Thursday, July 17, 2014

Secrets, Lies, and Shame: Why Do Birth Mothers Hide?

“Our Wounds are often the openings into the best and most beautiful part of us.” David  Richo

 A huge part of me wished she would have been dead.  After all, death would be the only acceptable explanation I could give her for not searching for me.  Yet after nearly 8 years, my prayers had been answered.  Years of daydreaming of who I was had finally been revealed.  I felt like I was in a dream.  I was Dorothy Gail being whisked away by a tornado into a fictious land of childhood fantasy.  Was this all a dream?  I was afraid to go to sleep.  So many nights I had dreamt of unlocking the truth.  The key to Pandora’s Box had been out of my reach for so long.  I feared shutting my eyes only to wake and find the box locked once more.  It just couldn’t be real, but it was.

I don’t remember being nervous during that first phone call.  I guess I was still in shock and unaware of what to expect.  Did she remember me?  Did she think about me after all these years?  I thought I might remember the sounds of her voice that first time I heard it again.  Though the voice I heard was not the voice of what I had anticipated to be of a mother.  It was that of a woman who sounded cold and uninviting.  I silently prayed I had the wrong number.  Surely, this could not be the woman who gave birth to me.  I then realized the fantasy was over.  This was real.  Like many other adoptees, I too had spent most of my childhood fantasizing about the mother I had lost.  Is she famous?  Is she royalty?  Is she even alive?  I guess what many of us don’t consider is that this woman too is an ordinary human being.  She doesn’t possess any superhuman powers extraordinary abilities.  No one is perfect.  I often feel like all birthmothers are put on some pedestal, because they did some heroic gesture by giving us a “better” life.  Other times, I feel like they want us to feel sorry for them as if they had no control over their actions.  While this may be the case for many of them, I don’t feel they all were forced down this path.  I believe some chose it.  Perhaps, there are those that just don’t want to be our mothers or a mother at all.  The voice I heard was indeed not one I had expected.  She did not appear happy to speak to me nor did she ask me anything about my life.  I was hurt and extremely disappointed, but I refused to let myself cry.  I spent a lifetime of birthdays crying.  I listened to her tell me she never thought about me.  Meanwhile the hole in my heart got bigger. 

I had to remember that she did agree to speak to me.  I had to do so on her own terms, which I agreed.  She told me I was not allowed to speak to her about her family.  Wait a minute!  I thought it was my family too.  What about my brother or my birth father?  I had so many questions, but she refused to answer them.  She immediately began to state she has no favorite food, color, holiday, or season.  She went on to tell me she was a simple person and did not want me involved in her business.  The conversation didn’t last very long.  All her answers were very quick and short.  She treated me as if I were some telemarketer calling to sell her the latest line of household cleaning supplies.  Are you kidding?  My search led me to this?  I was almost too much.  This was a second rejection.  Maybe I had expected too much.  After all, what good can come from years of secrecy, lies, and shame?

Since that first phone conversation, I have spoken to my birthmother a number of other times.  None of them were extremely pleasant.  Once I got a frantic phone call at work from her demanding to know what I wanted.  She criticized my parents, for telling me the truth about my adoption.  Clearly, I was intended to be her dirty, little secret until the day she died.  At times, she would call because she had discovered another member of the family had been in contact with me.  Why couldn’t she just leave it alone?  Why couldn’t she just tell me about my sibling or about the man who fathered me?  She lied to me by telling me she has no other children.   Paperwork I received from the adoption agency specifies she had a 2 year old son at the time she was pregnant with me, yet she refuses to acknowledge it.  Other members of my birthfamily have attested they know nothing about her other child.  Is that true or are they lying to keep my birthmother’s secret?  Maybe she even has more children than they realize.  After living a life of lies, you never know who you can and cannot trust.  I will not stop looking for my brother.  I only pray the end of my journey, doesn’t lead me to a grave.  Whether or not he is a good man or a horrible human being, is irrelevant.  As an adult, I deserve the chance to decide that for myself.     

