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Archive for December, 2008

The Last Day

The garbage truck is making its usual noise as it collects the trash from the enormous dumpster not far from my apartment.   During the winter months, it comes every other morning just before dawn to whisk away the trash.  That way we can all wake up to a nice, empty dumpster.  It makes it easier for us to forget how much waste we produce.

Normally, I’d be waking up to the Klung bzzz KLUNG of that refuse-eating giant, but sleep has decided I’m not worthy today.  So I’m sitting here wide-eyed but groggy, with nothing but the urge to write to keep me company.  Maybe the insomnia is partly the result of having my birthday on New Year’s Day.  Sounds nuts, I know, but seriously, I have to question the forethought of the person who designated Jan 1st as the day to celebrate my Poof-day.

The last day of the year is a time to think about the year that’s gone and the year to come.  What have you accomplished the previous year?  What are your plans for the coming year?  A birthday has the same affect on me, so the whole thing is compounded.  Throw in the fact that my life is folding back in on itself and BOOM, you have insomnia.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m trying to be positive about it, but things are a little overwhelming right now.  For those of you who have no clue as to what I’m referring, sorry, it’ll have to wait.  Suffice it to say that I’m having to go back and confront all the demons I’ve avoided over the last several years.  I know.  I know.  It’s a GOOD thing!  I’m putting on my brave, demon-killer face.  See?

Sarcasm aside, I know it has to be done and all the more poignant that the year starts off this way.  New year equals new beginning, right?  Bzzzzt! No clean slates, remember?

The continuation of history must…continue. You can’t “wipe it clean” or you end up with a big hole to be filled with lies, half truths and speculation. Nuh uh. I’ve been down that route before.

That’s another funny thing about the coming year.  It’s going to test everything I’ve tried to become over the last several years.  It’s like the Universe is saying, “Okay, Big Mouth.  Let’s see if you’re the real thing or just full of shit.”  I don’t mean that in some self-centered way – as if the Universe really gives a pooh about what I’m doing or even notices that I exist.  Life’s just like that sometimes.  Occasionally, circumstances force us to put our money where our mouths are.  Damn.

So here I sit in my sleep-deprived body thinking about all of this and wondering, am I ready for this? Should make for some interesting blog posts as I’m trying to find out.  Yeah, yeah.  I keep saying that.  Don’t I?

Happy 2009 everyone!  May the new year bring great things for all of you.

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Happy Holidays

merry monkey love by sume

Wishing everyone a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

I usually turn into a bit of a Scrooge this time of year, but recent events have reminded me that I should take time to celebrate the good things in life.

While I wouldn’t be able to define anything about this holiday season as “Merry”, it’s definitely filled with great things and potential great things to come.  Much of it wouldn’t have been possible without the help and support of my good friends, adoptee fam and especially,  my daughter.

Deepest thanks and much love to you all.

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ADK’s recent interview with

Through the Lens

She appeared a little shy when asked to strike a pose for the camera. That might explain why Anh Dao Kolbe, a gay and lesbian activist, said she felt more comfortable behind the lens.

“I used to be desperately shy and my camera has always been my security blanket,” says Kolbe, now 38. “Photography is a good way of meeting people and pushing through that shyness.”

Kolbe, who self-identifies as a queer, believes in the power of photography to create public awareness on gay and lesbian rights. A self-taught photographer for over a decade, the Vietnamese activist uses her images to educate people about gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered (GLBT) issues, HIV/AIDS prevention, and to make the GLBT people more visible in the community.

“I like to document people’s lives, trying to capture their true spirits,” says Kolbe, now a health program manager at MAP for Health. “When people look at my photographs and ask why I took them, I take that as a compliment. It means I can explain and teach them my perspective–no matter what you are, either straight or gay, you can be proud of yourself and be successful as who you are.”

Kolbe says she takes a lot of pride having triple identities: being lesbian, Vietnamese and adopted. Born in Vietnam in 1970, she was adopted by her Greek artist mother and German architect father when she was 6 months old. The young Kolbe came to New York City in 1972. Two years later, she moved to the Middle East and spent four years in Qatar and nine years in Oman, where she had a blessed, carefree childhood with her adopted parents.

continue reading

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With the best of intentions


“cornerstone” by sume


I am afraid

“You can trust us.  We’re family.”

that I will lose myself again.
“Come home.”

Rescued from circumstances beyond my control,
“We’ll help you work it out.”

knowing everything will change,
“You should be here.”

will my identity remain intact?
“You’re one of us.”

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The Push

Funny how life seems to be constantly pushing me backwards.  It’s difficult to tell sometimes whether it’s the workings of the universe, the inevitable result of my previous choices or some combination of both.    Long ago, I abandoned the idea that life operated along a one dimensional, linear line beginning with Point A and ending at Point Z.  Instead, I’ve come to view the whole of life as this huge tapestry woven with threads of choice and circumstance.

The constant paradox of moving backwards in order to move forward has never manifested itself so strongly as it has these last several weeks.  As much as I’ve tried to avoid it, events have begun to merge into one singular voice that screams over and over again, “Time to go home.  Time to go home.”

