Wednesday, March 23, 2011

God Won't Answer

I have so many questions running through my head these days that I just want answers to. So many “whys” that I so desperately wish I could find the reasons for.

But I can’t and I never will, because the one who I want to answer me, to explain, is one that never will.

I’ve never been one who can recite bible verses from memory. The only time I’ve ever even known all the books of the bible was when I had to memorize them in order, first to last, old testament and new, for my confirmation when I was fourteen.

I readily admit to not being educated in many of God’s teachings or understanding, as so many others do, His direction in His words. I don’t talk like the “Godly” do. I don’t fill my life with scripture to constantly keep me “in line” or “in check” with what He wants from me.

But I have never lost my faith in Him. I have never questioned His existence or the powerful hold He has in my life.

I have though, recently, found myself angry with Him. Very angry with Him.
Because I can’t, and never will, understand . . .why . . .

Why does my oldest son have to continuously face so much pain when he deserves so much happiness?

Why wasn’t it enough that he had to be abandoned by his mother and father at birth, only to be abandoned by his adoptive father by the time he was five years old? Why did he have to live a life of being abused, both mentally and physically, by his adoptive mother and step-father? Why is it that only now, after more than twenty years, his adoptive family is starting to realize how special and amazing he is when they should have known it from the very start?

And why . . . why . . .why . . . after all he has already been through, all the struggles life has given him, does he now have to face and fight the threat of cancer in his life?

I just don’t understand it and I just don’t know if I even want to try anymore.

I keep thinking of all of those who I come across in the world of adoption who claim God has control over everything that happens in our life. That it is His doing when a child is separated from his or her mother. That it is His hand that creates the loss and pain we suffer with.

And I wonder how they can truly believe that. How they can really look inside themselves, inside their belief, and hold on so loyally to such a thought.

I want those who believe such things to look me in the eye and to tell me that God meant for my oldest son to suffer, over and over again. I want them to explain to me why He would ever bring such a fate on someone who is good, worthy, and working to build a future that revolves around helping others, comforting others, and supporting them in a way he never was.

I want to know if they truly believe that my son has to suffer, I have to suffer, my entire family has to suffer because of some supposed sin I committed way back when I became pregnant. If they continue to hold their faith that this is God’s way and that somehow all the pain and loss and grief is meant to be.

I want them, or God, or somebody, to tell me why it is, after all my oldest son has gone through, that he still has to go through so much more. Why him? Why this amazing young man who never deserved anything that life has dealt out to him?

I just want to know why.

And yet, I know I have to accept that I never will know why. I will never get the answers I seek.

And I will never know, even if I ask a million times, why it is through adoption, abuse, and now cancer, my oldest son continually has to face so much pain in such a short life that he always deserved to have filled with good.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Irish Roots

Us Irish folks are creative souls.

It never surprises me when I learn the talented writers of adoptee blogs such as, Amanda at Declassified Adoptee or Linda at Real Daughter/Adopted Daughter have learned, since reunion, of their Irish heritage.

Whatever it is, whatever is born inside of us Irish men and women, tends to lean us heavily toward the arts, in some form or another.

On the maternal side of my family, the Gradys, I have a grandfather who had several of his short stories published, a mother who is amazing in her glass work and sculpting.

My aunt can paint a picture so realistic, you feel as if you are actually there, in real time, seeing it happen. And my uncle’s success in creating one of a kind snowboards has nothing to do with the hardware but everything to do with the unique designs he paints on the top of each and everyone one.

Some, without ever knowing, may have seen my cousin’s creative work. She’s a costume designer for movies and daytime soap operas. And as for myself, I’m a published fiction (romance suspense) writer and, obviously, the author of this very blog.

It’s true, Irish have a flair for the dramatic. Whether it be by means of drawing or painting, writing or singing, we show the proof of that over and over again.

Even in my oldest son it exists. He may have never known he was Irish until he was almost nineteen years old, but he was a part of his roots in every way through his poems and art. It was a talent he carried that his adoptive family never shared. One he never grasped with pride until reunion. Until learning of the long line of his Irish heritage that became a part of him.

I believe in nurture, I truly do. But I also believe, just as strongly, in the power of nature. In the blood and heritage that makes us what we are today.

To me, nurture comes from recognizing and supporting our children’s talents and abilities. Encouraging them to make the best of it. Believing in them and letting them know, over and over again, how amazing it is they are able to hold such a special trait that so many will never know.

