The Support Adoptive Families Really Need

The election campaign has taken over my writing for the time being, but I feel compelled to write this, after coming across an article, orginally published in The Independent on 27th September 2017. It had the headline “Adoptive parents say “extraordinary lack of support has driven their families to crisis point” written by their social affairs correspondent at the time, May Bulman. As I read the article, I thought that the heading would have read better if it had said “Adoptive parents totally mis-handle the children they have taken in” as the article showed no understanding, of how to deal with the trauma that relinquishment instils!

The article starts “We always felt that our love and commitment would prevail.” How many times have I read that? “We love them, that is all it will take” mentality. It goes on – more than a quarter of adoptive families are in crisis, parents with adopted children tell the Independent, they are overwhelmed. Around 5,500 children are adopted each year in the UK, they tell us at the very end of the article – so 1250 families, if we assume that some siblings are adopteed together, are in crisis because of how they do not understand how the child feels.

We read about Sarah and Dave, who adopted a baby boy when he was ten months old. We are told that Ollie* not his real name, was adopted when he was ten months old. We are not told how many times Ollie was relinquished in those ten months, but my guess would be twice, but more is a distinct possibility. He may have been relinquished by his mother who gave birth to him, very close to his birth, and then taken to a foster family whilst the adoption process was being finalised, before arriving at Sarah and Dave’s home. In the early days his development followed a normal course, but issues soon started to emerge. Again we are not told of the parenting style of Sarah and Dave, but I can’t help wondering if Ollie was ever put on the naughty step as a way of managing his behaviour, because I can tell you, as an adoptee, he would feel abandoned again, triggering his emotions that he probably couldn’t verbalise, so he would have a tantrum. Rather than investigate why he was showing signs of ADHD and autism, it was put down to his birth mother’s use of heroin during the pregnancy.

Sarah says he had terrible issues making friends. Darling Sarah, do you have any idea how it feels to be a child who has been abandoned and rejected by your mother? You take that experience into life – if your mother didn’t want you, no-one wants you to be their friend either. In our tiny tramuatised minds, we crave friendships and relationships and yet we push people away, because it is easier for us to reject you, than wait for you to reject us. We hold the cards that way.

At secondary school he sounded like he was in his own little war zone in his head, struggling to deal with the social elements. Sarah had eighteen months going between services, being bandied about. “It took an extraordinary amount of resilience to fight with all the services” she said. I have three questions to ask her, or any other person who is struggling to deal with their child’s behaviour.

  1. Have you read Nancy Verrier’s book Primal Wound.
  2. Have you watched Paul Sunderland’s youtube video on Addiction and Adoption.
  3. Have you spoken to an adoptee? One who has come out of the fog, as an expert on how your child may be feeling and why they are acting the way they are, at any given time.

Let’s take birthdays as an example. In general we adoptees don’t like our birthdays. It is nothing to do with the heroin our mother’s may or may not have taken whilst they were pregnant with us. We don’t like them for the very reason that we see them as the day that our mother abandoned us, whilst you, dear adoptive parent, see us as the answer to your infertility problem. So while we want to grieve the loss of our mother, you want to celebrate. Grief and celebration really don’t mix too well in our tiny minds.

I am so sorry Ollie, that Sarah and Dave had absolutely no idea how you would feel being sent away to boarding school. They promised to love you, and instead of trying to understand you, they did the most hurtful thing imaginable, they rejected you and sent you away and went to the newspapers to say we did everything right, but social services didn’t support them.

“In order to maintain his place in the family” you sent him away. Please don’t be surprised Sarah and Dave if he never comes back to take his place in your family again. You sent him away, why on earth would he want to come back to take his place? He doesn’t have a place in his eyes.

I couldn’t bear to read much further as Sarah went on to say how she made 20-30 phone calls, and goes on to say “parents already going through such trauma”. Not one mention about the trauma that Ollie went through prior to arrival at their home.

