Monday, October 20, 2008
bleah, miscellaneous ramblings
Sticks and Stones may break my bones…
When I was young, this phrase was the standard reply when responding to insults from the enemy-of-the-moment.
I consider myself lucky in that our little three-block neighborhood was awash in children from infants to young teens during my first ten years of life, so I was not raised in social isolation. I was unlucky in that my adoptedness was common knowledge and often employed in the insults I received. I am lucky that I developed a keen sense of the unpleasantness of discrimination even while living in a small, lily-white northern Michigan community. I am unlucky in that I was born in the state of Michigan, a state which believes it is Righteous and Good to discriminate against adoptees by denying them a copy of their own real birth certificate.
There is no way I can believe lawmakers here are not on the take when all empirical evidence shows that "birthmother privacy" is not an issue. Almost all "birthmothers" (and adoptees) desire open communication and laws are already on the books to protect those who don’t. As always, money talks. And when healthy white infants garner $30,000+ in "filing fees" to adopt, it is easy to see where that money came from. So it’s also easy to see why "social workers" are taught coercive tactics designed to separate child from mother quickly. This pamphlet is a typical example, widely distributed to adoption agencies coast-to-coast. Bethany Christian Services has them. Assuming they follow its directives, and I know they do, they would have certainly gone after the baby Jesus. After all, his mother was only thirteen or fourteen and possibly unmarried (depending on the version, but certainly young), very poor, not possibly equipped to parent a newborn. He would have gotten a good price.
"Christian" services my ass.
…but words can never hurt me.
I said that a lot as a kid, but it wasn’t true, at least for me. The neighborhood kids, especially the girls, would taunt me with gems like "your real mother didn’t want you" (or "didn’t love you", etc), "you don’t look like your sister/brother – oh, ha ha, they aren’t your sister/brother, ha ha", "They probably got you from some garbage can…". They were very inventive. Their words hurt like arrows through the heart. We moved to a different part of town when I was ten. I didn’t tell anyone in the new neighborhood we were adopted and swore my a-sibs to secrecy. They agreed willingly.
I’ve grown more callused through the years but am still sensitive to certain words at certain times. I’ve learned to consider the source and that greatly filters what my reactive self hears.
Still and because of that, simple words are the most painful component of my marriage’s collapse. Today’s case involves the common "misplaced car keys". Her keys were already in the running car when I climbed aboard to drive. After arriving home I attempted to give keys to wife, she refused whilst busy with mail, I set on counter next to her purse and walked away. Keys disappeared. A common scenario, not one worth raising a lot of rancor over in my estimation. If not found, copies can be made. But I estimate wrong. Next day, unable to find them (but possessing a spare key), she calls me at work to fling a few choice words my way. I stupidly answer phone on speaker while working in staffed office. She takes the day off due to the stress of it all. After work I spend over three hours searching. I admit my memory of setting them on the counter may be faulty so I search the entire house, both garages, both vehicles, and surrounding grounds. No luck. Strangely, keys are something I am positively anal about; I never just lay them somewhere. (This is a learned response from locking keys inside vehicles. I cannot close a car door without holding the car keys in my hand.) I searched very hard. I cannot think of another place to look. I cannot be absolutely sure I am not to blame here, though history consists of her memory being at fault every time in matters like this, so far. And I didn’t mind looking, except for the words of encouragement. Lively spirit-lifters such as "dickwad - where’d you put my fucking keys?!", "fucking retard", "stupid asshole", "fucking idiot", and my favorite "since you’re into that adoption shit you’ll probably blame being an idiot on being fucking adopted, huh?".
I love the internet. In the last three years I have met dozens of adoptees who share some of the effects of being relinquished and this has been very healing and affirming for me. I have received more guidance and reassurance, more insight and compassion than I ever have from a "legitimate" counselor. My wife is suspect of this fact. I will freely agree I might benefit greatly from a therapist learned in adoptee issues but there are none to be found in my area. In the meantime, I draw great satisfaction, and insight I believe, from my fellow adoptees. And I believe any adoptees who might stumble upon this post would agree. There is no better listener and advisor than one who has been there.
My wife does not get it though. We were doing alright, more or less, until I came out of the fog and began searching again. Basically a very needy person, she resented the time spent on my search. Then the time spent with reunion attempts. She rode to Lansing with me to testify for our open-records bill and meet my half-sister, but complained bitterly about spending vacation time that might better be spent on a vacation with her. This summer’s junket to New Orleans put her over the top as I expected. I booked everything last February and asked her at the time if she would go, that I would really appreciate the support. She questioned, I explained clearly that it was an adoptee-rights oriented trip where most time would be spent preparing to protest, protesting, manning the booth, and discussing ideas for improving everything. She was adamant that she didn’t want to spend "a whole week of me being adopted" and so I went solo.
I wasn’t home thirty minutes before she accused me of "loving my adoptee friends more than her" and having an affair. I explained that most attendees were, like myself, married or heavily committed, she asked how many spouses were there. When I told her most spouses stayed home to watch the kids, she implied that this was some way for "adoptees to screw around on their spouses" (emphasis hers).
One-track mind at work there. The adoptees I met in New Orleans were beautiful people. I was awed by their gentleness, their genuineness and their spirit. Normally very shy, I was at ease with these similar strangers from around the world. Everyone was friendly but no one was there to have an affair.
A social wrecker from Friend of the Court said "what we have here is a failure to communicate". I’d have to say I disagree. Communication flows effervescently, points are clear. She cannot tolerate my internet friendships. She says "they're not real." I remind her I met some this past summer and have pictures to prove it. She says they would be fine if they visited IRL. The fact they live in places like New Zealand, Finland and Hawaii makes no difference to her. I cannot tolerate the constant belittlement. Is it a result of being adopted? Probably not, but I will now ponder that while I should be sleeping.
I’m thinking of starting a dating service for adoptees, maybe with another section for first parents. I am beginning to believe that only an adoptee can truly understand (and, maybe love) another adoptee.