Saturday, October 22, 2011

letter to my birthmother


I have thought about you everyday of my life. Before I met you, I thought you would be a famous actress, a doctor, or a princess. I always thought that you were this perfect person who would love to have me find her.

Every time I saw a woman with brown eyes and brown hair, I thought it was you. I thought that maybe you were checking on me to make sure that I was OK.

I dreamed of you since I was little. I don't even remember being told about you, but I always remember having a sense of something missing, even before I knew about you.

I spent so much time and so many years looking for you that I was convinced I would be looking for the rest of my life, like it was never going to happen. I never really thought I would find you.

Sometimes, I wish I never did. At least I would still have thoughts of you being a perfect person who secretly missed me everyday. I always thought you must be thinking of me, especially on my birthday. I just assumed you loved me.

Then I met you. At first, I thought you were in too much shock to show me any affection. The very first thing you said to me when you walked in my door was, "Don't hug me." Then you made some crass comment about my long curly hair.

I tried for a while to like you. I even assumed I loved you. I figured the reason I felt so stupid and not good enough around you was my own fault.

I never felt good enough around you. Not even when I was on the phone with you. I always felt like I was pulling teeth to get you to talk to me.

You even told me you would have never looked for me. That devastated me. I felt like you threw me out all over again. Like I should never had tried to find you, because I was invading your space. Like I went against your wishes.

Well, you went against mine. No one ever asked me if I wanted to be deserted. No one ever asked me if I wanted to live with strangers. No ever one asked if I wanted to live in a foster home, only to get ripped out of that family, too.

No one asked me if I wanted to live in constant fear of being "given back" if I made a mistake. After all, the only mistake I made with you was being born, and I didn't even do it on purpose. Look where that got me. In some cold, unemotional agency that simply wanted to get me out of their hair just as fast as you did.

Throwing away, dumping, dropping off, giving up, no matter what you feel like calling it, it is the most devastating thing you can put on another human being. Even with all the anger I feel toward you, I would not wish adoption on you in a million years. It's far too cruel. It wrecks a person. It breaks a person. It creates a second guessing of yourself, everyone, and everything around you.

Everyone I know knows where they came from. It was their birth right. They take it for granted. Like it's some legal right they have. I never had that. I had a piece of paper that came with me saying that you had a bunch of brothers and sisters, a zillion aunts and uncles, and that you were some sort of competitive swimmer. I even thought your father lived in another country, simply because there was a typo on that paper. I grew up thinking I was from something. That I was someone that I wasn't.

Can you even imagine my shock when I learned the truth about you and me and where I came from? You can never understand it, nor would I wish it upon you to.

I wonder if you were angry about me, or about being pregnant. It seems like you must have been, and still are. I feel your anger all the time. From the very day I met you. You resented me for finding you, because I interrupted your life for a second time. You cannot deny it, because I know it in my heart. You are ashamed of me. I know you feel it with every fiber of your being. I know I do.

I have never been anything but an inconvenience to you. You have made that very clear, not just on one occasion. I wish that I could be a big enough person to say I don't hold that against you, but I do.

YOU are the one who ran away. YOU are the one who slept with a stranger at a party. YOU are the one who abandoned me.

I am head strong, and I got that from you. I know you could have kept me if you felt like it. I am aware that the circumstances would not have been perfect, but I am also aware that throughout my life, my circumstances have not always been perfect either. But I do not run from them. I don't give my issues to someone else to fix.

I believe that every person deserves to know who they are. You stole that from me. You tore it away. You took it. You stripped me of the very thing that makes a person a person. Who they are. I still don't know, and I hold you personally responsible for that.

Even my own mattress has a tag that shows exactly what it's made of. It also says, "DO NOT REMOVE." Maybe you could learn a lesson or two from something so simple.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Adopted: The Movie

get yourself a bucket, sit back, and listen to this asshole AP squeal with laughter and delight over the event in which a woman will soon  experience the loss of her baby, and that baby of her mother:

now that's something to be proud of and excited about, JACQUI.

obviously, i think this flick is a MUST-see. jennifer fero rips my heart to absolute shreds every single time i watch this.

"you only got her because she was abandoned."

