Adoption Survivor

dealing with it

Archive for September 2008

Letter to my new friend

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I THINK, i think abandonment and adoption permeates us into our psyches in such inexplicable ways…we’re totally confusing to those around us.  they see us do things that just don’t make sense to them.  i don’t know about you, but I have an over-the-top sense of justice, and a moral high ground and personal expectation that other people first admire then struggle with.  i call it borderline borderline personality disorder.  the world just seems so crystalline to me – i try so hard and everyone should try that hard!  i’m always disappointed how people give up and move on so easily.  when i commit to someone, i COMMIT to them.  i’m horrified at how flippant everyone is with people’s emotions and how self-centered everyone eventually prooves to be.

i think also that we are such cautious people.  we are withdrawn and remote and unwelcoming.  we don’t open up easily, but when we do we bare all and give all.  it’s a gift.  people don’t realize how precious this gift is.  other people, they guard themselves in a more constant and less extreme way.  they are better preservationists than we are.  they therefore walk away with more left of themselves.  but for us, for us we have to / need to be this way.  because what we need more than anything on the planet is something real.  we know small case love, but we’ve never known unconditional love.  for us everything is an existential crisis.  for us without an identity, everything is a fabrication.  we wander the planet seeking something real.  we test everything for its honesty.

somehow, we have to find our own truth and have faith that our truths will shine through and people will see us.  i crawl under my rock and hide from people, but i find strength in my voice.  it gives me a little purpose.  like the words you write are beautiful and elegant, i know my words reach people.  there is something about us – and sang-shil’s land of the not-so-calm – and other thoughtful KAD’s that nobody can fault.  there is the real that we seek in the truth that we speak.

and that’s why there is also something beautiful about our depressions.  learning to connect to our emotions and expressing them is beautiful and pure.  it’s such a sordid ugly world, but our pain is pure and our hope is pure.  we have so much to share.  the world is better because we are in it.

so don’t despair.
you are not alone
we are family.

Written by girl4708

September 27, 2008 at 10:54 pm

Posted in Infinite Longing

Memento of Korea

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I visit the homes of well-traveled friends, marveling at the mementos they have brought back with them.  Cultural artifacts they have gathered adorn their walls, reminding them of fond times they have spent in those places.

Interspersed among their mementos are snapshots or portraits of their families.

My walls, however, are bare.

I have been estranged, more or less, from my adoptive family since I was 17.  I have done some traveling myself, and never found anything worthy of memories to hang on my walls.  I have always been on the move and the transient nature of my existence does not give me the freedom to scar a wall with the commitment of a nail.

The only thing scarred, it seems, is me.

(figuratively and literally)

I forget about my scar, hidden as it is.

The scar is the size of a quarter, mottled like a banana chip, its texture smooth in places, dimpled in others.  Dimpled where the stitches entered and exited.  What trauma caused this?

I wish my scar could talk.

Maybe my scar could tell me why i have always, always been solemn
Maybe my scar could tell me my name, who I am.

I love my scar.

It’s all that I came to America with.

My memento of Korea.

Written by girl4708

September 27, 2008 at 10:45 pm

Posted in Infinite Longing

My Life After Abuse

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This is an extremely gross and disturbing video, so you might not want to watch it.

But it effectively illustrates what complex post traumatic stress feels like – something that childhood sexual abuse survivors have to live with daily.

Written by girl4708

September 27, 2008 at 10:35 pm

Posted in After Abuse

Raw Meat

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Note:
this was written just prior to a nervous breakdown, about the same time i came out of my adoption fog.

i am an adult survivor of childhood incest, who has grown up and learned to work around the issues (or so i thought) to my own satisfaction, but apparently not to the satisfaction of others. and so i’ve decided to go public and share with you what those implications are so your awareness can make you a better friend to others than my friends have been to me.

there is in this society a gross lack of empathy that produces insensitive statements like, “get over it,” or “speak to the hand,” or “those with baggage need not reply.” and there is also an over-abundance of armchair psychologists with no more credentials than stacks of self-help books ready to point out where you need to improve yourself.

to which i say, unless you’ve walked a mile in my shoes, you just can’t know how moronic and/or inadequate your recriminations and criticisms are, so i ask:

is it morally right to criticize the actions of a starving person when one is well fed?

