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.

8 comments:

  1. You ARE aware that it was 2 Democrats that started the closed adoption system aren't you? Gov.Lehman(NY)and Tann. I don't see Democrats caring about birthmothers or adoptees either, especially idiots like Daniel O'Donnell who wants to keep all adoption records closed. No Democrat is going to open the records or stop promoting adoption. If anything they want to keep the system the way it is to benefit new adoptive parents.

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    1. I don't disagree with you. I don't believe either party is interested in helping adoptees or First Mothers or even in making any kind of true changes in adoption. It seems to be one of the few areas where they do agree and have no problem allowing the industry to continue on unchecked.

      Though I obviously didn't do a good enough job at it, I wasn't trying to pit one party against the other or suggest that one was better than the other. I was just trying to show how my views and beliefs changed from how I was raised by my parents to what I believed once I was of legal age to vote.

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    2. Actually, I agree with this comment from Anonymous. Hillary Clinton is another adoption supporter, as are the Obama's. I find it very interesting that those who claim to be fighting for the 'underdog' think it is okay to transfer a young vulnerable woman's child to people who are more 'wealthy'...

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  2. I think ideas and judgements started adoption practices, not politics. Religions played a role in beliefs and we are all waking up to this fact. What we do once we are awake is the most important new idea.

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  3. Reading this post actually made me think of the U.S. health care system which I believe is also based on entitlement and worthiness. Only those who are fortunate enough to have jobs with insurance benefits are entitled to get medical care. And even those with insurance may find that a procedure or treatment is denied or that their premiums, co-pays and deductibles are so high that they cannot afford the treatment or will be devastated financially if they do receive care. It also seems that those countries with universal health care have lower adoption rates. The lack of affordable health care is a formidable obstacle for a young mother trying to keep her baby.

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  4. GE3ORGIA Tann was not a politician: democratic or republican. She was a baby broker with wealthy and influential clients and sealed records sealed her secrets.

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  5. Hey Cassi,
    I wasn't trying to criticize your post or how you wrote it. Sorry. I was just trying to say that the Democratic Party that you support isn't going to help any of us. You have a great blog here so be proud of it. I would like to reply to Ms. Riben also and to let her know years ago I read a quote where Tann said that she followed her "father's party" and he was a Democrat. He also helped her commit and cover up her crimes.

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  6. Our issue in adoption is neither Democrat or Republican, liberal or conservative, we have supporters on both sides of the aisle. Alabama, a true red state that votes solid Republican, only sealed birth certificates for a few years, and then reopened them; New York, a true blue state in presidential politics, has had sealed records since Yes, Adoptive Father Gov. Lehman snapped them shut.

    Our legislature in New York for years has had a Republican-controlled Senate and a Democratic-controlled Assembly and we have more than 70 supporters of a true open bill...that we can't get real traction on in either chamber--but then, NY is considered to have the worst legislature in the country in terms of getting laws passed.

    Incidentally, I vote for the Republican Senator who represents my district in the NY Senate because he is a co-sponsor of the bill to give adoptees their original birth certificate; my assemblyman is an Independent and so popular, no one ran against him this time. He is also on the bill--yes, I will take credit for getting both of these guys on board--and has gone out of his way to lobby a Democratic assemblywoman who will never vote for opening the records, and she is a very influential person. Our bill crosses party lines and leanings; the feelings about it are extremely personal. And it will not pass until many more adoptees stand up and be counted.

    Over at FMF, Jane and I have been quite vocal about the Republican stance on reproductive choice and Romney's position on women. But the first election I ever voted in was an open primary for Mitt Romney's father for the GOP presidential nomination. He was a good governor of Michigan during the boom years and the Republicans were not the party they are today. So I was pleased to vote for my Republican governor.

    Now that women's reproductive freedoms are a real issue, and the Republicans have made that a part of their platform and in state after state, I could never vote I imagine for a Republican candidate for president again.

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