I'm a gifted adult survivor of child abuse by my adopted parents, who left me with chronic depression, PTSD, and a touch of autism for good measure. Here I examine the fragments of my past. It's enlightening but not pleasant. You've been warned.

If you want to see my lighter sides, here's a list of my other blogs:

We Have Always Lived in a Homeschool my blog about homeschooling my three gifted children

Lioness' Fandom

My Pinterest Boards where I express myself without words

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

There Are No Good Adoptions

By now you know that I was adopted by child abusers.  It's a sad story, and a way more common story than you probably think, but it's not every adoptee's story.  Some adoptees have good and loving adoptive parents who take care of them.

But good adoptive parents do not make for good adoptions.  Adoption is always a searingly horrific act that tears a child away from the person the child was born believing would care for him.  Even when the child has already endured horrific acts and the adoption takes place to save the child's life it's one more tragedy in a long line of tragedies.

A baby comes out of the womb knowing who the mother is; knowing her voice, her scent, knowing that safety is to be found with her and only with her.   When she isn't there, no where in this world is safe and no one in this world is to be trusted.   That alienation never goes away.  Some of us get really good at hiding it but it's always there, leaving us papering over staggeringly high levels of depression and anxiety according to therapists who work with adoptees.

Loving adoptive parents can't change that fact.  They can, if they are wise and brave, help an adopted child address that despair, but they can't make it go away.

By the same token there are not "healthy babies waiting for adoption".  There never were any "healthy babies waiting for adoption".  It's a lie told by adoption agencies to get more customers.  But any child who needs adoption, whether newborn or teenager, is already emotionally handicapped simply because they've gone through a tragic experience which leaves them needing an adoption in the first place.

An adoption may or may not be a rescue, but every adoption is a tragedy.

Sick Leave

The up side to my recent frequent bouts of illness is that while I'm sick the internal taskmaster between my ears lifts up on the depression.  I may be sore, nauseous, dizzy, and fatigued, but I'm not down.  There's usually about a day and a half after the illness lifts when I'm tired but clear-headed.  Then my strength returns and also my despair.  I'm once again back in the tear-salt mines, working out a seam of misery to see if I can reach it's bitter end.


Maybe I can talk my inner boss into letting me have time off for good behavior.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Looks Like Anger, Feels Like Grief

I've felt strange lately.  I'm highly over-sensitized for one thing.  Ever since my illness this fall I've heard my pulse pounding constantly in my ear.  It never stops.   Every thing scratches at my skin even when they are clean.

I can't sleep at night.  I'll toss and turn for hours, then drag through the day too tired to do anything.  Exercise doesn't help.  Neither does sex.

Exhaustion makes me forgetful, resentful, short-tempered and snappish.  It looks like I'm constantly angry, but I'm not angry at all.  I just REALLY NEED SLEEP. LIKE NOW!

But there is an emotion I feel.  It started as a trickle, something so deeply buried I hardly new it was there.  But for months it's been getting closer to the surface, rising higher and higher inexorably until now it's all I see, stretching out away from me far into the distance.

It's grief.

Grief over being abandoned and abused by my adopters.

A grief that's always been there but that I've never allowed myself to feel before.  A grief so large it dwarfs and flattens every other emotion in my life, smashing them into unrecognizable shapes.

I can't reach my other feelings right now.  I know what's supposed to be there, what I've felt before.  I know from memory what I feel in my heart.  But my actual moment-to-moment feelings are completely swamped.

My husband told me, "I know this is something you've needed to work through since before we met.  I know you're changing.  But what's manifesting right now looks like anger and resentment at the whole world."  And all I can do is hug him and thank the Goddess he is willing to hang on for the ride.

Because right now it feels like there's an ocean of grief that I have to drain through my tear ducts.  The enormity of the task fills me with despair.

Merry Christmas.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Long Hard Road

I've never attempted to write about anything this painful in my life.  The level of emotional turmoil and devastation it's causing me is up there with the death of my first child, except now I have three living children to look after and can't spend the day hiding under the table with a stack of escapist fiction (my drug of choice).  And being highly distracted isn't helping any.

Yesterday I sent an email to the Tulane library asking for some general reference material not even related to an adoption search and broke down crying.  Today I tried to write but it hurt so much all I could do was save a few links for later -- not the first day I've had like that recently.

So -- I'm not going to be able to post every day.  I may not be able to even work on a post every day.  Journaling is a powerful therapeutic device, but I'm going to have to take it in small doses.

Also I have to remember to take baby steps.  It's not fair to you, my readers, to take you on a journey and not explain every step along the way and how I reached each one.

Since it looks like this high level of chronic emotional pain and distraction isn't going anywhere for a while, I'm going to have to make room for it in my life in such a way that it doesn't inconvenience myself or others.  I'm not quite sure how to do this.  I suspect it will involve more meditation, although it's difficult to meditate when you're easily distracted.  And more exercise would probably be good, if only for working out the stress.

