Go To the Light, Boy

There are many things in this world that make an adoptee feel short changed.  Closed records, denial of ethnicity, the list goes on.  I wonder if these things ever end, even in the afterlife.

We’ve all heard the stories from those who have been clinically dead and revived.  The white light, the feelings of complete peace, grandma standing there with a plate of cookies.  It all sounds very nice and reassuring.

I’m not sure if I believe any of it, I am unaffiliated as faith goes.  In fact I am much more likely to believe that death is just that, death.  We don’t go on.  No part of us remains after the synapses quit firing.

But what if I’m wrong?  What if we do go on?  Is the adoptee experience unique even into our leaving this plane of existence?

I’m sure everybody gets the white light, but who’s waiting?  Do I get my dear a-grandmother or the b-grandmother I never knew?  If they didn’t know me or know about me, will they show up?  What the heck would they have to say to me if they did? Do they have to show up if they want to or not?

Will my a-relatives be able to get in to my premere in the after world?  If not, will they even be notified?  Is there a list they can sign up for?

What if I don’t want to see them?  Will I have to put up with their presence like someone that you feel obligated to invite to events in life?  Can I have them escorted out? Is there the possibility of a free for all, knock down drag out fight?  If so, would anyone get hurt?

Guess I’ll just have to wait and see.

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The Quest

As I embark on my quest I am reminded of my hero Opus, from Bloom County, who one time set out on a similar quest. While I’m sure that mine will not involve a ship from Greenpeace, I cannot completely rule out the participation of heavily armed Mary Kay ladies.

But first things first, I must prepare. Quest require that physical and mental abilities be honed to their sharpest. I may face many obstacles, I must be ready. Foremost in my mind is the fact that the CD player in my car has shot craps. I must get this replaced before I embark upon my adventure. The very thought of traveling those many miles with only the sound of my tires on the pavement fill me with dread. Though my traveling companion is a great conversationalist, I don’t think that I can make this quest without a whole lot of help from Don Henley, P-Funk, and NPR.

Music is an important element for the modern quester. It allows you to set the mood, garner strength, organize thoughts, and ignore your traveling companion. If Odysseus had a CD player The Odyssey may well have gone much differently, especially if he was an Iron Maiden fan. Come to think of it, if those soothsayers and oracle sniffers had been granted the sight of an Iron Maiden catalog, a whole lot of those mythic misunderstandings could have been avoided.

So my quest will start with in-dash car stereo quest.

That and I probably need to get caught up with the laundry…..

On Being An In-Law

I have a big weekend coming up. It’s my in-laws 60th wedding anniversary. All of my hubby’s brothers and sisters are coming back to celebrate and see our house. I invited mt b-sisters to come too, they won’t be coming.

My in-laws have always been wonderful to me. Especially my husband siblings. I like them very much. I wouldn’t say that we have any kind of real connection though. It doesn’t bother me, I’m an in-law. We get on well, which is good, and makes things much easier for my husband, but that’s the extent of it. It is how it should be.

The thing is I feel like an in-law in every family type relationship I have. In my adoptive family, I’m treated very much as just that, I’m included but mainly as an after thought. With my birth family, I’m not even always thought of. I’m no closer to any of them than I would be if I was “married in” as they say up here.

I think that’s part of the reason things like anniversary celebrations are sort of lost on me. Because I don’t have any real connections I don’t feel like I have anything I can really celebrate. I’m not a part of any dynasty, any line, any family reaching back into time. I’m simply just here.

I do envy that things like anniversaries can be celebrated. I just can’t imagine what it is like to feel any real connection to something like that. I just don’t have any way to take any pride or comfort in the milestones that mean so much to others. I do wish that I had something to base my existence on like they do. But I don’t, I am and that’s all there is.

So I will do what is expected of me. I’ll help with the arrangements. I’ll show up looking clean and respectable. I’ll smile for the inevitable photographs knowing that when they are shown if anybody asks who I am, the holder will say, “Oh she’s just an in-law.”

Adoptee as Muse

One would think that adoption would be a stimulus for the arts, and it does seem to be when it comes to adoptees. I know of many very talented adoptees working in all kinds of disciplines and mediums. They write, paint, play music, I’m primarily a weaver. Most are work with a high level of technical proficiency combined with a good bit of talent.

We start to run into problems when we act as muses. Even the thought of adopting can inspire the average potential adoptive parent to create some of the worst kind of poetry ever written in the English language. They then post this on the internet to the praises of all who also are caught up in the desire to grow their family. Not a thought is given to the offense of first parents, adoptees, or the matter of good taste.

I wish I could say that it ends here, but no, in this day of inexpensive music recording and MySpace music, adoptees also inspire song. Lots of songs. All of them bad. Most start off simply, a reedy voiced girl heard over the gentle strumming of a guitar, or the sound of a electronic keyboard, lamenting the loneliness and poverty the poor child has endured. Then the music builds at the mention of the adoptive saviours, ending in a fake string enhanced crescendo that would make any big haired, power ballad pushing, 80’s band step back in awe. Yes, it is the worst kind of crap.

I am not as familiar with visual media created by those inspired by adoptees, though I’m sure it’s out there. It does seem that ever adoptive parent fancies themselves a fashion designer, one only has to type “adoption” into the search engine at Cafe Press to see hundreds of efforts on that front. I wouldn’t suggest eating right before doing this if you are an adoptee, or at all sensitive.

All I really want to know is what we have done to deserve this kind of mistreatment? Most of this focuses on the most innocent among us, the very young children. What have we done to so offend the God’s of decency? Why is it that we must endure this artistic flailing directed toward us? Is this the price we must pay for creativity later in life? It just seems so unfair to forever be associated with such crap.

For the love of God, if you think you might be inspired by an adoptee, or the institution of adoption, and are not an adoptee, just don’t do it. Stop. Think. Focus on something else. We will all be better for it.

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.

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.

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.