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Tuesday, 4 September 2007
Time for me to Migrate to a new blog place

I am going to check out Wordpress and blogspot and Live Journal. This place irritates me with all of the junk advertising. Like i want my blog filled with advertisements to find surrogate mothers. Vomit.

I want to start writing again. It is so difficult to do this. Sometimes i just want to stick my head up my ass and pretend I have never heard of surrogacy or adoption. I wish i could, but it is totally who i am. I guess you can say i m stuck with it. Undecided


Posted by sonofasurrogate at 1:51 PM EDT
Saturday, 26 August 2006
Pictures

 

I hope I did that right.

 

Shit.

One more time.

My sister and me with Jason. I am not with Jason any more but we are still really good friends. We are both too screwed up and we know it. I need a non-adoptee relationship because otherwise....we are too alike.


Posted by sonofasurrogate at 11:52 AM EDT
Updated: Wednesday, 8 August 2007 6:05 PM EDT
Saturday, 12 August 2006
Happy Adoptees
Mood:  celebratory

http://www.adoptingback.com/happyadoptees.html

This article was written by one of the first people i encountered in my quest to find understanding. She still remains a special part of my life through her work, even though she'll never know it. She is Julie. She is an artist. A writer. She is one of us. She is an adoptee.

 

Happy Adoptees
  
by Julie A. Rist 
I am not the happy and grateful adoptee that you want me to be.  Don't get me wrong.  I was happy and grateful for almost 45 years -- or so I believed.  Had you asked me then how I felt about being adopted, you might have heard something like, "Great!  I am so grateful to my (adoptive) parents for all they did and, no, I am not interested in finding my 'real' family.  My adoptive family is my 'real' family, thankyouverymuch, and they are a wonderful family.  I've had a wonderful life.  Of course, I am grateful to my natural mother for giving me life.  Oh, you're adopting?  How wonderful!"

I enthusiastically expressed that view all those years because I needed to convince myself that my life was normal and right and that I was okay.  I did it because everyone else wanted me to feel that way, too.  And I thought I would die if I ever looked deeper.

Happy children

You've seen adopted children who seem to be perfectly happy, too.  They smile and have fun just like those whose families are intact.  They act happy and, occasionally, they are.

Yes, adopted children smile and laugh.  Did you stop smiling after you lost a loved one?  Didn't you still laugh when someone said something funny?  Weren't you still capable of having some fun? 

Did you ever smile and act happy to hide your grief? 

Of course you did.  But even when you smiled, those close to you knew it didn't mean you were happy.  Those close to you accepted and expected your pain and sadness.  They did not expect you to be happy about your loss.  They gave you something most adoptees do not get: acknowledgement of, empathy for, and permission to express your grief. 

What grief?

In the early '50s when I was adopted, little was known about the power of the bond between mother and child.  Society still accepted Locke's theory of tabula rasa -- that we are born as blank slates.  John Locke died in 1704, yet his theory survived until the mid- 50s.  Now, however, we know that even before birth babies are intelligent, remembering and aware beings with their own personalities.   

We know that much of who we are today was created in the womb. We know that mother and child are a single entity, profoundly connected physiologically, emotionally and spiritually -- even through early infancy.  A baby does not understand that he or she is an individual until at least 9 months after birth. 

Through their research, authorities have determined that, when the mother/child entity is split, it causes an acute and lasting trauma in both mother and child.  The repercussions are ominous and tenacious.  Though they become buried deep inside, the repercussions follow both mother and child throughout the remainder of their lives.

It is difficult, emotionally, to imagine a tiny baby's very real feelings about the loss of his or her mother -- the terror of losing all that is familiar, all that is comfort -- the unique heartbeat, scent, taste, voice, rhythms and vibrations.  Babies are born needing and expecting these familiar things which only their natural mothers can provide. 

Even with this knowledge which has accumulated over the past 20 years, there remain those in our society who sever the mother/child entity as casually as they would cut a common earthworm in two.

Ignored trauma is another trauma

A child's first experience in the adoptive family is usually joining in everyone else's happiness over his or her tragedy.  The child's first trauma is ignored or dismissed, perhaps in the belief that enough love will make it disappear.  It will not.  In essence, the adoptee is expected to dance along with everyone else on his or her own mother's virtual grave.  Most experts in the fields of adoption psychology and trauma consider this dismissal to be the adoptee's second trauma.

