27 April 2012

The "Guillotine" effect of Adoption

Often, I have read the various search phrases that bring people to my blog and think about posts I could do regarding those search terms and then I just don't get around to writing them.  Tonight, I saw this search term: "how does the 1955 adoption act have the effect of a statutory guillotine" and felt it was a good question and relevant to my blog because I do use the word guillotine often when I post/speak about adoption law.
 
The word "guillotine" is quite graphic and conjures images of gruesome decapitations.  The guillotine offered a swift execution, a clean decapitation if you will - more pleasant than previous methods of decapitations with axes, swords and the like which would take at least two blows or more depending on the prisoner.  The guillotine was quick and efficient, and ensured there was no suffocation.

Yes, gruesome but the crucial part to me here is the effect of the guillotine - and how it relates to adoption.

 When a person is adopted, they are completely cut out of their family's life - the law makes its as if they were never related. This severing is the same as what happens with a guillotine.  Swift, brutal, final.

When a mother places or loses her child to adoption, she becomes a complete stranger to that child.  As if they were never connected.  As if those months of nurturing, of loving, of worrying never happened.  This is reflected in the falsified birth certificate which replaces the mother's name with that of the adoptive mother's - and it is made out, in the law, as if this stranger was the one who gave birth.  Mother and child, one of the most sacred relationships of all time, recognised as such outside adoption, is made out to be non-existent with a rubber stamp and a few signatures.  Adoption, like a blade, cuts that most precious relationship away from both.  Thus, the Guillotine.

The child experiences this (besides other experiences) by way of his or her family tree being brutally cut off and all those who went before her or him, all those who existed in her/his family for generations stretching back in time, wiped away.  By law, adopted persons are magically grafted into their adoptive families' heritage... negating the fact they have another family, another heritage - one that flows through their veins, shows in their personalities, in their being.  The guillotine of adoption law wipes it all out. 

The so called ruse of Open Adoption does not change this.  Given open adoption does not actually exist legally, there is no recognition of a mother who wants to see her child and be part of her child's life.  Because in the eyes of the law, she is no one.  She is nothing.  She is merely a stranger - to the law, she may as well be someone walking down the street.  The fact the connection she shares with her child is more than anyone will ever experience with her child ever, vanishes, poof!  Because the law of adoption dictates this.

Adoption law is not a loving law.  There is no love, no compassion in this brutal hacking of a family.  Adoption law is anti-family in a way.  It does not care for the best interests and welfare of a child, it only serves the best interests and welfare of adults.  Regardless of the intentions of those who seek to adopt, the law of adoption is not child centric.  It is actually cruel.  It is barbaric in many places.  And it supports dishonesty in the way it is set up.  Love is not cutting a child out of her/his family.  Love is not re-writing a factual document to reflect a mis-truth.  Love is not pretending one gave birth to another mother's baby (my daughter's adoptress created a labour and birth story.  Truly.  And then denied it when I confronted them.).  Love is not applying a guillotine to a child's life and severing centuries of family history.  Love is none of those things and adopters who fool themselves into thinking that adoption is loving and compassionate are not seeing the full picture and are only seeing what they want to see.

When I lost Amber, I wrote endless journal posts about how I felt my head had been cut off and my heart had been torn out.  Again, the guillotine.  

Amber is lost to me.  Legally, it is as if she never existed.  Regardless of what ethics and morality say, regardless of what my hospital records show, the truth is, by law, my daughter, whom I carried inside me, in my heart, in my spirit, in my soul, is a stranger to me.  That is the law.  That is the reality.  That is Adoption.  And that is the guillotine effect I speak of so often.

Reunion will not change this for us.  She will still be seen as the child of those who brutally took her from me, by law.  As their daughter.  I will be the stranger.  Not them as they should be.  I have been severed from her life, and she from mine.  And just like a decapitation, there is no way to put us back together again.

26 April 2012

Never let me go...

Missing you so much tonight...
My love, forever, for you my beloved girl xxx
"Never let me go" - lyrics/music by Florence + The machine

Looking out from underneath,
Fractured moonlight on the sea
Reflections still look the same to me,
As before I went under.

And it's peaceful in the deep,

Cathedral where you cannot breathe,
No need to pray, no need to speak
Now I am under.

And it's breaking over me,

A thousand miles onto the sea bed,
Found the place to rest my head.

Never let me go, never let me go.

Never let me go, never let me go.

And the arms of the ocean are carrying me,

And all this devotion was rushing out of me,
And the crashes are heaven, for a sinner like me,
The arms of the ocean deliver me.

