In our blood

So I've just finished sending my bio mom a long email describing my Christmas. I had sent her a very short Merry Christmas email on Christmas Eve as I had no time at all to do anything more. Things were VERY busy for me up to boxing day and for the last 2 days my husband and I have been couch/bed potatoes, eating leftovers and taking naps. No desire to write or read emails, do facebook, or really very much computer related activity.

I know I'll get an email back that outlines what she and her family did over Christmas and I look forward to reading it. In my mail I relayed every single thing we ate for dinner and hope that she shares the same info. To me it's interesting to hear about the cultural differences between my family and hers, yes, white Canadian people have cultural traditions too. There are family traditions that I still observe, certain foods and rituals I grew up with that I consider mine, even though I am adopted, not REALLY part of my family. I don't think that tradition or culture is as much in our blood but rather in the familiarity of routine, of doing things that hold memories and/or meaning, actions that remind us of people and times past.

My "reunion" is so unlike anything I read about online. The things people advise to say or to never say are completely wrong in my circumstance. I truly believe if I said how much I love my bio mom or how much I wish she'd never given me up, she'd go screaming for the hills. Maybe these are the kinds of things that are "in our blood". Things like pragmatism and acceptance of things as they are. If I had said those things, I'd have been lying.

One thing I do want to bring up eventually is her telling her kids about me. I want to tell her that if it were me, I would want to know. I would want to know if I had a half sister or brother out there. That I wouldn't be threatened by them, that I'd feel secure in my place in my parent's heart. No "new kid" could diminish me and what I am.

My wanting to tell her this is not because I have a burning desire to meet my half siblings. I would meet them, I get how it might be interesting and how the possibility exists that we could have things in common, that we could end up good friends, but it's more about them, and their right to know. It's about how I would feel if I found out my mom had kept such a secret from me.

But then, who knows these people, these half siblings, better than their mother? It will be her choice to make, I will never force the issue. It's her family, not mine, and I'd be right pissed off if she butted in on my family against my wishes.

But like me, she likely would never. It's not in our blood.


For mothers who have lost a child, an invitation to share

Ever since I wrote this post   I've had people arriving on my blog looking for real answers on what to do for moms who have lost a child. They are increasing in numbers as we inch close to Christmas as the question becomes "what to give mothers for Christmas who have lost a child".

Normally, as in searches on headstones, I feel kinda bad for a minute and then carry on with my life but this is not sitting well with me. I've been there supporting a woman, who just happened to be my mom, that had lost her child, her only boy, her youngest, to a sudden death at the sickeningly young age of 38.

It's impossible to know what to do, what to say, how to deal with Christmas and other holiday times. I don't have the answers, I'm sorry.

What I can do is offer personal thoughts and ideas. I can share respectful, helpful comments from others who have "been there", either as a mom who lost a child or as one who supports a mom or dad who lost a child.

There are two things that stand out in my mind that are concrete things I did for my mom. The first is a poem I sent my mom that suited our circumstance, her relationship to my brother, to me, her life philosophy.

The second is specifically gift related. Growing up I quite often would buy my brother's gifts to my mom or let him go in on gifts that I had purchased. It was no secret, and likely not that uncommon a thing for many siblings to do.

On the very first gift giving occasion after my brother's death I signed the card with my gift to my mom from myself and from my brother, just as I'd done many, many times before. I did it only the once after he died and for us it was just the right thing. My mom was very touched and got why I had done it.

I did it because he is still and always will be a part of us and I know he would care very much about my mom at these times and it was once again like I was doing something for him, for my mom, that he couldn't do himself, but would if he could.

I'm going to ask my mom what she would tell someone to say to or do for a mom who has lost a child, at Christmas or anytime and will put it in the comments.

*edited to supply this link


A question for adoptees or those "who know one"

Just read how it is common occurrence for adoptees to wait until their adoptive parents die before they search for their biological people, their biological identity. I am aware this happens, even "know some" adoptees who did. They're all *ahem* much older than me of course.

Neither my sister or I waited for our adoptive parents to be dead. Most adopted people who have blogs that I read did not wait until their parents were dead. They discuss the issues involving their adoptive parents that come with searching and reunion, things like guilt and pressure, parental insecurity.

Many blogging mothers who relinquished talk about having issues with their child's adoptive parents. That wouldn't happen if the adoptive parents were dead.

It brings me to my question, well, questions.

Did you wait until your adoptive parents were dead before searching for your biological people?

If you're a mom who has a child who was adopted, did your child wait until their adoptive parents were dead before searching?

Hey, if you're an adoptive parent and you're searching on behalf of your child, it means you're not dead! Feel free to chime in as well.



So you're conceived and it's not a good thing. People are freaking out, what are they gonna do? I can picture an entire scenario, worrying about being pregnant and then finding out one is. There are other reasons parents and babies are separated but my guess is for the most part, it's an unplanned, unexpected, and unwanted pregnancy.

So anyway, back to you, you who have been conceived without intent. The people who conceived you do not raise you and you go live with someone else. These people may or may not have other children, in any case, you are raised by them as a ward, they are your guardians. Not mom and dad, just, oh I don't know, Mr and Mrs maybe. Perhaps you are on a first name basis. It's obviously better this way because if some day you meet your mom and dad, it will make them feel better to know you hadn't ever called anyone else mom or dad, had no familial feelings toward anyone else.

It wouldn't be that big of a deal at parent days, or Christmas. It would help with those nasty family tree days at school. You wouldn't be expected to fill in your guardian's roots, you could fill in those of your mom and dad who you don't know or know very well. It may be a small tree with only two branches, but so what? Charlie Brown had an ugly, spindly little tree and he was still able to understand the true meaning of Christmas.

If your guardians had other children that were allowed to refer to your guardians as mom and dad, well, could make it awkward for you but it would be worth it. Your real mom and dad would be sleeping easier at night just knowing you weren't diminishing their role in your life. You wouldn't be going around pretending you actually knew your parents as that would be terribly unhealthy, fog inducing, fake. Unnatural.

I know by now you're only 5 or 8 or 10 years old but there really is no need at all to have a life long legal bond to these guardians who act like parents. You already have a heritage. It would not be good for you to think of the people you actually know as mom and dad.

What's that? You feel like your guardians are mom and dad? Hmm I was afraid of this happening. I wonder what should be done now. We could always move you somewhere else, perhaps it was a mistake finding you a permanent home in the first place. Now what? You don't want to move somewhere else? But we can't have you actually bonding with people who aren't blood related, you already got to bond with someone. Only one bond per person allowed in this life.

Now give me those Christmas stockings you made that say Mom and Dad in glitter. Yes, they are very pretty. We'll put them away for you until you meet your real mom and dad. When? Hard to say.

Maybe when you're 47?


For mothers who have lost a child

I just read a post over on Susie's blog. I commented but decided to write a post on the subject myself. I've talked about this before either in comments and/or posts, but whatever, I think it's important. You can take it, and I know you will, in whatever way you want. Some will be hurt, some will be offended, some will be triggered, and some might just hear and take what I have to say to heart.

Understand it's said with the best intentions, with your alive and present children's feelings in mind.

Here's what I said to Susie.

You know, what I've found in life Susie is that nothing ever stays the same. Yeah, it doesn't necessarily always get better but it also doesn't always get worse.

I guess what I would say to you is accept this less than rosy time, which you appear to be, and know that there will come a time, a day, a moment that will fill you with happiness or excitement or some other feeling that's good.

In the meant time, be careful not to let those you do have in your life, your raised kids, feel like they're less than Christopher. That they aren't enough to make their mom happy at Christmas. That the family you actually do have isn't good enough.

I'm sorry it's this way for you, and even sorrier for your kids if they know it. 

I come at this from the point of view of an alive and present kid, albeit an adopted one who is in contact with her bio mom. I am also the daughter of a mother who has lost a child to death, her baby boy, someone whom I myself miss dearly. My little brother.

I know what it's like to be here and present and it just not be good enough.

My mom doesn't do it anymore. She doesn't make me feel this way, this frustrating mix of hurt and compassion. Compassion for a woman who has lost her child but yet hurt by a mom who can't be cheered, who doesn't embrace what she has left, can't be thankful for at least that.

When my mom did make me feel this way, I eventually told her. It was not when my brother initially died. I, being a mom myself, knew how devastating this was to my parents. I'm the one who had to tell them.

I've been there for my parents really forever and in this things were no different, but after a while it got to a point where it just felt wrong. I was here, my son was here, why were we now no longer enough to bring joy or pleasure? When would we become enough again, the way we were before my brother died? Maybe we just never were as important as he was but I'll be damned if I were going to carry on "being there" for someone who I wasn't good enough for. I missed my brother very much too!

