September 1, 2014

The Shadow Self




The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.
Psalm 34:18

Originally posted on October 22, 2007

I went to church yesterday and came home with 3 different "revelations" of God's love.  

They all pertain to adoption issues, because my entire life is affected by them.
I even danced with my own shadow.

The first happened during praise/worship ~ the regular worship leader was not there because her Mother had just passed away this week after a long battle with leukemia. She had lived for many, many years longer than the doctors predicted and she had a wonderful quality of life with her children/grandchildren for years through God's sustaining power.

Half-way through praise & worship I saw Aimee come in and immediately she walked up to the front row (it was dark in our church during song time) and approached the senior pastors. They saw her coming and put their arms out in big all-consuming hugs and kisses over her, just holding her and letting her cry. It was very touching, as I saw the love of this couple envelope this young praise leader and bring comfort and unconditional love over her while she was grieving. I began to cry....and then it hit me.

Adoptees lose their mothers and fathers, brothers and sisters, aunts and uncles and cousins (their very identity and place in their God-given family). 
They lose everything their lives revolved around and identified with ~ the only place, the only love they ever knew, felt, smelled, and was enveloped by, in complete warmth. 

But adoptees are probably NEVER, NOT ONCE, given a hug of comfort for this devastating loss we all carry inside our entire lives. We are not validated or accepted for who we truly are ~ we are only given acceptance as the ones we are engineered by adoption to be ~ our adopted selves. 
Our adoptive identities, lives, families. 

We go through life completely numb/shut-off to the PAIN of losing our very selves as connected to our mothers and family line, our first and most significant love, truth and self.

I so yearned to be able to run into the arms of real people as I stood there in church crying over the loss of my own Mother and all she represents. 
To receive the same immediate acknowledgement of my pain, validation, and comfort. 

Aimee wasn't afraid to run to the front of the church, the light, and receive unconditional love ~ she knew grieving was necessary and accepted because of losing her beloved Mother. It was expected and completely understood.

Adoptees emotionally sit at the back, in the dark, scared to feel, because they receive a sentence of life-long shame and unacknowledgement ~ if they DARE look deeper into their own feelings and tap, even lightly, into the pain.

  No one in society is comfortable with this pain ~ because ADOPTION is the big cure-all, the blessing, the win-win, the building of a family
~ FROM THE DESTRUCTION OF ANOTHER ~ THE DESTRUCTION OF IDENTITY ~ an amended birth certificate, parents who did not birth, names erased and re-invented ~ and pasts erased ~ at least legally. 
All at a huge price.

NOTHING can erase the spiritual reality, the emotional reality and connections within a human being to their lineage, their core, their pain.

Aimee, I cried for your loss today. And on the backrow, I cried for mine as well. I lost my Mother, too ~ twice ~ and I know how it feels. 
Bless you, my friend.

August 24, 2014

Is God My Adoptive Father?

Baby and father
© Photographer: Billysiew | Agency: Dreamstime.com


Many Christians assert that we are "adopted" by God as His children.
 
They don't realize that comparing the original language and translation of the scriptures to our westernized concept of "adoption" can actually alienate an adoptee's heart from fully trusting in their Creator God. 

"For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. For you have not received the spirit of slavery again to fear; but you have received the Spirit of "sonship" (some translations say "adoption") , whereby we cry, Abba (Daddy), Father. The Spirit of God Himself bears witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God."
Romans 8:14-16
 
Let us take the Greek word sometimes translated "adoption" apart.
It is huiothesia.
 
The first half is huios, the common noun for an adult son.
The latter half is thesia, a setting of a person or a thing in its place. 
(John 1:12; John 1:13;  Gal 4:1-5;  Romans 8:1-39)   
 
 This speaks of our inheritance as son's and daughter's of God's grace and mercy through salvation.
 
...so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life.

