Posted in Essay, General Interest, Guest Writer, memoir

Some Thoughts on Adoption

Editorial Note: In April 2013, John Nooney wrote a series on his adoption. We think his message is an important one and he agreed to cut the 12,000 word feature down to 1,000 words to accommodate the needs of this site, a frankly heroic effort and something for which we are most appreciative. After reading this post, you may wish to read the longer piece on John’s blog HERE and we encourage you to do so. The details are interesting and thought-provoking.

hands-together-871294932977UgO“Have you found your birth-mother?” is, more often than not, the first thing people ask me when I mention I am an adopted child.

Think about that.

When you share information about yourself, it is the first response that matters most; the first reply has the biggest emotional impact.

So, if the first response to news of adoption is wanting to know if you’ve found your birth-mother (often stated as Real Mother), one begins to feel they need to seek her out.

People ask this particular question, breathless with excited anticipation of an affirmative answer — they’re wanting a feel good story, with a big, bold headline: “Adopted Child Reunited With Real Mother!”

The question ends up making me feel as if the asker somehow views my adoptive parents (the people I think of as my only parents) as being inferior to Real Parents. It’s like they imagine I was kidnapped from my Real Mother, raised by people pretending to be my parents, and that I need to be rescued and returned to The Real Parents.

It’s insane.

And, it’s hurtful.

I’ve not spent much time thinking about my birth-parents. Sure, I’m curious what they look like, what their story is, and, more importantly, what their medical history is, so I know what to watch for. Other than that, I have little interest in them. Not for bad reasons — I don’t hate them for giving me up for adoption. I think my birth-mother made the best choice she knew how to make at the time. When people want to know if I’ve sought her out, I begin to wonder if there’s something wrong with me. Am I supposed to find her? Is there supposed to be a yearning for my Real Mother’s loving arms?

They say mothers have an unbreakable bond with the child they carried in their womb, that they’d do anything to protect that child. Am I, as the child in the womb, supposed to have that same unbreakable bond?

I don’t feel that bond.

I thought of searching, but when I began to think about the consequences of finding my birth-mother, I lost interest. What if she was married to a billionaire? Would I then hate my middle-class roots? What if she turned out to be a meth-addicted prostitute? How would I feel then? Knowledge can be dangerous. I was scared of what I might find — and what I might or might not feel.

I’ve spent many helpful hours in therapy over the years, though I’ve left several therapists because they’ve tried to convince me that my issues started by being abandoned by my birth-mother; that even though I was newborn, I was able to sense her abandoning of me, and its impact is at the root of many of my issues.

One thing I have absolutely no doubt about: I do not feel that my birth mother abandoned me.

We don’t know what communication passes between mother and fetus —  though we often surmise. Perhaps because giving up a child is such a gut-wrenching decision for a mother, the trauma she feels imprints itself on her unborn child, and, perhaps, leaves some children with a sense of an emotional abandonment

Maybe there is a reverse that is also true: maybe a mother can tell her unborn child that it is being given up for the best reasons, that the decision she is making is one made out of an unimaginable love — a love that wants her child to have a home better than the one she can provide. And, maybe, communicating that love can leave an adopted child feeling that it hasn’t been abandoned, but that it is a child, being given as a gift — a great gift.

Sentimental claptrap? Maybe.

Our society runs on the belief of individuality. We take pride that we’re all different, that everyone’s story is not the same. Yet, we’ll try to claim that every adopted child should feel abandoned? It makes no sense. We are either all different, with different stories, or we’re not.

Growing up, my mother told me a story:
“There was a man and a woman who loved each other very much. They wanted to have a family, but, unfortunately they couldn’t have kids. One day, they got a phone call — there was a young woman who was having a baby, but, she was young, and was struggling to make ends meet. She wanted her baby to have a better home than she was able to give him. She knew that the man and woman would give her baby a loving home. So, the man and woman got on a plane, and, when they came home, they had the young girl’s baby with them. They were very happy to have him, and they loved him very much. There are many kids in this world who live in homes where they aren’t loved or wanted,” my mom would say, “and adopted children are special: they’re wanted very much.”

