Go Easy…


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Sometimes thinking about the past is appropriate, especially when you get news about someone that meant something to you, even if you haven’t spent much time with them in recent years.

Families are such slippery things–they are fragile and sometimes easily shattered. They also are defined by many different things, not just by blood. And often the ones that aren’t put together by blood can mean more. We define them ourselves.

When the some things that created them, like a marriage, dissolve, then they seem to disappear too–at least in the physical sense. But we may realize, especially at critical moments, they still linger within deeper parts of us; that these people who were once family are still dear.

So when I heard my ex-father-in-law is now in hospice, I found myself extremely sad. He was someone who had been very good to me while I was married. It’s been easy to recall so many memories of the kind things about him: his easy acceptance of our decision to adopt a HIV positive child, and his special love for her. And his overly enthusiastic attitude (and long conversations and questions) about my career as an EMT/Paramedic, something I didn’t always feel at home from his son. He loved the stuff!

I picture him as the typical unassuming New England man, quiet but always willing to help; that crooked smile, bald head and slight limp. He was my go to guy, always aware of what was happening with the weather, and loving to talk about it.

Maybe he’s not officially ‘family’ anymore, but in my heart he will always hold a very special place as he made me feel welcome and a part. I felt like family because of him.

Thank you, and may the rest of your days be easy…

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Happy Birthday Mom 


It has not been an easy year but this amazing woman reached this incredible milestone with the strength and dignity I’ve always admired in her. Facing tough setbacks in her nearly perfect health, she was undaunted by the changes in her. Her ever positive outlook on life has kept her moving and healing, but mostly is an inspiration to all of those who know her.

From the time I was small she taught me that I could be anything I wanted, something I have passed on to my daughters. Her help has allowed me to figure out my path and feel a sense of security. 

This time living near my Mother has been a blessing after spending  so many years apart. She has given me more than I can really express. And really without her decision so many years ago, when she knew adopting a little girl was something she needed to do, I’m not sure where I would be today. 

Happy 90th Mama. I love you. 

Who Am I?


This is the unending question of an adoptee. We go through life trying to figure out where we belong, who we look like, how do we fit in and who we are… It does not matter if we come from loving homes (as I did) or if we ended up in less than perfect ones. Most of us have this hole that just can’t be filled by the families that picked us.

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It’s no-one’s fault. It’s just this genetic thing I feel that most of us yearn for deep down, adopted or no–to want to know who ‘our people’ are and what ancestral pool we crawled out of that made that person staring back us look the way we do.

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Well, because of that longing that I’ve had just about as long as I can recall, I took the plunge, and sent in some saliva to a company a couple of months ago and got some DNA testing done. It’s a simple, but accurate test from what they say. I’ve had friends do it and while it cost a little, for me, it was worth every penny.

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I’ve waited patiently for the results to come back and while some of them corroborated what my adopted Mom said to some degree, some of them surprised me. Here is what I found out:

Europe: 79%

  • Italy/Greece: 61%
  • European Jewish: 8%
  • Iberian Peninsula: 7%
  • Trace Regions: (Europe East 3% and Great Britain <1%)

West Asia: 21%

  • Caucasus (Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Iran, Iraq, Syria, Turkey) 14% Note: also places like Bulgaria, Jordan, Greece, Italy, Kuwait, Palestine, Romania, Turkmenistan
  • Trace regions: 7% Middle East ( Syria, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Oman, Yemen, United Arab Emirates (UAE), Lebanon, Israel, Pakistan and Iran)

My adopted Mom had told me about my Italian heritage long ago and more recently that there might have been some Jewish background (although I still think of this more as a religion personally), so now it is all confirmed! It is very exciting to have some concrete information. She thought it was very interesting too.

But all the other cultural information was amazing. It kind of puts so many deep seeded things about me together now. Because as I’ve gotten older, and actually raised an adopted child, I have begun to believe that nature has much to do with how we turn out vs. nurture. We can’t get away from our genes, no matter how much we may think so. What is tied to our DNA is real, ALL of us. That is why we as a species have survived and do what we do all the time.

So then too, it is why we as individuals act a certain way, crave things, miss things, need things, want for things, feel certain ways, act a certain way, are shy or bold, crave a big family or like small family gatherings. I have always wanted to be a part of a huge family and now I wonder if it is my Italian/Greek/Mediterranean background??

It also seems to hurt me on some soul level when refugees from these areas are suffering; it’s like I’m suffering–maybe I am on some genetic level.This is the beauty of humanity and the binding of our molecules and atoms. We are all one when it comes right down to it.