That's the game plan at any rate.  We'll see what happens.

Monday, December 2, 2013

My Relinquishment: A Forensic Reconstruction Part 1

My therapist is trying to get me to write about my conception, gestation, and birth.  It's a very painful topic, and I'm playing for time by writing about the other actors first.  Hell, listen to me:  "other actors".  I wasn't much of an actor at all.  All the consequential action was done to me.

Still, it seems to me that I need to write a reconstruction of my relinquishment first, if only to get the timeline straight.  Here's an experimental framework, put together with dribs and drabs of personal and historical information:

I was born in late July, 1966 in New Orleans.  I was told my biological parents were college students of French and French-English ethnic origin.  While this information is oral and unconfirmed, therefore suspect, it's all I have to go with.  New Orleans + French means the simplest explanation is that I'm Cajun and my biological parents met at college in New Orleans.

But things aren't always simple in Adoption-Land.  It's common practice there to send a prospective mark birthmother to an area where she has no backup she can call on for help or guidance other than the adoption agency which is trying to pressure her into giving up her baby.  It's possible my biological parents were non-Cajun Franco-Americans.  I go look up the distribution of French immigrants on Wikipedia:

So we're looking at #1 New England, #2 South Louisiana, and #3 The Great Lakes.  But what are the odds that the adoption agency would just happen to send my biological mother from one area rich in Franco-Americans to another area that just happened to also be rich in Franco-Americans?  Not very high.  I think we can safely go with Cajun.

 But which college?  It looks like there's around 40 in Louisiana and around 10 in New Orleans, so for the sake of this experiment I'm just going to say "a college in New Orleans".

We have an 18 year-old girl, probably from one of the other South Louisiana towns, who's a freshman in college in New Orleans in 1965.  What was she like?  I don't know. I've actually got more information on my biological father (tall, red hair, played the guitar) than I do on her.  But I can look for clues in my genes.

I have an IQ of 165.  Since children usually have IQs within 10-15 points of their parents, that would put her IQ between 150 - 180.  She's a genius (IQ 150) in South Louisiana in 1965, a time which did not offer much opportunity for girl geniuses, and a conservative Southern culture that offered even less than the rest of the country.

She's an 18 year-old genius in her first year of college.  Is she excited to be there?  Hell yes I'd say.  High IQ can be isolating.  The smarter you are, the harder it can be to find someone to talk to.  In the days before the internet unless you lived in a major metropolitan area or a high-IQ cluster like a college town or research center you could feel incredibly lonely.  New Orleans is a major metropolitan area and a multi-college town.

And it's the Big Easy, the most inland seaport on the Gulf of Mexico, the center of "Whatever you want, we got, even if you can't put a name to it," for not only the South but the Lower Mississippi Valley since the late 1700s.  That's a lot of options available, even if you have no intention of taking advantage of them.

But I must resist the urge to overly personalize this reconstruction.  Growing up I found my high IQ to be incredibly isolating because there was no one else in my adopted family or neighborhood who was even in the same ballpark as me, so that it seemed as if my intelligence amounted to a lifetime sentence in solitary confinement.  It seemed as if I spoke a different language from everyone around me that no one could understand.

But that would not have been the case for my biological mother.  She would have had her equally brainy biological family and their potentially equally brainy circle of contemporaries.  She probably had someone at home to talk to on some level.  While she would have been excited and eager to attend college with age-mates who could have been true peers, she probably did not experience the utter desperation to get to college and finally meet someone I could talk to that I felt.

Another genetic clue to examine is my shape.  While I don't know I'm going to assume she is a petite endomorph like me.  But a petite endomorph in 1965 is not the same as a petite endomorph in the latter half of the 20th Century or the beginning of the 21st.  Twiggy would not introduce the skinny, androgynous look that would define women's fashions up to the present day until 1966.  In 1965 a petite endomorph was still complimented as a "pocket Venus".  I don't know what she personally thought of her body (How many 18 year-old girls are satisfied with their appearance?) but to Society in 1965 and to heterosexual teenage boys in any time she would have looked beautiful.

But what was going on in New Orleans in 1965 when she got to college?  I'm googling that now, and I'll post my findings later.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

"Aren't You Grateful You Were Put Up For Adoption Instead of Aborted?"

(A question asked of adoptees.)

Isn't that like asking, "Aren't you grateful your husband only hit you once instead of beating you to death?"

And yes, it is the equivalent from the POV of the one upon whom the act is perpetrated.

In both cases the perpetrator may say, "I didn't mean to do any harm.  I didn't know any better."  Or, "You don't understand.  Things were out of my control.  I had no choice.  I couldn't stop myself."

But if we don't put up with that from a wifebeater or a child abuser, why should we put up with it from anyone else?