Though the pressure's hard to take,

It's the only way I can escape,
It seems a heavy choice to make,
Now I am under.

And it's breaking over me,

A thousand miles down to the sea bed,
Found the place to rest my head.

Never let me go, never let me go.

Never let me go, never let me go.

And the arms of the ocean are carrying me,
And all this devotion was rushing out of me,
And the crashes are heaven, for a sinner like me,
The arms of the ocean deliver me.

And it's over,

And I'm going under,
But I'm not giving up!
I'm just giving in.

Oh, slipping underneath.

Oh, so cold, but so sweet.

In the arms of the ocean, so sweet and so cold,

And all this devotion I never knew at all,
And the crashes are Heaven, for a sinner released,
And the arms of the ocean,
Deliver me.

Oh, slipping underneath.

Oh, so cold, but so sweet

18 April 2012

The "Anti-adoption" label

A while ago now I blogged this post, What does it mean to you?  regarding what anti-adoption means to me and asking what it means to others. What came out of it was rather surprising (and encouraging) as it showed there is common ground out there between the various parties in adoption and also what damage labelling does.

Recently, with all the furore over the Circle of Moms fiasco, this term has again reared its ugly head.

Before writing this post, I did some Internet research on 'anti-adoption' and what it says to the majority of people out there.

It comes as a  shock to many that there is any such thing as "anti" adoption.  My reading led me to trawl through comment after comment regarding the so called "anti-adoptionists" and what they believe, what it makes them as people, how crazy they are etc.

Reading through pages of articles, comments, blogs etc has led me to realise it really is a matter of perspective.  My own perspective has changed a lot over the years of my life.

I was not raised in a home that was "anti-adoption".  In fact, at one point my mum and dad talked about adopting a baby boy from the Philippines whilst we were living there.  I am not sure why it never came about but it didn't happen.  I recall at the time (aged 10) being rather excited about it - that was until some family friends adopted a little girl and the first lot of questions about natural mothers started rearing their head.  What happened to the mothers? Where did these children really come from?

Fast forward several years and by now I was talking about adopting when I was married.  Watching story after story on orphanages, I wanted to go and adopt as many children as I could.  It was something my best friend and I, at age 15, had spoken about several  times as we walked along dusty roads in Cairo, Egypt.  Adoption.  We were going to save the world's orphans.

Again, fast forward further and I was introduced to the realities of adoption.  How adoption has become about finding a child for couples rather than finding a home for a needy child.  I discovered what happened to many mothers - the fact we just did not matter.  We were disposable.   How far this image of adoption was to the one I had learned growing up!  Indeed, it completely changed my perspective and challenged every view I had ever held about adoption.

Not only did I learn about the way mothers were and are treated, I also learned about adoption from the perspective of those who were supposed to be at the heart of the matter: the adopted children, now adults.  To be honest, in my previously held image, it was never something that crossed my mind.  It was all about the good I could be doing for these children; I never stopped to think of the possible damage that could be done and how it might affect those children I was hoping to 'save'. 

Through the years following my daughter's loss, I have learned much from the many adoptees who have had the courage and strength to speak out.  What it means to be adopted, the fact adoptive parents are not saviours and are just the same as any other human.  That adoption does not guarantee the perfect life, that adoption is not necessarily in the child's best interests and welfare.  And I have also learned that there is so much more to my adoption experience than my own story.  That my story is not necessarily my daughter's story.

So, back to the anti adoption label.  Yes, I have used this label to describe myself.  It was used in a forum once to attack me and I thought at the time, "if the shoe fits..." and yes, I have to say given my stance on adoption, I thought it apt.

However, what I have come to understand, is that labels are unhelpful.  They are used as divisive means and are black and white in their sentiments.  People use the term "anti-adoption" to label and box anyone who does not see adoption as a positive.  Today I have read post after post and comment after comment that not only speaks about anyone anti-adoption but goes further than that to attack lifestyle, personalities, mental health etc of anyone they term as "anti-adoption".  I don't see how this helps anyone.  A person may feel one way about a particular issue but then can agree with you on many other issues.  Boxing someone and labelling them as a whole means you can miss out on connecting with someone who can actually be quite awesome.  I have learned this over the last few years and it is a lesson I treasure.

Although I don't find it easy, I spend alot of my 'blog viewing' time reading the blogs authored by those who have very contrasting views to mine - trying to understand the way they view adoption from their perspective.  Although I don't agree with a lot of what I read, I can understand, at times where some are coming from.  Because for a fleeting moment, I was there, hoping to rescue children I deemed in need of my defintion of rescue and loving them in what I deemed as the way to love them.

