You have to start somewhere…

Wednesday, February 20, 2013
UM

UM

UM has been silent for quite awhile.  Things were going on that I won’t go into here.  Do I want to start writing my blog again?  To be honest I’m not sure.

Do I still believe in adoption reform and adoption activism? You bet.

I am encouraged by all the great voices that are out there. All the people that are starting to get it.  All the people who call individuals and institutions out when they spout the old adoption party line – ignoring all the voices, mainly adoptees and mothers, that say the party line is inaccurate, self-serving and offensive.

I think slowly things are changing.

I’ve seen many, many posts that I wanted to pass on but didn’t so today I am going to do it.  because, as I said, you have to start somewhere.  One is about adoptee anger and how it just may be justified and the other two are  about the burden of being told you must feel grateful for being adopted.

Here they are. All written by adoptees:

Why Anger is Necessary

and

Who Is Entitled to My Gratitude

Adoptees’ Perspective on Love

And one more, also by an adoptee, that kind of reflects how I feel sometimes.

Adoption Doesn’t Feel Real

Peace

UM

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T is for That’s My Boy!

Monday, November 28, 2011

NaBloPoMo Blog#432 Day 28

adoption, reunion, reform, realiTy

A few months ago, my son woke up and decided a really good thing to do would be to go on Twitter and trash his mother.  Not the other mother, the amother, but this mother, me.  At the time it happened I had had no involvement with him for  almost two years, not since the last time he decided to trash and accuse me (and his father) of things – although that time it was to my face, more or less,  via email.

As things sometimes pan out, when he decided to Twitter-trash me the universe had my back.  A friend discovered what was happening.  I used to have my UM Twitter feed appear on this blog.   I guess he found the address there.  She got a new follower and somewhat uncharacteristically checked him out.  To her surprise, she discovered many, many tweets about me.  And they weren’t very nice.

She had faith in my intestinal fortitude so she let me know.  I went in and read a few things.  Checked out who he’d followed from my list – a few Moms, a few adoptees.  From what I saw, same old stuff.   I got in touch with the people on my list and I forwarded the link to a few people who knew what had been going on with him for a few years but hadn’t ever seen it live and in person, as it were.  Then I decided better to just let it go.

However, that was not to be. The responses I got back from the people I sent the link to were a bit worrisome.   For example:

“My heart aches for you.”

“I started to cry when I was reading this.”

“OMG, are you alright?”

And from the less reticent – “Fuck him!”

This made me think perhaps I ought to check this out a little further.  Without reading, I printed them up.

Twitter

There were six and a half pages.

That is a lot of talkin’ trash about me over a couple of days at 140 characters a shot.

But even though I had the six and a half pages in my hand, I still was not going to read.  That honour fell to, you guessed it, my husband.  As I told him, I don’t want to read these but I think somebody should.  My husband is the most objective person I know.  Annoyingly secure, as I tell him frequently.  So he, who has never demonstrated anything but kindness to my son, read and reported back.  Told me about the things he’d said.  Same old stuff but a few new wrinkles. The tweets started two days before what would have been the 24th anniversary of our first meeting in 1987.  Our reunion fell apart on his birthday in 2005.  I stopped talking to him in 2009 because he just kept attacking me and twisting everything that I said.

Armed with these six and a half pages of tweets, I thought about what to do next.  I seriously, and I mean seriously, thought about putting them in an envelope and mailing them to his adopted parents or the companies he does business with or some of his friends.   I thought of sending one of the six pages to him with Really? written across it.  But I only thought about doing it.  I didn’t do it. 

I can’t help wondering if someone is encouraging him to think and act the way he does.  Maybe its his adoptive parents or one of their friends or a happy adoptee girlfriend.  Maybe one of those adoption hearts and flowers  therapists.  Or maybe he is doing it all on his own.  Who knows.

I only read three tweets myself but they were a pretty good example of what I am talking about.

In his very first tweet he talks about how when he came here to meet me for the first time, I dragged him around like “some kind of trophy.”  Of course, I would say I was proud of him and wanted him to meet all my friends, welcome him to my life, treat him like a member of my family but I guess I was wrong.

In another, he refers to my daughter as his “half-sister.”  She was born after I met him.  She never thought of him as her “half brother”  just her big brother.  No one in our family has ever thought of him as half an anything.   He is my son.  He is her brother.  She was very hurt the first time he vanished from all our lives without any explanation to any of us.  Insensed, that anyone would even ask him “Why?”

And finally, I read a comment on my morals.  Or lack thereof.  According to my son, my morals are no better than his father’s (???) because I admitted that in 1978 when his father unexpectedly showed up where I was attending law school, he put the moves on me and I was tempted.  Sometimes I think adoptees forget or don’t realize there was a living breathing relationship involved in their arriving on the face of this earth. But that is another post for another day.