I've come to realize that this conversation can evolve into a discussion on "what's worse", although in my mind there's no comparison. If you feel the need to go there, be my guest, but as a mother of one and the daughter of a parent who has lost a child to death, you'll never convince me it's worse to have a child alive and well that you don't see or talk to enough than to have a child that breathed his or her last breath. That there's no hope for reuniting, no hope for a hug or a touching of hands, no possibility of hearing their voice or even reading an email they've written.

That's not what this post is about though. It's about us, the kids that are still here. Your children who call, who visit, who care, who feel so badly for your loss. Who love you, are dedicated to you, and want you to be happy with what you have. Us.

We know that we can never be or do enough to take away the pain. That this person, who we may love and miss ourselves, holds a power to change the way things were, the way things should be, just by their very absence.

As a mom, I get it. I feel sick at the thought of losing my son. I don't even want to imagine what it would be like. I am so so very sorry for any parent who has lost a child.

As a daughter, I implore you to think about what you still have, and embrace it.

edited to supply this link


I don't know. Would you like me to help you find the answer?

Pet peeve: People who refuse to say, "I don't know."

I don't know about your workplace, but at mine, this happens all the time. It makes me nuts. Soooo much time is wasted. In my experience, there are two ways this usually goes. Here's the first way.

I ask someone a question. Next thing I know I'm stuck listening to this someone talk for an extended period of time, going on and on saying everything BUT the answer to my question. In a work scenario it's not always the easiest thing to disengage from once I finally realize this someone doesn't have a hot clue how to answer my question but just can't bring them self to admit it, to just say the words out loud, "I don't know". Now this is a waste of time, something the non answeree seems to have way too much of, but it's not usually that detrimental. These people are put on the "to be avoided" list when a question needs to be quickly and efficiently answered.

It may sound like a non issue to you, but if one is just looking for some computer paper and it turns into a half hour long discussion that ends with you being just as paperless as you were when you set out to find some, it's friggin annoying, especially if you're in a hurry.

The second way is much more damaging. It's the people who cannot bring themselves to admit they don't know, or don't even know they don't know! Maybe they're new and trying to hide the fact they don't know yet. Quite often these people are in a position of support, providing guidance to the rest of us on actions like purchasing or hiring while navigating their way through ever changing rules and procedure. I get that it's not easy, but, it's their job.

These people can be asked if they're sure the information they're supplying is accurate to which they'll look you right in the eye and answer, yes.

Uhhm..you're sure?


Ok, well, I guess you'd know, but I was just told something else by another person in your department. You're 100% positive on this?


Hmm...weird. Ok. Well, alright. Actually, I looked on the web page of the department we're talking about and it says this, which is different than that other answer you just gave me. What about that? Are you positive about that also?


Wow. Ok. Now you've got me wondering if I should just contact them myself, this all seems a little contradictory. I don't want to make a mistake here...

You can't contact them.

Huh? You sure?


So, you're saying I just have to rely on what you're telling me even though I have information that says the opposite.


Allllrighty then....I'll be off. Uh..thanks.

You're welcome.

 If you're reading this at work or before work, take a minute to practise saying it.

I don't know.

See? Not so bad, right? It's not that hard and in most cases, more helpful to admit it than trying to hide it. And if you get really good at saying it, you can always add to it. Yup! I'm not kidding, and it's not that tough to say either. It goes like this...

I don't know. Would you like me to help you find the answer?


....and I'll take the high road

So, I'm a woman who chose a bad father.

I really should have known, likely did know, but by the time it "was time" to have my first child, I went ahead and had one anyway. I'd always wanted children, always. Not unlike many other little girls, my plan was to have a baby without being married and my particular plan to accomplish that was to adopt. It only made sense. I didn't want to get married and I am adopted so, it was obvious.

When I decided boys weren't so bad, my plan changed. I still wanted a child but getting married was now appealing. I met my son's father, went out for 3 years, got married, and had my son 3 years after that. Before "settling down" I went out with more than my fair share of guys, had my own apartments from a young age, sowed my wild oats, if us girl types can do that.

I admit I had concerns before I actually said my vows, but, went through with it anyway. When it came to baby making time, my son's dad started to hedge. He knew from day one I'd be wanting kids, he had insisted on getting married in the Catholic church for his parents, so I told him flat out if he wasn't willing to have kids now, I'd see what I could do about getting our marriage annulled. I still have no clue if that would be grounds or not, but no matter, it did the trick. We tried once, I was preggo, and I had my son. Simple. Yet not.

While I was pregnant, my son's dad enjoyed the thought of becoming a dad but wasn't having any of the responsibilities that went with it. I managed to convince a friend of ours to help with the nursery reno, nothing big, just something that would indicate we had a baby coming. It was also sweet for my husband to have a personal designated driver. When I had my son his dad tried to get away with not telling anyone he'd been born, no hospital visitors, not surprisingly my parents would have nothing to do with that. I remember my dad saying there was "no chance in hell" they'd not be coming to the hospital to see their daughter and first grandchild.

My son's dad clearly loved our son from the minute he was born. He was a very good baby dad, no problem feeding, changing, bathing, playing. Unfortunately at this time though, he wasn't a great husband. Good dad, crappy husband. Sucks to be me.

I'm a firm believer in not making adult's problems kid's problems. If things got out of hand between my husband and myself, I would remove my boy and I from the situation. When my son was very small, I tried to discuss ending our marriage with my ex but he managed to be remorseful enough and make just enough promises to change but it never happened.

I remember daydreaming about being out of the marriage. I'd look at new apartments being built in our neighborhood and ache to be gone, be done with the day to day angst and stress I lived with. But how could I? I had picked this man. Nobody had held a gun to my head to marry him, to have a baby with him. I had become extremely adept at protecting my boy from the fights, the anger, my pain. I attended everything I wanted to attend with only my son as my date, I played all my sports with my boy in tow, I worked opposite shifts to avoid daycare until he was in school full time. The good of an intact family still outweighed the bad.

And then he started to grow up. I had already made the decision to have no more children with this kind of father. It was clear to me what I'd done, the problem now was it was also becoming clear to my son what I'd done. What he was seeing wasn't yet what a poor father he had but rather what a poor husband his dad was to me, his mom. I could no longer hide Christmas being miserable or explain why daddy wouldn't help us with a flat tire. How do you explain waiting for hours on Easter to hunt for bunnies because dad is still in bed? How do you tell a child not to defend his mom when dad is screaming as he drives? When he's swearing and name calling because the door isn't unlocked as quickly as he'd like it to be?

It wasn't an easy decision. I remember the day I went to tell my parents I was leaving my marriage. I can honestly say I was very surprised when they told me that they were surprised I hadn't done it years prior. I remember the relief because I truly felt as if I'd failed, that they would be disappointed in me.

We made the decision to split when my son was 12. After deciding, I remember living as a couple for the few months until school was done for the year. I remember the day we told our son, how frightened I was, how sad he was initially, how quickly he appeared to get over his immediate reaction.

I got to work finding a place to live right away. I included my son in all of my apartment hunting. There was one place in particular that was going to be within my budget that he was very opposed to. He had his reasons, they were valid, I kept looking. I was determined to find a place within walking distance to our house, the one he'd grown up in, and I did.

I gave him the big bedroom so he'd have somewhere to be with his friends. I bought him a new bed so his room at his dad's would remain untouched. His cat came with us even though it was against the rules because his dad "wanted it out!" I took no formal child support, deciding to leave it up to his dad to step up to the plate and contribute to our child's well being. I didn't want any more fighting, and took much criticism from friends and family but I didn't care. He was my son and I could do it myself if I had to.

It wasn't easy, but it was so much better. I took the highest road I possibly could. No child support, very little in the way of furniture or household items. One lawyer to serve us both in a legal separation, I didn't get an official divorce until years later, when I had to, and again with one lawyer to represent us both. No court, no excess expense. Custody was joint with me being the main caregiver. That I wouldn't have any other way. We lived close enough that our son could walk between homes as he desired, although his dad did try to force my son to visit fifty percent of the time, in case I ever decided to take child support.

My son's dad never once put our son before himself. He spoke badly of me to our son. He did nothing to make his and our son's time together enjoyable, something our son could look forward to. Eventually the only time my son would be at his dad's, in the home he'd lived his first twelve years, is when his dad wasn't there.

Now, he doesn't even do that.

After we left my extended family last week, my son and I were discussing the tragedy of these women  and their children that we care so much about. We talked about how important it is to realize when the good no longer outweighs the bad. How important it is to think about what kind of an example we're setting for kids. How one can only sympathize for so long and then it just becomes pity and disdain.

I will forever regret choosing a poor father for my son. It kills me to see the hurt in my boy's eyes but I listen, I encourage, I understand.

I take pride in not being selfish and having more kids with a poor father in a bad marriage. I take pride in how I handled myself through divorce. I take pride in knowing when it was time to stop the madness.

I take pride in watching my son treat his girlfriend with respect, kindness, patience, and in knowing my son will be an amazing father.


Be grateful, because you should be.