My Thanks

Resurfacing from a depressive spell at Thanksgiving drives it home how much I owe my husband and children.  Due to the peculiar nature of PTSD you only feel the horrors you're been repressing when your life is pleasant, and any pleasure I have I owe entirely to their love and support.  It's only because of them that I'm able to directly face my traumas, instead of having them as a constant background noise of no discernible origin. 

 Because of that fact dealing with the particular Hell that is my adoption-induced mental illnesses counts as a luxury.  Not the sort of luxury I would choose (my tastes lean more toward kitchenwares and DVD boxsets) but a luxury nonetheless.  While the work of dealing with my problems is all kinds of unpleasant, I know that only through actually doing that work lies the hope of ever knowing the peace that should have been my birthright.  I would never find the strength to tackle that work if it weren't for them.

Thanks, y'all.  I love you so much.

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Woozy, but still here.

I seem to have stabilized a bit.  My despair's hit an all-new rock bottom, which while lower than ever before looks like it'll hold steady for a bit.  It shouldn't collapse for, oh, a few months at least, and that will give me time to do some infrastructure repair above it.  Most of my physical ailments are gone, with the worst of the remainder being a migraine that's lasted three weeks.  If I don't start phasing soon I'm going to be PISSED.  :P

Sunday, November 24, 2013

11/24 Update: The Psychosomatic Fireworks Get Annoying

Still alive, and rolling my eyes at the psychosomatic fireworks going on inside me.  Ever since this nervous breakdown triggered in the spring my ailments have all turned into blooming drama queens.  My illnesses have become incredibly intense and exaggerated, pushing the definition of "sub-clinical" to the limits.  Suffice to say that the current round of seeing how far complications from the flu can really mess up your period has left me with plenty of source material to write some spectacular gory first person body horror in the incredibly unlikely event that I should get a yen to write such a thing.

It would be a hypochondriac's wet dream, but since I'm not a hypochondriac it's just incredibly irritating.  All the recently uncovered pain and trauma of my childhood is seeping up, out, and looking for ways to manifest.

"All?"  Well, I hope so.  Of course it's quite likely to be just "most" or even "some".  I can hope it's "all" at any rate.

Anyway, blogging will resume when my guts calm down a bit.

Sunday, November 10, 2013


Came down with the flu, stumbled around blearily, and broke my toe.

(In spite of this, can't convince my family I'm sick.  Get pulled out on junking expeditions, talked into massive Autumnal cooking projects, and monologued while lying in bed trying to sleep.  Grrrr!)

Blogging will resume when I'm feeling better.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Purchased: Bought, Sold, and Treated Like Toxic Waste

 One of the reasons for blogging about my adoption is to turn over long-buried nuggets that I hadn't examined closely before.  Last week this bit floated to the surface:

You weren't just adopted.  In the 1960s era (or the modern era either) no apparently healthy white baby girl was ever "just" adopted; there's too much demand for them.  You were purchased.  You were bought and sold.


Extremely capitalist society.  Should have expected that.

My adopted mother no doubt felt like she didn't get her money's worth.  She wanted a Prom Queen, not a nerd.  Shouldn't there have been a discount?

(Geez woman, you knew my natural mother was a college student in 1966 when most girls didn't go to college.  What did you expect?)

I went looking up prices.  Adoption agencies in the 1960s would charge up to $10,000 to the parents of the pregnant woman for her care, something only the well-off could afford. Then they told the adopters the girls were poor and had no money and the adopters would have to pay $10,000 to cover her expenses.  And then they would do fundraisers to raise money from the public on the basis of al the good they were doing for poor people.

What a racket!  If that isn't the slimiest con job of all time, it  comes close.  $20,000+ for each baby in 1960s money.  No wonder they would do anything to coerce the women into giving up their babies.

But being bought and sold only made me uncomfortable.  This is America, Americans don't know any other way to behave.  The rich must be more decent than the rest of us, so whatever they do is automatically more decent, irrespective of actual consequences.

I was bought by my adoptive parents.  I was sold by the adoption agency.  As a white girl baby I possessed a defined positive value, a "price" as it were.  And for the 1960s it was a fairly high price.  But.... that wasn't the whole story.   The other shoe dropped this morning.

You didn't merely possess a defined positive value, but also a defined negative value.  Your grandparents were willing to pay goddamn $10,000 to have a professional "cleanup crew" haul you off like toxic waste so they never had to see your face again.

Somewhere out there lives (or lived, she'd be in her 80s at least by now if she's still alive) my maternal grandmother, a woman who paid a princely sum of $10,000 for the privilege of not being my Grammy.

Ah, yeah.  Um....


How the fuck is that supposed to NOT fuck your head up?


Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Housecleaning Today

I've done a ton of Googling recently.  I need to stay off the computer and let the dust settle from all the things I've learned.  Also do something about the dust that's settled around the house while I've been online; it's becoming a health hazard.

You hear that self?  Stay off the computer!