I haven’t spoken to my birthmother in over a year, and I have no intention of contacting her again soon.  The very last thing I remember was wishing her a happy birthday.  I send her a card for Thanksgiving, hoping my kindness would encourage her to treat me with the slightest amount of affection.  I even wished her a happy birthday.  I had hoped in doing so, she would call me a month later during mine.  I guess I was wrong.   I got another hysterical phone call.  She had discovered a family member send me a photo though Facebook.  She had only called to tell me to stay out of her business.  I made a decision that same day.  I could not continue to allow myself to keep getting hurt over and over again.  I had to end it.  At that moment I knew that this would be the last time I spoke with her. 

  When people ask me about her, I simply shake my head.  Maybe it will take another 30 years before I allow myself to become that susceptible to the pain all over again.  Lots of people might say to give her time.  She is hurting.  Why does it feel like everything is about her?  Her secrecy still controls my right to know the truth.  If adoption is supposed to be about the best interest of the child, why isn’t it?  Of all parties involved, adoptees are the only ones who get no choice in our adoptions.  What most non-adoptees and family members do not understand is that every day is a struggle.  Although a few other family members have accepted me, I don’t know if I will ever feel like a true member of their family.  The only thing worse than not having a family is having 2 families and feeling like a stranger in both of them.  I will someday find my brother and my birthfather.  I love it when people somewhat affectionately tell you not to search, because they don’t want you to get hurt.  I think what most people don’t understand is that we’re already hurt.  I do not regret my decision to search.  It was one of the best decisions I have made.  While most people I know discover who they are in high school or college, I have just begun to do so.  None of this has been easy and I am sure more challenges will come, but I will continue to stay strong.  No matter how much people try to understand you, they never will come close to knowing the lifelong trauma of being forced to grow up as someone you were not born to be. 

V. Marie I am a reunited adoptee from Louisiana.  I earned my B.A. in sociology from The University of New Orleans in 2005. My experience through adoption lead me to earn my M.A. in Community Counseling from Webster University in 2013.

I was adopted at 6 weeks old. My adoptive parents love me very much, but they weren't ready to deal with the challenges that came with an adopted child. They supported me my entire life, but they could not heal my pain. As I grew up, I began to see even more diffrences between my adoptive family and myself. I longed to know where I fit belonged. Around the year 2005, I began actively searching. I had doors slammed in my face and others who told me to give up and be grateful for what I had. I found my birthmother around 2012, and it was hardly the heartfelt reunion I had hoped for. However, I will not let that stop me from seeking the truth and searching for my birthfather and my brother. I have to be strong and keep going. The truth is that I was an unwanted baby. My birthmother made a conscience decision not to be a mother to her children. My birthfamily will never understand what I have gone though emotionally as an adopted person. I am still treated like an outsider by many of them. I have been fortunate to be welcomed by a handful of cousins. And although they have good intentions, they will never understand my loss and the pain I feel when I'm around them. I believe that adoption can a wonderful thing, but we have to remember that it doesn't without loss. What I yearn for most is to have a family of my own.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Adoptees is Niagara Falls-Buffalo | Why Adoptees Need Each Others Support

I had the pleasure of meeting Joan Wheeler, adoptee, author, and adoptee right activist at the I Am Adopted Meet and Greet I hosted in Niagara Falls, New York this past weekend. Niagara Falls and Buffalo, NY kicked off the first meet and greet for the summer of 2014.

Just when I thought I would be canceling the meet and greet in Niagara Falls and Buffalo area due to attendance, I tweeted a photo that I was in Niagara Falls, and I received a tweet from Joan Wheeler. Eagerly we arranged our schedules, and we linked up the next day after church at Tim Horton’s coffee shop. I could see Joan’s smiling face through the glass window as I ran in my heels through the rain to give her a big squeeze. I was praying she was a hugger, and she was!

