Holt's Latest Slip of the Tongue?

BUYER'S REGRET???  And this was published by HOLT just this month.  I don't know about you, but those words gave me chills...

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What's yours and what's mine

I used to really hate my Amother's "collection" of chosen bits and pieces of MY life-history, which she chose to add to  HER (my?) "from cradle to college" keepsake-memory-scrap book.  I remember I would look at it, and find so many gaps and missing pieces, and yet I'm sure, in her mind, the book was as complete as a baby-book could be back then.

One thing is for certain -- it's very difficult looking at pivotal time-periods, knowing what she and others might see (as being ideal and perfect and what life really was at the time), and what I see (as reminders of lies and secrets, and warnings whispered in the ear) -- they are two different view-points from the same exact photo.  For her, she may long for such sweet days; for myself there remains a painful living reality of many forced poses, all so a memory-making moment could be captured, and saved, so others may see how happy we all were at one time.

I remember looking at "the first" black and white photo of myself.  Unbeknowst to me when I was little, that photo was sent to my Aparents, by the adoption agency they paid for "family services".  The agency sent it to the PAPs, (after fees had been paid and financial accounts had been verified)  so they (the paying parents) could begin to look, see, and bond, with the child made available (through the chosen adoption agency).

I don't think words can properly describe what it is that I see when I look at those "first" early photos, captured by people who were on a mission.

The "first" photo  -- I will see if I can scan/copy it --  shows me X months old, in a white/light dress.  I look happy, and healthy, and "ideal".  I have no doubt, the woman who gave birth to me would have really liked that photo, with the exception of the strange hair-thing going on to one side of my head. 

[I learned, through letter-exchange between my Amother and social worker at the agency I was being "kept", the flattened head would be addressed, and it will be improved before the exchange, in St John's, was going to take place.  I suppose my skull had to pass shrewd inspection, before I could be sent to live in America.]

Enclosed are three additional pictures which we thought you might like.

We hope that you will be able to see from these pictures that the flatness of the right side seems to be correcting itself.
The Canadian agency and doctor say that "there is no cause for concern, and that the problem is correcting itself, since the doctor suggested placing xxxxxx in a different position in her crib".

We have received approval of your immigrant visa petition and we are waiting to hear from the U.S. Consulate as to a consulate appointment.
Please call if you have any questions.

Cordially yours,
SISTER  MARY EUGENE FOUNDATION

Charles Berkcwitz  SW
Supervisor of Adoption Services
encl. 3 photos.

[From: My Own "The Baby" Pages ]

 

I never saw the "offensive" photo(s) my Amother obviously complained about  responded to, via letter.  I wish I had a copy of the letter she wrote, expressed strong concern for/about the child in-care, (awaiting an adoption-plan/American home).  Did it read anything like....:

"Dear Kind Sirs,

WTF is wrong with the child's head?  Why has it gone flat, and what in heaven's name are you going to do to improve that child's skull?

Kind Regards,

A concerned parent, paying a lot of money for you to care for that child"

Yea, I didn't think so, either.

I never saw the two other "early" photos of me that got sent to a woman who need visual proof the "issue" that concerned her has been addressed.  If I know my Amother, though, she put the most attractive photo in the keep-sake book.  No need to keep ugly reminders where friends and visitors could see, so they could make rude or hurtful comments at any given time. 

A also never got the "keepsakes" my Amom claimed to have saved for me, when I myself was to become an adult/mother --

  1. The dress I was delivered in -- <laugh>... the adoption birthday suit, if you will.  My parents received me inside a hotel lobby, so I had to be dressed, like a normal child.
  2. The tin of powered "stuff that smelled really bad", which was used for my developing skin rash.  My Amother said the powder used was just awful. 
  3. Any other "paid for items" that came with the baby doll girl the American couple purchased saved, together, thanks to The Catholic Church, an International Adoption Service, and (Made in America) money, of course.