Monday, November 4, 2013

When I Grow Up I Want to Be an Angry Adoptee

It would be good to remove enough layers of "self discipline" and repression that I could actually feel anger instead of simply grief.  Maybe it will come someday if I keep working at it.  That would be a sign that I finally felt safe enough to feel angry, and that's something to look forward to.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

My Adoption Story Part 2: Cindy

My Adoption Story Part 1

Any forensic examination of the process my adoptive parents went through when they decided to adopt has to ask, "What the Hell was up with Cindy?"

After deciding to adopt, the first decision my FAPs made was to eschew Catholic Charities in favor of a private adoption.  This is atypical behavior on their part.  Private adoption was the most expensive option, and they were cheapskates.  Also private adoption involved a lawyer, and this is the only time I can ever remember my adoptive father paying for a lawyer.  That just wasn't his M.O.

But there's another problem with not going with the cheap-and-popular option.  Dad said Mom told him about that time that she wanted nothing to do with Catholics.  Now Mom hated a lot of people and wasn't shy about proclaiming it:  blacks, Jews, women, gays, and basically anyone the least bit happy, successful, or respected.  But I never remember her ever saying she hated Catholics.  There had to be some other reason.  I wonder if she and her first husband tried to go through Catholic Charities, and they rejected her?

 So I was told that after this there were character references, home visits, and Mom spent three years teaching a Sunday School class to get certified as "good with children" (Mom never taught a Sunday School class or anything else AGAIN until Dad died and she had to make nice with the church to use their free labor) but I'm not sure who did the certifying since they went with a private adoption.  Someone whose seal of approval would presumably look good on some document somewhere.  Were there private companies that would certify PAPs for a fee?  I must look into that.

But the really screwy part of this story was Cindy.  In order to prove to the certification people that they were competent to handle a baby my adoptive parents-to-be got a dog.  Now what kind of dog would make the best impression on the certification people?  A golden retriever, with it's proven child-friendliness?  No.   A collie, intelligent and loyal?  Nope.  How about a beagle with it's small size, amiable nature, and gentle disposition?  Nuh-uh, not good enough.  They had to go and get a chihuahua, the perennial front-runner in the Least Baby-Friendly Dog in the Universe competition.

But not just any chihuahua.  When they went to the puppy farm to pick out a dog, there was one little puppy who had been dropped by a great height by a little girl and was now deathly terrified of all little children, and as a result aggressive towards all little children.  They were assured that she would be a fine dog -- AS LONG AS SHE WAS KEPT AWAY FROM ALL BABIES AND SMALL CHILDREN.

And that's the way Cindy was.  She was a fine dog -- around adults.  Around any child including me she would growl, bark, and otherwise act like she was about to start a fight to the death.  Cindy stayed in the house with us, but as far away from my adoptive younger sister and I as space would allow.  If we were even in the same half of a room with her she would go spastic.

So, you're thinking, that's a sad story but what else were they going to do with the little dog after they (foolishly) brought her home?  Well, they could have given her to my adoptive paternal grandmother, who already had a chihuahua, was known to dogsit for people who traveled abroad for years, lived in the same town, and repeatedly offered to take Cindy in.  No deal.

Now, what's wrong with this picture?

Wrestling With Searching

I've got so many thoughts racing so far ahead, so many posts started, so many links and quotes I'm trying to keep track of that it can be hard to actually decide what to do next.  But I need to get this post out before I do anything else.

So, people wonder, you're 47.  You've known you were adopted your entire life.  You're friends with other adoptees who've successfully found their birthparents.  Why have you never searched?

Because I was convinced that doing so would be unethical, immoral, selfish, and self-destructive.  I believed it was the most awful and irresponsible thing I could possibly do.

Why would I believe that?

For starters I have chronic depression, low self esteem and PTSD.  At first why I had these conditions seemed a mystery to all involved, possibly caused by some internal defect on my part (my adoptive mom favored that theory).  While these problems are endemic with child abuse survivors it wasn't until I was 24 that I could bring myself to admit that I had been abused.  (In my defense I tried to tell many adults what my parents did to us as a child, but none of them believed me -- or at least been willing to admit they believed me.)  And while I'd always known I was adopted, it wasn't until I was in my forties that science could bring itself to admit that the vast majority of adoptees suffer from depression and low self esteem.

Also, as was common for closed adoptions of the Baby Scoop Era, I was told my natural mother had "gotten on with her life" and wanted no contact with me.  But why did I believe it?  I'm good at questioning what I'm told, why did this come across as true?  Because a good case could be made that no one else wanted contact with me either.  I had poor social skills, didn't know how to make or keep friends, and was very good at driving away anyone who may have wanted to be a friend while simultaneously being desperately lonely and yearning for companionship.  (Understand that I didn't fully realize I was driving people away; that only came about recently.  Like, last month.)  The fact that this lack of social skills is also endemic among adoptees is something I didn't know until last week.

