Poem: It Works This Way 


To all the Mothers out there

and to how we toil

and care

would give our

Life

for their life

and sometimes do

in child birth

in war

sometimes just 

to give them a better 

Life

If they are happy 

we are happy 

So Mother’s day can only really be 

Happy 

if all the children of the world 

were

too

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.

Waiting 


We’ve been sitting around the house nervously awaiting news about our grandma. But Mama told us her procedure went well and she is doing fine. Even though we don’t see her much, we still love her because we know she was the first one to teach Mom to love animals. 

Of course our Mommy went way overboard because she is a real animal lover. She doesn’t even eat animals, but our Granny still says hello every time she visits.

We want granny  to get better real soon because if our Mommy loves her as much as we love our Mamma, then she can’t do without her. 

So here’s to you Grandma: get well, we love you, wag wag and purrrrr!!! 

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.

 

 

 

Waiting For The Miracle


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Look deep inside the flower for it’s magic

Are any of you like me? Do you day-dream about the day the miracle will come into your life? Sometimes I feel I am so foolish as I sit in front of my meditation table and think about miracles…day after day, wondering, hoping.

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I am hoping too Mommy

I guess we/I do this when there is something missing in our lives. It can be something we know is missing like for me, my birth family…  My eyes close and the miracle dream starts to congeal where the email or unknown phone number appears on my phone and it’s that long-lost relative who has finally found me.

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Or maybe it’s one of those miracles you’re not really sure about, but if it came to you then you’d know it was meant to be, because isn’t that what miracles are all about after all? That life-companion you’ve been waiting for, the one that the movies show you turn up in the most unlikely places (but really don’t)–the person that finally is your best friend and is for real.

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How about the miracle of waking up every day and being able to say: I can’t wait to go to work–I love what I do and I’m doing something worthwhile and important. Knowing that it’s not ‘just a job’ to collect a paycheck. Maybe someone you talk to, some ‘connection’ will notice your talents and simply say: hey, I have the perfect position for you…and you can just slip right into it without the trials and pains it usually takes.

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Rainbows everywhere!

These are all personal miracles I know–selfish and needy. There are world miracles too that would take all the magic in the Universe to fix. I ask for these too….believe me. And I don’t forget the gratitude for the good things I already do have…

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But once in a while, I just wish for a tiny bit more magic. That little spark that will ignite the unknown. Maybe some miracle I don’t even know I need. When life becomes mundane and routine, we must look for this glitter–see the potential behind the curtain.

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And be unafraid to hope for our own miracles.

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Sea-horse on land!

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….

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  • 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.

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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…..

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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

 

Where Has Empathy Gone?


Recently, I put a pattern in my life together and came up with something odd and rather sad. It appears that everyone in my immediate family is lacking a trait I consider vastly important. I’m not sure why this may be true, although I have some theories. But I do know that I find it disturbing on some levels for sure.

As a young child, I had a very hard time reading books like “Bambi” or watching movies like “Lassie” because I found them so upsetting. Even though I knew on some level things might turn out OK, the in-between parts just tore me up.

When I got older, reading “Black Beauty” had the same effect, or watching certain TV commercials. I was always a sucker. And now as an adult, it’s almost impossible for me to listen to the news dry-eyed.

This is all because my empathy meter is off the charts. I’ve never figured out if this is a blessing or a curse. In my job now as paramedic, I’m with people all the time in various degrees of suffering, so you can imagine how this takes a toll on me. But it also allows me to be a decent provider because I truly relate to what they are feeling–and honestly, it’s real.

But it is draining being this kind of person. Not only that, it has always been disheartening when others are so unlike me. And so, the fact that my family is thus, it’s like being surrounded by aliens. It’s as though someone plopped me in the middle of another country where I don’t speak the language. Where everyone is looking at me like I have three heads. It leaves me feeling out-of-place and out of sorts.

It started when I was young and my adopted mother’s reactions were often quite different from mine about things. And when I had ‘too strong’ an emotion about something, this somehow was labeled as being unwieldy and uncomfortable. Sharing these feelings with others was not tolerated either if I happened to find someone (an adult especially) who might be more like me.

And throughout life people would often tell me: calm down, why does that bother you so much, you shouldn’t let these things get to you. These were constant mantras folks put in my ears, but somehow they didn’t feel right to me! They DID get to me, and why shouldn’t they?

As my kids have gotten older, I see the trend continue with them. This really surprised me! I figured given the fact that I had raised them, they for sure would have some modicum of empathy in their bones. But emoting on my part either sends them huffing off to their rooms, ringing off their phone or thinking I’m ‘over-reacting’.

When I had my appendix out and when I had my car accident, there wasn’t much from any of the above mentioned. No help, no phone calls to check in, nada. It was so very odd–not to mention hurtful. But mostly, I didn’t understand it.

So what does it all mean? Is it some weird karma? Was I an undeserving human in my last life, destined now to live out being surrounded by people who don’t care? Or is it something more?

