Poem: The Give Away 


Do you search 

in the still of the night 

when memories moth-drawn 

cling to fire lit sparks

Do you lay

quietly wondering 

in faces that pass

from mirrored creations 

What has become 

of the give away gift 

turned over to fate

gone from grieving decisions 

Is she there

feeling my midnight ache

dark slice alone 

when you could have been mine

Unintended Consequence


wpid-20141115_134252.jpg

The law of unintended consequences….

I heard this term used today and it was new to me. It intrigued me. In looking it up, I found that the context that it is often in reference to the human effect on the environment (usually negative). But I wondered about it within my own life. Surely this law has played a role somewhere….

In thinking about it, initially I believed it was my haphazard approach to living that would bring unintended consequences to my life. So many of my previous decisions seemed terribly unplanned; my huge degree of boredom would motivate me into life altering steps with utter abandon. So then, of course, there would always be unintended consequences to these choices. Ones that propelled me forward down a path that allowed no turning back.

Sometimes, others choices set me down these unintended paths–the consequences to be paid then were hefty and to be dragged with me forever. But they defined me too and made me the person I am. Good? Bad? At moments, either/both… The weight of these, had they been changed, could have reset the entire course of my journey. Had they understood the consequences completely, where would I be now? Different consequences I suppose.

But really, even with a direct approach to life, I still face things unintended. Don’t we all? Think about it: what may be the unintended consequence of each action we take? It’s all ripple effect. It can be huge. Or maybe just something simple. The point is that nothing we do is without meaning. We bounce off of something else.

Maybe I am simplifying this concept.

But really, when it comes down to it: many things we do come with great responsibilities.

So now that this is in my head, I will try to be more aware of its presence: in my life and in the greater world. By its very meaning, I won’t be able to change anything I guess, as the outcome will be unintended. But maybe, if on the front end I think more carefully, the consequences can be good.

wpid-20141012_175222.jpg

Tomorrow???


In a dream last night it seems maybe I have seen ahead to something that I am doing tomorrow. It has been something I’ve been working on and putting effort into…

If it pans out, I know it’s something my dog would be proud about. And he and many before him have prepared me for it.

If it happens, I will share the details with you all. Until then, my dog and I will just see what the universe has in store. 

Saving Me


Many years ago I did something that most think was to help someone else, but it was really to help me. It was actually not a selfless move to save a part of the world, but to save a part of me.

The journey began when I decided I wanted to adopt a baby. I am adopted as some of you may recall. It was not an easy journey, as I had criteria that made constraints that other people adopting might not have through their paths. It was my goal to stay within the US and to maintain birth order (my husband at the time and I had a 3-year-old), so when approaching an adoption agency, they showed us the ‘blue book’ of the “waiting children”–it appeared as though this might be impossible. Either we would have to take on siblings of 4 or teenagers. Neither of these situations seemed fair to my daughter.

But then the social worker mentioned foster care: the backdoor to adoption. At that time, 51% of foster children got adopted by their foster parents. It seemed like a reasonable plan to me, especially since I was a stay at home Mom anyway.

I won’t go through it all, because this is not what this post is about. Suffice to say, we became foster parents, eventually to a 2-year-old girl: mentally challenged, but high functioning, emotionally rocked by her first 2 years and HIV positive.

That toddler is now my 25-year-old daughter and she just had my first grandchild today–a little boy.

It has been a rocky road all along. My 3-year-old (now almost 28) has had a rough relationship with her, which has worsened as an adult. The birth daughter that came after her, has a distant, but OK relationship. And this daughter’s life has been one challenge after another. While her health is way better than anyone would have predicted (they figured she wouldn’t live past 9 years old), she has met with prejudice, job losses, school bullies and lots of tears.

She has been with her partner for many years, a young man who is also mentally challenged, more so than she. When she announced her pregnancy, we were all pretty upset. They are poor, with no jobs, living in abject poverty. While we help, there is only so much you can help those who often do not believe they need it.There was great concern for the welfare of a baby coming into these circumstances.