But nature is the reason why, I believe, they have such talents. Nature is why children, perhaps raised in an adoptive family of athletic, competitive-driven individuals, are more prone to pick up a book and read instead of thrive after that next big score. Would rather be the one behind the instrument playing the victory song instead of experiencing the rush of being the one to add three points to the scoreboard.

It’s a part of who we are as human beings. A part of our genetic make-up. We inherit the talents we are so good at from so many ancestors who have come before us. At birth, we are more likely to be an athelete, an accountant, a writer, an artist . . . whatever . . . because of the roots we share with those from our family who have come before us.

And no “blank slate” can change that. There is no such thing as, “if born to” that has the power to take away the very real, very powerful talents we inherit from our German, Irish, Italian, Cuban, English . . . etc . . . relatives.

Yes, adoptees, just like all of us . . . even the non-adopted . . . are a part of the nurture they received during their childhood. Encouragement and support of their talents is a vital part of building their self-esteem. Acknowledging their abilities, those special traits that make them . . . them . . . can give them the confidence to build stronger on such a foundation and realize their true potential in the gifts they carry inside of them.

But even without nurture, I believe, nature has its own way of breaking through and being seen. Even if a child is discouraged from recognizing and embracing their true talents, they still exist within them. Those natural abilities they have inherited continue to exist, continue to be a part of who they are.

Because in the complex world of roots and heritage, of what we gain from the ancestors that have come before us, there is one thing that always remains the same . . .

We cannot change that which we were given through who we are.

We can, or others can, try to hide it, bury it, or ignore it. But none of that changes the fact that we are born with certain talents and abilities that we share with those who have come before us and will continue to share with our own children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren . . . and on . . . and on . . . and on . . .

It’s just simply a part of us, a part of who we are and how we were created. And not even adoption, or any other force, can take that away. Nor should they ever have the power or desire to.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

My Son

Four and a half years ago, I sat at my desk and did what I had done so many times before, searched the internet for my oldest son who I had lost to adoption.

In the past I had always searched for him through his first name and what I had always believed was his last name. I didn’t know about the divorce of his adoptive parents when he was five. I didn’t know his adoptive mom had changed his last name many times after that point.

But on that day, back in December of 2006, for whatever reason, I decided to search MySpace with only his first name and the city where I believed he lived.

And I found him. I knew when I was watching the slide show of pictures on his page. There was a close up of his face and his eyes . . . oh his eyes . . . I knew that had to be him because those were my eyes I was looking in to.

I can remember screaming for my husband. To this day, when he tells that story he always includes the fact that he had never heard me sound that way. Such a mixture of pain and happiness. Frantic and overjoyed with finding my son. It was a moment I will forever remember. A time in my life that was so thrilling and terrifying all wrapped up into one.

There was a lot of tears that day. Mine and my husbands, his natural father, our parents, even friends who understood just what it meant to finally find my oldest son. My two younger sons, already on MySpace, immediately sent friend requests. And daily we watched his page, learned about him and his life through his pictures and the information he shared there.

That was, in every way, the first moment that was to change my life, my family’s life, forever.

Today, my oldest son is back in my life in every way possible. Just a month before his twenty-first birthday, my husband and I adopted him back. He’s become his little sister’s hero. Been there to toast his youngest brother at his wedding. Is looking forward to becoming an uncle for the first time.

There is no area in my life now that he is not a part of. He’s there, always there, just as much as all my other children. He’s a part of me, a part of my life, in every way. I could never, and would never, go back to those long, empty years when he was gone and that emptiness filled my heart and soul.

Which is why, today, as we face a new challenge we never expected, I know I will fight for whatever it is my oldest son needs.

He’s been diagnosed with cancer. Papillary Thyroid Cancer, to be exact.

A little over a month ago, he was in a car accident, and though his injuries were very minor, he did, after pressure from his mother, agree to go to the hospital to be checked out.

While there, during the tests they ran, it was discovered that he had a calcium buildup on his thyroid gland. And I will thank God everyday now that he was back in our lives before this happened. Because I knew immediately it wasn’t something to be ignored. I knew because I have hypothyroid disease, because my cousin was diagnosed with Thyroid Cancer and has been in treatment for it since this summer.

We had the knowledge to know and understand the importance of my oldest son getting in for a biopsy as soon as possible. It wasn’t something to play around with or ignore. Not with the family history we have.

And because of that, he’s been diagnosed early enough that his chances are very, very good.

I will pray every day for him. I will ask God, as often as I have to, to not take this amazing wonderful son of mine from my life. He’s strong and he’s stubborn and I have to believe he will fight this and he will win.

Because the alternative is not something I will ever allow myself to consider.

