Cleaning House Part One ~ Gratitude

***This post is dedicated to Manuela who it would seem has had the distinct pleasure of coming into contact with the same breed of fool as I have these past few weeks.***

(To those who would; The thoughts below are my thoughts and mine only so please don’t go giving flack to Manuela simply because I recognized her here.)
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Oh yes, I am having a major meltdown today. I think it’s time I do a little in-house cleaning due to the high number of foolish and unthoughtful people I have come into contact with over the past week. I have decided I am going to rant about some things that really piss me off about adoption.

Oh my, we lost some there didn’t we?

Part One ~ Gratitude

When I first began searching for the part of myself that had been lost I was completely naive as to the complexities of what I was about to face. In retrospect I can say with great certainty that the part I was missing wasn’t lost as much as it was stolen. Normally when someone steals from you the reaction is one of anger, even rage. Gratitude usually doesn’t come to mind but that is exactly what we are expected to have for the thieves who stole one of the most precious and valuable posessions we own-our identity. I am speaking of society as a whole, not a particular group here.

I have been doing this whole search and reunion thing for a long time, years in fact. Boy was I a novice. That’s not to say I don’t have tons of things to learn still but back then I was seriously blind to the complexities of the journey I was about to embark on. It’s easy to spot a novice. They are the ones who make comments like “I just want to tell her thank you for giving me life” or “I just want to get some medical history, perhaps see some pictures of somebody who looks like me.”, rarely do you hear a novice say something like “I demand to get back the part of myself which has been stolen from me!” nor do you hear them say “I am prepared for whatever I may find.”. The latter makes sense for it is human nature to wish for the absolute best outcome. You don’t sit and pray that you will be denied contact, you see the flowers in the airport scenario, that’s just human nature. You dare to dream even if it is only on a sub-concious level.

In all my years doing THIS I have yet to run across anyone who, when getting closer to their goal of finding, didn’t begin to shift even slightly to wishing for just a bit more. Daring to dream that an actual face to face could take place, starting to humor the idea of a relationship of some sort. That’s not to say they aren’t out there but I have NEVER run across one in all these years.
Why, do you suppose that is? Probably not wanting to seem ungrateful is the biggest catalyst. Always the good adoptee, forever GRATEFUL for a chance at life. I remember during my first (one of only two) face to face meetings with my birth mother she told me that she could have aborted me, that her friends had told her that’s what she should do but she didn’t. I think I said something at the time like “well I am GRATEFUL to you.” Of COURSE I am grateful, what else pre tell would I be you silly woman?

I have been through hell and back because I searched. That’s not to say I wouldn’t do it all over again and you will hear this time and time again by other’s who have had similar experiences to my own. Why? Because searching for the lost part of your identity isn’t a WANT its a NEED. For those of you who intend to comment that you have no desire to search, that it is not a need for you I say CONGRATULATIONS that you are able to completely detatch your left arm from your body and not miss it. Blog about it and come send me the link. Do I believe there can be totally well adjusted adoptees? OF COURSE I do. I am not one of them but that certainly doesn’t mean they don’t exist. But it drives me crazy when certain well-adjusted adoptees try to sell the perspective that if you do not feel just like them you must be really messed up. HEY LOSER, nobody wants to be told they are messed up even if it happens to be true! Do you really think we would be here if we weren’t acknowledging the fact that we need some work?!? And for the record (this goes for adoptees, aparents and yes, birth parents too) chosing to acknowledge our loss DOES NOT EQUAL A COMPLETE LACK OF GRATEFULNESS for that which we have been given! Don’t try to sugar coat it, it is a loss no matter how you slice it and this doesn’t change even for people who were far better off having been adopted. A loss is a loss.

Still grateful by the way, just being real.

All too often I see adoptees, myself included, having to explain their sense of gratitude. Gratitude to birth mothers for their unselfish act, gratitude to their adoptive parents for giving them a family, gratitude to society, gratitude to him, to her, to them….. When Timmy fell down the well and was saved by Lassie I bet he had a new found appreciation for life, when joe schmo decided not to go to the light I bet he too became far more grateful for life. LOTS of people have been through ordeals that have made them recognize the gift that life is. But it seems to me that adoptees are the only group of people who are forced by society to constantly PROCLAIM that which should be evident to all but the biggest of idiots.