 But the biggest reasonS came from a book I found in my early 20s at the Mobile library around 1990-1991.  Up at the checkout desk I found a YA book for teenage adoptees on adoption.  The YA category had only been created a few years before, and I was a little too old for it when it came along so I tended to look down my nose at it.  And with all the arrogance of a 20-something I was sure that as an adult adoptee I knew everything there was to know about adoption.  Still, I was curious to see what they were teaching the young folks these days, so with a curl of the lip I checked it out.

There were only two significant facts in the book I didn't already know, but they were doozies.  The first of  these was the bald statement that a far greater percentage of adoptees are abused than are children living with their biological parents.  I was completely blown away by that fact.  All these years of being treated as an utter weirdo, and I was really in the norm?  Why hadn't someone mentioned this earlier?  I walked around in a daze for over a week after that, so out of it I didn't even note the title or writer of the book, an unthinkable lapse for a hardcore bibliophiliac like myself.  This lack of provenance would prove annoying later on, as a number of people I told that fact to would go on to call me a bald-faced liar.  Adopted children had to be well-loved and well-treated by their adopted parents, they just had to!  The vehemence with which that statement was defended always made me wonder how much of a stake the defender had in believing it.

The second revelation concerned reunions.  Reunions were dangerous, full of emotional time bombs as long-repressed pain and anger worked it's way to the surface.  That sounded more like something you would do to a sworn enemy than to someone you might like, let alone someone you owed your life to.

Worse was the tendency of adoptees upon reunion to revert to the age they were when adopted.  Since I was adopted at six days old the very notion of reverting to infancy was absolutely terrifying.  I had waited too long and fought too hard for my newly won legal maturity to give it up so easily.

That fragility fed into the final fear:  rejection.  I had endured nearly universal rejection in my life up to that point, leaving me with.  Acceptance by anyone was still new and strange.  The very idea of searching for someone who had already walked away from me once and who might well reject me again at such a fundamental level was insanity itself.  It was an unthinkable madness to subject my tenuous sense of self to such a devastating blow.

Clearly there was only one ethical position for me to take.  This woman had given me life, and in good faith turned me over to people who were supposed to take care of me.  The fact that they hadn't wasn't an indictment of her intent but of the system.  She was getting on fine with her life without me.  There was nothing inherent in knowing me that had ever made anyone's life better, or so I had been taught at every step.  My finding her would only cause her pain.  That would be a reprehensible thing to do to a person to whom I owed my life.

Clearly the only ethical thing to do was to not cause her pain by not searching for her.  Indeed, to allow my selfish desires to lead me to hurt someone who had never intentionally hurt me would only reveal to the world that I really was the self-centered monster my adoptive mother accused me of being.

It didn't matter how I felt.  I  had to put my feelings aside and think of the feelings of others.

It was the only right thing to do.

So I thought for many years.  But gradually I began hearing that not all natural mothers were getting on with their lives.  Some were searching for their sundered children.  Some suffered from depression, PTSD, and low self esteem as a result of their experience.

My first reaction was consternation.  I'm good with the "empathy based on similar experiences" route, but this pain was still too raw to step away from far enough to compare it to anyone else's pain.  All it took was for my therapist to bring it up to reduce me from an articulate, middle-aged woman to a mute child with a face frozen in a paroxysm of grief.

Gradually, repeated exposure to the idea engaged my reason, or at least my conscience.  There might be someone out there who was suffering.  I might be the only one who could relieve her suffering.  This person had never intentionally done me harm and had  given me life.  If my reaching out to her was the only thing that could end her pain, then I had an obligation to do that.  It didn't matter how it made me feel.

Of course that resolution segued straight into the whole question of  "does the other party want contact or solitude, and how to deal with the different responses with grace and sensitivity."  But let's resist the easy distraction and stay on the path to the next hard question.  What do you feel?

I want my Mommy.

I know it's impractical.  I know it's presumptuous.  I know it's setting myself and others up for a potential world of grief.  I know all that.  But at this late stage in my life there is one thing I can do.  I can own the wanting.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

My Adoption Story Part 1

My adoption story is really the life story of my adopted mother.  She was born in rural Mississippi during the Depression.  Her mother was a flirtatious Southern belle who married a prosperous, elderly cabinetmaker with children from his previous marriage who were older than she was.  Shortly after the wedding his new wife announced that she was pregnant.  Her husband was furious with her.  They had no other children, and her husband died when my adopted mother was about six or seven.

A-mom had issues.  She also managed to not inherit either her mother's people skills or her father's crafting skills.  The former she valued, the latter she loathed; thus setting her up with a lifelong envy of social people and a lifelong hatred of creative people.

But if she couldn't be a Queen Bee herself, she could make herself valuable to a Queen Bee.  According to her own stories, she and the other well-to-do little girl in her class bullied everyone in their elementary school.  Mom was the Enforcer to the other girl's Queen Bee, a role she would go on to play for the rest of her life.

(That Queen Bee dumped her for a Sugar Daddy as soon as she could, and only coarsened my a-mom's opinion of other women.)

