The Minimum Gold Standard

I got a call from my a-mom yesterday afternoon, she wanted to know if I’d like to go out to dinner with her and dad tonight. She told me it will be their anniversary. I had no idea, we don’t do well keeping track of those kinds of things in my family. Mom knows the birth dates of all her children, including me, but dad, not so much. He has the vague idea that two of us were born in the fall, but that is it.

I’m not good with dates either, more than occasionally I have to do the math to figure out how old I am. After I hung up the phone I did wonder how long mom and dad had been married. I had to first, figure out how old I was, then add the appropriate amount of years to my age. Turns out it’s my folks 50th anniversary.

Around here most folks make a big deal about their 50th anniversary. The milestone justifies a picture (taken at Olin Mills, of course) in the local paper and a reception in the basement of house of worship of their choice, not to mention the mandatory card shower. My family never went in for that stuff.  Though we might all agree that showing up is 90% of success, we aren’t ones to celebrate meeting the minimum requirements. Being married for 50 years simply means you haven’t screwed it up, yet.

Even if doing what is expected isn’t much revered in my family, neither is royally fucking something up demonized. We’ve all done it, many times in spectacular form. These episodes get more play in family conversation, many times, than our achievements. We just don’t find it nearly so interesting when things go as they should, that’s expected, but a good near death experience, especially due to your own actions, is pure conversational gold.

I’ll be counting on that acceptance of screwing up tonight. The chances of me coming up with a suitable gift for my parents by 6 p.m. are slim to non-existent. My own guilt is tempered by the fact that no two people on the planet need one more thing in their house less than my parents. But karmic justifications do little when everybody else has a gift.

Maybe I should just thank them for expecting the minimum standard and teaching me to admit, and even sometimes embrace, my failures.

Battle Fatigue

Activism of any kind is exhausting. Being the flea biting, the would-be slayer, the acceptor of hopeless mission, the one who journeys again and again into the lion’s den, will drain away the very stuff that sent you down this path in the first place.

If we look at the on going struggle as warriors, why shouldn’t we tire from battle? Traditionally those that chose warrior as a profession did so not just because it appeals to a need to do good, to protect those that cannot protect themselves, and a baser instinct to apply the force within ourselves to strike at those that do wrong, it was understood that this dangerous work had advantages. The righteous joy taken in the defeat of an enemy, the very things which they defended spread out for the taking, a time to celebrate with comrades all glorious in triumph, and the returning home as subject of honor and praise. Without these things, the warrior life can be a grim one.

When we must band together as guerrillas, few in number, poorly equipped, fighting an enemy so large to be beyond comprehension even by those who are part of it, or be the even more foolhardy one who goes alone, our victories, slight as they are, give us no plunder, no salt, no gold, only the celebration of our own band of fools. Is it any wonder that we tire? Should we not feel we are only receiving half measure of our commission?

There is no wonder in that we tire, the constant battle leaves no time for laurels. We must settle for our scars and scraps. But through that, are we not the truest of warriors? Those that sign on for the fight alone express the purest, most divine, of our guild. And what shall we do when we tire? Return to the fields, the dwellings, the people we defend and advance, and take comfort in them, knowing they surely need us.

We must find satisfaction, if not glory.

 

Adoption and Poilitics Before I’ve Had My Coffee

Disclaimer: This is a humor piece, it is not meant to influence or inform, only to be amusing. Please do not use my comments section to post actual facts. You’ll just piss me off. Thanks.

I woke up way too early this morning. My life in the last few weeks has included falling way too hard for the media coverage of the political events in Iowa (I’m right next door) and adoption activism. No wonder these things got mixed up in my mind being up at this ungodly hour.

I began to think about the current crop of GOP candidates in terms of adoption, specifically what role they would fulfill if they were part of the adoption community….

(insert soft focus and the dream music from any 1970’s sitcom here)

Mitt Romney-Birth father, adopter, envies adoptees, duh, he’s Mormon.

Michelle Bachman-Adopter, with a blog and a website, working on a book, will tell you how important she is to the adoption community, known to troll adult adoptees reminding them how grateful they should be while misquoting Margaret Mead, who she thinks wrote a baby book.

