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?

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Second Chances

I wouldn’t say the theme of this blog is dissatisfaction, but I have to admit it does come into play in many of my posts. It’s occurred to me that this is a bit selfish. Adoption isn’t just about me. There are more people involved, adoptive parents just don’t get enough chances with dissatisfaction here. I apologize, and it’s time for me to change my ways.

I’ve done a lot of writing about the act of adoption itself concerning adoptive parents, but paid less attention to their feelings after the fact. I should take their feelings into consideration. I realize that raising adoptees is no day in the park. Adoptive parents are entitled to their own frustrations, and yes, dissatisfaction. With that acknowledged, I do feel that I need to press on in the spirit of answers and resolution, as is only fair.

A website was brought to my attention that may offer hope to both adoptees and their adoptive parents in finding the satisfaction that we both deserve. It offer a novel approach, one that some may say is radical, the solution it offers may disturb some, but I think it could be viable in some cases. Please explore it with an open mind.

I wish solutions like this had been available when I was a child. The world was a smaller place then and the social climate wasn’t ready for such bold solutions. I have no doubt that if this ere an option it’s something that my own adoptive parents would be willing to explore. Everyone deserves a second chance, even adoptive parents.

I think you’ll find the site both informative and easy to use. I can’t imagine this won’t be the next big thing.

ChildTrader.com

Fear

In the quest for adoptee rights fear seems to be the most limiting factor.  Not first parents fearing their child will find them, not adoptive parents fearing the effects of their adoptee reuniting, but adoptee’s own fear.

I don’t believe this fear is specific.  Some may say they fear their adoptive parents reaction to reunion, some may say they fear rejection from their first parents, but I think this is not really the heart of this fear.   Maybe something closer to the truth is when I hear adoptees saying they don’t feel safe discussing certain issues.  Why is that and where does this fear really come from?

I’m beginning to think this fear stems from finally having to grow up.  Having to stop being the adopted child, and start being an atonomous adult.  It has to do with giving up the last shreds of being a foundling, and finding your own voice.

In order to demand equal treatment, you must first see yourself as equal.  You must be willing of let go of all the things that you’ve been told and take a look at what you really are.  If you see yourself as a victim, you may get understanding and support, but you will not be trusted with the tools of self-determination.  If you think you need help, there are many out there that will help you, but you are in no place to make demands.

In all struggles for equal treatment, the biggest obstacle has been convincing the oppressed group that they truly deserved the rights that they sought.  It was only when those groups could demonstrate that kind of confidence and self-pride that real changes could be accomplished.

The key to making gains is showing those who do not have a personal stake in your cause that you as a group are deserving of what you ask.  To do this the non-involved  must be able to identify with those seeking change.  They must be able to see some of themselves in those who struggle for change.  Those not effected must think that they would handle the situation as those asking for change.

We have to leave fear behind and present ourselves as equals, as a group deserving of change, we must show ourselves to be trustworthy with what we seek.  We must show ourselves as they see themselves.  We must leave the trappings of childhood behind and walk confidently toward that which we deserve.

We are no longer children.   We have nothing to fear.

Beep. Beep. Beep.

Is stupidity contagious? Does it happen to be going around like the flu?

I cannot believe the instances of just plain stupidity that I have seen today alone, and I’m not just talking about the internet here. In fact, I think that the internet displays a lower level of sheer dumbness than my everyday life.

I don’t think that the average person can find their way home consistently, though they seem to be able to find me every time. How does that work? Am I wearing some type of homing device that only the lacking in intelligence can pick up? Why are they so drawn to me?

Was I implanted with a device during those missing weeks when I was a newborn? That’s the only possible explanation that I can figure out. Did someone at some black budgeted government agency decide to take the experiment of adoption one step further? I was born in 1965, this was the era of cats being implanted with listening devices in order to spy on the Ruskies. Would it really be so odd that they might decide to implant adoptees in order to trace them through their lives?

