Resurecting Melanie

I learned to write young. The first thing I learned to write was my name. Except for it really wasn’t my name. I didn’t know that then, but I always knew that it didn’t quite fit.

My adoptive name is ugly, clumsy, and hard to spell. When people hear it, they say “What?”. If someone sees my name before they meet me, they always tell me that they did not expect someone like me. Nobody ever gets it right. It is an ethnic name, from a heritage that is not mine. It is a name that I am ill suited to carry. It just does not fit me.

I have always hated it.

It never occurred to me that I had a name before I was given the one I bear until I saw my non-ID when I was in my early twenties. There it was, a pretty name, a name that would have made all the difference in how I was perceived. It suits me and I like it.

Later I found out my birth name (for lack of a better phrase) had a story. It’s a good story. I like that too.

Ever since I discovered my name I’ve always felt like it was really mine. I’s like to use it. But it is too late. I am forever that clumsy, ugly, hard to warm up to, name.

Why do I think that if I had my birth name I would have been more what I wanted to be? That even at this late date, it would just make me feel better?

A dear friend of mine changed her name late in life, just because she felt like it. She wasn’t adopted, she just wanted to be Mariah, instead of Mary Ann. It worked for her, she was a Mariah.

I just don’t know if I’m too far gone to be a Melanie.

Where The Hell Have I Been?

It’s a legit question, where the hell have I been?

Well, other than the obvious internet drama and the phoenix like upcoming of
Advocating For Change

and a bit of a technical problem with my blog, don’t ask, and don’t ask WordPress either, nobody knows.

there have been a few more events in my life that took all my time.

Oh where to begin?

How about with my dog?

Apollo, he’s a furry adoptee of unknown heritage. I didn’t adopt him, my since deceased Rottie, Mars, did. One evening, my hubby and I returned home to a commotion in the garage. Instantly we both feared that Mars had an animal trapped, and wasn’t going to let it go without eating it. So I sent my husband in. Instead of hearing the growling and screams I expected, hubby was cooing at something, so I went in. There was the cutest, thinnest little yellow puppy I had ever seen. Mars, the big bad Rottie, who had never shown one bit of interest in any other dog, was licking and petting it. He looked up at us as if to say, “This is Apollo, he kind of out of a place right now, mind if he crashes here for a while?”

We let the puppy stay. He was always very much Mars’ dog. Mars taught him to behave, and when to eat, and how to treat the people bearing food and affection. He raised Apollo well, though he was never really a people kind of dog, he was a dog dog that kind of liked hubby and I.

When Mars passed away Apollo got a bit closer to us, but there wasn’t a real close connection, we were like foster masters. He seemed okay with it, he preferred to do dog things and we let him.

We moved him at the beginning of last week. His new area allows him onto our back porch and a good view of us through the windows when we are in the back of the house. I don’t know if it was the stress of the move or being closer to us all the time, but he has decided that he is our dog now. He wants to be with us all the time. It’s kind of nice to have a dog that prefers our company again, but he feels that he should be able to come and go as we do. He, in fact leaves every time that we do.

His new fence is constructed exactly the same way, and of the same materials, as his old fence. The only difference being this one will not hold him, as far as I can tell nothing will.

Day One: The fenced area is complete, looks pretty good, we go to get the dog. He fine with the car ride, and seemingly his new area. It’s very large, 100 feet by 50 feet, includes our patio, back porch, lots of lawn, bushes and flowers, doggie heaven.

We show him around, walk him around it, spend a few hours out there with him. When we go inside he finds out that he can see us and the cats in the windows. He seems fine with that. We have our dinner, bid him good-night and go to bed. Thinking everything is fine in doggie-world. Dog seems happy.

Day Two: Husband goes home for lunch, no dog. There is no evidence of escape. He calls me, I leave work early and we begin the search. We walk the entire neighborhood, drive every street in town, even check out the pound, no Apollo. Just as we are about to give up, we check the pound again, there he is, rested, fed, and happy.

We go up to city hall and pay his bail, provide vial statistics, pick him up, and bring him home. The dog catcher remarked on what a nice, well behaved dog Apollo was. I almost asked him if he wanted to keep him. I watch over dog while hubby makes the fence higher. After several hours in the cold and rain, we are satisfied that doggie cannot escape.

