I’ve been on an expedition of reading this year. In January, I committed myself to reading fifty books in 2016 and to using the Goodreads reading challenge tool to track my progress. I’m proud to… More
This election cycle has me obsessed with political news. More than at any previous time in my life, I’m realizing how deeply government and politics affect how we live and work and raise our families. I feel a need to know and understand more about who runs this world we live in and how they do it, and what I can do to influence the process.
Maybe it’s because I’m a writer that I’m drawn to diving deep into politics at this moment when our entire political system seems to be in upheaval. I want to learn more and I want to discuss what’s happening, to hear others’ opinions and see things from their viewpoint.
I realize, though, that everyone doesn’t have this same desire, or the time for it. The minutiae of every day must be attended to, and besides, who wants to be so serious all the time? But there’s also that old unwritten rule, that you shouldn’t talk politics if you want to keep the peace. To most people I know, talking politics is like cursing in a preschool classroom. You just don’t do it. Continue reading “Talk politics? Yes, we must.”
I feel an evolution happening within me—a revolution really. I’m beginning to feel free in a way I haven’t before. I’m beginning to feel settled, on the inside.
For decades, I’ve been trying to figure out how to live authentically. I recognized when I was in my mid-twenties that I was struggling to allow myself to be seen. I had developed a habit of hiding behind what I’ve come to think of as my costume, the outer me that I projected to all others.
On the inside, I was someone different from the person everyone thought they knew. I had learned how to observe what people expected from me, what made people respond to me, and how to contort myself into these shapes. When I was very young, I wasn’t conscious of doing this. But as I matured into adulthood, I became aware of the disconnect between my inner and outer selves. It manifested as a tension that threatened to rip me apart. I managed to cross the breaking point without being swallowed, and I’ve been slowly making my way across the other side ever since.
But I’m still not living authentically. Yes, it’s gotten a lot easier to reveal myself in some situations, but there are still too many instances when I bend and twist myself. Why do I do this?
The world is crazy right now, I think. Then I remember that the world is always crazy. There is always danger. There is always injustice. I long to live in a world where these things don’t exist, where there is no trauma to recover from, no pain.
Pain begets pain. Once upon a time one person hurt another person, and that person–knowing no better or wanting to avenge his pain–in turn hurt someone else. And so on. And so on. The only way out is to simply stop. Lay down weapons. Lay down pride and pain. Choose to carry only love. Choose to hurt no one.
But. In this world we’ve made, which we inherited from those who made it before us, we understand that human beings, at root, are mere animals, slaves to the instinct of self-preservation, slaves to fear. How wonderful it would be to never fear again.
How unrealistic. Fear will come, and the best we can do is to gulp it down and continue loving.
Some days I have to look away from the craziness of the world. I focus on trees with their leaves sprouting or swaying or sashaying softly to the ground. I focus on the eyes of my dog trusting me. I focus on the arms that wrap around me in the morning and at night.
Today the sun rose, and I felt its heat on my skin. Today I am able to choose to look away from the crazy.
This too, I know, is animal instinct. This is saving my self.
My journey into the public realm of adoption discourse began with two life-changing interactions: I found and reunited with my birth mother during the time frame that I was getting to know my husband’s adult adopted son. I was in my thirties.
Reuniting with birth family meant I learned for the first time about the beginning of my life, that missing piece that had prevented my story from being whole. I heard my mother say she had not wanted to relinquish me, that she was given no other option. I heard her say she had not understood that the name she gave me would ever be changed. I wanted to understand what she’d gone through during her pregnancy and my birth, so I sought information about adoption in the late 1960s and I discovered Ann Fessler’s book The Girls Who Went Away. I learned that I was a product of a historical period in the U.S. called the Baby Scoop Era, so I sought information on what that meant. I wanted to understand how I had lost my original name, and I discovered that I’d had another birth certificate when I was born. For more than thirty years of my life, I had not known that I originally had a different birth certificate than the only one I’d ever seen.
Hearing my new stepson’s story meant I learned for the first time that my experience of being adopted was not an anomaly. I first heard his story from my husband’s point of view, so I heard that he had been adopted from Korea in the mid-1970s; that he was estimated to be four years old though his actual birth date was unknown; that he understood no English when he arrived in the U.S.; that he preferred sleeping on the floor rather than in a bed; that when he first saw a TV he inched over to it and held his fingers out to touch. This story was far different from the one I’d been told about myself. Continue reading “Talking about Adoption in Public Spaces”
In response to today’s National Adoption Month prompt from Lost Daughters, I’d like to share a poem I wrote years ago after my first child was born. This poem was originally published at Poets on Adoption in 2011.
with your mother’s wide eyes,
olive skin and old-world customs,
with cousins akin to sisters
with your father’s gravelly voice,
his cleft branded on your chin,
his surname on your back
You cannot conceive what I saw
when I studied my boy
lying bundled like a burrito
innocently twisting in the plastic hospital bassinet
I gazed into a mirror
and saw my gray eyes for the first time
and saw my milky skin for the first time
and saw my Slavic nose for the first time
and saw my earnest expression for the first time
For the first time I saw
my mother and my father
For the first time
I saw my self