But she was determined, and her determination has always been one of her greatest (and sometimes most frustrating) attributes.
So today he was born. The doctors have taken every precaution, and so has she, that this baby be born HIV free. My daughter has tried very hard to take care of herself and many around her have been helping to get her hooked up with the proper services so there will be the best possible outcome down the road.

It is so easy to be negative, but success can’t happen unless we believe it is possible. Sometimes I think that she never thought much about her HIV and just figured she would live a normal life, so she has. And I understand her desire for baby, someone who belongs to her through genes, looks like her and comes from her. I get it when no-one else in my family may understand this–because we both have that connection, that mutual disconnect from our birth heritage.

So on this day, I will celebrate her decision and her new baby, my grand-baby. Because her adoption wasn’t about fixing her, it was to rescue a part of me.

The Next Hurdle 


Today my Mom and I shed a few tears together. They were sentimental ones as she lay in her hospital bed preparing for tomorrow’s procedure on her heart. It’s been a rough few days for both of us, but her mostly. 

But during these times of hardship come moments of great clarity too I believe. That is the balance. You begin to see things you have never noticed, or remember things forgotten. 

For me, I realized that after all the years of my Mom telling me that I’m too nice to people and so trusting–after every neighbor, nurse, friend, family member or person who has remotely had contact with her tells me how nice she is and they love her so much–that maybe I get this from her.

And she told me that the day she met me at the Doctor’s office before adopting me, was the best day of her life. 

So with glistening eyes, we both know what a gift it is that we are close now. And that the 40 years we lived far apart have vanished into thin air.

Because she is my Mother, and I love her no matter what and together we will get through this next hurdle.

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.

image

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.

image

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.

image

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.

image

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.

image

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.

image

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

image

image

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.

image

image

image

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

PS Pictures have been rendered silly to protect the innocent 🙂

Waiting


How many times in life do we wait? If we think about it, we probably spend most of our lives waiting for something! Sometimes good things, sometimes bad things–but it seems like minutes, days, weeks are spent simply waiting….

window

  • For the bus or a friend to take us to work; or our car to warm up.
  • The divorce papers to go through or the wedding date to arrive.
  • Nine months of wondering what sex the baby will be or wading through the adoption proceedings, or if the in-vitro took.
  • Wondering if the kid will ever be potty trained and then if they will ever grow up to be respectful, loving adults.
  • For vacation to come–or even the weekend.
  • The doctor’s call with results of the tests.
  • Months of treatments and sickness to be over.
  • One more minute of sobriety turning into years.
  • Enough money.
  • Your birth family to show up one day.
  • Morning to arrive and a glorious sunrise/bedtime after a grueling day.
  • The kids to all get along.
  • Forgiveness.
  • Waking up every day with joy and no worries.
  • Never looking back.
  • For your dog to actually talk.
  • The end of that triathlon, marathon, 5K.
  • Life to really begin.
  • The perfect blog piece.
  • The yelling to stop or the bruises to heal.
  • Summer to come or maybe winter if you like snow.
  • A miracle.

wpid-1030131800_20131030212315667.jpg

How many more? What are you waiting for…? We wait for so much!

It feels like we’re often standing on the edge of a cliff and we don’t know what’s down below. But as we get closer, our heart thumps in our chests and peering over can be the death of us. So, we must just stand back and be patient–something that is not a virtue of mine!

Today I wait to hear the final word on the new job. Nothing huge really in the grand scheme of the list, but for some reason I feel nervous. Sleeping will be hard tonight–I’ll be up tossing and turning and, well, waiting. Why couldn’t they have emailed today?

But such is life: dots of doing little things connected by endless moments of waiting. So that, my blogging friends, is what I will continue to do…..

wpid-20141214_130339.jpg

July 1, 1956


Fifty nine years ago an unknown woman gave birth to a baby.
image

Today I sit here on this rainy day contemplating my life and this last year. Where has it gone…the old war cry we all whimper as we look in the mirror in horror and see another face staring back at us. No longer the youthful smile smirking back at us–the one ready to conquer the world. Instead, the laugh lines we have earned encircle our lips and shape our features and mold our current beauty.