I went in to dry off and shower the great smell of wet dog off. I had no more than got my hands washed when I saw him wriggling under the fence. I manged to run out and with the use of a flying tackle, catch the dog. This was a learning experience for both me and Apollo, he learned that yes, I can catch him, and I learned that I’m way too old for that flying tackle shit. I still hurt.

Hubby and I spend the next few hours staking the fence to the ground-in the 40 degree rain. I was beginning to wonder why I ever wanted a dog in the first place. Dog seems happy.

Again satisfied that doggie couldn’t escape, we are our dinner, bid Apollo good-night, and went to bed.

Day Three: Dog was still there in the morning. Good.

When my husband came home for lunch, the dog greeted him at the front door. Hubby returned Apollo to his enclosure and staked down another route of possible escape. He returned to work by 12:30. Before 1:00 PM, the neighbor called and said he had seen the dog out and had put him into our garage.

I did not know this. I was leaving work early so hubby and I could go out to dinner and do some shopping for stronger fencing material, in a nearby town. Upon my arrival at home, I see that hubby’s car is gone and so is the dog. I assume the worst. I cannot reach hubby on his cell phone, so I commence to search. I try Doggie Jail, no luck. drive all over town, no luck. An hour later, I see hubby at an intersection, follow him home, and he tells me that the dog has been in the garage all this time. He has been out buying fence strengthening materials.

Great.

We work on the fence again. It is warm and sunny which makes things a bit better, but it is clear that we aren’t going out for dinner. The dog has actually pulled out the extra stakes in the fence that we had put in the day before. We get this fixed.

We decide it might be wise to walk out into the yard and see if the dog will try to get out to follow us. As we walk away, the dog is pulling at the stakes with his teeth. When he finds that he cannot remove these, he begins to climb the fence. There is one point in the fence that was already there, it has grapes, honeysuckle and trumpet vine growing on it. He is pulling at the vines so he can get over the fence. The intelligence required to figure this and removing the stakes does astound me. This dog is solving problems. He gets out and comes happily running up to us.

We put a top board on the fence. It is dark now. Dog seems happy.

We go inside, have our dinner, bid the doggie a good-night, and go to bed.

Day Four: Dog is still there. Hubby is off work. He plans an all-out fence assault. This requires materials. As he goes to leave to fortify his arsenal, the dog greets him at the front door. Hubby puts dog in the garage and heads out for the lumber yard.

When he returns, the garage door is up about a foot and a half. The dog is happily playing at the neighbors. Yes, the dog opened the garage door. He’s like Steve fucking McQueen in The Great Escape, and that really worries me because we keep our motorcycles in the garage.

This is how it now stands. If you see a well behaved Shepard mix, give me a call.

Get Yourself Over There!

Joy’s back up!  That great news.

And a bunch of us have some other good news too.

I think Joy said it best…

Okay

So there for those of you who know there was a little rumble in our happy on line adopto-land. Those things happen whatevah, No love lost.

But something DID happen. We have our own forum now.

How cool is that?

I told you I was hooked up with the most Kick Ass Collection of Adoptees on the World Wide Web.

I am, we are, IT IS

Advocating for Change

Come and say hi, come and join.

You don’t have to be adopted at all, we will adopt you once you join, we will send you to a new and better life of our choosing.

Okay we won’t really do that, BUT we are a work in progress, and our mission is to be adoptee-centric, we are planning on adding more areas but since we are just getting our feet wet staying starting with just the adoptees.

So get your ass over there!

Of Saints And Sinners

Well, which are you?

There comes a time you have to decide.

Either has it’s advantages. It all just comes down to where you feel most comfortable.

Sainthood has a lot to offer. Sure there is all the stuff you have to endure to get the title, but once you get that bit of nastiness out of the way, it’s smooth sailing. You become the the subject of adoration, praises are sung to you, icons are made in your image. You are basically a rockstar without the bother of being creative.

The title of Sinner also has a lot to offer. There’s none of that enduring the torture thing. You can pretty much just declare yourself and start taking advantage of the perks immediately. It’s just like being a rockstar, you get all the good stuff, and if you’re good at it, and want to excel, you become creative.

Just one thing though, whichever you choose, there is no pretending.

