Sad, mad, or just bad?

I haven’t made it all the way through The Girls Who Went Away yet. I’m stuck on the “Search and Reunion” chapter. I just can’t get through more than a page at a time. Not because it makes me sad, necessarily, but because my mind wanders so easily. Like a disproportionate number of adoptees, I have attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, so focusing always hard. In this case, though, it’s because every reunion story makes me think about what my reunion might have been like. I’ll actually daydream about this a bit, and it only makes me sad when I realize what I’m doing.

I have been feeling a lot of anger about adoption, though. Not just my own, but adoption in general, and adoptee rights in particular. Some of it is triggered, like when my wife relayed some comments someone had made about thinking of adopting to avoid having to go through pregnancy, childbirth, and the first 8 or 9 months again. Yeah, outsource the parts you don’t want to do yourself, okay, whatever.

But a lot of it I actually seek out now, on blogs and forums, and that worries me. I’ve been telling myself it’s important to be part of the larger social discourse about adoption, and I really do think that’s true, but I’m not entirely sure that that’s all that I’m up to. Am I making myself mad to avoid having to deal with grief? Or am I trying to turn my grief–and my inability to do much about it, since I still know so little of the woman for whom I am grieving–into something productive? I sure would like to think it’s the latter but I worry it’s more of the former.

Or maybe it’s the mean little part of me that likes confrontation and takes joy in mocking others. That’s always fun–while I’m doing it. I’m usually rather heartsick at the consequences, unless I feel that it was really deserved. That’s actually fairly rare, though. Most of the time, I go too far. I haven’t on this blog, yet, but I’m sure it’s just a matter of time. Apologies in advance, in case one of my future victims reads this. Never mind, screw you people, you probably deserved it.

I’m really having a lot of trouble thinking about anything other than adoption. That’s starting to become a problem because I have a lot of things to do. I have a whole life that can’t be put on hold indefinitely. But it’s so hard to think about much else. I worry that my mom’s death still hasn’t sunk in fully. I worry that it’s going to sink in fully and I’m going to fall apart.

I’m thinking of trying therapy. Not just for grief, but for adoption in general. I can’t tell for sure, but I think there are a lot of ways that adoption messed me up that I never realized until a few weeks ago. Before that, I was always very resistant to the idea that being adopted had really had all that much of an effect on my life. I don’t know if there’s a way to tell for sure. Is the “adoption fog” starting to clear, or am I just grasping at something to explain my problems?


16 Responses to “Sad, mad, or just bad?”

  1. 1 suz June 28, 2007 at 10:43 pm

    i sorta understand. as a mom who only recently allowed herself to truly feel the horror of what was done to her and her child, i find it ebbs and flows. i can take the grief and then I cant. then i can. then I cant. its trauma. if I were recovering from a wound, a car accident i would be gentle with myself. no different in attempting to recover from adoption trauma. be kind to yourself.

  2. 2 jackiejdajda June 28, 2007 at 10:55 pm

    I am very sorry for your loss..

    It must be terrible that you can not meet your birthmom..

    It was my terror before my bson found me..
    I think your anger is justified..


  3. 3 Lillie June 29, 2007 at 1:21 pm

    Hey iBastard,

    I was one of those “happy” adoptees until my reunion. Then things started falling apart for me, and in a really big way. Learning the real truth behind my relinquishment was, well, horrifying, and now even 11 years later (and my mother not being able to communicate with me from her guit for 10 of those years) I am STILL learning more. It’s a whole lot to process, some days I feel like I have literally been kicked in the gut.

    And for the longest time I resisted my anger at the system, for I couldn’t bring myself to understand that I can separate what’s good in my life from adoption…does that make any sense?? Adoption fog is a mysterious beast.

  4. 4 Andrew June 29, 2007 at 2:47 pm

    Listen. I want to be sure I say this clearly – thank you.

    Thank you because I’m in a place very close to yours right now and it means a lot to see someone else engage it critically, thoughtfully; in a way that makes me say, “yeah, I think this person is doing what I want to do to.” Adoptee modeling is sorely missed.

    I risk diminishing you experience; shoehorning it into my own. I mean no offense it. All I can offer is my awareness that I risk doing this. At the same time, I began to recognize the existence of the ‘adoption fog’ about a month ago. Since that time I have spent every waking minute on my adoption (and I’m fitting an inordinate number of waking minutes into my days). I comb the registries, I register with them; I read old statutes, call old archives, write letters and read everything I can get my frantic little hands on. Then I listen to Louis Armstrong’s “West End Blues” and ball like a nut. I worry that work, school, family, and all else will suffer under the weight of it all.

    So once more, thank you for making it seem okay.

  5. 5 iBastard June 29, 2007 at 3:18 pm

    I don’t think our experiences are diminished by sharing them and finding commonalities between them. I think one of the most empowering things for adoptees who are coming out of the fog is to realize that we are not alone in this and no, we are not delusional or inventing excuses for our problems. We were “happy adoptees” before and we see “happy adoptees” around us, so it seems like something is wrong with us that’s our fault, our failing as individuals… until we compare notes.

    And yes, I can definitely relate!

    So please don’t apologize for posting your experiences here. I’m really trying to figure out what adoption fog is so this certainly helps me, and I hope it can help others, too. Maybe I need to do a post specifically on adoption fog because you’re totally right that it is a very mysterious beast.

  6. 6 momseekingpeace June 29, 2007 at 3:56 pm

    Sorry you were not able to meet your mom.

    I am a mother in reunion and I too went through the fog, it happens on this end to, what you are going through is all part of it (unfortunaltly).

    welcome to blogland

  7. 7 Sue June 29, 2007 at 4:30 pm

    Your blog rocks. I wanted to tell you this privately but can’t find an email link, which I can understand considering how targeted adoptee blogs can be. Since I am referring to a pulled post, I will completely understand if you need to delete this comment.