I've just spent time with women who chose to have children with men who are bad fathers. One has children who are grown and are helping their mom with the death of her husband, their dad. The other has three daughters, with the oldest being "almost 14". I know the parties involved as they're my aunt and cousin, two different generations of moms who for some reason refuse and refused to protect their children as best they can or could from fathers who are unwilling or unable to put their kids before themselves. As a result, NOBODY is putting their children before themselves. They refuse and refused to see the good no longer outweighs the bad, and didn't and won't do anything about it.

The women in my story are not evil. In fact, I love them both very much. My aunt is sweet...now. She wasn't always, in fact I use to look at her in horror when I was a child, wondering how a mom could verbally abuse beautiful, innocent little kids in the way she did when her children were young. Somehow along the way though she was able to turn this around, become a sweet, caring woman who I've been very fond of for many years. Maybe she just didn't like babies or little kids. No matter though, damage done.

My cousin is sweet, has always been. She lost her own father at a young age and luckily had a mom who was completely dedicated to her kids and grandkids. A mom who did all she could to raise 3 children on her own, and to me was a hero in how she coped with the many severe health issues that ultimately took her life, far too young. One would think that with a role model like this, my cousin would be strong when it came to her own children, she'd emulate her mother's determination and dedication to mothering, but no. She's weak, more concerned with keeping her daughters' father as her husband than how this "man" is influencing three little girls' view of themselves, and of the world.

It's strange to care about and love two people that I can have such disdain for. I watched my grown cousins console their mother and accept words of condolence from family friends.I heard the priest tell them how their father will be forgiven and cared for now by god, heard people tell them how great a guy their dad was.I listened to my grown cousin tell me how difficult it was to stand there and have people tell him what a good guy his dad was when he knew the truth, had suffered and still suffers from the truth.

I held my tongue as I listened to my cousin's daughter who's "almost 14" be told parents know best, that she was to listen to her mom and dad as they know everything. This little girl has the honour of being confidante to her parents, the privilege of knowing all the gritty details of her father's infidelity and mother's heartache and pathetic attempts to "keep her man". A little girl who wrote emails to the would-be mistress telling her to stay away from her daddy. A little girl who shed tears in my home when her dad sulked in the car because it hurt his feelings to be told it was uncomfortable to have him around so soon after he decided to fuck over his family, no pun intended. A little girl who is blessed to have as a father a man incapable of even sucking it up for an hour so his wife and daughters could enjoy a family reunion. A little girl with two younger sisters she tries to protect, who may also never know there's another way.

Both of these mothers had and have opportunity to leave these men who are a detriment to their children but chose and choose to stay. The effect on their babies is not as important as their personal desire to remain married to these bad fathers. To allow these men to influence their children in life and haunt them in death is  cruel and selfish and not a way any parent should behave.

But parents don't always behave they way they should. If you happen to have gotten one or two that do, whether blood related or not, be grateful, cause you should be.


How can you, or why should you, trust a psychotherapist?

 I had been wondering how people who are in therapy can trust their therapist. People who've rarely, if ever, had anyone prove to them they were worthy of trust. They are in therapy because they have issues trusting others, so how do they become comfortable, trusting, enough of the therapist to achieve their goals?

I asked Dr. Jean Mercer at CHILDMYTHS about this and she kindly agreed to share her thoughts here with me so that I could share them with you.

How can you, or why should you, trust a psychotherapist? I know many people wonder about this, and although I can’t completely answer the questions, I want to make a few comments. Before I do that, though, I need to say that I don’t speak as a therapist. I’m not trained or licensed as a therapist. I do have a doctorate in psychology, so I’ve studied a lot of material connected to psychotherapy; I’ve been in therapy myself; I was trained and worked dealing with telephone calls at a suicide prevention center; and I led therapy groups under the supervision of a licensed therapists. So, I speak as somebody with some experience of the field, but as it’s not a main part of my professional life, I don’t speak of therapy as a person would who is deeply identified with that kind of work.

I understand the real confusion between the therapist as a professional helping person and the therapist as a possible friend. When we tell therapists our deep feelings, we can’t help being reminded of the way we’ve done this, or wanted to do it, with friends, and it can feel very strange when the process doesn’t go the way it would with a friend.

When we tell a friend our secrets or feelings, he or she normally responds in some predictable ways. If we cry, the friend might cry too, or at least look sad. If we tell what someone else has done to us, the friend will usually speak up and say that we were in the right, our attacker in the wrong. And often a friend will respond to our problem by disclosing something similar, or at least equally secret and disturbing, in his or her own life. All those things are comforting and make us feel as if we have been heard and can trust this friend--  trust him or her to empathize, to take our side, and to share secrets with us.

Friends also sometimes do things that are predictable but not necessarily what we want. A friend may be embarrassed or annoyed by our emotion and try to change the subject. A friend may accuse us of making up part of the story, or state that until he or she hears both sides of a conflict, there will be no deciding who’s right. A friend may say “that’s nothing, listen to what happened to me!”. Those things are not comforting, and we may decide that while we can trust that person to do just what they feel like doing, we can’t trust them sometimes to give our needs first priority.

Talking to a therapist can feel very confusing because the therapist’s responses are pretty predictable, but they don’t follow either of those friend patterns. Well-trained therapists have learned that they need to empathize enough to know what you feel like, but that they should not become so “enmeshed” that your feelings seem like their own. If the therapist was that engaged, he or she could not think rationally or objectively about what’s going on with you and what approach should help you most. In the same way, if you’re talking about a conflict with another person, the therapist may want you to get better at understanding the other person’s perspective, so he or she is not going to tell you that you’re right and that’s all there is to it. 

And the therapist is not going to try to win your trust by disclosing inappropriate matters from his or her own life. Therapists have been carefully trained to avoid telling personal secrets, and know very well that the whole point of therapy is to concentrate on what is happening with you, not to talk about their own lives, unless their stories can make a point that will really be helpful to you.

In all those ways, therapists are not supposed to act like friends, even friends who are being comforting. And of course they are not supposed to tell you off for what you say, or to insist on telling their own story to you, so they are also not to act like the kind of friend who does a poor job of listening.

 There are also a number of things therapists are not supposed to do and can get into a lot of trouble for doing, even though there’s nothing to stop a friend from these actions. For example, if a therapist thinks you’re pretty attractive, he or she is not supposed to ask you out. If you live in the same neighborhood, the therapist is not supposed to ask you for a ride home if their car breaks down, or to take care of their cat while they travel. Above all, the therapist is supposed to keep everything you say, and the therapist’s opinions about you, perfectly confidential--  not to tell anyone or leave your file lying around where others can see it.

When you pay for therapy, part of what you’re paying for is a guarantee that your therapist will not take advantage of your emotional distress to behave in ways that exploit you. Another thing you’re paying for is that complete confidentiality which is so important. If the matters you disclose to the therapist were spread around, you could possibly lose your job, your spouse, or your children.  When you disclose your concerns and history to your friend, you assume they won’t tell--   but people who have not been trained in confidentiality can let things slip quite unintentionally and cause catastrophes that they regret deeply but can’t repair.

Finally, when you pay for therapy, you’re paying for the fact that your therapist has a better understanding of how people usually feel and behave than your friends usually will. You go to the dentist rather than your friend, because the dentist has studied what teeth are like and how they should be treated. Similarly, good therapists have studied both common and unusual ways people feel and act, and how to tell the difference between sadness over a problem and serious depression, or between poor social skills and schizophrenia. In addition, where your friend might say “this is awful, but I don’t know how to begin helping you”, the therapist has studied ways to talk to you and to encourage you to talk, and can consult with medical colleagues if medication may help you. Therapists also have been trained to understand how uncomfortable it may be for you to do the work of therapy and how much you may want to quit at times.

Naturally, I don’t mean to say that all therapists do good jobs, or that every therapist works equally well with every patient, or that no therapist ever makes mistakes or even surprising ethical errors. But I do mean to say therapists play different roles in our lives than friends do, and their training allows them to do jobs for us which our friends can’t do--   jobs they deserve to be paid for, and which they could not afford to do without being paid.

When people say they don’t trust their therapists, it’s possible that they should go to different therapists. But it’s also possible that they should ask themselves, “trust the therapist … to do what?” To keep our secrets in confidence? To know how our problems can best be helped? To persuade us to keep working when we feel like giving up? If any of those points are of concern, certainly a client should make sure before going on with that therapist, and in fact should talk to the therapist about the concerns. But if the question is, “can I trust the therapist to do what a friend does?”, the answer should be “no”. Therapists should not do what friends do, and if they did, this would be clear evidence that we should not trust them. 

Jean Mercer


Tomorrow, tomorrow

So I'm strolling through blogland this morning, sipping my coffee, and another post got me thinking. Thinking about something I've meant to post on before, but forgot. No, really, I forgot. Really, REALLY.