Friday, October 14, 2011

one leg of the journey

last night, i was surfing youtube and came across one of the "adopted" documentary clips featuring lynne connor.

i posted it on my friend luz's wall.  she came back and asked me, "Did you feel this way sometimes? (Not the Asian-ness, specifically, but some sort of different-ness)?"

my answer to that was affirmative.  "Almost all times. I just never had the words. I couldn't figure out how to say it. And if anyone tried to help (my mother mainly) the guilt overrode everything and I just shut my mouth and tried to be grateful."

my mother, however, wasn't exactly the source of my always feeling weird surrounding my adoption. it's almost ingrained in an adoptee.  "man, these people went out and paid good money for me.  i better come through....."

looking back, i remember typically feeling weird surrounding my adoption.  genetically- a total misfit.  physical appearance-  i looked like no one, and that made me mad.  i didn't have any of the musical talent that everyone in my family had, and the guilt from that alone was incredibly overwhelming.  i grew up being the 4th generation of living on a lake, but i was terrified of deep water an still am.

my mother was the source of everything good for me to feel like a normal kid.  she never babbled on and on about how "special" or "chosen" i was, which 99% of adoptees hate hearing.  all that term does is put pressure on us to be grateful.  if we're not grateful, we have a lifelong fear of being 'given back'.

instead, my mother treated me like an average kid, just like she did with my brothers.  but still.........that doesn't cure my "adoptee syndrome", which i consider to be a very real problem.  nor has anything in my 43 years cured me of my own primal wound.

i think luz takes an excellent approach to parenting adoptees by educating herself through books, movies, documentaries, and, wait for it!  daring to DIALOG with real live adult adoptees!  shocking, i know.

i don't claim to have any answers, and i don't think luz has them all either.  but i do know that the closer we get, the more i tell her how much i see my little girl self in her young daughter. in fact, tessa and i are now penpals.

i don't see adoption ending in my lifetime, although i would love to see it abolished.  but in the mean time, i'm happy to have luz to hear my feelings, my explanations of behaviors and even some of the good things..................

my main example being my mother.  she is the best woman on earth, and even though she didn't have all the answers either, she loved me through it, and continues to just hear me.  we can't undue my adoption, but we can at least  journey through it together, and there's always room for one more person on our train, and for me, that's my luzzy.

Monday, October 10, 2011

My Gracie Mae


my dear, sweet gracie mae,

do you remember the day we found each other? i turned the corner, and there you were in all your glory:) our eyes met, and it was instantly magical!

"i want to see that one. can we take that one out? i want to see her and sit with her. i need to sit there and feel what she's like to be near."

we walked outside together. you had red marks on your white fur from your temporary collar. i sat down on a tree stump and you stood next to me. i was petting you, with the most odd sense of intention. i wanted to comfort you, and i wanted to feel your soft fur.

what i felt was your heart. i held your face in my hands with an absence of fear that i had never known with a dog before. i could feel your heart with mine. i could feel the depth of your very soul. i could feel your warm, caring spirit, and it made me free again, gracie. you set me free for the first time in years.

i knew we belonged together, and i knew it with all my heart.

do you remember when we walked back inside together? do you remember the nice man who took you back to your small cell? do you remember me getting down on the floor with you and telling you i had to go fill out paperwork, and that they wouldn't let me take you with me? do you remember me telling you that i wouldn't leave you behind? that i was only going to another room? that i would come back for you? that i would never leave you again? do you remember?

the papers said your name was "princess". when we got in the car together, i promised you i would give you a proper name that was full of intention and love, just like you were. i told you i was going to call you "grace", after your granny. "gracie", i said.

i wonder if you remember your first night at home with me? you didn't want to come indoors with me. you hesitated. i got you a dog bed, and put it near the fireplace. i had to plop you in it because you wouldn't go to it. when i went to bed, i kept getting up to make sure you were still breathing, finally, i picked you up and brought you into bed with me.

you slept next to me all night. i felt you breathing, and i felt your heart beating with such a beautiful rhythm. you slept soundly all night, as if we had always known eachother. the next morning, i woke up to you looking at me, waiting. you refused to leave my bed until i left it.

you have been my most loyal, true companion in this incredible life we lead. we're happy together. just like we both knew we would be, and should be.

my sweet gracie mae. i love you in ways that i don't have words for. i try to let you know every day how much i care and how much i appreciate all that you are and all that you do for me.

i pray for you more than i pray for myself.

i enjoy you, i relish you, and i love you.

you are my heart and you are my soul. i am so intensely blessed and proud to be your mother, your companion, your anything............. because you are my everything.