We can’t say “I am feeling a sense of loss” without constantly backing it up with “but I am certainly grateful for what I do have!” No kidding. Thanks for bringing it to my attention that my loss means nothing, that in fact it should be totally erased by gratitude. My job in life is to take the pressure off of you, to ease your conscience. Please, by all means use my emotions to make yourself feel better and ease any guilt you may be feeling. Just call me the grateful doormat. WELCOME! Wipe yourself clean all over me! NO, of course I don’t mind! I am here to serve. Oh, and don’t worry I would never make you feel bad by telling you that although I am pleased that I have brought you joy, eased your discomfort, made your regrets easier to swallow, filled a void, complied, that I can’t help but wish sometimes that I had been made into a blanket instead. No, of course I won’t mention my sense of loss for that would make you uncomfortable and I don’t want to seem ungrateful!

Of course I am not comparing being adopted to being a doormat. What I am saying is that with adoption comes loss. I dare anyone to tell me it doesn’t, but I would like to take a moment to just sit with my loss, without having anyone try to mask it or cover it up or change it. Is that alright with you? How many times do we need to say the words I AM GRATEFUL before we are allowed to acknowledge other aspects of being adopted? Ten billion you say? Surely I have met my quota by now!

And still I can’t help but think there will be those reading this that are right about now screaming at me to acknowledge the gift I was given, where oh where is my gratitude? It’s there doofus, haven’t you been paying attention?

Hey you were warned. I have a lot cleaning to do. If it makes you feel better you may go ahead and label me a “bitter and angry adoptee” because today that is exactly what I am. But keep in mind that just because I am angry right now does not mean you may label me as such for eternity, nor does it define me and for the love of GOD don’t you DARE call me ungrateful!

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19 Comments

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19 responses to “Cleaning House Part One ~ Gratitude

  1. Ah, gratitude. Is it strange that I don’t ever want my daughter to thank me? I am grateful that she has her life… but, as you said, loss is just a part of adoption. And it kills me too much. Then again, I’m supposed to be eternally grateful that I have contact, yes?

    Everything hurts today. Perhaps it’s an adoption wide hurt day.

    You’re in my thoughts.

  2. Mia

    I hear you Jenna. Aren’t you sick and tired of other people telling you how you should feel? Not everyone is going to get where we are personally coming from and that is OK but I am sooooo tired of people who expect ME to feel how they NEED me to feel without any regard for my personal experience and subsequent emotions.

    It must be a hurt day today. ((((Jenna)))))) But you know what they say….you have to feel to heal so we are on the right track! ;o)

  3. STANDING UP AND CHEERING!!!!!

    Brava, my friend… brava!!! Yes, yes, yes…

    As much as I swore that I would no longer bow to the pressures of bloglandia… I still need a couple more days… but when I’m feeling strong enough to take on a few more doofi (plural of doofus… pronounced doof-eye)… I am going to link to this post!!

    YES, YES, YES!!! I am SICK of having to constantly remind everyone of how freaking GRATEFUL I am to have not been left in a gutter to rot… yes… I am completely sharing your anger and frustration at this notion…

    Thanks so much for writing this…

  4. I am a mom not an adopted person, but I relate to so much of what you said. When I was in the middle of my grief and people would say “just try to be happy for what you have now” aahhh, it compounded my pain and anger and made me want to scream.
    And the novice comment, yeah, its so easy to spot when I’m no longer there.
    MSP

  5. Fabulous post, Mia!

    I recognize myself as one of those novice Stepford adoptees!

    “I’m a very lucky girl!” I cringe when I think about it. I really do.

  6. P.S. I really really do NOT get birth mothers who say, “I could have aborted you.” or “I would have aborted you if it had been legal.”

    I mean what exactly is the point other than lashing out at the adoptee?

  7. Attila,

    This would be what we call using anger as a defense against feeling pain/shame. Otherwise known as numbing or being a twit.

  8. Mia

    Manuela ;o)

    MSP That infuriates me too. Like you can’t mourn a loss and still be grateful! There are very few circumstances in life in which people expect that.

    Mom and Wraith: Yea’ let’s go with twit shall we? It is cold, mean and a seriously selfish thing to say to anyone let alone your own “child”. E has said a lot of horrible things to me but I think that was the one that hurt the most. What I regret is actually using the word grateful in response.

