Tuesday, December 21, 2010

MY FOUR RESOLUTIONS for 2011

Be Strong
I read this quote by Doris Roberts, 80, who played Ray’s mom in “Everybody Loves Raymond.” Doris praised strong women and joked, “What’s the alternative? Being a weak woman? What do you get from that? Nothing. I am strong because I believe in what I do. When I put my head on the pillow at night, I know I have not hurt anybody. That’s my message to people: Don’t hurt anybody. Know what you’re about. Keep learning. Don’t shut down. Don’t give in. Don’t give up. Find what you like to do and do it.” Doris is right.
I don’t think we learn to be strong, I think we choose to be strong. We face what we face every single day when we get out of bed. Some days we might falter or lose balance or confidence or want to stop trying. Some days we may wake up and find our strength is bigger than we realized. It’s how we respond to what life throws at us. I do believe suicide is a person’s desire to change their life and their surroundings. If you are able to leave the situation, you won’t need to kill yourself. If you can change, do it.
I plan to fix what I can in my own life. I plan to be as brave as I can be and do what I can do. I can’t fix the world or other people but I can fix me.

Be Kind
I know how easy it is to hurt and cause hurt. I have worked for demon bosses who took joy inflicting pain on others. I was bullied in many jobs. I’ve experienced people who are insensitive, rude, or exceptionally needy, but they may not realize it. I have watched one unkind act ripple out and cause pain, panic and destruction. I also know the kindest people on the planet who are generous with their words and their time.
Yet critical words can and will devastate people. I know life is about choice and words carry power. So I watch what I say. I am going to think on moments when I was hurt, then see the source, then take it as a lesson. I will decide what lesson to keep and what to throw out. I am going to be kinder and watch my words and not hurt anyone intentionally. If I do hurt someone, I will apologize.
I will learn to be more assertive.

Be Prepared
I am still learning how to feel. I know this sounds strange but it’s true for me in my life. I blame part of it on being adopted as an infant then forced to pretend everything was ok when it was not ok. I buried the hurt so deep there were many years I could not feel – good or bad. It was not safe to feel – trust me. I would have gone crazy.
That’s changed in me over the years. I am still learning how to feel my feelings faster, or cleaner, and know when to let go. It requires patience and tenderness. Every single day I learn what feelings need to be released fast (or slow) and realize what caused them. I will respond to them rationally and intelligently. In other words, I plan to be more alert, more mindful, and more aware. I plan to be prepared for strange new feelings but not shut them out. The more I do this, the better I will feel. Feeling your feelings sounds so easy but it’s not. Disappointments with people, politics, even poverty, can cause a deep lasting depression for some of us. I will do what I can to be prepared.

Be Green
Back in Oregon in the 1980s, I took up recycling. I didn’t want to throw anything in the trash-can that could be recycled or reused. I still shop for used items or get things from Free-cycle. (I hate paying full retail on anything so there is always EBay!) I joined a local organization to cut our home energy use and plan to make better greener choices when I buy anything. I will reduce our carbon footprint. Clean water and safe food are becoming an endangered species on our planet. I will buy local food, do more to reuse and recycle, and do everything I can to be green.

In 2011, I resolve to create a stronger kinder life, be prepared for all that life throws at me and yes, be more green.

[This will be my last blog post for 2010. Please comment and leave your resolutions for 2011. And -- Have a Happy New Year!]

Friday, December 3, 2010

Thursday, December 2, 2010

The 60s Scoop Lawsuit

This is the blog and website for Canadian First Nations Adoptees to get the latest updates and information concerning the class action for survivors of the Sixties Scoop. If you are a First Nations adoptee, you can contact them and add your name to the lawsuit. One of these days, America will have its own class action lawsuit... (that's my prayer it happens in my lifetime).

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

PERSONAL VICTORY

Ok, you remember me writing on this blog I wanted my adoption file. (“My Top 5 Reasons”)
Back in September I had mentioned this to Jackie, who I visited on my recent mini-book-tour. Jackie helped Ben get his adoption file so she gave me the email for the state office in Madison, Wisconsin. I live in Massachusetts so this was super-convenient. I’d simply write an email!
Wisconsin, by law, allows adoptees in a closed adoption (like mine) to request and receive their non-identifying information. You simply fill out their form and request it (and pay them $75 an hour).
Let me clarify: your non-identifying information is a bit of history with no names.  It will not help you locate your tribe or your missing natural parent(s). In fact, it’s so vague, it’s really no help at all!
I decided to request my identifying information (aka the real deal, my sealed adoption file.) They emailed me that I would need a court order. I needed to fill out their form, have it notarized and mail it back to them so I did.
Within a month, I spoke to a woman on the phone who proceeded to fill out the paperwork for a court order. She would present it to the judge and I didn’t need to be there.
Now this was weird. She asked me why I wanted my file? Why was this so hard for me? I have a million reasons. But I didn’t know what the judge wanted me to say. What was a good reason?
I said I wanted my adoption file to help me understand my early history and where I was the first months of my life: that is what I think she wrote down. (I told her I was nervous).
Ok, I’m sure the most used reason for such a request is the need for family medical history.
(I could have said I was nervous dating strangers who might be my real brothers but this was too twisted a reason for a judge. And I’m married.)
There are many good reasons, yes. But what did the judge want to hear? I didn’t know.
If the judge read my form, he’d see I already knew the names of both my natural parents.  (Remember I read my adoption file when I was 22.) Heck I knew their birthdays and when each of them died.
So like all adoptees, I waited and prayed. The un-named judge would review my request. He or she could deny me.  But the judge didn’t.
Because I wrote my birth parents are deceased – that is why I believe the judge granted my request.  It’s only a guess. And if they considered my age – 54, I’m no kid. Maybe that is why.
So this white envelope arrived the day after Thanksgiving and I was too emotional to open it. Yes, I was a wreck! I knew it would hit me like a ton of bricks. It did.
My friend met me for breakfast on Sunday morning and since Loud Blood is an adoptee, she said she would read it to me. That was better, we thought. It was best to do this with a friend who was also adopted. So she read and I cried (in a restaurant)!
The worst part was not my crying. There was family history on one page and a small post-it note that said the next part was not on microfilm. Pages were missing. I did not receive the entire context and testimony my natural mother Helen gave to the social workers. I do not know what more was written down.
So I am processing that I am the daughter of Helen - who, by the way, did want to keep me. This broke me up so hard - my emotions are still ragged and raw. It was 1956 and she was not able to keep me, no way. There was no support for keeping me.
So, if someone in
Wisconsin does want to do this - and if they need tribal information - it is on the form in Wisconsin and the only way an adoptee can do this is through a court order. And pay $75 per hour.
When I was 22, I’d asked a judge to read my file but the one I have now (this file) is different than the one he let me read. He had more legal paperwork in his file.
The effect on me now is greater - plus my fathers version was different than my mothers.
One of the reasons I didn’t mention: 
I was in a foster home. Who were they? Now I have their name and address. That was huge for me. Now I know where I was the first days and months of my life.
I feel so fortunate, so blessed I was able to get my adoption file when so many are still in the dark about their identity and name.
Every adoptee on the planet deserves this information, absolutely. And it's criminal that we can't in all but 6 states in the USA.


