Last year, I wrote a remembrance that I hope some will return to this year for Veteran's Day. And this year, I need to add my nephew is just returning from overseas duty aboard the USS Mahan.
Thank you, Greg.
And another who has been serving as Navy Chaplain in Afghanistan, Fr Daniel Mode, former pastor of Queen of Apostles in Alexandria, VA, my sister's parish. Fr Mode is author of the book about Fr Vincent Capodanno entitled "The Grunt Padre" who died during his second tour of duty in Vietnam ministering to his 'Grunts' in spite of having been injured twice before on the same day, a Medal of Honor presented posthumously.
Thank you, Fr Dan Mode and all chaplains who also serve and risk their lives for their country and for the men and women they serve. God bless all of you!
Friday, November 11, 2005
Last year, I wrote a remembrance that I hope some will return to this year for Veteran's Day. And this year, I need to add my nephew is just returning from overseas duty aboard the USS Mahan.
I remember my grade school History Class studying about Armistice Day.
On November 11, 1918 at 11 AM, the treaty, or Armistice was signed, officially ending WWI.
The eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month.
Originally started for those of WWI, Armistice Day/now Veteran's Day is a time to be silent for a moment and remember all those who have fought in a war for our country.
Thirty five nations were involved in that war. It was 'the War to End All Wars'. We all know it didn't.
To all living veterans, thank you. Whether surviving from WWII, the Korean War, Vietnam, Desert Storm, (or IMHO, the 'police action' type assignments in the Middle East or in Europe, Genada, etc) to the current conflict of Afghanistan/Iraq, Hurricane Katrina and Rita (and any others) etc. ... Thank you.
To those who have lost family members in any of our wars, Thank you, and I am sorry for your loss.
To those parents, wives, children, and family members, remember as John Conlee sings, "They Also Serve Who Only Stand and Wait..."
To those who gave their lives, Thank you, and may we never forget you.
by John McCrae
In Flanders Fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved, and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.
Take up our quarrel with the foe
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch, be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.
Thursday, November 10, 2005
And Two Become One…….
And Two Become One…….
I have never seen a photo that expressed this Truth more purely, more simply,
more eloquently than this one of my grandson, Kyle David.
It is why God created Marriage.
It is why it is only between Man and Woman.
It is why it is Indissoluble.
It is why it is Sacrament when between ANY Baptized Man and Woman.
It is why God Hates Divorce.
Kudos to the photographer.
The gift of the sacrament is at the same time a vocation and commandment
for the Christian spouses, that they may remain faithful to each other forever, beyond every trial and difficulty, in generous obedience to the holy will of the Lord: "What therefore God has joined together, let not man put asunder."
To bear witness to the inestimable value of the indissolubility and fidelity of marriage is one of the most precious and most urgent tasks of Christian couples in our time. So, with all my brothers who participated in the Synod of Bishops, I praise and encourage those numerous couples who, though encountering no small difficulty, preserve and develop the value of indissolubility: Thus in a humble and courageous manner they perform the role committed to them of being in the world a "sign"--a small and precious sign, sometimes also subjected to temptation, but always renewed--of the unfailing fidelity with which God and Jesus Christ love each and every human being. But it is also proper to recognize the value of the witness of those spouses who, even when abandoned by their partner, with the strength of faith and of Christian hope have not entered a new union: These spouses too give an authentic witness to fidelity, of which the world today has a great need. For this reason they must be encouraged and helped by the pastors and the faithful of the church.
~~FAMILIARIS CONSORTIO Pope John Paul II
The groom says:I (...), take you (...) to be my wife.
I promise to be true to you in good times and in bad,
in sickness and in health.
I will love you and honor you all the days of my life.
The bride says:I (...), take you (...) to be my husband.
I promise to be true to you in good times and in bad,
in sickness and in health.
I will love you and honor you all the days of my life.
"Right is still right if nobody is right,
and wrong is still wrong if everybody is wrong,"
Archbishop Fulton J Sheen author of The Life of Christ
Malachi 2: 13-17
And this again you do. You cover the LORD's altar with tears, with weeping and groaning because he no longer regards the offering or accepts it with favor at your hand. You ask, "Why does he not?"
Because the LORD was witness the covenant between you and the wife of your youth, to whom you have been faithless, though she is your companion and your wife by covenant. Has not the one God made and sustained for us the spirit of life? And what does he desire? Godly offspring. So take heed to yourselves, and let none be faithless to the wife of his youth.