I once heard a Pastor by the name of Dick Bernal (from San Francisco) preach a sermon about this very subject. He wisely pointed out that the original Greek language that was translated "adopted" in these scriptures could more accurately be translated as "reunited". It describes the beautiful picture of a "reunion" between God and His Creation ("sperma", "offspring"), or children.

I John says that we are BORN of God ('sperma').
If we are BORN of God, we do not NEED to be adopted by Him ~ we are "reunited" with Him in salvation, our Creator, Our Savior, Our Perfect Father.
 
As an adult adoptee, I take GREAT comfort in the fact that I don't need to be adopted by God in the same sense I was "adopted" in the natural. 


God is not my adoptive Father.  He is simply my Father.    
 
He cries with me in my grief of losing my first family.  He understands my pain. 
Joseph (who was sold), when reunited with his family, allowed God to heal him, and "what the enemy meant for evil, God turned for good."

In fact, the Bible says that our Savior came to "ransom" or "redeem" us, which means He "bought us back" from the enemy. Ransom is only necessary when a person has been kidnapped. To be "bought back" implies that we were originally God's creation, His offspring, and He paid a dear price (His own life), a "ransom" to get us back to Him, our Home, our identity, our intended place.

He bore the pain of my broken heart.

  Out of emptiness he came, like a tender shoot from rock-hard ground.

He was despised and forsaken,
    a man of suffering and grief.
    He was despised, forsaken, and we took no notice of him.
 Yet it was our suffering he carried,
    our pain and distress.

He endured the breaking that made us whole.
    The injuries he suffered became our healing.
We all have wandered off, like sheep without a Shepard,
    scattered by our aimless striving and endless pursuits;
He took upon Himself the sins of us all.   
Isaiah 53:1-12
 
 He even offers me another "birth" experience.
 
“Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again. 
 “How can someone be born when they are old?” Nicodemus asked.

 “Surely they cannot enter a second time into their mother’s womb to be born!”

Jesus answered, “Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit.  Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the
Spirit gives birth to spirit.  

When I believed on Him as my Savior, I was in a very real sense, born again.  This time, born of perfect Love.  In perfect truth. 

Even when I struggle with trust issues or fall out of fellowship with Him, I am His child.  His heart wants to be near mine. 

 The Prodigal Son in scripture was not the 'adopted' son of his father, he was the ("sperma"), full-blooded son of his Father, who waited with open arms for him to find his way back home.
 
I resonate with this beautiful analogy so much, because I can
 "BE" who I was created to be

I am fully born, loved, and reunited with Him, who I originated from.
 
No "amending" of my personhood is necessary. 
I don't have to hide.  No secrets.    
 
That is Heaven to this adoptee.

The first time I heard the song, "Born Again" by Third Day, I cried. 
It felt like the song of this adoptee.  An adoptee who had hidden my entire life, because I felt I had to deny my true identity and feelings. 
God knew my name all along.  Even before I did. 

He wasn't the author of my relinquishment or amended birth certificate. 
He was my Shepard.  My healer.  My Savior.  My Father. 
I didn't need to hide from Him or distrust Him any longer.

See this post I wrote about how God helped me open my heart to the tremendous grief I had buried, so He could begin healing me ~
"Losing Mother".   
I also wanted to share an amazing new blog written by a Pastor/Adoptee friend, Deanna Shrodes ~ Adoptee Restoration.

August 12, 2014

 
 
 
All the world's a stage,
And all the men and women merely players;
They have their exits and their entrances,
And one man in his time plays many parts,
His acts being seven ages.

As You Like It Act 2, scene 7, 139–143 (Shakespeare)

 
When he was onscreen, we shared in his vulnerability, his humanness...and rejoiced in the uncanny way he found humor in everything, with everyone he met.     
 
Thank you, Mr. Williams, for having the courage to share your gift with the world.   
While your own soul was left wanting.    

The adopted ones hide behind our roles, too...all to well.
 
Surrounded by fellow actors, even "family", simply not capable of looking into our eyes and understanding us at a cellular level.
We have no one to mirror us back to ourselves, confirming our realness or worth
We learn to "attach", sometimes becoming "loyal" to a fault. 

