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Old 09-27-2012, 11:57 AM
 
Location: Western Canada
89 posts, read 102,161 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CraigCreek View Post
Changing to a related aspect:

Might it be helpful for all involved in adoption in one way or another to acknowledge that there are always uncertainties about things which occurred in the past, and that such uncertainties may go back many generations, whether those generations be biological or adoptive? So many times, there are simply no complete answers to questions concerning why things occurred as they did, or why decisions were made, or what other options might or might not have been viable. Yet the impact of the past continues to resonate, often very painfully, into the present.

It seems to me, that attempting to find conclusive answers to things which occurred long ago, especially as those involved then may be long gone, far away, or otherwise out of reach, can lead to continuing frustration and pain and a lack of resolution. Might it therefore be wise to attempt to learn whatever one feels compelled to learn about the past, but also to realize that many times, there are no accurate answers to be found, and while incorporating and grieving that lack of information, also move on to more productive living?
I've always felt inspired by Alex Haley's book "Roots". He researched his genealogy back to his ancestors in Africa. Alex was determined to find his own roots even though this meant learning about the abduction, slavery, abuse and rape of his ancestors. He went back to Africa and met his relatives. The truth is out there somewhere.

Sometimes the past is a barrier to "moving on" and one cannot progress until it is dealt with. One can make that decision about one's own life, but to suggest it to others is more than a little dismissive and a barrier to healing.
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Old 09-27-2012, 12:08 PM
 
203 posts, read 200,559 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CraigCreek View Post
My intention in my previous post was to indicate that such experiences may help those who were not adopted have more understanding of and more compassion for those who were. I believe that it's generally wise for people in both categories to learn about their pasts as comprehensively as possible (and I wish laws would be changed to facilitate this, as I've stated elsewhere), but while we are all affected by our pasts, we are living here and now, and while our pasts do help define us, we all have self-determination and are not entirely products of either our natures or our nurtures.

I'm glad to read that other posters here are living productive lives, and I hope those lives are happy.

Hope this clarifies my POV.
Again, I hear ya Craig. And I most definitely appreciate that you are trying to find some common ground between the adopted and non-adopted. It so often feels to me, as an adoptee, that the gap is just so wide. I have absolutely no idea what it is like to be raised in an environment that includes genetic mirroring and being around those with whom I share certain key aspects of my identity. As such, I read your previous comment and was admittedly a bit jealous that you do know so much about your background and was raised with the ability to always know of it. The darn greener grass of the fully developed identity eluded me for so many years. I'm now 41-years-old and finally have the full sense of self that I should have had all along.

I have never not been adopted. And I will never not be adopted. I only view the world through the lens of someone who was born of one family who was then completely cut off from that family who was then raised by another family who was then reunited with her original family. None of this has stopped me or held me back from living a productive and satisfying life though. It's a part of who I am and a defining part of my personal narrative though. It doesn't go away. I have just learned to live with it. But I do feel strongly enough about how the adoption industry operates that I've chosen to speak out and work for change. As an adult adoptee, I feel that I can help change things for my younger counterparts. :-)

And you're right. We are all affected by our pasts. This something all human beings must face. And yet we now find ourselves in the present. Which I totally get. It would just be a lot more helpful to the adopted members of the greater group of human beings if the unique aspects of our life circumstances were treated with more compassion. As such, I do very much appreciate your efforts here to share some sensitivity. Thank you.

Last edited by gcm7189; 09-27-2012 at 12:29 PM..
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Old 09-27-2012, 12:42 PM
 
95 posts, read 62,447 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gcm7189 View Post
Again, I hear ya Craig. And I most definitely appreciate that you are trying to find some common ground between the adopted and non-adopted. It so often feels to me, as an adoptee, that the gap is just so wide. I have absolutely no idea what it is like to be raised in an environment that includes genetic mirroring and being around those with whom I share certain key aspects of my identity. As such, I read your previous comment and was admittedly a bit jealous that you do know so much about your background and was raised with the ability to always know of it. The darn greener grass of the fully developed identity eluded me for so many years. I'm now 41-years-old and finally have the full sense of self that I should have had all along.

