Guest Post – ONE LIE = MANY GENERATIONS LOST

This post is written by Lori Carangelo founder of Americans For Open Records, and submitted by me, legitimatebastard, via email:

Another thing the general public as well as pro-adoption folks don’t consider is that neither relinquishing Parents nor Adopters have a say wih regard to falsifying and sealing the Adoptee'[s birth recoird — It’s the law, even in stepparent adoptions.  And it’s not only the immediate “Triad” of Adoptee-Parent-Adopter who are adversely affected by the Adoptee’s falsified records.  It’s also the Triad’s future children and their children who inherit the burden as well.
 
I found my son two decades ago, after an 18-year search hindered by falsified sealed “adoption-birth” records.  Two decades later,  now that they are of legal age and can make their own decisions, I found his two daughters, my granddaughters, who were also lost to adoption (stepparent adoptions with falsified, sealed records).  One of them who I had helped raise in her first year, could not possibly have remembered me nor know that I loved her.  I had no say in her parents’ decisions and only my son’s Adopter was permitted to be part of her life as “her grandmother,” just as only his Adopter was allowed to be his “Mother.”  This granddaughter was evidently conditioned from an early age to be angry and distrustful of not only her father (my son) but also his “birth” family, and so she rejected my attenpt to know and befriend her.
 
My other granddaughter, however, who has the same father (my son), different mother, and who I had never seen, has told me she was searching for her father before I found her and that she is interested to know about the family and “what she missed”…an expression of a natural need to know.  Is it that my two granddaughters have different genes and personalities?  Or that they have different resiliences to adoption’s lies, half-truths and false assumptions?  Or that they were raised in different environments with different histories?  I’ve had only a first contact with her at this writing, so cannot yet answer these questions, but anticipate we’ll both have lots of questons…and answers that adoption would otherwise withhold, distort, or fabricate.  
 
Books such as Joan Wheeler’s “Forbidden Family” are written to help break the cycle of adoption’s mistakes not only for themselves but also for future generations.
 
Lori Carangelo, Founder ( http://LoriCarangelo.com)
Americans For Open Records ( http://AmFOR.net )

Coping With Grief After Death of A Spouse or Parent

A few times over the past 10 years, I have met fathers who were raising their children after the death of their wife and the mother of their children. I was the outsider looking in at both of these families. As their stories unfolded, the loss of my mother so soon in my life was a shadow. Because of my adoption, I was not ever allowed to grieve for her loss in any way, so to hear and see these families cope with the death of a mother and spouse was painful for me, yet enlightening.

In both situations, the husband/father was clearly still in grief over the loss of his wife. Evidence of her was everywhere in the home: photographs, home decorations, crafts that she made, clothes still hung, shoes and boots still neatly arranged along with other family members’ footwear. Both of these men had lost their wives between 2 and 10 years in the past. Their grief, and their love for the wife who had died, showed clearly in their conversations, their wistful facial expressions, and their concern for their children who had lost their mother. In the one family, the children were older when their mother died and coped with her death by throwing themselves into schoolwork. They became achievers, goal-oriented, never-wavering in their path to success from high school to college and employment. In the other family, the youngest child never outgrew her mother’s loss, grieving to the point of near-suicide, over and over and over. Her wish to become a child psychologist to help other children cope with the death of a parent may never be realized until she goes through her grief and emerges on the other side, still in grief, but with strength to move forward with better coping skills. Falling back into grief is inevitable. It is how a person handles that grief — and rage — is what is important.

As for the fathers, the father in the first family is alive and well, and employed. The father in the second family is slowly dying from an autoimmune condition. His daughter sees this. She is imploding. As a child of ten, she witnessed her mother die, slowly, and, for the last several years, this now 20 year old has been watching her father slip away. She needs help, fast.

The process of death and dying is not easy. Family members react in different ways. Some block their feelings and funnel the energy into work. Others succumb to the grief and sink into deep, profound sadness, unable to climb back up to find a place for themselves. Others react in anger and rage and misdirect those negative feelings toward others.

Finding a place for oneself after the death of a spouse or parent can be done.

Twenty-five years ago, a father I knew as a friend had two teenagers, a boy and a girl. We were members of a community social dance troupe, studying Native American culture, song and dance. The teens fit right in and the girl and I grew close. We danced in my living room – Native dance beat on cassette tapes from our group’s singer/drummer, or even in rock music. (Led Zeppelin’s D’yer Maker, 1973, Reggae Rock)  We held my toddler son, swung him around, as we danced. I was in my late twenties at the time. I did not think of this friendship as the profound friendship that it actually was: this fifteen year old looked up to me as a mother figure. I look back now to realize this, for she had lost her mother when she was two years old. It happened fast. Mother was dead in a flash in a car crash. The father, somehow, kept his children with him. He was a hard worker. And he loved the Native beat, so when he joined the Buffalo Indian Dancers, his teens loved the beat, too. We were whites who joined with Natives in mutual admiration and respect for a rich culture.

But what struck me most of this family was that the very essence of their grief in the death of the husband’s wife and the mother of his children was not stated outright. The story was told matter-of-factly, then, the kids joined the adults in social interaction. Not one person uttered the words “half orphan”.

Not one. Including me.

But then, one horrible night, the father fell asleep holding a lighted cigarette. I awoke that morning listening to the news on the radio. What a way to learn that my friend had died and his body was carried away in the freezing cold of a winter night, on a stretcher, with his teens watching in the street after they escaped that burning Riverside Buffalo apartment. Those kids were now full orphans.

That morning, I raced to the scene, but all was quiet. The fire was out, the apartment was vacant. The kids were taken to the Red Cross. Extended family took them in. The funeral was a shocker. I reached out as best I could to maintain a friendship with those teens, but they left Buffalo soon after high school graduation. Sue and Chris, if you read this, I am looking for you. Sue: you went to school with my younger brother and neither you nor I knew that at the time.

At the time of Sue and Chris’s father’s death in 1985, I had been reunited with my natural family for 11 years. I identified myself as a “found adoptee” or, put in other words, “an adoptee found by my natural family”. That point being emphasized: I did not search for my natural family: they found me. Not that I did not want to know them; I was at that time in 1974, beginning my search when they found me.

But I had no time in eleven years of reunion to focus on the loss of my mother to an early death. I did not identify myself as a “half orphan” until years later. The impact of those words did not have clear meaning for me. I would hear my adoptive mother talk about her life in the orphanage, or when we’d visit with her aging friends who were orphaned as children, I would listen to their stories, but did not understand how orphanhood affected me.

I had claimed the words “half orphan” to describe myself only within the last two years.

When you open your eyes and ears to really see and hear other people’s stories, the grief of losing a spouse to an early death, the grief of losing a mother or a father to an early death, is there. All one has to do is look and listen.

Compound that loss with adoption loss, and that spells traumatic psychological and emotional injury to the self. Trauma therapy helps; grounding, meditation, activities, schoolwork, working hard, playing hard, focusing on life goals, helps. The grief does not leave, but the person left behind after the death of a spouse or a parent must find a way to go through the pain.