Beautiful flowers from Joan
There is nothing like meeting another adoptee over coffee; they can empathize with everything you are going through whether it is about adoption, relationships, or future planning. That morning I woke up grieving the loss of my biological brother that was murdered a year ago. I went to church for the first time since being back in the U.S praying that God would give me the peace I needed, however, I would not let Him in. I was too hurt. I wanted to so badly ‘give it to God’ as I seen others do that day with their sufferings. I couldn’t. My boy friend continued to ask me what was wrong. Everyone was singing, dancing, and praising. There I sat, lifeless, fighting back tears, and figuring out how I was going to run out of church without having to answer to anyone afterwards. I did not want anyone to know I was hurting from the loss of my little brother. They wouldn’t understand. No one understands. But there was Joan. How ironic; the day I am missing my brother the most, feeling like there is no one in the world that would understand me, I was blessed in that very moment to sit in front of Joan Wheeler. She knows what it feels like to endure loss and having to grieve. She listened and asked all the right questions that only adoptees would ask because only we know these things and experience them. It brought me peace being able to talk about my birth family and the loss of my birth brother. I was reminded how good God is to unite me with someone that understands in that moment. 

When Joan tweeted me, I had no idea I read about her before in newspapers. She has a very interesting and compelling adoption story. I hear stories often from adoptees, however, none like Joan Wheeler’s. I would have never thought I would be sitting in front of her. She was someone I felt I could relate to in many ways when I read about her in the newspaper. Wheeler is the author of, Forbidden Family: My Life as an Adoptee Duped by Adoption, and she is an adoptee’ rights activist. She is courageous most of all, and that is what inspired me about her. She was born a fighter and will never give up until her truth on adoption is told.

Thank you Joan

Visit Joan Wheeler’s website: Forbidden Family

Tweet Joan Wheeler: Forbidden Family

I would like to meet you (adoptees, adoptive parents, and birth parents). What city and state are you in? Post below in the comment section.  

Find out what city my next meet and greet will be in by visiting me on Facebook. I cannot wait to meet you! 

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Imaginary Mothers Film | Adoption Corruption in Latin America

Imagine being a young mother, pregnant, indigent, with no voice living in Latin America. Imagine your baby being stripped away from you and not knowing where he went, who took him, or if he will ever return.

Imagine giving birth to a beautiful baby girl with big beautiful brown eyes that remind you how great God is endure such a beautiful blessing.

Imagine only moments later being bombarded by strangers next to your hospital bed as you cradle your baby girl while a woman adamantly explains to you that your mother said it was okay for them to be there. They explain that your mother said to give them your baby because that woman cannot bear a child, and she would be a better mother than you. You lay there clenching your baby with pain in your heart and your stomach with no one to be a voice for you and to protect you from those that prey on single, indigent, and powerless women.


Imagine if you were one of these women from Costa Rica whose wish is that they at least had a tombstone to visit to lay flowers for their child in hopes to have some connection to them and knowing where they are.

Imagine crying everyday hoping that by a miracle your child will come running through your front door.

Imagine staring into the faces of children in the street everyday hoping to see a pair of eyes that look back at you with familiarity.

Every year thousands of mothers across the world are preyed upon and coerced into placing their child for adoption. These women are told that their children will return after earning an education. These women are degraded and told that they are not good enough to be mothers because some seemingly picture perfect wealthy family is on the other side of the door, infertile, and praying that a mother will stop fighting and give up her own child. How selfish of a nation we have become to allow this to continue. We must put a end to the injustices of international adoption and bring back the children of the Imaginary Mothers of Costa Rica.

We need your help right now. Not a second later. No woman deserves to have her child stripped away from her, lied to, or taken advantage of her. We can put a stop to this by raising awareness of the injustices on adoption in Latin America. Please stand with me and donate now to help these women tell their story in hopes to protect other woman around the world from being a victim of adoption injustices.

Stand with me and donate today -  here

Thank you for your brave and courageous heart in putting together this film, Jacqueline Arias. Because of you these women have hope that their child may one day return home, and one less mother will be a victim of adoption corruption. 

