Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Adopted

Adoption. What can I say about adoption without entwining my entire life into the narrative?

You all know I am adopted right? Today is my adoption day. 30 years ago today my parents picked me up from their child services agency in San Bernardino, California.

I am adopted. It is the least interesting thing about me, to be honest, but the one thing people never fail to find fascinating. To want to ask a million questions about. I don't mind, to be honest. I'm glad people want to know a real opinion from someone who's actually been there instead of just listening to the many TV psychologists who are pretty sure they know everything there is to know about the adopted child.

And I can't tell you either, really. Because every adopted child is different. Every adoptive parent different. Every experience different.

Except in the ways that we are all the same. And those ways are numerous as well. Usually included in our similarities is a fear of abandonment or either trouble trusting or becoming too trusting. Most fellow adoptees I meet have trouble in relationships because of a fear of not being loved. 

But no one recognizes us for the way we are the same as the rest of the world. We are adopted first. But we're also stupid or smart, gifted or struggling in all the same ways as you. We fought with our parents and begged for shit we didn't need.

Nevertheless, there is that big A over our heads and in our files: adopted.

The one line I heard most growing up was: you're so special! I didn't want to be special. I just wanted people to see me as the same. Ordinary. By focusing on the special, I just always felt different. When, really, my life was the same as any other kid's.

Minus the shadow my mother cast over everything.

I don't want to talk about my mom much today, but I have to, at least a little. Because my adoptive identity would be different if my mom hadn't beat the crap out of me and threatened to send me back when I fell short of perfection, which was always. But it's important to note that biological kids have abusive parents too. You just never know.

So my experience as an adoptee is certainly tinged with my mother's abuse, but I still have a positive opinion on adoption. I never once, not in all my thirty years, pined for the love of my biological parents. Not once did I imagine they were rich and would come rescue me. Not once. It's complicated to explain why and you'll have to sit in on a therapy session to really get it. But basically, even though my mother made my life hell, I didn't feel any connection to my birth parents. Not at all.

You should also know that I knew a little about my birth parents. Not much. It was a closed adoption. I, however, had a cool social worker who told my parents a little more than she should have. So I knew the why of my adoption. Instead of my background being a big mystery, I had a story. There was no fantasy to concoct and I didn't feel the need to go digging. 

It's also important to note that my dad was incredible and supportive of me my whole life. If you read this blog at all your probably know this. My dad and I are working through some of my resentment of him for letting my abuse happen and whether or not he knew. But that's between us. But had my dad not been such a good guy, I may have a different opinion on my adoption.

Perhaps. I don't know that.

And while the rest of the world loved to focus on my adopted status, my family and friends were actually pretty awesome about it for the most part. My cousins and I would forget, notice some similarity between us and say it must run in the family. Then we'd suddenly remember. Oh yeah! Not related. Hah!

Except there was that time my Aunt Sandy decided to show her true colors. I was 19. My grandma was dying. My Aunt Sandy (who was my dad's sister in law) pulls me aside and tells me, "You know, you should know that we never thought of you as adopted. We saw you as part of the family." I just stood there, speechless, wanting to say, Oh yeah? Well obviously not since you seem to need to remind me of it. Never mind that she married in anyway. Bitch. Plus? Nice time to bring that up.

My evil aunt and my harpy mother aside, my experience was fairly positive and I have a healthy relationship with my adoption today. I absolutely advocate adoption (Plus I loooove alliteration.).

I endorse adoption fully. Kids need homes. I certainly see myself adopting one day. It may be the only way I get to have a child.

I also love that adoption is becoming more mainstream, thanks to the rainbow coalition of Jolie-Pitt kids. As ridiculous as they are, they've opened doors. People are starting to drop their obsession with blood relations as the be-all end-all of family and seeing family as a much more fluid concept based on love and care and those who are most involved. I think that's awesome!

But I also worry it's becoming a trend. Let's go get a baby from every country. Without thinking it through. Without realizing you're not buying a purse or even a pet. You're becoming a fucking parent. I can't stress enough that it's traumatizing enough to abandon a child once. But if that child gets abandoned over and over, that's just the cruelest thing I can imagine.

I spent a good chunk of my adolescence and young adulthood obsessed with the psychology of adoption and foster care.  I did research paper after research paper in high school and college. I wrote and I wrote because no matter how I felt and how I wanted to decode that, there are millions of children pushed through the system who had/have it worse and who no one notices.

Everyone wants a baby. But after 3 years of age, it's unlikely a child will be adopted. And that's when the parents release custody. Many parents in prison hold custody, trapping their children in foster homes. However bad you've heard it is, it's worse. In every county in the US. These kids go through hell.