On some level, I can understand why a mother would not want to keep things that were ugly, or smelled bad, or didn't seem "worth keeping", but those were MY things, not hers.  I came with those clothes on my back, and tools/accessories on the side; they were given to/for me, (which the new-owners were free to use).  I wanted those items preserved, and given back, so I could see the quality of care given to me.  I needed to see how I was treated;  I needed tangible proof. I needed...

I wanted to make the choice:  do I save and keep these things from the past, or do I throw them away... burn them in a fire, or bury them in a shallow grave?  I wanted something to hold, so I could grieve, proper-like.  (Why is that so hard for so many Aparents to understand?)

The choice should have been mine.  And I waited, and waited,but the choice was made for me.

The life-story stories my Amother wanted to present to herself and others was NOT the real -story of a girl given up (as the sacrifice) for a better life - an adoption plan.

Those who have been abandoned by parents are not idiots.

We know the birth parents have it much easier WITHOUT the financial burden of an unwanted child.

We also know how to read-between-the-lines, when we see:

"We didn't care what color they were or where they came from"...

This isn't to say those particular parents are/were lying, but it forces one to remember most people in this world are not nearly as great, selfless, or as wonderful as they seem or as they want others to believe. In other words, there are those who will say, "We don't care what the child is...." [Just as long as the child is healthy, (and without the sort of problems that will bring shame or embarrassment to a parent, many years later).]

In this regard, many good AP's are just like their good birth-parent counter-parts:  both "We didn't care what the child is" attitude comes from the need to love and protect.  After 17+ years of mommy-conversations, I have learned a mom-secret or two.  That "We didn't care" line is one of those common benign "white lies" we mothers tell our children, when they ask us really impossible questions like,  "Mommy, did you think I was a  beautiful baby?" or "Mommy, who do you love best?"

In my own trying-to-be-a-good-mom approach, I always felt as though my kids should know the truth about moms and babies.  I told each one of my heathens, all babies are born ugly, but they develop into beautiful, amazingly strange creatures, the type that make a person crazy or insane, in all different types of ways.  I also made sure my children saw their birth photos, so they could see for themselves what they came-out looking like.  I wanted them to see, with their own eyes, how they developed, over time, and what that process does to a human body , and how those changes influence the behaviors of others.    [As a nurse, I know, even the most "prepared" mom-to-be has that moment... that <deep inhale>,"let's see what we got here?" moment that tells a mom if the baby has 10 fingers, 10 toes, and correct genitalia packaging.  Mothers need to be taught HOW to nurture their babies, and how to touch gently and lovingly, and not with a look of disgust or aversion]

It's scary stuff unveiling the final product, created through, I believe, God.  [Who else can perform such an amazing miracle, as seen through/in the human body? Truly, as far as I'm concerned, man has yet to fully understand, let alone create such a sensitive yet durable machine.]

So I can imagine how scary it must be for an AP who spent $40k on a child, only to learn, as the unwrapping process begins, "the color, appearance, and behavior" is not at all as expected, or told by the doctor/agency that assured the parent "nothing is wrong". 

Abused adoptees have an insight/ability most "happy well-adjusted" adoptees do not.  Many of us have a wisdom, a brutal version of honesty, based on an entire picture that took YEARS to develop.  In fact, ALL victims of childhood abuse have a factory-installed Bullshit Detector, but the man-made product is known to malfunction all the time, making the final verdict something that needs proof for verification purposes.

I know in my own case, I can't trust those who insist love is blind. 

No, true love learns to overlook and accept, because the entire package is pretty damn awesome.

To this day, I don't like having my photo taken.  In my mind, the camera never captures the truth in a given situation.

I don't blame my Amother for all the horrible things that have hurt me during my childhood; Don't hate her for the things she did or didn't do... she's a flawed human, just like the rest of us.

What I do hate is the way in which adoption agencies and facilitators operate... telling white lies, like all is good and perfectly normal.

Some shit AIN'T normal.

Someone has to prepare PAP's, and birth parents, for the lies that are going to be sold to them.... because the children will ask.  One day, the question, "What was wrong with me?" will be asked.  Here's the kicker... the children often ask more than one resource.