The first and second traumas are the root causes for a number of issues and for additional traumas, which accumulate one upon another (what Betty Jean Lifton calls "Cumulative Trauma").

We may not want to imagine these things because it is uncomfortable to do so but, to act in a child's best interest including protecting his or her emotional health, we need to suffer through such discomfort.

Denial

Over 14 years ago, I began 9 years in therapy, struggling with a boatload of issues that are utterly classic in adoptees.  I didn't accomplish much.  The problem was that I did not connect them with my adoption experience.  In all fairness, my therapist encouraged me to recognize the connection, but I was so deep in "De Nile" that I could not see it -- indeed would not see it.  I needed too desperately (like most of society) to believe that my adoption experience was the positive part of my life -- not the source of my problems.

Denial is powerful and, in many ways, a gift.  It is a state we create in order to avoid feeling the pain of seeing the truth.  When a baby's world is gone, he or she does whatever it takes to survive.  If the child does not get empathy and permission to grieve, he or she has no choice but to psychologically deny the trauma.  And that includes smiling to hide the grief.  The child begins to believe that his or her feelings are unimportant -- even wrong.  The child learns how not to feel.

I do not use the word "denial" in a damning or judgmental way.  It is a normal and natural human survival tool.  I not only acknowledge it but, knowing intimately the pain that comes with shedding that denial, I am reticent to nudge others out of it.  Denial can be a trauma victim's most effective tool for survival, because revisiting the event that caused the trauma can feel literally life threatening.

The downside of denial unfortunately outweighs the upside.  Denial prevents us from understanding and effectively managing all the issues that stem from the disintegration of the mother/child entity.  What are the most common issues?

Identity

Issues of the adoptee are barely acknowledged by society and then only in those who are of a different race than the adoptive family -- as if physical differences are the only ones that matter.  But there are reasons why we see repetitive generations of lawyers, healers, scholars, actors, artists, etc. in natural families.  It is not just a matter of continuing a family business or tribal tradition.  It is a matter of like characteristics being perpetuated, generation after generation, being nurtured by genetic mirroring.

Even if we are not transracial or biracial adoptees, we still do not get the genetic mirroring that we so desperately need.  We don't know how tall we'll get, or whether our hair will get darker or lighter, our skin clearer, our bodies thinner or thicker.  We don't know who we'll look like when we're older.  Our own natural characteristics are unfamiliar, so we don't know what we should or should not choose to develop.

Although such things may seem inconsequential to those around us, they are monumental to us, and serve to make us feel even more alienated, more lost.

When an adoptee's characteristics do not fit those of the adoptive family (or the extended adoptive family), there can be trouble.  In my case art, writing and psychology were all frowned upon by my adoptive family.  Yet those characteristics run happily in my natural family.  Though my adoptive parents meant well, I grew up feeling like a bad seed.  Out of desperation for approval, I pursued career paths that I thought would please them but even those successes were never enough to overcome their disappointment.

Carrying the surname of someone else's family also contributes to identity problems.  The child is expected to embrace the adoptive family's ancestry, as if his or her own is immaterial -- as if living in the dark is no big deal.

Low self-esteem

Identity issues can explain some low self-esteem, a classic adoptee problem.  Another cause is some adoptive parents' -- and society's -- (unmistakable yet unspoken) low opinion of the stereotypical "birthmother."  Not only is this an unfair and incorrect judgment about our mothers, but adopted children incorporate these attitudes into their own self-image. 

Along with this message, adopted children are often told that, essentially, their mothers loved them so much that they gave them away.  This makes no sense.  If my mother really loved me that much, she would have kept me -- therefore there must be something wrong with me.  This creates low self-esteem.

Low self-esteem leads to people-pleasing.  Adoptees are exemplary people-pleasers.  That is why we so often appear to be happy and are pleasant to be around.  Lots of smiling!  Our original purpose as adoptees was to fulfill the desires of others, to make them happy.  Early on, our authentic selves are sacrificed to fill those needs.

Powerlessness and control

For many adoptees, it is easy to fall into despair and feel powerless over circumstances that emotionally healthy people can overcome with relative ease.  This is rooted in our separation experience, when we felt powerless, helpless and hopeless.  Paradoxically, we can become obsessed with controlling other parts of our lives, those things and events that we can control.  This is conflict waiting to happen.

Depression

Often, depression can come from the sheer exhaustion of maintaining pretense (being in denial).  No matter how much love and care we are given, the truth is that we are (and will always be) someone else's children.  Yet we exhaust ourselves emotionally, pretending otherwise because we believe it will ensure our survival and prevent another abandonment. 

