Monthly Archives: July 2013

I Never Wanted To Be Your Charity

I knew I was my adoptive mom’s charity. The reason I knew this was because she told me. When I wanted to donate to something important to me, she said, and I quote, “We already did our charity when we got you.”

I was 6.

Well, you can’t say she wasn’t honest about how she felt.

 

I know that some adoptive parents feel this way even if they do not come right out with that label: charity. I’ve read such comments as “we’ll provide a good home for a needy child.” And many others. Ugh. Makes me want to barf.

 

Guess what? I NEVER WANTED TO BE YOUR CHARITY!!!

NEVER.

 

Would you say any of the following about your biological child?

I will be “sharing my home …”

I am “lending a helping hand to society.”

I will “provide a home to a less fortunate …”

 

Of course you wouldn’t, but these thoughts, comments and principles seem commonplace in the world of adoption.

 

How would you feel if someone considered you charity?

 

 

Here are some of my adoption truths.

 

I do not contribute to you feeling less shame.

 

I will not make you guilt free.

 

I cannot make you a better person than your neighbor, sister, friend or anyone else you are competing with.

 

I am not here to help you contribute to society.

 

Be proud of me, not proud of yourself for adopting me.

 

I do not want to be your “adopted daughter.” I just want to be your daughter.

 

You do not have better morals because of adopting me.

 

Do not “share” your home with me. Do feel like you are home when you are with me.

 

I was not a lost cause. You do not have a crystal ball to determine how I would have turned out.

 

I am not one of your achievements. But be beside me, watching me achieve.

 

Adopting me does not prove ANYthing.

 

If loss in life has made you bitter, I can NOT fix that for you.

 

I do not owe you anything for adopting me.

 

You do not offer me redemption. You do not have a Jesus complex. You are just an imperfect selfish person like the rest of us. You are average.

 

You are not scoring points in heaven or any other afterlife you believe in by “getting” me and celebrating it annually as a reminder to your God of your “good deeds.”

 

I am not here to serve a purpose for you. And if that is the reason you adopted me, then shame on you.

 

Lastly, even if you do not say these things to me, I will know if you are thinking them. It will show in your attitude. It will show in your presence. It will show when you are mad at me. It will show when you speak to others and think I am not listening.

It will show.

 

I never wanted to be your charity.

 

I never wanted to be your charity. Holding these beliefs sets up an expectation of me and my words in the future. It tells me that I am supposed to be grateful. When I am not grateful, it allows you to use new labels for me such as ungrateful, unappreciative and unthankful. These expectations are unrealistic and unfair.

 

It is no more realistic than expecting your biological child to say, “Oh, thank you so much for sharing your home with me and providing for my basic needs in life. Thank you for showing your superiority over others and contributing to society by taking care of me.”

And if you do expect that out of your biological child, then you need help. Seriously, seek help.

 

If you are adopting for any of the above reasons, I would suggest that you carry out your desire to do charity in a variety of other ways.

Do not rely upon a child to be your charity because when you label a child as your charity, you are only labeling yourself.

A New Direction For This Blog!

I have found myself in this space, unable to write, for reasons that until very recently were unknown to me.

 

As I have written about my childhood, I have found it necessary to write in a certain manner as I tap into, and relive the feelings I experienced. I muffled my own voice and tempered my message in the hopes that people may listen.

 

The problem has been that I am unable to continue writing in a subdued manner because as I start writing about my teen years, ‘subdued’ was not at all how I felt or acted. My microphone has been on level 1 and I’m looking for the switch to turn it up to level 10. I need a damn loudspeaker.

 

The rage and inner turmoil that I experienced needs to be addressed for this blog to survive. To now tap into those feelings and emotions, the tone of this website needs to change. I can no longer put a flower sticker on it and call it a day.

 

For the time being, comments will be disabled. I’m sorry if that hurts your feelings. I know how it feels to be silenced, but you can always find me on twitter or Facebook if you are really passionate about something you want to say to me. And if you just don’t agree with me at all, be my guest to click on the little x up in the upper right hand corner.