What is in the can...?

Thank you, Kerry, for making me dig deep to see if I  will eventually have the right stuff saved to soothe my children over the coming bumps of maturity.  We have huge cans full of "stuff."  Outfits they came home in; newspapers from the countries I traveled to, with dates on them correlating to the time we met; clothes I bought them in their country of birth; special outfits that show the culture of each country; baby pictures from the foster homes and orphanages; bottles and pacifiers that still smell of the formula they were brought home with from their country, etc.  Will it be enough?  I wonder...
Just last week, my oldest told me something that really shocked me, and I wonder if you could help me with this because my second son had said something along the same lines, only earlier:
He said he had a conversation with a friend at college who asked (the proverbial question) if he hadn't thought about finding his biological/first family.  His answer went like this:  "Why would I?  She was a whore who had a one night stand with a man..."  This, from a son who has "said his prayers" nightly, ever since he could talk, which included his first family.  And a few months ago, my second son said this to me, after I had asked him if he didn't want to visit Guatemala and try to find his birth family, and especially his sister, since I kept pictures and addresses, and had been there and met them when he was 3 months old: "She made her choice.  I know she's in California, and left my sister in Guatemala; she probably has a dozen kids by now and is living off the state even though she is an illegal alien." 
So even though I've kept a BUNCH of stuff and information, it SEEMS what they are saying is, that's enough, just knowing they have it, not necessarily doing anything about it.  This from a 22 and 23 year old that were adopted at 3months and 6 months old.
I didn't really think my oldest daughter would come home, but two years ago she called and wanted to come home.  I had sent all her information to the foster home because it had her medical history in it (C.P./ 2 strokes at birth) and important information.  The SW and foster mother kept these very important papers and don't know what happened to them.  She's the one who will have a hole in her history.  I've told her everything I can remember that was written about her, and it was quite a lot.  We've talked about how her mother was 17 years old and lived with her maternal grandmother... we wonder what happened to her parents; were they alive?  Did they disown their daughter because she got pregnant? (Korea is like that)  I do have a lot of stuff that is hers, but I feel like the state raped her emotionally by taking and losing her paperwork and first pictures.  When I sent them to her, the SW was stunned that I would do this... but I felt it was important for her to have them.  The SW was an adoptive mother whose reply to most people who wanted to adopt was this, "if you don't apply for a special needs child then you have no right to apply."  So WHY take my child's important papers about her medical history and lose them???  Didn't my child, who has C.P. have a right to her past???  This SW was fired off our case... snicker... JUSTICE will have it's say; and I do hope there comes a day when she faces what she has been in her JOB as SW!
Teddy

Ah, Pandora....she awaits...

To be fair, each adoptee is different.  Each AP is different, too.  Had I been given one AP who valued my need for more answers, and respected my need to hunt the past, just a little, I would have been better-off.  But I got what I got, and I found a way to deal with it, and grieve.

My search for truth and more answers brought me the sort of headaches and nightmares I would not want to wish on any adoptee born outside their mother-land.  But my adoption story started over 40 years ago. I'm led to believe much has changed in ICA since the late 1960's. 

What I have learned from myself and other adoptees is this:  there's that moment of clarity that happens...it's the one that takes mythical mommy, and phantom dad and makes the man and the woman and the baby-adoption story real, in ways the innocent child does not think about.

In order for a child to be conceived, there has to be sex.

Was mommy a whore?  Was daddy a fly by the seat of his pants prick?  Who knows. Were there too many mouths to feed, or was mom just a selfish bitch?  Who knows. Did both parents perish in a horrible crash, or did each leave, without a trace.

Who

Knows.

The bottom line is, people made their bed, and a child was left-behind and that child had to be put in a new home.  In some cases it was "the grandparents" fault. ["That's why you weren't kept"]  In other cases it was the married spouse's fault. ["The second wife did not want the bastard chid"]  Still in other cases, it was no-body's fault, it's just how life is for the non-aborted babies/children not killed.  Enter those who survived, they shall be made available for the adoption industry.