Mom would ask if I knew who the man and woman were, and I’d say “you and dad”.  It was a story I liked to told, and would often ask to hear it.  I especially liked the ending: they were happy to have him; they loved him.
Adoption gives birth to thoughts and feelings across the emotional spectrum: from feelings of profound love, to feelings of despair and abandonment. Mixed in with those feelings, at least for me, is a sense of loyalty to the people who adopted me, who opened their hearts and home to me. Along with that sense of loyalty goes a sense of obligation: to believe that adoption is ok, that it’s a wonderful, loving thing. I grew up in an environment that felt loving, so it was something I never questioned.

I’m adopted, but it doesn’t change the fact that my family is as much a family as anyone else’s family.  We’ve managed to look past the wounds and the scars that all families accumulate over the years. I like to think that in spite of all the pain and hurt, that when we look at each other, we see the love, see the strength of a love that’s been tested and that still holds us together.

This is my telling of one person’s adoption: mine. I am in no way trying to say that my words apply to all adopted children. My opinions on adoption may be different than yours — and, that’s ok. Adoption, just like any other family issue, is unique to each individual and each family. Please do not interpret my words as a generalization of the experiences of all adopted children. This is my tale, my story, my thoughts.  

– John Nooney

(c) 2013, feature article, John Nooney, All rights reserved
Photo credit ~ Vera Kratochvil, Public Domain Pictures.net

unnamed-3JOHN NOONEY (Johnbalaya) ~ lives in Aurora, Colorado with his partner of thirteen years, his ninety-year-old mother and their three dogs.
Posted in Bardo News, Uncategorized

BARDO NEWS: reader and writer achievements, Victoria’s books, the growth of Niamh Clune’s independent press, Second Light Network calls for submissions

800px-Rafael_-_El_Parnaso_(Estancia_del_Sello,_Roma,_1511)WE CLOSE THE YEAR WITH KUDOS ALL AROUND for prodigious bloggers of every ilk with their plans for 2014 and their successes in 2013. So many of our readers and writers rose to the WordPress challenge of a post a day. Others took on special challenges related to seasonal changes or holiday events or their own personal sense of adventure. To name just a few:

  • From November 28 on, Terri Stewart (Slow Down, Begin Again: Spiritual Practices in Context) incorporated the work of many bloggers into a creative and joy-filled Advent Light event.
  • Instead of counting down on an Advent calendar, Priscilla Galasso (scillagrace) has been counting the free gifts we all get every day in a series of Advent essays that are beautifully written and both thoughtful and though provoking.
  • John Nooney (Johnbalaya), a faithful reader here, successfully incorporated his prodigious works from several blogs into one compact blog where he shares his many talents and interests including essays, poems, short stories, photography, and a love of music.
  • Beatrice Garrard (Adventures in Hats) started her first blog and will be joining us in 2014 as our college reporter with a monthly news post covering the arts and other topics of interest to us.
  • Liz  Rice-Sosne a.k.a. Raven Spirit (Noh Where) a devoted friend to Bardo has joined us as a core team member and will take an active leadership role in our collective Voices for Peace project. This is no small gift to us since she is also now a volunteer teacher of English-as-a-Second language. We hope she’ll share her thoughts and experiences on that effort as well. We have officially partnered our Voices for Peace project with 100,000 Poets, Musicians and Artists for Change.

There are many among us who don’t aspire to publication, but many do and they have successfully sold work to magazines and anthologies, won contests, and/or attracted publishers or chose to self-publish.

Victoria Slotto's Mom
Victoria Slotto’s Mom

Not the least is Victoria C. Slotto whose first novel was published in 2012 by Lucky Bat Press. From that experience she moved on to publish Jacaranda Rain: Collected Poems, 2012, now in a newly-minted paperback edition, and  Beating the Odds: Support for Persons with Early Stage DementiaWe took the time to read the latter this month and found it to be chockfull of commonsense suggestions that are easily incorporated into daily activities with which you can encourage your loved one. This work was inspired by Victoria’s care of her elderly mother and her experiences as a nurse.