NOTE: I do not have a copy of my OBC- original birth certificate. Wisconsin said I'd have to get it from Minnesota where I was born. Minnesota is a sealed record state so I may never see it.


Lauren emailed:  6 states have unrestricted access- Alaska and Kansas never sealed, Oregon was opened by the ballot measure appealed up through the courts; (Bastard Nation, among others, were very key to sparking effort) Alabama, New Hampshire and Maine all opened legislatively. The other conditional access states, IL, TN, & DE all continue to treat adoptees as second class citizens, forcing them to jump through hoops like confidential intermediary systems and parental vetoes. The states and their subcontractors- often religiously based maintain control and dole out whatever number as they see fit. TN has actually criminalized contact if a veto was signed. OH, MI, and MA all have tri-black hole systems, that grant access to some at the direct cost of access for others. None of them can be considered "open records" states.

Volunteers help adoptees connect with their past - Winnipeg Free Press

Canadian adoptees! This is a good resource! Use them!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Four Traumas

1st day of grade school

     More and more of this adoption reality is coming out on the internet, which means more and more adoptive parents and natural parents are in for a few more surprises. One study claims adoptees are more traumatized than a prisoner of war. We suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder. A prisoner of war may escape or be released, but an adoptee will suffer its effects our entire life. There is no known cure for PTSD.
     Now I believe there are four distinct traumas in being an adoptee.
     They are: 1) in utero, when you hear what is happening to you or sense what is coming; 2) when you are delivered, abandoned, and handed to strangers; 3) later when you are told you are adopted and realize fully what being “adopted” means; and 4) when you realize you are different, from a different culture or country, and you can’t contact your family, or know them, or have the information you need to find them.
     It took me years to get this. There were more traumas, too – like when I’d fill out forms at the doctor’s office. I had no medical history. I had no idea if I was sitting next to someone who could be my biological brother, mother or father. To think I could marry my own relative and not even know it, that idea was horrifying.
     I could carry a gene that I pass down to my own children – but I wouldn’t know until it’s too late. My child could suffer since I didn’t know. If my birthparents were alcoholics, then I really shouldn’t drink. I could be pre-disposed to diabetes or heart disease or cancer or depression and not know this.
     My list went on and on.

     This is an excerpt from my book One Small Sacrifice. 

Equal Access to Birth Records for Adoptees

Obama Unveils Plan To Help Young American Indians

Obama Unveils Plan To Help Young American Indians
click photo to read

Truth

Three Books on Lost Birds

ICWA headlines

ICWA headlines
click to read

Good Words

Mila @yoonsblur: What can non-adopted people do to help adoptees feel respected in our spaces? Remember that they are guests. Remember that they are visitors. Remember that they will NEVER know what it's like to live an adopted life. Remember that they are visiting our home, our land, our territory. And hence, they need to act and behave accordingly. I like to use the analogy of a heart transplant patient. A heart transplant patient is the only one who knows what it is like to undergo transplantation. They are the only ones who know how it feels to be a transplant patient. The doctors, nurses, family members, etc. do not know what it is like to live life as a transplant patient and none of them would insist that they know what it feels like. They can help take care of the patient, they may even have valuable knowledge that may be applicable, but they still have no clue what it's like to live life as a transplant patient. Even the doctors and nurses can only help if they listen to the patient. Assumptions are dangerous and could even lead to death. Hence, knowledge is never equivalent to experience. A White person who has a Ph.D in African American studies will never know what it's like to live life as an African American. That Ph.D does not make the White person an "expert" on being African American. Similarly, unless you are an adoptee--no matter how many books you've read, no matter how many adopted children you've raised--you will NEVER know what it's like to be an adoptee. So, respect that. Sit down. Listen. Acknowledge. Validate. Do not presume. Do not dismiss. Do not negate. Do not pit adoptees against each other by saying, "Well, I know this one adoptee who..." Turn your mouth off and your ears on. That's what non-adopted folks can do if they truly want to understand and respect adoptees in our spaces.
Lost Daughters Blog LINK

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