Jenna recently shared her experience jumping into and out of adoption land over the years. While my personal experiences were somewhat different, my end results were somewhat the same. I deeply immersed myself and then I pulled away. I am here today yet I am a very different person than I was fifteen years ago, on the cusp of my search for my daughter. I did not necessarily “quit” adoption rather I quit certain adoption specific behaviors.
Quit Denying My Feelings
Many years ago I formed a yahoo group for individuals separated via the Kurtz network of agencies. The group started out small and grew over time. Our members were adoptees as well as first mothers. It was a really great group of people and many are my friends today. At some point in the groups’ existence, I was told by a number of the members that my feelings and my views were too negative. They requested I speak more positively about adoption. I was also told that as the leader of the group it was not appropriate for me to share my feelings. I could not wrap my brain around such statements. I took them as a sign it was time for me to leave. I turned over the reins to an adoptee and a mom on the list. In this case, I quit believing my feelings did not matter. They did and do matter. I took them elsewhere.
Quit Making it About Me
Somewhere in this blog, in a post that is likely eight or more years old, you will find a comment from an adoptee named Joy. In response to the post Joy said something like my adoption reunion was not about me. I am paraphrasing here. Those were not the exact words but how I remembered them. At the time I thought she did not understand my point. Of course my feelings about my reunion were ALL about me. It was my blog about my adoption trauma, my daughter, my reunion and my feelings. How could she say it was not about me? That comment has stayed with me for years. Today I believe what she meant is that the state of my reunion, my daughters approach to it, her refusal to meet and be part of my life is not about me. What I mean by that is it that my daughters’ feelings are about her and about how she was raised and taught about adoption. It is not an outward rejection of me. She does not even know me.
Whereas in years gone by I may have taken my daughters rejection as a rejection of me, I do not feel that anymore. She is rejecting something but it is not me. She does not know me. So, much like commenter Joy suggested, I quit making the reunion status about me, or about something being wrong with me. My daughters approach to our reunion is about her.
Quitting the Dream
I was in love with my daughters’ father for over half my life. We had three, no, four, opportunities to have a true relationship. No matter how hard I tried, how good I tried to be, he never wanted me, at least not the way I wanted him to want me. I eventually came to my senses (as recent as 7 years ago) and saw him for what he was and not what I thought he could or should be. I quit the dream. Read any post from the Birthfather tag for background here.
I fell into the adoption blogging scene over ten years ago. At that time I was not yet in reunion. I was married to a man that resented my adoption status. I was raw, wounded, confused and looking for understanding and companionship. I needed desperately to shed the skin of adoption shame and secrecy. I found a great deal of support in adoption bloggers.
For reasons I do not fully understand (though I have a theory), I found myself attracted to some of the most vocal (what some would call “angry”) adoption bloggers. I believe I related to them at the time. They were expressing feelings I could relate to but could not express on my own. My attraction was likely rooted in some form of projection. As years passed by and I began to deal with my own issues with my therapist (as my marriage crumbled around me), I found myself less and less drawn to some of these voices. I saw behaviors I did not want to be associated with. I witnessed incredible cruelty passed between adoptees and first parents. I was personally trolled by several of these voices presumably because my presence/my voice triggered something in them. I remember one adoptee blogger sarcastically called me “Saint Suz” on a regular basis. I still do not know what was meant by that but the vitriol surrounding it was obvious. It was not intended as a compliment.
The community I was drawn to was no longer a soft landing for me, rather, it became a bed of nails. Did it change or had I changed? Not sure. I chose to get up and walk away from most of it. I did not need it anymore and I feared continued association would do oogly things to me.
Quit Adoption Activism (sort of)
I once spoke at conferences with great joy and willingness. I participated in Ethica’s Meet the Bloggers, presented with adoptive mom Margie at AAC, and was on the board for Origins-USA. You name it, I was in it or wanted to be.
Not so much anymore. There are two reasons for this.
There are lots of really good people out there doing amazing work for adoption reform (Claud, for example). They are working hard and making progress. I really do not feel I have much to contribute. They are saying and doing it better than I can.
Beyond my thoughts on adoption activism, my personal position is that we need to put focus on vulnerable moms. If we beef up services, change the views, support mothers to be mothers, the adoption machine will have less families to prey upon. I have met some amazing young/former teen mothers who are doing incredible work in this area (check out Gloria Malone or Natasha Vianna for example). I have volunteered with Massachusetts Alliance on Teen Pregnancy and been moved to tears at the work they do. I raised funds for organizations like Teen Parent Connection in Illinois and The Care Center in Massachusetts. It is with this demographic I now wish to focus my efforts. (Quite candidly, my dream is to found an organization that supports this demographic. I have something in the works. Perhaps one day I will bring it to fruition and share it. )
Does all of this quitting mean I do not think of adoption or my daughter every day? Absolutely not. I wake with her in my mind and I go to bed with her in my mind. I check on her randomly and sometimes I share bits of information about her with others. In the coming weeks, my sons and I will likely tackle a family therapy session about her and her absence from our life. I may not be her parent, a person that matters in her life, but she will always be my daughter and will always matter in mine.
I have not quit her.
Never have. Never will.