Thursday, April 24, 2008

I'm just lost

Damned if I do and damned if I don’t. I’m constantly feeling no one is going be happy no matter which path I choose. Be aware of my white privilege. Don’t get bogged down with guilt about the past. Don’t decide how much support a person needs. Be aware if you offer support it might be rejected. Encourage connections with the community of your child’s ethnic origins. Be aware your child’s ethnic community may not welcome you. WTF? I have enough trouble just figuring how to get home on the interstate during my hour commute home without getting run off the road in time to have dinner with my 20 month old and give him a bath and have story time before falling into bed too exhausted to have sex with my husband. Now I have to be the damn U.N.?

I’m constantly trying to make a difference. One idea at a time. One situation at a time. I use positive adoption language. I challenge stereotypes in my family and friends. I try to walk the talk. It’s hard and I’m finding myself unpopular among even my beloved family members. “Why do you have to be so defensive about everything?” I find myself wondering “Why do adoptees seem to put so much damn stock in genetics? I know my genetic family members intimately and I don’t share much with these people other than non visible DNA strands.” But it’s not my decision to decide how they should feel. It’s that individual’s decision. Of course, my son is only 20 months old …. so laying in bed awake at night because I read a blog that tells me the mere fact that I stole him from his first family and brought him to a different country and ruined him for life probably isn’t the best use of my time. There’s laundry to do. And my co-worker just informed me that if I haven’t started to potty train before he’s two, it’ll be harder to train him. And make sure I teach him standing up. Boys have to learn that way. Right. Check.

My point is that I can’t be all things to all people. I’m trying; I really am. I am so tired of hearing that as an adoptive parent my ideas and feelings are at the bottom of the heap. In the same breath, I’m told that my thoughts and feelings are always given paramount credence and I have all the power. Really? Please tell me where the power is because some it needs to start doing the dishes. I can’t be bothered. Birthmother blogs talk about being victimized and treated like whores and garbage. I try to be empathetic. I try to be attentive and listen and rarely comment so that I don’t inflame their rage or their hurt. So I simply read to learn, and end up being the evitable emotional punching bag. It’s a hat I’m getting used to wearing. I find myself constantly trying to figure out how if it’s all about the child, the adoptee, then why am I still being told what an evil troll I am and how I need to ever mindful of the pain of his first family? I’m wondering why it isn’t more important to be there for my son and to help him, when he’s cognitively and emotionally ready, to discuss these issues. I’m not sure how being in a constant state of anguish for his mother in Guatemala does anything positive for him. How does being a constant beacon of doom and gloom and martyrdom help anyone? I’m just lost.

This isn’t statistical. It’s simply an anecdotal personal experience. I have two stepsons. They live in Germany because their biological mother is German. Mr. Beans married her when he was stationed there. (It’s the stereotypical American soldier marries local girl while stationed in foreign country story.) Fast forward, the marriage ended and there were two children. Children should be with their mothers, right? Fast forward and the children are now 16 and 13. Ask the boys if they are American or German. They’ll tell you American. They don’t speak English and have never lived here. They visit when finances allow. (ie. when their father and I can afford it because their mother refuses to assist.) The oldest hates his mother. Tell him how much he looks like her and he’s likely to fly into a rage that lasts for hours. No matter how much he’s encouraged to develop a relationship with her, he refuses. He hates her. (His words, not mine.) Everyone tells him that he will feel guilty when he’s older because he’s acted like toward her.

So here I am. Trying to be the good stepmom. Holding the party line that he shouldn’t say things like that about his mother. Telling him that he doesn’t mean it when he says he hates her. But the truth is that he does. It’s not my story to tell. It’s not for me to dictate his relationship with his mother. Right? So replace the characters in the story. Gallo should want to have a relationship with his first family. That’s normal. He should be encouraged to participate in a reunion with her (them). I should do everything in my power to facilitate that relationship. I should tell him that he owes his family this. He should always remember that he’s Guatemalan. He should develop these relationships because he will feel guilty if he doesn’t. Right?

But I thought this was Gallo’s story? I thought he got to decide how he feels and what he thinks. So my wallowing in grief and feeling bad and constantly encouraging him to talk about his Guatemalan family because I need to assuage some personal white guilt about taking him from his motherland will, in the end, be in his best interest? I’m just lost.

I know the tone of this post comes off incredibly sarcastic and I’m sorry for that. If you knew me IRL you’d understand how damn earnest I am with my thoughts and feelings. I am searching. I am asking. I am trying to come to grips with what appears to me to be very opposed lines of thinking. I can’t find a way to meld them together.


DD said...

Irshlas, I don't know how many times I've had similar email exchanges with bloggers who are still waiting for an adoptionn referrel or have already adopted, both international and domestic, and it's so easy for people to forget that biology is not everything, but it's certainly something.

The one person we love the most in this world is almost always our spouse. There's absolutely no bio link there, of course, but yet a couple becomes family. No one ever tells the husband/wife that he needs to chose his/her family of birth (or whatever means) over their spouse. I know it's different, but it really can be so much the same as well.

While adoption processes have been exposed and certainly more and more people become educated, it also means that there is that much more division in views. Whether right or wrong, it doesn't matter. What's important is what you believe in your heart is right for YOUR son.

I'm sorry that while trying to remain open-minded, it increases that internal struggle. That's why the saying, "Ignorance is Bliss."

Foxxy One said...

~pushing Irshlas out of my head~

OMG! I could have written this post! I think we just need to strike a balance somewhere. Mindful of our child's past without forgetting his/her future. Mindful of their first family but knowing that you are their parent.

I have actually become friendly with someone who, in the past, I would have called "anti-adoption". She's a first mother who was forced into placing her daughter. I also have met a first mother who is very comfortable with her adoption plan (which is so open, I met her at her daughter's baptism).

It's a struggle indeed!

Clover said...

Great post- I have different circumstances but have struggled a lot with how much of my kids' past I'm supposed to honor and how much it will all really matter to them.

On an unrelated note, I couldn't find your email in your profile and I saw you left a comment at Beagle's place about her recent adoption. I'm not sure how close you are to Beagle but I am throwing an online shower- send me an email if you are interested and I'll send you the details. You can find me at 5leafclover at comcast dot net or clovers5leaves at gmail dot com.