Sure I was tempted.  But his father was married and so was I.  And even though my husband was living in another city and I had, as the cops would say, opportunity, that didn’t change the fact our son had been given up for adoption.  No thanks.  Not interested in picking up where we left off and acting like nothing had happened.

But am I confused here?  If you are tempted to do something that you probably shouldn’t do and you don’t do it, isn’t that a good thing?

In my view, anyone who would do this has a great desire to hurt and humiliate (read shame).  Shaming – That’s adoption old-school.  Most of us gave up that one when we decided to come out of the adoption closet.

When my friend (and fellow blogger) found the tweets for me, she asked my permission to do a post about it and she did.  With my agreement she didn’t identify me at the time out of respect for my privacy.  It was all pretty new and raw.  That someone was directing that much anger at me, particularly someone who is my son, was upsetting.  I’ve never had that happen in my life before. But something always felt not quite right about the non-identification of me as the recipient.   Like I did have something to be ashamed of.

He wrote me a very nice New Year’s message once, a few years before the trouble started.  In it he praised my honesty and integrity.  He said my daughter was a testament  to these qualities in me.  He said I was the only one of the parents who was totally 100% honest with him even when that was a difficult thing to be.

To be fair, I should say the tweets were taken down but nothing is ever completely gone on the internet.  Those six and a half pages of tweets I have tucked away should be made available to anyone who is thinking about giving a child up for adoption.  Just to let them see the anger.

On November 30th I am going to write about what I got out of blogging everyday.   I can tell that among other things it has brought a change in my feelings toward him.  As people are fond of saying, you can’t control other people or what happens to you, all you can control is your reaction.  I worry about him.  I still think probably we shouldn’t be talking to each other but he is my son. I care what happens to him.  I hope he is doing well.  I hope he has gotten in touch with what is really bothering him.

Well, talking about 1978 and me being busy defending my virtue has made me think about the lyrics of this song.  I’ve always liked it.  Too bad it wasn’t around ten years earlier, in 1968.

Peace

UM


Nietzsche gets it…

Friday, July 29, 2011

I don’t know why Frederich Nietzsche was thinking about this. I don’t know that much about him other than the famous “God is Dead” written everywhere on university walls in the 1960’s.

But, according to Joanna Ravenna in The New Yorker, Nietzsche said that the best way to enrage people is to force them to change their mind about you. Joanna’s piece was talking about writers. How there is great resistance from all quarters when a writer breaks loose and writes something that is not basically the same as everything else they have written thus far.

Nietzsche

We “Moms of the Adopted” understand that reaction. We, too, are forcing people to change their minds about us. And in the process we are ticking people off. So much so that sometimes they feel compelled to attack us.

Yep, there is no question about it: we are pissing people off plenty and they get enraged. We are forcing them to look at us and, therefore, adoption in general, and in particular, differently.

We are no longer those terrified, abandoned, young women. We aren’t afraid of what society or our parents or the adoption industry or the church or adoptive parents think. We are older and a whole lot wiser and we know what happened to us (and our children) was not right. We will go to our graves saying so in the hope that we may just stop it from happening to anyone else.

– We wouldn’t have been good mothers: We don’t buy that.

– We have no right to know our children. We don’t accept that.

– We were promised confidentiality: No we weren’t.

– Our children don’t have the right to know who they are: We and our adult children don’t accept that.

– Our children are ingrates if they want to know us: We and our adult children don’t accept that either.

If people don’t like it – too bad. If they get enraged, well too bad about that too.

Sometimes the attacks (frequently anonymous) almost make me laugh. I know the women they are aimed at. These women are strong, well-educated, and otherwise happy, with lots of supportive people around them. They know who they are. They won’t have much trouble withstanding a little name calling.

They now see the name calling for what it is. People don’t seem to realize is that it was the name calling that got most of us here in the first place. Name calling was part of a multi-pronged attack on our motherhood. Just part of the ethos. Having succumbed to it once most of us now will just pick up a metaphorical baseball bat and hit the name calling grenade right back out of the park.

Sticks and stones etc., it’s a childish rhyme that holds a great deal of truth.

Anyone who has ever worked for the government knows that whenever government does anything, civil servants spend a lot of time in meetings worrying about who the stakeholders are and what the stakeholders’ reaction will be.

Sooner or later in the meeting somebody will say “Well… whose ox will be getting gored?” Civil servants know that if you identify that group, you will know where all the objections will come from and make an educated guess as to what the objections will be.

Somebody’s ox is getting gored with the rethinking and re-examining of all things related to adoption. (See the recent apology in Australia.) In my view, the ox belongs to the stakeholder group that has had exclusive access to the podium (and the media and the law makers) for way too long, adoptive parents and adoption agencies. In fact, I would go so far as to say they were the only stakeholder group who were actually recognized as stakeholders for way too long. The rest of us, mothers and kids, were just along for the ride.