I have reached out to Adoption UK and offered to speak at thie conference, they haven’t replied to my reply. I have also reached out to the journalist and The Independent, offering to write an article about how society can help adoptees. They too have failed to respond. Until the adoption fraternity start to engage with adoptees, I fear that more and more “Ollies” are going to be let down. Please engage with us, we want to help you stop causing children more issues than they already have, because adoptive parents and the adoption world beleive that all you need is love. It is what we need, but we also need you to understand us. Reach out to us, if you are serious about the mental health of 1250 children a year.

Team Work Makes the Dream Work

So yesterday was the submission date for the book proposal and it has past. I didn’t submit but I am okay with that, and if you read yesterday’s post you will know why. I now have a countdown for the next one which is on the 30th June 2021 and I will be much more focussed for it. If I am honest I never realised that the book proposal would be such an involved process. There is much more work to do, to submit a proposal to a publishing company than I ever thought, but I am determined to do a good job when it happens and it will. If you have any tips or advice then please leave them in a comment.

For now I am fully focussed on doing all that I can for the Freedom Alliance campaign, leading up to 6th May. When I mentioned to my husband how much I was actually enjoying working with a team of people, he rolled his eyes. He has heard me so many times talk about how people are winding me up. He often says to me “Joy their way is different, it doesn’t make it wrong, just different.” Today he commented that my Flourish group must be doing something good, for me to actually say that I am enjoying working with other people. As an adoptee, I have become so used to working on my own, making my own decisions and sticking by them, or altering the direction I was going, becasue I wanted to, not because it was the whim of another person. Could it be because for the first ten days of my life i lay in the nursery on my own, only having the presence of another person when I was being fed or changed, and left alone for another four hours until the feeding and nappy changing routine was repeated? Who knows but as a result of Flourish I am mellowing as a person, and learning skills that will transfer over onto the book tour circuit.

Blessings and Joy, Joy

I am Writing a Book About…..

…so starts the writing prompt in the Hay House writing community aimed at those who are serious about writing their book. Here is my 7 minutes of free writing on the subject.

I am writing a book about my experience as an adoptee and how it has affected my life on a personal level.

Growing up knowing that I was adopted, I never really gave it any thought. I grew up in a loving household with my parents, three natural children of theirs, and one other girl who was fostered and adopted when she was eleven and I was six. I was legally adopted at four, but came to live with the family from 10 days old.

It was only when I left home that I began to behave in ways that looking back, I am disgusted with. At the time I was desperately unhappy, but I didn’t know it. Relationships were not total disaters, I had a couple of long term relationships in my 20’s but I didn’t know who I was or what I wanted and I certainly wasn’t very loving.

By writing my story I hope to reach out to other adoptees who are out there struggling to survive, struggling to swim in their own shark-infested emotions. My book aims to give people easy to follow guidelines as to how to start to be their own person, after a lifetime of living as a chameleon, trying to blend in with another family, sometimes so far removed from their own birth culture.

I hope that adoptive parents, social workers, teachers educationist, employers and bosses will take an interest in how the trauma inflicted at birth, affected my development and may appreciate the behaviour in those around them, and rather than label us as borderline personalitty disorder, we are seen as having adapted our behaviour to fit in, and that in the process we have lost the sesne of ourselves and need help and understanding to find ourselves.

Is this a book that you would pick up and read? Would it help you for yourself or for someone around you?

Blessings and Joy, Joy

Reflections on Flourish Part 12

In yesterday’s flourish group we were asked “What comes up for you, when you think of yourself as erotic?”

This came on the back of a quote from Audre Lorde from her paper Uses of the Erotic, The Erotic as Power, delivered at the Fourth Berkshire Confence on the History of Women, Mount Holyoke College on the 25th August 1978.