It may depend on what one believes. If it is in our genes how we act, then maybe this has something to do with things. So I will put forth some theories.

My birth mother walked away from my life when I was 18 months or so the story goes. I don’t know much about her (except she was a prostitute and Italian). Could she have been lacking in empathy?? It’s hard to say. But my 3 daughter’s Dad was not filled with it–that I will say. It’s one reason I walked. His personality was the antithesis of mine. So is this where is comes from?

Or is it the new generation? This me, me, me personality of today’s kids? That doesn’t explain my adopted Mom’s behavior though and how different we are, but that may be generational too.

In the end, I know I just end up feeling strange around the people I should closest. This bothers me. There’s a strong sense of not belonging which I always felt, and now more so than ever. Isolated and an island unto myself.

It’s not a terrible thing, but I just wonder, where has empathy gone?

Learning to Love


How do we learn to love? Or do we learn to love? Is this an ‘ability’ that is inherit within us all or is it something that we must learn by seeing others ‘do’ it? It was a question I began thinking about today after hearing a poignant interview done by radio NPR  personality Terry Gross who was speaking to Author Andrew Solomon. He had interviewed Peter Lanza, father of Adam Lanza-the shooter of Sandy Hook elementary school. His article “Reckoning” appeared in the New Yorker magazine.

It was a compelling and heartbreaking interview, and drove me to read the article too. And after reading the article, it has raised so many questions in my head. Questions about love: a parent’s love, a child’s love, love of humanity. What drives us to love and are there people who just don’t love? Are some people just incapable of caring for another human being, even when shown what true love should and can be?

Having been raised on a strange stage myself, and learning about it in my fifties, I look back on my own abilities (or maybe lack thereof) to love. As some of you know (or have read here), I was adopted at 18 months old. My adopted mother’s story to me still continues to be rather sketchy, but she tells me I was found in a prostitution house. My birth mother supposedly wanted to get out of the business, but in the 50’s a young single woman with a child would not have much hope of a future. So there I was left with a gaggle of women to care for me, until fate had it ‘someone’ tipped off my adopted mother that some kid needed a home.

What kind of ‘love’ and care I received during those first 18 months is pretty much an unknown. But what we all know is that those months are critical to human development. Tests on both human babies and primates show that lack of love and attention during these times can hamper proper development later on. While my adopted mother said I appeared fairly ‘normal’ and well cared for, who knows what really went on. And, most would agree, a whore house in no real place to rear a child.

From there I moved into a situation where my adopted father had never really been on board in the first place. My parents were divorced when I was 6 and my mother remarried a man 25 yrs her senior shortly thereafter.  He was a decent man, but so much older that I never felt a strong male figure in my life. My mother cared for me just fine, but as for love…well, that’s an interesting question. Here’s where it gets sticky.

Without going into lots of long and boring details of my growing up, suffice to say I didn’t feel a closeness. And this is where my topic originates. I’ve always been someone who struggled in some ways with love. While I felt very different from my mother in that I was far more demonstrative, I look back now and wonder if I’ve really succeeded any better at giving/receiving love. Growing up I never felt she loved me very well. It felt that the way she did it was tossing money at me. This continues to be the case even now. I’m very different and always felt love comes from the heart.

And I wonder: where did I learn this having not grown up seeing it being given that way? Or did I somehow inherit it? Did someone in the first years give me that kind of love? My adopted grandmother was very loving and was around more when I was younger. Could this have been an influence? But even being different on some levels, I realize now that maybe I really didn’t learn loving as well as I thought.

Having been divorced three times and having a multitude of difficult relationships points in part to a problem. Even with my daughters, my relationship with them has never been as loving as I had hoped. Even though I think of myself as this loving, caring person–when I really look at my track record what I see is devastation. But more importantly, if I really stop and be still and go way down in my soul, I know something is lacking where love is concerned.  While the ‘pictures’ of what love and loving relationships should be are clear in my mind, how to carry them out has always seemed somehow out of my grasp. Or my heart seems to not follow my head.

So what does this mean? Are we hardwired from the beginning with what we will feel or not feel? Like Adam Lanza–would anything have changed that fateful day of him shooting all those innocent children and their teachers? Or was he just destined to be a murderer? Would growing up in a different environment have helped me to love better or am I just who I am? Or does it just depend on each individual person? Some can learn things for sure, and some can’t.  A sociopath is simply hardwired I believe. There may be no helping them to be loving human beings. Or is there?

When it comes down to it fate plays such a huge part in all of life and history! Being in the right-or wrong-place! One egg and one sperm coming together to produce an Adam Lanza or Mozart. So after fate lands it icy hand on us, then how will we leap from there? Will will learn and grow, will empires fall or new ideas burst into being? And in the end, do we as human beings have the ability to learn to love? Or are some people just hopeless no matter what environment they are raised? Will they someday find a ‘murder’ gene or discover that humans are predisposed for self-destruction? Or rather will love conquer all and we and up living happily ever after? The answers lie either in the future or within the mystery of life itself. Let’s just hope it’s the latter.