It's not so much that I forget, although it's happened. It's that I procrastinate. All. The. Time.

I procrastinate paying bills. Always have. When I was a young'n, it was a combination of lack of funds (due to going out dancing) and procrastination, but now, most of the time, it's just putting it off. I'll do it later. K, I'll do it tomorrow. Ah I should pay those bills today. Tomorrow. And, so it goes....

I wonder why I do this. I always feel a great sense of relief when I get something done. I know when I'm not getting something done that needs doing, it weighs on me.  I know that the weight will be lifted once I take care of business.

I do it with work too. At work, like with bills, there are clear deadlines. I never miss a work deadline due to my own actions or inaction, but sometimes let it come down to the wire. I am VERY good under pressure.

Parties and entertaining I procrastinate EVERY time. I am always initially pumped to put on a party or host family events at my home, and I'm pretty good at it, but man am I busy at the last minute. All the planning and brainstorming gets done immediately, lists are made to buy this, clean that, make those, and then... nothing. I wait. I can do that tomorrow, oh and that, and that won't take me long, I'll do that later.

Then it starts to build up.

Oh man, I do not want to go in to the laundry room. Those towels have to be soaking wet from that dripping tap I haven't gotten fixed yet. I have to get that fixed! But those towels, oh they're probably gross from being wet. I can't do it without gloves. Tomorrow I'll get gloves for sure and get that done. I can't get anyone to come in and fix the leak with the way that room is, man this water bill is high. I'll wait until pay day next week to pay it since it's not due for two more days.

I remember talking to my son when he was younger about how we sometimes pretend that we forgot to do something and deliberately say, oh I forgot, when we know full well we didn't. I don't know how many times in my life I've said, I'll just tell them I forgot. It was cool because with my boy I could ask him which it was, did you really forget or just choose to not and say you forgot.

Oh crap. What time is it? If I don't get in the shower right now, I'm going to be late for work. Well, maybe I can have a quick shower and not wash my hair. I can do that later, or tomorrow.

Hey! Maybe then I have time for one more cup of coffee....


Lucky to have had you

 What I am is what my life has been. Some of it out of my control, some of it my choices, my decisions.

Being adopted isn't just something that happened to me, it is me, it is my story.

I was adopted. It is me. Maybe for better, certainly not for worse, it is me, it is my story.

I try and think about how things used to be, before I met my bio mom, before we communicated via email regularly. I remember not knowing, not fretting too much about ever knowing, feeling a picture would suffice. I'd always thought I'd like to see if I looked especially like anyone, to know what my bio parents looked like.

I remember the non identifying exchange of letters, how satisfying it was to know she was well, to see she felt the same as I did.

I think about all the times I was relieved to be adopted, to not be genetically tied to my mom's (adoptive) side of our family. 

The following is an exchange between my bio mom and myself following our meeting in person.

Her: I just wanted to write you and let you know that I feel your parents did a great job raising you and your mom should be proud.  You are a very pleasant and thoughtful person, which can only partially be credited to genes.

Me: I think I credit my awesomeness (you made my day with your words, thank you) to my dad and my genes, now that I've had a peek at them. I imagine it's not easy for non adopted people to understand the combination of curiosity and trepidation about biological background. I've spent my life thanking my lucky stars not to have inherited any of the "crazy" genes in my family so if I'd discovered my heritage was the same, if not worse, it would have burst my little bubble haha. Believe me when I say this, I've been the envy of many a cousin when family shenanigans went on. Them saying, is this what I have to look forward to? and me saying, phew! dodged that bullet.

As much of the nuttiness was on my mom's side, my dad would shake his head and say, "Campbell, all I can say is thank god you're adopted". I remember us talking and me saying, what if my biological people are whacko? He'd say, nah, they're not and I can tell just by the way you are. My dad was very proud of me, as I am of him.

 Tomorrow is my dad's birthday. I was just reading a post about a great grandpa/grand daughter relationship and I feel touched and happy for that grand daughter and I feel happy for my son, my father's grandson.

"Being related by blood doesn’t necessarily mean that you are close or that your natural family will be there for you or take care of you when the chips hit the fan." - Sunday Koffron

A comment too long, and likely off topic

 I was reading a blog I always read and started to comment and it got out of control. The comment grew long, it may have strayed from what my point was, and likely didn't end up relating properly to the post at all.
But, I like the comment, so am posting here. Take it or leave it.

I think I actually understand what you're saying here. It's this weird thing between wanting to be strong, sparing others what's really going on, protecting yourself from being viewed as damaged and whatever goes along with that, shame, embarrassment, but also wanting people to know it's not easy to not be a total fuck up in life, how much effort it takes or has taken. That what's going on on the outside is not what's going on on the inside.

I kind of compare it to doing the right thing or being honest when nobody knows about it. You want to do the right thing because it's the right thing, because it's good for our souls/spirits whatever to just be good and decent, take the high road for the sake of another BUT...we're human. There's a small part of us that wants someone to notice or care that what we're doing isn't easy, that we're going against what we feel like doing, what we would really prefer to do, what would be easier.

I think the key is to truly figure out how to just do it for one's self. How to get pleasure from not being a total fuck up in spite of all the reasons why we should be. That the pride comes from how we feel about our self instead of how we think we're impressing others  in an "I'll show them" fu kind of way because what if they don't notice? Then it's all for nothing. If it's just for our self, we'll always notice, be impressed, be proud.

This is all easier said than done, but, it's doable. For me it's easiest when it comes to my son. I can do anything for him with no recognition. I sometimes wonder if people actually know or care how difficult it can be taking the high road in the breakdown of a marriage, but ultimately it doesn't matter. I know what I've done, for my boy, for me, and it helps me sleep easy at night, helps me look him in the face and see complete trust, total confidence in my dedication to him, that I am a safe place to land, no matter what.



Ok, there's something I have to do here on my blog. I've done it once before when a comment of mine was censored on another blog . In this instance I initially resisted commenting after reading an adoptive parent's comment(s) but ended up feeling the need to have my say when she returned to collect her accolades. My say was not accepted.

I imagine much of what I normally say appears to be in support of adoption and/or adoptive parents so when I say something strong in reaction to commentary by an adoptive parent it's surprising that it would be unpublishable by a first mother forum. Unless of course I utter the words anti-adoption-radicals and what I have to say is contrary to the reaction of said anti-adoption-radicals.

The following is my unpublished comment.

Oh Courtney, I just hope that your kids feel the same way as you when they get older. That watching you suck up to anti-adoption radicals makes them feel proud and that they'll understand "Adoptive
parents--no matter how hard they love or how much they try--will NEVER be a substitute for first parents. There is no "but if" to this matter. It is not the same."

Course it's not the same, but it can be as good or better and you won't be accomplishing that by treating them as if they aren't real, are less than your biological child.

I would be very, very hurt if I'd ever heard my parents say what Courtney said. My parents, adoptive, are my first and only parents. My biological parents are just exactly that, the people that conceived me with my mother giving birth to me. They all have their importance, their value, their influence, but my parents are my parents, end of story. As much as I'm enjoying getting to know my bio mom now, she will never be a substitute for my first parents. How could she be.


Nice to meet ya

I didn't intend for this blog to be an "adoption blog". Funny how things go. In my stats it's one of the most common search terms.... campbellscoup adoption blog. Huh. Again, funny how things go.

On this 2nd day of November I've been perusing different real adoption blogs and checking out all the Adoption Month hoopla. I guess it's an American thang. I checked back in my blog to see when I'd first started to talk about adoption and the first post was in December of '09 which would explain how I'd missed this exciting month for all things adoption related.

I just reread my first post on adoption, and I still like it. I see how I used all the "wrong" words, things like chosen, special, selfless, healthy attitude, noble, gift of a child ( I still think of all children as a gift, no matter how they appear) and readily admit I was unaware of the unethical side of adoption, the money involved these days, that some mothers are coerced out of their babies and that not all adoptees feel like I do. I've learned quite a bit in just under a year.

From that post I met Lori, someone I consider an online friend. She let me have it in my very first adoption related comment lol. I've learned things from her and am hopeful she's learned something from me.

After a time I'd revisited that first post, and left myself a comment.

Having just reread my own words I feel much better. They are so positive and real, so untainted by suggestions that I am denying my pain, that my situation is sick or sad, that my adoptive parents did something wrong, that my birthmother was coerced and what she did cannot be regarded as selfless or necessary. That my feelings of love for my family and theirs for me aren't as good or real or natural as those of families that are blood related. Not for one second did I ever believe anything different, but it sure feels good to come back home. 

I said to a friend today, "maybe I'm the only freak who's fine with having been adopted" after having read the words of an adopted person declaring they've yet to meet an adoptee who didn't have mixed feelings about being adopted.

Well, nice to meet ya. My name is Campbell and I'm an adoptee...with no mixed feelings.