"For I hate divorce, says the LORD the God of
Wednesday, November 09, 2005
I missed the first airing of the debate between Constance Ahrons and Elizabeth Marquardt tonight, but watched it on the second airing.
Not at all scientific, but one observation I immediately noted is that one has gray hair (my generation) and the other doesn't (my kids' generation) .
Another observation was that the gray haired one is still defending and reassuring us that kids adapt. The other, the one who IS a child of divorce says that they may adapt, but that the wounds we inflicted on our kids are MUCH deeper than just 'how to tell them' and 'learn to parent effectively with your former spouse'.
As she of the younger generation has said, this is the FIRST study done by a member of the generation who has LIVED through our generation's 'self-realization' and 'no fault' divorce.
What we were 'promised' and is still defended by those who must cling to their 'proofs' that divorce is good, is ok, is best for the kids...... never materialized in our kids' hearts, and it is time that we realize this and accept the fact.
While the gray haired one was defending her study/book, and questioning the scientific nature and 'peer-review' status of the younger's study/book, the younger one pointed out that the significant difference between the two was having was a study of a group of less than 150 -- all children of divorce and the other was a study that had ten times that many respondents, incorporating two groups, those from divorced families and those from intact families.
This generation ("Gen X"), the one that has been discussed for so many years as though they did not really have any feelings other than those that we adults projected on them, is beginning to speak, and it is time for those of us who thought we were so
smart to begin to LISTEN to what they have to say.
Instead of demanding our 'right to be happy', etc, we need to hear from that generation. And actually, if they did a study of those 'kids' whose parents divorced when they were already adult... many would say VERY similar things to those which Elizabeth Marquardt's generation is saying.
I have seen the results of many divorces that occured after the kids were grown. I have heard the questioning of everything the parents had taught them. I have seen and heard the anger and the hurt of friends who felt that their entire life was based on lies as a result of their parent's decision to walk out on the marriage.
I have seen them leave the Church, lose their Faith, etc because of the 'hypocrisy' of the parents who had said that they were together until death... but only stayed til the last was almost 18 'for the good of the kids' like they had been on a countdown for many years, ticking off the days/months/years until they could finally be 'free' for self-actualization, happiness, their soul mate.. whatever.
I also lived with the results long before our own divorce, and saw first hand the results at all holidays and family events.
At no time does Elizabeth Marquardt advocate staying in a truly violent and abusive home.
And either do I. A truly abusive spouse endangers the lives of family members.
But the vast majority of no fault, forced, unilateral divorce do not fit into that category.
Don't try to justify divorce, abandoning of wedding vows until you have read her book and at least attempted to hear the third side of this ... the one that we all 'claimed' would be so much better off if 'I' am happier elsewhere.... get her book.
The closest we have come before was Judith Wallerstein's books/study, and perhaps Maggie Gallagher's. The difference is that THIS one is done BY a child of divorce with other children of divorce, speaking for themselves.
It is the first of many, I think, that will attempt to open our eyes to truth.
11/10/2005 found on http://www.familyscholars.org/
The transcript to this can be found here, and scroll down til you find the section between Elizabeth Marquardt and Constance Ahrons.
Also, her CBN/700 Club interview can be found here.
Tuesday, November 08, 2005
Another email this morning from Diane Sollee of smartmarriages.com about Elizabeth Marquardt. The highlighted/colored sections were done by this writer, not by Diane. I also added hyperlinks where needed. (And I have the referenced NY Times stories/letters if anyone cannot read them online).
- MARQUARDT VS. AHRONS
Elizabeth Marquardt, author of Between Two Worlds will debate Constance
Ahrons, author of The Good Divorce, on Anderson Cooper 360 on CNN tonight.
The show airs 9-11 pm Eastern time. Please forward this to your lists.
If you haven't bought the Marquardt book by now, hope you realize you should
do so. You need to bone up. Buy it now and get Elizabeth to sign it in
Atlanta. It's only $16.47 on amazon. To order, click:
(For more information on her book, and about Elizabeth, see here added by WICatholic)
- BETWEEN-TWO-WORLDS LETTERS TO ED OF NEW YORK TIMES
This morning's 700 Club feature on Between Two Worlds was great -- featured
Marquardt and several adult children of divorce including Jeff Williams.