But life on a set can be tiring, not knowing our true selves.

 
 
We carry inside us the very meaning of "alone".
We need someone to understand... 
 
and love us not for who we can be for others, but for who we really are.

Unless someone cares enough to sit with us even out of character...as we acknowledge and grieve the disenfranchised loss we are asked to deny in order to act out our "amended" identity...we may never be whole. 

Our entire life a role...everyone else may love. 
But can't satisfy our soul.  
 
So we hide, even from ourselves...we play many characters. 
We may even smile the whole time.
 
Maybe that's why your loss is affecting us all.    
 


August 10, 2014

My "Redneck" Heritage



(originally posted July 2008)

We just got back from our first overnight trip in four years, and the FIRST one with my son! And I'm happy to say that it turned out great. Drew loved staying in the hotel ~ swimming and finding all kinds of new playgrounds to stop at!  It was awesome!

It was also his first trip out-of-state, and it couldn't have been a more appropriate place ~ TEXAS! 

Growing up, most of my cousins (my age) lived in Texas and alot of my good childhood memories are making annual trips to family reunions in TX to see them. I was especially close to Gerald, who was born just a few months before me, and who my parents just happened to be visiting when they "got the call" that I was "available". Ha ha. They jumped in the car and rushed back home to get me. What a story.

Unfortunately, when I was a pre-teen, on one of the memory-laden times spent with my wild, red-neck TX cousins, something happened that put a huge damper on our relationship. It is so sad that this had to happen, and even sadder that I didn't have the self-esteem and support to overcome it ~ without it essentially severing our "friendship" for the next several years. You see, we were visiting my cousins and having a great time ~ they lived in rural TX and enjoyed horses and hiking and going to the lake (Gerald taught me to water-ski)~ all the things I really didn't get to do in my family growing up ~ so I really did love visiting! BUT on this particular day, after coming in from a hike in the woods behind their house, I was getting dressed in the bedroom (which happened to be connected to a "shared" bathroom). Growing up in a house-full of boundariless women (truly), I forgot to close the door to the shared bathroom and was standing there pretty darn good and nude (blushing ~ lol), when Gerald happened to go into the bathroom from the hallway and ~ boom ~ SAW ME as he was closing the door! Oh my God! Being only 11 or 12 years old at the time, and probably the SHYEST, most insecure little girl there was, you might as well have...I don't know ~ it was just the most horrible moment imaginable! lol

And then, to make things worse, Gerald had the gall to TEASE me about it when I finally got brave enough to come out. Well, that was the last straw, and after essentially SLAMMING him with everything in me ~ yes, I was pretty strong, so it probably HURT ~ I withdrew myself from the situation, and POUTED for the next ~ oh, let's see ~ probably 5 years! Every time we would visit, from then on, I was a smartass, rebellious little twit who refused to even talk to him. And so, our friendship was pretty much destroyed. ALL because of THAT?!?! Yes. (I realize my stubbornness now).

I tell this story, to emphasize how DIFFERENT I always felt around even my extended family. I always put up a big & tough exterior act and would not let any of my cousins really close enough to befriend me. How sad. Because inside I was hurting and lonely. I so wanted to feel like a true part of them, but because I KNEW I was different (ADOPTED), I protected my heart from that differentness and just put on a show of people-pleasing, tough "OK"-ness ~ a mask.

The picture of me and my cousins (above) CRACKS ME UP, because it is like a snapshot of REALNESS (kind of like a freudian-slip in print)of how I really felt INSIDE as a child. If only adoptees could be given PERMISSION to talk, grieve, and DEAL with being adopted, instead of having to live in silent pain their entire lives. Instead, we are AFRAID to broach the subject, because we are CONDITIONED to accept the notion that we are SPECIAL & CHOSEN. We know we are special alright ~ but we hate it.