Maybe this is the start of a journey to a distant place, a land and history that belong to me. A part of me that has not really forgotten. Because within my DNA my ancestors are carried: the memories of their lives, their footsteps, their journeys across land and oceans. Journeys that eventually brought two people here in the US together,  combining their DNA creating me.

And now I carry DNA and I gave it to my daughters who carry it on filled with all the ancestors from the ages. May we do them all honor.

 

 

 

Visitors


One wonderful perk of being closer to my Mom is that family visits her, therefore I get to see family members that I don’t normally see. When I was younger, much younger, we all lived closer, so my cousins and I used to see each other a lot. We played and bickered (mildly) as cousins will do, but I recall a general feeling of closeness.

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This meant a lot to me, as I was always looking for this feeling of closeness, being adopted. It was easy for me to feel alien or the odd one out. But I never, ever got a sense from my family that this was the case. Just one of the gang–that’s who I was as I ran around with the rest of them.

So seeing my first cousin yesterday, his wife, her Mom and his 22-year-old daughter for (I believe) the first time–it felt pretty natural. He was one of 4 siblings–the quiet one as I recalled, but now, being 60, there was no hesitation on his part (or mine) to talk about old times.

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His daughter is my youngest’s age and amazing: beautiful, talented and all the qualities one wants the youth of today to have. It was so easy to be with her, and his wife, who I barely know! Being spread out all over the place–they live on both coasts and his daughter in Israel–it’s years in between visits.

But I was reminded that family is not about blood ties. It’s about love, memories and caring. My cousins did a wonderful thing for me when their Dad, my Uncle, died a number of years ago. Something they did not have to do, but something that family does for family.

My own adopted daughter often feels outside and left out. I empathize with her and we probably have not done as good a job at making her feel a part. Divorce, lack of closeness of cousins didn’t provide the same kind of broth to grow the wonderful taste of love I have felt, even if it’s infrequent. When it does cross my path and my chosen family gets together, I recall the warmth, the sense of normal and the simple gestures of kindness that make life good.

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I hope my own birth daughters can reap the rewards of this family someday too! So far they barely know them….

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On another note: we had another visitor today. Luckily only my mellow cat and I saw it. Quite bold and inquisitive… checking us out. I snapped a few pictures before my dog or my sour puss saw this visitor, because then there’d be heck to pay.

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This visitor would NOT be welcome I’m sad to say…..!!

PS Pictures have been rendered silly to protect the innocent 🙂

Poem: Forever Stunted


There are two of you

One that lives and breathes before me

And one that resides within

She is made up of dreams and stories

Of cells and mirror images

(The image that is hard to look at)

But that stares at me in my daughter’s eyes

She is the one that gave me away

Who may have been torn between worlds

Or simply happy to skip town no toddler in tow

Handing her off-

Tears spilling down the unwanted cheeks

But the new one

Waiting to see what I’d do

My arms reaching for solace

Dazed and confused in a tiny pink dress

A life once known

Then gone in a beat

Facing faces unfamiliar

A child’s seedling of trust

Forever

Stunted

 

I Wish…


Somehow lately I feel like I keep wishing for a lot. Maybe you do all too? Big wishes, little wishes. Personal ones, worldwide ones. If only I was a fairy or had a magical genie to grant my wishes–even just a few. Or maybe once in a while a wish here and there. So maybe if I write some of them down and put them out in the blog-o-sphere, some will float into space and be caught and granted by some gracious entity. Here are some:

1. I wish they would hurry up and find a cure for cancer, so my very dear friend, and all the millions that suffer from this withering disease can live out their lives. It’s such a strange one, grasping onto anyone it can regardless of lifestyle, creed, economic status, gender, age, or anything remotely tangible!

2. I wish there would be a stop to the madness of the seemingly random killing of innocent people every time we turn around. In malls, in schools, in parking lots, at marathons, at churches… Can we figure out a way to have a better healthcare system to help people who need guidance through their difficulties? Must we keep propagating these atrocities on the media for young people to copy cat? Nobody should have to live in fear of gathering.

3. I wish I could make my children happy without having to worry I am perpetuating what appears to be the current model of kids nowadays. This generation of taking everything for granted, of worshiping material things, of feeling constantly entitled. If only they understood simplicity and that joy comes from more than iPads and smartphones. If only they understood it’s about love, family and being in the now.

4. I wish I had more time to do the things I like to do, whatever that might be: hang out with a friend, be outside, or just be quiet. It seems my life is constantly about making enough money to pay the bills. And it is passing by so quickly now! It actually is frightening how the days roll around. If I could slow them down and just enjoy each moment more.

