Dear Adoption, Tell My Mom Merry Christmas

By a young adoptee’s voice…

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Dear Adoption, Tell My Mom Merry Christmas

I don’t know if my mom celebrates Christmas because I don’t know who she is. I know she exists but I don’t know where she’s at.

Christmas and my birthday are the hardest times and are the times that I think about my mom the most.

I try thinking of meeting her except it’s too hard to really know what that would be like.

I think about my mom a lot and if we like the same stuff and if we both have brown eyes.

I think it’s possible that she doesn’t think about me like I think about her except I also think that it is impossible. I guess that I don’t really know.

If I could send her a Christmas card I would put my school picture in it and a picture of my family because I would want her to…

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The Baby Peddlers

If you have not read much about adoption, this is the one to read. Investigative journalism at its best.

“When WCAU-TV did an adoption series eight months ago, reporter Jim Walker ran into the same practice. His crew filmed one Northeast housewife talking to a Miami lawyer about adopting a baby that was then a six-month-old fetus, a fetus that already had a $10,000 price tag on its head. The lawyer also asked for a $1500 deposit before the baby was born.”

Maury Z. Levy: Greatest Hits, Volume One

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[Author’s note: This story led to major Congressional hearings in DC, led by Sen. Walter Mondale. The hearings resulted in new legislation. The story also won some awards.]

SHE ALWAYS THOUGHT it was a figure of speech. She’d hoped that one bearing her name wouldn’t have to lose its life. They were such lovable little things, so round and soft and white. But deep in the dawning of a cold Monday morning, the rabbit died. Crazy rabbit.

It created certain problems because Carrie and Jimmy weren’t married, even though they had told all of their relatives and most of their friends that they were, just to avoid the hassles. But when Jimmy found out about the baby, he didn’t exactly run out of the apartment to buy a box of cigars. He just ran out.

Carrie was 20 years old, a very thin girl with very small bones and very blue…

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Dear Adoption, I Know You, Now. I See You

Another adoptee shares his story, his voice.

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Dear Adoption, I Know You, Now. I See You

I’m not that baby long ago trembling, motherless, unloved, while strangers decided my fate. In a crib, maybe in someone’s arms, clearly not standing in a courtroom while others spoke in my “best interests.”

I asked my first mom late last year if she’d like to “unadopt” me.  She said, “Yes!” On my birthday this year, I went back to a courtroom to be adopted.

We reunited 12 years ago after living my whole life not being told, even relinquishing my first son. That discovery led me to a world where blood relatives aren’t legally recognized. So I sought “Unadoption.” My mother and I found that some states permit adult adoption. We filled out the paperwork, turned in the forms, and planned to restart our journey.

We sat in the courtroom with the judge looking at the paperwork. I watched as…

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National Adoption Awareness From a Birth Mothers View

National Adoption Awareness Month just ended. And the internet was flooded with adoption videos. Most of which were from one side. The happy side. The gifted side.

I am a birth mother. I will always see adoption through my side. Through loss. So as any awareness campaign, please know that there are two sides to adoption and actually three sides because as the adoptee grows, they have their side as well.

Please take the time to watch this video. Share these stories too. And know that adoption almost always is based off of loss and sometimes trauma.

This year and this month marks 18 years that I had a heart-wrenching choice to make. When my son left my arms and my home, and I didn’t know if I would EVER see him again.

This video expresses what women experience just before they make their final decision. Just before they terminate their parental rights. When there is no crystal ball into what the future holds.

 

May God Bless the grieving birth mothers and heal their broken heart.

Children of Adoptees

Exposing Adoption

I’m not sure if I can write this article. It may or may not stay up. I am trying to be empathetic and see adoption through the eyes of a biological child, born and raised by their parent who is an adoptee. This article though may need to be written by such a person. All I can say is I will try my best here, and mean no harm.

