Wednesday, November 7, 2012

And The Vote Is . . .

So, I'm starting this post during the midst of the results tumbling in for the election.  

At this point, there is no clear winner.  The television plays on behind me as I sit here on my iPad writing this - praying I won't screw this up when I send it to my laptop to be published on my blog (yeah, I'm a bit challenged these days in all the technology.)

This election is, for me, the first one in which I feel my vote . . . after twenty years (1992) of voting . . . comes from a place of healing and finally finding that place of acceptance within the turmoil I struggled with for twenty-five years, since adoption became a part of my reality.

I'm stronger now than I have been in the past elections.  Better in knowing and understanding my emotions instead of letting them take full control over me.

And with that, I can look back on my "voting" past and see just how much adoption shaped who I became .  How the counseling I received so many years ago played a part in my views, my beliefs, over what was important.

I come from a large, diversified family when it comes to political views.  But, for me, the ones who had the most influence during my young years were my parents -  my mom, dad and stepdad.

Growing up, I understood, from the very start, that Democrat was the way of things.  I don't ever recall any negative conversations about the Republican Party or even big debates over how one was better or worse than the other.

I just always knew and understood that the Democratic Party was where my parents had their loyalty.

And I look back now and think how much their party choices went against the stereotypical representation of who supports the policies of the different parties. My mom and stepdad are, and always have been, a part of the typical financial, successful, business class.  They both wrapped their fingers tight around the ladder of success and dedicated themselves to becoming the CFO and VP of finance they now are.

And my dad, he has only known the life of protecting and serving the community as a police officer.  For over three decades now, he has given himself to his position as a police officer and is now a Commander in my home town and where I live today.

For all three of them, the general acceptance of their positions in life would push them more to Republican beliefs over Democratic. 

But that was not to be for them.  And there are times now when I can't help but wonder if the judgment and punishments my mom faced when she was an unmarried teenager, pregnant with me, played a part in why she, and the men who have loved her, have chosen to support one party over another.

It would make sense to me since I can look back on my political views and see how my experiences from being sixteen and pregnant have influenced my own support of the different parties.

See, I was raised in a way that became a complete contrast in the views I took once I became old enough to vote - after  being a victim of adoption counseling and giving up my oldest son.

I was raised to help and support those in need.  From Cops for Kids, Adopt a Family and Christmas Cheer, I was taught at a young age the importance of helping others in need. I was taught the values that, to me, are so often, related to Democratic beliefs.

Values that support and fight for help for those in need.  That are an understanding that one "class" is not better than another and that we are all equal and worthy of support.

Values that I view as being a part of the Democratic beliefs.

But I didn't follow those values.  I didn't believe in them.  Broke away from them completely during the years after I gave my oldest son up for adoption.

And I know, without question, that I was influenced, my views were changed, by the counseling I received while I was sixteen and pregnant.  While I was facing a completely different brand of beliefs than I had ever known.

In a time when I was still too young to be able to vote, I was shown a completely different way of thought.  Was given a completely different vision of what it meant to need help and how society viewed and accepted those considered "less-than" because of money, career, marriage.

I learned, through the counseling I received, about entitlement. About the belief that there were certain people in our society who were worthy and others who weren't.  I was shown that those who didn't have enough needed to give up to those who did.  That it was selfish for anyone to expect help for where they were in their life.  And good to accept that I didn't have enough and others were more deserving because of how hard they worked, all that they did, to deserve what I didn't.

And I came out of that voting against everything I had been raised to believe.  Holding values I had never been exposed to, believing, without question, that there were two types of people in this world - - those who worked hard, did everything right and deserved the best. And those who did nothing, meant nothing and were foolish to expect, in their many failures, help or support from anyone.

Though it horrifies me to admit it now, I remember more than one political season where I would judge the "undeserving" nature of others.  I mean, how could they really believe they had any right to anything good in our country when they were "less-than" what was expected from them?  When they actually had the nerve to use government help to get through.  Actually dared to think that they were worth someone caring about them when they weren't doing enough, accomplishing enough, when it came to societies expectations of them.