 

Personally, I couldn’t be happier about the turn that my writing will be taking. If you miss the people pleasing Kat, just re-read the earlier posts. They are still here. You won’t challenge yourself, but hey, some people are more comfortable with safe. I know how that feels, so if that is you, I understand where you are coming from.

 

And if nobody reads here ever again? I’m okay with that too. Actually, I know of two people who will read for sure. Make that 3! I’m okay with that because it’s my truth and it needs to be said. So there.

 

Oh yeah, there will be swearing. So if you had your cute little adoptee reading here so they could self teach something, you might want to reassess. I’ll try not to frivolously swear. My dad always said only people with limited vocabulary swore. Okay, he just didn’t want to see his little “Punkin” swearing, but sometimes I need a word for emphasis! Hey, the other side is using “GOD” in their message so yeah, sometimes I will need to use a strong word too.

 

There will be current adoption issues thrown in the mix now. Waiting to get my story to present before blogging about current issues just isn’t working out.

 

Let me think, what else. Oh, I was telling my friend (a very good friend – one of the 3 that I know will read this – you know who you are) that I have been only slightly rocking the boat. That’s not what I want. I want to turn the boat over! I want everybody out of the boat, swimming against the current, struggling to keep up. If you are an adoptee, you already know how this feels. It’s time that others do too.

 

Wow, this has been the easiest post I have ever written. I feel like celebrating with a drink and some cheez-its! Yep, I try to keep it classy like that.

 

If you are still here, thanks for reading! I’m excited to move forward.

#28 Jealousy Over Pictures

Picture #1

During spring break, my adoptive mom took me to visit my biological family. My older sisters and I had opposing weeks off from school, so while I was there, they were gone during the day. This left me spending the days with my adoptive mom, biological mom and my two younger siblings.

 

My adoptive mom decided one morning that we should have a picture done at a local department store. Since my older sisters were in school that day, she decided that it would only include my younger siblings and me. As always, once my adoptive mom decided something, everyone else just went along with it.

 

It felt awkward as they placed my younger brother in my arms for me to hold during the picture, seeming more like kids that I barely knew instead of siblings with which I held a strong connection. Regardless, I obediently did as I was told so that my adoptive mom would have the picture she wanted.

 

Picture #2

A few months later, I received a letter from my biological mom. And, as typical, any communication from by bio mom resulted in an immediate high.

 

I opened the letter and found a picture that shocked me. The picture was of my four siblings. Together. Without me.

 

Let me just say that again. My biological mom sent me a picture, professionally done, of my four siblings together.

 

And with that, my heart was ripped out.

 

The picture was gorgeous, and I examined every detail.

My two older sisters were beautiful. Both of them had their hair curled and brushed out beautifully. They had on white button up, lace shirts and long necklaces that hung perfectly. Lacey was holding my younger sister, Allie. Allie looked like a little doll. Her hair fell at her shoulders with sweet little curls. It was pinned back on the sides with barrettes. She had on the most adorable pink dress and was holding a doll in a matching pink dress. My sister Tori was holding my younger brother, Chris. He was equally adorable in a cute suit and bow tie.

 

I became obsessed with the picture. For days, I couldn’t stop staring at it. I hated it. I was so jealous that I wanted to rip it up, but couldn’t bring myself to do so. I wondered about every little detail.

Who had done their hair?

Who had picked out their clothes?

What day was the picture taken on?

What was I doing that day?

Why hadn’t somebody told me this was happening?

 

Mostly I wondered where I could have stood if I had been in the picture. Maybe to the side of one of my sisters?

 

I wanted to go back in time and find a way to be in the picture with them.

 

Eventually, I started to realize that I didn’t fit into their family in any way. I had fooled myself into thinking I could be part of both families. But I wasn’t part of their family. They were their own family. They had a mom, dad and four kids and I wasn’t part of that. I also started realizing that they had their own life. They weren’t thinking about me at all. They were just living their life and I was a ‘sometimes’ guest within it.

 

Finally, I put the picture away.

 

Commentary

 

The fact is, kids in open adoption will have to face situations like this. There will be pictures, events, vacations and experiences that will not include them. They will know about these things and they may feel excluded.