Society overlooks a lot of things in adoption. There are next to no studies on first fathers, first fathers are always seen as never around, no psychological programs out there tailored to helping siblings who learn they have an adopted out brother or sister, and no support group, psychological tailored program, self-help book (you get the picture) for children of adoptees. The voice of a child-be they still a child or an adult- of that of an adoptee is completely mute…

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15 Things You Should Never Say to an Adoptee

Pushing on a Rope

If you’re adopted, you’ve likely heard many of the comments below. (I even heard three of ones on this list from members of my biological family early in my reunion with them.)

SHH Credit: Chiara Vitellozzi Fotografie | NuageDeNuit/Flickr

And if you’re not adopted, you may have uttered some of these chestnuts thinking you were being thoughtful and empathetic.

Trust me, you’re weren’t.

And on behalf of all adoptees, many of whom are working to #FliptheScript for National Adoption Awareness Month, I beg you to stop.

  1. You don’t look adopted.
  2. Who are your real parents?
  3. How much did you cost?
  4. What a gift you are to your adoptive parents.
  5. It was probably for the best. Who knows what kind of life you might have had otherwise?
  6. Why would you want to find your birth mother? She didn’t want you. 
  7. I have a friend who is perfectly fine with being adopted. 
  8. You must…

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Yes, I’m adopted. Please spare me the L word

Adoption Awareness…

Pushing on a Rope

On Wednesday, it’ll be National Adoption Month — the time when I and other adoptees work even harder then usual to dispel all the myths misconceptions around what it’s like to be adopted.

Luck Luck, by 8ShroomFairy8/Flickr

For reasons I’ll never understand, non-adopted people seem to feel they have license to weigh in on the adoptee experience. In my 51 years, I’ve heard any number of ridiculous comments about how I should feel to have been adopted. “Grateful” ranks up there (that pronouncement is often chased with a solemn comment about how glad I must be to have not been aborted. I’ve started to respond to that one with, “I’ll bet you’re grateful you weren’t aborted, too.”).

But my all-time favorite is how “lucky” I am to have been adopted — the idea being I needed a leg up in the world.

Yes, how lucky I am to have been relinquished…

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Ethiopia Moves to Officially End International Adoption

Light of Day Stories

Several Ethiopian news sources have reported that the Ethiopian Parliament is considering a new draft bill amending current law to end the adoption of Ethiopian children by foreigners. What are the reasons? No doubt there are many. Ezega news reported that the “inability by biological parents to trace their children and adoptees being denied the chance to communicate with their biological parents have been major issues that have been echoed in parliament.”

Those two reasons—Ethiopian parents being unable to learn anything about their children post-adoption, and adoptees being unable (due to adoptive parents’ refusal?) to contact their Ethiopian parents—exemplify deceitful practices by adoption facilitators who promised Ethiopian parents they would have contact with their children after adoption, though there was no guarantee of that since adoption permanently severs ties legally. The reasons also represent lost opportunities for adopted children (who grow up, and who I hope will learn their truths)…

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Talking Hearing Loss With Front House Staff at Lincoln Center

Good insights…

Living With Hearing Loss

I recently had the opportunity to speak as part of a training module on accessibility to the front of house staff at Lincoln Center’s David Geffen Hall and Alice Tully Hall. It is wonderful when influential cultural institutions take a leadership role in promoting the importance of accessibility to their employees. I was pleased to be a part of the presentation, and to highlight hearing loss as an accessibility issue for the ushers.  

I share the text of my remarks below.

Living With Hearing Loss | A Hearing Loss Blog

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Social Acceptance

I was a bed wetter.  I wet the bed until I was in high school.  Of all the experiences I have talked about in my life, this is one of the most embarrassing ones for me to admit.  Even at the age of Fifty-four years old, it is still uncomfortable to confess publicly.

There are many reasons for my embarrassment.  First, of the five kids in our household, I was the only bed wetter.  Even my two younger brothers, who were nine and twelve years younger than me, stopped wetting the bed before I did.  Yeah, I never heard the last of that.  My parents and older siblings reminded me often.

