Category Archives: adoption, adoptees, birth family

My Adoptee Take on Fathers’ Day

Fathers’ Day is a funny day…Not funny ha-ha, (but I can’t say I’ve not shared laughs on this day.) It’s funny different, and it’s very difficult to describe why.

I miss all the men I regarded as “father” in my life:  My dad who raised me, my father-in-law and my birth father. They all taught me lessons, spent time with me and shaped who I am today.

First, my dad who raised me…my adoptive dad. His name was Teddy. He loved the beach and sun, music, (not my style of music but he loved HIS music), nice cars, respected his elders and worked hard to provide for us as a family. He taught me to appreciate family history, how to build a house with Legos, and how to cook pancakes and French toast. He believed that organized sports and religion were filled with hypocrites and money-grubbers. He preferred musicians and theatrical events. (Not that show folk don’t have their own issues, but…)

No one grilled a better hot dog. No one. Teddy had a super-secret fudge recipe that came originally from a can of Hershey’s powdered cocoa, and he added something to it. I will call it “Dad-Magic”. The stuff sold in tourist shops is crap by comparison. If you buy boxes of Kilwin’s or Murdick’s fudge on vacation, well, OK, it’s your money. I know better. That is all.

Teddy was troubled, often impatient, complicated and conveyed a lot of mixed messages so in many ways, was unpredictable, but he was the dad who taught me about hard work, loyalty and “stick-to-it-iveness” (his word), compassion and empathy for people who walk unique paths in life. Like me as an adopted kid, he knew all about having a non-conventional life path and how hard it was to fit in.

Then there was my father-in-law, Steve. I found it awkward to call him “Dad” because I already had a dad, and, well that loyalty thing, but man! He was a great guy! My father-in-law was gentlemanly, scholarly and had more integrity in his pinkie finger than most people have in their entire body. He had wit, loved boating, also revered his elders and heritage. He was patient organized and methodical, (at least on the outside), and also worked hard to provide for not only his immediate family but his mother and sister as well. Steve always had a plan.

Steve always had solutions and compromises which were realistic and well-thought out. I admired his stability and desire for tradition. If you compared Steve to a TV dad, he would be Ward Cleaver hands down, (burr haircut and all). He was one of the most steadfast people on this planet. Making you feel secure was his way of performing “Dad-Magic”. I miss the essence of soundness and “okayness” he evoked.

Then there was Gove, my birth father. I wish I knew him better, but time did not allow for that. We didn’t meet soon enough. He was fiercely patriotic and an avid news watcher on multiple channels, and it would have been interesting to learn what he thought about the current political situation in the US. I know he would have a solid opinion. There was no in between or namby-pamby area for him for many topics. When he took a side, he had his reasons and he held his ground. One meaningful lesson I learned from him was that even if you disagreed with a President’s decision, (especially about sending soldiers to a foreign land), you should ALWAYS support our troops. No exceptions. As a quintessential proud ‘Murican, he was once a part of the troops by choice, (US Navy) so he knew what he was talking about.

Gove also loved basketball, football, and baseball. He cheered for local pro and college teams. Another thing I learned from the guy I hardly knew was an appreciation for games as a whole, (even though I am not very athletic or knowledgeable on the ins and outs of most sporting events and rules). In Gove’s mind, sports games are intended to provide entertainment, unification of community and be a way for young people to use their talents and enrich their lives.  He saw sports as a way to provide opportunities for kids with few options. If someone overcame odds and had success at a game, for Gove this was “magic”.

He was all about having a well-deserved good time after hard-working day too. Watching and attending games was his reward. He believed that socializing and finding ways to share fun and happiness with other people were important parts of life. When it was time to get the job done, you worked your butt off, but when it was time to celebrate and partake, you should go all out for that as well.

Now, all of my fathers are in “Heaven”, and if these three fellows have any say about what happens in the Great beyond, the Afterlife has melodies ranging from the jazz of the Harlem Renaissance to modern country plus show tunes and Frank Sinatra singing “My Way”. There must be athleticism, sports cars, patriotism and everyone carrying on in a civil, organized way. If you get hungry in Heaven, you eat grilled hot dogs and chocolate fudge. You glide along waterways in sailboats or travel in classic cars, (because all three of these guys would say that Heaven is full of glistening, restored, immaculate automobiles.) My three “dads” would say that in Heaven everyone finds ways to agree even when they disagree and that you should celebrate happy events every chance you get and not put it off or exclude anyone. They would agree that time goes by fast and living life now is important.

Fathers’ Day is different now as an adult without earthly, older father figures. It’s a neutral day, neither joyous nor sad. My husband is a father, and we can always celebrate that fact. What I have instead are memories of past Fathers’ Days filled with hot dog and hamburger cookouts, kids throwing balls in the backyard, gift boxes containing short-sleeved shirts, tools or ties, hand-drawn cards with stick figures and the letter “p” in “Happy” written backwards, perhaps a day at the local swim club and a drive to the Dairy Whip stand, or Teddy’s favorite dessert: Boston Cream Pie or Steve’s preferred, Key Lime pie. (I never found out what Gove’s favorite dessert was.  : (  )

I miss my three dads every day, not just on one particular Sunday in June. I wish they could have seen my children graduate, marry and could have lived to become great-grandfathers, but all I can do is pass on their stories, wisdom, and lessons and let their spirits live on through our children and future grandchildren, (and anyone else with whom I share this article on the Internet.) I am proud to have known all three of my dads. Together their diverse messages remind me to work hard, play fair but have fun, eat well, appreciate the fringe benefits of life such as good music, shows, and games, drive safely, share stories, create more memories and always believe in Dad-Magic.