I had not intended this post to be a rant about the system or adoption. But once again, the writing takes a life of its own and writes itself. I can't remember the last time I wrote a funny post. Which makes me sad a little.

I swear I still have a sense of humor, people. I swear.

And that? That I wasn't born with. That I got from my dad who is the punniest dude I know.

That's gotta be a point for adoption.  Right? Who else has an adoption story?

30 comments mean you love me:

Flora said...Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

Thank you for sharing this about yourself. It might not be a "funny post," but it is touching and meaningful and sometimes reading something like that is just as important as reading something that makes you laugh.

Flora

Sarah P said...Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

I'm half adopted. My dad adopted me. It's pretty bitchin'.

Caren Gittleman said...Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

what a touching and beautiful post.

My eyes filled with tears because I "had the crap beaten out of me" regularly as well (and so did my siblings) by my BIRTH mother (I am NOT adopted). She also was verbally abusive and continues to be so to this day which is why I have chosen to have no relationship with her for the past few years. I tried, believe me I tried. She is so toxic it isn't worth it.

I also loved my Dad greatly and he was most supportive (and hysterically funny)....I never thought about (til recent years) how he could have let the abuse go on....he passed in 2001 so I can't ask him. My older sister always resented him for that....I never did....I wonder why?

Alliegresham said...Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

With every blog post I love you a little more. Thank you so much for sharing. This hit home to me in a much different way then you may have intended. See I can't have any more kids. Cancer. Hysterectomy. All that shit. And since I am divorced and hope to one day remarry and live happily ever after...I thought I would be able to have a kid with that new husband. But I can't. So I deal with that...all the time...everyday. Bill (my bf that I absolutely LOVE!) is so supportive and tells me that we can adopt. That he always imagined one day he would adopt and give a kid a much better home than they had. And give them a happy life. This makes me happy that he feels this way. So reading this...just inspired me. Adoption in the US is sooooo important. Thank you for sharing! You know I love you girl!

Lizzy said...Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

Dude, So did not know that.
Also. LOVE YOU.
Also also. You don't have to be funny all the time. Life? she is not always funny...

SO MUCH LOVE!

Paul and Kerry said...Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

thanks for sharing! I am also an adoptee in a closed adoption. I got a wild hair when I was 38 to look for birth mother. Now some people have positive experiences with reunion, I did not. IT hurt and damaged me in a way I thought not possible. Thought I was well adjusted. ahem. just be careful if you ever search.

-Kerry

iusedtodrinkperfume said...Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

First of all, don't worry about "not being funny." People like reading your blog for many reasons, like this post, because you are open and honest. Just be YOU! :)

Secondly, I'm so glad you bring up the importance of adopting HERE. While kids all over the world need homes/families, I think international adoption has gone to far in that it is a more "sexy" alternative. As is adopting white children who are under the age of 3. I fully intend to adopt a child in the U.S. based on need, whether they be white, black or latino. And of any age!

blog said...Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

As usual, you are my hero, Andy. Great post.

andygirl said...Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

wow! I had not anticipated all the comments!

Flora- thank you so much. that means a lot.

Sarah P- that is bitchin'! right on!

Allie- you know I love ya. we should talk more about this. xo

Lizzy- love you, girl! *muah*

Kerry- that's good to know. I know the names of my birth parents but have never felt a desire to meet. I'd like my medical history but think I'll hire a lawyer.

Lena- thank you! I heart you so hard. that's exactly what I want to do too.

blog (?)- thank you!

Michele said...Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

you're pretty damn awesome. you know that right? I really like what you said about "The one line I heard most growing up was: you're so special! I didn't want to be special. I just wanted people to see me as the same. Ordinary. By focusing on the special, I just always felt different. When, really, my life was the same as any other kid's." I need to remember that. If Aja has any lingering "preemie" issues, I still need to treat her the same so that she feels normal. As normal as she can be with crazy parents.

And don't worry about not being funny. People keeping reading cause you're you. You can make us pee our pants another time.

andygirl said...Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

Michele- you're pretty awesome too! thank you. :)

and will do.

Alex@LateEnough said...Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

Funny is SO yesterday.

Thank you for letting us into your truths.

And since we want to do foster-to-adopt, 18 months old is the absolute youngest unless by chance the parents voluntarily give up their rights. Which is fine by me. I love toddlers & preschoolers. (seriously) I just need a few more years to get my biologic kids along so I can be the mom I want to be to an adopted child. Also, my husband and I need to sleep through the night for like a week.