This made me very different in my family and socially unacceptable.

My bed wetting disorder automatically put me in a lower, child-like status within my family and directly impacted my self-confidence.

The bladder skill is the one thing that moves a child from the toddler to a big boy or girl status.  It’s a big accomplishment.  My lack thereof made me subject to punitive words, punishment, jokes, and ridicule.  For about 15 years, I dealt with this on a weekly, almost daily basis.  Not to mention my own embarrassment of waking up another morning in a wet bed.

My bed wetting really set off my step-father and siblings at times.

My sister and I shared a room.  She was probably my worst tormentor.  We were very close.  But she also knew how to hurt me.  She laughed at me, called me names, told me she wanted her own room because I made the room stink from my pee-filled bed.  Her words would seep into my mind and remind me often that I was faulty.

My step-father, who gave me the nick-name, Squirt, also hated this uncontrollable trait about me.  I think at first he thought it was a passing phase.  I was five years old when he and my mother began to date.

I remember him telling me that he would call me, Squirt, until I stopped wetting the bed.  Of course, he never did stop calling me this.  And after he realized my bed wetting days were here to stay, he began to hate it.  So much so that my mother would try and hide my wet sheets from him so another bed wetting night would not set him off.

My step dad wouldn’t beat me.  But it was his eyes, his facial expression of disappointment, and at times disgust that seemed to prevent him from even looking at my face.  And then, there were his words that cut me deeper than any whooping.  This feeling would haunt me daily and for years to come.  Sometimes he blamed my mother for babying me too much as the reason for my bed wetting.  Other times, he blamed me.  In his mind, someone had to be the blame!  And it certainly wasn’t him.  It surely could not have been a medical condition.  In his mind (and others as well), it was psychological.

I was just acting out.  Too spoiled.  Too lazy to wake up.  Too scared to go to the bathroom.  Too immature.  None of which were true, by the way.

The truth is I was a very sound sleeper.  Mostly because of being mildly deaf in one ear and moderately deaf in my other ear.  I never felt the peeing sensation or my wet clothes or bed sheets until I woke up in the morning.  I woke up cold and wet.

My family believed that I could willfully choose to wet or not wet my bed.  They held onto this mistaken belief, making me feel as if I was doing this on purpose, like an attention getter.  Oh, ‘feel sorry for Karen,’ something they felt and cynically said without hesitation.  Trust me, the last thing a child wants to get is attention or ridicule for wetting their bed.  That’s common sense, 101!

While my bed wetting kept me from going over to a friend’s house once in awhile, when I was allowed, it was not without anxiety.  It was a gamble.  And most bets would have been against me.  We didn’t have pull-ups or adult diapers back then.  And while using those can be embarrassing too, waking up over a friend’s house in wet sheets or sleeping bag is far greater of an embarrassment.  Trust me.  I know!

When I did go for an overnight, whether it was at a friend’s or a relatives, I got the same talk, “Don’t wet the bed!”  Sometimes it was a pleading, “PLEASE, don’t wet the bed!”  Sometimes it was a threat, “You BETTER not wet the bed or you will NOT be allowed to go again!”  Or I was reminded that I may not be invited back because of my bed wetting.  The first question when I got in the car or got home was, “Did you wet the bed?”  All of which caused additional stress and anxiety.

I had wished many times it was that easy.  My childhood would have been much simpler without that one burden.  Think about it, what child in their right mind would want to wake up at a friend’s house or a slumber party among elementary, middle, or high school peers in wet sheets?  Anybody?  I didn’t think so.  But that was a reality for me.  I had “accidents” at all those places.

This is something that my parents or my family just did not get.  They thought by belittling me, embarrassing me, or making fun of me, that I would get tired of their daily antics and stop wetting the bed.  They just wanted me to stop wetting the bed!  What they didn’t realize is that I too wanted to stop wetting the bed but just didn’t know how.