 

It is unrealistic to think that as a 9 – 10 year old, a child will feel fine about seeing their biological parent move forward with their own family (in whatever form). It won’t be fine and it needs to be talked about.

 

There are many things that can trigger feelings of jealousy, abandonment, resentment, anger and rejection. It is important to stay tuned into the adoptee to determine what may be going on that could cause these emotions. Additionally, if your child isn’t expressing feelings, having an outlet such as a therapist may be helpful so that he or she may feel more comfortable expressing himself or herself. If working with a therapist, make sure that your child knows that they will not share what he or she tells them. If the adoptee thinks the therapist will simply tell the adoptive parent what is said, it will defeat the purpose of seeing a therapist in the first place.

 

There is no one solution to these problems. The biological family obviously cannot stop living, and in open adoption, the adoptee will hear about it. It’s inevitable.

 

*As an aside, I recently found out that there was jealousy from my two older sisters regarding the picture of me alone with my younger siblings. The ‘kept’ children need to be able to express these feelings as well.

#27 Self Addressed Stamped Envelope

emotionOne afternoon I sat at our kitchen counter writing my biological mom a letter. I had spent quite a bit of time on the letter and thought it expressed exactly how I felt.

 

I mentioned in the letter to my mom how she had promised to write, call and send pictures more often, but I hadn’t received any of these. I reminded her that she had told me that she was working on writing a song about me, but I hadn’t heard that either. I asked her if the song was done or if not, would it be completed soon. I stated how much I missed her and my sisters and inquired if they had been busy.

 

The letter was lengthy, but focused.

 

After I finished, my adoptive mom read the letter. She was none too pleased to see the effort I had put into complaining.

 

So, I took the letter back and at the bottom of it, I wrote, “just joking with you.”

 

My mom still wasn’t satisfied, and once again reminded me how busy my “real” mom was with the other kids. She said that it wasn’t that my mom didn’t want to talk to me, but it was just that she didn’t have time.

 

I came unglued.

 

My mom’s eyes widened as I stood up from the counter and screamed at her that I didn’t care how busy Gabriella was or that she didn’t have time. I threw the letter in the floor and shouted how much I HATED her and was never speaking to her again. Once I was done with my tantrum and reduced to tears, my mom picked the letter up off the floor. It was clear that she was shocked by my outburst.

 

“Maybe she’s out of stamps.” She suggested.

 

“What?”

 

“Maybe she needs stamps and an envelope. You could send her one so she has it to reply to your letter.”

 

“I guess.” I replied.

 

“Send her a stamped envelope so all she has to do is write a note. I bet you will hear right back.” My mom tried to sound cheery as she suggested this.

 

I quietly got a self addressed stamped envelope ready to put in with my letter. Just in case, I added blank paper for her to use. I placed my letter in a large envelope and folded the envelope I had prepared to fit in also. I wondered if I would be successful this time in hearing back from her more quickly.

 

I wasn’t.

 

I was too naive at the time to realize how I was humiliating myself, chasing after my biological mom like a crazed school girl with a crush on the popular boy. It’s only now, as an adult, that I realize that the supplicating I did for a meaningful relationship was a lost cause. My own actions served to make me feel insignificant as I beat myself up when she didn’t outwardly return the deep feelings I had for her.

 

Commentary

 

My desire for my biological mom was intense. I yearned for her and cannot put into words an accurate description of how much I wanted to be with both her and my sisters.

 

I lived within an open adoption arrangement. I do not know if this extreme craving is common with adoptees within both open and closed adoptions, but I would assume that it is. The difference for me within the open arrangement was that I had names, faces, personalities and experiences to place with my desire. I felt out of place without my mom and sisters.

 

Add to that, a lack of outlet for these feelings and it became overwhelming for me.

#26 Open Adoption Merry Go Round

At 9 years old, I understood that I had been legally adopted the year before. I belonged within my adoptive family as recognized by law. I logically realized that there was no turning back, but my longing for my ‘real’ family continued. I wanted to be with my mom and sisters and no court, judges or signing of papers could change my desire.

