Issues, issues everywhere.

October 6, 2006 at 9:18 pm 7 comments

Ok, so I haven’t been so attentive. I’m sorry. My friend Helen has practically disowned me over my not blogging for the past week. I’m just a tad busy, not to mention I have issues. Ok, I know we’re all busy and we all have issues. Helen has posted so much on HER blog recently, that it just puts me to shame. It’s hard to keep up.

But seriously, I have had a few issues recently. And I should probably mention here as it is totally relevant that I myself am adopted. I’ve been surprised to find myself a bit caught up in a whirlwind of emotions over the online course I am taking which is part of our home study. I have hit a stand still because the concepts, ideas and guided illustrations have resulted in an existential fly in the ointment.

Here’s what happened. The course is designed to get the adoptive parent out of their own world, and into the international orphan’s world. Each chapter is dedicated to an aspect of the child’s life and getting you to imagine and decipher what it must be like to be her/him. The overall message is wonderful and created to get you to be thinking ahead to how you will parent your child.

It starts out soft and ramps up on the emotional volume chapter by chapter. If you’ve ever seen the movie “This is Spinal Tap” , right now, I’m at 11.

Now, it should be noted that I consider myself fairly well-read and talked-out regarding my own life in terms of being adopted. I was adopted at birth, was raised in a family with parents and a brother who was also adopted and adoption was talked about from as far back as I can remember. I felt that I could talk to my parents about it and my mom didn’t deliver the typical statements of the era like, “Being adopted means you’re special.” (Which any adoptee I’ve ever met hates hearing) She told me of what it was like when she first saw me and how much she and my dad and brother loved me. Growing up, I had periods of feeling lost and missing a certain strength. At times, I knew that being adopted meant that I was different from not only other kids, but from the family I was growing up in. That was the elephant in the room that no one was willing to admit or talk about. When I displayed traits and differences in my personality that I knew and my mother knew had come from within me, and not passed down from her, it created a gap. At times, the gap was massive. Looking back, I can see now that when my mom was having a hard time relating to me, it would turn to criticism, passive/aggressive teasing, hurtful words, being shamed, being told that I was wrong. I had a hurt that I couldn’t name or describe or explain. I think I was only in fourth grade when I would say to my mom, “I don’t even know who I am.” I was often sad on my birthday and thought that if I tried really hard, my birthparents would know that I was thinking of them. My mom always told me that if I wanted to, that when the time was right for me that she would support me in finding my birthparents. She told me the few facts that she had. My birthparents were in high school, very smart and weren’t ready to be parents. I could accept that, even at a young age. Here’s what I couldn’t accept: (and it took me a LONG time to come up with the language for this but now that I’m all growed up and also a mom, I have figured it out) What I couldn’t accept and still have a hard time with is that my parents let their own issues remain larger than recognizing that I had my own issues. What that means in English is that they couldn’t look past their own insecurities over having adopted kids in order to deal with mine. Feeling like you have to be like your parents is hard enough when you ARE genetically linked with someone. I mean, my mom would fill out my medical history at the doctor’s office like I HAD one. She would put in her and my dad’s histories. Diabetes: no. Arthritis: no. I mean, I was 9 years old and telling my mom that she could probably go ahead and leave that blank.

Blank. That’s part of who you are when you’re adopted with little to no history. And all of this is why I gave no hesitation in feeling like I absolutely will be a good adoptive mom. I remember acting out when I was feeling like I couldn’t be myself, even if I didn’t know who that was. I have read all the books. I have lived it. Also, I am reunited with both sides of my birth family which is enormously rewarding and fulfilling and I will go into detail another time.

So, all of this brings me to how working on this course brought me to all of these unexpected feelings. After a guided imagery exercise of how it must be to be taken from all that you have ever known, without any language to explain how you are feeling and facing the expectations of others, I grew anxious. This week I haven’t slept so well. I wake with a feeling of general anxiety. I am remembering difficult moments of my own childhood. I am feeling things that I thought were dealt with years ago. In a way, I’m glad. If I can get this in touch with those feelings, as uncomfortable as they are to revisit, it can only serve to help my daughter when I bring her home and for as long as I am alive. I owe that to her. I forgive my parents for not knowing how to deal with my adoption issues. But I cannot forgive myself if it doesn’t end with them. I know what it means to listen to Zannie. I have learned to anticipate what she may be feeling in a given situation. I know that you cannot love your child too much and that my ultimate goal is to let her go into the world armed with tools and confidence. I cannot wait to do that with our second daughter. It is already hard for me that she comes with a past that is a wound. That she will be different from me isn’t hard for me at all. I truly embrace it. I will do my best to walk the line of affirming her ethnicity and culture of origin while not forcing her adopted status on everything we do and talk about. I will not assume anything about her until it is what she shows me. I must be armed with what I know about being adopted without imposing it on her. It is a tall order, but I feel I am equal to the task. I am honored at the opportunity.