Can you imagine waking up at slumber party with all your girlfriends and you realize your pajamas are wet.  The sheer fear sets in.  You start to scheme on how you can hide your wet bed from your friends.  You hope that you can go home without anyone noticing.  You quickly gather your bedding and take it to their parents in hopes they will keep your secret.  Then your mind quickly tries to create a reasonable story or excuse you can tell.  You explain why this happened as if this was an unusual circumstance.  It must have been all the sodas and snacks and lack of sleep that caused this accident and HOPE that they buy it.  Otherwise, Monday morning at school is going to be hell.  You will now be labeled as the girl who wets the bed.  And then your secret is out so not only your family can make fun of you but now you may become a joke at school too.  Then, paranoia sets in.  Isn’t that every pre-teenage girls dream?

I remember one time waking up from an overnight stay.  My friend’s mother realized I wet the bed.  She was calm while speaking with me.  She ask me if I wet the bed.  I told her I did.  She said that she had wished I would have told her about my bed wetting condition the previous night so she could have prepared.  What she didn’t understand is that bed wetting is a deep dark secret that families try to keep hidden from the general public.  There is shame associated with bed wetters and not just for the bed wetter themselves.  Parents and siblings don’t want relatives and friends to know they have a bed wetter in the family.

This mother was trying to be as compassionate as possible.  I could tell she was treading her words gingerly so as not to offend or hurt me deliberately.  I told her that I was hoping I wouldn’t wet the bed and that sometimes I don’t.  Then she said, “You’re mother should have told me.”  I think my mother was as embarrassed about it as I was.  Maybe even ashamed.

I have to say I have had some wonderful friends who knew about my bed wetting condition and still sincerely loved me.  And some of their parents were equally supportive.  I sometimes wished I could have switch parents back then.

My bed wetting would create arguments among my parents.  So literally, I was the reason my parents fought.  Not just my bed wetting but so many other things that were unique to me, unlike my siblings, caused my parents to erupt.  I will say my mother was the least to make fun of me.  Though, she did join in the laughter from time to time when my siblings made fun of my bed wetting.  I would look at her with hurtful eyes.  She would scoff it off.

My mother also took a lot of heat from my step dad, which my siblings and I felt bad about.  We were loyal to our mother.  Back then, I am sure my siblings may have even blamed me on some level, unconsciously or consciously, for the discord in our household.  But I no longer feel sorry for my mother.  She was an adult.  I was a child.  She had a choice and the power to be in a relationship.  I had no choice or power to stay or leave.  She was my parent.  I was her daughter.  She had a responsibility to protect me.  She could have stopped the torment but she chose not to do so.

Yes, of course!  I wet my bed for all this wonderful attention from my family and my friends.  Who wouldn’t?

The truth is, I wanted to be normal.  Or at the very least, treated like I was normal with support and understanding.  I couldn’t help that I was a bed wetter.

Maybe I had a week bladder.

Maybe I had primary nocturnal enuresis.

Maybe I experienced some trauma as an infant or as a child.  Soldiers have been known to come home from war and start wetting their bed, due to PTSD, who had no previous history of bed wetting.

There was a medical reason for my bed wetting but I may never know what it was.

Maybe that’s why I get it when others make fun of people or ridicule them or belittle or punish or judge or exclude them or kill them for standing up for something that has happened, beyond their control.

Maybe they are considered socially unacceptable.

Maybe their beliefs are considered different.

Maybe their clothes or skin color or disability make them different.

Maybe their neighborhood or economic status or both are tattered.

Maybe their story, their historical lineage comes with tainted fabric.

Maybe they were abandoned by their family, their people, or their country, or maybe all three.

Maybe they’re reminded daily of the troubled past and injustices and hate.

Maybe they’re blamed for something that was out of their control.

Maybe no one protected them.

Maybe no one helped them.

Maybe no one understood.

Maybe they never received credit for all they accomplished.

Maybe others believed in the lies instead of the truth.

Maybe all they ever wanted was a chance.

Maybe…just maybe…there is more to the story…

Karen 1977