This should make for some interesting blog posts.  *cough

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Just one of those songs that punches the adoptee in me right in the gut…

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Matters of Trust


pic by sume

Reflecting

I don’t know how long I stood there, in front of the mirror, looking for my father’s features. There must be something there, a hint in the shape of my nose or the curve of my jaw. Surely I’d be able to find some distinguishable feature that would verify at least half of my genetics could be be accounted for. He was my father and fathers do not lie. At least that’s what I told myself as I traced lines upon my face, the tip of my finger growing numb to the touch of my own skin.

The breakdown of trust between my father and I and its unintended consequences have been one of the most emotionally draining to explore and convey. I used to think that love and trust between parents and their children was all you needed to build a solid relationship between the two. All else, whether it be communication, respect, loyalty or honesty could be built upon those two elements. It was also my thinking that if one, either love or trust, were ever challenged or even totally destroyed, the other would help to repair the damage. Sadly, I’m finding that this is not necessarily the case.

I still love my father, but it has done little to help re-establish the level of trust I once afforded him. Knowing and understanding the depth of his deceptions and the manipulative intentions behind them, has irreparably damaged my perception of his integrity. Furthermore, discovering his manipulative use of my mother’s “memory” filled me with such shock and disgust that it destroyed any sense of admiration I might have held.

At this point, I’m aware that some elaboration is necessary, but feel that doing so would bring too much focus upon my father’s actions. Writing about this will inevitably point fingers at him, however, at this point, I’ve chosen to put more of my energy into trying to understand the consequences rather than the actions themselves. Trying to further explain why he withheld the truth and flat-out lied about my adoption would require a great amount of speculation on my part. The exact reasons behind his choices are ultimately his to tell, and he has chosen not to explain himself.

I’m not sure I’d believe him even if he did suddenly decided to elaborate on what he meant by, “I had my reasons.” People keep telling me I shouldn’t let it take away from the good things he’s done. They say I should find some way to forgive and let it go. “It was a long time ago, and I’m sure he meant well,” seems to be their main defense. I don’t know how to get it through to them that I’ve already forgiven his actions. It’s not a matter of forgiveness now, but of trust and how its absence negatively affects our relationship.

The loss of faith in the only father I’ve ever known feels comparable to the sense of loss I feel when I think of Má. I was never allowed to know her and suddenly feel as if I never really knew him. He has widened the distance between us, and the resulting sense of betrayal has given me little cause to bridge the gap. The search for more meaningful relationships has taken me in the opposite direction as I search to fill the vacuum. Fortunately for me, I was able to establish and maintain relationships without trust becoming an issue. That is the amazing thing.

The ability to trust can prove surprisingly resilient even after repeated bombardments of disappointment. The resilience seems born from necessity since the growth and solidifying of a relationship, whether between parent and child, friends or lovers, depends on at least some level of trust. In very early childhood, one would think it’s just natural to trust one’s parents but these days, I question whether it could truly be called trust as I know it today.

While bonding with my parents may have been an early indication of my growing in that direction, the concept of trust wasn’t a conscious idea. Even then, I don’t think you could really call it trust in the way you’d refer to it with an adult. To me, real trust requires some amount of judgment, knowing who you can and cannot trust and understanding why. What I had with my parents in those early days was based on naiveté. I simply didn’t know anything better. Was it nothing more than attachment?

There were many reasons the subject of trust interests me. One was that I wanted to understand how my relationship with my parents might have contributed, if at all, to my own concepts of trust now. Another was spurred by reading an article in which an adoptive parent stated she felt her daughter thought she needed “permission” to express her feelings about her “birth” mother. There was something about using the word “permission” that angered me.

Thinking about it in terms of granting permission suggests that the adoptive mother exercised her power over her adopted daughter and allowed her to express her feelings. Talking about their adoptions is something every adoptee has the right to do, and that should be made clear from the beginning. I thought back to my own experiences and wanted to suggest to the author that an adoptee’s reluctance to discuss their adoptions should often be thought of in terms of trust.

I didn’t share that level of trust with my parents. It wasn’t because they were awful people, but because I didn’t think they could deal with it. I didn’t want to hurt them, didn’t want to make them feel bad or make them think of me in a negative way. Their approval and acceptance was important to me, and I didn’t want to endanger that. I didn’t trust that they would be able to just listen rather than tell me how I should think and feel.

My solution was to turn to people I thought I could count on, the result of which further isolated them from that part of my life. I think that was the beginning of that “dual existence” many of my fellow adoptees refer to when discussing their “adopted selves” and their “normal selves.” That’s not to say that I think adoptive parents should pump themselves up with enthusiasm and rush their children to talk about their feelings.

I think adoptees should be made to feel empowered to speak about their adoptions. Too much parental pushing would seem to have the opposite effect. Besides, one would hope that if a deep level of trust is first established as simply parent and child, the bond would naturally extend to one between adoptive parent and child. By that, I mean one need not overly stress adoption in very early childhood but rather concentrate on establishing and maintaining a solid parent/child bond as a foundation.

I think if my parents had stressed my adoption too much, I would have felt more like an outsider than I already had. Too little gave me the impression my adoption wasn’t open for discussion, that I should somehow be ashamed of it. All that said, I don’t think I would have been comfortable sharing everything with my parents even under the most idea circumstances.

Sometimes, parents whether adoptive or not, have to give their children room to grow on their own. We have to trust that our children will figure out some things for themselves. Within reasonable limits, isn’t it only right to have the same faith in our children that we ask them to have in us?

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