A-mom graduated a year early thanks to summer school (she hated classrooms) and married an Air Force pilot named Pierre.  She found out she was infertile, ostensibly thanks to malnutrition but that doesn't seem to fit the evidence.  Circumstantial evidence (I'll talk about it later) points to them trying to adopt through Catholic Charities, and Catholic Charities rejecting Mom as being unsuitable to parent.  They divorced shortly thereafter.

In the late 1950s in the South, a divorce was little different from a death sentence on the social scene.  So when she met my also recently-divorced adopted father-to-be, they married quickly.  Actually they eloped on Christmas Eve; were married in the office of the church, not the chapel; and took their own wedding photo by placing the camera on the table in the honeymoon hotel room while they sat nervously holding hands on the bed.  It was just as awkward as you imagine.

My adopted father was a bookish railroad representative who liked to spend his spare time reading and crafting things.  They soon realized they didn't really belong together, but neither could take the social stigma of a second divorce.  In the early 1960s one divorce might be blamed on the other spouse, but two divorces meant there was something wrong with you.  Neither could stand that thought directed at them.

But a socially acceptable sham marriage needed real offspring, and that's where I came in.  I was adopted, well purchased really, to complete "the set", in the same way people of that day would buy a matching armchair to go with the rest of the furniture in the living room and complete "the look".  My adopted younger sister, purchased 2 1/2 years later, was the optional accessory that was supposed to make the look "soar", more ottoman than armchair.

That's enough for now.

My Adoption Story Part 2:  Cindy

Monday, October 28, 2013

Monday Morning Before Halloween, 2013

Last week was absolutely devastating.  I wandered around lost in a haze of pain fighting an impulse to tear out my heart just so it would finally stop hurting.

This Monday morning isn't so bad.  The pain is down and the energy is up.  We'll see if this condition lasts more than an hour.

This week's adoption-related To-Do List:  a writing assignment from my therapist (the peril of working with a former teacher -- you get homework), and researching ways to minimize the pain of reunion.  Reunion has always been too scary to contemplate.  Why tear open all those old wounds in yourself and other people?  Why be the immediate instigator of all that terrible anguish?  I'm not some silly child who thinks it's all going to be flowers and butterflies and the pony she didn't get when she was ten.  I'm an adult, and I know it's going to hurt me and my birth family like the literal definition of Hell.  So before traipsing into the unknown, I'd like to find out some more about protection.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Goodbye Ground, Hello Freefall

Several years ago I got out my birth paperwork, realized I was too traumatized to deal with it, and I haven't dared look at it since.  Seriously, that lying piece of legal shit that said I was the actual daughter of my abusers -- I have never, ever hated anything in my life as much as I hated that piece of paper.  I couldn't stand to touch it, even to look at it clearly.

There was another form with my altered birth certificate, a name change form from the Christian charity that handled me before my adoption.  It changed my name from "Angel" to the name my adoptive parents gave me.  I thought, "Eh, generic Christian placeholder name so they didn't have to write down 'Baby Doe'."

Only now I've talked to another adoptee who came through that same charity who says that's not how they operated.  Apparently they did try to get a name from the birthmother.

That's the most devastating thing I've heard in my life.  I'm used to being abused and abandoned.  I can take that.

I can't take this kindness.  I can't stop crying.

Paul Sunderland Lectures on the Neurological Effects of Adoption Trauma

A British addiction counselor talks about the characteristics of his adoptee clients.  Wow.  While I somehow dodged the bullet on addictions (except to science fiction and comic books, read Chabon's The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay for more about that) the rest of it fits only too well.

I especially like his emphasis that in this case a life-threatening trauma happens at such a young age that there's no pre-trauma personality to draw on and no cognitive thinking to mitigate it.  I've had so many people tell me, "Why don't you just calm down and get back to normal?" without understanding that there is no normal for me to return to.

ETA:  the video doesn't always pull up as fast as I'd like, so here's the direct link

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Two Generations of Adoptions, Two Generations of Secrets

I come from a second generation adopted family.  I was adopted, my sister was adopted, my father was adopted, and his sister was adopted.  All were closed adoptions outside any family connection, and my sister and I were private adoptions, so there was absolutely no oversight.

My sister and I were given some basic, non-medical information about our birth parents' ethnicity (French/English and Welsh) and circumstances.  We were told that our father and his sister had been given such information as well (Black Irish and Native American), but when we asked them about their backgrounds, they became defensive and denied knowing anything.  It discouraged us from looking any further into our own backgrounds as children, not openly but by example.

Both my adoptive mother and my adoptive paternal grandmother were infertile.  The story was that their condition was caused by malnutrition but even as a child I had problems with that explanation.  Neither woman showed any of the physical signs of an adult who was severely malnourished as a child, nor were there childhood stories full of tales of privation.  While their families weren't rich, they were well-off by rural standards.  My mother did grow up during the Great Depression, but her stories were always about how she had more food and better clothes than her classmates.