The thing is, I fear this is working out about as well as other covert programs of the era. The Ruskie spying cats were seduced, wandered off, and were hit by cars. It was simply a silly bad idea that didn’t work. I wonder if I was set up to either spy on Regular Upstanding American Citizens like my adoptive parents? Did they want to know what Mr. and Mrs. America were discussing in the privacy of their own home? Did some bright young man in the CIA think that bugging the baby was a great way to do this? Were the details not quite worked out? Was I implanted with something that just sends a signal but doesn’t record, does this signal somehow attract the stupid?

I’m imagining a steady tone. Beep. Beep. Beep. Like some moron drawing Sputnik.

Is it possible?

OK, some idiot is going to think I’m serious. They aren’t going to be smart enough to read this whole thing before they hit the comment button. Could this be the draw of the implant?

20 Things #3

2. You and Jesus really don’t have all that much in common.

Have you been told that you were at the center of some God initiated conspiracy to be placed with your adoptive parents? That maybe your a-folks couldn’t have children of their own for a reason? That another woman found herself in a difficult situation just so you could be adopted? That folks at social services or an agency fulfilled the role of angels his scenario? You are not alone, this is a common piece of adoption mythology. It also makes about as much sense as them telling you they found you under a cabbage leaf.

There were real and distinctly ungodly forces working in order to get you adopted. These included agencies, advertising, and the state court system. None of these are directly overseen by any supreme being.

Your parents may have prayed for a child, but only if you subscribe to the adage that God helps those that help themselves, can you even begin to connect the adoption process with anything like the divine. There is some precedent in Christian tradition for children being granted for reasons of God’s choosing, but these almost always involve incest, immaculate conception, or old ladies producing children to be savior’s playmates. So unless you, or your bestest buddy, are doing the twist on the surface of the swimming pool, I think we can count that out.

Even if the agency involved with your adoption was connected with a church, it was by no means a case of the hand of God working to bring you to your destination. It’s just too problematic to work out which God inspired agency had the right bead on God’s true work. The big two in adoption, the Catholics and the Later Day Saints, can’t even agree on what their main man Jesus was up to for several years, I doubt they would agree that any child that would come into the other’s possession had much potential for eternal blessing.

The very thought that God would go to such round about means as adoption requires to bring your parents a child is just silly. Think about it, as nice people as your a-parents might be, what have they done to justify these lengths? Just wanting a child really doesn’t fly with God. Those on record that have been divinely granted children have gone through a whole hell of a lot either previous to receiving their miracles, or very soon thereafter. Driving you to soccer practice, allowing you to take up the trombone in the fifth grade, or even surviving your teenage rebellion, just doesn’t rate.

On the same note what about you? If you are truly a gift from God, what have you done? Divine status has it’s responsibilities and expectations. Unless you are the new Messiah or part of his crew, that pretty much leaves you out. If you think you might be the new Messiah, at this point I should probably suggest you do a bit more serious reading than this, on psychological issues. If you do not at this point have any ascribed miracles, bilocations, or feel the need to lead a political and social movement redefining an established religion, I feel that we can move on.

20 Things

Continuing my flow, you know, we’re still on #1

1. There is no I in adoption.

Still not convinced? What about when they actually got you home?  It was surely about you then, wasn’t it?  No, not really.

Sure there are about 50 photo albums full of pictures of you before you were two-years-old and your a-parents have about a million stories from that time, but this is really where a lot of the problems start.  During this time when you were dependent, compliant for the most part, and could not talk, your a-parents started to assign you a lot of qualities that you just don’t posses.  If you a-dad was an accountant, they became convinced that you would be good with numbers, if your a-mom was an artist, they assumed you would be able to draw. Your a-parents weren’t evil in trying to assign you those traits, it is natural to wish that what are seen as good things are shared, but none of this was based in any kind of reality for you.  Your inherit traits came from your natural family, they may or may not have matched with theirs.  But in being able to fulfill your role as a baby by eating, sleeping, crying, and goo-gooing they assumed that you would continue to fulfill their ambitions.