Friday, October 7, 2011

falling away..........

i recently had a birthday which always leads me to thinking about sally (my original mother).  i mentioned her on facebook a couple of times, "i wish she would just try to know me......"  this led my friend to ask if she could contact sally for me and ask her for a relationship.  even just writing to each other once a year.

in turn, sally stalked my friend on google, obtained her phone number, proceeded to call her at 10PM and rip her a new one.  she told my friend that the door to our relationship was closed and that she wanted absolutely nothing to do with me.  she went on to tell my friend that i had her 'duped' her into thinking i was a nice person.  that i surely had her fooled.

sally's one request?  to be notified of my death via email.

i've often wondered and expressed aloud, "how in the world did i come from such a person??"  it breaks my heart to be related to someone that can be so cold.  it also drives me nuts when people constantly tell me to "get over it".  it's NOT that simple, and unless you have walked in my reeboks, you have no say.

in the days following the exchange between sally and my friend, i've felt a flux between anger, sadness, disgust and a new one: relief.

this latest demonstration of her never ending grudge finally sort of settled into me differently.  once the rage wore off, i started to care less about my desire and desperate need for her to love me.  i finally realized that i don't need her to approve of me in order to make a good life for myself. 

i didn't need her love to become a winning figure skater, a good ballet dancer, a talented water skier, or a Spelman grad.  i don't need her now to be a great shelter chef, an excellent japanese interpreter, or an advocate for my homeless friends.

i can become whatever and whoever i need and want to be without her.  i can do anything and everything without her.  i truly wanted to do all of it with her, but that wasn't meant to be.

so now, after a lot of soul searching, i feel ready to allow her to "fall away" from me.  i'm looking forward to enjoying this new freedom from a constantly wounded soul that is now finally becoming free........

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

the nail lady: having babies

me: "hey tracy, how's life??"

t: "lye good.  kid in skooo, me like."

me: "hmmm.  speaking of know i want a baby.  i'm thinking about starting to try in the next 9 - 12 months or so."

t: "baby lot of work.  you ready?  you scare??"

me: "i don't know that anyone is ever REALLY ready....i mean there's all that second guessing about whether you can be a good enough parent, if you have all the answers, if you're good enough, whether you'll make mistakes......worrying about the right choices for this little human's so much to think much responsibility, do i have enough money?  do i have the right temperament?  do i have the patience?  i mean, i LOVE kids so much....i'm just obsessing every.single.night. about whether i will be a good enough many nerves, so much apprehension, it never goes away...."

t: "i no talk about dat.  i talk about delivery.  it lye someone shot you in the lady parts with a .45 caliber.  you ready for dat?????"

Sunday, October 2, 2011

finding her, part 6

late that afternoon, i followed her in my car over to herkimer where i was to meet her mother, nephews, aunts and uncles. when we arrived, a mob of people emerged from the house, running toward me and suddenly they were all clinging to me for what felt like an eternity. my god, that was weird. so uncomfortable.

i also was able to meet her father who lived not far from the house where we were stationed for dinner. her father was nice, but most definitely the least interested of all my newly found relatives.

back at my new grandmother's house, we all had dinner and i met my little half brother, who was 6 months old at the time. i've always loved babies, and i noticed how very little patience sally had with JJ right away. at first, i blamed it on nerves, but the longer i watched, the more i saw her frustration grow into what i now classify as plain disgust, as if he were an interruption. an interruption in her life, just as i would later figure out i was. again.

suddenly, i found myself torn between a primal instinct of needing her, to the most foreign, out of touch feeling i could have imagined.  i simply couldn't understand how i could feel such........disconnect.

i needed and wanted her to belong to me, and i felt the same need to belong to her.  why didn't she act like she knew me?  why was i so unfamiliar to her?  how could she have carried me around, literally, for 9 months and now she has zero connection?  why doesn't she need me?????  how can she be so uninterested in us having a connection?

each time we met was more awkward and unsettling as the time before. up to that point in my life, i can't say i knew any other woman who had shown so little regard for her own child.  i watched her move through her days with no care or concern for anyone, including her little boy.

devastating.  simply, utterly devastating.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

finding her, part 5

i had left my front door open, waiting.  she walked in.  i was standing about five feet away with my fists clenched by either cheek and a nervous grin on my face.

i slowly stepped toward her and relaxed my arms.  her first words to me, "don't hug me."  hmmmm.  odd, no?  oh well, maybe she was just in shock.  i certainly was, because i was the absolute image of her from head to toe.  it was almost uncomfortably shocking.  i didn't know how to look like someone.  i was used to looking like NO ONE at all.

"that hair really throws me off."  hmmm.  weird.  actually, i was pissed that she said that to me, but i was busy trying to fall in love, so i let it go.

as we moved to the living room to sit down, i noticed we walked alike.  she even touched her own hair like i touched mine, with a strange trepidation, as if the "poof" of it would become explosive if we messed with it.

as we sat together, she showed me a big bag of pictures from her childhood, all the way through her present marriage.  we looked for hours on end.  to be honest, after a while i started to get a little antsy.  didn't she want to know anything about me or see any pictures of mine?

in those few hours, she said some of the coldest, most rude things to me, but again- i was busy trying to be happy and grateful to have her RIGHT there.