"Victims and Villians" you say

 One of my favorite adoptee bloggers has a great, fearless post up. The following is the comment I left.

 "the only two adults in the equation who hold NO blame are my adoptive parents"

Same for me Amanda. To read things like "no adoption is ethical" just pisses me off. If my parents hadn't adopted me, someone else would have, my parents did nothing wrong. My bio mom was not keeping me, even though she could have financially. As far as the father goes, there was no "father". It's a non issue.

I'm fortunate to have been adopted by decent people. My mom, maybe not the perfect mom for me but good enough, my dad, couldn't have been a better dad for me. I know I am fortunate. There are some real wackos out there.

Vilifying good people who've adopted, pathologizing adopted people, and stereotyping and/or making victims out of all parents who make the choice to place their kids for adoption irritates the hell out of me as do inferences like you describe here...

"I only love my adoptive parents because they've tricked me into doing so, that if I were really educated about adoption ethics, I would realize that "those people" are not my parents and even though they raised me from babyhood, they are nothing more than long time babysitters who I happen to care about."

I've been reading some blogs of former foster kids who'd have given anything to have had the life I did. These are the people my stomach hurts for, people who didn't have good or any parents, bio or adopted.

Great, fearless post.


What makes a good foster mom?

This blogger tells us. What she has to say could apply to all adults in a position of raising, caring for or mentoring a young person. It's excellent info. The following is idea #2 but LT offers you 15 ideas in total using examples from her own experiences, and it's some of the best advice you're going to get all day.

Patience, Gentleness, Steadiness; but Firm Boundaries

I don’t believe in yelling at foster children and I actually do not believe in “tough parenting or tough punishment.”  These kids have had enough “toughness” and hostility in their lives.  I think of a good foster parent as acting similar to how the Taoist describe water. Water flows gently and peacefully, …but over time is so powerful that it is able to carve through rock.

Display gentleness, steadiness, and firm boundaries regarding what is appropriate and what is not.  Set the boundaries early in the relationship.  When the boundaries are tested, stand firm; not with hostility but explanation.
For example:
  • “LT, we eat at the table; not walking around the house because we don’t won’t crumbs everywhere.  Come and sit down.”
  • “LT, we don’t condone you smoking.  You can NOT smoke in the house.  If you are going to smoke which is not healthy for you, you must smoke outside.  If you smoke inside, we will take the cigarettes.”
  • “LT, sneaking out at night is NOT permitted.  We care where you are and are concerned if you are missing.  One more time and you will spend the next month of weekends with us cleaning the garage and helping out at the community food shelter.”


"No one deserves to be hated for who they are"

As a child growing up in foster care I would have given ANYTHING for a home, a family, someone to love me. I prayed for it every single night. I still have a letter I wrote to Santa when I was 8 years old asking for a family. I didn't really believe in Santa as a child, but I wrote to him anyway in case he might be real.

This is an excerpt from a post I've recently come across that I thought was pretty amazing so I asked for permission to share it here.

Check it out on  Percolated Paradox, a blog "On life, love, therapy and surviving foster care".


You haven't changed a bit

I'm writing this to keep my thoughts fresh, whether or when I actually post this remains to be seen, but I'll know when I know.

I liked my bio mom. She and her family seem to be my kind of people, which feels good to know, that I come from good people. I asked her if her parents were nice to which she replied an enthusiastic yes, they were great and her mom was especially good and kind, someone whom everyone adored. This makes me feel very good for some reason. Maybe because I'd imagined they were harsh, religious monsters who'd have been ashamed of her and resented me, or both. I was wrong.

They didn't know about me, but they could have been told. They would have helped my bio mom, in fact they did, just without knowledge of what was really going on.

My nerves pre meeting were extremely hard to control. As I sat and waited for her to appear in the lobby I called my son to just hear a normal voice, to assure myself I'd not entered the twilight zone. I pictured myself in my favorite ocean spot as I often do when I need to calm myself, took deep breaths, and focused.

Our experience of first sight was different for each of us. I had the luxury of having seen ahead what she looked like, having seen what her family looks like, their names and ages whereas she knew little of me and only knew what I'd looked like as an infant. I've changed a bit since then.

When I got up to walk over to greet her my sensitivity to her feelings kicked back in and my nerves dissolved. I knew though that wasn't the case for her so I said a warm hello and asked if she'd like to sit for a minute before we went to my car, that I'd been feeling nervous and wouldn't mind just sitting for a second to calm down. Her face appeared grateful as she said she was feeling very nervous as well.

We sat for a time kind of consoling each other, looking at each others faces for resemblances, me trying to see myself, her trying to see anyone and everyone.
I can see that I will look like her when I'm older, she can't see much familiar in me except for maybe her father's side of the family.

We had a great day and were together for 8 straight hours that really flew by. She likes to talk, which was good because I wanted to hear her talk. I talked too and this was when she was able to see herself in me, specifically how I look at family, the things I think are important to do and not do. This also made me feel good.

She was very open with me about what happened, something I imagine most adopted people wonder about. This made me feel good too.

I was supposed to call when I got home, we'd had a couple of beers over the day and she was concerned about me driving. When I arrived home I got caught up in telling my husband about the day and kind of forgot about calling. The words she and I had spoken as I was leaving seemed sort of final, unless she decided to be in touch at some point in the future, so I wasn't even so sure I was still supposed to call. As my husband and I talked, the phone rang and it was her, checking to see if I was home, reminding me I'd said I'd let her know.

Before I went to bed, I sent one last email to thank her for taking the time to, and for going through the trouble of, meeting me, to apologize for not having called, that I'd enjoyed our visit. To tell her to take care.

When I woke up this morning I thought to myself, well, it's happened. You've met your biological mother, you're still special, and you haven't changed a bit.


Q & A

 So, I am wondering could kids that were raised with Mother's that placed a child for adoption grow up resenting them and thinking that they had the better life?  This is what birthmothertalks asks here

It's an interesting thought.

As I said over there, I could see a young child being jealous of material things, in fact I think it's pretty normal.

Kids are notorious for saying, "but so-and-so has one" and "so-and-so's parents give them money for passing" and, in their lack of maturity when it comes to what's really important in life, can even wish they lived at so-and so's house. Of course when it comes down to it, they don't usually really mean it. I guess they might if the parents suck but that's something you certainly don't have to worry about!

This post really made me think about the reality of finance between the two families in adoption. I guess when we're adopted would have much to do with it. The amount of money my parents had to cough up in my sister's and my adoptions way back when was minimal. We were never rich growing up. Coupons were cut, no designer jeans, second hand hockey equipment, mandatory babysitting jobs, etc. so not impoverished but the purse strings were tight.

With the amount of money that seems to change hands nowadays in adoption, I would think the average person wouldn't necessarily be rolling in the bucks after, possibly even living beyond their means.

I think the only way kept children might be truly jealous of adopted kids might be for their newness, the novelty of them so to speak. Jealous of sharing their own parent(s) time and attention with the "new kid". Hey, in tact families have sibling rivalry right?

Picture this long lost child that mom and/or dad has been waiting their whole life to reunite with, a child who's never lied, stolen, skipped school, said I hate you.

I say, jealous of material things when they're little, possible. Jealous of parent's affection when they're older or grown, also possible.

And if your bio dad happens to be Rod Stewart...look out!


Some really great info for caregivers of all sorts

“It’s a good thing for all parents to recognize that their job is to make themselves unnecessary,…”

I love this. I think it’s one of the hardest things to do as a parent, but one of the most important. It can also be one of the most rewarding if we aren’t afraid of letting it happen.

It's lots of information, some of which you may agree with, some that you may not but it's my feeling there's much that's helpful and most will get something meaningful from this interview


Urban Dictionary: cred short for "credibility". An ability to inspire belief in others.

I'm the type of person who'll stop and think about what someone has said to me, even if I don't like it. I'll even admit I've made a mistake, although I'll hate that I've made one.

In the past while, I've thought quite a bit about the trauma in adoption. I've allowed myself to feel around inside for some of my own, have wondered if I'm "in a fog" as so many have accused me of. Not necessarily accusing me directly all the time, but also indirectly by avowing all adoptees suffer loss and trauma by virtue of being separated from their biological mothers.

I got to visit with my good friend the other night, we've been pals since grade 4. Although we'd talked on the phone about our last visit where we'd butted heads on an issue (Lord's Prayer in public schools), we hadn't seen each other in person. It reminded me of what I'd discovered about myself after our prior visit when we'd argued. That it bugs me when someone I think I'm like, someone who I respect and/or care about, doesn't think or no longer thinks the same way I do.

Another example of this was during the last US presidential election. I was all on the Obama bandwagon, rolling my eyes at the opposition, thinking who in their right mind wouldn't want Obama to win?! Well, I found out quickly there were people I enjoyed very much who didn't want him to win. I remember being surprised, shaking my head, and making a bet for drinks that "my side" would be the victor, and just dropping the subject...until I cashed in my winnings of course. Thing is, it kinda shocked me that this person thought the way he did, but it didn't upset me. I enjoy this guy and we have fun together, but I don't feel a strong need to be of same mind, have the same point of view, and frankly, now it would worry me a little if we did think the same way.