Here is Elizabeth's post this morning on the Family Scholars Blog about NY
Times Letters to Editor department. While it's true that the editors get to
select letters according to their bias, it is still vitally important that
you write letters. And, tonight after Anderson Cooper, get on their website
and send emails. - diane
The New York Times ran five letters to the editor today
(http://www.nytimes.com/2005/11/08/opinion/l08divorce.html) in response to
the story on Saturday about the new study of children of divorce reported in
my book, Between Two Worlds.
All five letters are critical. I'm not at all surprised by criticism -- in
fact, I welcome it -- but I am shocked they did not see fit to run at least
one positive letter.
Why do I suspect they got at least a few?
Because my op-ed the next day in the Washington Post (whose readers may be
only slightly less liberal than the Times' readers, but only slightly) has
generated, so far, 160 emails to me from readers. Fully 3/4 are
overwhelmingly positive, the rest are critical. I know an op-ed is a little
different from a news story, but the subject is the same, and I'll bet there
were at least a few Times readers like those many Post readers I heard from
-- grown children of divorce, agonized divorced parents, married parents who
chose to stick it out in troubled marriages and are glad they did,
grandparents worried about their grandchildren, and many professionals
including a pediatrician, attorneys, two kindergarten teachers, several
therapists, and a divorce mediator -- who all wrote to tell me that I was
right, with a number of them saying something along the lines of 'thank God
someone is willing to tell the truth.'
Maybe they're planning on running the others tomorrow :)
In the meantime, about the letters they ran:
In the otherwise excellent news article, there wasn't space to capture every
nuance of the study and I think that some letter writers as a result might
have formed a wrong impression.
Most of the letter writers assume that I believe it's better for children to
be stuck in abusive families rather than experience divorce. Nothing is
further from the truth, not in the data I have, nor in my opinion. In the
study we compared grown children of 'good' and 'bad' divorces with those
from three types of marriages: unhappy but low conflict marriages, unhappy
and high conflict marriages, and happy marriages. Grown children of 'good'
divorces fared worse on many indicators than those from unhappy, low
conflict marriages and two-thirds of divorces end low-conflict marriages.
Second, one letter raises the problem that perhaps those who divorced had
parenting skills problems that would have been apparent even if they had not
divorced, which is possible. Without being able to randomly assign people to
divorced or intact families we'll never be able to definitively 'prove' that
divorce is the cause of any problem. Every social scientist struggles with
this dilemma. But we did several things to tackle that problem, including
looking at the level of parental conflict (a significant parenting skills
area) reported by the grown children of divorce. It turns out only 1/5 say
their parents had 'a lot' of conflict after the divorce yet a great number
of them reported much higher rates of problems than those from intact
In short: We found that children of 'good' divorces fare worse on many
indicators than those from unhappy marriages, so long as that marriage was
low conflict, as most are that end in divorce.
Anyway, I welcome criticism. I also welcome the flood of positive letters
I'm receiving from grown children of divorce and concerned professionals who
see this happening to children every day. I'm sorry the Times did not see
fit to publish even one letter like that.
- Elizabeth Marquardt
So in Wisconsin, if I am told that I must not feed or give any water to a patient
in my care, because they are starving/dehydrating her to death, I must lose my
job for refusing to follow through on this? AND there is always the danger then
of not being hired again, someplace else.
Thank you, Gov Doyle. Not. (Scroll down for the story)
And now, he is working on vetoing these, too:
(Thank you, Catholic Fire!)
MADISON — Based on research suggesting a fetus feels pain at five months,
a state Assembly bill would make physicians tell a patient seeking an abortion
that her unborn child would experience pain during the procedure
performed at 20 weeks.
Assembly Bill 321 is aimed at helping women make informed choices about
a difficult decision, but critics say it is founded on inconclusive evidence
and it infringes on the doctor-patient relationship.
As members of the Assembly prepare to debate the bill Tuesday, their votes
will be cast on a controversial issue that has become increasingly familiar.
The fetus-pain legislation is one of 10 abortion-related bills introduced in the
Legislature this year. While the majority of them have stalled in committee
(and three are duplicate bills introduced in both chambers), the Assembly
last week passed a bill that would make it harder for minors to get an abortion
without written, notarized consent from their parent or legal guardian.