We also expend a lot of energy fantasizing about our natural mothers, and a lot of energy burying our authentic selves in favor of people-pleasing.  All these things take a great deal of energy yet offer little reward  -- fertile ground for depression.

Trust

One of our most common problems is that of trust.  The original disintegration of the mother/child entity can literally destroy a baby's nascent sense of trust.  Once lost, it can never be recovered.  Only a tentative sense of trust can be painstakingly built by the adoptive family, yet it will always be difficult and sometimes impossible.  Again paradoxically, we tend to casually trust anyone and everyone.  It is when deep trust is required, as in intimacy, we tend to fall short.

Abandonment

Abandonment is the most common issue of the adoptee.  Despite the true circumstances of the separation from our natural mothers, we experienced this emotionally as abandonment.  Even with later knowledge of those circumstances, the early emotional experience of abandonment never leaves us.  Relationship troubles abound.  Other issues such as trust, identity, low self-esteem and control compound these troubles.

Many people have abandonment issues.  For adoptees, however, abandonment is not just painful.  It can feel like annihilation.

"Only eyes washed by tears can see clearly." -- Louis Mann

Staying in denial, while it may be a refuge, hurts everyone involved.  Although seeing the truth also hurts, don't parentless children deserve what they truly need?  How can society continue pretending that the smiles are genuine simply because it is easier than acknowledging the underlying problems?

For those who genuinely care about these children and want to take that first step toward seeing clearly, start with one of Betty Jean Lifton's books, such as Journey of the Adopted Self or Nancy Verrier's The Primal Wound.  They offer insight into the issues of adoptees, adoptive parents, and of mothers who have lost children to adoption.  Such knowledge and understanding can open our minds and hearts to alternatives that are better than adoption.

Smiles as masks

Despite all these traumas and issues, adoptees smile.  We smile to hide a world of hurt that neither we nor the rest of the world want to face.  We smile because the world needs us to smile.  They need to believe they are doing the right thing for us, to forget those silly "issues," and call us "happy."  By smiling, we help them do that. 

Next time you encounter a "happy" and "grateful" adoptee who had "wonderful" adoptive parents and a "wonderful" life, look a little closer. 

Ms. Rist is an artist, writer, and adoption alternatives activist living in Phoenix. 

Copyright © J. A. Rist 2002.  All rights reserved.

 


Posted by sonofasurrogate at 11:57 AM EDT
Updated: Saturday, 12 August 2006 12:15 PM EDT
Wednesday, 9 August 2006
Love isn't all you need
Mood:  incredulous

Jason. My partner, my friend, my advocate and sometimes, my rival. We've been through so much together that sometimes i feel like i have known him all my life.

Jason is a Saggitarius, so of course we are going to clash cuz i'm a water baby, but at the core level, we are so similar that it is scary. Jason is an adoptee. I don't know if I was drawn to him because of that or this was an experience i knew subconsciously that i needed to have. Me being an adoptee too (cuz that's what i am even if i was only adopted by the amom being a surrogate child) you can only imagine the issues that abound in our little studio. 2 adoptees, 3 shrinks, 4 mothers, 5 bottles of non-aresol hair spray, 1 bed. God help us.

Jason is a year younger than me and he actually had a family adoption. You wouldn't think it would be as bad seeing that he always knew who he was and where he came from. His uncle adopted him and raised him with his wife who was infertile. Or maybe it was his uncle that was. Who cares. They couldn't have kids was the point. So when Jason's mom got pregnant at 16, the family decided that Jason would go to his uncle and they would then be known as mom and dad. Sounds good in theory, doesn't it? Win-win, right?

So Jake and Roberta (Robbi) raised J with all the love and care you would expect his real parents would have given him. They provided him with every opportunity, every material possession he could want, a good education and a very stable home. J loves them like there is no tomorrow and will defend them until their deaths. He always knew who his real mom was and she loved him too. Happy-happy. Joy-joy. All is well, right?

Then came the time last year that J's real mom had her second child. Bev was 35 or 36, somewhere around that. I have never seen the boy unravel quite like he did that day. After we returned from the hospital, Jason and i sat beside each other on the bed. I knew something was wrong because when J chews the inside of his mouth, something is bothering him. I just didn't know how deeply it went for him.