This is a small excerpt:

“There are many kinds of power, used and unused, acknowledged and otherwise. The erotic is a resource within each of us that lies in a deeply female or spiritual plane, firmly rooted in the power of our unexpressed or unrecognized feeling…….For women, this has meant a suppression of the erotic as a considered source of power and information within our lives.

For the erotic is not a question only of what we do, it is a question of how acutely and fully we can feel in the doing. Once we know the extent to which we are capable of feeling, that sense of satisfaction and completion, we can then observe which of our various life endeavours brings us closest to that fullness.

The aim of each thing which we do is to make our lives and the lives of our children richer and more possible”

Only When I Am Alone Can I Dance as Though No-one is Watching

Damn this is hard because I honestly feel more erotic when I am on my own. Then I can truly engage with all my senses. I can sing and dance, dress in my flowing skirts and feel with my whole body when I am alone. Only then can I dance as though no-one is watching. When I am on my own I am in total control of things, where I am going, what I am doing, what music I listen to, what film I am going to watch. I reclaimed my power whenI left home and I don’t plan on relinquishing it any time soon, as I was relinquished so easily at birth.

When I was around 16 my grandmother came to stay with us over Christmas. On the day she was being taken home, by my parents, my brothers and sisters who were still living at home were asked what they were doing that day. Me it was “Joy get in the car” I didn’t want to go, it was over an hours journey back to our old home town and then a return journey and I had college work to do whch I had been putting off over the holidays. I argued that I wasn’t going, that why did everyoe else get asked, but I got told. It was a turning point in my life and it was probably the first time in my life that I didn’t do as I was told. But at 16 I had no idea who I was. My home had been filled with other people’s choices. With me being the youngest of five, and with only one TV and one record player in the house, I watched and listened mainly to what other people put on. In the 70’s I listened to my brothers and sisters record collection and musical tastes. They had paper-round money to buy records, I did not, so their tastes became mine by default. Even to this day I spend very little money if any on music. My clothes growing up had more or less been hand-me downs. Dresses hung up in wardrobes just waiting for me to grow into them. When my sister went away to boarding school, material was bought to make her summer uniform dresses. Extra material was bought and dresses were made for me despite there being absolutely no intention of me going to the same school, after all she was eleven, I was three. I didn’t develop my own dress sense, I had everyone else’s. I’m still not sure if I know what mine is, I still feel as though I am just copying.

When I left home I subsequently had boyfriends who then made the decisions about what we did, where we went when we went out together. I had not developed my own mind in that respect, that wasn’t to come until much later. It started in 1989 when I emigrated to Australia. I mean how powerful was that? Emigrating to the other side of the world knowing almost no-body. It was the start of my metamorphisising although I did not know it at the time. Over 30 years on, I still haven’t learnt how to fully harness my power with relationships whilst allowing others to retain thiers. I’m trying really hard, but I don’t find it easy to be with my husband or daughter and fully engage with what they want to do or watch what they want to watch. I am learning to negotiate, but I am blessed to be living in a house which has two TVs that I don’t have to worry too much about it. I can binge watch box sets, or write my story, in one room whilst my husband does his thing in another.

This topic needs more reflection. I would only really know if I was totally integrated with everybody if I could totally immerse myself in shopping with my daughter. I think that may take another lifetime around.

Borderline Personality Disorder or Adoptee?

I came across a video on youtube where Dr Ramani was talking about borderline personality disorder (bpd) and how to recognise it from the 9 traits of it. Watching it I thought wow! This sounds so much like the traits of an adopted person.

There are the 9 traits according to Dr Ramani. You can listen to the full interview here.

She describes it as a disorder of instability and impulsivity. In relationships, moods and behaviour, and sense of self. OK how many adoptees reading this have already put their hands up as recognising themselves in that description?