That was me, for many years.  The daughter of Democrats.  The child encouraged to help and support those in need, finding my belief in judgment and anger against those who didn't equal what I had decided was my own personal guidelines for what made them acceptable to be considered, helped, heard.

And I don't mean to suggest that such thoughts are the basis of the other party.   I understand my views, and my reasons, for choosing to support the Republican Party, were my own.  Based on my own experiences and my own beliefs of which party represented the views I carried.

But there is no denying that what I believed before going through adoption counseling was a complete contrast to what I carried with me after I had been counseled to give up my oldest son for adoption.

I became a child, raised to understand the importance of help and support, to know there was no one person better than another, to an adult who judged others by their place in life.  By their income, their status in society, their worthiness of whether or not they truly earned "help."

I became everything I am ashamed, today, of admitting to.  Everything I speak out against.  Everything that I see as wrong.  As entitlement.  As just one more way for the entitled to claim power over those considered less than them.

And I held to those beliefs for many years.  I used them to influence which candidate I chose as my own.  Which party I felt more associated to.  To me, it wasn't about helping and supporting my fellow citizen.

No.  It was about everyone who worked hard and deserved everything the "less-than" believed they had any right to.  It was about judgment.  About deciding, for myself, who was worthy and who wasn't.

Even as a teenage mother, one that adoption was unable to save from knowing such a "fate," I continued to believe such things.  Even believed I was one of those who was unworthy of what the entitled experienced because I didn't do it right. Didn't follow the proper guidelines to be someone society should give a damn about.

I continued to use my vote to not only go against myself and my family, but to also remain "good" by knowing and accepting that there are those in our society who are deserving and those who are not.

That's me.  That is the bare, honest truth of who I was, what I believed.

To some, it probably seems hypocritical what I fight for now.  Seems wrong that somebody who actually lost her child, who became a believer in the very ideas that made her unworthy of her own son, dares to fight for something different.  Dares to suggest that it's wrong to hold such views that places one person underneath the "worth" of another.

But I'm okay with that.  I'm okay that some may never understand and others might always be angry with who I was.

Because what matters to me now is how I have grown.  How I have stepped outside of the boundaries that once controlled me and realized just how they aren't me or who I want to be.

It took healing.  It took accepting and finally admitting what happened to me twenty-five years ago, to bring me to where I am today.  Bring me back to the one I was raised to be.  To believe that we are all worthy and we all deserve help.  That no one person is better or more deserving than another.  And to judge or assume the worthiness of one is not only wrong, but a complete denial of our own faults that can be easily found if we were held up to the same criticism as those seen as beneath us.

The election of 2008 was the start of my beliefs being challenged.  Of my first step back into the consideration and care I was raised to have for everyone, regardless of their place in society.

And this year has brought me to a point where I finally feel as if I voted for what I TRULY believed in and not in what others expected, counseled, or raised me to believe in. 

My vote this year reflected who I have become.  It was a firm, confident declaration of me . . . just me.

And now, hours later from when I first started this post, I hear Obama's acceptance speech and I feel empowered.  Not just because he was re-elected.  Not because the candidate I voted for won the election.

No.  It's because he talks about self-empowerment.  About having the right to express ourselves.  To be free to be who we want. And I hear him because I am there now.

For the first election since I was old enough to vote, I am finally free to be me.  I have broken every single tie and restriction adoption and it's beliefs have carried over me.  I have become a woman that is about me and what I believe and not about who I believed I was because my counseling made me "less-than" and took me on the path to view others with the same harshness.

I'm proud, for the first time in many, MANY years, of who I am, of my beliefs.  Of what I stand up for and fight for.

It's a new feeling and situation for me.  But I plan to savor it.  To accept it.  And to finally, for the first time in a VERY long time, realize that I am worthy of such feelings, such beliefs, such rights.  And I will never again, lose that for the sake of others. 

For anyone that suggests I am, or have ever been "less-than" another simply because my actions, my ways, do not meet the criteria of those who judge and assume power over others.

Those who I am thankful I no longer know or understand.  Who I am thankful I have grown past to find and know the real me.  The real woman who was always there but was shoved back and silenced for so long by those believing they were better and more worthy than me . . .