That measure must first pass the Senate and be signed by the governor
before it can become law.
Gov. Jim Doyle has pledged to veto both abortion bills.
“It’s unfortunate the Legislature has spent so much time
and taxpayer money this fall on the issues that divide people — instead
of focusing on what most people in Wisconsin care about — having
a good-paying job, a good school for their kids and
affordable health care,” Doyle said.
Wis. Governor Vetoes 'Conscience Clause'
Wis. Governor Vetoes Bill Allowing Health
Workers to Opt Out of Procedures for Moral Reasons
By TODD RICHMOND
The Associated Press
MADISON, Wis. - Wisconsin's governor vetoed a bill Friday that would
have allowed health care workers to opt out of a half-dozen procedures,
including withdrawing a person's feeding tube and using embryonic stem cells,
on religious or moral grounds.
The "conscience clause" also would have protected medical workers against
punishment from their bosses or state regulators if they refused to refer people
elsewhere to get the procedures.
"Because it puts a doctor's political views ahead of the best interests of patients,
this legislation ought to be called the 'unconscionable clause,'" Gov. Jim Doyle
said in a statement. "It is a disservice to patients and to our health care system."
Doyle, a Democrat, vetoed a similar bill in 2004.
Wisconsin Right to Life, a group that opposes legalized abortions, pushed this
Under current state law, medical workers already can opt out of abortions and
sterilization procedures on moral or religious grounds without fear of reprisal
from their employers or state examining boards and licensing agencies.
The bill laid out six more procedures medical workers could refuse for ethical
objections: destroying embryos or using cells from destroyed embryos;
procedures on an embryo that won't benefit it; procedures involving a child
growing in an artificial womb that don't help the child; procedures, such as
transplants, that use fetal organs; pulling a feeding tube from a person who
isn't terminally ill; and assisting in a suicide.
Wisconsin Right to Life legislative director Susan Armacost said the veto
would make life tougher for medical workers.
"They feel it's very necessary," she said. "The whole atmosphere is not very
amenable to people who don't want to kill their patients."
On the Net:
Gov. Jim Doyle: http://www.wisgov.state.wi.us/
Wisconsin Right to Life: http://www.wrtl.org/
Monday, November 07, 2005
And finally..... for now, anyway!
One of the humorous aspects of reuniting with birth parents is something that my oldest has found, and she has had a lot of fun with it. An example:
She is at work, a phone call comes in for her. The person who answered the phone was told to tell her it is her Mom.
Erin's response to the poor message taker/giver:
HUH? You have more than one Mom?
YUP, Two, which one is calling?
Uh... 'Mom'.... how do you have TWO Moms?
Erin just grins and takes the phone.... HI, MOM!
and lets the poor message taker/giver sit there wondering.... for awhile. She would do the same if it was "DAD" who had called....
A few more words to think about regarding adoption. The first says exactly what I felt from the first moment I held each of my daughters. The second... is self explanatory. Enjoy!
"When they placed you in my arms and I looked into your face,
I felt our hearts melt into one ~ a miracle took place.
My prayer was finally answered,
Though delayed, 'twas not denied ~
The pain of love unanswered, in a moment's time subsides.
God's plan seemed hard to understand.
The circle's now complete.
He placed the heavens in my arms, so precious and so sweet.
Though you grew within another, my soul and yours were one.
We united in God's loving heart before life had begun.
I received a priceless treasure ~ this adopted child I love...
A gift of joy and happiness to me from God above."
Alice Moore, Gatlinburg, Tennessee
Natural Child: Any child who is not artificial.
Real Parent: Any parent who is not imaginary.
Your Own Child: Any child who is not someone else's child.
Adopted Child: A natural child, with a real parent, who is all my own.
~~Rita Laws, PhD
Words From An Adoptive Mother's Heart:
Not flesh of my flesh,
Nor bone of my bone,
for a single minute,
You didn't grow
under my heart,
But in it.
Fleur Conkling Heylinger
Legacy of an Adopted Child
Legacy of an Adopted Child
Once there were two women who never knew each other..
One you do not remember, the other you call mother.
Two different lives, shaped to make Your one...
One became your guiding star, the other became your sun.
The first gave you life and the second taught you to live it.
The first gave you a need for love, and the second was there to give it.
One gave you a nationality, the other gave you a name.