A TREMENDOUS fear of ABANDONMENT! It cuts through the disorder. No shit Sherlock! Have you ever asked any of your clients that you are treating if they have actually been abandoned in their life, especially around day 1? Did they teach you anything at psych school about the primal wound? Have you read the Primal Wound? I totally recommend it for anyone seeing clients with what you are labelling as bpd. Have you ever asked the person that goes ape shit over someone being late for a dinner date what it’s like waiting for your mother to take you in her arms, but it never happens. Have you ever thought how a simple thing like someone turning up late could trigger that feeling. Although they cannot recall that memory, their body certainly remembers the feeling and so when they get triggered, then bam, they are reliving those feelings and emotions that they experienced at hour zero. OK rant over, I will now try and write without emotion and triggers and just write emotionless over the traits that Dr Ramani calls bpd, which I prefer to call “adoptee functioning”.

  1. Fear of Abandonment: real or perceived. A sense of self fulfilling prophesy when someone leaves you.
  2. Unstable and Intense inter-personal relationships. Relationships have a roller coaster feel to them.
  3. Identity Disturbance: Doesn’t know who they are. Changes appearance, hair colouring, tattoos dress style. Multiple personality identity.
  4. Impulsivity: Acting without thinking of consequences. Bingeing, addiction, act out in the moment. Using substances to soothe, not addressing the issue. “Don’t want to feel this way”.
  5. Suicidal Behaviour: thoughts or attempts. Response to inner pain they cannot manage. Uses threats to keep relationships.
  6. Affective Instability: fluctuating moods. Tidal wave of emotion, express it openly, cannot inhibit it. Over react to everything in their environment.
  7. Chronically Feels Empty: Struggles to feel whole. A hollow shell or drum. Psychological skeleton is missing.
  8. Inappropriate or Intense Shows of Anger: Frustrated by small things, quick to throw things, and be intense. feels everything, really really thin skin. Everyone walks on eggshells. Regretful after anger, continues the abandonment cycle, suicidal thoughts, an emotional loop.
  9. Transient Stress Induced Paranoid Idealation: Under stress, may experience paranoid experiences. “Everyone’s out to get me” Symptoms of dis-associtation “Act like a child”

To get a diagnosis of BPD, you require 5 out of the 9 traits according to Dr Ramani. Well I don’t know about any other adoptees who are reading this, but I would say this is pretty typical behavior of someone who has experienced being relinquished at birth, and it is the way that adoptees function, rather than it being dysfunctional. If professionals understood the psychological trauma that Paul Sunderland speaks about in his Addiction and Adoption lectures, adoptees might get the right type of support that they need. Support them to help them come to terms with their relinquishment.

I am going to re-label Borderline Personality Disorder as Adoptee Adaptive Personality, caused by relinquishment and will explain my reasons in a later post.

If you recognise these behaviour traits in yourself or someone close to you, then please come and join the Finding Joy Community on Facebook. We hope to offer help in recognising these situations and how you can help yourself to come to terms with the issues that adoption can cause.

Blessings and Joy, Joy

3 Men and a Baby, or Two

I came across this article on facebook yesterday and read it and cannot believe the naivety behind the behaviour of all involved.

I would like to start out by saying I do not understand the circumstances in the US with birth certificates and adoptions. When a child is adopted, it’s legal status changes from it’s birth family being legally responsible, to the family that has adopted the child. That doesn’t take from the fact, that the birth parents “gave birth” along with supplying genetic material, cultural history and roots, for said child to root itself in society. Adopted families often fail to aknowledge this, and it is the most common reason for angst amongst my adoptee friends. Let’s call it what it is, an adoption certificate, it is not a certificate of birth. However for the sake of this post and going with what goes on in the US, I will go along with it.

So in this article, 3 men are applauding themselves for doing such a grand job of convincing a judge to name all three of them on a “birth certificate”. Not one of these men supplied the sperm for the subsequent child that was born. One of them did happen to have a friend who had spare embryos from IVF treatment that, and I quote, “they weren’t going to use” as if they were a three for two offer and they had excess veg that they gave to a neighbour rather than waste. So “with the help of a surrogate, their first child was born”. So not only is none of the three the gentic material, they then used a surrogate to incubate the baby, who was then relinquished, from the only world it knew, with it’s mother’s voice, it’s mother’s heartbeat and it’s mothers’ footsteps, to be relinquished to these three men.

