Empty Cereal Box

Views From Inside an Adoptee

June 09, 2008

New Blog Updated

My Wordpress blog is back in business after a long snooze. It's still called Empty Cereal Box and I copied all the posts from here on Blogspot to over there. Hey everyone, come and "see" me sometime! If you do, be sure and update your bookmarks and links. Thanks! Hope to "see" you soon.

(I still return here from time to time...probably for the same reason that criminals always return to the scene of the crime!)

February 15, 2007

Moved to New Site

Yeah, I know. I haven't posted in a l-o-n-g time, so probably few folks will be stopping by here anytime soon to discover that I've moved to a new home. Blogger has been a good friend for a long time, so I may jump back here again when I get discouraged with the limited space and CSS customization at Wordpress, when here at Blogger the space is unlimited and you can do any thing you want with code. Guess you just can't have everything.

At any rate, this means that I won't be posting here for awhile. It will take some time to manually export all my links here to there, but lots of them probably aren't good any more anyway. So, if anyone wants to keep reading ECB, I'll see ya over at my new home where I go by "luminaria." Hugs to everyone.


December 03, 2006

My Three Graces

I just have to write about something that has made me think that there's a lot more to blood family connections than we might ordinarily think. In order for this to make sense, I have frame it by re-visiting something that happened to me some ten years ago when I began to search for my natural mom.

I used to be a member of the now-defunct adoptees only UCSD Adoptee Mailing List, which was well moderated and had a lot of traffic. Since my entire life feels like "the dark night of my soul," the list became a sanctuary of understanding and support. A huge chunk of meaning was torn from me when the list owner called it quits (I've since discovered the Chosen Babies list, which is as close to the UCSDAML list as any I've seen). But while I was a member of the UCSDAML, I worked with a couple search angels (people with expensive software who help you search for your natural family for a low or no fee). One was a lady who told me, among other things, that she thought that my natural mother was still alive, but that she would have to do more research and would need a little money for photocopying and gas for her car, etc. I was broke at the time, so I told her it would have to wait. But she did help me to fill in a few small blanks.

Meanwhile, R (my husband) and I drove to the city where my altered birth certificate and the search angel said I was born (this was around 1996). I used the scanty information I had that included a marriage date and a man's name that my natural mom married after I had been born. I spent an hour or so in the hall of records and in the library and learned a few more things, like the name of my grandmother and grandfather, and how old my mom was when she married this other guy, but I really didn't get very far. The next morning in the motel room, I stood between two mirrored doors brushing my hair when I got a thought that told me that my mother was dead and that she had died of breast cancer. I told R about that thought.

Fast-forward eight years to 2004, when I finally found my mother's sister, my aunt who was dying of breast-lung-brain cancer. She told me that my mother had died of breast cancer. I wasn't the least surprised, since I had already heard this from Somewhere Else. I only got to know my aunt for eight months, but I loved her so much. I saw her getting weaker and weaker. The last time I kissed her goodby, I knew it was for the last time. After she died, I cried my eyes out. I still miss her terribly.

As for the cancer, so much for keeping adoptees medical records sealed.

Since then, I've been very watchful of my younger daughter's N's health. A year ago she some episodes with her lymph nodes and this year with her stomach that worried me. Sometimes I'd lie awake at night anxious for her safety. Sometimes I got so worried and had nowhere to turn, so I cried out to my aunt, my mom and my maternal grandmother (the last two whom I never got to meet, and all three whom are no longer on this earth) to watch over N. I would do this almost daily, many times a day. "Please look out after your niece, your granddaughter, your great granddaughter," I'd whisper when I was alone, tears stinging my eyes, my heart heavy and filled with anxiety. I had to cry to someone. I was so worried. I reached out into the void to have a connection where there never really was one that I knew of. I never told anyone that I did this.

Then a few months ago, my older daughter K phoned me to tell me of a dream she had had. She said in the dream she wanted to tell her sister N something important, something about being careful and taking care of herself, but N kept running from her. K said she chased her for a long time, finally losing sight of her in a huge cave with pillars. Later in the dream, she found N in a big feather bed surrounded by down comforters so that only her face showed, and N was laughing and happy. Over the bed three faces stretched through the ceiling, like a membrane, and looked down on N. K understood that these faces were watching over her and that N was being taken care of. What do I need to chase her for? She's got it so good! K thought. Before she left the bedroom, the "faces" handed her a sundial made of a ring of rainbow-colored hands spread outward. The sundial was the reason K told me the dream. She found it incredibly beautiful, and that's why she told me the dream, not because of the faces.