The first section, Shoring Up Memory!, is alone worth the price of admission. She advises phone logs, maintaining a memory board and lists, and a commitment to maintaining a Day Timer and a journal. Other advice includes simplifying life: no over-booking, doing what can be done to minimize stress, and reworking the home so that it is as danger-free as possible. She provides information on getting legal advice, creating a team of helpers (our term, not hers), finding doctors and other health care providers. Victoria emphasizes the importance of physical and mental exercises, faith and prayer, and family support. Well done, Victoria. (Photo copyright, Victoria Slotto, All rights reserved.)

PLUM TREE BOOKS and THE BARDO GROUP have tied the knot and are collaborating to evolve our collective of artists and musicians, poets and writers, encouraging fellowship and appreciation.  Plum Tree Books (PTB) CEO, Niamh Clune, writes about PTB’s latest effort: “This is the bones of the news…  I have created, Plum Tree Books ~ INSIGHTS ~ A magazine about publishing, writing, children’s books, illustrating and poetry. I am receiving so many of your wonderful poems, and requests from people who would like to write for Plum Tree Books, that I thought this would be a great chance to expand our horizons and include more of your work as well as sharing insights into how we are growing, creating, and collaborating. This is all part of building the Plum Tree Books’ platform to give some of the wonderful talent expressed through FaceBook, blogs and The Bardo Group a broader exposure. Coming in January!”

A FINAL REMINDER ABOUT THE SECOND LIGHT NETWORK’S CALL FOR SUBMISSIONS FOR THEIR 2014 ANTHOLOGY. The deadline is 15 January 2014.

51rk8frRwfL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_Her Wings of Glass (the title a quotation from Sylvia Plath) is to be a 200 page anthology that will complement but not repeat Second Light’s previous anthology (with Arrowhead Books), Images of Women. The focus of this anthology is ‘big issues’, for example the future of the planet, good and evil aspects of our relationship with the natural world and with each other, different aspects of our imaginative understanding of ‘who we are’.

The invitation is for up to six poems per submission, not more than 200 lines in total, with three copies of each poem to Dilys Wood at 3, Springfield Close, East Preston, West Sussex, BN16 2SZ, by January 15th 2014 together with the administrative fee of £5 (Second Light members) or £8 (non-members). Cheques payable to ‘Second Light’ or pay online at the poetry p f (online shop (filter to ‘Wings’). Non-UK submissions may be sent by e-mail as .doc or .pdf attachments, only to Second Light Administrator (poet Anne Stewart. ) Anne Stewart is a fabulous help with your technical questions. [Check out Anne’s poems HERE.]

Issue 11, November 2013 of ARTEMISpoetry is available now through Second Light Network and submissions are currently being accepted for the next issue. Details HERE.

BLOGGERS IN PLANET LOVE: This is a heads-up on our event in the planning for Valentine’s Day 2014. Details to be determined and announced. Look for more news about this collaborative effort addressing climate and environmental concerns and the meaning of nature in our lives.

WRITERS’ FOURTH WEDNESDAY with Victoria C. Slotto will resume on 22 January 2014, running every month up-to-and-including 22 October 2014.

… and, as the saying goes “last but not least” … a WW I memorial project of John Anstie’s (My Poetry Library and 42church group from Christ Church Stocksbridge featuring poet Ian McMillan …

Best wishes for the New Year from all of us to all of you. If you missed the deadline for this post, feel free to leave your announcement in the comments section. If you have something you’d like us to include in the next news post, leave a note here in the comment section as well or under any upcoming post and someone will get back to you. The next news post will go up on January 26, Sunday at 7 p.m. PST. The deadline for news submissions is Friday, January 24.

– The Bardo Group