"so why did you give me away??"

"well, mainly because i didn't want you.  what i really wanted was an abortion."

holy shit.  did she really just say that to me???????????  are you shitting me???

"but you had me, so didn't you change your mind at all once you saw me?  isn't it like in the movies, when the lady sees her baby and her whole life changes????  she falls in love with her kid and will do anything to protect her baby.  didn't that happen??  didn't you feel any of that stuff??"

"um, no.  i never wanted to look at you.  i had zero intention of keeping you, so why would i look at you?  my mother looked at you and she tried to make me look, but i just didn't have it in me.  i didn't want you before, and i didn't want you after."

what happened next will never leave my much as i pray for it to go..............

finding her, part 4

i went to my room, mainly to sulk in private.  i was so pissed off.  i had really blown it by making the mistake of putting that stupid phone down.  i vowed i would never forgive myself.

i fluctuated between hating myself and feeling downright sorry for me.  i couldn't believe i had her right there and she was gone again in about 10 seconds flat.  i couldn't recall having been so disappointed in my entire life.  not once.

as i sat there on my bedroom floor in tears, the phone rang.  i leapt up and answer within the first ring.  "HELLO!!!!!!!!!"  it was xyz again!  to be honest, i don't remember much of what he said to me, except for a couple of details.  "her name is sally.  she's from herkimer, is married and now lives in new jersey.  i spoke to her and she would like to know if she can call you? she has a 6 month old baby that is sleeping right now."  of  course i said yes, and at around 10pm, my phone rang.

when i answered, the voice belonged to a man.  totally threw me off.  "hi jeni, my name is david.  i'm married to a woman named sally.  we think she might be your birthmother.  do you think that's possible?"

"yes, i absolutely do."

"would you like to speak to her?"  all i could think was, "wow, what a stupid question."  he put her on the phone and away we went.

we talked for 4 hours straight, until 2am.  we covered everything from big moose, to skating, to her life in herkimer.  we decided that she would come to new york in two weeks to meet.

to be honest, that should have been my first clue that this was going to go downhill from there.  i thought it odd that she would or even could wait two whole weeks!!!  what the hell!!!!!

but wait, i did.  i had no other choice.  that saturday finally came.  i still remember what i was wearing.  i had to work that morning on the air from 9-12.  it was without question, the longest 3 hours of my entire life.  i got home at around 12:30.  i remember being in the bathroom fixing my huge, oversized spiral curls, spritzing them like crazy because they were one of the things i was known for.

i looked at myself from every angle possible to make sure i didn't look fat.  or that my nose wasn't having an excessively 'big' day.  i fixed my eyeliner, mascara and lip liner about 200 times each.

all of my roommates were out, either working or simply making themselves scarce.  i was an absolute nervous wreck.  i was shaking like crazy, pacing back and forth to the bathroom and the full length mirror, then to the kitchen and back to the bathroom.

finally, i heard it- "slam!"  a car door.

finding her, part 3

i was sitting at my desk at the radio station one night when all of a sudden my phone rang.

"hi jeni, this is xyz....." (one of the people working with sandy).  "we've found your mother."  i'm sure his announcement was met with silence on my end for nearly a minute. 

"you WHAT???????????"  what he was telling me was simply not possible.  it had to be a mistake.  he could never find her, because i had already tried hard enough, and if my will alone wasn't adequate, nothing else would be, or should be.

"can you hold on for one second?"  i put the phone down and shut my office door so i could freak out with this guy in private.  i ran back to my desk, picked the phone back up, "you've GOT to be shitting me!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  you found my MOTHER!???????" 

and just like that- POOF.  investigator man was gone.  "hello???  hello???  HELLO??????????????????"  nothing.

i waited in my office for at least 2 hours for him to call back.  instinctively, i knew he had hung up for safety wiretapping or something else that could get his cover blown.  if that happened, he would never be able to help another adoptee.  the sealed records are sealed for a reason, and no one in NY has ever had that ruling overturned.  not once.

finally i decided to leave for home, even though every fiber of my being knew i would miss his call back while in transit-- such a big part of me wanted to sleep under my desk at work and wait for the phone to ring again.

i got in my car and raced home anyway.  once there, i grilled my four roommates- "did anyone call me?  anyone?  did this phone ring in the last 45 minutes?  has anyone at all called here looking for me?" 

not one phone call.  not even a wrong number. 

i felt deflated, devastated and like my mother had been right there in my hands and i let her slip away.  she was gone again.  gone.