That doesn’t mean that one cannot pretend to be the other. That means that you have to know which you are, nobody else. The consequences of fooling yourself are dire.

So decide, are you a Saint or a Sinner?

But please don’t tell me.

I’ve made my decision.

Did I tell you that once you decide, either way, there is one gift in common?

You can see the pretenders.

Candy-Ass Adoptees

That’s right, I’m come up with a whole new category of adoptees. These adoptees are bit harder it identify by the casual observer. They may appear to be dealing with their adoptee experience in a healthy way. They talk the talk, hell they even walk the walk, sometimes to an extent that they become deeply involved in reform.

But don’t be fooled. They are still doing everything they can to please Mommy and Daddy. If they have realized that there is nothing on this Earth they can do to please their own adoptive parents, anybody else’s will do just fine. Yeah, it’s a real sweet defense mechanism, just because their experience was bad, they think they can make up for it by licking the boots of any adoptive parent that shows them one bit of kindness. There is nothing in the world they won’t do to please them, even turn on their own. This has been known to exhibit itself in the form of martyrdom. Let’s face it, adoptive parents with a confidence problem respond to nothing more happily than adoptee martyrdom.

It’s cheap and it’s weak. If you have to point out over and over again how much you’ve done for everyone, how much is it worth, really? It tends to make you look like you did it more for the adoration than the substance. Let’s face it, if you really believe in what your doing, all pats on the back and atta boys are nice, but you would keep on doing it without them. If you are going to base the continuation of your work on the number of affirmations you get for it, why even bother?

Grow the fuck up. Follow your own vision without apology, or cowing down. If you truly have anything worth a good goddamn, it’s going to make some people feel uncomfortable, it’s going to piss some people off. Learn to live with it.

Another thing, if you want to change things, you are going to make mistakes, and you are going to have to acknowledge them, and those of the people who help you. Ignoring your own shortcomings, covering them with a cloak of martyrdom, doesn’t work. Your work is closely scrutinized, if you drop the ball, people are going to notice. Glossing things over make you appear to have zero credibility.

If you have a change of heart, admit it. The fact is, you are going to have to start over, but some will follow your vision, others won’t. If this is what you believe in, you should start from an honest place. Trying to keep everybody happy when your heart’s not in it will only serve to weaken what you are trying to build.

And finally, if you built it, you bear the responsibility for what happens there. Change is not a turn-key operation. The buck stops with you.

Better, Stronger, Faster

With international adoption beginning to tighten up and the relative rarity of domestic newborns available, lots of talk has turned to how the desperately childless will obtain children. Most of this talk centers around creating children from donor eggs, donor sperm, or both. PAPs having the luxury of being able to pick out the characteristics that they desire in their potential child. Sperm from Harvard, egg from Radcliffe.

Other than the obvious arguments that occur to me in using these kind of procedures, something else occurs to me. If we have a significant number of children conceived of in these way, what are the social implications for the children? Could things take an unexpected and frightening turn?

I imagine what most would think that these children’s reactions might be very close to those of run-of-the-mill adoptees, I wonder. As an adoptee, I was always told the standard story, that I was given up by a woman that couldn’t care for me. Other adoptees and I, to a large degree, got the message that we might tend to be somewhat genetically inferior. A good deal of our struggle has always centered around that, and I think, accounts for some of the most essential way that we view ourselves, and to a great extent the way other view us.

What if we were told something different?

What if our parents had been able to choose our traits to a certain degree? What if they were proud that they had been able to afford what they considered the best genetics for us? What if they had chosen traits that were superior to their own? What if they told us, and everyone else?

How would we react to our beginnings then?

Imagine if from your earliest memories you had been told that your genes were going to make you superior to others. That you would be smart, beautiful, and athletic. That you, and those like you, were essentially better than other children. That you knew others like yourself and that the rest of the world knew that you had been earmarked for superiority. That your were “special” in a real way.

Could that sense of entitlement become part of you? If so, wouldn’t it stand to reason that you would feel that all the things that came with your legacy should automatically be yours? Would it make perfect sense to form alliances among your own kind? Sort of a Skull And Bones Cub Scout Pack?

At some point, wouldn’t you understand that if you were made out of superior genetic stuff than your parents, that they would have very little to offer to you beyond basic needs? How quickly could inferior parents come to seen as a burden?