Is it all bad?  Nope.

Is it all good.  NOPE.

But parent-replacements need to remember,  a loss is a loss is a loss, and I have yet to have any adult person tell me the loss of a parent does not leave some mark in the heart and mind of the child who has lost a parent.  Good, bad, or indifferent, the loss becomes permanent, when the parent is dead, or no longer coming to see or visit the living (forced to adapt) child.

It has been my own experience, the need for more answers comes in phases; when major milestones take place.  If the adopted child is well-adjusted and happy, less time and attention is given to the ghosts of the past.  If the adoptee is wounded and sad or angry, you can bet the adoptee is thinking at some point, "I wish (he/she) could see me now".

My real need to connect with my mom -- the woman who endured a full pregnancy and gave me life -- came when I got pregnant, the first time. Every other passing thought that brought my first-mother to mind paled in gross anemic proportions compared to that First Child experience.  She was 26 when she had me; she was no child.

Nothing hits like the birth of your own born.  Nothing. 

Even male adoptees have shared the same with me.

In my mind, that says something.  [I don't know what, exactly, but it leaves an impression of sadness that has to get tucked-away, and hidden, for the sake of others.]

sadness

I'm not sure. I was taken away from my mother against her will and against mine. But I was placed with family. Excellent family whom I love and admire. And I still got to visit my mom. And now as an adult I live with her and help her out in her final years, and our relationship is good. But the sadness is still there. The hollow yearning. The longing to be held, and rocked and comforted. But not by her anymore, it would be awkward, uncomfortable. I don't know by whom. And the pain is compounded by my inability to have children of my own. It's like a palindrome of pain and yearning. Not always, not every minute, but it's there.

I lost another parent to death when I was 14.
My niece was adopted by her mom's husband (not her bio dad) when she was 6 and then he died leaving her and the 3 younger siblings he made with my sister half-orphaned.

Sometimes I wonder if the yearning, the homesickness for the parent who made us and who loves us unconditionally is really a longing for a human person or circumstance in this world, or whether it's the kind of longing that CS Lewis writes about, a longing that can't be fulfilled in this world because it points to the next. But we mistake it as being the lost parent that we yearn for. But sometimes when you have the parent, or get the parent back, the yearning remains. Sometimes the parent isn't even really the parent we had in mind. What we had in mind was a different sort of parent, one that would fill the yearning gap perfectly, with no sharp corners or rough edges.

Personal insight

Wow... your description of a seemingly eternal "homesickness" and sadness really resonates in me because ten years ago I had a major epiphany:

When I decided to STOP my search for my first-mother, I decided it was time to stop because as a grown woman, I realized I had gone so long without a mom, I no longer wanted or needed one. (After living so long without a mom, what in the world would I do with a Mom, should one be found for me?)

At the age of 35, (or somewhere around there), I finally realized, as an adoptee who was rejected by her adoptive mother, I had to grieve not a specific person, but the fact that I had no "real mom", and I was, and will be, mother-less.

This realization made me acutely aware of the very real absence I felt all my life: Lonely...sad....waiting.... "Where is MY mom?".

I'll be honest -- that type of "orphanhood" can be one tough nut to swallow.

But swallow, I did. (I choked, and sobbed, too.)

In my own case, the yearning for "my mom" ended once I learned how to start self-mothering myself.

I'm still not good at being loving and forgiving towards Kerry (me), but I'm trying to force myself to learn. (I've learned being kind to oneself is not a Given... it's a process... a very strange and un-nerving process.)

So....Is this type of yearning ("for mom") a spiritual need for God? Maybe.

Perhaps, instead, this abysmal sadness many of us experience is related to the very real importance of the mother and child bond, and just how painfully deep the loss/absence can be felt, if or when a child is denied loving mothering.

I was anonymous

Hi Kerry, that was your new friend Me, who posted above as "Anonymous".

