies to me, to adoptees who say what they feel.  It’s an interesting phenomenon that if an adoptee expresses feelings that are seemingly negative, angry, sad, or anything that is short of being thankful and happy, people abandon the “common rule.”  An adoptee, if he/she is not careful, could get labeled as a “good adoptee” or a “bad adoptee” based on what he/she shares.  Side note . . . I digress.

As I was running, the right things started happening.  I could feel my feet on the ground, and I knew I was not blotted out–but alive and physically well.  Running increases serotonin which I was low on because of the depression I was experiencing.  I took Naika running with me a few times because her brain is also low in serotonin levels.  I figured she probably needed the “pounding it out” as much as me, if not more.  And, I started to develop a vision for a goal.

If I couldn’t meet my birth mom, at least I could go to Philadelphia where she lives and run a 1/2 marathon there . . . for her, and for me.  I set a goal, I learned how to train for a 1/2, and I started looking into travel plans.

I have yet to fully understand exactly why I was supposed to go, but I know that I was supposed to go.  All of the details fell into place Divinely.

Thanks to Facebook, I was in contact with a high school friend who lives in a suburb of Philadelphia and is married to a lovely man who knows the streets of Philadelphia like the back of his hand. She offered her home, her upstairs office lined with books on all walls (as she is an English professor), picked me up from the airport with one of her adorable boys and her twin sister–who just happened to not be out of the country at the time like she usually is.

So–even before I ran, the connections of these two high school friends made my first-ever trip to Philadelphia so comforting because of the common connections we share of our home town, our high school, shared experiences growing up, etc.  Wait!  There’s more!  They both run! AND, they are adopted!  They both understand running and understand adoption “stuff” in their own evolving ways.  They understood that I was not there to site see in Philly, but to run a 1/2 marathon (my first) in honor of my birthmom and in honor of my long journey of searching, finding, and encountering pain.

They were amazing.  They both cared for me in ways that matched the personalities that I remembered from high school–a touch of familiarity for me in the city of brotherly love.  Without them, I could have felt “out there” in my birth mom’s current place of living–could have felt kind of “raw” and “exposed.”  Instead, I felt cared for–safe and loved by friends who knew me well.  #Blessing

Since then, I have run in two more 1/2 marathons, and I have a few more places that matter to me where I shall run, God willing.

Apparently, the running is in my genetic make up somewhere.  That’s nice to know.

Kind of starting to Lose It!!

So, . . . these things I know . . .

two of my birth family members (a brother on one side, and a sister on the other as far as I can tell) are involved in running/walking half/whole marathons . . . .

That’s it.  That is enough to make me crazy(ier!)

Why can’t I talk to them?  Why can’t I tell them “Wow!!!  Good Job!”

That is exactly what I would do.  Having completed three half-marathons on my own–fueled by the pain I felt of “no contact,” it absolutely blows my mind that my birth relatives would land where I land–pursuing running . . . .

I have a birth cousin who is married to a runner, even. 🙂  She is lovely.

I’m sorry.  But it’s riDiculous that I am Genetically related to a WHOLE group of people who match me in several ways; yet, I am not welcomed or allowed to converse with them

PAIN.  ANGER.   SADNESS.  Yes, Thankfulness for the friends and family all around me who invest in me daily.

I am both–I am my parents’ child and I am biologically their (my birthparents’) child.  Why can’t they recognize that I am both?

For example, I am the mother who cares for Naika, but I did not birth her!!!  I get this.  She is mine through adoption, and God formed her in her mother’s womb.  She carries the genes of her birth mom and birth dad (who we may never know).  It is truth.  I embrace it.  I can be her mom in all ways possible, except in a birth mom sort of way.

It just makes me crazy that I can see the similarities in tastes, conversation styles, looks, interests, etc., and yet I’m supposed to pretend that we are not related.

