Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Miracles and My Love

The picture is of my husband and I. As cliché as it sounds, he has been the love of my life for over twenty years. We’ve had each other to rely on, hold on to, during the many ups and downs we’ve faced over the years.

He is also the first/natural father of my oldest son and I had planned on writing a post for Father’s Day about how adoption has affected him too. Left him with his own struggles and pain through the years.

But then life threw me a curve ball I didn’t expect.

A late night visit to the Emergency Room late last Wednesday night, and an unexpected turn of events, changed everything I had planned during the week while slapping me in the face to remind me just how important my family, ALL of them, is in my life.

I took my husband to the Emergency Room that night, expecting him to be administered some fluids and sent home. What I did not expect was test results coming back, my husband’s body shutting down and a quick, desperate rush to put him on oxygen, IV’s and so many other vital, life saving and monitoring devices, in the flash of an eye.

In one second in that tiny room, my husband and I were laughing with one another, joking about the late hours and what we would do once we left. In another, a swarm of nurses and technicians flooded the room, moving me aside as they quickly attached my husband to a myriad of machines in a frantic effort to keep him alive.

In the time leading up to Father’s Day, when I had planned on writing the post about first/natural fathers and the loss they too suffer through adoption, I instead found myself afraid to leave my husband in Intensive Care. Facing the very real and frightening fact that I almost lost him. That I am not, and probably never will be, prepared for a life without him in it.

I am thankful today that he is home with me, with our children. I get to hear his laugh. See his smile. And my children will still have their dad in their life who can push when he needs to but is also one of the first to laugh and joke and bring so much happiness to our lives.

In those first moments in Intensive Care when self pity worked it’s way in, I beat up on myself, on God, on anything and anyone who took my husband for granted and threatened to take him from mine and my children’s lives.

Life really is unexpected and unscripted. You don’t know what each new day will bring.

And it sounds so simplistic to say to cherish every day to be thankful for those you love and love you back. And in real time, real life, we rarely do that.

But then certain turns take us to a point where we again are reminded how amazing it is to have such love, such understanding and care that is shared within a family.

This was my turn to remember. My turn to hold tight to my husband and our children and realize just how lucky we are to have each other. To love each other. And be everything we can, and are, for each other, for as long as we possibly can.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

The Power Of Words

My Italian grandfather – Grandpa Joe – was one of the best people in my life for the fourteen short years I was blessed to know him. During that time, I was his one and only grandchild which left me open for all his attention . . . in other words, spoiling.

And my grandfather was one of those characters who loved his little “tales.” Those white lies only grandparents can get away with like when a light bulb burns out it means somebody has told a lie. I can’t tell you how many times, as a little girl, I would rush frantically back through everything I had said during the course of the day to make sure I wasn’t the one being, “caught.”

But the tale I remember the most. The one that sticks with me to this day and I would probably still believe had I not been in a situation where my grandfather had to finally come clean with the truth was his so-called warning that if well water ever touched you, your skin would wrinkle up and shrivel away.

To this day, I still can’t figure out what encouraged him to tell such a story, especially since he had to have known, with a well in his backyard, that sooner or later I was bound to come into contact with well water.

And I did, one warm, summer day, when I was about ten years old. Grandpa Joe was watering the front yard and the spray of the water hit the edge of the path leading to the door. I thought I could beat the stream before it came back around, sneak inside with no damage done. But I wasn’t successful and water splattered my arm just as I was getting through the screen.

Oh the fear after that. I remember watching my arm, waiting for my skin to shrivel up. I didn’t know what it would look like, but I KNEW it would happen and it just couldn’t possibly be a pretty sight.

I don’t recall how my grandmother found out what had happened. But I do remember her dragging my grandfather into the kitchen and insisting he tell me the truth. I remember my grandfather’s guilt for scaring me earning me a trip to the ice cream parlor for a DOUBLE scoop cone. And I remember, most of all, being relieved that my skin was going to stay intact and there would be no wrinkling or shriveling involved.

So what does Grandpa Joe, well water and ice cream have to do with adoption . . .

It’s the relation of the power in our words. In what we believe, when we haven’t experienced it ourselves and base our opinions, fears and acceptance, on what others tell us.

Some, like my grandfather, truly mean no harm and never intend to hurt anyone. Others don’t seem to care if they cause harm or not as long as they can get others to hear them, believe them, and promote their agenda for whatever it is they seek.

In my last post, Sadness Not Allowed, there were some interesting comments that spurred the beginning thoughts for this post . . . brought about the need to see how we so often believe what we hear from others, especially those we respect and trust and would never think to question what they say – even when it is something as far-fetched as shriveling skin or the “roses and sunshine” tale of adoption.

Could you imagine the reaction I would have gotten if I had come across another little girl who perhaps spent her summers running through those sprinklers of well water? Could you imagine what she would have to say if I told her that her skin was going to wrinkle up and shrivel away? To me, I would have believed it because that was what I was told by my grandfather who I trusted and had no reason to doubt. For her, it would have been ridiculous to hear because she had actually experienced it, knew what it was like and had no knowledge of anything relating to what I had been told and was spouting off as truth.

Which is exactly what many first/natural moms and adoptees face over and over again in the world of adoption.

Organizations like the NCFA (National Council for Adoption) and the FRC (Family Research Council) along with various religious leaders and even those in the media and news outlets, claim they know the truth of how adoption has affected us. They stand up and declare they are speaking for us, know what is best for the poor pregnant woman facing an unplanned pregnancy.