But I felt strangely in awe after she told it to me. The hair of the back of my neck stood up. It makes me think that there's more to life than what meets the eye. Oh, and by the way. My natural mother's middle name was Grace.

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December 01, 2006

Happy December

H A P P Y D E C E M B E R T O E V E R Y O N E!

My brother called me again last week. I was so thrilled to hear his voice. He even told me...get this..that he LOVED me. I grew wings and began to walk an inch off the ground. He means SO much to me. Soon I will post a really fantastic dream that makes me think there's more to life than we think.


November 16, 2006

Stumblinig Around in the Dark

Although I'm sick to death of the concept of hierarchies, I happened to stumble upon Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs this morning. I haven't thought about it since a brush with it in Psych 101 in college. I think there's something to be said here about this model in that it shows (me, at least) where adoptees tend to have a more difficult time reaching the highest level of transcendence, the highest potential of human existence. I write about this today because it provides as good an explanation as any about why I feel that I carry around a huge, invisible black hole in the center of my being.

Abraham Maslow (1954) created his pyramid model of hierarchy of human needs based on two groupings: deficiency needs and growth needs. Within the deficiency needs, each lower need must be met before moving up to the next higher level. Once each of these needs has been satisfied, if at some future time a deficiency is detected, the individual will act to remove the deficiency. The first four levels, the deficiency needs from lowest to highest, are:

1) Physiological needs: hunger, thirst, bodily comforts, etc.
2) Safety/security needs: out of danger
3) Belonginess and Love needs: affiliate with others, be accepted
4) Esteem needs: to achieve, be competent, gain approval and recognition

According to Maslow, an individual is ready to act upon the growth needs if and only if the deficiency needs are met.

The other four levels, the growth needs from lowest to highest, are:

5) Need to know and understand
6) Aesthetic needs: symmetry, order, beauty
7) Self-actualization: find self-fulfillment and realize one's potential
8) Transcendence: to connect to something beyond the ego or to help others find self-fulfillment and realize their potential

I guess what I'm getting at here is that adoption as it stands, that is, the status quo forever freezes adoptees in the growth need bottom of the hierarchy. I don't mean that adoptees never reach the higher levels; I just mean that if they do it's nothing short of a miracle. I mean that in general, although our physical needs may be met (sometimes in spades) we are not allowed to know our origins; we are not allowed to question or understand; we are told we belong while knowing in our guts that we do not; we carry around the lifelong stigma of rejection and are therefore always on alert (lifelong Post Traumatic Stress Disorder); we feel forever inferior because of that rejection, because we are different and don't really belong anywhere, either with our first families or with our adoptive families.

As I ponder Maslow's hierarchy I can begin to see why I (and I'm only speaking about me) have never felt that I own myself enough to be "self-actualized" in his sense, and most crushing of all, I see how this inability relates to my lifelong frustration about always being too self-protective to step out of myself, to "transcend" enough to help others find self-fulfillment on some level. I would think that when "deficiency" needs aren't met, humans will find it difficult, if not impossible, to realize "growth" needs. We're too busy strugging to make sense of our world to reach our full potential. I hasten to add that there are probably oodles of adoptees who have reached self-fulfillment and changed the world for the better. Maybe they had better luck or determination than the rest of us. Whatever it was, my guess (and I don't know why I think this) is that their luck or determination was mostly inner-directed.

I can only speak for myself, but this model really underscores my life-long sense of walking around in the dark carrying an unlit candle. I need to know that I exist. And because I don't really know that, I spend most of my time in fetal position, inside my own head looking for some meaning that isn't there. I see this as a deep deprivation, a tear in the fabric of human identity, brought about by the structure of Western civilization.

Those who aren't adopted can't possibly understand an adoptee's state of existence; they can only imagine it and/or throw "answers" and advice at me; tell me how lucky I was to have a family who took care of my physical needs; tell me I can heal. This isn't a "poor me" post, even though it looks like one. It's a "me-sorting out-why-things-feel-the-way-they-do" post.