This wasn't the case when it came to my husband. Obviously I care very much about what he thinks and depending on what the issue is, I can not like it at all if we don't think the same way. Well, when it came to the election, it wasn't that he was on "the other side", it was that he didn't think it made that big of a difference, that they're all politicians and this wasn't some new great hope candidate, it was just business as usual, same old crap. After some fairly lively discussions (arguments) about this, we decided to just stay away from the subject. We cared too much about what each other thinks to have this type of discussion, to experience those, "are you nuts?" looks or have the faces we love frowning and eyes we love rolling at what our beliefs are.

To be very honest, it does feel a little like I'm betraying other adopted people who feel traumatized because they're adopted when I say I'm not, but, I'm not. I could say nothing, or say I'm traumatized too in an attempt to fit in, be a part of the cool kids, but I just can't do that. I can't do that because it's not real and it's my belief that if we aren't realistic about problems they can't realistically be improved or fixed.

When my son was younger and not feeling well I'd try and determine just how unwell he was feeling because it truly mattered in how we dealt with what was ailing him. If there was no need for medication, I didn't want to administer it. If we didn't need the doctor, what was the point in going? If it was serious, I didn't want to dismiss his pain only to have it become worse and more difficult to treat.

The measure of pain does matter. If it was fact that every adoption resulted in trauma the same way it's fact it starts out as trauma, I'd be all over it. I'd be right on board screaming in most situations it's unnecessary and wrong to do that to an innocent baby. That in most adoptions it's detrimental to the person who's been adopted. That most adopted people will be more prone than others to deviant behavior, more prone to becoming criminals, drug addicts, sex addicts, serial killers. But I won't say that, because it's not true.

I will say that accepting these tendencies as fact seems contradictory to me, contradictory to fighting discrimination and stereotyping. It's also insulting to me and hard for me to understand why it isn't insulting to all other adopted people. How is it any different than saying most mothers are teenage crack whores who don't deserve to keep their babies?

I am sorry to disappoint other adopted people by relaying my experience. If I thought it did anything to hurt the movement to reform corruption in adoption, I wouldn't relay it. Be assured that I do talk about what I've learned about coercion, loss of culture, the lack of real choice, the influence of economics, infringements of adoptee rights regarding their own information, and the very real sense of loss and abandonment some adopted people and parents experience.

My concern with the movement is the lack of credibility because of the "one size fits all or you're delusional" mentality. I think it makes it far too easy to dismiss the problems if they're not presented realistically with the least amount of sensationalism or emotion as possible. I know one of the biggest complaints is when people say "well, I know someone who's adopted and they're just fine" but like it or not, it's part of the equation. It's fact that sometimes adoption isn't the worst thing in someone's life, that it's not the big deal it certainly is to others.

To discount that fact is to jeopardize credibility and when you have no credibility, you have no trust, and if people don't trust the message or the source of it, the message is lost.


$#*! my mom says

This post isn't about adoption but more about being confident in the role we play in our kid's lives. Parents can have their confidence shaken in all sorts of scenarios. They can feel threatened by teachers, ex spouses, step parents, babysitters, aunts, uncles, in-laws you name it, anyone who their kids seem to connect with. I've even seen parents be jealous of the other parent, with the family in tact. The example I'm using is adoption related because, well, I'm adopted and it has a tendency to come up, especially with the meeting of my bio mom looming large.

So, my mom asks me when my bio mom is coming, where she's staying etc. When answering I mention it's weird to call bio mom a name, that I've always thought of her as "my biological mother", that I'm trying to get used to saying her name. Well my mom, sigh, has to go and respond by saying, "well, call her whatever you want, just don't call her mom". Silence. Eventually I say, "mom, don't say that to me, don't tell me not to call her mom, if I wanted to, I would. If I did, it wouldn't have anything to do with you or your role as a mom". To which she replied, "well, I didn't even like it when your brother called his mother-in-law mom". So I point out how ridiculous that is. How I wouldn't give a rat's ass if my son called someone other than me mom.

I know what I am to my son, that what I've been and continue to be is unique to me. That I can't be replaced just as I can't replace the other people he has relationships with. I want him to have great relationships with other people. When his dad has a girlfriend, I want my son to like her, her to like him. I want him to have a close relationship with his future mother-in-law.

It's funny, it occurs to me that my parents called each others parents "mom and dad". Talk about hypocritical.

I think if we want our kids to value us and our role in their lives, we have to value and have confidence in it too.


If the shoe fits

A few words to address a post I wrote last night.

I somehow managed to completely fail at what I was trying to say. I talk about the importance of how a message is presented and I go and eff up my own.

I think my mistake was writing in reaction as opposed to just writing.


Aahh freak out! Le Freak, c'est Chic

I'm freaking out tonight, reading adoption related blogs.

Bam! A poem that has the blogger declaring "Although the papers are gone, he knows that the name they documented is important, that it's the one thing that's truly his.
It's no different for my kids, or for any adopted person. What, for the love of God, is so hard to understand about that?"

For the love of anything, it IS different for me. My name, not the one my biological mother gave me at birth, is the name that's truly mine. I've had huge regrets ever since changing my maiden name upon marrying. My married names have never felt like they were truly mine, in my head I always thought of myself as my maiden name. I wish I'd thought to give my son my maiden name as his middle name. Maybe it's because I know my birth given name, a name given to me by a stranger, a piece of information that's allowed me to search for my biological family. Or maybe, just maybe, it's because I am not that name on my adoption paper. I am the name my self grew up being, the name with which I became the person I am. MY NAME IS MY NAME.

Bam! You can't discuss shit parenting with us because YOU'RE NOT ADOPTED! We don't care if you have a brother who's adopted. We don't care if you worry about sharing DNA with crappy parents. We don't care if it happened to you too because you're not adopted so you don't get it and we don't care!

Well you know what? Shitty adoptive parents have bio kids too and they deserve just as much consideration, as much empathy, as much advocacy as adopted kids! Being biological to brutal parents doesn't make anything better, and it could make it worse. Shame on adopted people for not allowing themselves, or each other, to acknowledge this.

Bam! Too bad some adopted people can't go on the info cruise because you need a passport. WHAT?!?! COME ON!! I've read this before, and I'm assuming this is a U.S. thing, that adopted people can't obtain passports because they don't have original birth certificates. Really? REALLY?!? I can't believe it. That cannot be true. If it were true, why in the hell is this not plastered everywhere??? Extra! Extra! U.S. citizens cannot get passports because they are legally adopted! And the U.S. sits in judgement of other countries and how they treat their citizens?

Bam! A blog post about first parents discussing their child's adoptive parent's ability to provide financially. A post about how it makes the adoptee feel bad for the first parents to point out the adoptive parents are better because they have more money. A blog post that doesn't question this behavior of the first parent, that doesn't explore the lack of culpability of first parents and THEIR ability to make the adoptee feel guilty, to feel bad for having more materially. No matter the circumstance, all parents should resist the temptation to rationalize the adoption in an attempt to make themselves feel better whether it be by pointing out the adopted person was better off financially or by claiming to be victimized by adoption agencies or adoptive parents. No matter the parentage, no matter the situation, it's got NOTHING to do with the adoptee as a person.


I have to admit there's been one recent dialogue that's given me a few "whoa" moments. Whoa at the courage of some to speak up in spite of potential internet bullying and slander. I can't say for sure if these brave souls knew just what they may be getting themselves into but they found out quickly and they still spoke up. I almost typed they found out and still weren't afraid but I don't know that to be true. Perhaps, like myself, they were afraid, but spoke up in spite of it.

Cheers to those brave souls who speak up even when they're intimidated or worried about repercussion. To those that speak not to provoke reaction or controversy, but in the face of it.


Luck of the Irish...I'm Irish you know, in my biological background

With the impending event of meeting my bio mother slowly getting closer, I find myself thinking about how it will play out. I've read about others meeting, from both sides, mostly mothers and daughters which is what my scenario is also. The majority don't seem to go that well, for whatever reason, hard to know for sure who's to blame, if there can even be "fault"  laid on either party.

I told my sister the other day, "I know I have no control over this situation of meeting my biological mother. Don't worry, I have no real expectations, basically because I really don't know what to expect." and I mean it. I have thought over what's the best way to get as many questions answered as I can which lends itself to wondering, just what do I REALLY want to know? I think I'll write out a list. Maybe try and list the questions according to their importance.

Then I get thinking, how will I let her know what I'm like, if she's interested that is. Maybe I should bring her a copy of this or maybe that just TMI. Of course I'd leave off the part where I say I'm not my husband, female, and adopted as that should be apparent.