 

#adoption #adopted #adoptee #dad #father #fathersday #relationships #family #birthfamily #birthfather #biofather #holidays

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Happy Anniversary, Ohio Adoptees!

About a year ago, an assorted group of adoptees plus birth family members and many professionals in the adoption field and Ohio’s state government, gathered together in Columbus for an historic event of a lifetime. It was affectionately named, Opening Day.

 

Thanks to the dedicated work of advocate, Betsie Norris from Adoption Network Cleveland, and Ohio senators Bill Beagle and Dave Burke, their “masterpiece”, Senate Bill 23, upgraded an antiquated state law, which banned adoptees from access to their OBCs. (Original or unammended Birth Certificates). The new and improved law allows adopted adults to gain their adoption records and OBCs in most cases. Specifics regarding this new law are here:

https://www.odh.ohio.gov/en/vitalstatistics/legalinfo/adoptfnl.aspx

 

I attended this two-day event with some adoptee colleague-author/ friends of mine: Lynn Grubb and Becky Conrad Drinnen. The three of us all have our OBCs because we were all born and adopted prior to January 1964, but we came in support of others in the adoptee community and to celebrate greater unification of the adoption constellation. We walked in the drizzly morning weather with our fellow adoptees to the Vital Records building and celebrated at the Columbus State Building downtown. The sun broke free and temperatures warmed as Senate Bill 23 came to life.

 

Personally, my journey to Columbus was joyful and allowed me to revisit the excitement and wonder from the time when I also began my adoption search and first held my original paperwork. There is something very liberating, enlightening and magical about knowing yourself, and I am delighted for the close to 400,000 adopted people and their families touched by this new law.

 

This spring, we adoptees have an anniversary coming up! Thanks again to Adoption Network Cleveland, whose efforts to educate and unite the community never stop, there will be an ANC weekend conference – the Annual Adoption Gathering on March 18 to 20, 2016. It will take place at the Doubletree in Westlake, OH, 44145.

 

The purpose is to (re)connect members in the adoption constellation, celebrate our successes, process our concerns and to understand that being adopted is a lifelong experience. It doesn’t just go away because we now have paperwork. It doesn’t leave us once we find or reunite with birth family. For many adopted people and their significant others, the “What do we do now?” stage is also significant and needs to be addressed.

 

ANC succinctly promotes the activities – “We will be offering nine breakout session options and two award-winning theatrical presentations from New York City. Other highlights include – filmmaker Jean Strauss and footage from last year’s Ohio opening day events, Six-Word Stories from adoptees and found birth family members, and a time for sharing with an open mic.”

 

Here are more details: http://bit.ly/ancAnnualGatheringDetails

gatheringFB-overall3The event hashtags –

#OHadopteesSOAR (SOAR = Success Opening Adoptees’ Records)

#Journey2Unite16 –

 

Is an Adoptee a “Gift”?

Recently I read a blog post from a birth/first mother/ author I’ve been following for a few years, Denise Rossele. While I was writing my first memoir, Akin to the Truth, I read her book, Second-Chance Mother because I needed the perspective of a birth mom. (Mine is no longer living, and I wanted to find a way to connect and learn.) Denise is realistic yet upbeat and shows compassion and respect for all sides of the adoption community, therefore I value her opinion on adoption-related topics. She recently happened into a conversation about adopting children and what a “gift” adopted children are.

Hmmm…

I am not a gift. I’m a person. What’s so troubling and triggering about the word, “gift” in relation to adoption is that often we think of gifts as items. We give gifts for birthdays, weddings and holidays. We buy gifts at Macy’s, Target and Amazon.com, and we bring them home in the car or have them arrive on our doorstep via UPS. Occasionally we down-load our gifts.

Using the term “gift”, as in the “gift of adoption” reduces adopted human beings to parcels of property, given and gained through transaction and trade.

I think of my children, instead as a blessing. I also have the blessings of other family, my marriage, a home, good friends and even our family cats and dogs. My work is a blessing. No one else had to endure a loss or defeat financially or emotionally in order for me to have my blessings.

“Gift” isn’t a bad word. I’m sure the person who used that bit of language with Denise did not intend to be condescending or insulting. The lady who said it was not thinking that while adoption is a wonderful gain for some people, for others it’s a heart-breaking and bittersweet loss/ sacrifice for someone else, (Birth family).

I’m not saying that we shouldn’t use the word “gift”. (The LAST thing I want to be is the Word-Police, and goodness knows that certain sectors of the adoption community have enough of those types.) What I am saying is that we should be mindful about what we say and around whom. Open-door comments such as: “What was that like for you?”, “Tell me about your experience” and “What is it like for you now?” go a long way and invite sharing and understanding.

As a community, our perspectives are diverse and often intense. Not only do we need to educate the general public about what we believe to be true and why, but we also need to educate  and support one another. It’s an on-going thing as we all begin to speak out more.

If you are interested in Denise’s side of the story, here is a link to her blog:

http://www.secondchancemother.com/disappointing-moment/