I'm sad that you had to go through so much with your mom. You are a wonderfully brave woman who deserved better as a child. I'm glad that you've found some peace.

guardling said...Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

Wow! It is crazy to find these things out about you that i never knew growing up. I knew your mom was different, but not like that! All I can say is wow! You are one super strong chick and I admire you for that! your blog is always full of the awesome sauce whether it's funny or serious! Less than 3 you!

Tonya said...Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

Amazing post!!! As a member of the I-had-a-cruel-mom club I must tell you I'm really sorry for that, it sucks, it really really sucks. Thank you for writing this! Whether you're being funny or making a point, it's always heartfelt and Awesome (with a side of crazy).

andygirl said...Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

Alex- thanks, love. :) I hope you guys do fost-adopt someday. it's such an amazing thing. *hugs*

Shell- yeah, that's the consensus with everyone I grew up with. she hid it well. so did I. love you too!

Tonya- yup, does. but we're strong chicas, yes? thanks much! <3

Bitter Betty said...Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

WHAT? You're adopted?! Just kidding! I almost forget since it's such a non issue.
What a great post though. It's an issues that few have approached!

Simone Says... said...Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

my best friend growing up was adopted and her mom was a real bitch to her. made her life miserable. she never did the work you did to heal herself and she still suffers today. i commend you on your courage and willingness to be so open. thank you for sharing. sorry your mom was such a twat-bag.

andygirl said...Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

Kris- you crack me up!

Simone- thank you. :) I'm sorry her mom was a twat-bag too.

Suniverse said...Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

Wow. What a powerful post.

You are an amazing woman. This is a hard subject to deal with for many people - you are graceful and gorgeous!

I've done some work terminating parental rights and it's awful. Miserable. Bad situations made worse because children are involved. Foster care is broken and needs to be fixed.

andygirl said...Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

thank you, love. such a sweet compliment! yes, it's such a hard thing. wish there were more we could do.

Liz said...Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

I'm adopted. :)

andygirl said...Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

are you? wow! who knew we had so much in common?

we hate you. love, us said...Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

What a wonderful post. I got a little misty eyed. I love that you brought up the point about international adoption. While I'm all for adoption in all its forms, I've worked with children up for adoption in the U.S. and I have to admit that I get a little sad that some people forget that we have AMAZING children here in the U.S.

flutter said...Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

I am a birth mom. I hated to make the decision I made and I hope she knows that I love her, every minute of every day.
Luckily, in a fairly modern situation, the adoption is open so I get to know her and she gets to know me...I just hope,

I just hope she knows I adore her.

andygirl said...Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

B&V- thanks! and exactly. so many great kids here who need love too. :)

flutter- I think open adoptions are such a great thing. and I always knew my birth mom did what she thought was best, never resented her. so I'm sure your daughter feels the same way.

alonewithcats said...Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

I fully support adoption for all the reasons you so eloquently listed. I adopted my kittens because I'm sadly cat-infertile. ;)

andygirl said...Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

same with my kitties. :)

Jackie T said...Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

Seriously!? I tried to comment on this like 3 times and didn't see my comment on here...
To summarize, one, I didn't know you were adopted and I'm happy to learn it. I think in many ways we all share a common experience of being raised, so it's good to hear something a lil less common, not as in you're weird, but Yay! You have added perspective!
My oldest sis (I'm the youngest) is biologically only a half sis and adopted by my dad. She's also half black and we were raised in a small, conservative cracker town, so lots of perspective gained. My two middle siblings look a lot alike and I look a lot like my sister (as in, I thought about "borrowing" her ID when she was 21 and she offered to let me use her boarding pass with photo)... so I wondered a lot if I was also half black...
Also, for whatever reason, I grew up knowing I would adopt at least a kid, and then read about the foster system and decided I was going to do that. I think I'm too good at developing attachments though, and you have very little control of when kids come and go and it would break my heart over and over...

andygirl said...Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

Jackie- I'm sorry blogger was being a bitch. boo.

loved your comment. I think fostering would be SO hard! I'd love to think I'm strong enough, but who knows. adoption for sure for me though. :)

Formerly Anonymous said...Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

I had read about two of your posts, realised we had the adoption thing in common and promised to read more of your blog. SO I started with the Sexy Saturdays, of course. It's late and this is the internet, after all. Then I scrolled through your topics and found this one. I'm adopted, and my little girl that I'm in the process of adopting is coming home for an extended visit on Friday! Four sleeps if I go to bed now, only three if I stay up all night reading your blog :-) I'll tell you what though...the adoption process sure makes things come full circle. You search your soul more than you ever cared to before, because you know this little one depends on you having your poop completely in a group. I'm a fan of quoting people more eloquent than myself, so here goes another quote that I found relevant to adopting after being adopted:

"We shall not cease from exploration, and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time."
T. S. Eliot

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