Well, I got to attend Gerald's wedding this past weekend, and it was joyous! I can finally embrace my entire family, knowing WHO I REALLY AM and going through the forbidden road of identity, grief, and darkness ~ to finally come out more whole.

I ENJOYED being with my cousins ~ all my extended (adoptive) family ~ and sharing them with my son and husband. They are a huge part of my childhood and identity, and I love them. And I'm so glad I can share that heritage with my son. We have a double-heritage (one that I, sadly, LOST, but which very much DEFINES me) that I can only embrace fully because I was courageous enough to SEARCH and FIND and WALK THROUGH the valley of emotions surrounding my relinquishment, adoption, history, effects of societal influence & beliefs, saddness, reunion, joy...and the list goes on and on. My son deserves to know ALL his roots and family. And so do I.

My only regret is not "mattress surfing" or "two-steppin'" after the wedding with my GREAT red-neck family ~ I still watched! It was a blast.

July 3, 2014

Independence for Adoptees?



My First Mom was a social activist and author who wrote articles for a local newspaper. One of my treasured possessions is an article she wrote about Alice Paul, a women's activist who fought for the right of women to vote in the early 1900's.

I know that if my Mother were alive today we would be standing arm-in-arm speaking out about the closed record system in adoption. She could have been one of the brave women interviewed in "The Girls Who Went Away" by Ann Fessler.

She searched for me, registered on the ALMA Registry, and told her family never to forget that I would someday come looking. All the while, she searched for a "son" because the hospital and attorneys told her that she had given birth to a boy by c-section, when truth was, I was a daughter. That saddens me. In 1968 it was almost impossible for a young, unmarried mother to keep her child. In 2012 it is very possible, but the same adoption issues that were prevalent in 1968 are still in full-force today.

Sealed records, secrecy, lies, coercion, and unethical practices permeate the adoption system.  When will our society realize and acknowledge the researched and proven fact that separating mother and child brings life-long consequences, and should never be done simply to build another family for those willing to pay. 

A humane society would never legalize "marketing" strategies to encourage the increase of children and babies "available" for adoption ~ yet here we are.  Sealed records profits no one except those who profit from this unethical and unregulated system in the transfer and stripping of human identities.  Our nation will never have a truly honest discussion about adoption ethics unless money is removed from the adoption system (even in the form of federal adoption "incentives") and the inhumane practice of "amending" and "sealing" birth certificates is ended.   

One of my favorite movies is called "Iron-Jawed Angels", about the women's suffragist movement at the beginning of the 20th century ~ the story of Alice Paul and Susan B. Anthony. They fought for women's right to vote, even though many, including politicians and other women, thought they were "radical" and even "angry". Thanks to their hard work, determination, and refusal to give in, every American woman enjoys the right to vote in every election.

"Women in the Voting Booth", an article in the Daily Record, begins with...

"It was 90 years ago this month that women across the nation got the right to vote through ratification of the 19th Amendment in 1920. This was 144 years after the Declaration of Independence — proclaiming that "all men are created equal" was signed, and 50 years after African-American men were given the right to vote."

When will adoptee's be given the simple right to their own identity? 
Adoptees deserve the same right as every other American citizen to access their own original birth certificate and court records upon adulthood.

It will be a wonderful day when ALL Adoptees can proudly walk into the Bureau of Vital Statistics office and request their own original, unfalsified birth certificate without "good cause", without shame, and with equal standing.

Adoption Reform Speech: "THIS TIME MUST COME"
By Sandy Musser

Presented at the First March on Washington Adoption in August of 1989, by Sandy Musser, a natural mother who went to federal prison for helping people search:

"I stand here before you today as a civil rights activist for the adoption reform movement. But I want to talk about three well-known activists of other eras who loudly and clearly proclaimed the need of freedom for their people."If a man named Moses were standing here before us today, I believe he would be speaking on our behalf and say to our present government - Let My People Go! Because Moses was not only the leader of the Jewish nation- he was also the most famous adoptee - one who had been adopted outside of his Jewish heritage and Jewish faith.But when he became aware of the bondage his people were in, he fought and persisted to see that they were set free. The Bible says that God heard the heart cries of His people. Our heart cries are now beginning to be heard around this country. We fight against the plagues of the adoption and child welfare system - the plague of the sealed record, which always equals cover-up; and the great plague of all - a corrupt system that has become a billion dollar business!" But I believe that we're well on our way to the Promised Land, and that most intelligent, caring individuals really want truth and openness - not secrecy and lies. This will be a land that will not see the need to sever birth roots nor eradicate the family name; a time when guardianship is a more cherished role than ownership. It will be a land that will not require the control of the social work profession, nor legislated rules and regulations; a land where no money need exchange hands (known as "fees") in order to adopt a child. Our Promised Land will be a land where adoptees, birthparents, and adoptive parents can come together and form a circle of love that will be immersed with openness, honest; and heartfelt caring."

If Susan B. Anthony were standing before us today - she, too, would be speaking out on our behalf. She, too, would be saying, let these people go. She knew what it meant to be denied rights - rights that her male counterparts enjoyed. She fought and led the women of America through the streets and halls of justice so that they too could have a voice at the ballot box. In 1873, she and 15 other women marched to the voting booth and exercised their God-given right to vote - and for this she stood trial. She was prosecuted and fined - a fine she refused to pay. How many of us are going to have to stand trial, pay fines, and be prosecuted for demanding or exercising our God-given right to our original birth certificate or other records concerning our own lives?"

If Martin Luther King could be here today, he would most likely be at the forefront of our March. He would be raising his hands, his head, and his voice, heavenward and shouting to the world - Let these people go! In one of his famous speeches, Martin Luther King said, "I have a dream that someday our people will not be judged by the color of their skin" We share a similar dream - that the day will soon come when we will not be judged or branded because we bear the name of 'adoptee,' birthparent' or adoptive parent.'

"We pray for the day that we will not have to bargain, plead, beg, petition or pay for what is rightfully ours. We anticipate the day when legal documents called birth certificates will no longer be falsified - when birthmothers are no longer signed into the hospital under an assumed name, given them by an agency or attorney - we look toward the day when a simple request for information will be granted - and when Big Brother no longer stands over us with folded arms guarding our most prized possession - our BIRTHRIGHT!"

Finally, I want to share the words of a poem written by MaryAnneCohen, a birth mother with great insight and foresight. It's entitled 'THIS TIME MUST COME'

"TIME WILL COME when our tragedy will not be replayed, When no child will be torn out of the arms of love into the arms of money. When all births will be blessed, all equal. And there will be no word remembered to brand a child born outside society's ties, no recording of legal lies…When love is more lasting than papers, and no child is deprived of either heritage or nurturing, even when they come from separate places. And it is finally seen that blood and home are not the same, And neither replaces the other, and there is no quota for love…

"TIME WILL COME when social workers are to serve, not sever; When they know it is better to unite than separate, To be true than to lie, to be seen than to hide, To accept than renounce, that the give and nurturing of life are both sacred and deserving of respect; That all parents are real parent, not rivals. That love is stronger than fear of laws or time,and cannot be terminated, cannot be legislated, cannot be denied…

"TIME WILL COME when all children can grow, become real, cast off shadows, renew or sever ties by their own choice, be responsible, BE FREE! When our bondage ends, and we answer to our children; Answer with the gift of sight, gift of words, gift of sorrow…When every person has the right to trace their roots in their mother's face, their father's eyes…When nobody is condemned to eternal childhood,and no mother cries forever…

"THIS TIME MUST COME"Copyright © 1989, 2001 Sandy Musser.Visit Sandy's website at http://www.angelfire.com/fl2/musser

July 1, 2014

Opening the Wells

Little Baby Child Reaching For Water Fountain
© Photographer: Ansebach | Agency: Dreamstime.com

(Post originally published in 2010)

It was a true privilege to attend an OK Legislative Interim study (2010) on adoptee access to original birth certificates this week. Hearing the heart of the amazing people who spoke on the importance of restoring the human right of all adoptees to know their identity and histories was an inspiration and joy.