    I especially appreciate your critiques of adoption as choice. My daughter often asks why/how we chose her and I never ever tell her her adoption was a choice, by anyone, by us or by her biological parents. You have given me more clarity as to why this word is so damaging.

    I read your recently pulled post on bloglines before it went away and I agreed with every word, especially after I followed the link. I know that you don’t need support from AP’s but in a twisted way, you give me support by validating the reality that I view my own adoptions with very mixed feelings, feelings most people don’t want me to have and certainly don’t get.

    I know I am somewhat of an anomaly as AP’s go, but I am also able to be a stupid. arrogant idiot. I once thought similar thoughts to those you linked, and only started coming around from a combination of reading adult adoptee blogs and thinking critically about my brother’s adoption and all the favors NOT done for him. I still slip and slide down that seductively complacent slope so I keep reading blogs like yours to remember

  8. 8 iBastard June 29, 2007 at 5:22 pm

    No worries on the pulled post thing. I pulled it because I realized that even without blowing my top it’s pretty much impossible to engage people in that state of mind in any kind of rational dialog, and blowing my top in public would just make them feel like their positions were justified and that I’m just some irrational, angry adoptee with issues. They probably think that anyway but I’m sure as hell not going to play into that stereotype when it won’t accomplish anything anyhow.

    I am glad to hear that someone read and appreciated it, though! Now I know it wasn’t a complete waste of time. 🙂

    I really do think the mindset of typical adoptive parents can change, as you changed yours, but like you said it’s a slow process of coming to see other points of view. That’s not particular to APs but to humans in general. I think it’s very rare that someone’s mind is changed by an argument.

  9. 9 Amyadoptee June 29, 2007 at 6:01 pm

    I have been angry for a while. It doesn’t get any better until our society gets over the view that we are property of our adoptive parents. Until adoptive parents admit to their own culpability in adoption. Oh yes they are culpable in this. They like blaming natural parents and adoptees for all of it. All I do is fight for adoptees. All I do is try to fight to make it a safe environment for my natural mother to come out in. I do believe in all having theoretical access to the OBC. Its just adoptees and natural parents don’t have many rights. They are considered horrible people for speaking out.

  10. 10 Sue June 29, 2007 at 7:15 pm

    Thanks iB, I love your name and icon btw. I laughed my butt off at the first line of the pulled post, which I think you oughtta work into another post sometime. 🙂

    I forgot to mention that it was a memoir that set me on the never ending path of confusion and awareness. I read it before our first daughter came to us. The Language of Blood by Jane Jeong Trenka. It spun my head 180 degrees. Another memoir changed my life too…but on a completely different topic. Must blog about it later.

  11. 11 Sue June 29, 2007 at 7:19 pm

    PS sorry to be a comments hog. I promise to calm down. I got The Girls Who Went Away from the library and plan to read it (I always read books from the library whereas if I buy them, they languish on my bookshelf). My hubs was birthed by a girl who went away b/4 R v Wade and was adopted domestically. He is in reunion with his nmom. She is so much more like him than his amom was! No contact with ndad though–nmom is not divulging his identity.

  12. 12 imtina June 29, 2007 at 9:42 pm

    I read it and I’m glad you posted on that person’s blog. One AP at a time dude.


  13. 13 Brian June 30, 2007 at 11:43 pm

    I have found therapy quite useful myself — I do hope you give it a try, and don’t abandon your therapist until you discover something important together dear one.

  14. 14 AdopteeKDB July 3, 2007 at 3:45 pm

    You know what, it is probably anger and grief all rolled up into one…best to feel it, express it, talk about it and slowly it will let go of its hold on you. The best place to do that might be counseling, although I don’t think finding the perfect counselor is easy–they have their own agendas and biases. It will eat you up if you let it…I couldn’t get through the book either because I kept getting depressed when the outcome was the same, a mommy losing her baby and me feeling powerless to get her to change her mind! ERGH!

  15. 15 Julie July 3, 2007 at 5:38 pm

    SOMEday, there will be therapists who specialize in adoption to serve ADOPTEES. Currently, however, therapists who specialize in adoption serve ADOPTERS. Until the status quo changes, the best therapy for adoptees is their own support groups – exclusive of other “triad” members.

    While many researchers have and continue to validate the adoptee experience, their findings have yet to make their way into mainstream thinking – including the curricula of therapists.

  16. 16 Valentina July 5, 2007 at 4:30 pm

    I don’t think you’re making yourself mad to avoid dealing with grief. I found my living relatives and I experienced growing anger throughout my search, anger and grief (different from yours) in early reunion, and still at times to this day. As suz described above, it comes in waves, perhaps less often as time passes but it can be with surprisingly varying intensity. Enough time has passed that I have little expectation that these feelings will ever disappear completely.

    As for “adoption fog,” I’m curious as to who coined this phrase and when. But it is an apt enough description. I figure that the fog is a sort of survival mechanism, very logical, and dealing with the new clearer view takes tremendous energy from the adoptee as the fog dissipates.

    Having read about the good adoptee/bad adoptee idea in various places, it seems to me that perhaps the “bad adoptees” created and/or experienced less fog, or the fog somehow rolled away sooner for them. Heh.

    Away from musings about fog and onto therapy. I think therapy can be helpful if you find an appropriate therapist. I would doubt that, unless you live in a very large city, there are many or even any therapists who would have much knowledge or training specific to adoption from your POV, but if you do, I’d be so curious as to what you learn. Regardless, there are probably therapists within reach who can help you in certain areas. I tend to agree with Julie’s opinion above.

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