This is all my musing, but with the climate of consumerism so prevalent in today’s society, I don’t believe it’s impossible to imagine a generation of horrible, entitled, nasty children, created by those displaying the same traits, to a lesser degree.

Adoptee Movie Review

Since every AP in the world seems to have something to say about every movie that comes out in relation to adoption, I thought it was time to do something from the adoptee perspective.

I’m not much interested in Disney movies, or most new movies of any kind, soI’m going to review movies that I like.  Let’s start with a favorite of mine, The Night Of The Hunter.  Here’s a not too breif overview for those who haven’t seen it.

Brief Synopsis:
A bogus preacher marries an outlaw’s widow in search of the man’s hidden loot.

MPAA rating:


Runtime Listing: 90 or 93 mins.
Color/BW: Black and White
Sound: Mono (Western Electric Sound System)

Cast/Crew


Click for TCM Bio

Robert Mitchum
(Preacher Harry Powell)
Shelley Winters
(Willa Harper)
Lillian Gish
(Rachel Cooper)
James Gleason
(Uncle Birdie Steptoe)
Evelyn Varden
(Icey Spoon)
Peter Graves
(Ben Harper)
Don Beddoe
(Walt Spoon)
Billy Chapin
(John Harper)
Sally Jane Bruce
(Pearl Harper)
Gloria Castilo
(Ruby)
Mary Ellen Clemons
(Clary)
>>Complete Cast and Crew

Director:
Charles Laughton
Release Date:
Sep 1955
Premiere Information:
World premiere in Des Moines, IL: 26 Jul 1955, Los Angeles opening: 26 Aug 1955, New York opening: 29 Sep 1955
Production Date:
18 Aug–7 Oct 1954 at RKO-Pathé Studios
Duration (in mins):
90 or 93
Production Company:
Paul Gregory Productions
Distribution Company:
United Artists Corp.
Country:
United States
Synopsis