#that’snuts #to me.  :(((
Love, me

The Ball in the Machine

 

Pinball Machine Sequence Launched

A few years ago (about November of 2007–to be exact), I was “shot” like a pinball out of a pinball machine shute.  What happened?

Well, to be most exact and accurate, I was shot like a cannonball at birth; however, because of various circumstances (great parents who instilled in me a high self-esteem and God’s protection are my two best guesses), I survived the initial jolt well.  I was placed for adoption at birth.  Let me rephrase that; I was relinquished by my birthmom and separated from her, my mother whose voice I knew in the womb, whose heartbeat I recognized, whose breastmilk I could have detected amongst samples of nine others within twenty-four hours if given the chance (according to recent scientific studies), whose emotions I shared, whose nutrition I also received, and whose . . . secret I was, at the age of  . . . well, immediately.

Yep.  Immediately. From what I’ve been told, I was born with my birthfather at my birthmom’s side, she held me, and then that was it.  I spent three days in foster care.  After adjusting to that environment, I was placed in the cradle of my parent’s family tree.  Scientifically, more and more, research is showing that the baby is deeply affected by this.  Each change of environment, each relinquishment, and each loss develops a brain differently than the babies who are born and kept by their moms.  OK.  So, I was a baby.  I didn’t “know” what I was going through, I was just going.  And, to carry through the pinball idea . . . I was bounced by a couple of bumpers until I got to a safe place (to my parents who raised me and are the grandparents to my children today).

Here is the real bumper though, for me, it seems.  I heard the phrase “your birthparents loved you soooo much, that they . . . ,” and you can fill in the blank about placing me with parents who could provide well for me/give me what I needed.  So, when I felt compelled (as never before) to seek out these birthparents who “loved me so much,” never in a million years did I expect to be rejected again.  I thought they would be so happy that I found them, or that they had maybe been looking for me–that they would be as happy to know that I was alive as I was to find out from an initial report that they were alive.

Instead, my “aliveness” seems to have horrified them. I don’t know what to do.  They gave me life. They did not physically abort me.  I carry their genes.  I carry more of them than I even know because they refuse to let me know.  I would like to thank them.  My parents expressed a desire to thank them once they were found. . . .

Instead, they refusd to have contact with me, and they have refused their adult offspring (my younger six siblings) and others to have contact with me as far as I can tell.

This shot me out of the shute like a pinball.  Since that time (November of 2007), I have bounced from one bumper to the next (again).  Can you picture a pinball bouncing all over the machine from one bumper to another?  That is what I have been doing ever since I searched for them (with my parents’ and my husband’s blessing) and they said “no, thank you.”

Why have I been bouncing off of bumpers?  One reason:  to numb the pain.  Fill in the blanks.  If you are an adult, you know what kind of self-medicating options are out there to try.  I have tried many, thank you.  Another reason:  in hopes of being wanted.  Fill in the blanks.  If you are an adult, you know what it feels like to be “wanted” in several forms.  I wasn’t wanted twice by my birthparents.  That was hard to swallow.  So, I have gone wherever I was potentially wanted.  Another reason:  I lost my rudder of “your birthparents loved you soooo much.”  That was a truth in my life revealed to be a lie; and believe me, I still hold out hope that I am wrong.  I hope beyond all hope that they really do love me soooo much.  Yet, to me, loving your family looks very different from what I have experienced to date with my birthfamily; but I will probably still always keep hoping.

It is strange and sad to me how being a pinball has affected my life and my family for the last four and a little more years.  I want to chant “four more years, four more years, . . .” and then say “No Way!”  I do not like bumping up against bumpers.  Although, I will admit, the bumpers hurt and the bumpers teach.  Apparently, I learn best the hard way.

Still, I don’t want my life of being a wife and a mother of five to be defined as a ball in a pinball machine.  That trajectory that took place not only once, but twice in my life, must be tapered.  I do not regret (strangely) the “bumpers” that I encountered.  No.  But they can no longer be the definition of my life.  Right?

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