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 ‘identity’

. . . 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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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.

 

 

 

 

 

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?

Even our Mac computer can tell . . .

While I was gone for a weekend at a conference, my husband began setting up our new Mac computer.  Check this out.

He was working on transferring photos from the old computer to the Mac.  The Mac has a FaceFinder on it.  Once you tell the Mac who someone is in a picture, it will search through all of your pictures and ask you if these other photos include that person too.

So, my husband typed in Jamie Nagy as a face to recognize in a photo, and our Mac began searching through photos to find more of me. . . .

I got a text from my husband saying, “Wow.  Your sister really looks like you.”  I texted him back asking why he was mentioning that now.  He answered that our Mac pulled up my sister for a few pictures on the FaceFinder–“thinking” that maybe she was me.  🙂  And, on one picture in particular . . . my husband (of 19 years) couldn’t tell/had to stare at it for a while to tell if it was me or her.  :).

Our Mac knows.  🙂

Psalm 69:4

It says, “I have been forced to restore what I did not steal.”

I came across this verse in church on Sunday, and it speaks to my search.  I did not steal my history from myself.  It was stolen, sealed, locked away, only to be seen by social workers–even 24ish year old social workers’ eyes were privy.

I came to a place (triggered/inspired by adopting our own little girl from Haiti) where I wanted to restore what had been stolen–knowledge of my complete identity.

I know who I am in my family–my adoptive family.  I don’t have to research and dig to define myself within that family.  And, my ancestry is only a few questions away in that family.  I can just ask my aunts and uncles questions about whatever I want.  We talk.  I love them.

But my birth family is a completely different matter . . . if I want to restore what has been taken/hidden from me, I must fight tooth and nail as most of them still choose to deny me.   I am thankful for the internet, and for the sweet sweet birthfamily members who have opened their hearts to me and consider me family.  We can talk, and we do a little.  I love them.

I guess I’m a little angry . . .

I’m still reading that book . . . And I know it’s got the right stuff in it–the good stuff.  I’m stuck for just an hour or two.
Direct quote from Questions Adoptees are Asking:  “If we were created by God from the very fiber of our birth parents’ physical and emotional beings, don’t you think our need to think about them would be innate?  If we had primal conversations with our mother in the womb, wouldn’t you say it is natural for us to think about her as we are growing up and growing old?  And if our birth father’s DNA helped determine the color of our hair and yes, wouldn’t you say that he is just as much a part of us as our mother and it is normal to want a relationship with him?”

Then a little later, she writes, “So what must we do for ourselves?  What healthy choice must we make to move closer toward who we were created to be by a loving God?”

Here is where I discover some anger inside of me.  What must I do for myself??  Are you kidding me?  Me, the baby, . . . my adoptive parents have given me money for the search, my husband gave me cash for my birthday towards the search, I have driven to search–all over Illinois and St. Louis suburbs (even around Orlando in search of a YMCA where my 1/2 sister and her son might be!) which equals time and money away from my own husband and five children/business/two dogs. . . . .  I have sat in an office in tears with a social worker who has SPOKEN to both my birthmother and my birthfather but could not/would not release any identifying information to me.  I have sat in tears across the table from a social worker who had my FILE in her hands and could not release any identifying information to me.  I have two search angels who walked me through the search/journey step-by-step and once I had the smallest bit of identifying information started to search/find for me . . . volunteering all along the way.  I have spent HOURS digging for my family on the computer, ENERGY and COURAGE to make phone calls/inbox messages/emails/send friendly presents/jump through many many hoops to find and know them.

So what am I mad about?  I know this is a rebellious spot that I am in . . . .  I was doing better . . . just need a space to breathe this breath:  I am angry that I now have to fight to make healthy choices.  Me.  The baby me.  I made many healthy choices as a teenager/young adult/young married woman/prior to finding my birthparents and being told to stay away.  Post-search, however, I now struggle.  There is pain to anesthetize that I don’t think was there before–at least not so acutely.  I was pretty busy being “really good.”  So, I must make healthy choices while I am in pain?   I am angry at how much responsibility falls on my shoulder to heal from a choice that was made for me, not by me.  And their choice to place me for adoption was followed 37 years and about 4 months later with another choice to place me STILL . . . outside of their family.  :((

I know this rejection to be a source of my pain because in contrast, I have precious birthfamily members who– once found, embraced me.  They do not cause me pain that I then need to anesthetize.  I trust them, and I am amazed at how each time we talk, I feel their love and assurance that they accept that I am also one of them/part of them.  I have a dual identity.  And I LOVE both sides of my identity deeply.

It is the rejection that drives me to anesthetize, not the acceptance.
It is the rejection that leaves me feeling victimized, not the acceptance.

Finally, in her “action” portion of this chapter, she suggests that I write a letter to and from my birthmom and birthdad . . . “even though they’ll never be sent.”  I sensed anger at that . . . feeling as if she is telling me “you better not send them.”  And in fact, I probably shouldn’t.  But sometimes I’m not sure why.  They are just people.  Why should I be afraid to communicate with them/send them a letter–write them letters that I never send . . . .?  I just don’t understand.

Here is the “good: adoptee–wrapping up for the rebellious one above:

I KNOW better.  I have tender thoughts and accepting thoughts towards my birthfamily.  And as soon as they would want to know me (if they ever do), I will jump to care for/about them.  🙂  And, I love my adoptive family dearly . . . . would never not want to be theirs/be with them/know them.  And I am thankful for the family I have now with my husband–would never want us all to break apart.  These things I know.

In the meantime(s) which I think are fewer and farther between, I get angry/sad/chaotic/and feel unattached.

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