Prayers & peace to the mothers that have lost their children to adoption corruption in Latin America 

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Jamie Foxx Moves His Birth Mother Into His Home in Hopes to Reconcile

Have you ever thought about moving your birth mother into your home? Famed singer-songwriter-actor, Jamie Foxx did. 

"We're trying to learn [about] each other," the actor told Britain's The Sunday Times. "The one thing I think is great is she's in the same house, because you realize certain things that you missed when you were growing up, like, 'Oh, I do that because of that,' or 'Oh, I do this because of this."

First let me say, where was I to not know that Jamie Foxx was adopted? Now that I have had coffee and my eyes are open, I am quite inspired by his decision to move his birth mother into his home. I would be lying if I said I never secretly thought about having my adoptive family and birth family all under one roof. I have fantasized about it countless times especially after my reunion with my birth family. It makes everything easier; it makes perfect sense. How else can one really make up for lost time and build a genuine mother and child relationship other than seeing each other every morning and night? It makes sense, right? 

My birth mother lives in Puerto Rico and I live in Japan, there is no way possible we can even build a relationship if we wanted to. Skype and FaceTime is marketed as a way to stay close and connected with loved ones, however, it still does not do justice in being able to hug your birth mother or get a taste of her cooking. I spent about three days with my birth mom when we reunited and that was it; it has been about two years since I have seen her. And as many of you know, those three days were spent in the ICU with my little brother. I never had the chance to ask the questions every adoptee wants to ask their birth mom or even spend time getting to know her. One thing I did see my birth mom and I had in common was our mannerisms. We almost mirror each other in everything we do. Seeing that made me want to see more about her. I was intrigued every since. I cannot even begin to tell you how many times I would catch myself in the mirror fantasizing what my birth mother was like. As Foxx said, being an adoptee and raised by other folks, you want to find out why you do the little things you do and where they come from. As crazy as Foxx's decision to move in his birth mother sounds when I first heard of it in the news, I think I would like to try that some day even if it were for a summer. I want to know who she is, and I want to spend time with her. Deep in my heart, I want to feel if there is such a thing as a mother-daughter bond. My only fear is that too much time has passed to build such a bond. 

My question to all of you is, is it really possible to build or rebuild a relationship with your birth mother or biological child after being apart most if not all your life without living under the same roof? 

Would you ever move in your birth mother or move in with your birth mother? 

Check us out on Facebook for adoption inspiration -  here

Connect with me personally on Facebook - Jessenia Arias

Tweet Me Tweet Me - @iamadopted.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

3 Male Adoptee Perspectives on Being Adopted, Searching, Family, Parenting, and Healing

My name is Jereme L. Ford and I am adopted 
Birthplace: Orlando, FL
Occupation: Author-Lecturer
Reunion: No
Hobbies: writing, speaking, and teaching, and watching Netflix
Relationship: Waist deep and looking to go deeper

Why don’t men talk about being adopted?

They don’t? That’s news to me, probably because I haven’t knowingly met too many. My best guess would be because it is a very touchy and soft subject, which men, generally speaking, do not do well with because it requires allowing themselves to be vulnerable.

Is it ‘unmanly’ to talk about being adopted because it is an emotional issue?

I wouldn’t say unmanly; I like the word scary better. We’re talking about being a male experiencing rejection for the first time, and from the woman whom he was supposed to develop his first male-female relationship with. Even if it were for good reason, that could be a very difficult thing to deal with much less talk about.

Do you think adoption affects women differently than men?

It’s possible. But I think for both it just brings up a lot of questions. Mine was simply, why?

How has being adopted affected your life?

In many ways, some I may have not even found yet. The fear of rejection has to be the biggest thus far. I’ve thought of several good reasons why it may have happened, and none can take away the rejection and pain I felt when I learned of my adoption. That kind of stuff sticks with you, but it’s important that we don’t allow it to define who we are.

Is it fair to say that more women care about searching for their birth family than men? If yes, why?