I had hoped my house would be sold by now and I would celebrate today with my adopted Mom in my new home. Her birthday is June 28th and she turned 88. She too lamented at the turning of the wheel of time, still feeling young and healthy. Maybe next year, we say, we will celebrate our special days together?
image

But of course, we never know what this year may bring. My last year within the decade as a 50-year-old. I recalled remembering my Grandma in her 60’s and thinking: she is old! And yet, now I quickly approach my 60’s! My high school friends and I wonder how this could be? Weren’t we just laughing in class together, passing notes and causing trouble?

As a gift to myself I am getting my wisdom teeth out tomorrow! Why is it they are called wisdom teeth and they are removed as we get older? If they retain our wisdom, shouldn’t they stay?

I’ve reflected on the wisdom that I’ve hopefully obtained in my life. The clichés abound about old age and wisdom. Am I really getting older and better? Let’s hope so. Sometimes we try to obtain wisdom, sometimes life dumps it on us through trial and error and painful experiences. Sometimes we won’t listen to people trying to give us wisdom even when we should. But eventually we get where we should be.
image

It feels more peaceful, more slow, more sure now that I’m older. I’m still the same person and I have my moments for sure, but I do seem to cope with the world in a better way. There’s more quiet in my life. I’ve learned to let things go–let people go. I’m more sure of what I want and don’t want.

Looking forward it’s hard to believe I may only have 30 or so years to go, especially when these 59 went so fast. Let’s hope Einstein’s theory was right. Savoring every moment, standing still and absorbing a moment does seem to slow time down.

My hands are older; my heart holds so much now: the weight of the world, lost loves,  past pets and a withering earth. But I also know about hope, the kindness of strangers, the enthusiasm of youth. All these things may save us yet.
image

Storm Of Your Decisions


20150521_102658

Through this transitional phase of my life and a change in a friendship, I have been thinking about what we owe our children. When we make a conscious decision (or even if we don’t) to bring these other human beings into this world (or adopt them), so starts a chain of responsibility on our parts–or so it should.

But where do the boundaries start and where do they end? When do ‘our’ lives take precedent over theirs and when (if ever) can we ‘be selfish’ and do things that maybe in the long run could hurt them emotionally?

These are questions I’ve had to ask myself many times over the years as I made the choice for a divorce and then tried multiple times for a relationship to replace my failed marriage. I justified each and every man who passed through my home to myself saying that it was my time to be happy. Surely I considered my children as best I could, or so I thought, but in the end I’m not sure I did a very good job.

They certainly were hurt by my decisions (and told me eventually as older people) and I ended up not finding anyone anyway. I’ve even looked at the reason for my divorce and wondered about that and considered if that was the right thing for us all in the end anyway.

Each of my children suffered in their own way, and of course, maybe they would have had their own demons regardless. They are all OK now thank goodness. And we can never know how the paths would have been different had I truly put them first instead of my needs.

Where do we draw the line–at what age, at what need, at what emotional tugging? I had very little guidance when it came to these questions. Therapists aren’t my thing sorry to say, and most friends don’t really want to tell you what you need to hear. So you bumble along while the kids get lost in the storm of your decisions.

Looking back, I would do it differently, but we can’t take stuff back. Resentment still hangs in the air with one of my daughters, but we are slowly mending. It could have been much worse with her–we almost lost her altogether. And I would have certainly blamed myself partly for that if we did. But she healed and we are healing.

So when I see others and their children, I want to grab them and say: please, make some sacrifices in the short-term because it’ll be worth it for the long-term! What’s a few years of not getting everything you want in exchange for the trust and love from your kid? Because really, that’s truly the most beautiful gift any person/parent really can have, regardless of what you may think in the moment you are reaching for something else.