My son is good. My son is working hard to make a difference in this world. He needs to be here. He needs to be allowed to achieve what he wants for himself, for his future.

He won’t leave my life again. I won’t allow it. I will fight with every last breath I have. I will be his strength when he needs it. His support to get him through this.

There is no other choice. There never can be.

This world needs the amazing young man he is. This world will only benefit from all he has to offer.

There is no alternative to that. No “but ifs.” No excuses.

He deserves the future he has ahead of him. And I will use everything in my power to make sure he gets exactly that!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Don't We Sacrifice Enough

Letters to Ms. Feverfew has a new post, Some People Rob You With a Six-Gun, about a new mom who not only had to go through the pain of losing her child at birth to adoption, but now has to suffer the heart-wrenching reality of losing her son all over again because the adoptive parents have chosen to close the adoption after promising her an open adoption.

And their reasons for doing this . . . because she is speaking out and sharing how badly she has been hurt by the loss of her baby.

For the last few weeks, through this First Mom’s blog (which she has now set to private) my heart has ached, not only for the grief she is suffering and the loss she is struggling to deal with, but also for the cold-hearted comments she has received in response. Blaming her, attacking her feelings as wrong, accusing her of doing wrong and deserving what she got, as this particular commenter felt he had the right to do . . .

***And this, my dear (****), is why you wait to be intimate until AFTER you find and marry your (***).

You call it corrupt that a committed couple is willing to take (****) as their own? and provide(****) the loving environment he deserves? that you were unwilling to wait until you were ready to fully provide?

You say you felt like you had to place (****) - and you were right to do so. As soon as you have sex you invite a life and if one comes, your own life, your own wants become secondary.***

And another particular commenter, who I am unable to copy exactly what she said so will have to paraphrase, told her all about everything the adoptive couple had to put up with from this First Mom while she was pregnant (always love how, after the adoption finalizes, it goes from we love you and are here for you for whatever you need to, look at everything we had to put up with just to get our baby) and made sure she, over and over again, capitalized “you” to emphasis that it was all in this First Mom’s control. She made all the choices. Everything happened because of what she wanted. And, because of that, she had no right to be upset or angry now that she has lost her son.

This mom, who has already been victimized (she was against adoption until, as seems to happen way too often, she was “counseled” by LDSFS) and beat up on enough, is going through it all over again, in the absolute worst kind of way, and all for one reason . . .

Because instead of being the good “beemommie” she is expected to be, she is actually grieving the tremendous loss she has suffered. Is angry over what happened to her. And is speaking out about her true feelings in an attempt to heal from what has been one of the worst traumas she has experienced in her life.

She is doing and feeling what so many of us never had the courage to do. What so many of us First Moms wish we had been brave enough to feel, to say, to be against everything expected from us.

After losing my first son to adoption, I was too frightened of what it would mean if I actually expressed the terrible grief I was suffering. I wasn’t brave enough to admit to anyone how badly I was hurting, how much losing him was affecting me. Instead, I stuffed all those feelings deep down inside of me, did my best to ignore them, and concentrated only on being the good “beemommie” I was expected to be. The one everyone would like. The one they wanted me to be. Happy and content with losing my son. Admitting that I wasn’t good enough and loved him so much I gave him away to a couple that was better than I could ever be.

And it is First Moms like who I once was and many of the ones you see today who have a part in why this particular mom is being met with such hostility and anger. Why the adoptive parents expected her to be happy and content and couldn’t imagine the loss of her son would hurt so bad.

Because, though not intentionally, we set the standard that is expected from moms who have lost their children to adoption. We give the belief that it’s okay. That it doesn’t tear us apart, rip everything from the very depths of our souls. Change everything we are and everything we are yet to become.

We provide the proof, for those who seek it, for something that, when truly thought about, doesn’t make sense in any way. We justify what is unjustifiable – the terrible pain of losing a child. We become the balm over that deep, forbidden knowledge that losing a child is a horrific event that nobody should ever have to suffer through.

We become the poster child for what they want, what they so desperately need to believe.

And, just as the post at Letters to Ms. Feverfew pointed out, many of the happy “beemommies” who do this, who create that image of happiness at losing their child, really don’t have much of a choice. Because if they were to even dare to show even a sliver of the true grief that comes with losing your child, they could very well face the same terrible fate this First Mom now must live with, having their open adoption close because they are not reacting in the way they are expected.

That’s the sad reality of the vicious cycle that adoption creates. It inflicts the worst kind of loss on a mother then demands she be happy and content with that loss and threatens her with losing her child all over again if she dares to speak the true depth of her feelings and her grief over losing her own flesh and blood.