At the surrogacy hearing, one of the parents, “Jenkins” said “It was like having ice water thrown on them” when the judge said that they couldn’t have what they wanted. Well Jenkins, I can tell from experience that what you have done to Piper, your child, is throw ice water over them, whilst shining a mega torch in their new born eyes, whilst banging a drum right next to their delicate hearing system, all at the same time, to your precious child. That is exactly how I describe what happened to me at birth, and even though I cannot recall it, my soul remembers it just as I described.

What a pity the judge didn’t turn round and tell you to grow up and that you can’t always get what you want. What a pity she didn’t insist that you read the Primal Wound or watch Paul Sunderland’s video on Adoption and Addiction.

The article goes on to say “If you’ve ever seen a court room drama where the innocent person gets off in the end – it was like that”. Sorry boys, but the only innocent in this, is the child, and you all acted like it was your right to get your three names on a piece of paper which totally disregards your child’s genetics, roots, culture, all the things that give us identity into who we are.

The men go on “We didn’t want media attention at the time”. Now they have a book due to be published in March, so they’re capitalising on their ground breaking decision now. The men are planning on being on the same page and have a consistent parenting style when their “Oldest has a tantrum like a reactor breaking down in Chernobyl. How much time for a time out” they ask?

I ask, no, I implore, that you do some reading to understand what you may have done to trigger your child to have a tantrum. Time out is really not the answer guys. Giving your child a time out is like the abandoning experience all over again for them. Your child expected to be placed in it’s mothers’ arms, but that expectation was not met, so when your child expects a soda and you give them milk you have not met their expectation – expect a major tantrum as the only way they have of dealing with it as a toddler. Doing time out is only going to reinforce that life is not good, it is not ok, and abandonment is never far away. Instead what your child needs is understanding, compassion, a hug when you think they deserve it the least.

You asked if the parent needs help or is (their behaviour) adding fuel to the fire? Please do your reading and research now. I am sure you love your children and they will love you in return, but love is not all it takes. Please read the books that are out there, from an adoptees perspective to try and see the world from your children’s point of view. Only then can you consider yourself Wise Men and consider the consequences that your actions may have on the health and wellbeing of your children.

Thank you for reading. This post is my own opinion in reaction to the article that was published on LGBTQ Nation on 17th Feb 2021. Do you have a different opinion on it? I would love to hear your thoughts.

Blessings and Joy, Joy

An Appointment With Myself

I came across this blog post of Pradeep’s on the Inter Country Adoptee Voices (ICAV) blog, where he asked this simple question “Have you already made an appointment with yourself”? At the beginning of the flourish course we were asked who we were, in a nutshell. I answered in a rather banal way, referring to myself as a chocolate. Pradeep invited me to revisit that and see if I can connect with who Joy really is:

I am Joy, adoptee, wife, mother, sister, aunt, daughter. Better at some than others, you will have to ask others which one they think I embody best. Relinquished at birth, and only just beginning to realise how much damage and trauma that has been done. Only now realising that that one action has affected everything I do. I don’t want to sound like a victim, because I’m not, but I do need to aknowledge the truth so that I can heal from it. Everything that I do, at the moment, is filtered through the expectation, that didn’t happen.

So now that I have cleared that up in my head, I can continue my appointment with myself.

I am Joy. Healer, wounded healer, working on myself first and foremost, but helping others heal themselves too. I nursed for twenty years, but that was not healing, that was helping people stay where they were. I didn’t see the significance of symptoms and disease back then, not until I read Louise Hay’s book “You Can Heal Yourself”, although back then I had no idea how may layers to the onion of healing there are.