Another thing that's crossed my mind is the possibility of meeting someone very  much like me, someone who I have no baggage with. I mean, it will be the person who gave birth to me but has never grounded or hit me. Never said no you can't go to that concert or made me wash a floor. Has never yelled at me, never made me feel guilty, never accused me of doing something I haven't done. Someone who's my mother but has never mothered me, a role we all know isn't just cookies and kissing boo boos. Uhh, sorry, but this has the possibility of being a very cool experience.

I used to go rollerskating as a young teen, mainly to meet boys. I would dream up scenarios of how things would go, who'd ask me to skate, how much fun I would have, and inevitably, at the end of the night when my friend's mom would pick us up, I'd be disappointed. Not because the night had gone badly, but because it could never have lived up to my expectations. It was then that I realized what I did to myself, how I set myself up to be let down, and started enjoying life way more.

Now I'm not saying there's something wrong with dreaming or being hopeful, quite the opposite, I am all for being realistically optimistic.

Having said all that, it'll be my luck to have taken after my biological father.


Open to interpretation

One of the things that drives me crazy in blog land is when a comment that I think is relevant and on point with the original blog post gets lost in the crossfire of subsequent comments that zero in on some aspect of the relevant comment that gets under somebody's skin. I'd be surprised if I've never been guilty of doing this myself so this post is not to be critical of anyone but rather to highlight an important comment I came across today. I've been given permission to post it here and if the author wishes to make herself known, she may do so in the comments section here.

The comment was in response to the question What does it mean to be a healthy birth mom?

I've linked to the post because the question as it stands alone does not convey the context in which it's being asked and I think the motive behind asking the question is an important thing to consider when reading the comment I've posted below.

There are many of us who have already lived the majority of our “birthmother lifespan” and have come to very different places 40 or so years after surrender. I know your interest is in open adoptions, but many of us from the closed system are still alive and hope to be for a while, and you may encounter us in your therapy career.

My story is not so typical as those in the excellent book “Girls Who Went Away”, but it is similar to a small subset of activist birthmothers who came out in the 70s and 80s and have remained involved in adoption reform. I was never in denial or really in the closet, and I joined adoption reform search groups as soon as I heard there was such a thing. My child was very young. I searched as soon as the opportunity presented itself. I was furiously angry, radical, hated adoption. I even had an actual “Adoption Sucks” tee shirt.

In those days before the internet, we had in-person groups and lots of phone contact, as well as print newsletters. The peer pressure then was to find and contact your child as soon as possible, There was good reason for this, some found kids in dire circumstances and at least one in our local groups was just given back at age 12 because the adoptive father and stepmom did not want him! Some of these early contacts worked well, but others did not, like mine when my son was 16. This made me doubly angry at the adoption system, adoptive parents, the world, and most of all myself. There is a lot of self-destructive behavior among surrendering mothers, and I was right up there with that.

Then along came internet groups, and a new group of mothers who surrendered who had been in the closet woke up and came out. There was a disconnect between these lists and the earlier groups like CUB, and a lot of reinventing the wheel and ignorance of the history of adoption reform. As you say, there are definite camps with rigid ideology and a lot of peer pressure to conform or get out. On one side are the young “happy birthmothers” who are often shilling for agencies, on the other side, the anti-adoption groups, who see all adoption as one of the world’s greatest evils that needs to be eradicated. A real problem in these groups is the “Pain Olympics” where extreme suffering and pathology after surrender is seen as a virtue and proof that you really love your child. There is now a fad to claim Post traumatic stress disorder as a result of surrender, self-diagnosed and proudly proclaimed. It is way too easy to get stuck in a downward spiral in a lot of these groups that claim to be “empowering” but are actually taking power and healthy response away.

My personal journey I think got stuck in bitterness and anger for too many years, and this was reinforced by the groups I was in or associated with. There is a strong thread of “you can never get over surrender”, even a little, and it is seen as disloyal to your child or in denial if you do experience some healing or joy. Ambivalence? Yes, lots, and that is life-long, but I have also found a bit of peace when my son finally started communicating with me and I knew he was OK. Reunion really did help me a lot, although that is heresy to say in some circles. After so many years I am no longer grieving, the grief went on too long. My son is alive and well, not to be grieved. I will always regret giving him up, but I also take responsibility for my part in surrender. For me that was pivotal, to stop blaming everything on others and step up to the plate about my part. It did not kill me to do this, as some mothers seem to feel, but made me stronger.

In counseling mothers who surrendered, one size does not fit all, despite what some online groups would have you think. Really listen to the details of the individual mother and her story. It may indeed change over a lifetime, and probably that is healthiest, Some of the happy young birthmothers will become unhappy when they look closer, and some of the bitter old birthmothers will become more accepting and at peace as time passes and circumstances change. There is a saying “I have been through hell but don’t have to live there”. I feel I have indeed been through hell as a surrendering mother, but am no longer intent on staying there. I am now regarded as a traitor by some for not being anti-adoption, but would not be welcomed by the “rah rah adoption is great” moms either, because it most definitely has not been for me.

I do believe mothers are very different individuals, and that some truly do not want to parent and are content with the choice to surrender. I do not feel I can know another person’s true feelings or gainsay what they say about how they feel today. But there does need to be an openness to change, in either direction, and a respect for individual rather than lumping us all into a class and branding those who do not fit as “in denial,” “drank the koolaid” etc.


And now for something completely different

Looks like I'll get to meet my biological mother. Pretty exciting. Kind of surprising. Slightly intimidating.

I say only slightly because I think I'm fairly likable. I have no great expectation, just hope for respect and forthrightness. I think my care for her situation will shine through as it's sincere. From what I can tell we share the same kind of pragmatic view on my being adopted so it should go all go fairly smoothly.

There's just one thing, one very important factor causing me huge trepidation. I'm not sure if I'll have enough time to get the situation under control prior to the date we've decided upon to get together. Call it what you will. Karma, bad luck, lesson in humility, payback for things I did in 7th grade.

See, I procrastinated, as usual, and waited until the last minute to prepare to go back to work after the summer. Part of my preparation is catching up on controlling my graying hair which I tend to let slide in the summer. Of course at the last minute my regular hair person was unavailable so I dashed out to wherever and got just anybody to wash that gray right outta my hair. Meh, it wasn't the best but the gray was gone, I was a happy enough camper.

In visiting with this stylist while being transformed into a woman half my age, I was persuaded to come back another day for a cut. I know you know where this is going.

I still have a few weeks to go before the big reveal, the big day, the weirdness waiting for both myself and my biological mother. I wish she'd ask for a picture of me so she could see what I look like, used to look like, should look like.

That is, what I looked like before I was 2 snips from a mullet.



I find myself suffering from PTSD this morning and I can relate it back to three things that I've been exposed to over the weekend with the first being an episode of Teen Mom I happened to catch last night while channel surfing.

It was a section in which one of the young couples are having another fight with their little girl in the room. The young mom is once again throwing the young father out of "her" house in front of their toddler all the while saying to the little girl "your father is leaving you again" while the little girl cries and at one point looks out the window in what appears to be an attempt to see him as he leaves. This young mom yells and swears the whole time without thought of her child, even when the father tells her to watch her mouth because the little girl is very present. Sickening to witness. Sickening to think of how this will all affect this child, sickening to realize this young mom has no qualms about or is incapable of controlling herself, even in front of rolling cameras. Is this tv program going to get these people counseling?! If they do, will these people take it and do the work? What I witnessed watching this show is child abuse and sadly it's possible the only redeeming factor is the show itself and the fact people are seeing what's going on in this child's life and may help stop it.
I can't help think about all the kids who have no camera crew in their home, no witnesses to the abuse they suffer, which bring me to the second thing causing my PTSD today and it's this sickening incident

Why do these people have kids?!? Why do people who suck as parents feel the need to have MORE kids?!?!

The third is also mind boggling to me. Just what are people teaching their kids? Are they teaching them anything at all?! What kind of examples are given to our kids?!?! What is going wrong ?!

Oh yeah, I almost forgot already. Must be the PTSD.

What's going wrong is PARENTS SUCK!!


Dear friend, so you're thinking of adopting. Want to talk about it?

Dear friend,

This is what I'd like to tell you about the possibility of you adopting, so far. There may be more things I haven't thought of as of yet, but I don't want to forget what's on my mind now.

I don't think I need to ask you why you want to adopt. I think that's a no brainer. You want another child to raise. Do the reasons really matter? I guess they do if the reasons are to provide your son with a playmate or have someone to do chores in your home or any other frivolous or ridiculous reason unrelated to the actual love for children and parenting. Hopefully this isn't the case, for if it is, I'm wasting my time and energy talking to you.

I would like to ask you if you've truly thought about what it is you're planning to do. Have you researched with an open mind, been receptive to anything negative you've heard about adoption? Can you truly love a child that isn't your own blood? Do you have the time and energy needed for more children? Are you doing the best you can for the son you already have? What makes you a good parent?