Adoptive parents and adopters (yes there is a difference) are not always my favourite people - I don't deny that.  But I don't see them automatically as 'evil' or 'bad'.  People are just people at the end of the day.  What defines them is their actions and their words and even then, 'good' people can do some really terrible things.

Throughout this week, during the Circle of Mom's fiasco, a lot of walls came down and there has been healthy discussion between those who are 'positive' about adoption and those who see adoption a little (well a lot really) less positive.  But then there have been those who are still sitting there throwing out the labels and boxing those who speak out against the adoption industry.  Those who do not want to hear the views or thoughts from those who have been affected by adoption in a completely negative way.  Instead, like the blog I read today and the ensuing comments, they allow themselves to be horrified at the fact there are people against adoption but they refuse to learn and be open to the why.  Indeed many of the comments on this particular blog read today were some of the most closed minded I had read yet!

Speaking out against a system does not make a person anti adoption.  Although not wishing to speak for others, my own take is those who do speak out are actually pro-reform of the current adoption system, pro family preservation where possible, against unethical and immoral adoption practises and pro putting children first.  It is how I see myself.  Yes, I am pretty much against adoption in most forms but until there is something in its stead, it is something I am willing to accept where it is necessary albeit grudgingly. 

Labels do not help anyone.  They only put up more walls.  Create situations where hurtful statements are made which in turn creates more division and mistruths.  One of adoptions biggest problems is with how people treat each other.  In fact it is the root of the issue because adoption is all about people!  The more we open ourselves up to others, regardless of our own views, and learn to listen without boxing each other, the more we can work towards a healthier system where children will hopefully be placed back in the centre.

Not saying we will all agree with each other because in adoption, there is always going to be pain, controversy and anger because, regardless of anyone's view, the fact of the matter is, adoption is about loss.  But at the very least, we can learn to respect each other and quit the labels.  Especially the anti-adoption label as it appears to be the most used and most divisive one in adoption.


04 April 2012

I am a Survivor

"I will survive
Oh as long as I know how to love I know I'll stay alive;
I've got all my life to live,
I've got all my love to give and I'll survive,
I will survive. Hey hey."

"I will Survive" - Gloria Gaynor


Since my last entry I have been pondering the content of my blog - especially the posts regarding where I am at; my head space.  Some of my posts make me cringe. I haven't survived all I've had in my life to be a weak, blubbering mess on a blog.

And so with this post, I aim to offer the other side of Myst - the every day side of me IRL.

I don't cry all the time.  In fact I smile.  And laugh.  Alot. I work from home these days which enables me to both work and care for my son who is four and be here when both of them are sick or during school holidays.

My parents and one sister live within 10 minutes drive.  The other lives in London which is hard for all of us because we miss her so much.  However, we get to cherish our time together more when she is here because it is special now.

I have an awesome husband who has been through his own crap in life as a child.  He is a survivor of childhood neglect.  Parenting has been difficult for him at times because he never had a platform from which to grow.  But you wouldn't know this to see him with our kids.  He is a fabulous father - he does so much for them and our kids love their Daddy.

Although our kids know about Amber, we don't talk about it every day.  My other daughter Noodle is 8 and goes to a great little school.  She loves snakes, lizards, crocodiles - basically anything reptilian in nature.  Australian much?!  Noodle is very passionate about animals, the environment and children who don't have as much as she does.  She also loves technology and currently loves playing her DS or on Daddy's computer when allowed.

Dude is four and is gorgeous (well they both are).  His nature has the girls (some as old as 60 odd) swooning for him already.  A gentle soul, he loves his sister's dresses and currently swaps between being super-man, Prince Phillip from Sleeping Beauty and a fairy in a pink dress.  He is very much a Mama's boy at the moment and I love every second of it.

We are in the middle of organising ourselves for our big move across the ditch - meaning from Australia to New Zealand.  As with most things in my life, I am defying the trend and moving against the flow.  This is my husband's choice as much as mine.  There is so much to do; so much to organise - like what to do with our car, when to get the removalists in, what to take, what to get rid of and whether or not we can sell anything.  This is at times, a rather large headache!

Weekends see us enjoying a quiet sojourn at home recovering from the week or at the beach or one of several favourite parks.  It is all fairly normal stuff.  And the house (rather, I should say, the shoe box) is often filled with laughter amongst the squabbling and noise of children.  Again, normal.