Layers of Healing

My first role in life was as a daughter and sister. How good was I? I really don’t recall. Stories are told that I was a “good” baby, in that I didn’t really cry much, although there is no memory in the Gill family prior to me being 10 days old. Did I exhaust myself with crying those first ten days of life, in the maternity hospital, only to realise that my mother wasn’t coming back, and that lying quietly, not making a fuss was ok. I could do that, and would continue to do that most of my life, until things got unbearable, and then I would erupt. I didn’t learn early on to negotiate, flatter, flirt my way to get things done, all the ways that other, non-relinquished children, do. What comes naturally to them, has to be learnt for adoptees, and often comes at a price of numerous failed relationships. And so, in my first role as daughter and sister at one minute old, my ties and bonds to biological mother and sibling were severed. My 2 roles were assigned to strangers, birds of a different feather to mine, the cuckoo in the Gill nest. I left at nineteen, and never really returned. I became a nurse, I became a traveller. Did I travel to find myself or did I travel to runaway? Possibly both.

In 1990 and again in 1996 I became a mother. My journey into auntship began in 1979, or did it. That elusive sibling, severed at birth may have an older nephew to my auntship, but we are not in contact much. We do not know each other. In 2010 I became a wife. It has been a long hard strenuous journey, but I think we are amking progress. We understand each other. I have learnt that I need to reach out sometimes, to make my husband feel valued in the relationship. I can ask, I can negotiate, I don’t always have to cut up carpets to get my feelings across. But I still struggle to buy things for myself, or ask for them to be bought for me, is probably more to the point. Buying for myself, the expecation is realised, I get what I want, leaving it to others, again the expectation things rears it’s head. I am better off with nothing than having the expectation dashed. Queue Christian Dior tissue paper memory.

Joy functions from a dorsal vagal state ie collapsed and shut down. Life is more enjoyable if you are functioning from the ventral part. This part is stimulated by laughing, singing, smiling, dancing, all the things that make life pleasurable. (I will write more on polyvagal syndrome in future posts.) So my nervous system is constantly alert, constantly fidgeting. It is not easy for me to watch anything on TV without doing something with my hands. I occupy my hands with knitting or ironing, with pen twiddling, with solitaire or with facebook. If I can contain my hands then my feet tap. My husband sits and watches relaxed whilst I am twitching and fiddling.

Distribution of the Vagus Nerve

I have just watched the Australian Open Men’s Singles Finals. I switched the laptop off, no facebook, no solitaire. I have no ironing, I have no knitting. I sat with a pen in my hand, but fought the urge to twiddle, or flip the top. I quelled the urge to tap my foot, and I listened to my body. I noted the internal un-ease within it, the minor tremors that register on the Richter scale, the nervous energy that I am alerted to, which my body is looking to deal with. There is nothing to do but watch the tennis, and yet my body is on flight or fight response, based on my relinquishment, by which all activities are switched on to that frequency. What is the danger here, watching tennis? The worst thing that is going to happen is that my favourite player is not going to win. No big deal eh? But in the process of watching, my adrenaline levels are high and my body reflects this inwardly if not outwardly.

Did I tell you that Joy likes tennis? Watching that is, especially Andy Murray.

For now I have had enough of this appointment with myself. I have another appointment with my fellow flourish friends in an hour and I need to meditate to et myself into a ventral vagal state. To be repesent for them. I will update you with my progress in Flourish with my weekly reflective post tomorrow.

Blessings and Joy, Joy

If you are an adoptee, and would like to join the Finding Joy Community on facebook then please do. This community is one for healing and support and is for adoptees only. They are plenty of groups on facebook to support others in the adoption triad.

Meditation on Completion aka Adoptee Brain

The topic of completing tasks came up in the flourish group recently. Yet another quirk of the psychologically traumatised brain it would seem. We seem to have a familiar history of unfinished taks behind us, and I thought it was just me. Dropping out of college, university or a plethora of studies, jobs, groups appears to be a common theme.