One gave you a seed of talent, the other gave you an aim.
One gave you emotions, the other calmed your fears.
One saw your first sweet smile, the other dried your tears.
One gave you up ... that's all she could do.
The other prayed for a child and God led her straight to you.
And now you ask me, through your fears,
the age old question unanswered throughout the years...
Heredity or environment .. Which are you the product of..
Neither, my darling .. neither..
just two different kinds of love.
~ Author Unknown ~
National Adoption Month Part 3 An Adoptive Mother
To celebrate National Adoption Month, a fellow member of a yahoo search group asked for input for her Library display on the subject. I sent her this, which she said was what she was looking for:
I had nearly always wanted to have children, and thought that there would never be any problem. Then we began to try, and eventually learned that there were several different problems involved.
Even before we had learned that, however, I was watching news stories of the Vietnam airlifts of the Vietnamese children, and broached the subject of adopting one or two of the children. My husband said no to that, but ok to consider adoption. The only problem was that the agencies at the time were not taking any new applicants back in the early seventies.
Eventually, we were able to begin with Catholic Social Services (now Catholic Charities), and had a series of 8 group meetings with a small group to learn about adoption, and for the social workers to determine whether or not we would make good 'adoptive parents'. They explained that there is a difference, and that while most make good parents, it takes different qualities (or additional ones) to be 'adoptive' parents. At first, that made no sense to me. Later, it made much more sense.
In adoption, there is always another set of parents in the background. And if you cannot deal with that fact alone, adoption is not a good option. It is a fact, and it must be faced. Gratitude for someone else's decision alone will not suffice, because it is a constant in our lives.
We became parents in December of 1975, and we were thrilled. We returned for a second study that was much shorter and probably much more honest than the first one could ever have been, because this time, we were not being judged as potential 'adoptive' parents.
It was during these 'studies' that we learned what adoption was, and the basics of what we were going to experience for the rest of our lives. They were just beginning to think of
'open adoption' back then, so ours was a unique and new kind of adoption called 'Open Closed Adoption'. We had choices about how much information we were to be given, some of which seemed ridiculous. (We could opt for ficticious birth parent names—to which I said 'why would I want THAT? We could have first names only, OR we could have all of the information the agency had, including full names of the birthparents and family. We chose the latter, the 'new' way.)
OPEN CLOSED ADOPTION
This was a very new procedure for the agency. It was done only when the birth parents consented, and the adoptive parents wanted to have the names, and it had to be done at time of placement (before the adoption was finalized) because once final, the records were sealed. After that time, the only way to get this same information was court order to unseal them.
Things changed just slightly in the time between adopting our first daughter and our second:
With our first, we were not given the birth father's name, as there was a very slight possibility that one of two men could have fathered her. With the second child, the thought of not 'implicating the innocent person' had changed, and we were given both men's names.
The second change was that the three choices were no longer available to us; the information was given to us fully and completely at placement. With this change, the agency also made a change with the birth parents. It was a policy matter, and there was no longer a choice by either side, birth or adoptive parent. If the birth parents did not want their names to be given to the adoptive parent, the agency guided them to another agency who would agree to protect their identity. Adoptive parents, however, were still not identified to the birth parents.
Open adoption had progressed by that time, and if we chose to do so, WE could identify ourselves to the birth parents via letter or through the agency. In our case, because both of our daughters' parents lived within 20 miles or less of us, we chose to continue with the open closed process we had with our first child, and maintain our anonymity. Our second child's birth mother lived about ten miles from us, and exhibited some emotional problems that we did not want to take a chance with (denial being a huge one, as she had 'no idea' she was pregnant until she went to the emergency room in severe pain, thinking she was having an appendicitis attack, and told them vehemently that she was NOT pregnant).
A few years later, we wanted a third child, and approached the agency again. Because our social worker was ill the day we had our appointment with her, we did not complete the one form we needed to be able to adopt the third child before they placed a moratorium on new applicants. Though she gave us the choice of back-dating that form a week later, we opted to wait, knowing that there were others out there who still did not have their first child. This 'back-fired' just two months later when the birth mother of our second child placed HER SECOND child for adoption, and we were not eligible to adopt her.
With the agency's policy, however, the two adoptive families have been in contact from shortly after her placement, and the two half sisters now know each other AS half sisters, attending my daughter's wedding and recently becoming the godmother of my newest grandson (her biological nephew).