We want to change that. We are changing that.

That’s what we think. That’s who we are. If that enrages any of you out there – we’re sorry. :-)

Peace

UM


Art Therapy

Friday, January 22, 2010

I have this friend who I will call “Abbie.” Abbie is an artist and a writer and a teacher. We used to meet for coffee and talk about stuff. This fall, Abbie decided to go and teach in the far north. I mean the really far north. About 1100 kms north of the 49th parallel kind of north. There are no roads, you have to fly in. That is her picture.

When she was back in the city at Christmas time, she gave me a present. An art therapy kit to help me deal with all the stuff that was going on with my son.

I know I have not really said too much about what happened. Let’s just say it was upsetting and stressful.

The kit consisted of a sketch book and a small wooden model. I spent a lot of time putting that little wooden model in various poses and in various places. It was interesting how this inanimate little guy could reflect mood – happiness, longing, joy, sadness.

Once it was sitting on a table and my daughter knocked it off – on purpose. She said it felt kind of “therapeutic” but not very satisfying. She is pretty frustrated and disappointed with her brother too. She was born after I found him. He was always just her big brother – until his first disappearing act.

When she gave the wooden model to me, Abbie, accurately reading the look that came across my face as I picked it up, said “You could use it as a voodoo doll.” But despite the knocking off the table, we are trying to avoid that.

We talk to it sometimes. Unlike the real thing, it has to stay put and listen. It doesn’t twist words and make accusations. We are hopeful that some of what we are trying to say is getting through.

But back to the “art” part of the art therapy. First off, I have to say – I am not an artist. My efforts are very humble. They are below very humble.

The first picture I drew in the sketch book was of the wooden figure falling through space. My husband said “You have been watching MadMen a lot.” Maybe I was influenced. Anyway for whatever reason the falling man reflects how I feel about my son. I feel he is not going in a very happy direction. Remember we were in reunion for over 18 years before the trouble started. He has held onto this anger for four years. It is like he tries to let it go but it just keeps sucking him back into the pit.

On the same page with the falling man I drew the wooden figure in a crib kicking it’s legs and arms like a baby. I called the whole thing Falling Baby – Falling Man.

The next picture I drew I called Walking Away. The little wooden model is looking very sad walking through a door that is very church-like. Hmmmm. Maybe it’s him, maybe it’s me. The drawings don’t reproduce very well or I’d put them in the post.

This little model helped to draw the human body in proportion – always a great challenge for me. Apparently, that is the purpose of these little wooden models. I didn’t know that. When Abbie gave it me, I told her I had a larger wooden model that I bought at IKEA more or less as decoration. Abbie said, “Good. You can do mother and child.” Haven’t done that yet. Maybe I should put the two of them in a room and let them work (or duke) it out.

The first few drawings, well they were good (I mean good to do, not good in the artistic sense) but more intellectual than emotional. They were OK. And so because my drawing skills are virtually non-existent. I started taking photographs.

Then, one day, I took this photograph on the left. The wooden model seen through the distortion of water. It spoke to me. The heaviness the figure has taken on. The bowed head. The lack of symmetry. How the parts don’t match anymore. How the figure is almost drowning, almost totally under water.

It could be me. It could be him.

It’s called – Adoption. I’m trying to turn it into a painting.

I won’t say anything else.

Peace

UM


It’s Complicated…

Saturday, January 16, 2010

I have reason to drive, on occasion, through Avril Lavigne’s hometown.

I like her song Complicated. It’s catchy, it contains some good advice and it was one of the songs I listened to on the road the last time I went out to visit my son.

It reminds me of him because of the trip and because I would like to say to him “Why’d ya have to go and make things so complicated?”

There are lots of things I would like to do with my son but it feels like all he wants to do is be angry. Now, some of you out there might say he has a right to be angry at me and I suppose that that might be true.

If adoption was the subject of the angry tirades I would be glad to talk about it.

Of course, it might be hard to generate a real argument about adoption, generally or personally, because I probably agree with him. For different reasons, our experience with adoption was not good.

I wonder sometimes if that is part of the problem – the fact that I do agree with him. It is hard to argue with someone who agrees with you. Kind of cuts things short. So if you want to stay angry – you have to find some other things to be angry about. And if you don’t really have something then you have to make something up and you then you have to cling to it.

I do not mean to suggest here that I am a perfect person – far from it. I don’t mind taking the heat for things I have actually done. I don’t mind apologizing for things I have actually done if I think they were done in error or have hurt some on.

But I’ll be darned if I’ll apologize for things I didn’t do.

There are so many other things that we could do together. Talk about together. Laugh about together. Maybe even cry about together.

Because like Avril says…

Life’s like this… you fall and you crawl and you break and you take what you get
And turn it into
Honesty.

Oh how I long for some…

Honesty

Peace

UM