Something I have come to realize they never were and never could be.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Another Year of Awareness

So, here we go again . . .

National Adoption Awareness Month is back in full swing.

In honesty, I would really be okay with still being in denial that this time of year actually exists.  These last two months of the year, with the holidays and all that they bring, have always held a bittersweet meaning for me.

My mode of survival for so many years after giving my oldest son up for adoption was to throw myself fully into everything that was holiday related.  I tirelessly fought every year to make the holidays the best they could be.  From the decorations, to parties at my children’s schools, to thriving – desperately needing -  the big family get togethers, even when they weren’t always so pleasant or enjoyable in the end.

And yet, it was never enough.  I could never quite reach that feeling I was seeking.  That happiness I so desperately needed.  It always seemed to elude me, dangle just out of reach.  Teasing me with my constant struggle to reach it and yet never really making it there.

And then Christmas night would hit, after almost two months of pushing and doing, pushing and doing . . . on and on . . . to create the perfect holiday season.  And in the quiet aftermath, after everything had settled and there was no longer anything to keep me going, keep me busy and focused, the depression would set in.

It was heavy and painful.  And it returned, year after year.  A “knock you to your knees” sadness that took hold and stuck around for nearly a month.

It felt like this huge let-down.  This punch to the gut that another year had passed and I had yet to find that full happiness I had been seeking.  No matter how hard I tried, how desperately I did everything I could to create the perfect holidays, I always found myself hurting and struggling at the end of it all.  I couldn’t avoid it.  I couldn’t create two months that were good enough to keep me safe from the pain.

It came, year after year, without question.  Always hitting on Christmas night.  Always leaving me to believe that come the next year, come the start of November, I would do better, create happier memories, and somehow finally win over the dark monster that lingered at the end of it all.

It wasn’t until reunion with my oldest son.  Until my journey into healing from all the pain and loss adoption had caused, that I finally realized that there was nothing I could have done during the two months of the holiday season to ever escape the terrible sadness I fell into each and every year.

Because that sadness was never caused by my “failure” to create happy memories through November and December. 

It was caused, instead, by something I could never overcome during the years I lived in denial.  By a shattering loss I had denied and run from for almost two decades.

These last two months of the year were also my final months pregnant with my oldest son.  That desperation I always felt from the start of November through Christmas, had nothing to do with the holiday season and everything to do with my need to seek a happiness I could never truly find after losing my first child to adoption.

And Christmas night always hit so hard because it was my final time with my son where I wasn’t faced with the horrible realization that I would be losing him soon. Because early the next morning I was on my way to the hospital and at 1:11 am on December 27th I gave birth to my first born child, only to give him up just a few days later.

So yeah, this time of year was difficult long before I realized there was any such thing as National Adoption Awareness Month.  The holidays were already hard before being smacked in the face with the disgusting ways in which so many have hijacked this month to push and encourage more desperate, frightened mothers to experience the same horror that left me so desperately seeking some kind of happiness during these final months of the year.

If only this month stayed focused on what it was truly meant to be – encouraging help for those children TRULY in need of families . . . the nine year old girl who was forced to live through sexual abuse and has been labeled as “hard to place” because of the struggles she has faced from living through such a horror . . . the twelve year old boy who has been tossed around from foster home to foster home and is on the path to “age-out” before ever knowing what it is like to have someone love him just for who he is and willing to be the family he needs without forcing him to give up everything in order to “deserve” the love that should have always been his from the very beginning.

If only we took the month of November to TRULY concentrate on children in need.  To find the best ways to help them deal with the loss they have suffered while finding them the best family possible.  A family educated and counseled to know the importance of recognizing that adoption isn’t going to be all rainbows and sunshine for their child.  That their heritage should always be important to them.  And that they should never be expected to walk away from that, be denied access to it, or live a life of forever gratefulness because they were given the love and acceptance they always deserved.

But that’s just not, in so many ways, the reality of what National Adoption Awareness Month has become.