One of the biggest hardships of adoption is the lack of current medical history for the girls, now adults.
My oldest grandson has a bleeding disorder that could be hereditary. No mention of this possibility had been given with us at placement, so we knew that my daughter's birth parents may not know this was a possibility, if it came from our side of the family. It was at this point, at the age of 26, that my oldest told me "It's time, Mom". And we began our search actively.
In under a month, we had the information in our hands for her birthmother. Address, phone number, and photos from a year book of two half sisters! My daughter opted to send a certified letter, and agreed that I could also write one to be included. Not long after sending it, my daughter got a phone call from her, and they talked for a long time. We met just a couple of weeks later, and have been in contact ever since.
About seven months later, my second daughter said she would just like to have the same information, but was uncertain about contact. So the woman who had helped us the first time, now helped us a second time. In the course of lunch with her on the day that she gave us the picture of a half brother and current address of her birthmother, I inadvertently gave Mary a missing clue she needed to find my oldest's birth father.
By the time we got home from that lunch, Mary had not only found him, but spoken to him, and had him cheerfully agreeing to a DNA test!! The test was important only because of the bleeding disorder. When the results came back, he held and hugged his daughter just a few days later for the first time in 27 years.
The relationship with both has cooled down some from the hectic first days, but my oldest now has a way to know ongoing and past medical history! She learned that one side has Crohn's disease, and the other side has Reynaud's and Tourette's Syndrome, VERY IMPORTANT information she would never have had if she had not searched and found her birth parents!
My second daughter finally decided nearly a year later, that she wanted to ask her birth mother for her own medical history, and also chose to send a certified letter to her. The form came back signed by her birth mother, but to this day, two years later, there has been no response.
She had sent an announcement of the birth of her first son with photos, and will soon send the same about her second son's birth. She thinks that there is a possibility that her birth mother is waiting for BOTH girls to want contact. (I think it is a continuation of the original denial, but we have no way of knowing for sure). There has, however, been another difference in this one, as my second daughter has opted for several 'drive-bys' past the house a few times in the past two years, just being curious. She is not even tempted to stop, though, because she feels that there is a reason for the no response that she won't intrude on.
It is not contact that is needed, though that is a nice aspect if it happens. But the medical history is something that is very much needed, as anyone in the medical profession can tell you. And THAT is what my second daughter really wants. She has not wanted to pursue finding which of two men is her birth father at this time, because of the no response from her birthmother. Long ago, they opted not to give ANY medical history, so she does not even have 27 year old information from that side of her history.
Another reason many want to search besides the medical history is just to know how they came to be, and why they were placed for adoption in the first place. If no contact is wanted, a simple nice letter letting the now adult 'child' know that they were not forgotten, not abandoned, with a simple explanation of what happened will often suffice. It is the honesty that they hunger for, the knowing that they have roots, that they were not forgotten that is needed. It is no different than anyone who has an interest in genealogy, except that none of the family is 'known'.
In the beginning of this, I said that one of the reasons for the study done by the agency was to determine whether or not we would make good 'adoptive' parents. There are many similarities in our family with any other, but there are also differences that must be faced from the beginning in order to be successful.
While looking into adopting a third child, we also had gone to a new fertility specialist. We did have a biological son, born nine months after telling our social worker that we would wait until they reopened applications to apply for our third child! We now had a son, as well as our daughters. Though emotionally there is no difference in the love we have for our children, in reality there ARE differences that cannot be denied.
- Resemblance to each other just is not there, except in our hearts. My three do not look like each other, nor like us. This fact has led to interesting observations by strangers at times, and to interesting conversations, as well. Several times, my oldest was asked where she got her curly hair from, and replied "From my mother!" While SHE was speaking of the fact that I had combed and fixed her hair, the questioner would look at me (and my straight-as-a-stick fine hair) and smile placatingly. Classmates would say to the girls "You two do not look at all like sisters!" The only time that strangers see any possible resemblance is in photos that include both parents and the three of them, with Dad's darker coloring and my short stature lighter coloring.
- Filling out medical forms for our children is not easy, and in the event of a serious illness can be a very frustrating experience. The doctors have nothing to guide them. As they become adults and have children of their own, our daughters have the added frustration that we experienced first hand. Lack of knowledge of this means added tests to rule out or include things that could be ruled out/included simply by history!! This could also be life threatening in some cases.