I appreciate what you wrote above and can't write very much at the moment because I need to go make dinner, but I just want to say one thing - I think that what I was trying to get at is maybe everyone, or at least everyone introspective and self-examining, has this yearning, adoptee or not. I was sort of semi-adopted, and I have that yearning for mother-love (and father-love), but it doesn't feel so different to me from the yearning I feel that is related to my infertility. Or the yearning that I feel to be loved and admired by my husband. Or the yearning I feel in the presence of great beauty. All equally strong.

And I do have my real bio mom again now, I even live with her, and our relationship is better than ever. But the yearning remains. (I really appreciate what you wrote about your own realization about self-mothering) So I question - if I were to get pregnant today and bear a child and raise it to adulthood, would the child fill that yearning hollow? I suspect not. I know I would love my child with a huge love, but I think the yearning points to something other than a mother, a father, a lover, a child. I think if I had a near perfect mother, a near perfect father, a near perfect lover, a near perfect child I'd be pretty darn happy, and pretty darn busy and distracted, but there would still be that lingering desire for "something more, something better" something deeper.

Some people think that "something more, something better" means better people to have relationships with, or better material acquisitions, or travel and new experiences, or losing weight and a makeover and I've been guilty of all of those mistakes.

But now I think I see the same symptom in so many different types of people. Some are adopted (for better or worse). Some were raised by great bio parents and some by rotten bio parents. Some are ugly or overweight or poor. Some are beautiful or wealthy. Some are successful and some are not so successful.

I have a history of joining groups. One was for people recovering from eating disorders (I quit because I felt I didn't fit in or deserve to be there, they were all anorexics or bulimics and I was neither, I was something else (orthorexic)). One was for survivors of sexual abuse (I quit because I felt I didn't fit in or deserve to be there, they were all survivors of incest and I was only abused by a distant non-blood relative, a few times over a period of 7 years). Now I'm here and not sure I fit in because I wasn't adopted, only raised by extended family. And there have been other groups. But all have the sorrow, the yearning, the damage, the hope, the activist fire.

In no way am I denying that the absence of loving mothering leaves deep scars. It most certainly does! I'm just saying that even with a history of wonderful mother love and bonding, I suspect that the majority of us will still feel a strong longing for a deeper and more fulfilling love in our life. And I wonder if that's how it's SUPPOSED to be. I wonder if the people who don't realize or don't admit that they have this hollow searching ball of pain in the solar plexus that keeps them looking for answers and looking for healing - I wonder if they're the ones who are out-of-sync, broken, not doing their job, not living their true life.

When the White Witch of Narnia used her wand to turn me to stone I was still and silent and unmoving and I felt no pain.

When I skated for so long on the frozen pond that my feet turned to ice they were numb and I felt no pain. When I warmed my feet under a bathtub faucet of tepid water the blood under my skin flushed bright red and the pain was prickling and excruciating. In many ways pain can = life.

When I was drawing my friend the curve of her eyelid was so beautiful I felt like my heart would break and I wanted that beauty for myself I wanted to own it and possess it somehow in some infinite and eternal way. Not just to be beautiful myself or to possess my friend. I do not love her romantically and of course I wish to be beautiful but it's not the same. I don't even know WHAT I wanted as the beauty pierced my heart, all I know is that I wanted. It's like when you love a song so much you wish to be inside the music, a part of the song, submerged and consubstantial - it's when I feel most alive. Because of many experiences like this I know also that the joy of beauty = pain and yearning = life.

Yearning

Glad to see you on-board, Me, my new friend!

After reading your post, I realize, yes.... I still get periods of yearning... a sense of unsettlement. I'm realizing, just now, I must be going through some sort of emotional menopause, because those periods are becoming more spaced-out, and not as regular, frequent, and heavy as they once were. (Plus I can be a real moody emotional mess when my yearning starts it's mewing.)

I have found, in order to satiate the need, and quiet the sound yearning brings me, I have to do a lot of personal work, taking-in a lot of information and inventory. In short, I use yearning as a signal to take the time to learn and know my own self a little better. When I find new insight to an ongoing/unresolved issue or problem, I tend to feel much better, even if the calm lasts for only a short time.

Pound Pup Legacy