So when is adoption about the adoptee?  Certainly not during childhood.  The I in adoption gets lost in striving to make a-parents proud and the insistence that the adoptee be grateful.  Being grateful for what? Essentially being saved from the self that they would be without the intervention of the agencies, the adoptive parents and society as a whole.

The I is definitely missing in adulthood.   Adoption is supposed to be a thing that we are over, a non-event, a curious fact at best.  When you say I am adopted, it is expected to be followed by a tribute to those that saved you from who you could have been.  A thank you for the absence of the I.  The thing that was never really about you, that fulfilled everybody else’s needs is to have made you never realize that the I was ever there at all.

I’m working on it folks….

20 Things Adoptees Should Know

There are what seems to be millions of guidebooks out there to help folks deal with almost any circumstance that comes up in life. Hundreds of authors will help you out with what happens when you get cancer to interacting with your personal computer. Dummies are told how do to everything from motorcycle riding and bar-b-queing to handling divorces and a death in the family. There is a “What To Expect” book from conception to college. If you are looking into adoption everything from the first paperwork, to home study, to choosing an agency, to raising the child once you get it, with special emphasis of the joys of raising that child, are written of to a degree one would already have grandchildren by the time they got through it all. But one experience is sadly ignored in this pile of advice, the adoptee themselves.

If you head out to your local bookstore, the adoption section is big, but nothing is really by, for, and about,adoptees. Sure you’ll find a few books about, or even by, adoptees, mostly detailing their search and reunion, with special attention paid to there undying gratitude to their adoptive parents, and if it’s a big enough store, you may find a few scholarly tomes on the effects of adoption on adoptees. But none of these really fill a need that I feel is out there. The need for a real guide book for dealing with the fact that you were adopted. Regular day to day stuff, a survival guide, if you will.

I’m not certain I’m the person to write this, but I’m going to give it a shot. If it hasn’t been done before, there isn’t anything to judge too harshly against. I’m going to use a listing format. It’s easy, and gives me some time to come up with stuff in installments. So here goes..

20 Things Adoptees Should Know

1. There is no I in adoption.

That’s right, no I. But you say it’s right there between the t and the o, technically yes, but practically no. If the I was really there, one might think that adoption is about you, the adoptee. It is not. Adoption is about a whole lot of things, none of which are really you.

Adoption is about a need being filled. It’s not really your need. But you might say, “I needed a home.” Yes you did, but that was secondary, somebody out there needed a baby, and you happened to be available. The circumstances that lead up to your availability, and even the fact that it was you who was available, are secondary to the transaction that took place. After all if it wasn’t you, don’t you think the next baby in line would have sufficed? It is about the getting a baby, really any baby, that is at the time available to the prospective adoptive parents. You weren’t special, they didn’t choose you, there is not a baby store where they pick out the cutest one, your adoptive parents took what was given them.

Most frequently the need for a baby stems from fertility issues. That as absolutely nothing to do with you. You are the product of a distinct lack of fertility issues, in most cases. You had not a thing to do with your adoptive mother’s fibroids, or adoptive father’s low sperm count. You are not the reason they delayed childbearing or shelled out thousands of dollars for failed fertility treatments. You weren’t even conceived when this all reared it head. You were simply the cure of last resort.

At some point it was decided if they could not have a child of their own, they would adopt. You are not a child of their own, you are second choice. They settled. That is about their decision, not you. Again you were the one available when their number came up.

Some adopt because they want to save a child in need. Sure you may have been a child in need but this isn’t about you either. They weren’t thinking of you specifically, they were thinking of a conceptual child. An essentially faceless child. You just happened to be the charity project available at the time. If there had been a more needy child up for grabs, they could have just as easily picked them up.

Even those that adopt just for the fact they want to share their love with a child didn’t really have you in mind. They just wanted a child, an available child.

More to come, I have a job here you know, stay tuned.