Not all adopted people feel like I do. There are adopted people who hate the fact they were adopted. Some say they'd have preferred to have been aborted. How will you feel if your child resents having been adopted? I don't know the magical formula to raising an adopted child that is at peace with having been adopted. I don't think anyone does.

Do you know, truly know, that adoption begins with loss? There can be loss of dreams, of identity, of heredity, culture. For some there can be a loss of trust, self worth, and even loss of lightness of soul and spirit. That the loss can be far reaching to grandparents, aunts and uncles, siblings. Can you relate to that loss without feeling threatened or hurt? Can you parent with confidence and the ability to recognize the difference between your child's confusion about, and reaction to, being adopted and the regular angst that goes along with growing up? Will you be able to embrace and value your children's unique personalities and needs? Will you know when to "blame" adoption and when not to? Will you know when to discuss adoption with your children? Will you even be capable of discussing adoption with your children? How will you go about it? Will you do things by "the book" you're given by an agency or social worker or will you be able to think it through and follow your children's lead or know when you need to take the lead? Will you understand and support any "need to know" your child may have? Will they feel sure of your love and commitment therefore comfortable to talk (or not talk) about everything adoption related? Will you expect them to be grateful to you for everything you've provided them with, materially and/or emotionally and hold it over their head?

Will you refuse to become involved in an adoption that may feel unethical? Will you be able to recognize a parent or parents who are giving you a child they truly want and can raise out of an obligation to "keep their promise" to you? Do you believe me when I say nobody should make the decision to promise their child to another person without having seen and touched their child? It's sad but true that parents go through with adoptions that are against their better judgment because they don't want to disappoint the adoptive parents they've come to know and care about. Do you know that at that point it's not about you but about the child and what's best for it? It's never best for a child to be given away when it's wanted and can be raised by the people who brought it into this world. Picture yourself being told you need not have been adopted, that you were adopted through shady, or worse, conditions just so your (adoptive) parents could have you or an agency could make some money. We can all picture these scenarios if we try hard. One shouldn't have to be adopted to understand how confusing this would be, how devastating finding out your life and what you've always believed to be true is a lie. Believe me, adopted people worry about their biological mothers and wonder if they're ok until they know, if they ever get to know. Don't adopt without a clear conscience. If you're unsure, be strong enough to just walk away, to put your needs second to a child's.

Do you understand what open adoptions are? Have you been honest with yourself about this and your ability to parent a child under that type of circumstance? Think about it!! It cannot be easy, there is just no way. Will you be able to deal with the jealousy? With the fear? With your child's jealousy and fear? Will you be able to handle your child's biological parents feelings if they're regretful or will you just cut off contact to protect yourself and your family? If you don't think you can do an open adoption, don't! If there aren't any parents who want a closed adoption, don't adopt!

I don't think you plan to adopt from another country. If I'm wrong, and you do, try and remember you are as Caucasian as they come. THIS WILL MATTER. There are people to seek out who are qualified to discuss interracial adoption, and being as Caucasian as you, I am not one of them.

I wonder if you've thought at all about foster care. I think about foster care, have always. I think I'd be a great foster parent, especially now that my son is grown. I cannot be a foster parent though, and it's really just because of one thing. My husband would not want to foster parent. In fact, neither would have my ex husband, my son's father. I could try and persuade, pull out all the stops and say I'd do everything, that it isn't important for us both to want to do it. Who knows, my husband could say ok to try and please me, right? But, it's not supposed to be about me. It's supposed to be about kids who need families, parents or a parent. Every child born deserves to have some kind of family, whether it be blood or not, but no child deserves to exist in a situation where they're resented or unwanted by even one family member, blood or not. I believe that someone who isn't initially on board with providing a home for a child without one, whether it be through foster care or adoption, can change their mind and eventually embrace said child but....isn't it too big of a risk to take that they won't ever? I wouldn't even force a pet dog on my family if they didn't want the responsibility, why would I do it to a child?

I am not against adoption. I am not against you personally adopting. I am against people not properly preparing themselves for the act of adopting a child, or for that matter, having their own biological children. Against them wearing blinders to the difficulties and the effort and sacrifice that is necessary to do our very best. It's not about you so it's nothing like entering into a shitty marriage or staying in one, it's not about the harm you could do to yourself not listening to warnings about smoking or overeating or driving without a seat belt. It's different when you're holding another human being's childhood in your hands, affecting their future by what you do in the present. We all ignore advise all the time, but please don't ignore what I'm trying to tell you here.

There are many things people try to warn and educate each other about. More often than not the effort is ignored and people either learn the hard way or never learn at all. Fine. It's your life and it's our right to mess up our own lives but it isn't our right to mess up an innocent child's life, biological or not.

My friend, please think long and hard about what you're doing because it's not what you're doing to yourself, not about how you will be affected. It's about our children and what they need, deserve, and have the right to.

Oh yeah, if you do end up adopting, make sure you get a copy of your child's original birth certificate.

Someday they may be an adult who wants it.


In my lap, in my face, and on my mind

Someone very present in my life told me yesterday she and her husband are looking into adopting a second child. Their first child is 1 and 1/2 and they are the biological parents. We talked briefly about it when she told me and I imagine there will be more discussion. I am about 10 years older and she's asked for my thoughts on "things" from time to time so I'd be very surprised if we didn't have further discussion.

In our short initial conversation I touched on coercion, agency fact misrepresentation, the varying degrees of openness in adoption, and the cultural and racial issues of international adoption. I talked about considering how adoption could impact the child they already have. As she's already aware that I'm adopted and knows a fair bit about the dynamics of my family and knows I'm fine with it all, I made sure to let her know that there are other adopted people who are not at all fine with being adopted. I talked about adoption disruptions, asked if they were prepared to parent a child with FASD or other abuse related issues.

I have so many thoughts about this. I know so much now about adoption and it's problems. I also know there are children that need homes and having just babysat for this couple last night, I know they have a loving home to offer. Their little one is happy and smart, confident and calm. He is loved, secure and safe. Doesn't every child have a right to a shot at this? To be given the opportunity to at least try and fit in to a family? Isn't the alternative worse?

The alternative being....not trying? I don't want to dissuade them, but I have an obligation to share what I know, to do what I can to help them make educated decisions. To help them be honest with themselves. To get them to think about the other people who are affected in circumstances of adoption.

Hmmm...what are the most important things for them to know? To ask? To consider?

I will take any constructive thoughts and comments you may have to share to her, to them.

I could also just butt out.


Que demanderiez-vous prospective (prospective adoptive parents or guardians)?

I was out with my son last night eating french food, drinking sangria, and listening to a jazz trio on an outdoor patio on a beautiful summer evening. I can't believe summer is almost gone...sigh.

My son's friend that had joined us was telling me how he thinks he might parent any future children he may have. His plan for discipline was to make it something physical, like holding a book with a straight arm for ten minutes. After choking a little on my Coquille St.Jacques I declared that sounds completely military, which in hindsight shouldn't be all that surprising as this particular young man has experienced some military training. We had a great discussion about it all but it stuck with me as I'd already been thinking about the types of questions that parents who've decided on adoption would ask potential adoptive parents, and just what exactly I'd ask someone to determine their philosophy on parenting. I guess you could even go further and apply this to people naming guardians for their children in the event of death.

It's clear that discipline is an important issue to me, I've written about my thoughts on corporal punishment a few times here. Childcare is also important to me. Just who exactly would actually be with my child. Would it be the parents or would they have to rely on some kind of constant daycare? Sometimes if you add up the hours of time spent with working parents, it's far less than with whomever is providing them with babysitting/daycare. And the quality of the time spent with the working parents? Not very high. People are busy and tired at the end of the day, not the best setting for talks and goofing off together.

Are sips of mom or dad's alcoholic beverage ok? What are the food philosophies of the prospective parents? You must eat everything on your plate? Are sleepovers allowed? Homeschooling, public or private? Should babies be left to cry, can they be spoiled by too much attention? Are beauty pageants on the agenda? What happens if the parents are married and split up or one parents dies? What are the prospective parent's feelings on introducing boyfriends or girlfriends into the child's life? What's the attitude toward extra curricular activities? Can a boy take ballet? Can a girl play hockey or rugby? Will you go to the games and would you volunteer to coach? Would I cringe and move away from you at your son or daughter's baseball game? How old should kids be before they walk to school alone? Is Halloween allowed? Would you buy or make costumes? Can your son have long hair if he wants? What age will you talk to your kids about sex? Would you help to provide birth control to your teen? How would you react if your child is gay? If your toddler bit someone, would you bite them back to show them how it feels? How do you think you'd teach your child not to lie? Is post secondary education a must in your mind?

I could sit here all day and think up things that matter to me in parenting. How does one best assess potential parents for, or guardians to, their children?

What would you ask?