During the Depression of the 1930s, Preacher Harry Powell, a murderous, self-proclaimed “man of the cloth,” travels throughout rural West Virginia believing that he is doing the Lord’s work by killing rich widows. One evening, Preacher is apprehended by the police for stealing a car and is sentenced to thirty days at Moundsville Penitentiary. Soon after, in nearby Cresap’s Landing, Ben Harper robs a bank and kills two employees. Ben races home, where his son John and young daughter Pearl are playing with her doll, Miss Jenny. Ben, who is wounded, looks for a place to stash the stolen $10,000, and after hiding it, makes John and Pearl swear never to reveal where the money is. John then watches with horror as several policemen drag Ben away. Ben winds up in a cell with Preacher, who harangues him to reveal the money’s location. Ben scornfully dismisses Preacher, who nonethless thanks the Lord for leading him to a “widow in the making.” After Ben is hanged, John watches over Pearl and ignores the taunts of other children, while Willa takes a job at Walt and Icey Spoon’s ice cream parlor. One day, John visits his only friend, Uncle Birdie Steptoe, a well-meaning drunkard who lives in a wharfboat on the river. Birdie promises to repair Ben’s skiff, but John’s happiness is tempered when Birdie reveals that he met a stranger claiming to have known Ben. When John then goes to the ice cream parlor, he finds Willa, Pearl, Icey and Walt being charmed by the smooth-talking, gospel-quoting Preacher. Preacher tells them that he worked at the penitentiary, but John remains suspicious. When Preacher spots John eyeing the tattoos of the word “LOVE” on his right hand and “HATE” on his left hand, he wins over Icey completely by dramatically telling the story of “right hand-left hand,” and how love triumphs over hate in the Bible. Icey insists that Preacher attend the town picnic the following Sunday, then begins to pressure Willa to make herself attractive to the handsome stranger. At the picnic, Willa confesses to Icey her fear that Preacher is after Ben’s stolen money, and at Icey’s prompting, asks Preacher if Ben told him about the loot. After Preacher claims that Ben told him he had thrown it into the river, a relieved Willa asserts that she now feels clean. Later, when John goes home one night, he is confronted by Preacher, who reveals that he and Willa are to be married the next day. John replies that Preacher will never be his dad, then inadvertantly blurts out that he will “never tell.” Preacher realizes that John knows where the money is hidden but, stating that they have a long time to share their secrets, allows the boy to run off. On Willa and Preacher’s wedding night, Willa is deeply ashamed when Preacher roars at her that he will not be “pawing” her as the business of their marriage is to tend the children she already has, not to beget more. Later, Willa, who desperately wants to please Preacher, leads a revival meeting with him and renounces her former sinful life. One night, Pearl is playing outside with the stolen money, which Ben had hidden in Miss Jenny, when John finds her and stuffs the bills back into the doll, just as Preacher comes to call them in. After Preacher reprimands John for telling Willa that he has been asking him about the money, Willa scolds John for lying, as she believes that Preacher is innocent. Soon after, however, Preacher locks John in his bedroom while Willa is out, and takes Pearl to the parlor to question her. As Willa is coming home, she overhears Preacher threaten to tear off the little girl’s arm if she does not reveal the money’s hiding place. That night, as Willa lies in bed, she realizes that Preacher always knew that Ben did not throw the money away, and that John knows where it is hidden. Still unable to face the truth, Willa states that Preacher married her to save her soul, and lies passively as he slits her throat with his switchblade. The next morning, Preacher tearfully tells Walt and Icey that Willa has run away. While the Spoons are comforting Preacher, Uncle Birdie discovers Willa’s body, trapped in her old model-T car, in the river. Afraid that he will be blamed for the murder, Uncle Birdie returns to his boat and gets drunk. Later that day, John and Pearl are about to be apprehended by Preacher as they hide in the cellar when Icey suddenly arrives. The children reluctantly emerge at Icey’s bidding, and after Icey departs, John tells Preacher, who is badgering Pearl, that the money is buried in the cellar. Preacher forces the children to accompany him, but John succeeds in outwitting him and escapes outside with Pearl. While Preacher is attempting to break open the cellar door, John runs to Uncle Birdie for help, but finds him passed out. John then puts Pearl into Ben’s skiff and barely manages to push the little boat into the river before Preacher can catch them. Time passes as the children, relentlessly pursued by Preacher, float down the river. One morning, the sleeping children are awoken by Rachel Cooper, an elderly farmer who takes in orphaned and illegitimate children. The pragmatic but compassionate and religious Rachel currently cares for Ruby, Mary and Clary, and quickly settles John and Pearl in with her brood. One night, Ruby goes to town, supposedly for a sewing lesson, but in reality to meet boys. She is approached by Preacher, who questions her about John and Pearl. Although Ruby becomes enamored of Preacher, he leaves upon obtaining the information he seeks, and when she returns home, Ruby confesses her actions to Rachel. Rachel forgives the confused adolescent but remains worried about Preacher, who shows up the next day, claiming to be John and Pearl’s father. When John declares that Preacher is not his dad, Rachel realizes that Preacher is a fraud and chases him away with a shotgun. As he retreats, Preacher screams that he will be back that night, prompting Rachel to hold vigil with her gun. Preacher sits in the front yard, waiting, and when Rachel is distracted by Ruby, he slips into the house. When Preacher suddenly appears before her, Rachel shoots and wounds him, and he runs into the barn. Kept company by John, Rachel then waits through the night, watching the barn, until the state troopers arrive in the morning. As the men arrest Preacher, John, overcome by memories of Ben’s arrest, runs to the prone Preacher and hits him with Miss Jenny. When money pours from the burst doll, John, unable to bear the strain any longer, cries out for his father to take the money back. Later, John, incapable of looking at Preacher, is unable to identify him at his trial for Willa’s murder. After the trial, an irate Walt and Icey lead a mob to lynch Preacher, but he is snuck out the back by the police, who are assured by Bart the hangman that it will be a pleasure to carry out his duties. Later, on Christmas day, the girls give Rachel potholders, while John shyly presents her with an apple wrapped in a doily. Rachel gives John a pocket watch, and after the happy boy goes upstairs, warmly states that children continue to abide and endure.

If you haven’t seen this film, get thee to Netflix right now.    You cannot really get get the feeling of this film without seeing the simple, almost fairy tale style of the visuals in this movie.  Nor will you ever hear some very popular Christian hymns the same way ever again, after hearing Robert Mitchum sing them.  There is a reason this movie makes the top 10 creepiest movies of all time lists.