(Always.  Mom was nothing if not class conscious.)

Theses days I suspect a different cause.  According to recent findings,several studies have shown that women presenting with a history of infertility have a higher than expected rate of sexual abuse in childhood.   That finding makes a lot of rather gory anatomical sense.  Unfortunately, for various reasons the profile of adult victims of childhood sexual abuse fits my adoptive mother and adoptive paternal grandmother far better than the profile of childhood malnutrition.  I doubt I'll ever know the truth though.

Given the frightening ease with which patterns of child abuse replicate themselves in families I would personally send every woman who wanted to adopt due to infertility to be screened for childhood abuse issues and if necessary sent to counseling first, with frequent checkups later.  Seems like that would only be common sense.

Yeah, right.  Like that's going to happen.  Adoption is a ten billion dollar/year business.  I doubt it's providers are going to let common sense get in the way of their paychecks.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Family History

I'm going to talk about my adopted family in upcoming posts.  I can't say much about my sister though, as I don't have her permission.  I haven't been able to reach her in five years, and I don't even know if she's still alive.

Friday, October 11, 2013

On Searching, Anger, and Closure

I get asked how I feel about aspects of my adoption, but thanks to my PTSD I'm not in touch with my feelings about anything that happened in my childhood.  Those feelings are locked down tight and I don't have the key.  People compliment me on my calmness is talking about these issues.  I'm not calm, I'm numb.  Here's a short FAQ though.

Do you want to search for your birthparents?

I don't know.  I'm working on a longer post about the ethics of this issue, but the short answer is that I'm not sure it's the right thing to do.  They gave me life, and I'm pretty sure they gave me up in good faith believing I would be sent to a loving home.  I can't see the agency telling them, "We giving your baby to abusive bullies", can you?  So if I did get in touch with them, I would be intentionally bringing them news that's going to hurt them, and they've never intentionally done anything to hurt me.  That seems like a rotten thing to do.

 Are you angry at your birthmother?

I don't really know because I'm not in touch with my feelings on this issue.  I'm angry at the intermediaries, but from what I know she seems as much of a victim of fraud as I was.  I suppose I'm probably a little angry at her for getting us into this situation in the first place, but I don't know what other options she had at the time.

Do you want closure?

No, on the contrary I want commencement.  Right now I've got the false closure that comes from stuffing these issues in a locked box and trying to walk away from them and "get on with my life".  That only works in the short term.  I greatly suspect that I'm going to have to crowbar the lock, wave away the dustcloud, haul everything out for a good cleaning, and then put it back in some sort of order before I can even begin to decide if I want closure or not.

(Have I mentioned I hate cleaning?)

I greatly suspect "closure" is an illusion.  Oh, and "comfortably numb" isn't comfortable at all.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Link Roundup

I've talked about my childhood periodically in my other blogs.  Here's the links:

Our Journey to Homeschooling has a bit about my school days

Schlumping Into the 21st Century getting uninvited to my sister's wedding

Fairy Tale our courtship

It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like...oh, crap The first time I blog about adoptee abuse and the resulting mental illnesses. 

Depression Toolkit

Christmas With Mom 2005 

When Hell Came to Our Home MegaPost Remember that time DHS tried to steal the kids and have me institutionalized?

Past vs Present The first time I managed to write with any depth about my childhood abuse.

The Terror of Peace and Quiet my first attempt at blogging about PTSD

Three Kids, a Spouse Who Teaches, and Another School Massacre Newton

 Reassessing VideoGames  


I Think I Just Won My Nerd Merit Badge

Adoptee Abuse, i.e. You Know That Thing We're Supposed to Never Talk About?  Let's Talk About That.  The post that inspired this blog.

PTSD Primer

You know, messing with layouts is such a great way to waste time....

In talking about my experience as an abused adoptee I'm going to talk a lot about PTSD's influence on my life.  Not a many people understand PTSD, so this is a
primer on how it works.  At least how it works in my life.  It may not work the same in other people's lives.

PTSD starts when a much weaker person is confronted by a life-threatening monster, or the equivalent of a life-threatening monster.  That person fears for their
life, and with reason.  What happens next?

There are some people who, for whatever reason, just don't get scared in the first place.

There's the people who get scared and fight their way through their fear.  For Doctor Who fans, the quintessential example of this is Sarah Jane Smith.  Over the years (hell, decades) Liz Sladen taught a master class on how to portray a woman who was scared shitless but never witless.

Then there's the scream queens.  Danger appears, they get scared and scream for help, I guess trying to call on the first two groups.  I confess that when I was a little girl I found scream queens completely bewildering.  Why on Earth did they think anyone was going to come rescue them?

Why did they think anyone cared?

Then there's us, the people with PTSD.  The monster threatens our lives, we get scared.  But we don't scream or fight our way through our fear.  Instead we shove our fear in a box (think the Ghostbusters' containment unit or Pandora's box), lock it, stamp "Do Not Open" across it, and deal with the monster.  For Doctor Who fans, I suspect the Seventh Doctor's Companion Ace fit into this camp, although I haven't seen enough of her episodes to say for sure.