I don’t think so; at the root of it all we just want to know who we are. Interestingly enough my sister, who was adopted as well, couldn’t care less about meeting them. I think we men may be better at pushing it to the back of our minds but its still there. Unfortunately that tends to come out in destructive ways sometimes.

Have you been reunited with your birth family?

No. The closest I’ve gotten is medical history. It was kind of cool gaining a little information about them. It made them seem real. Heck I even look just like my adoptive dad!

Has being adopted made you think about men or men becoming fathers differently?

I don’t know yet, but I look forward to seeing how it will affect my fathering style. For the most part I think it will just be even more motivation just being there. I never want my children to feel that kind of rejection, not even for a second.

How do you cope with being adopted (i.e. religion, spiritual, mental health)?

To be honest, I just don’t think about it. Would I love to meet my biological family? Absolutely! But at times I think of the children that were ripped away from their parents, such as in slavery or Haiti. There is always someone who had it worse, and at least I can be thankful that I was given to a great home.

If you could sum up your life as an adoptee in one sentence or one word, what would you say?

I have a funny shape head, and I would awfully appreciate knowing where exactly I got it from.

If you could leave adoptive parents with a parenting tip, what would you say? 

Tell them as early as you can. Nothing hurts more than an abrupt change in reality, especially when your reality wasn’t what you thought it was for years and years. Also, be sensitive to your child’s need to know their roots. I imagine this can be tough, but you won’t be replaced. We just want to know who we are. 

My name is Rock WILK and I am adopted 
Birthplace: New York City
Occupation: actor and playwright 
Reunion: No
Hobbies: running and writing trains
Relationship status: never easy

Why don't men talk about being adopted?

To be honest, I didn't know this was the case, and I talk about it freely, and so, I'm not sure how to answer that question.

Is it unmanly to talk about being adopted because it is an emotional issue?

Hmm, well, for me, this is kind of ridiculous and feels like a stereotype that is so far from my reality that, again, it's impossible for me to speak on it. 
Do you think adoption affects women differently than men?

Well, this is another hard one to answer because I could never be a woman, and so, if there are gender related issues to the differences, I would be in the dark with that.  I would think everybody has their own personal experience to deal with, and I feel like those issues are probably determined by what happened after you were separated from your birth parents.  Were you fostered?  Were you adopted?  What were the people like who raised you?  I think each experience is completely unique unto itself. 

How has being adopted affected your life?

I think it has affected me profoundly.  First of all, it somehow put me together with the parents who raised me. They were these amazing people who gave me a beautiful and safe life. I was very fortunate, they were pure love from start to finish [they are both deceased]. I had been fostered three times before I was finally adopted, and so, my life could have been very different.  On the other hand, I had some MAJOR questions of identity for my entire life. I was not very easy for my adoptive family; I was distant. I never felt a real part of anything. I isolated myself a lot. I definitely thought about the fact that I was "different" a lot.  This has been a life long struggle for me, but I turned it all into beautiful art, and wrote a play, which was a 6 year cathartic journey that wound up running Off Broadway last year for over three months. The result of that work really put me in a much better place. The play was called BROKE WIDE OPEN, and it began as my search for my biological mother,  but it wound up being a search for ME, and for whatever HOME meant for me.  I found that.  And so, it was really so much more than just a play, it was a process that saved my life, gave me the sense of self I was looking for, and so, I say all of that to say we all need to walk our own paths to finding out who we are and where we fit in. I think everyone has to find their own journey.  I'm grateful I found mine in my art.

Is it fair to say that more women care about searching for their birth family than men? If yes, why?

Again, I can't answer that, I have no idea.

Have you been reunited with your birth family?  If yes, how is your relationship?

I have not been reunited.  I searched a few times, I'm on all the registries, but nada. Zero.

Has being adopted made you think about men or men becoming fathers differently?

Not really. When I think of men and fathers and all that goes with that, I just think about it across the board, meaning men in general, whether you are an adoptee or not. If you find yourself either being a father or wanting to be a father, make it a choice and be present, and always do what's best for the child. I just look at fatherhood like that.  But I'm not a father, so what do I know? 

