This is What Adoptee Grief Looks Like.
Warning: Gross Picture

 "There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed."
Ernest Hemingway

Bleeding is my blogging style.

I took this photo in Ernest Hemingway's writing studio, last year in Key West.

My adoptee and first mom blogger friends are amazing. Some of them, like Susan Perry, write about adoptee rights and they blow people away with their knowledge of statistics and laws. 

Some, like Amanda Woolston, testify brilliantly before congress, and then write about it.

Others like Laura Dennis, write from a mental health perspective and can deliver compelling posts featuring case studies, therapist interviews and the like.
 
Me? I emotionally bleed. 

All over the laptop. 

And I invite you to watch me bleed. My writings are a journey of wanting you to be able to taste the coffee I'm drinking and walk down the hallway  with me where I'm rounding the corner, and feel the tear as it runs down my cheek and into my ear as I lay in bed at night. 

Most of all, I want people to know they aren't alone. 
And, they can make it.


Recently I told an adoptee friend, “It appears God lets me bleed to the edge of death and back so I can show other people how to do it and survive.” 

So today, I’m quite literally and not just figuratively bleeding. No, it's not that time of the month.

What Happens When An Adoptee Comes Out of the Adoption Closet


"All truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident."
 ~ Arthur Schopenhauer 

Ever wonder what happens when an adoptee not only comes out with their feelings, but dares to write about the experience of life as an adoptee?

Photo Credit: deutscher13, Flickr

Wonder no more.

Some of what I’m about to share may blow your mind. 

An Adoptee Living Through Not-Okay-Ness


"I'm for truth, no matter who tells it. I'm for justice no matter who it's for or against."  ~ Malcomn X

“Who is God?”

The question was on a church sign I saw yesterday, announcing a new sermon series, in the town where I’m staying right now. 

I’ve been on a leave of absence to get my bearings, following my first mother’s passing, and will be for a while. 

Photo Credit: HaarFager, Flickr

I had been crying as I drove along yesterday, the last two days being very hard ones.  I had nightmares both nights and woke up crying both days. 

When I saw the sign, it infused me with a shot of hope. Because I know who God is. And the question on the sign served as a reminder to me to think about that.

Since my first mom passed, I knew I wasn't in the right frame of mind right now to lead anybody but me. Leading myself takes every ounce of energy that I have at the moment. So I'm on a self imposed time out, for the sake of myself and others.

I have to motivate myself to get out of bed,  brush my teeth, and stuff like that. 


First Mothers Never Forget. Ever.


Photo Credit: Qole Tech, Flickr
Being directionally challenged is one of my weaknesses. I’ve gotten lost going to places I’ve been a zillion times. One morning many years ago, I got lost driving our boys to school in a town we lived in for 10 years. They could hardly believe it and haven’t let me live that one down!

This extreme weakness of mine will give an explanation for the following revelation about my natural mother...something that will seem impossible to many. You will wonder how I could be possibly be unaware of what I’m about to share. Thus, the reason for me telling you that I can't find my way out of a paper bag on some days.

Years before I found my natural mother, Judy, I had met with the agency who handled my adoption. I had an in-person meeting for non-identifying information as well as to discuss being part of their reunion program.  After that didn’t work out, I searched for her myself and found her.   

I haven’t been to the agency in over 20 years.

Last week my sister and I got up early to drop our brother off at the bus station to head back to his home in North Carolina. As we were leaving the station I said, “Shari, would you be interested in seeing the last place Mom saw me, in 1966, before our reunion in 1993? We don’t have to go there if it would difficult for you but I was just thinking, maybe you would like to see it with me."  

“Yes! I would love to!” she quickly said. “We can go right now!”

The Final Goodbye

I had never touched a dead body before.

Photo Credit: freedigitalphotos.net
I've seen a whole bunch of them.
Prayed for the people crying over them. 
Cried with those who are crying over them.

But never laid my hand on one.


The first deceased person I ever touched was my first mom.

I held her hand at hospice after she passed, and touched her face ever so gently. 

I took a photo of her hand in mine with my iPhone.  I will not post it here or show it to anyone. It is precious to me and remains just for me. I told her I’d never post her name here on the blog and in keeping with that I don’t post her photos either even though it’s just her hand.

The Lie We Believe About Time


 “...you know that a good, long session of weeping can often make you feel better, even if your circumstances have not changed one bit.”  
~ Lemony Snicket, The Bad Beginning  

My sister and I eat the same thing at Olive Garden every time.
Soup, salad and breadsticks.
And sometimes a piece of lemon cream cake to finish it off if we’re not too full. 

Photo Credit: dyobmit, Flickr

I normally get a caffe latte too.   

Last Friday, there was no cake or latte to finish it off and we mostly picked at our soups and salad. There’s something about a huge lump in your throat that makes it hard to eat.  

The Arrangements


 “You'll stay with me?'
Until the very end,' said James.”
~ J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows 

Taking the elevator down from the fifth floor hospice was a going-through-the-motions type thing. We walked to the parking deck and got in our cars to go to BlileyFuneral home. 

The five of us arrived -- Tom, my sister, Aunt Jeri, Tom’s daughter Merry, (who was providing care and driving Tom around full time now that his arm was broken) and myself. 