Entry filed under: Adoption, Children, Family, International Adoption, Kyrgyzstan, Motherhood, Parenting.

The Stan Family Photos of Kyrgyzstan

7 Comments Add your own

  • 1. imhelendt  |  October 7, 2006 at 12:31 am

    So when I say blog, I should clarify that doesn’t mean heart wrenching, tear jerkers.

    This is because I couldn’t answer when you called, isn’t it? 😉

  • 2. kelley  |  October 8, 2006 at 4:15 pm

    Hi! We too, are seriously thinking of going to Krygzstan, and most likely will. My heart was also set on China.
    I’m going to follow along. You are eloquent, and this blog is amazing and completely thought provoking. Thank you for putting your thoughts so “out there!”

  • 3. thalya  |  October 17, 2006 at 5:49 am

    What a thoughtful and emotional post, thank you.
    Have you discovered Manuela at Think Pink Line (link on my blog). She’s having a terrible time right now, just lost a downs pregnancy at about 17 weeks. She has written a great deal previously processing her own experience with being an infertile adoptee. Her adoptive experience was not a good one, and this colours what she has to say, but boy has she done a lot of processing. Perhaps some of it would be interesting for you.

  • 4. Kate  |  October 25, 2006 at 12:02 pm

    You said a lot of things I am just now admiting to myself about being adopted. My adoptive parents have been nothing but wonderful, but that in and of itself creates a guilt-complex of its own. You feel like you can never say anything or have questions because “you’re special” and “selected”. Thank you for posting this.

  • 5. Amy Cheney  |  October 28, 2006 at 8:30 am

    Hi Tina,

    What a thoughtful, thought provoking, terrific blog! This is wonderful and important that you are putting it on the web. As soon as I redo my website (let’s see, I’ve been planning that for about 2 years) I’d love to link to your site. I sent your link it to a friend of mine who has been through much of what you have (in her own way); this will provide healing, perspective and inspiration.

    Thank you, Tina, for plumbing the depths and sharing your explorations.



  • 6. RICK AVELLI  |  November 19, 2006 at 8:30 am

    It’s not the opposable thumb, the four-chamber heart or the warm blood that makes us humans different. As singular traits they separate us from our animal friends but do not define us. It’s out take on evolution of the species.

    In the driving winds of Antarctica, the male penguin’s huddling en masse, each protecting one single egg, is programmed. Sacrifice, the endurance of certain types of hardship, marks the singular goal of evolution. Hints of improvement in the next generation, detectable only in the hindsight of thousands of years, are imperceptible to the community at large.

    Humans, on the other hand, are driven to make a better life for our children. Whether our own was good, bad or indifferent, there is always one way in which it could have been better. The limitless ability to improve out lot is the one thing which separates us from any other species.

    In carrying out our plan, we do more than provide more than a home for our young. We perpetuate our value system, one that is built upon the experience of preceding generations. A value system of the most advanced and perfected examples.

    Providing a protective and supportive home for any child is challenging enough. To have the willingness to design one inclusive of the new member’s sensibilities speaks to a broader level of evolution.

    Dear Tina, this is the evolutionary point you turn on its head, going it more than one better. You have widened your own values to include the viewpoint of the young.

    I applaud you and your family’s work. Not just for sharing with a single child the knowledge and experience you have collected. Perceiving spiritual and psychological commonalities with a young soul, literally from the other side of the world, speaks to evolution on an interpersonal level. It’s an action that plants seeds of hope in all of us who strive for greater understanding, love and community.

    Tina, how evolved of you.

  • 7. reunionwritings  |  December 1, 2006 at 3:59 am

    You will be a great mother.


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