John Huntsman-Adoptee, but nobody has noticed.

Newt Gingrich-Late Discovery Adoptee, claims to be grateful, but is troubled by sexually charged homicidal fantasies involving his adoptive mother.

Sarah Palin-Adoptee that wants to adopt, already has really bad ass names picked out, but has been turned down by every agency in the country. She can see Russian babies from her house.

Ron Paul-Adoptee, nobody listens to him, compensates by overachieving, but just can’t please his adoptoraptors by becoming president, destined to fail. Also wonders if his children are actually his. He still truly believes he came from the hospital.

Rick Santorum-definitely not a birth father. Google it.

Herman Cain-Adoptee, look at the group picture.

Rick Perrry-Sperm donor, but underutilized, has probably not fathered any children, intelligence means more to potential buyers than good hair.

(Que end-of-dream-sequence music)

It’s National ADOPTION Month, Stupid.

It’s National ADOPTION Month, not National ADOPTEE Month.  If it were National ADOPTEE Month things would be way different.

If it were National Adoptee Month..

There wouldn’t be any of those sickening adoption fairs where they parade those poor kids around like a bunch puppies.

There would be access to original birth certificates for all adoptees.

There wouldn’t be people prattling on about showing their love for Jesus  by adopting children.

There would be a mission to acknowledge the loss this causes for the adoptee.

There would be no mass adoption finalizations gaveled in courtrooms packed with “new families” all over the county.

There would be a waiving of fees for adoptee access to court records concerning their adoption.

There wouldn’t  awareness campaigns touting how adoption can make an adult’s life complete.

There would be an awareness campaign bringing the fact that many adoptees need answers to make their lives complete.

There would be no propaganda about saving a child’s life.

There would be access to medical records that really could save an adoptee’s life.

But most of all, it would be about the ADOPTEE, not ADOPTION.

 

 

 

Adoption and Adaption

First off, tweet for adoptee rights and a free Mary Gauthier “The Foundling” CD today with Claudia and The Adoptee Rights Coalition.  Good cause, free stuff, why wouldn’t you?

Second, get to work on your submissions for  Pieces Of Reunion.  A chance to tell your story, and get published, why wouldn’t you?

Now, what have I been up to?

I don’t even know where to begin.  Let’s just say that the next few months are going to bring a lot of changes for me.  Good changes, I hope.

But one thing is never going to change, I’ll always be adopted.  I can change my shirt, my hair color, my religious affiliation, my status on Facebook, but I can’t change that.

Some folks seem to think that they can deal with all the adoption shit and move on.  The thing is dealing with it doesn’t change it, it just gives you a different perspective.

I’ve been thinking a lot about change lately.  Events beyond my control have forced me to to.  By no decision of my own, my life is going through a major rearrangement. I wouldn’t have chosen this right now.  I would have been just as happy to continue as I was, for at least a while.

I knew things would have to change eventually.  It just never seemed like a good time.  But changes  never seem to happen in good times, and because times are bad, I’m out of a job that I’ve held for over 20 years.

I never meant to stay there this long, when I started I thought I’d be out of there in less than 6 months.  It’s complicated, and it involves my adoptive family, and I couldn’t explain it in less than 100,000 words.  Let’s just say the whole situation of late has left me feeling very adopted.

But, I’m OK with it.  I’m unsure, nervous, but not devastated or paralyzed.  I’ve no choice but to roll with it.  I wonder if some of this feeling of acceptance has something to do with being adopted.

My life has been subject to change from the very beginning.  I was born into one family, and through circumstances beyond my control I was given to another.  That’s as big a change as I can imagine.  I don’t think that being too young to remember this kept me from learning from it.  What are adoptee issues but the universe telling you that some adaption is in order?

As adoptees we are hyper vigilant, always looking out for something that’s different, something that’s changed.  But just because we are aware of changes doesn’t me we have problems reacting to those changes.

I’ve seen adoptees handle life changing experiences almost as if their plans for lunch had been canceled.  I suppose once you take away someone’s identity, they figure they can handle just about anything. Not to say any of these changes are easy for us, I just wonder if many of us have developed mechanisms for dealing with change, through our experiences.