So why do we struggle with completion. Why do I struggle with completion? It even comes down to the smallest of tasks, such as putting things away after washing up, putting a pile of washing away. At the weekend just there, I had a huge pile of ironing to do. Now I like ironing, give me a huge pile of ironing and a good old David Attenborough documentary and I can spend the whole Sunday afternoon quite happily ironing away. I watched Andy Murray’s 2013 Wimbledon final ironing away. This week I tuned in to how my body was feeling as I neared the end of the pile. At around the five pieces left, my body began to viscerally respond. I felt quite sick and anxious, what on earth was going on in my body? Why was the fact that I was coming to the end of the ironing causing me to feel anxious?

Another task I was trying to do today. I was trying to write up some minutes from a meeting that was held weeks ago. I couldn’t motivate myself to write them up, despite knowing that they were long overdue, despite knowing that there was a whole stream of emails going back and forth, and despite knowing that I am an intelligent woman who is quite capable of following the emails and comments, my brain felt quite traumatised, “Fried” from all the information contained in the emails flying back and forth.

I started to write the minutes again, and again a visceral reaction as I came towards the completion of them. When the emails came back after the minutes have been sent, I get a knot in my stomach as to the response that they will get. Paul Sutherland talks about the fear that adoptees feel when a letter arrives for them. He’s right, only today it is emails that twist my entrails.

My brain quite literally feels fried, as I come to realise just how damaged it has been. My intelligence knows that my brain is intelligent, but my abilty to think any other way, other than the way I think, I cannot make the connections. Give me something to do that someone else has started, it’s almost like my brain can’t fathom out how to pick up the threads and carry on with the job. I need to start from scratch, I need to do things my way. My husband used to say “Your way or no way” and it’s like yes, I only know one way, my way. It sounds controlling and about being in control, but it’s not, it’s the way my brain works, and I work with it, within the confines of my brain. Give me a huge jigsaw or job and I will complete it. Give me it already started and I cannot participate, I cannot join in. I don’t have the brain patterning to join in with the way that other people’s brains work.

My brain is damaged, it needs peace and quiet, it needs little stimualtion. It takes time to adapt. It chooses easy pathways, like water, finding the path of least resisitance.

What will happen when I get to the bottom of the pile of ironingi. What will confront me? What next? Life has taught me that when you think that you know what will happen, it doesn’t. My expectations were not met at birth and so every task that has an end point, I don’t want to reach it, as the outcome is not pleasant, even down to the smallest of tasks, the ironing.

Is this why I leave the ironing until there is a huge pile? Or wait until there are no longer any plates left before washing up? Or wait until the carpets look like they really need hoovering. It limits the number of end points in my life, when expectations may not be met.

Thank you for reading the ramblings of a fried brain.

Blessings and Joy, Joy

Love is Love. Or Is It?

In honour of St Valentie’s Day, when many people are consumed with the consumerism of love, I thought I’d write about a phrase that had me mad, the other day.

The back story is that 2 people had written a book, based on their experiences of being in a same sex marriage and adopting 2 children. It was unclear whether the 2 authors were in a relationship together, or whether they just came together to write and publish the book. It was also unclear the ages of the children. What got me was the phrase #LoveisLove. Now I know this is a phrase used in the same sex couples world (are we even allowed to say gay or lesbian these days?) and it was unclear whether this couple meant it for themselves or whether they thought that all that they needed to do was love their child and everything would be sweet in the rose garden.

What irritated me is that when I responded to the post, on facebook, they appeared to know nothing about the primal wound, the psychological damage that those children will have gone through and that loving them is not going to be enough for them all to live happily ever after.

The author was very pleased to say that the children had been involved in all the decisions at every step of the adoption process, as they saw it. That was until I asked if the children had been involved in the choice to be relinquished? Then he went quiet. Someone else who had been adopted came to my rescue, and posted the video clip from Paul Sunderland, where he describes the trauma that occurs at separation, and the over-representation of adoptees in addiction clinics and also a link to the book Primal Wound.