This is a movie about good and evil.  And it features the evilest adoptor ever.   Mitchum, as Powell embodies everything creepy and evil about adoptive parents doing the Lord’s work.  The way he charms everyone but John, the adopted son, is truly disturbing and works at some level as an example of how adoption is seen from outside the community.  This nice man willing to marry this woman with these two children and claim them as his own.  No one even thinks to look closer into what his motivations might be for doing so.  Everyone simply takes his actions at face value.  He is made the saint.

Powell’s manipulation, degradation, and finally murder of the children’s mother, Willa(played wonderfully by a young Shelly Winters) could be seen as an example of how first Mothers are treated.  She is charmed, rebuked for her sexuality, forced to publicly repent for sins that were not her own, and finally killed and tossed away when she is no longer of use.   Powell tells everyone that she has run-off to seek the pleasures of the flesh.

In a particularly chilling scene when Uncle Birdie sees Willa’s body at the bottom of the river, he is frightened to silence fearing that he would be blamed, as he is an outcast.  At this point only he and young John see Powell for who he is, and both are powerless to convince anyone else.  One has to think of Uncle Birdie as the adult adoptee desperately wanting to look out for the child in this situation.

John does convince his sister Pearl to run away with him and after a  journey with Powell on their heels, one of the most disturbing parts of the film, they do find an advocate in Rachel Cooper (Lillian Gish, still sweet and angelic in old age).  This woman has taken in many children and works as the example of the perfect adoptive parent.  The children have found their way to her, she has not asked for them. She accepts the children as they are, warns them of dangers, but allows them to work through their pain and problems as they must.  She defends the children from Powell, while singing a duet with him, shotgun in hand, in one of the oddest best scenes ever.  Then allows the children to heal in their own time.    She gets it.

In the first and last scenes in the film Rachel Cooper is portrayed almost as an angel among the heavens.  Possibly an overstatement of the role of good adoptive parent, but it works.

I’ve Got Some Catching Up To Do

But first I want to thank Joy and Michelle.   Both are unique and wonderful.

Joy, thank you for just being you.  The way you express yourself and are so open to the things that you are feeling has shown me how to get to those things in myself.  That is a gift, and your generosity with that gift has helped me and so many others, that there is no way to thank you enough.  Thank you for taking me along on our adventure to The Adoption Show, it came at a time that I needed something fun, different, and worthwhile.  It was all of those things.  It meant a lot to me.

But most of all, thank you Joy, for being my friend.  Thank you for sharing experiences with me, similar and dis-similar.  Thank you for helping me balance this tightrope between comedy and tragedy that we walk.  Thank you for gently putting me back in place when I need it.  Again, just thank you for being you.

Michelle, thank you for all the hours of hard work you put into your show.  Thank you for giving those that might not find an outlet for their stories anywhere else, a place to reach others.   Thank you for putting up with all the bullshit that comes with telling truths that are hard for some to hear.  Thank you for thinking that Joy and I have something to add to these stories, it is a honor to be included.

Thank you Michelle, for making it fun and easy.   Thank you for being the funny, warm woman that you are.  Thank you for telling me your story and your genuine interest in everybody else’s story.  Thank you for being someone I am so happy to consider an ally and friend.

Thanks to everybody else who had good things to say about the show.  Thank you Kim, Amy, Margie, for mentioning us on your blogs.  Thank you to all the readers and commenters.  You all make my day, everyday.

Now about this Thinking Blog Award.  

Joy Statuesque, thank you again, and thank you.  It does mean a lot to me to be recognized by fellow bloggers that I love to read, and I consider both of you light years beyond me.  I was going to do something silly and a bit snarky with this, but you caught me in one of my rare mellow moods.

Since everybody that I love already seems to have had this honor, I’m going to do something different.  I’m going to ask my readers to surf around and read five blogs that they haven’t read before.  There’s a lot of good stuff out there, and new bloggers coming online all the time, especially in the area of adoption.   If you see something you like, link them up, tell somebody else about them, leave a nice comment.  Make somebody’s day.

Alright, that was the last nicey-nice post you are going to get for a while.  There are a lot of things pissing me off.  I’ll be back.