Maybe I’ll get through this alright, maybe I won’t.  But I know it will be the circumstances the event brings on, not the event itself, that cause any future breakdowns. That may seem like a slim distinction, but it’s not. I don’t fear change.  I’m OK with uncertainty.  I expect it.

So I’m off to adapting again.  I’ll figure it out.  I’ll probably subject you to a lot of my figuring it.  I have learned that I’m not alone.  That’s been a lot of my adaption of the last few years.

I have over 20 years experience in retail, and over 40 as a bastard. The job market should be my oyster, huh?

Stay tuned, this could get interesting.

Adoption Reunion Stories Needed

You’ve probably already heard about this since Claudia is the Undisputed Queen of the Internet, and beat me to it, but we’re going to edit a book.  A book about adoption reunion.  A book that is going to feature stories from you.

This is something I’ve wanted to do for a long time.  When I started searching, I found a lot of information on how to find my birth parents, I got lots of help from search angels, first parenrts, fellow adoptees, even a social worker and an adoptive parent or two.  I would have not found my first mother without them.  They gave me a map, let me know what to expect, and provided me with a sense of community. It was good and I’ll forever be in their debt.

But once I found my first family, I felt like I was on my own.  There were a few blogs out there, a few folks on message boards who were talking about their reunions, but at that time it was still pretty thin.  I couldn’t find many books that dealt with how to handle reunion, so many just stopped at found.  So I proceeded without much of a map.

Luckily when things really started to go south in my reunion I had found a community.  At the time there weren’t many of us but enough to get me through a rough patch. I think those folks saved my life.

Now there is a lot more information out there.  More people are talking about reunion past the first hugs and honeymoon period, more people are blogging, more people are sharing.  That’s good. Their stories are wonderful, painful, amazing, inspiring, crazy making, and every other feeling imaginable.

I wanted to bring these stories together, in one place, for those just going into reunion, and for those who are finding their way through reunion.  Some of the best stories can be hard to find, and I know, there are new stories out there that need to be heard.

I knew that I would need help with this, another perspective, someone knowledgeable that had been through the experience.  Claudia was the first to come to mind. She was a first parent, in reunion, and has a deep understanding of issues surrounding adoption.  She’s also a hell of a writer, gorgeous, and way cooler than me.  I wasn’t sure I could get her on board., but I thought I’d give it a try.  I was pretty sure if she thought it was a dumbass idea, at least she’d tell me nicely.

She liked the idea and we were off.  I had contributed an essay to Pieces Of Me; Who Do I Want To Be, the teen book from EMK Press.  I loved that book, it let adoptees say what they needed to say, it was honest.  I wanted the reunion book to be like that.  So I put on my confident writer persona and brought the idea to Carrie Kitze, the publisher at EMK Press.  She’s way cooler than me too, so I figured if she thought it was a dumbass idea, she would also tell me nicely.

Carrie liked it.  I can’t thank her enough for giving all of us this opportunity to tell our stories.

So now we are really off.  I need your help too.  I need you to write about your reunion, the good and the bad.  I need you to be honest and not hold anything back.  I need you to tell others what you wished you had known.  This book is about you, and your experiences, your feelings, your stories.

Help me out here, please.  I know we can do something wonderful.

Below is a link to the call for submissions, it will give you some ideas, and the information you need to tell your story.

Pieces Of Reunion-Call for Submissions

Thank you.

Second Thoughts About Relinquishing Myself

As you all know I have been considering relinquishing myself to my governor, but now I’m not so sure.  It’s not that I don’t like my governor, I do, and it would be cool to be the governor’s kid.  I bet I could get into the state fair for free.  But, even with all the perks, I might be doing myself a disservice.

Since this would be a public adoption, it wouldn’t cost very much.  My states chief executive might even get paid to take care of me while the paperwork went through.  I think I’m worth more.  I think I’ll put myself up for adoption privately. Possibly internationally.

I’ll be acting as my own facilitator, oh course.  So what does a white kid go for on the international market these days? $30,000 or $40,000?  Hey for that I can throw in a collectible Barbie Doll and a teddy bear.

