Friday, October 30, 2015

In the Quiet



There are no words which can accurately describe who you are. You’ve become many things to me through the years. I’ve spent years trying to demonize you…but that feels shallow and never sticks.

I spent some time tonight re-reading old journal entries about us. Sometimes, I really resented you for your role in my life. We lived in two worlds. Outside of your room, we pretended not to know each other. Inside that room, you came to know me intimately- to know me better than any other would ever know me.

I wanted to take your hand and walk together out of that room- it wasn’t enough for me…to celebrate all the holidays together within the same four walls. For my birthday you made me cookies. We always spent Christmas eve together- but never Christmas. Shabbat was always a solemn time for you. I missed you every Shabbat.

The 4 walls became a prison and I began to break into pieces.

There were times when we cried together, when we gazed into each other’s eyes for extended periods of time without glancing away even once. There was so much beauty and warmth in what was shared.

But it wasn’t enough for me.

I couldn’t live in that room for the rest of my life. I just couldn’t. Even if it was the only place I would ever find you.

I started to grieve myself to death because I knew I was faced with an impossible choice. I would have to leave the room and go out into the world without you….or stay in that little tiny room with you and completely miss out on the joy and exhilaration of living in the world and participating in something real with someone who could be with me in the ways I needed them to be there.

I kept trying to choose to leave you behind, but I couldn’t do it. Something always dragged me back to you, in the room.

So eventually, you chose for me.

You said it was an act of love.

No more room.

No more you.

No more me, for a time.

Losing you was like being spliced in two. For months I had dreams of dolls and various other strange inanimate objects being ripped into two.

To say that I loved you would be a grave understatement.

Then the anger came.

It washed over me.

I felt abandoned, betrayed…and so so hurt. I felt so hurt in fact, that I eventually started to feel nothing at all. Nothing.

I’m okay now.

Don’t get me wrong…I’m still a little angry. Oh, and make no mistake..some of the things you said about me in order to protect your own ass was way out of line, but I suppose neither of us was completely in the “ right” or the “ wrong”.

Both of us were just trying to find a way to go on. Survival instincts.

For you- that meant demonizing me.

I tried to do that too, but my heart wasn’t in it. I could never bring myself to truly think ill of you….because I remember you. I remember the quiet in you, and the glow of love, and the warmth of your heart.

I remember you.

Monday, October 12, 2015

A Human Cannot be Erased

If we're going to be a civilized society, it is time for us to give equal weight to the personage of both the bio parent and the adoptee. Dumping a child and then never looking back may not necessarily be something that we need to continue to enable just because it benefits agencies financially. "What about in the case of rape?" You might ask. My response is that if you want to bring a child into the world, you need to understand that the child is a person and not an object. The rape is not something that you need to punish the adopted child for, by barring contact. The adoptee does not deserve to pay for the crime of another by never having their questions answered, or having an opportunity for closure. Experiencing trauma does not give you the right to inflict trauma on someone else. Society needs to understand that the needs and personage of the bio-parent are not greater than the needs and personage of the adoptee. We are equal, and we deserve equal rights. Having your original birth certificate is a basic human right.

I'm a human being.

Even if you don't understand that- I understand that...and I'm telling you, I will continue to fight for equal rights until my last breath because society needs to understand this.

It is time for a more civilized solution.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

A Survival Guide to Secondary Familial Rejection for Adoptees



When I began to search for my biological family, there was no ill will in my heart. I was searching for love,for community, and for culture. I had no idea that I might encounter a second rejection.

There was no anger...only love. Just a naive desire to love and to be loved by my biological family. In my mind, it wasn't complicated. I did not expect to be met with suspicion.

I didn't expect to encounter rejection and it caught me off guard. I'd just always assumed that things would go well.

Many adoptees don't search for their families because they fear a second rejection. Unfortunately, it does happen. Sometimes our families just don't want us. It happens. It's a horrible thing to go through, but it does happen.

So... let me present you with a survival guide for adoptees experiencing secondary familial rejection.

If you've been rejected a second time, firstly I want to say that I am so so sorry that this happened to you. Know that you are not alone. Unfortunately, many of us have faced what you are facing now. It may seem hopeless- It may seem like you are totally alone in the world, and while non-adopted persons may not understand what you are feeling right now, many other adoptees do. I encourage you to seek out an adoptee support group so that you can have a safe space to express your feelings.

Julian's Survival Guide to Secondary Familial Rejection for Adoptees

1. Realize that this isn't about You.

It's not about you. It can't be about you, because they don't even know you as a person. You're just a concept to them, not a human being. Know that you are a pawn in this. It sucks, but that's what you are. Some people will view you as a threat and use your existence to incite fear in others. On the other hand, some people will be able to maturely process through these difficult feelings to be able to empathsize with you. Either way, when we're just outright rejected in reunion- it isn't because we are unworthy. It says nothing about who you are as a human being to be rejected a second time. In many cases, it's just the luck of the draw. Human behavior is unpredictable, and many humans just can't handle the intense feelings that come along with adoption reunions.