They are respected, trusted by many in society, and so their words are believed, accepted as fact.

And not only are they accepted. They are repeated. Over and over again. In real life. On blogs. In online forums. Like a script society owns and reads from, word for word. A broken record those who have lost and suffered hear so often it at times brings about the need to crash our head against a wall in frustration . . .

**Adoption is a wonderful, loving option. **

**A baby is so hard to take care of at your age. You are going to lose your childhood if you decide to parent.**

**There are so many great, loving couples out there who can’t have children of their own and would love to adopt an infant.**

**Your child will be grateful and thank you for giving him or her a chance at a better life.**

**Children are better off being raised in a two parent home.**

**You will go on and be able to finish school, get married and have more children.**

**Your child deserves better than you can offer at this point in your life.**

**Adoption is a selfless and brave act.**

**Women who choose adoption for their children are happy and satisfied they did the best for their child.**

And on and on and on and on it goes. The very same things heard everywhere. The very same beliefs. Repeated like a constant drone. Never changing. Never altering for the truth and experience of so many others. Just the facts, as so many see it, told to them by those who claim to know even if they have never walked in our shoes.

And they are believed. Unquestioned by so many. To the point that we who have been there, lived a life of loss and grief, struggled with the true pain of adoption, are the ones doubted. The ones so many refuse to listen to.

Our words are not trusted because we are not to be believed in the same respect as those who claim to “know.” And so the cycle repeats itself. The power of the words continues in a never-ending circle without the true experience of so many others being taken into light.

Because, just as I wondered with Grandpa Joe, why would they tell such a “tale?” Why would they lie, create something that wasn’t true? If you believe in the greatness of the person telling you, how can you possibly see any reason for them to do anything but tell the complete truth?

And so you get the little girl I was insisting to the other little girl running through the sprinklers that she is the one who is wrong. She is the one who doesn’t know because I believe what someone else has told me, even if I have never experienced it myself. I know, because that is what someone I trusted gave me as fact so how in the world can you, someone I don’t know or trust, be right.

That is the up and down, over and around, reality of adoption. Some, like my grandfather, will realize how their words have actually hurt another who has experienced it and realize the fear or pain they caused. Others, because of a need to hold on to such beliefs, will try to argue with those who have gone through the experience. And still others, simply won’t care because they have their own agenda, their own needs to fulfill.

And in that, those of us who have true experiences will continue to battle those who claim to speak for us. Those of us who know better will stand up to the beliefs of what is best for a woman facing an unplanned pregnancy.

We are the ones who are and will continue to counter what others spread as truth. Because we know better. We have run through the sprinkler, come out on the other side, and know exactly what we went through along the way.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Sadness Not Allowed

You know, it always comes at us . . . the ones who dare to speak out about adoption in contrast to the “rosy” light it is portrayed in. We are negative. Just taking one personal bad experience, our own, and generalizing all adoptions that way.

How could we?

Why would we dare to say anything that wasn’t happy and good about adoption?

We are the evil ones. Those of us who have suffered such great loss. We are terrible monsters, speaking up in such a “negative” way. Painting adoption in a different light than the great, amazing act it supposively is.

We are the ones who need to be silenced.

They travel our way from their own stories of how great and amazing adoption is. Visit our words, our stories, our blogs, to tell us how we are wrong for our own feelings and experiences. Label us with the ever so popular “negative” button that diminishes our very real truths, places us in a lower category than their own experience that is so happy. So fulfilling. So amazing because of how much they have gained through adoption.

And the rest of us . . . we’re the bad ones. The ones who are doing wrong by sharing our sides, our opinions, our very real experiences.

We need to sit down and shut up. We need to realize that there are so many out there who have gained through adoption and be aware of their happiness while they want to silence our sorrow.

We are wrong.

Just as we have been from the first moment of conception.

We are the ones who need to step back and say nothing, because we didn’t have a voice before. Why should we have it now?

Why should anyone care or want to listen about those of us that have hurt and suffered at the hands of adoption?

Why should that make a difference when there are so many out there who have gained and seen such wonderful results?

Our pain, our loss, our complete denial of help and support when we needed it most, doesn’t matter in the least bit when it comes to making sure adoption is still seen in the great “happy” light as it always has been.

And be damned if what we went through is enough to fight for changes. To actually see the true light of how adoption has harmed so many. Our stories don’t matter. They don’t need to be heard. Because all we are doing is being unfair to the many who have gained through adoption and they are the ones who matter. The ones society wants to listen to.

Why the hell should we make changes just because people have been, and still are, hurt by the process of adoption. That fact doesn’t matter, right?

And why should it when it’s the gain of others that dictate the process.

Because really, why should anything be changed that causes such drastic pain and loss. That brings about severe loss and grief to the point that some have taken their own lives, believed that not living was better than existing day to day with the constant reality that is adoption.

Those people are unimportant when it comes to the grand scheme of things. Their stories, their heartache, really doesn’t matter because what is most important is keeping adoption in a good light.

Sure we might lose some wonderful people. And, of course, there are those who will suffer and grieve their entire lives. But really, what are they and their lives worth in the glorious picture of adoption?

Why even consider changing anything when obviously, the lives of those who have been affected mean so little to those who can wake up every morning thankful for how adoption has, and will, bless their own, deserving and amazing life?