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 ‘birth parents’

. . . don’t tell secrets

I was conceived in secret, born in secret, and kept a secret.  Shhhh . . .  

We teach our children, “don’t tell secrets.” 

What do we mean when we say that?  What I mean with my own children is don’t tell secrets about other people.  Don’t hurt other people by telling secrets about them.  Don’t make up secrets about others.  Don’t put your hands up over your mouth, around someone else’s ear, and whisper something about someone else–something that might be hurtful.  Don’t tell secrets.

Why?  Well, would you like it if someone were whispering behind your back about something you said, something you did, something you wore to school, something about your hair or your shoes?  No.  We don’t like discovering others have been telling secrets about us–whether the stories are true or untrue.

You know what else, children?  Don’t keep secrets.  Why? 

Most people have said or done things they regret and wish they could hide or undo–myself included.  But keeping secrets can hurt you; they hurt and change you–inside and out.  This little nugget is maybe more for your own benefit little ones.  The very important secrets you try to keep–the ones you think No One can handle (a bad grade, a lost ipod, a misplaced phone, money thrown away, property you stole, a chore you didn’t complete)–turn into imaginary monsters that control your life.  Before you even realize it, you are spending an exorbitant amount of energy, thoughts, and concentration on keeping your secrets in the dark.  You might bury your secret successfully for a while, and then “Ahhh!”–something happens in your day that reminds you of what you must vigilantly hide.   Secrets keep you in fear of anyone ever finding out about . . . ?.

While I was in the womb, a decision was made–a decision to keep me a secret.  I can only imagine the feelings my birth parents experienced as they watched my birth mom’s tummy growing, struggled to keep life at status quo, explained why my birth mom was dropping out of college in her senior year, talked of returning to “normal” plans to marry once I was born and placed for adoption, tried to hide my presence in her body.  The stress of it.  I cannot imagine.  And then, once I was born and gone from their lives (so to speak), they were the only two (supposedly) who knew what had just happened.

I had happened.  The baby in me wants to say, “I’m sorry.  I’m so sorry for the trouble and pain I caused.”  The adult in me knows . . . I have no ownership in my conception, my birth, nor the effect my birth had on my birth parents.

Today, like them, I make my own decisions regarding my life.  I make some good ones, and I make some bad ones.
I make some decisions that seem like good ones at the time, . . . and then sadly hurt others around me.

One decision I have made is to not be a secret.  My adoption search and reunion journey kind of goes like this:  being a secret, choosing not to be a secret, being asked/threatened to retreat again as a secret (like a monster–no less).  This has damaged my heart and my soul.

As a child, my parents didn’t keep my story as a secret from me.  Thank God–they told me my story every day, whispering it into my ear; therefore, there was never a big scary secret monster revealed to me.  I simply assimilated the truth day by day.

My life and existence is well-known by my Creator, my extended family, and my friends.  My story, which began with my conception–not my adoption–is not a secret I keep, nor does anyone else in my family (including birth relatives who share their lives with me as just that–a birth/biological relative).

I am not a secret.  I am me–alive and well.  I went on  . . . to live . . . my life.

 

 

 

 

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Unexpected Experiences, Pt. 2

Interview for Graduate Assistantship within the University Studies College, 1 p.m., check.

I’m on time!  It’s a miracle prompted by my best friend sharing with me that my interviewer happens to be military breed.

Interview going well, check.  We discuss my journey to this point in life (ha!), what his department seeks in a graduate assistant, and more.

Interviewer mentions, “actually, you are sitting in the delivery room of the once upon a time Brookings Hospital right now.  Do you know how many people, I wish I had kept track, have come into my office because they want to see–as adults–the room in which they were born.”

Unexpected reaction.  The floor moves under my feet.  My eyes dart around the room and the walls, and I sense birthing.  I sense delivering moms, nurses, babies, . . . .  He can’t know what’s going through my mind.  I don’t even know what’s going through my mind, but this is part of it:

I was in a delivery room once.  Oh how I want to visit my actual delivery room.  Does it still exist?  Would they (who is “they?”) let me in to see?  Would I be restricted yet again from access to my own history?  What would I feel if I went there?  Would I feel her presence?  Did my parents know I was being born, or did they find about me a few days after delivery?  When did my birth parents leave the hospital?  Where did I go after I was delivered?  Can I seeeeeeeeeeeeeee?

They were all there in the delivery room, I’m told:  the mom, the dad, the nurses, the doctor, and then me.  And then,  . . . I was alone.  I am thinking and feeling that alone feeling while sitting 12 hours away from my actual delivery room of 1970.

Can he tell?  I know he can’t, but my insecure piece inside of me surfaces shame–shame that my delivery room experience wasn’t “normal,” and isn’t exactly the story he might expect from one of his many visitors.  For example, the prestigious and wealthy community man/bank owner of our town was delivered in this room and came to visit.  His birth parents kept him.

Thankfully, I am far enough in my emotional, intellectual, spiritual journey now, that I know God’s plan for my life is perfect and good.  Still, my story is so different.  I was given away–two sides to every story, right?  The delivery room was an end of family ties for me with one family, and a beginning of finding new family ties by day 7 of my little life.  Does that blow anyone’s mind?  It does mine.

I don’t necessarily feel good in this office, this delivery room.  It doesn’t give me warm fuzzies, sir.

Happy news–I got the job/assistantship . . .  🙂

 

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.

 

 

 

 

 

Goodbyes, separations, space, distance, silence . . . I need day

 On a good day, any of these can make me feel badly–hurt for a while.  I may get angry instead of allowing myself to feel hurt.  But on a bad day, a simple goodbye can send me hurling back to my birthparents leaving me–all the way back.

Yesterday, my parents said goodbye to our family after being here only 2 1/2 days.  They started the drive home this morning.  I was a wreck last night–curled up on the floor in tears, and still need a day today to recover.  😦  I am heartsick still.  Perhaps it’s just part of my process in accessing how I feel about being placed for adoption, because other times when they have visited and left, I’ve reacted in a proportionately normal way.  But this time, I cried like a baby by myself for a while, and then some while my husband listened.

It is a taste of being left/being rejected that I cannot tolerate.  And there are so many in my birthfamily for whom I have pined, searched, layed myself out–who have then chosen to keep me out of their lives, that I can’t bear letting go of almost anyone.  Here lies my “what is wrong with me” currently status:  being shut out leaves me almost physically ill/physically debilitated.  Being ignored/”left”/shut out makes me feel ashamed (as if there is really something wrong with me–that there was even when I was born or my birthparents would have kept me).  It leaves me feeling out of control and helpless to fix or change anything.  It leaves my self-esteem in a pile–that I am not worth the attention.

That one especially–that I am not worthy of attention.

I can tell that my “being left” wound is gaping as I can’t handle goodbyes in a movie today.  I can tell that my “self-esteem” wound is gaping as I am not even self-assured enough to be around my children.  I can tell that my “there is something wrong with me” wound is gaping as I see myself as not capable of producing something good right now.

I need a day to feel.  I will return to doing.  But right now, I need a day to feel the loss:  the loss that my parents went home which pricks open the reminders of the loss of my birthfamily.

Here is all of this that I throw-up/out, and I think of my daughter Naika and see that we are both coping in our own ways.

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