I think not.

i am a victim. victimization exists and you don’t get over it. you live with it and pat yourself on the back that you’re not in a morgue somewhere. you are a victim and you will always be a victim and you’re proud you lived through it and nobody can take that away from you. you are a veteran of war and every day that you are not dead, you are a survivor. you are always both. victim AND survivor. you process the world and people differently after a hellish experience and that’s totally understandable. or rather, it should be. but in our world, it’s not allowed. to disclose any trauma makes you a whiner. to show anyone your weaknesses makes you disgusting and pathetic. this is a no-baggage-allowed kind of world. A pathological system where victims are partially to blame for their victimization and whereupon silence is defacto and isolation is perpetuated.

when, as in my case, you are adopted from a foreign country, into a strange world where nobody looks like you, into a family where your siblings resent you for just being present and your unstable mother doesn’t believe in affection so your daily life is spent entirely alone and emotionally neglected, and your father who has more than affection for you molests you in the shower, molests you in your bed, molests you whenever nobody else is around, when mothers and neighbors turn a blind eye and you are always being watched by your perpetrator, when your minister molests you and others try to rape you, that fundamentally affects your approach to the world. when you spend your entire childhood in silence due to threats and manipulation, you can confide in no one and are therefore shut off from normal relations with society / friends, and every minute of every day you carry this huge burden, this secret that will shatter multiple lives that you are the sole keeper of. you never know what it is to be a child.

when you were not allowed to express your needs as a child, during that time in your life when you are all about needs and unable to provide for any of them yourself, and worse yet are hushed and programmed to suppress your own immediate needs or inner needs – that cuts you off from participating in the rest of the world and you must just watch and be subjected to everyone else saying, me, me, me. especially when it’s your parents saying me, me, me, and they use you, a child, as a resource to take care of their own needs. your needs are always less important than everyone else’s needs. you no longer even try to express them. you forget how. you tell yourself you have no needs. you become an island unto oneself.

you learn how to get by. year after year after year after year of never-ending abuse with no options available to you save the potential equal horror of some foster family. you do what you need to do. you learn there is nothing anyone can do to you which can’t be lived through. you learn to participate without being present. you learn this while you are still in diapers. you learn no one is going to save you or take care of you. you have no family. you are the only family you’ll ever have.

this is not something you “get over.” it is something you deal with daily, something you try to improve upon, but you can never get over. it formed you indelibly. this is the message i want to get across to people: incest victims are to be applauded for making it through another year, and not to be pitied over the violation of their bodies, because that was a minor assault compared to the comprehensive restructuring of their lives in order to facilitate that abuse. they are to be sympathized with because they live life without having experienced innocence, without having had a childhood, never knowing how it feels to be care free or loved, and growing up entirely isolated, with no one looking out for their interests. monkeys die in environments like that. and the ones who live are never the same. and you would not say to that poor creature – oh come on, get over it – you’re so pathetic. and it is not something any self-help book or spiritual teaching is going to make go away. it is something that has become part of who you are. it is a parallel world that no one but another incest survivor can understand.

so there you are, like a feral child in a foreign land of well-adjusted people who know how to communicate, who know how to express their own needs, who champion their own needs, and who trample all over you because you are mute. and because you are so handicapped, you get exploited time and time again. and you can’t comprehend how most people who have experienced one tenth the trauma you have can act so inhuman, be so self serving, living so purposelessly, so lacking in integrity, so blindly and without conviction. the human race disappoints so much so you wonder if being isolated and feral isn’t somehow better.

it is not true that you seek out powerless situations. it is more that almost anyone who can express themselves wins out because they are always more powerful, because your voice was taken away from you so you never gained any skill in its use. it is human nature for others to get away with as much as they can. they see your lame struggles to assert yourself as tacit approval for whatever they want. they don’t see that you are trying to form the word “no.” it is a silent scream. it is always at this point that your survival skills kick in to autopilot.

so you win and i’m your puppet. but you can never ever do anything harmful to me, because you can’t reach that deep. you play dead. and you live.

it is also not true that you have no self esteem or that you hate yourself. for to not end up like the infant monkeys that perished for science speaks a lot about self love and preservation. that all incest victims have not killed themselves is amazing. the positive side effect of living all your formative years in an untenable position is an appreciation for all things that do not cause you pain, and the knowledge that you have inner strengths unknown to most people is a source of pride. but the resiliency of children becomes brittle as you age, and you lose hope as each interaction with the rest of the world fails.

what is true is you have no clue how to form relationships. because you never really participated in the world, in fact, you were barred from participating in the world, you don’t understand how people connect with each other or how they communicate or what makes people laugh or what fun is. you can’t relate to them and they can’t relate to you. you have been sentenced to a life of never-ending isolation. you pantomime what others are doing so they can relate to you, but your message is lost on them. and the message is:

you are privileged and so, so lucky. be kind to your fellow man. be kind to wounded animals and abused children. be generous to those who struggle with skills you take for granted. be less self-serving and make the world a better, safer place.