- There IS another set of parents 'out there' for each adopted child that does not exist for our son. There is the internal questions for all of us that need to be talked about, addressed in some way. The girls did not enter our family in the 'normal way', and therefore, must be told about the fact of adoption. That means that decisions must be made early on, about many things. When to tell them, how to tell them, why to tell them, what to tell them. The longer this is put off, the harder it becomes. To our family, their adoption was just another way of becoming family. Some have vaginal deliveries, some have C-sections, some adopt. Our girls knew from the day that they came home, as they grew up, as they could understand it. They never did not know. Some choose to use 'age' as the time to tell their children (5 yrs, 10 yrs, etc), but that simply causes complications, IMHO that can put strains on relationships and trust. The child suddenly learns something that was 'secret' before, that somehow changes things. As to what to tell them, truth and honesty is primary, always!
- Just as many search their family history for 'roots', adoptees also often feel that need. However, to search MY family never answers their questions for them. Yes, it is nice to know the history of their parents' families, and how we got to live where we live, marry who we did, etc. But that is not how THEY came into being. That history belongs to… the other set of parents. Our children, therefore, have TWO family histories. Ours, and that of their birth parents. And eventually, they may feel the need to learn it. We, as adoptive parents can deny this and hurt our children, or we can face it and help them. But if they have that need to know, they will search.
- This is, perhaps, the BIGGEST difference in adoptive families and birth families. Birth families will never need to deal with any possibility of having another set of parents, siblings, and extended family enter the picture 'someday'. An adoptive family MUST be able to accept this possibility, and learn how to accept the fact that their child can love two families if it happens. We cannot ever be replaced as parents because of the history between us, and have nothing to fear in that way. But there are, and can be, feelings that come which we have to contend with that just do not happen in birth families. Realizing early on that this is a possibility, we can also prepare ourselves for it.
A wise birth mother who helped me to find my daughters' birth families told me a few things that have helped me to deal with and solve my feelings as each came (a little fear or apprehension of being 'replaced', jealousy at times, inadequacy as in 'what if she likes them better?' etc):
"Just as a mother can love more than one child, so can a child love more than one mother". Oh, so very true! Because we are so very different, to begin with, the relationships with each of us is different! Because of the history between us, I am still my daughter's 'Mom', and her birth mother is more 'friend' – but who among us cannot use more friends?
"A comes before B even in mothers! Adoptive Mom and Birth Mom."
"One gave Life, and the Other gave the skills to live that life". And all I can add to that is … AMEN.
Thirty years ago, on October 15, 1975, two women became mothers. One gave life, the other was waiting to give that child the skills to live that life. Our daughter now has both of us.
Twenty seven years ago and twenty four years ago, THREE women became mothers. One gave life to two, and the Others have taught those two girls the skills to live. Two half sisters now have each other AND their families, and await a day when their birth mother may want contact.
Twenty three years ago, a son entered the family, having only one mother and father, but his sisters have caused HIS family to grow. His response to them having 'other brothers'?
"I WAS HERE FIRST!" He knows, too, that we cannot and will not, be replaced.
National Adoption Month Part 2
Over the course of the past year, I have touched on adoption in several different ways, both general comments and personal comments. I may have missed some, but each gives a slightly different glimpse into the world of adoption.
I wrote an open letter to Michael Reagan about his book "TWICE ADOPTED".
I wrote an ANGRY open letter about the media planning on investigating the adoptions of Chief Justice John Roberts' children that I titled 'HOW DARE THEY?"
I wrote about an example of how controlling people can become when dealing with adoptees and their birthfamilies. I have the story in my email safely tucked away for reference, as it now costs money to read it at the website.
A special day that most do not even know about is Birthmother's Day, quietly celebrated by many who wish that it could be celebrated differently. It is sometimes celebrated by adoptees, also, who wish that they could celebrate it differently, too. It is also celebrated by many adoptive mothers for so many reasons, including gratefulness, fully realizing that they themselves would not be celebrating Mother's Day the next day without there being a birthother to remember.
I wrote about a special family I know of that has adopted special needs children (scroll down to consider Zach.... ). There are many such families out there, God bless them!
I wrote about a more recent conversation at work about abortion in rape cases... for the sins of the father....