I have never not been adopted. And I will never not be adopted. I only view the world through the lens of someone who was born of one family who was then completely cut off from that family who was then raised by another family who was then reunited with her original family. None of this has stopped me or held me back from living a productive and satisfying life though. It's a part of who I am and a defining part of my personal narrative though. It doesn't go away. I have just learned to live with it. But I do feel strongly enough about how the adoption industry operates that I've chosen to speak out and work for change. As an adult adoptee, I feel that I can help change things for my younger counterparts. :-)

And you're right. We are all affected by our pasts. This something all human beings must face. And yet we now find ourselves in the present. Which I totally get. It would just be a lot more helpful to the adopted members of the greater group of human beings if the unique aspects of our life circumstances were treated with more compassion. As such, I do very much appreciate your efforts here to share some sensitivity. Thank you.
Nice post and so true! Craig, thank you for the explanation. Seeing the shades of gray are what will map the common ground.
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Old 09-27-2012, 08:32 PM
 
116 posts, read 85,525 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Scott_K View Post
I've always felt inspired by Alex Haley's book "Roots". He researched his genealogy back to his ancestors in Africa. Alex was determined to find his own roots even though this meant learning about the abduction, slavery, abuse and rape of his ancestors. He went back to Africa and met his relatives. The truth is out there somewhere.

Sometimes the past is a barrier to "moving on" and one cannot progress until it is dealt with. One can make that decision about one's own life, but to suggest it to others is more than a little dismissive and a barrier to healing.

Not only that, but I find it interesting that thousands of people, millions of people, do genealogy as a hobby, or family project. In the past, before Ancestry do com, families filled out long family trees, followed lines across the country and back into Europe or elsewhere, and no one bat an eyelash. But just let an adoptee try to find their roots and everyone screams, "But we are your familiy now!"

Truth is, blood line IS geneology.

Truth is, people care about their bloodlines. It is very important to many to have family crests, coat of arms, family bibles, and victorian photographs.

Truth is, millions of people spend lots of money and time on this. They have notebooks and file cabinets full of family history.

Truth is, go to any ethnic festival and you will see booths for Scottish ancestry, Irish, etc, with books, tartans, family clans, maps, and folk lore. It's what we are all about.

Why is it when everyone else is doing it, geneaology is okay, but when adoptees do it, we are told we need to "move on"? And the perception is that we must find something "better" to do with our time, and that we need to "be more productive".

Scott, this isn't directed at you. I hope I've double-quoted this post to address CraigCreek.
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Old 09-27-2012, 10:20 PM
 
10,511 posts, read 8,446,513 times
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I think you are misunderstanding and distorting what I wrote. I never said that adoptees should be told to "move on" when they "do" genealogy, or that adoptees need to be "more productive" or "find something better to do with their time.

Good heavens, how arrogant would that be??

What I wrote, but evidently didn't make clear enough for you, was that brick walls are not only encountered by adoptees, but also by many others, and that shared experience might lead to more mutual understanding. It's obvious that given the strictures of past practices, adoptees have been hampered in efforts to know their genealogical history, understandably creating much frustration and sadness, far beyond what other genealogical searchers are likely to encounter, regardless of occasional brick walls. But for a non-adoptee to find seemingly inexplicable, immovable brick walls in their own family history surely must give a small degree of understanding of how extremely frustrating an adoptee who is totally surrounded by brick walls must feel!

However- while all of us are undeniably influenced by our pasts, which include both nature and nurture, all of us also are blessed with free will and self-determination, which can affect our present, and also our futures, at least as much as can our genealogical heritages.

I do feel that self-determination is often undervalued and underestimated by some who place great value or great emphasis on their heritage, known or unknown, no matter the source of that heritage. I have acquaintances who take great pride in illustrious ancestors of long ago, but who've done little admirable with their own lives. Conversely, I know many people who know nothing about their pasts or who come from humble beginnings, but who are living noble lives in every way.

Our pasts influence and shape us, but they are not us. It may be desirable to learn whatever we can from them, if possible, but we should not be blocked in our own progress and our own efforts towards achieving happiness and full lives because of either knowledge of or lack of knowledge of our pasts. Stating this does not imply that those without full knowledge of their genealogy or biological family history, particularly those who were adopted, in any way need to move on, or be more productive, or should do something better. Nor should they or anyone else become so entrenched in the past, be it known or unknown, that they lose sight of the present and the future.

Clearer now? I hope so.

