Empty Cereal Box

Views From Inside an Adoptee

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.


November 04, 2006

Stealing Other People's Children

[T]he falseness in things shatters, and anything made of too much falseness shatters for keeps.
--Michael Ventura, one of my all-time favorite writers