 

Unfortunately, others didn’t see it that way. In fact, in light of recent revelations, my biological family thought I was living a charmed life with my adoptive family where I couldn’t have been happier. All of those times where I was busy convincing everyone how happy I was had worked. Nobody doubted that I was content to be with my adoptive family, and I never expressed anything different so why would they?

 

My adoptive mom knew better though.

 

As always, I wanted to hear from my biological mom as often as possible. She could have called me every single day and that would have been just fine with me. But she didn’t. In fact, I now heard from her less.

 

Within the next year and half, my biological mom gave birth to two more children.

 

So now, I had two older half siblings and two younger half siblings that all shared the same mother and father.

 

I do not remember the younger two being born, as I now entered a time period of 10 years or so of blocked memories. Things that were hurtful to me, I simply do not remember a lot of them. This included the birth of my younger siblings that I now love with all my heart.

 

I just remember them being around during my visits occasionally. But at the time, I did not feel a connection to them. Mostly, I considered them an annoyance as they were taking my already busy biological mom away from me even more.

 

And these two were cute as hell. First came my sister Allie. Adorable. So adorable in fact that she was placed in numerous pageants and won many. So when I visited, the thing I remember most about her was the trophies in the living room that she had won and the elaborate dresses she had.

 

Seeing the time and attention that my mom was placing on Allie left me more than jealous. If I could have received a tenth of that, well, I would say how thrilled I would have been, but honestly, I don’t know that there would have ever been enough attention that would have fulfilled what I wanted from my mom.

 

My little brother, Chris, came next. Another adorable child. My mom was proud of him. He was quiet, but he had one of those contagious smiles that make you smile even if you’re in a bad mood. He still has that same smile.

 

So when I complained to my adoptive mom that I hadn’t heard from my biological mom, my adoptive mom replied, “She is busy. She has four other kids to take care of and she can’t just stop and call or write to you.”

 

As always when her patience wore thin with me, she had that tone that implied that I needed to face facts. All I could think of was that it didn’t take that much effort to pick up the phone and call someone. I had no understanding of the time and effort it would take to care for two babies.

 

This led to incredible frustration for me. My adoptive mom would go round and round on this subject. As I would be promised, time and again by my biological mom that she would call or write, I would believe her each time and then be crushed as it didn’t happen.

 

Eventually, my anger became evident. If my adoptive mom had no time for my whining, she definitely had no time for anger. I announced that I was mad at Gabriella and I was going to call her and tell her. My adoptive mom said, “No, you will not! I have taught you better than that.”

 

“Fine,” I replied. “Then I am never speaking to her again.”

 

Each time, my adoptive mom would say that I couldn’t do that either. “You will need your mom and sisters one day.”

 

It was an endless merry go round of promises, build up, let down, sadness and anger.

 

Endless.

 

Commentary

 

There are complex emotions for adults in open adoption. As the child in the middle of two families, the push/pull was definitely present and resulted in my isolation from both families.

 

I have read numerous accounts of open adoption from the adoptive and biological parent perspective where each recounts the success of the blending of two families. From these perspectives it sounds great, and there is much pressure for the child to reiterate what is being said, but I have to wonder, what is within the child’s heart that he or she may be too scared to say.

Thank You

I won’t be posting this week other than this one to say thank you.

I have been blogging about my childhood as an adopted person for over 3 months, and I wanted to take this opportunity to say thank you for reading, commenting, sending me messages and tweets. You have made this journey thus far an incredible one, and I have learned so much from you. There have been difficult days along the way, and I want to say thank you for encouraging me. Your words have been heartfelt and sincere.

We have reached a turning point in my story. When I return next week, I will begin blogging about my preteen years. Ages 9-12 will be eventful. I want to say thank you in advance for your support and encouragement.

I have enjoyed “meeting” each one of you online. I am looking forward to the adoptee rights demonstration in Atlanta in August. I hope that you could consider joining this cause and lending your voice. You can learn more about it at the Adoptee Rights Coalition website. There is no cost to attend, but you do need to register on their website so they know how many to expect. Adoptees should have the right to our original birth certificate as I have explored here.

Thank you so much and I hope that you have a wonderful July 4th week!

Kat (aka Meredith)