Thank God for the opportunity to be there, know them, and work beside them. Even though it wasn't heavily attended, it felt right.

We were able to dispel some common myths surrounding adoptee access, sharing the good news that in the states which have implemented this law, abortion rates have actually declined more than the national average, and that birth mother "confidentiality" was also a myth perpetuated by the adoption industry. In fact, birth mothers were never promised (nor asked for) confidentiality in the law. It was enforced upon them.

The TN and OR Supreme Courts have both ruled on this issue. "Sealed records" were not implemented until 1939 in OK ~ to protect the newly formed adoptive family, not birthmothers. In fact, even today, if a birthmother relinquishes her child for adoption, but for some reason the child is never adopted and remains in foster care, his/her original birth certificate is never sealed or amended.

I returned home so thankful to be able to spend time with my son and husband for a few hours that evening before bedtime. It was one of those nights of light sleep with many dreams, but not really remembering any of them.

When I woke up the next morning, "Genesis 26:18" was impressed on my heart and mind. Having to get up quickly and prepare my son for school, I didn't give it much thought, but briefly wondered what it meant.

Later that morning, as I sat in a Women's Bible Study I have attended for several years, I remembered the scripture reference, and quickly looked it up, curious as to what it said. I froze in disbelief when I read it, almost too shocked to believe what I was reading, but so encouraged.

"He reopened the wells his father had dug and restored the names his father had given them."

This scripture hit me so strongly, after just attending the interim study the day before, and waking up with this reference (which I've never read before) in my mind and before my eyes. Could it be that God is encouraging us? That He is the One who stands with us on this issue?

After all, names and genealogy are extremely important in Biblical text, and God is renown for restoring and redeeming (buying back) the lives of those separated from their God-given identities and people ~ Moses, Joseph, and a host of others.

Proverbs 23:10-11 says,

"Don't stealthily move the boundary lines
or cheat orphans out of their property (identity),
For they have a powerful Advocate
who will go to bat for them." (Message Bible)


As I read on in Genesis 26, I noticed that the entire rest of that chapter was concerning "rights":

"Isaac’s servants also dug in the Gerar Valley and discovered a well of fresh water. 20 But then the shepherds from Gerar came and claimed the spring. “This is our water,” they said, and they argued over it with Isaac’s herdsmen. So Isaac named the well Esek (which means “argument”). 21 Isaac’s men then dug another well, but again there was a dispute over it. So Isaac named it Sitnah (which means “hostility”). 22 Abandoning that one, Isaac moved on and dug another well. This time there was no dispute over it, so Isaac named the place Rehoboth (which means “open space”), for he said, “At last the Lord has created enough space for us to prosper in this land.”

Several U.S. states have passed Adoptee Access Legislation (supported by The Child Welfare League of America) restoring the unconditional right of adult adoptees to access their original birth certificate, just like every other American citizen. Wouldn't it be a miraculous wonder if Oklahoma became the next state to restore the identity rights of it's adopted citizens ~ a new beginning, setting a national example for restoring the dignity of over six million adoptees and their families. After all, Kansas, our neighbor to the north, has NEVER sealed obc's to adult adoptees.

It was really interesting to me the way the chairman of this committee ended the interim study. Even after listening to middle-aged (or older) adults speak for over an hour about the human right of identity, and how "sealed records" in adoption made adopted people "perpetual children" in the eyes of the law, she sincerely thanked us for coming and then went on to share how "special" adopted "children" are, being "chosen" in our families. (In reference to the term adoptees hear often, "chosen child".)

As I sat in Bible Study that morning, I thanked God for giving me this dream. It was such an encouragement in the midst of the journey. We left Bible Study that morning with these words and a prayer.

"Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think. Glory to him through all generations forever and ever! Amen."

June 29, 2014