So if you know anyone that might be interested in a bright, fairly well behaved girl, with a smile that can light up the room and melt heats, let me know.

I’m Horrifying Adoptive Parents Again..

..over at Grown In My Heart.

It’s Sex and Drugs and Dear Birthmother letters for me this time.

see-adoption-blog-post

Trinkets Of My Ingratitude

A conversation with a friend brought up an interesting image. She remarked,  as an adopted little angel, I must require a halo welded to my sweet head.  I replied that I thought that I could pull it off if I could wrap it with the trinkets of my ingratitude.  

I could just see myself as the towheaded angel that I once was, clad in a white robe, resplendent with my golden halo, wrapped in jingling sparkly charms representing all of my sins.   It reminded me of the charm bracelet that I had as a child that represented all my virtues.  

My charm bracelet was sterling silver, and so were the charms, that was pretty impressive in those days.  It was my first piece of real jewelry.  I had a charm with a musical note because I was taking piano lessons.  A charm with a four leaf clover  because I was lucky.  There was a charm with a little girl carrying books because I went to school.

My adoptive mother bought me the charm bracelet at the local jewelry store.  This was a place of wonder, full of grown up things that you had to be very careful around.  They had glass shelves full of fancy glass vases and candy dishes in beautiful colors I’d never seen before. Lite from the bottom,   I thought they were the most beautiful things I’d ever seen.  They had long cases filled with gold and silver and gems that looked like contents of the treasure chests in my books.  There was a display of gold paged Bibles with illustrations in glowing colors that seemed to have had to have come from heaven.  

We didn’t buy much in the jewelery store, my adoptive mom liked practical things.  But one day mom decided that I needed a charm bracelet.  We walked into the jewelry store, past the lite up shelves that rattled ever so slightly with our footsteps, threatening to send the precious objects to the floor.  I felt butterflies in my stomach  and was relived to get to the back of the store without incident.

A woman that seemed so old that she might break if touched showed us a tray of silver bracelets.  There were so many to choose from, delicate ones with thin links, more substantial ones with heavy links, and one made up of delicate links fused together, I chose that one.   Then there were the charms, hundreds of them, made to represent everything I could think of, and some I couldn’t figure out.  My mother told me that we would pick out a few charms today and I could have new ones when I earned them.  I got the musical note and the four leaf clover that day.  The old lady took the bracelet to the back, attached the charms and wrapped it up on a satin lined box.  I wasn’t as nervous passing the rattling glass shelves with my little box on the way out.  

I was only to wear the bracelet on special occasions and to church.  Mom and I put it safely in my jewelry box that played Fur Elise and had the ballerina that spun in front of a mirror when opened.  

I earned more charms, a little Scottie dog when I got a puppy, a rose zircon was a birthday gift.  My bracelet would jingle on my wrist now.  I wore it to my cousin’s wedding, and out to dinner at The Green Circle, a very fancy restaurant where they served Shirley Temples.  I always wore it to church.   

There was one charm that I wanted more than anything.  It was a Bible, that had a little peephole you could look into and see the Lord’s Prayer.  It was like magic.  Mother told me I could have it if I memorized the Lord’s Prayer.  

It wasn’t easy, it took a while, and there was some controversy over if I was to forgive sins or trespasses, but I did it.  I memorized the Lord’s Prayer and got that charm.  

I was quite the hit at Sunday school that week. Nobody else had ever seen anything like that charm.  I refused to remove the bracelet, fearing it’s loss, and made everyone peer into the little Bible while I held up my wrist. My Sunday school teacher was even impressed.  

I couldn’t wait to get home from church to tell my mother, who never attended church herself, about how much everyone had liked the charm.  I never got home with that bracelet, it must have slipped off my wrist on the way home.  I was devastated.  Mother and I retraced my steps, but the bracelet wasn’t found.  Mother even hired a man with a metal detector to look for it the next week.  Nothing was found.  The bracelet was lost.  All of the representations of my virtues were never to be found again.  

I believe my friend was right, they should have welded a halo to my head.  It would have been harder to lose.  Would those representations of my virtues turned to trinkets of my ingratitude eventually?  Who is to know?