[Oh, and does anyone know where Peter (Acts of Resistence) is? Why his blog has gone missing? ]


November 13, 2006

They're Still at It

The bitch that bore Hitler is still in heat--Bertholt Brecht

After reading the comments on my previous post, I had to follow Heatherrainbow's link (thanks Heatherrainbow) to the New York Times (the one about the "perfect" Aryan children adopted by Nazis) and found the page had been removed. So I found it on BBC NEWS for Nov. 4. It does bear an eery resemblance to the "egg donor program" advertisements that bombard print media nationwide these days. For anyone who missed it, here it is:
Nazi 'master race' children meet

A group of children selected by Adolf Hitler's Nazi regime with the aim of creating an Aryan master race has met openly for the first time as adults.

Children from the Nazis' "Lebensborn" or "Font of Life" project gathered in the German town of Wernigerode to discuss the trauma over their origins.

The project aimed to create a breed of people that fitted the Nazis' physical ideal and could manage a future empire.

It saw thousands of often illegitimate children placed in Nazi members' homes.

The children were frequently selected for qualities the Nazis regarded as typically Aryan, such as blonde hair, blue eyes or pale skin.

They were often adopted by the families of the Nazis' elite force, the SS. For years those children either did not know about their past or were too ashamed to discuss it in public.

Trauma and prejudice

The head of a group of people who grew up under the project said Saturday's gathering was a means of exposing myths about the system.

"The aim was to take the children out into the open, to encourage those affected to find out their origins," Matthias Meissner of the Lebensspuren, or "Traces of Life" group said.

He said the meeting was also a way of showing "the outside world that the cliche of the stud farm with blond-haired, blue-eyed parents is not correct".

Many children from the project grew up to face prejudice and personal problems over their origins.

Folker Heinicke, 66, was taken from his parents in Ukraine and brought up by a German family.

He told the Associated Press news agency: "There was always a feeling inside that something was not quite right."

"I was ripped away from my mother."

While thousands of children with apparently desirable Aryan qualities were nurtured by the Nazis, the regime's aim to create a perfect race also underpinned the genocide of millions of Jews and other minorities.


November 05, 2006

Only Perfect Women Need Apply

Disclaimer number 458: Okay, this another one of my blatant naked anger posts. Go ahead and click out if you don't give a damn about egg donorship.

I wasn't the product of an egg donor or surrogacy. I was adopted the "old fashioned" way. But I can say from the depths of my being that most of the time I wish that my mother had had an abortion rather than adopted me to strangers, even though those strangers did their best to raise me properly. I can't imagine the violation felt by people who find out that no matter what they will never find out who their fathers were. And that's just scratching the surface of the feelings of rage and indignance.

Here's an advertisement I found in a local weekly:

"Potential donors will have the opportunity to get their egg donation questions answered face-to-face with our expert staff. We will be serving a light dinner. This meeting is open to all interested women who meet the following requirements:

  • between the ages of 19-31
  • in good health
  • a non-smoker and non-drug user
  • height and weight proportionate
  • not suffering from any medical clinical disorders (depression/anxiety/etc.)
  • if you are adopted you must know who your birth parents are for thier medical history
  • we require all our donors to be attending or have attended college with a GPA of 3.0 or higher

Compensation begins at $5,000."

How can I begin to describe my outrage as an adoptee at the entitled mindset that encompasses this advertisement? I can picture the CEOs behind it rubbing their hands together in gleeful anticipation. They will harvest eggs only from top-notch donors and reap their profits well beyond the paltry sum of what they offer these young women. Their oblivious insensitivity to the product that results from their industry: children who grow up without any idea who they are or where they came from, produced in a clinical, antiseptic environment without the messy human connections to truth, all so that wealthy, "unfortunate" sterile women can have babies to call their own. To me, this ad represents all that is monstrous about Western civilization: the manipulation, the domination, the disconnect.

My message to women who manage to qualify and respond to this ad is this. Think it through before attending the "light dinner" event. Is money your only objective? A more lucrative way to pay your bills than donating blood? Do you think that your gift to some sterile women will make her happy? If you don't see the results of your egg as it takes shape into a human being with feelings and longings and a soul just like yours, you will go about your life in blissful ignorance, won't you? You had no attachment to that egg. It was the size of the period at the end of this sentence. It wasn't even a zygote. Who cares? I suggest that before you answer this ad that you read blogs by children who were the result of egg donations or surrogacy, such as Sarah's or Damian's. See if anything clicks for you, if you catch glimpses of how you will be contributing to the violation of basic human rights.