It is unlikely that I will ever meet the authors, or their children, but would like to think that this interaction on facebook has given those parents a little more of an insight into what adopting children is actually about, from our perspective, the adoptees. I am sure they will love those children very very much. Those children have filled a space in their lives. I hope that as they grow up, they don’t feel beholden to these people for giving them a home and believing that love is love and that is all it takes. I hope for the adults that those children will ultimately become, their parents will see their role they have in educating themselves on what an adoptee goes through in the early days, rather than sending them to therapy to try and fix them. Then, and only then will love be all that is required.

Wishing everyone a very happy Valentine’s Day. Wherever you are and whoever or whatever you are with. I hope you feel loved.

Blessings and Joy, Joy

American Baby: A Book Review

American Baby: A Mother, A Child and the Shadow History of Adoption by Gabrielle Glaser

The author, Gabrielle Glaser, is a New York Times best selling author, who I had the pleasure of listening to in a virtual book tour presentation, put on by the Adoption Network Cleveland.

This book could so easily have been called “How to sell a baby and get away with it in the mid 20th century US”. If you are like me, and you like a true story with lots of historical facts and information to place it in history, then this truly is a book for you. It is an easy to read in the fact that the language used it very easy, but the topic is not an easy one to read at all. A teenage pregnancy which then leads to what I can only describe as a baby kidnap followed by years of angst on all sides of the adoption triad.

American Baby Bookcover

Gabrielle weaves historical facts around the story of David’s birth to his young teenage mom, and her teenage boyfriend. I hate giving away too much of stories in my reviews, but suffice to say that David ends up being adopted by a Jewish couple, whilst his mother, Margaret fights to get him back. Their stories run parallel throughout the book, woven with what was going on in legislation at the time, which some continues to this day. The injustices that are part of the adoptees story when trying to get even the most basic facts that surround their genetic background and health, are still going on in some States in the 21st century. Sealed records which lead in some cases for whole cultural and societal history and identity being missing from a person’s life.

This book is harrowing in places It is hard to understand what was done to new born babies. The torture and pain that was inflicted, in the name of “science”, in an effort to ascertain the baby’s intelligence as an adult, left this reader angry and sad when she read it. The fact that doctors thought that this was an ok thing to do is beyond me. As someone who spent time nursing, I wonder how the doctors were allowed to get away with it by the rest of the staff. Did the staff cuddle the babies afterwards to console them? I know I would have done. I actually wonder with all that is going on in the world at the moment if we have really come very far at all?

The history of adoption in the US was built on lies and profit in many cases. I could hardly put this book down. When I did it was to wipe away the tears, from being reminded of what was inflicted on so many babies and their birth families, in a time when society judged pre-marital sex as deviant behaviour. They then made these babies a commodity and fodder for scientific experiments, in an effort to grade them, to satisfy the infertile couples desire for a family, and the fallout that ensues. I could see in David’s anger and outbursts, mirrors of my own behaviour that only recently have I traced back to that feeling of being abandoned at birth. That feeling of being a volcano

David was raised in the Jewish culture of his birth. For that small mercy he was lucky. Towards the end of the 20th century, with birth control and access to an abortion, the numbers of children available for adoption of the same ethnicity and culture dwindled, and the adoption business started to look farther afield. Babies and children are adopted inter-racially and trans continentally now, more than ever. At the end of the book, I wonder if Gabrielle gives us a hint as to what her next book is going to be about.

American Baby can be purchased via www.gabrielleglaser.com There’s a link on her website. I have no affiliation to either Gabrielle or the Adoption Network Cleveland. I have written this review to raise awareness of the history and story of many people to this day, who do not have access to their true identity.

If you have read this book, I would value your insights on how you found it by leaving me a comment.

Blessings and Joy, Joy