5. I wish I had more to give to others: more money, more time, more love, more patience. Most days I don’t feel I do enough (haven’t done enough) good for this world. My hope is that some day I will have that chance.

6. I wish I could find my birth family. This is a wish I have had my whole life.

7. I wish I could figure out how to love someone else or if I should. This is something that continues to baffle me. It’s an unending question that has haunted me my whole life. And I’m not sure I will ever get this one granted.

8. I wish someday to have a job that I absolutely adore going to every day. One where I am giving back to the world/society in a bigger way. One that fits into my life and lifestyle more than now.

9. I wish for the world to figure out peace. Somehow for people killing people all over the world, and starving people, and making people move out of their own countries…it would all stop. That we could figure out living in harmony on this planet.

10. I wish we would stop destroying our planet: the earth, the animals, the sky, the ocean. That we humans before it’s really, honestly too late, start making real laws, real efforts to understand that it’s a world we leave behind for generations to come.

These are just some wishes. Simplistic I know. And maybe unrealistic. But they plague me. Every day when I hear the news and am bombarded with the stories of the world or our own country! If I had my magic wand, I would do my best to try to change things. I do my best now with some of these things I suppose. But it often feels hopeless. So maybe if we all wish together, like a giant prayer group or massive human consciousness–we can create change. We at least have to try.

Photo : Adopted


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My wonderful Pippy that I ended up having to surrender back to the Humane Center ended up finding his forever home yesterday! I called today and they said he found the perfect couple. They were an older couple with no other dogs. So he will be top dog which is just what he needed. While I will miss him so much, my other guys are much more relaxed and back to their normal routines. And I’m sure this little guy will be thrilled to be the center of attention. Good luck little guy. Glad we could give you some temporary love!

 

 

National Adoption Month-Post 5: The Sisters


I had always known I wanted one birth child and one adopted child, but what I hadn’t counted on was getting pregnant immediately after my adopted daughter came to live with us as a foster child. She was far from being adopted at that time. It wasn’t even on the radar screen as those things are never a sure thing. So I had a three-year old, two-year old and was pregnant. Joy of joys! And the two-year old had no sense of much of anything: right or wrong, who was mommy, how to talk or potty training. Yup, it was quite the challenge. Not to mention, she was medically and mentally challenged also.

Then along comes a baby and then there were three–and all girls! Goodness help me! Thankfully I had a good support system of female friends having no siblings and a mother that lived far away. They were trying times to say the least. Plus we had a tiny farm and lived in Upstate New York and had brutal winters to face.

My oldest daughter had been my constant companion prior to this Tasmanian two-year old waltzing into our lives. Suddenly her life changed drastically. I’m not sure I had completely thought this through prior to taking this task on. I just figured I would be teaching my birth child that we do the right thing and reach out. But really, that was what I wanted to do and she just got dragged along for the ride. In retrospect, that might not have been very fair to her.

Over the years their relationship never really blossomed very well. This was probably in part due to me/us and our inability to see the disconnect. And the difficulties we faced with our adopted daughter. Time was simply spent just taking care of her needs rather than trying to blend the family, something that turned out to be a grave mistake in the long run.

Her youngest sister jived with her a tiny bit better as she came after and didn’t feel the disruption. Her older adopted sister was already there so part of the family that she entered into. But as the years passed, the two birth sisters bonded much more closely. That was obvious and painful for the middle sister. She was most definitely the odd one out. And this hurt my soul too. Because here the good thing I thought I would be doing for her, and teaching my birth kids, simply had backfired. My guilt was rampant.

Everyone would always praise how wonderful I was for adopting her, but all I could feel was that another family would have done better and made her feel more loved.  That our family often made her feel left out and alienated. It made me  sad to see her so hurt. And having no siblings myself I knew how she must have felt. She did have a half-brother adopted by another family that we kept in touch with, but they communicated rarely. My daughter would cling onto those encounters hungrily.

They are all much older now and finding their own ways. The oldest and youngest have recently experimented living together far from home and it didn’t quite work the way they had hoped. My adopted daughter lives near me. My youngest is due to come back nearer to home. Only my oldest doesn’t seem to feel we should all try harder to be closer emotionally and try harder than we have in the past with one another. As we all get older, the rest of us see the value of family more and more. Blood or no, they are sisters and I am their mom. I know my middle daughter needs them and would treasure their love and attention more than anything. And I hope someday they will dig deep and be the people I had hoped they would be when I first had the notion to bring my adopted daughter into our home.