my disappearance was due to a breakdown. an inner rage and grieving for that innocence everyone else knows that i can never know. rage for trying so hard to live an authentic life of integrity and meaning, doing an admirable job, yet ending up empty handed and alone and abandoned by those i love. rage that the only time i allow myself to trust i am betrayed. rage that i am judged so harshly for my social ineptitude. rage that i am criticized for not managing my life the way a normal person would. disappointed in humanity and its lack of integrity. i looked into the abyss of hopelessness and nearly threw myself at its mercy.

but somehow, the part of me that never gives up came to my rescue again. only this time, i go to therapy to learn how to live better amongst the rest of you, because you can’t do it through self help and you can’t leave it to the clueless. and today i choose to end the silence and express myself.

i’ve been reading and reading and reading other people’s stories on the net and it is so apparent that awareness is so lacking in the general population as to the effects of incest on victims as adults. i just thought it was my duty to let people know they’d met one and that they can’t/shouldn’t fit them into the paradigm of what they know. we had to thrive under unique circumstances and our methods are almost hard-wired into us. that we don’t choose to be victimized. that we don’t seek out co-dependent abusive relationships, but that we are more susceptible and vulnerable. that the victimization was so insidious as to affect every aspect of a person’s life, and that the struggle to adapt in a world where everyone else has the requisite tools, but you are lacking them, should be looked upon with charity instead of the disdain that it is. that the rest of my days will be spent debriefing and learning social skills you take for granted.

*****

and to you “no baggage” people, i will NOT get over it. being an arrogant hard-ass does NOT make you stronger than everyone else, and you have no grounds discounting everyone who has issues. because someone who has no issues like yourself but can deliver “get over it” statements obviously has A LOT of issues.

this is my baggage.

i’m proud of what it’s been through, that i survived.

i deserve respect

Written by girl4708

September 21, 2008 at 8:55 am

Posted in After Abuse

Tagged with

Adoptees, were you completely truthful with your adoptive parents?

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Growing up, when you were asked how you “felt” about adoption did you tell the truth? Or if you were asked if you wanted to “find” your parents, were you honest with your adoptive family?

I had wonderful parents and, as a kid, when they wanted to talk or asked how I felt about searching, I didn’t want to hurt their feelings so I told them I had no interest.

Answer:

The only people to inquire about adoption were strangers upon first meeting me. Because I was sheltered, my parents were always right there. Nobody ever asked me how I “felt” about it. Instead, they framed the questions in such a way that there was no answer I could possibly say except what corroborated their own conclusions.

For example:
“you must feel very lucky such nice people adopted you, don’t you?”
Meanwhile, mommy and daddy are standing right next to me smiling, nodding, and expecting me to nod too.
People were not really asking me how I felt. People were really praising my parents and admonishing me to feel grateful.

With that much pressure and so little interest in what I actually felt, honesty was never really an option.

The truth is, I didn’t know how I felt about adoption.
The truth is, every time that question came up it paralyzed me.
The truth is, I wanted to believe with all my heart adoption was great and wonderful.
Even during all those years I was being abused, I wanted to believe with all my heart adoption was great and wonderful!
The truth is, I had to search for and settle for breadcrumbs and leftovers of affection and it was anything but wonderful.

If I could have verbalized the truth I felt, my truth would have been that having the distinction of being adopted made me feel like the loneliest child on the planet, because I was the only adopted person I’d ever met.
The truth is, I knew no one wanted to know the truth.

As for being asked about looking for my birth parents, the only people who ever asked were new friends. I always felt other people were living out some talk show investigative adventure fantasy through me, and I didn’t want to contribute to that. I didn’t want to be a novelty, a freak or oddball. I already felt odd enough as it was. The truth was I was the odd man out. I was the only person of color I knew.

When I actually did consider searching for a moment, I would look at the sea of white faces around me that I didn’t know and think about the impossibility of finding a Korean face, thousands of miles away, in a sea of black hair and black eyes, in a country I couldn’t remember and couldn’t speak their language, and be sad that I could say, “all asians look alike.” They were all aliens to me. The possibility of finding my mother was absolutely futile and hopeless to me as a child.

Still later, when asked that same question, I would reflect on the many years of abuse I’d put up with and how I’d been abandoned to begin with and think, “families suck.” So finally, as an teenager when people asked me, I would say “i can’t handle one family. How can I handle two? No. I don’t need the heartache.”