And I wrote about Two Women becoming Mothers thirty years ago...
And in a letter to my father in law, I expressed my love for his mom in the way she and all of his family have accepted our children as... our children.
I remember when we wanted kids, and had so many infertility problems, and (dh) was agreeable to go the adoption route. Some said that they could not do that, that they could not accept adopted children as their own. Some simply refused to go through the study involved. But we were lucky, because our children, all three of them, were NEVER treated as though they did not belong.
I loved your Dad, and your Mother immensely. Your Dad did not have the chance to meet any of our kids. Your Mom did. I will never forget her, ( _____). She just accepted them, from a generation that often did NOT. When we brought our second daughter home, and then took her over to see Great-Grandma E___.... her comment to me that day sealed her in my heart forever. She held our child, looked at me and said... "I was so hoping that this time you would get a boy, to carry on the (last) name!"
To so totally accept my girls in that way was so special to me, as it settled once and for all that our children WERE our children, not just in our eyes, but in the extended family's as well. Not once did I ever feel that you or anyone in our family felt any differently. I missed your mother when she died, (____), almost as much as (dh) missed your Dad. I think her prayers were answered in a very special way when our son was born... to carry on the (last) name.
Some of my own family recently told me that their kids had been 'surprised' to realize that my daughters were adopted after having grown up with them, because, in spite of the openness we have about the formation and foundation of our family, they NEVER realized that the girls were adopted!
That blows away the fears some have of adoptees being second rate, not really part of the family, etc. My kids are simply and forever.... their cousins. All three of them.
November is National Adoption Month.
It is a time for many to reflect on what adoption is and what it means to the Adoption Triad--Adoptive Parents, Birth Parents and Adoptee.
Each aspect of that triangle is important, for if there were no Birth Parent, there could be no Adoptive Parent, and both love the child that is involved. Many have no idea what adoption is, really. (They think they do, however.... for some, it is a way for the adoptive mother to 'relax' and finally you will get pregnant! I can't tell you how often I have heard THAT one after we worked so hard to bring home our daughters, and equally hard with a new fertility specialist in order to finally conceive our son! )
Comments like "You are finally having one of your own!" meant well, but have very sad implications to both the adoptive parent and to the adoptee who hears this kind of comment. My daughter was about six when I was pregnant and we were shopping in the local Shopko. We ran into an acquaintance who noticed that I was pregnant, and made that comment in front of my girls. We were on our way out of the store, and when we were all in the car, all safely buckled in, my oldest began to cry and asked me if that lady had meant that 'we' (she and her sister) were NOT our own....and my heart broke as I explained to her what was really meant.
I then began a very slight 'educational' movement of my own. When comments like that are made today, a simple response is made... They are all my own, but they came into the family in different ways. I love each child tremendously, equally, but just a little differently because they are different from each other, with different gifts and interests. I am proud of each of them, and would not be without any of them. I think any mother of more than one child can relate to that statement, to that sentiment, to those feelings, including mothers of large families.
There is another aspect to not understanding what adoption is, and that is among some people who advocate abortion. I have been told some of the terrible things that women are told, including that we adoptive parents abuse our children, and hence, adoption should never be considered ... but abortion should be?
The vast number of adoptive parents are NOT abusers, any more than the vast majority of birth families are abusive.
In discussions with some younger abortion advocates, over the years, I have been shocked not once, but on two separate occasions by one very similar statement that blew me away completely! I could not believe it the FIRST time I heard it, much less to think that there were TWO young ladies out there who had such similar thoughts, and it grieved me immensely both times. The comment was made after I had quietly said that Adoption is an option most forget about, and though it was not shouted, it surely felt as though it had been to me.
"I would rather my kid be dead than adopt it out and never know where it was!"
The first time I heard it, all I could think of to say is... "Did you actually hear what you just said?" The second, and much more recent time, I had an answer that came directly from the lives of my children and me.
My oldest daughter has found her birthmother and birthfather not so very long ago. She not only told them where she is and what she has been doing, but she was able to hug them and tell them both 'Thank you for giving me life'.....my second daughter has written the same to her birthmother, and sent pictures of her birth grandchildren to her......if you would do as you have just said, your child will never be able to do that."
Nor would you have had me hug you and cry with you as we BOTH said... "Thank you!" to each other.
(more on this subject to follow)