Had you read the rest of my posts here and elsewhere, it would be clear that I support opening records concerning health issues to adoptive parents, and also believe that the genealogical backgrounds of adoptees should be provided to adoptive parents. I believe both of these, along with information concerning biological parents, should be made available to adoptees at their majority - either 18 or 21. As far as reconnecting with biological family is concerned, if both members of the biological family, including but not limited to parents, want to meet or otherwise contact a now-adult child who was adopted by another family, and that adoptee also wants to meet or connect with their biological family, I am all in favor of this occurring. If either party has no interest or does not want to meet the other party, that should also be respected by all concerned. Adoptive families would do well, imho, to give serious consideration to all of these concerns and be very clear as to their own feelings and wishes, but should also give the ultimate right to decide to their adopted child or children, once they reach legal adulthood.
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Old 09-28-2012, 05:33 AM
 
1,014 posts, read 987,631 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CraigCreek View Post
What I wrote, but evidently didn't make clear enough for you, was that brick walls are not only encountered by adoptees, but also by many others, and that shared experience might lead to more mutual understanding. It's obvious that given the strictures of past practices, adoptees have been hampered in efforts to know their genealogical history, understandably creating much frustration and sadness, far beyond what other genealogical searchers are likely to encounter, regardless of occasional brick walls. But for a non-adoptee to find seemingly inexplicable, immovable brick walls in their own family history surely must give a small degree of understanding of how extremely frustrating an adoptee who is totally surrounded by brick walls must feel!
Craig, I do not think you are trying to be arrogant & instead I see you trying to relate. However, from my perspective this is akin to a white person with a few common experiences trying to relate to a black person who would obviously have a vastly different point of view of their identity largely due to history (which by the way impacts them in the present).

Let me try to clarify,

Now that in my twenties I have been in contact with both my maternal & paternal family, I have finally gained access to information I never dreamed of knowing. I now know I am not as German as I fantasized growing up & am actually Irish. However, my mother's father took the name of someone who raised him & now it is impossible to follow her paternal line. I have now hit one of the brick walls in my geneology search you speak of. Only now after almost thirty years can I even fathom the brick wall you are trying to relate to us with.

That is why your brick walls cannot remotely compare to growing up adopted with no information, photographs, or contact with your biological parents, siblings, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, let alone knowledge of ancestry or heritage. You didn't grow up wondering who you looked like, plagued by questions with no answers that are crucial in the way children's identities develop. Only if we find our families/info can we even begin to relate on this, because most adoptees will never be fortunate enough to find the brick walls you speak of.

Do you see where we are coming from? You are trying to compare apples to oranges.

Last edited by thethreefoldme; 09-28-2012 at 06:19 AM..
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Old 09-28-2012, 07:34 AM
 
10,452 posts, read 10,638,760 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by thethreefoldme View Post
Craig, I do not think you are trying to be arrogant & instead I see you trying to relate. However, from my perspective this is akin to a white person with a few common experiences trying to relate to a black person who would obviously have a vastly different point of view of their identity largely due to history (which by the way impacts them in the present).

Let me try to clarify,

Now that in my twenties I have been in contact with both my maternal & paternal family, I have finally gained access to information I never dreamed of knowing. I now know I am not as German as I fantasized growing up & am actually Irish. However, my mother's father took the name of someone who raised him & now it is impossible to follow her paternal line. I have now hit one of the brick walls in my geneology search you speak of. Only now after almost thirty years can I even fathom the brick wall you are trying to relate to us with.

That is why your brick walls cannot remotely compare to growing up adopted with no information, photographs, or contact with your biological parents, siblings, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, let alone knowledge of ancestry or heritage. You didn't grow up wondering who you looked like, plagued by questions with no answers that are crucial in the way children's identities develop. Only if we find our families/info can we even begin to relate on this, because most adoptees will never be fortunate enough to find the brick walls you speak of.

Do you see where we are coming from? You are trying to compare apples to oranges.
Even as an adoptee, I don't know what that's like cause I have a photo of my birth mother and know a bit about her history. I don't know anything about my birth father or anything about my biological grandparents. A medium I went to told me my biological grandmother watches over me, but she also told me I'd get into a college I didn't get into, so I don't know how accurate she was. Personally, I've never really cared about if I looked like my family, but then again we are the same race, and we look similar enough to other people that they assume I'm biological. Maybe if I were Korean, or had flaming red hair, things would be different.
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Old 09-28-2012, 08:25 AM
 
95 posts, read 62,447 times
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Originally Posted by nimchimpsky View Post
Even as an adoptee, I don't know what that's like cause I have a photo of my birth mother and know a bit about her history. I don't know anything about my birth father or anything about my biological grandparents. A medium I went to told me my biological grandmother watches over me, but she also told me I'd get into a college I didn't get into, so I don't know how accurate she was. Personally, I've never really cared about if I looked like my family, but then again we are the same race, and we look similar enough to other people that they assume I'm biological. Maybe if I were Korean, or had flaming red hair, things would be different.