What's the difference between the second group and the fourth group, you ask.  Don't both groups deal with their fears and get past them?  Not exactly.  The second group faces their fears.  People with PTSD don't face their fears, they just shove them out of the way.

How's that work?  I can't speak for everyone with PTSD, but in my life PTSD is a very mechanical process.  It works like an overflow tank separating me from dangerous emotions.

Overflow tanks are useful devices.  There's a little one in your hot water heater, another in your car, and they often build huge ones in flood-prone areas.  When the water (or other fluid) in a hydraulic system gets past a certain point deemed "too high" and threatens to flood, the overflow tank opens and shunts excess water safely out of the way.  Then when the water outside goes down to a "safe" level, the overflow tank opens again and the excess water flows back into the general system.

With PTSD it works the same way only instead of water" it's "adrenaline" and "fear".  A dangerous situation arises, and adrenaline and fear rise in the body.  Once the adrenaline level gets past the "danger" point, the brain automatically shunts the fear you're feeling into the overflow tank.  There it stays until the adrenaline level lowers to the "safe" point, at which time the overflow tank opens and spills the fear back into your general system.

It all happens automatically and subconsciously, without you ever having to think about it or even know what's going on.  And, here's the kicker, it never stops.


Even decades after you've stopped needing it, it's still there chugging along.

Here's a real-life example:  some calamity occurred one evening before supper.  I dealt with it, cleaned up the mess, cooked supper, got everyone to the table,
put down the last dish, sat down -- and burst into tears long after the actual calamity took place, because it was only when I had everyone sitting down to eat that my subconscious deemed it "safe" enough.

And this happens all the time.

But I hope you spotted the flaw in this stopgap system.  When the adreneline level goes down, the fear comes out.  That means you can game the system.  If you never let your adrenaline level go down, you never have to feel fear!  That's great!

(For Doctor Who fans, I suspect that's the reason for Ace's legendary belligerence.)

Except -- what happens to an overflow tank that never gets to drain?  It starts leaking.

And what happens to a person with PTSD who keeps all their fears locked up in their tank?  It starts leaking.

But what's locked up inside your head isn't water.  It's fear.  Caging fear only makes it grow stronger.

And the longer it's caged, the stronger it grows.  So while it's vitally important for people with PTSD to chill out and relax their adrenaline level, it's also the absolutely no-lie scariest thing in the world for them to do.  It's easy to fight monsters at that point, because the monsters outside are always less scary than the Monster Army beating on the doors inside your head.

Anyway, in my case at least PTSD works in a way that is analogous to a simple mechanical process.  I'm glad I understand that -- now.  But I only figured that out
six years ago.  Before that I spent my entire life either completely numb or battered by devastating random bouts of negative moods, and I didn't have a clue what was going on.

For example, the year after I married my wonderful husband I was without question the happiest and safest I had ever been in my life up to that point.  Yet I
spent my newlywed year racked by nightmares and sudden, intense, random bouts of inconsolable weeping and sensory overload when we were alone in our home.
We know now it was trauma from my childhood seeping out, but at the time we had no idea what was going on.  It went away after about a year, much to our relief, but in an earlier age I could easily have been deemed possessed.

PTSD has a way of robbing you of joy.

While PTSD was first diagnosed in soldiers, it also appears in rape survivors and child abuse survivors. But most of the studies and metaphors associated with PTSD are still martial.  But now you know enough to understand what I mean when I talk about PTSD in later posts.

Just one more thing.  I developed PTSD at such a young age that I can't remember ever not having PTSD.  I can't remember ever feeling spontaneous and synchronous emotions.  So it's not a case of being able to what I felt like before I had PTSD and tryingto get that feeling back.  It's not there.

Anyway, that's enough background on that topic fornow.  See you later.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013


I've been on the internet 15 years now (time flies when you're having fun) talking about all kinds of things, but it's always been hard for me to talk about my abusive childhood.  Even harder, make that virtually impossible, is talking about the fact that my abusive parents adopted me.  That one hurts like Hell just thinking about it.

I could talk about the conditions it left me with, the chronic depression, the PTSD, the newly-diagnosed (but long suspected) touch of autism.  But talking in any sort of detail about the circumstances that left with those conditions is another story.

But at the beginning of this summer the containment field around my long-suppressed childhood emotions began breaking down, and the demons started sneaking out of Pandora's box.  Now I hurt all the time, with a heartache that oscillates but never leaves.  There's no point in not talking about the pain now as it's not going to go away anytime soon, so I might as well blog about it.

This subject is painful and unpleasant, and not everyone wants to read about it, so I've created a separate blog just for it.  If you'd rather just read my other blogs I'll understand.

But if you're coming along for the ride, thanks.

Construction in progress

Come back later.