Wednesday, March 25, 2009

A Birth Mother's Point of View

This blog post portraying a birth mother's point of view is definitely a must-read, if you haven't seen it already. It's heartfelt, sincere, and very raw. Interestingly, many of this birth mother's points about her feelings of loss and anxiety related to relinquishing her baby correspond with what I perceive as the adoptee's feelings of loss and anxiety about having been relinquished--they certainly reflect mine.

Ironic that these groups of people (birth mothers and adoptees) who have been forcefully separated and hidden from each other via closed adoption, shame, etc., for so many years have such similar feelings about their experiences, despite our society's mandates for us to forget about one another and go on living our lives as if the other never existed.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Whose Heritage do We claim?

A great-great-great uncle of my dad's signed the Declaration of Independence. There's even a little placard with his portrait and name on it embedded in the sidewalk of the historical district in Philadelphia. My great aunt Ruth, who lived to be 103, traveled the world when she was 22 in 1919, and was generally a super cool woman and a role model for me, was the family's heritage-keeper. That is to say, she kept records of the family's geneaology, photographs, accomplishments, etc.

I have always found this family's history very interesting, but also felt conflicted about it since it is the geneaology of my adoptive father's family, not my blood relations'. I have always felt uneasy about claiming his heritage because I was unsure I was entitled to it-- so much of the pride (and shame) of heritage in our society is based upon blood kinship, not adoptive kinship.

One day when I was in high school, I was called out of class by the guidance counselor to take a special test administered exclusively to descendants of the DAR to determine eligibility for a college scholarship. I had to ask the counselor what the DAR was, and when she told me it was the Daughters of the American Revolution, I remembered the great-great-great uncle, and figured it had something to do with him. Even then, when I was only 16 and had no idea what the DAR was all about, I had an inkling that I didn't technically qualify to even take this test, much less to receive the scholarship.

I didn't do well on the test, so I didn't advance to the next level of competition for the scholarship, but as it turns out, I wouldn't have been eligible for it anyway, as membership in the DAR is, as I suspected, based upon bloodlines.

Which brings me to the question I have been pondering: whose heritage do I claim? Do I claim the Scottish and Finnish ancestors I've heard about all my life from my adoptive parents, or do I claim the Norwegian and Swiss ancestors I've recently learned about from my newly found birthparents? Neither feels completely mine, yet I don't wish to eschew either of them because they both feel familiar and true. Who are my ancestors?

As adoptees, how do we reconcile our dual heritage?

Thursday, March 12, 2009

You Were Only Waiting for This Moment to Arise

This has nothing to do with adoption, but I simply must share it because...well, read on:

Last night, my five-year-old son and I were sitting at the dinner table eating noodles, when suddenly he hopped to his feet and started doing what appeared to be his approximation of jumping jacks, which involve a lot of hopping and flailing of arms (in his kindergarten, he has an old-school gym teacher who tries to teach these little, totally uncoordinated people to do things such as squat thrusts, lunges, and jumping jacks).
I said, "Oh, are you showing me what you did in gym class today?"
"No, mommy, I'm dancing."
"Oh," I said, "What are you dancing to?"
"I'm dancing to 'Blackbird Singing in the Dead of Night'" (also known as "Blackbird" by Paul McCartney).
Since it was quiet in the house, and he was singing to the song playing in his head (I guess) I suggested,
"Do you want me to sing it and you can dance to it?"
His eyes lighted up, "Yeah!!"
So I started to sing, and he performed this exquisite, spazzy (he's got fire in his soul, but no rhythm yet), and very heartfelt, spontaneous interpretive dance throughout the dining room while I warbled away:

Blackbird singing in the dead of night
Take these broken wings and learn to fly
All your life
You were only waiting for this moment to arise

Black bird singing in the dead of night
Take these sunken eyes and learn to see
all your life
you were only waiting for this moment to be free

Blackbird fly, Blackbird fly
Into the light of the dark black night.

Blackbird fly, Blackbird fly
Into the light of the dark black night.

Blackbird singing in the dead of night
Take these broken wings and learn to fly
All your life
You were only waiting for this moment to arise,oh
You were only waiting for this moment to arise, oh
You were only waiting for this moment to arise.

And that, dear readers, is why I love being a parent.