I think that mdiums are not psychics, but try to be the jack of all trades sometimes. I think mediums do exist but I am not sure about psychics. They are also people who are neither, but do it for the money. Hard to tell.

Being Korean, I don't know what it's like to be white and look somewhat similar to my adoptive parents. I always thought it would be a bit easier not having always to explain that they really are my parents and that my white brothers were my brothers, but not sure how much that would have changed my feelings. I had a friend growing up that had an adopted older sister and she and her brother were biological children. They were all white, but I could tell that the adopted daughter always felt like an outsider and she did have issues. There were whispers in the neighborhood, it was "because she was adopted". I think there are so many individual factors that effect one's feelings and development.
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Old 09-28-2012, 09:37 AM
 
1,014 posts, read 987,631 times
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Originally Posted by nimchimpsky View Post
Even as an adoptee, I don't know what that's like cause I have a photo of my birth mother and know a bit about her history. I don't know anything about my birth father or anything about my biological grandparents. A medium I went to told me my biological grandmother watches over me, but she also told me I'd get into a college I didn't get into, so I don't know how accurate she was. Personally, I've never really cared about if I looked like my family, but then again we are the same race, and we look similar enough to other people that they assume I'm biological. Maybe if I were Korean, or had flaming red hair, things would be different.
Did you have access to the photo while growing up, Nim? I wonder if the photo & the little bit of information you had helped you feel less "removed" from your physical appearance. I was raised by parents with very similar backgrounds & often had people tell me how much I looked like my mom/dad growing up, but I almost always felt the need to remind those people that I actually didn't look like them, because I was adopted. Then I was left to wonder who I did look like which could be emotionally exhausting.

I was aware from a very young age that I looked as much like my parents as any other white person (except maybe gingers ). I imagine photographs would have helped. When I saw my sister for the first time in person, someone who actually does share many of my physical features, I almost fainted it was so overwhelming. Of course my father was there too, saying that he could tell from far away it was me because I looked exactly like my mother. When they showed me a box of photos of her, I couldn't argue this time around -- I did look just like my mother.
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Old 09-28-2012, 10:28 AM
 
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I agree with thethreefoldme that making statements about difference from my parents while looking for similarities in strangers was emotionally exhausting. It may be different for those who have pictures from the very beginning, or are in open adoptions. Perhaps there isn't such a disconnect, or sense of the self in isolation.

I did not see a related individual until I gave birth to one, and he looks just like my husband, except for my eyes. My second son looks just like me; he was the second genetically related individual I ever met. I had my kids in my 30's, so that was a long time coming.

I frequently, to this day, have people tell me, "Haven't I met you before?" or "You look just like So and So," and I have usually never met them and I am not So and So. I do not know my biological father's identity, other to know that he's Basque/Spanish, and probably tall. Wow. A lot to go on. So maybe it's my father's people out there. Who knows?

I will never forget the day I sat at my computer and saw the first picture of my maternal grandfather, taken when he was around 34. I look so much like him (in a feminine way) that it's eerie. The hair, the eyes, the facial structure, the smile. And it turns out, the stamina I've always had (I am a marathoner) comes from him, and his exceptional athletic abilities have been passed on to my second son. I am not a great sportswoman, but my grandfather was, and my son is. From the time my son was two, he has balance and an innate ability to catch and throw true that shocked me. Now I know where it comes from. Sadly, my grandfather died in 2007, during a time when my original mother was refusing contact, so I never was able to meet him. Please don't say anything about silver linings to me; I consider this a great tragedy.

I also remember the first time I met my brother, my original mother's other child, at his house. We are half-siblings, and he was the brave one, the first of them willing to meet me. We look alike, as well, and when we first hugged, it was like a surreal homecoming. I sat in his living room and looked at the pictures on the walls; finally I was in a home where I resembled everyone. It was strange, though, because of course I had been absent from all the events, and I was the genetically related stranger.

I agree with what you said about brick walls, thethreefoldme. There are layers upon layers of them, more than those hit upon by "civilians" doing genealogy, because our entire identities are lost, traded in, morphed. We are born to be one person, but raised as another, and the knowledge of this, with societal and parental expectations, can be a huge burden.

Half of my original identity is still very, very unknown, and may always be that way. It would be interesting to see if my affinity for Catholicism, despite my parents' atheism, comes from my Spanish father and generations steeped in that culture. In middle age, I have come to accept that I am fantasizing, although I haven't altogether given up trying to find out. I have a few clues worth pursuing, however. I still think my biological father should know he has a daughter out here, if I can find him; what he does with that information is up to him.
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