When I look at my every day life, it shows I have survived.  It hasn't been easy, and I don't do well some days - in fact some days, things get damn right ugly.  But those days are not my life.  They don't define me.  I am not a crazy, wrist - cutting, unstable freak.  But I am a mother whose child was taken and there is nothing in this world that can take that pain away.  So we do what we can.  We survive the best we can.

Lately, I would say, I have done more than survive, I am living again... albeit with difficulty at times.  I am enjoying craft again - when we were in Belgium last year, I purchased a very difficult cross-stitch kit for expert/advanced stitchers - I am only intermediate.  But I am enjoying the challenge.  I also just finished creating the photo books of our trip.

For the first time ever, I am also making plans for my future and for the kids.  Up until last year, I could barely see beyond the next week and thinking more than 6 months ahead was exhausting and painful.  Because always, in the back of my mind, was the question of how Amber would fit into my life and the possibility she wouldn't.  Now I know I cannot change that and I am living anyway.

So, there you have it.  This week is not a good week for me as there are things going on I cannot blog about here.  But it is making life really miserable.  Despite this, I am hanging onto the blessings I do have and sharing them here to take the focus off the pain and anguish I always blog about.  Part of the reason I don't like to blog about the good side of my life is I feel I am sending out the wrong message - as in, if I look okay then what happened was okay and it is okay to inflict this on another mother.  I also feel guilty about being happy sometimes, as if it is somehow betraying Amber - because how can a mother 'give away her baby' and then carry on with her life?

Of course that isn't what happened... but it is how I have sometimes felt in the past.  I am trying to change that now - to show that depsite the evil that happened, I am a survivor.  What happened was wrong and it will never be okay or right.  But I am holding my head high anyway.

I am a survivor.  And I will survive this.  But I will do it the way I need to and sometimes that may appear as if I am not coping.  But I am.

I. Am. A. Survivor.


03 April 2012

Frustration

"I want to write a poem, a poem with a twist,
with a razor as my fountain pen,
I'll write it on my wrist.
If I do it right, a fountain should appear,
smearing all my problems and the burdens that I bear"

I found this poem around the time I lost Amber and currently it is circling in my head ALL. THE. TIME.  Before everyone gets worried, please don't worry.  I just need to get this out.  Its not about sympathy either.  But I can't hold this in anymore.

With all the crap going down right now, I feel like cutting in a big way.  Not my normal way. Not the easy cuts that heal in a couple of weeks.  I have been dreaming about pools of blood - cutting too deep, getting back into bed and never waking up.  Not particularly pleasant.

But I don't actually want to die.  I am not suicidal.  Its just that this pain is so real, so vivid like a freaking gaping wound and yet to the world it is invisible.  It is nothing.  And the knife handle sticking out is being twisted in a very painful way.

And so I find myself asking, what if I showed everyone this wound by putting myself in hospital?  Would they get it then?  Probably not because instead of compassion, I get people missing the point.

When I cut, it does actually help.  I find it calming - more than meds, more than anything else other than the beach and nature.  Cutting and seeing real blood reminds me I am alive and I am real.  This pain, this anguish when it is at its worst, is so consuming it feels I am losing my mind and ceasing to exist, that I am invisible.  When I see my own blood, I feel more visible, even if it is just to myself.

And to be honest, I don't think of cutting that much anymore - the last time I did it before this weekend was last year when I heard about Kristy and all that her death brought up.  Before then it had been over 10 years.

I don't expect others to understand.  Its not something everyone gets.  And its not about how bad my life is because it isn't.  I like living - outside of my hell in adoption, I love my life.  My kids, my husband, my family and friends.  I enjoy seeking new experiences and the warmth of sunshine on my face.  I have a lot of good in my life and I treasure it more than anything.

But when the knife handle is twisted, particularly by a family member, it causes more hurt than one could ever possibly imagine.  Like a shock, as if you know what is coming only to find the pain is worse than you ever imagined possible.

Recent events have set me back.  I am sure I will come out of it again as I always do however, I didn't expect to be back here ever and it frustrates me when I have been doing so well of late.

But I guess I keep forgetting that with adoption, it is neverending.  There is no such thing as a fullstop.  No such thing as closure.  Just when you think things are going okay, something will come along and pull the rug from beneath your feet when you least expect it.  And in a way you least expect it.

"Your presence still lingers here
And it won't leave me alone
These wounds won't seem to heal
This pain is just too real
There's just too much that time cannot erase"

- from the song "My Immortal" by Evanescense