I innocently asked, "So J, whaddya think of Connor? Isn't he an absolute doll?" The dam burst, the levy broke and the floodgate blew apart at that moment. J, sobbing the hardest I have ever seen anyone do, flung himself across my lap, clutched my knees, and wept into my stoneblast Levis. "WHY DIDN'T SHE KEEP ME?! WHY DIDN'T SHE WANT ME?!" he wailed. Over and over he repeated these two things until the dam broke inside myself. I was taken back to the time when I first met my siblings and how badly that stung. Seeing the family photos, all happy and smiling, but I wasn't there. I was missing. I knew exactly how J felt. My mother didn't keep me either. My mother didn't want me either. No matter how much our other parents did, our real mothers did not.

I bent over and sobbed into J's tee shirt. 2 barely grown men transformed back into the raging, grieving infants taken from their mothers and replaced with substitute mothers. No matter how much love we were given, it wouldn't take away the pain of losing our 1st mothers. I felt a connection to J that superceded anything physical or mental. It was a spiritual connection with a grieving brother.

Something horrible happened to us at birth. We lost our mothers. They did not die, but they might as well have been dead because we lost them in the capacity of mother and to a tiny baby, that feels like death. They are all we ever knew and suddenly, they were gone.

How ignorant it is for us to think that babies don't feel or don't remember. Study after study comes out to reveal how aware we really are and how bonding begins before birth.

I feel for J in what he has had to go through this last year and will have to go through for some years more. I remember how it was for me at 17 when it all came down. After years of "I am happy to be adopted, my parents love me, they are my parents and I am so grateful to my real mom for making the best decision she could by giving me to my parents" the shit finally hit the fan and he was covered from head to toe. Oh yah, he alway had the classic adoptee issues. What? I saw it. He just never associated it with his adoption. Abandonment issues, rejecting before you reject him, you just can only get "so close". Christ. Can you imagine with the two of us like this? It is a wonder that we have stuck together. I almost think its some sort of adoptee alliance that gets us through. Stick together because we are the only ones who understand what it is like to be us.

I don't know why I have started writing about this again. I wanted to give it up, but got encouraged when I had been contaced by some others in my same shoes. Hella pissed at some of the e-mails I get. Some of them are just downright cunt-ish. Why is it that I get blasted for being the child of a surrogate and an adoptee? Because I am not grateful? Cuz I don't kiss the ass of surrogacy and adoption? Kiss the ass of the industry? 

It must threaten you. I must threaten everything you are and everything you stand for to make you write some of those bitchy things to me. I must scare the piss out of you to get so damned defensive. It also hurts, because you care nothing for the feelings of the person these arrangements affects the most - the child.

If my mother was killed in a horrible accident on her way home from the hospital or if she perished in childbirth, I would get all permission to grieve I needed. When I expressed my rage against the forces or thing that killed my mother, you would all give me all the sympathy in the world. I would be allowed for me to grieve, be angry, to rage. Well my mother died as my mother when the forces that be took me away from her. However I am not allowed to grieve because that force was called surrogacy and those people who took me away were called Intended Parents. It's becoming like a sacred cow. Poor poor infertile couples. Ungrateful adoptees. Acquiring that chikd by any means available is far more important to what is actually DOES to the child.

It's bullshit. Pure garbage. Its disenfranchized grief and it is self-perpetuating. No wonder I just don't "get over it'.

So John and Paul were wrong and Aretha was right. Love isn't all you need. You need respect, too. And respect is something I never got. Neither did Jason. The first disrespect came when you took us from our mothers and you gave us a substitute. AS IF we had no feelings. AS IF we wouldn't notice.

Well, we did notice. We'll notice for the rest of our lives.

"Adoption loss is the only trauma in the world where the victims are expected by the whole of society to be grateful" - The Reverend Keith C. Griffith, MBE

 

 

 

 

 

 


Posted by sonofasurrogate at 6:48 PM EDT
Updated: Wednesday, 9 August 2006 9:17 PM EDT
Sunday, 16 July 2006
Been gone a long time
Mood:  vegas lucky

ALl of the sudden I am getting emails for me to come back and write more. Im not sure where it is coming from but fine with me!

I live in Bean Town now

One more year to go and I will have a bachelor's in political science. I don't know what I will do with the degree. It was more of a thing that interested me and would piss off the folks, so I did it. My dream would be to do an internship in DC. Do they let gays be interns? LOL


Posted by sonofasurrogate at 2:09 PM EDT
Updated: Sunday, 16 July 2006 2:25 PM EDT

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