2. It is Okay to Feel Angry...but Don't Let Your Anger Get out of Hand

When people have rejected you just because you exist- it is okay to be a little pissed off about that. It's totally unfair! It IS unjust and doesn't make much sense. It is pretty painful to spend your life looking for someone only to be ignored, or to have a door slammed in your face. Give yourself the emotional space you need to feel anger. Write about it. Talk to other adoptees about it. Blog. Draw. Express Yourself. HOWEVER, don't let it get out of hand. Self-care is essential here. Be angry at the people that rejected and abandoned you, but don't turn that anger against yourself. I've seen too many adoptees commit suicide. People that didn't care about you in life aren't going to care about you if you're dead. You might feel worthless, but you aren't worthless. Get out there and help other adoptees. Become an activist. Put all of that anger into skillful action. Our community needs your rage. Wack-job politicians are constantly trying to limit our access to our original birth certificates- fight for your rights.

3. Survive

That sounds strange, doesn't it? Why would Julian put " Survive" in a Survival Guide? Isn't that redundant? Yes, it is redundant, but I'm saying this because you need to hear it. Survive. Keep yourself alive. Do not give up. Do not lose sight of who you are. Do not fall into an emotional black hole which leads you off a cliff. Survive. It might feel like your life is over, but it isn't. Tell yourself that you will get through this.

4. Don't Pressure Yourself to Forgive

Some of us have been through horrible situations. While many religious fanatics often rant and rave about the importance of forgiving those who have harmed us, I'm a big fan of taking things slow. People that don't care about you, probably don't care about your forgiveness anyway. LOL. You might laugh, but it's true. Forgive at your own pace, if you choose to do so. Stylishly ignore those that might try to force you into forgiveness prematurely.

5. Create Your Own Family

Time and time again, I hear about the importance of community- and of feeling like we belong. Don't forget that friends can be an amazing support system. You can build a life rich with meaning. Some of us unfortunately have to start over. So do it. Start over. Build from the ground up.

6. Don't Ask Yourself "Why Did this Happened to me?"

This is a tough one, but if you can do so...I suggest you refrain from asking yourself, God, or the universe why this happened to you. Asking this question could drive a saint mad. There are too many factors involved. Accept that you will never know why. Asking this question is like literally jumping on a train that you can never get off of because it just drives in circles for all eternity. Don't get on. Bad things happen to good people because sometimes the universe sucks, and because humans can choose to be nice or to be assholes. Some people choose wrong.

7. Don't Expect Everyone to Understand

Non-adoptees probably have no reference point for what you're going through. Even some adoptees won't understand. Don't pee in the wind. In other words, don't vent to people that cannot take a supportive posture because it will blow back in your direction, and then you'll have to go to work with yellow stains all over your brand new shirt and...you get the picture.

8. Read

Yes, read. Read adoptee support forums and read books about adoption. No, I'm not talking about those terrible " How to Make Your Adoptive Child Love you and Discipline them properly using a 3 inch blade" books ( LOL, I'm warped)... read things that will make you feel validated like " The Primal Wound". Also try to read books on trauma, because being rejected a second time is a major trauma.

9. Laugh

Laugh as much as you can. You need those feel-good chemicals right now. Watch funny movies, seek out funny friends. Laugh as often as you can. * Side note- You might not want to laugh too heartily if you have diarrhea...unless you're into that kind of thing.

10. Cry

I think this one is self-explanatory. But on a side-note, I once cried until my tear ducts clogged and my eyes swelled shut. Don't do that. LOL.

11. DABDA- Stages of Grief

Denial
Anger
Bargaining
Depression
Acceptance

You're going to go through the stages of grief. Sometimes you'll fly through them in order, and sometimes it will be out of order. You might go from acceptance back into denial. Just let it happen.

12. Try to Let Love In When You Can

Not everyone is going to abandon you. Not everyone sucks. Let love in when and where you can. We're social animals. People need people...even though people also hurt people. Let people love you in imperfect and sloppy ways ( I.E. My adoptive mother LOL). Accept imperfect offerings of love from people that genuinely mean well.

Hope that helps, adoptee.

Just remember, you aren't in this alone.


Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Searching for Legitimacy

Many of my adopted friends are searching for legitimacy.

To some of us, it is important to finally be acknowledged in public, and to be embraced. My search is slightly different. My adopted parents have already given me legitimacy and social standing. I am their child. However, I have grieved for my other set of parents because I have always wanted to know my origins. I wanted to know if I might feel organically as though I were linked to my bio-family. I want to know who I might be, if I had stayed within that family- had I not been thrust into the arms of social services and a succession of foster homes and orphanages. Without these profound life- experiences, would I be less empathetic? Less caring?

I don't know.

My adoptive grandfather is one of my closest relatives. It always amazes me that a man who seems so sensitive and caring grew up on a farm. It is hard for me to envision my grandfather slaughtering a chicken for dinner, or hunting a turtle for soup.

Fall is my favorite season because I enjoy the comforts of the supermarket. I love apple cider and pumpkin pie. I enjoy corn-mazes and haunted houses. I love camping next to a bonfire as winter approaches.

If I had grown up in my birth-family, perhaps I wouldn't love these things. I might be religious. I may have been forced to wear shoes during the summer months. I wouldn't know my grandfather. I doubt I would have the same passion for adoptee-rights, or compassion for the mentally ill.

My upbringing was beautiful. I spent a tremendous amount of time at conservatory with Helen Strine learning fine arts, in NYC seeing broadway shows, and at the Kennedy Center in DC. There was never any question that I too might achieve great things within the industry of performing arts. My parents took me to underground caverns in Bermuda, and they invested a great deal in me. Because my parents were important within the community, I was too. As a child, I didn't feel invisible or unimportant. It wasn't until adulthood that I began to feel a sense of otherness closing in.

My parents already gave me legitimacy and social standing.