It wasn’t until my parents died two years ago that I could finally be truthful publicly about how I feel about adoption. It took over a year to wrestle with a lifetime, over four decades, of being a brave solider and suppressing never being allowed to express how I really felt about adoption.

Today I am forty four. Ask me today and I will tell you how I feel.

Adoption hurts.

Written by girl4708

September 21, 2008 at 8:51 am

Posted in Q&A

Tagged with

Are view of interracial adoption different in various parts of the US?

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my husband and i are white, we are looking to adopt. the race factor isn’t that big of an issue to us.
we live in central california, and we see bi-racial couples and childeren all the time, and no one seems to be bothered by it.
is it different in other parts of the US? and why
because it doesn’t seem to make a diffence in our area, what is you opinion on us adopting a child of another race?
and does the race matter?

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sadly, i think the fact that it’s even up for discussion indicates what an uneasy relationship we all have with the topic of race, much less when we are forced to deal with it’s ism in our lives…

i do not believe racism can be narrowed down by region anymore. we live in a mobile culture, and people with bias have been broadcast from sea to shining sea. and the nature of racism has changed, because it is aware of it’s public face, so its manifestation is more subtle and nuanced. you never can know when you will meet it or what form it will take. but it lingers. it is everywhere. in practice, we have not caught up with the ideal of “we are the world” yet.

even in a cosmopolitan city your children will encounter racism. but in a cosmopolitan city, there too will your children encounter more people to identify with. even in a city, there are regional differences. i live in a major city, but its cosmopolitan has moved to the edges of the urban center, so the center is now predominantly an economically advantaged racial mono-culture, while various races are forced by economics or by choosing community to hug the city’s margins. the racial divide is now a fifteen minute drive by car. it is the inverse of the white flight found during the genesis of surburban developments.

and if you travel to the rural areas, an hour drive by car, race and economic class become even more distinct and separated. i don’t believe there is more racism there, just that it is more obvious.

odds are that, even with your best efforts, you will never be able to offer an experience that can give your child adequate access to their race’s experience, as your race might be the limiting factor for entry into a racial community. no matter how open and supportive you are with your children, you will not be able to shield them from society recognizing and remarking on how different they are from you. this will come in the form of celebrity, curiosity, criticism, hostility, or second class status. and no matter where you live, your child will encounter subtle and sometimes overt racism. nor will your experiences dealing with race differences in any way match or effect you in the same way it effects your child. this will take its toll, but it will be their own private burden to deal with. so yes, race matters. it hurts a lot. it hurts in ways that deeply alter your self esteem, and the subtle variety takes years to recognize and dissect in order to understand why you feel bad.

i will not speak about my own experience at this time, but i will share the story of an african-american male adopted friend. his well meaning caucasian parents adopted him believing their love and understanding would cancel out the race factor. he was considered too white by the black minority where he grew up. he was considered too black by the white majority where he grew up. (this was a liberal, open-minded community) and though his parents tried to be color blind and provide a color blind world view for him, the truth was his world was color focused. because even if there is no hatred and the society is accepting, the fact is that people still address and relate to people of color differently. it wasn’t until he was in high school where some african american sisters took pity on him and helped TEACH him how to fit in better as an african american male that he began to stop feeling like an alien. all of which was to the detriment of his place in white society and to his relationship with his adoptive family, both of which he rejected to be more fully black. he spent his adult life very angry over having been put in this avoidable situation, and it wasn’t until a nervous breakdown that he finally came to terms with his adoption and forgave his parents.

this is a stark example. however, most of us transracial adoptees have parallel paths. i believe, if given a choice, most of us would have preferred to be placed in a home that matched racially.

here’s some interesting commentary on YouTube:
struggles for identity

struggles for identity 10 years later

Written by girl4708

September 21, 2008 at 8:46 am

Posted in Q&A

Tagged with

When and if you met/meet your real mom, what did you want to know?

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Answer:

To her i will ask, “what were the circumstances behind my conception, birth, and relinquishment? I want to know the beginning of my story and be able to tell my children about this history, so they may have a stronger link to their heritage.”

secretly my heart will be bleeding and i will be asking, “why did you put me in the hands of strangers? why did you not do what it takes to keep me? how could you have a happy day in your life after having given away your flesh and blood?

but all of the above is just a fantasy. there is not even a breadcrumb from which to find my mother, much less ask her any questions.

to know you have been abandoned is the worst feeling in the world. i wish i didn’t have to replay this meeting in my head over and over.

i wish this question/pain
didn’t exist/didn’t need to be asked
to/for/by anyone.

Written by girl4708

September 21, 2008 at 8:34 am

Posted in Q&A

Tagged with