My Blog

Just another WordPress.com weblog

Archive for December 2011

Well, I Never!

with 3 comments

“Well, I never!”  These words followed the slam of the telephone receiver onto the cradle in the office next to mine.  I took this as a summons, and edged onto the chartreuse plaid love seat in Mrs. Tisher’s room, and stared at the chartreuse carpet on the floor.  It was almost Christmas, 1979; she would be leaving for two weeks, and I would be in charge.  For eleven months Mrs. Tisher had been telling me stories to help me understand the mysterious world of adoption.  The lesson for today: how to handle an inappropriate call.

“Would you believe this:  I could barely understand what she said, she was talking so softly, she says, ‘How do I tell my son that he’s adopted?’  ‘How old is he?’  ’Fifty-eight, we just never told him.  Now I have cancer and I don’t have long to live, do you think I should tell him?’ ‘Was the adoption handled by this agency?’  ‘No, it was before we moved here; our family attorney handled it, and he’s been dead for years, and my husband, too.  Should I even tell him?’  ‘Well, I’m sorry, but you’re just going to have to find your own way!’ And I hung up!  Can you believe it!  She’s asking me for help for something she never took care of.”  “Did she give her name?  Or her number?” I asked.  “Are you kidding? She could barely ask her question; she was too ashamed to say who she is!” 

Not our job.  Or was it?

Over the years since then, I’ve met several ‘late discovery’ adopted people who’ve shared their pain of loss of identity and loss of story – many of them finding out after their parents have passed.  Whatever clues their parents might have been able to give them are gone, and they are left to search on their own, often with almost no information.  I’d like to tell them how the world of adoption has changed.  The openness and ease with which most adoptive parents today approach the ‘telling’ is something that’s come late to adoption.  Adoption used to be treated with shame.  Shame borne from secrecy.  Shame of an out-of-wedlock pregnancy; shame of being unable to conceive.  This shame often leaked over to the adoptee, who felt ashamed to be adopted.  Why not?  If no one talked about it, it must be something to be ashamed of, right?

So Late Discovered, I want to say:  Please try to see your parent from the vantage point of the times.  Your parents wanted to shield you from the shame of being adopted.  Yes, they did you a disservice by not telling you when they had the chance, but they didn’t tell you, because they loved you.  There are lots of mixed messages in adoption.  To the adoptee:  “Your Birth Mother loved you so much that she gave you away!”  So if you love me, will you give me away?  To the birth mother:  “Forget this happened” Then, when they couldn’t forget, they thought something was wrong with them.  To the adoptive parent:  “Love your children as if they were born to you; but never forget that they weren’t born to you.”  See?  It’s a crazy-making world sometimes!  But only if you let it.  There; I did it again.

OK, Mrs. Tisher, I get it that it wasn’t our place to give service to an adoptive mom that wasn’t ‘our’ adoptive mom, but I wanted to help her. It must have been then that I chose the role of adoption educator to the world.

Blog away, Adoption Educator!

Advertisements

Written by bethkoz

December 31, 2011 at 12:06 pm

In a Fog . . .

leave a comment »

I sit at the patio table and watch the sunrise.  I am still caught in my dream . . .

I have returned to The Agency, to visit.  Everywhere I see young mothers with newborns, some with their mothers in tow.  I’ve just come to visit!  There’s a staff meeting;  I open the door  to ask:  “Where’s Jeanelle? Where’s Becky?  I need a pregnancy counselor out here!”  Melissa smiles at me and says, “They aren’t here yet.  I’ll send them when they get here.”  I turn.  A light-skinned bi-racial woman holds her baby; I realize I knew her when she was Black!  I don’t have time to figure this out.  I say, ‘Follow me,” and we head to the conference room, the one with a big table.  There are other mothers and their mothers gathered here, each holds a newborn.  Two men are sitting at the table, laughing and smiling.  “Excuse me, why are you here?” I ask.  The swarthy man turns to me, beaming, says, “We’re Israeli.  We are friends of ____.  They said when we came to the States, we should go to the agency to see where they got their baby!” ( He doesn’t look Israeli; he looks like the East Indian pharmacy tech who hands me prescriptions at Costco.)  “You’re in the wrong place,” I tell him.  “Go back to the front desk and ask for an adoption worker.”  He and his friend vaporize, as possible only in dreams.  A young blond woman holds her baby up to me.  “You don’t have to do another adoption!” I say to her.  “But I promised I would!” she tells me.  I am prepared to tell all these women they are strong, they can mother their own children, they do not have to do another adoption.  Elliot reaches through the dream skin and gently tugs on my big toe:  “It’s 6:30.  Time to make pancakes.” 

 

I sit at the patio table.  I’ve finished my pancakes and my coffee is cold.  I am haunted by my dream. I still have work to do.

Written by bethkoz

December 18, 2011 at 12:29 am