How do you cope with being adopted (i.e. religion, spiritual, mental health)?

I think even though it was somewhat confusing for me, I also kinda wore it on my sleeve as a badge of honor. To be honest,  I was unique and not like the rest of the world. Like nobody could really understand me unless they came from similar circumstances, and so, I'm positive that formed me in some kind of way emotionally and spiritually.  I think it made me more of the kind of person who is willing to "search" both literally and figuratively. It perhaps made me more open to things, to the possibilities of things that I didn't really know and had to find out about. Also, I think it made me learn how to be "OK" with NOT knowing sometimes because there are some big things about my life that I will probably never know, and so, I have had to learn to be "good" with that. I am grateful to say that I am.

If you could sum up your life as an adoptee in one sentence or one word, what would you say?

I'm grateful for who I am and where I came from, because that's all I have.

If you could leave adoptive parents with a parenting tip, what would you say?

If you adopt a baby, treat that baby as if he or she shares your blood.  As time passes.... communicate, listen, be honest, be open, be love, be love, and be more love!

My name is Rob Hoyle, formally Robert Daniel Aikman and I am adopted
Birthplace: Amity, N.Y 
Reunion: Yes
Occupation: retail and music producer 
Hobbies: riding motorcycles 
Relationship: Married; father of 3 children. 

Why don’t men talk about being adopted?

I can’t speak for other guys but I have always been open about my adoption.

Is it unmanly to talk about being adopted because it is an emotional issue?

I don’t think it’s unmanly to discuss the issue. In fact it has helped me deal throughout the years talking about my situation.

Do you think adoption affects women differently than men?

I think adoption affects people differently regardless of sex. I feel like it depends on the individual and the personality of him or her. Adoption has played a huge factor in how I’ve developed since childhood. I have always been curious, always wanting to know my biological roots. I knew since a very young age that I was adopted.

I don’t think women care more then men. We may sometimes carry it a little differently, but I don’t think women care more than men. As stated before I have always been curious and searching for my biological family.

Have you been reunited with your birth family?

Yes, finally on April 20, 2012 my wife and I found my biological family! The experience has been very fulfilling. It hasn’t been all roses by any means, but it still feels good to have this huge new family. Overall, my relationships are beyond all expectations I could ever have had. The bad, I realize you have to be prepared for every and any emotions that may arise, as you will be disappointed at times. Don’t set the bar too high I guess is what I’m saying? My father wants nothing to do with me and me and my mother began a bond and it quickly crumbled. That was very disappointing. I have better positive vibes then bad though. I have so many cousins, aunts great aunt and uncles who are all glad that I found the family. That helps balance things out a bit where that void is concerning my parent's. I have developed a relationship with my brother on my father's side and a sister as well. So its a work in progress but again more good then bad.

Has being adopted made you think about men or men becoming fathers differently?

Being adopted has made me a better Dad, I think.  My wife and I have three beautiful kids. I will do anything for them and that’s real!

How do you cope with being adopted (i.e. religion, spiritual, mental health)?

I deal with adoption best by talking about it. It’s that simple for me. It’s the best medicine in my opinion. You just have to spread it out through different people. You don’t want to bore the same person to death with your issues.

If you could sum up your life as an adoptee in one sentence or one word, what would you say?

Being adopted is like a roller coaster of emotions but can build good character in one.

If you could leave adoptive parents with a parenting tip, what would you say?

Love your kids like you always wanted to be loved by your parents.

Thank you Jereme, Rock, and Rob so much for supporting The Not So Secret Life of An Adoptee and participating in this interview. Thank you for sharing a bit of your life with us. I am confident that your journeys will help adoptees, birth mothers, and adoptive parents. Keep being a voice for the adoptees. You have power. 

One love. Peace. 

Check us out on Facebook for adoption inspiration here

Connect with me personally on Facebook - Jessenia Arias

Tweet Me Tweet Me - @iamadopted.