It’s become centered around encouraging even more separation of mothers and their children.  About satisfying the needs of infertile couples.  Pushing vulnerable, pregnant mothers into believing they aren’t worthy of their own sons or daughters.

In so many ways, it isn’t about what is best for children truly in need of families.  Instead it’s about how those very children somehow prevent mothers from pursuing their education and seeking successful careers.  How they are merchandise sold to satisfy the desires of infertile couples willing to do whatever it takes to find “happiness” in becoming parents.

And in that, the nine year old girl and twelve year old boy continue to wait and hope for a family to love them and truly believe adoption is about them and not about their own selfish desires.

In that is so many children who have absolutely no awareness brought to what they go through.  No defense to fight against the reality that they must be young enough, good enough, desirable enough, to satisfy the desires of the majority of those trying to adopt, to ever truly know what it is like to be loved, cared for and accepted for who they are instead of who they are expected, desired to be.

Adoption awareness should never be, or accepted as, promoting more babies for infertile couples to adopt.  As a means for mothers to give away their children, or for coercion to not only exist, but be tolerated because it, in some sickening way of thought, is a solution to single, unplanned pregnancy that actually “benefits” anyone through the unnecessary separation of a mother and her child.

It is so hard, I know, to get the mainstream thoughts of society to look differently at what they have been told is the “right and just” thing.  But I wish, more than anything, this disgusting farce of a month of adoption awareness could shift and change to become the power to do just that . . .

To change societies overall view of adoption.  To help them understand that it must become about children in need of families and can no longer be about dollar amounts, profits, or desires of adults who seek to satisfy their own needs.

To be the driving force that encourages society, overall, to step back and truly look at the realities that exist in adoption.  To finally question the disgusting billion dollar figures made off of selling human beings as babies, marketed and sought while so many children are left forgotten, truly in need, in foster care.

I wish we, as a society, would finally begin to look deeper into the truths we have been told about adoption.  Would finally start to see the wrong in stripping babies from their mothers in the name of profit and the belief that money determines a better parent.

That we would finally, as one united voice, stand up and speak out against a billion-dollar industry that has fed us lies, profited on our vulnerability and become so deeply accepted, through their profits and the control and power such profits have given them, to lead an entire nation to believe that it’s okay to strip newborn sons and daughters from their mothers because of a lack of support and help while leaving so many children, truly in need, to face a future of never having a family because their age, their experience makes them unprofitable, and in return, undeserving of true love and care.

We need . . . DESERVE . . . true awareness.  True care and consideration for children in need.

Adoption is not about the infertile couple who held garage and bake sales because they desperately wanted to become parents.

It’s not about mothers who are convinced that giving up their babies is the best thing and believe that they can not go on to build a successful future as long as they have a child to “weigh them down.”

And it’s definitely not about the multi-billion dollar adoption industry that has used their profits and power to keep their practices, their disgusting acts, accepted and encouraged during a time in society when we are tired of being controlled by big money interests.

It is, and always should be, about children truly in need of families.

But until society finally finds the courage to look beyond what they are being told and demands profits and power are removed from adoption, nothing will change and no TRUE awareness will ever be found.

Until mothers like myself, and so MANY, MANY others are seen as good women who deserved their babies and never should have been coerced, forced, manipulated to give them up so that others could profit from our loss, we will never know anything but a reality where those with money gain while mothers and children TRULY in need lose in the very worst of ways.

It’s just time . . .

Time to demand change. 

Time to finally step up and refuse to allow the profits of a dark, unethical industry to continue to control and take over the awareness we as a society are allowed to see.

Time to finally make it clear that adoption is, and should always be, about children in need.  And to make it clear that we, as a kind and considerate society, no longer support the profits made in stripping newborns from their mothers to satisfy the desires of those able to pay the “fee” of gaining a living, breathing human being while so may children TRULY in need are forgotten and ignored because they don’t offer the profit demanded in the very industry so many are choosing to blindly support, regardless of the damage caused.

Regardless of how true children in need are ignored. How vulnerable mothers are used at the expense of greed and profit.  

And worst of all, how a month of awareness has been stripped away from those it was meant to help because money rules and changes even the very best of intentions.