Monday, November 24, 2008

Amateur Survey

I'm doing an informal survey based on a very amateur hypothesis I have: Based upon my own health status and that of many other adoptees I know, I think that adopted people may be more susceptible to chronic illness than the average person. Anyone have any experience with this? Comments? Competing theories?
I look forward to your input.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Wonderful Weekend Workshop

I co-taught my first-ever writing workshop about adoption last Saturday at the fabulous, super-community-focused Big Blue Marble Bookstore. I have taught many, many writing workshops over the last 15 years, but never had the guts until now to do one about adoption, so it was a big step for me. My co-facilitator, Betsy has run workshops about adoption before, so I was less nervous than I would have been on my own--thanks Betsy!!

We had five participants, some of whom were adult adoptees, some of whom were adoptive parents, and one who was an adoptive uncle. Everyone did some great writing and sharing, and it felt really good for me to be in a roomful of people touched by adoption. It can be very lonely to be an adopted person, so being in that room was extremely comforting for me--it was very nice to not have to explain myself in the way I usually do when speaking about adoption. There was a level of understanding, of knowing, that is rare for me to find.

It kind of reminded me of when I was pregnant with my son, walking down the street all humongous and feeling very much on display and very guarded--people I didn't even know said the weirdest things to me when I was pregnant, such as "They're still letting you out of the house?" I know. Anyway, whenever I would pass by another pregnant woman thumping her way down the sidewalk, I'd shoot her a knowing glance, as if to say "can you believe the craziness of this situation?" And she'd smile back at me, seeming to know exactly what I meant with my look.

Even more similar was the feeling I got in my prenatal yoga class where once a week I got to be in a room full of pregnant women and nobody else, and I felt such a kinship with these women who were like me in this very obvious way, but who otherwise were strangers to me. So this workshop was a bit like a prenatal yoga class: a gathering of strangers to meditate on a particular kind of sameness in each of us. It was wonderful.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

The Myth of Salvation

A few days ago, I was trying to explain the premise of this blog to a few people, and I found myself using the word "myth" a lot. Yes, I want to dispel myths about adoption. One of these myths is that it's a tidy solution to a bunch of people's problems: adoptive/infertile parents get the baby they've been wanting so much; a woman/couple who need to choose not to parent find other parents for their baby; and a child gets a loving home. Signed, sealed, delivered, everybody's good, right?

Not so fast, everyone. One thing I really appreciate about the blogs I've been reading by adoptive moms and birthmoms is that they seem to deeply understand the complexity of the adoption situation--for everyone involved. I'm not sure I can say the same for some others who have commented on my blog postings.

I get that everyone has her/his own vulnerable feelings, that everyone feels alienated in some way at some time, and that many can identify with the "broken chain" metaphor in some way; however, I maintain that these feelings are DIFFERENT for people who are adopted. And our experience needs to be heard and understood and validated.

I imagine that people who have commented that the way I feel is a common to many people, that people who are not adoptees feel that way too, are just trying to help--they see me hurting and want to fix it. I appreciate their interest in making me feel better, but it doesn't help me--or any other adoptee who feels this loss--to invalidate my feelings. They are real. This is my reality. I am tired of being made to feel like a whiner for saying things like "I feel loss because when I was born, my mother gave me away and I never got to know anything about her or why she did that."

It is a big deal, folks. It really is. Everyone who is touched by adoption experiences a profound loss. And it's time that was recognized by others. I was fortunate to be adopted by a loving family when I was a baby. I wasn't abused by my parents, and I didn't grow up in an orphanage. But I was not "saved," as Fang put it in his post: ("Someone is waiting for you to save his or her life as yours was saved.") Adoption is not about salvation. And an adoptee's feelings of loss and alienation are different than other feelings of loss and alienation. Everyone is entitled to their feelings.

Proud and Happy and Just So Relieved

Oh, Thank God!
I know the World Series is over, so baseball metaphors are probably passe, but I must say that the people of this country really stepped up to the plate yesterday.

I can't think of the last time I actually felt proud to be an American, but today I am. Thanks, everyone, who helped vote Barack Obama into office.

I might add that my 5-year-old son freaked me out the other day when he said that in his kindergarten class's mock election, he voted for John McCain. "Why did you vote for John McCain?" I asked, thinking, "Dude! We have an Obama sign in our front yard! We talk about him every day!" But he said, "Because I can't say 'Barack Obama' very well." Hmm, OK.

Yesterday, we convinced him to go into the voting booth with my husband instead of riding his bike outside the polling place while daddy voted. I'm pretty sure he pressed the button for Obama.

It's a good day.

Shameless Self-Promotion

I'm co-teaching a free, one-afternoon writing workshop about adoption here in Philadelphia soon, and there's room for a few more participants, so if you're interested, please read on and sign up! I'd love to meet local readers who are touched by adoption. It's free, people!

Voices of Adoption

This one-day workshop is for anyone touched by adoption who wishes to explore her or his stories through creative writing. In a relaxed and supportive environment, the instructors will guide students through writing prompts, sharing of work, giving and receiving of constructive feedback, and discussion of the writing process and adoption-related topics.

WHEN: Saturday, November 15, 2008, 1-3pm

WHERE: Big Blue Marble Bookstore, 3rd Floor Community Room, 551 Carpenter Lane, Philadelphia, PA 19119

COST: Free

To RSVP for Voices of Adoption, contact Andrea Ross at

Andrea Ross, M.A., was adopted in Colorado in the late 1960s. She has a Master's degree in creative writing, and has been teaching creative writing courses for all ages since 1992 through California Poets in the Schools and the University of California. A former wilderness guide, Andrea is especially interested in writing about the intersections between adoption, literature, and the environment. Since moving to Philadelphia recently, she has taught writing at La Salle University and The Morris Arboretum.

Betsy Self Elijah, M.F.A., was born in South Korea and adopted by a Caucasian family in the 1970s. With an MFA in Creative Writing: Memoir and Creative Nonfiction, Betsy serves as nonfiction editor for Quay, a literary journal, and has taught personal narrative writing workshops in the Philadelphia public school system, Free Library of Philadelphia, Asian Arts Initiative, Pan African Studies Community Education Program at Temple University, and Mt. Airy Learning Tree. Betsy works as a Reading and Writing Specialist for Community College of Philadelphia and as a freelance writer for the Chestnut Hill Local.