  9. suz

    Thanks for bringing it to my attention that my loss means nothing, that in fact it should be totally erased by gratitude

    God, I loved this post. I really did. This particular line above really hit home. When I found my daughter, all my parents could say was “see, she had a good life, its fine”

    Um, no a-hole, its not fine. we have NO idea what kind of life she had, we only know what she chooses to share. we also have no idea if it could have been better off with me. and furthermore, you ahole, its not all better, its not good, it still really sucks. did i mention that my heart has been bleeding for 20 years and every single decision i made in my life was affected by losing my daughter.

    grrr.

    but yeah, great post!!

  10. Mia

    And Suz let’s say she did have a perfectly wonderful life, I’m sure you would be beyond grateful to know that but why would anyone in their right mind think that that magically eliminates your loss? It doesn’t, it can’t.

    It all seems like common sense stuff; one can be both grateful and feel loss at the very same time. If somebody close to you dies you are both grateful for the time you had but also very sad about your loss. It is a common circumstance in everyday life which happens to EVERYBODY yet for some stupid reason a TON of people don’t seem to know how to apply it to adoption.

    (((Suz)))

  11. Again you said it all.

  12. I’m just now catching up to your posts, Mia. Ohhh girl, sing it loud! I read a quote somewhere that said something to the affect of only in adoption are adoptees and birth mothers suppose to be grateful for their losses. When I read that I thought, “holy freakin cow! Bingo!” I’ve done posts myself on that gratitude thing and how it’s used as a gag.

  13. I just found your blog, and this post, through Manuela’s blog.

    I’m an adoptive mother of a 17 month old precious boy. We have a semi-open relationship with his birth parents.

    Thank you for sharing your feelings with honesty. I need to hear of these things so that I can be sensitve to what my son will probably feel.

    I don’t want him to feel obligated to express gratitude but not loss. He shouldn’t have to feel grateful! I hope that he’ll feel safe to express to us the loss that he’s bound to feel as a result of his adoption, rather than keeping it bottled up inside.

  14. Mia

    Sume I would love to read what you wrote on the subject! I will go check it out. Thank you!

    Overwhelmed; EXCELLENT! It sounds like you are on the right track and a wonderful parent. So glad you stopped by! I wish you great happiness with your son.

  15. I found your blog through your comment on OW’s. I’m an adoptive momma, and I am so sorry for your losses. Not a day goes by right now that I don’t think about I.’s losses (and her mother’s losses). I hope that she will feel _my_ gratefulness for having her in my life, never that she owes anyone anything. Thank you for giving us words to think with.

  16. Mia- Thanks for your kind comments on my blog. I couldn’t agree with you more, we DO all have so much to learn from one another. I’m thankful to have found other members of the adoption triad here on blogland because it’s opening my eyes and my heart to read your stories!

    Oh, and I’d be honored if you’d link me on your blog, as long as you don’t mind me returning the favor. 🙂

  17. Mia

    abebech trust me she will. For me it was more than understood when I went to my Mom and told her I needed to search and she said “How can I help?”. I never felt closer to her then I did at that moment.

    overwhelmed: I don’t mind at all. ;o)

  18. Rachel

    I am a 25 year old birth parent to one child who lives in another state with his adoptive family. I have one child with my husband.
    I have an open adoption and see my son once every year for three to four days. The adoptive parents are responsible for transportation of either themselves and child or myself for the visits.
    I struggle with the adoption to this day. My house is always sort of a mess, my daughter sometimes wears stained clothes and our house is pretty small. They have the means to care our son and his mom is one of those women we all envy because her children not only wear clean clothes every day, they match each other…
    I feel an extreme guilt, even knowing that he has the best life with them, because I have another child. I’m so afraid that one day he’ll ask why I gave him up and then was able to have another child (and we plan to have more) only 2 years later.
    I know in my heart that God sent that family to me when I was pregnant and alone and I often say that had it not been THEM I would never have gone through with it, I wouldn’t have signed the papers when he arrived.
    I feel like they are an extension of the family we have here, and I feel so blessed to have the love and support of so many.
    Adoption touches a lot of people, even those you think might not be touched. My husband for example, has to deal with it emotionally also, as will all our children we plan to have.

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