We were warmly welcomed by an administrative assistant and the funeral director on duty. Blileys is a huge funeral home with many funeral directors, one of which is actually in the building around the clock, to assist anyone who needs help. They let us know we could reach out to them anytime, day or night.

After asking what drinks each of us would prefer, we were led into a conference room with a beautiful round table and chairs around it for each of us. We took our seats along with the funeral director and his assistant and began the process of planning.

The Final Moments


 Clean clothes, dirty clothes, I threw them all in my suitcases, quickly repacking to unexpectedly leave the condo we were staying in for General Council in Orlando. Larry got me the next available flight out, which meant we needed to leave immediately for the airport.

Photo Credit: elitatt, Flickr
Meanwhile my sister texted me to say that Tom had gotten off balance and fell and broke his arm. He was in the ER of the same hospital our mother was in.  Shari was just beside herself and said, “I need you! Please, please come quickly!” 

  “I’m coming as fast as I can!” I declared, while throwing my makeup and hair products in the bag, yanking the phone charger out from the wall, zipping the suitcase and saying, "let's go, babe..."

A Letter Received

Dear Deanna,

From the moment you first grasped your desperate need of me as a very young child, I have been there to hold you close through many circumstances.

I have never left you… never abandoned you, not for a second. 

Photo Credit: Bahman Farzad, Flickr
I too have wept as I witnessed things I knew would bring intense pain to your heart. Remember – I weep too! Yet the free will I have given to human beings allowed painful situations to take place in your life. I know you hate the whole free will thing at times, and you have often brought this up to me in your darkest times of frustration. But you also have come to an understanding  that for anyone’s decisions to hold meaning in this life, free will is a necessity.  

Saying Goodbye

I got the news yesterday.

Two months and one day after we got the news she had cancer.
 
Tom called this Tuesday night to tell me the doctors were going to talk to all of us yesterday morning and wanted me to be ready for a call. 

I've been at our Assemblies of God General Council all week in Orlando. Our church staff is staying together at a condo here. I made arrangements to stay back on Wednesday morning for the phone call so I could take it in private away from the crowds. (There are an estimated 20,000 some people or more, here for the bi-annual council.) 

Tom called and I was sitting here on the balcony, listening...



What's Up With Adoptees and Birthdays?
(I Asked Them!) Part Two


 “They should tell you when you’re born: have a suitcase heart, be ready to travel.” 
~ Gabrielle Zevin

The only way anyone can understand what life adopted is like is to ask people who actually are adopted.  This week I’ve been asking adoptees how they feel about their birthday, in an effort to shed some light of understanding on this subject with non-adoptees. Many responded  to my question, and if you missed part one, I suggest you go back and check out this post as well, for a fuller understanding.

Photo Credit: Sakura Mutsuki, Flickr


I thought this year might be a difficult birthday because I’d had so much to process the last five months. 


Reflecting on my very first birthday -- I spent it totally alone.
(With the exception of receiving medical care.)


My natural mother just recently told me that at my birth and during her hospital stay, she didn’t want to see me or hold me -- and she didn’t. (That explains a lot.) She did see and hold me later on at the adoption agency, before I was adopted.  But there was no rejoicing in the delivery room.

I wasn’t laid on my mother’s stomach or cradled in her arms after my umbilical cord was cut. There were no family members who came to see me in the hospital. No one sang lullabies to me in the hospital and there were no happy announcements on the day I born.  

Back in the 1960’s women stayed longer in the hospital after birth.  My mother was drugged during my birth and remembers nothing. After I made the transition out of her body, I was abruptly whisked away and placed in the nursery until I was released from the hospital, went to foster care, and was then adopted.


My mother and I were separated the entire hospital stay.

What's Up With Adoptees and Birthdays?
I Asked Them!!! (Part One)


Why are birthdays such a triggering event for a many adoptees? There are a plethora of reasons. To share just a few that come to my mind that some non-adoptees may be unaware of…

A lot of mystery surrounds many adoptees' birthdays. Most adoptees do not currently have access to their original birth certificate (OBC) and have  what is known as an amended birth certificate (ABC).  
Much of what is on an ABC are lies. Some ABC’s even state the wrong date as the day the adoptee was born. When the adoption is finalized, some states give the option of changing the birth date and the place of birth!


Why Yesterday's Birthday Was the Best EVER.

 
Photo Credit: Droid Gingerbread, Flickr
Yesterday was my birthday. The first present I got was being a year younger than before!  How, you might ask? Well, I'm so horrible at math I've miscalculated my age for years and have been telling everyone the wrong age! 

I realized I even put the wrong age on my medical forms for probably the last 3 years or so.

 Larry said, "I tried to tell you that you had been adding it up wrong."  

All this time I had thought he was being nice and just trying to console me. But it's true -- I am a bit younger than I thought, but still woefully inept at math.

Birthdays are a serious challenge for a lot of adoptees. Some go into depression. Others refuse to celebrate it at all. Right now I'm praying some people through their birthdays. 

For me, some birthdays have been awesome and others were a challenge. It just depended on what year it was and what the plans were.

Yesterday's birthday was different than any other, EVER in my life.