And yet, because she cannot express her true feelings and must be happy with adoption, she lays the foundation for more mothers to step into the same cycle, because those who don’t know and are told over and over again that adoption is the loving option, believe that they will be just as happy, just as grateful to be separated from their child. And once such a loss becomes a reality, they face the same expectations of having to be the perfect “beemommie” or being cruelly rejected if they feel otherwise.

It’s a sick fact that exists in the world of adoption. And what makes it even sicker is that whether you are a happy “beemommie” or not, you are still being treated in the worst of ways. Because, the simple fact is, even the ones who are loved by adoptive parents because they are so good with losing their child, are being abused and used as well.

Think about it this way, my husband’s grandmother, over fifty years ago, had a son who died at birth. It was a terrible tragedy in her life, one that still affects her today. In all the times she has talked about it, her grief comes through loud and clear. To this day, she still mourns that loss. Still feels the emptiness inside.

But what if, right after she had lost her son, she proclaimed she was happy with what happened, and never expressed any grief or loss from such a tragedy in her life?

Such a reaction would have thrown up red flags to everyone and anyone near her. They would understand immediately she wasn’t processing or dealing with the trauma she had suffered. They would clearly see something was wrong and seek help for her so that she could begin to deal with it and heal from such a terrible event in her life.

And one of the ways she would have been encouraged to deal with it was to allow herself to be sad and angry. To question what had happened. To share whatever she could in an attempt to heal.

But in adoption, many don’t see a happy acceptance over the loss of a child as a red flag. And they don’t, because of their own feelings, their own need to believe the separation of mother and child was a good thing and meant to be.

Adoptive parents claim to love and care for the First Moms of their children. They proclaim, over and over again, how they are part of the family. Special to them. An important part of their lives.

But are they really? Do they truly mean that much to them?

Because the fact of the matter is, if adoptive parents love and cherish the First Moms so much then why are they so eager, so willing to embrace and believe that the ones that mean so much to them are perfectly happy and okay with the loss of their child. Why do they not see the same red flags they would hopefully never miss if a spouse or child, sibling or parent, proclaimed such an unrealistic acceptance of such a terrible loss in their lives?

Because, in the truth of it, the acceptance of such a terrible loss and denial of feelings by happy “beemommies” serves to make adoptive parents feel better. The red flags that would be so obvious to them in other situations, are ignored and explained away. Not because of their love or concern about the First Mom of their child. But because such reactions make them feel better. Offer them the proof that their adoption was for the best.

And in that, they use the First Mom who has already lost and suffered through so much, to make them feel better about the very real fact that their happiness comes at the terrible loss of another. Such a happiness reassures them and helps calm their doubts. It gives them proof that, though they would suffer from the loss of a child, it just has to be different for that mother who gave them her child and she obviously doesn’t feel what they would if they ever had to suffer such a loss.

It’s a cruel, cruel box First Moms are shoved in to with no escape. Either they are everything expected from them and adoptive parents love them and allow them to be a part of their child’s life as long as they continue to be happy and content and satisfy the adoptive parent’s own fear and doubts. Or they show the true grief and struggle that comes with losing your child. They are honest with themselves and their feelings. And then they risk losing any and all contact with their child because they threaten the beliefs the adoptive parents desperately need to cling to and give them a glimpse of the very real fact that losing a child is hell and it is far from normal for anyone, for any reason, to be okay with such a deep, painful wound.

And it’s wrong, and, to me, it’s an abuse in every way against women who don’t deserve it. Having sex, getting pregnant when you aren’t planning it. Being unmarried or poor does not justify such treatment against any living, breathing human being. Nobody should be used in such a way. Nobody ever deserves to be treated like so many First Moms are.

And nobody, ABSOLUTELY NOBODY, should have to continuously, whether through giving up their own flesh and blood or burying and denying their feelings, be expected to, over and over again, sacrifice in such terrible ways for the happiness and acceptance of another.

Losing a child is one of the worst experiences any mother can go through. No excuses, no “but ifs.” It’s a terrible fate for any person to go through. And adoption is not an excuse to ignore or punish mothers for such a terrible grief.

First Mom’s already sacrifice their own flesh and blood. Should they really also be expected to sacrifice their own feelings as well so that adoptive parents can feel better about their own feelings?

(I feel I need to add the disclaimer - though I mention adoptive parents in general, I hope it is known that I am not trying to clump any and all adoptive parents together. I am very much aware and have a great respect for those adoptive parents who don't fit the mold of what I portrayed here.)