Dreams, Sparks, & Tornados

I struggle to concisely express the emotions I feel more often than not recently. The be frank, I haven’t even tried because I’ve been too busy trying to process what’s happening inside my head.

I dream of things that I know won’t happen.
I hold  onto sparks of ideas that are possible.
I feels like I’m standing in a tornado, wind whipping my hair across my face, no end in sight.

The best thing I can do for myself in those moments is find people to talk to, who are like safe storm cellars if you will – people who will listen and not judge or jump to conclusions about things.

I mean, I want to post about what’s causing these feelings, but it just doesn’t seem right. I fear all the potential reactions (mainly from family) – the pity, the anger, the judgement, the rejection, the denial, the confusion, the love and support. I know those last two seem like they don’t match the rest, or like they should outweigh all the others. But honestly, when you’ve seen and felt some of the other negative reactions for yourself, the sting of those is more prominent than the positive.

My father’s enormous shame about the adoption has left me in such a painfully difficult spot. I have to keep my social media mostly clear of adoption mentions that someone in the family could possibly think I have a connection to. I can’t participate in things on Instagram because too many of my family members follow me and have absolutely no idea about my daughter’s existence. It almost feels like I would have to create another identity online to be about to expose that part of who I am without having to worry about those reactions.

Finding Dory Reaction

I finally went to see Finding Dory in theaters (back on July 5th). I don’t like going right when movies open cause everyone’s there and it’s just too crowded for me, so I went with a friend on a Tuesday night.

I’ve seen a post going around Facebook from an adoptive mom saying that Finding Dory is a movie that should be screened before taking your kids to see it. And to some degree, I can understand that. But you also need to know your child and whether or not they can handle something like that. I feel like the adoptive mom who said it, and those who agree with her, are the ones who aren’t ready to have a discussion about the birthmother with their child. It’s really not that difficult.

This is what’s going around for everyone to see:

“WARNING! Before seeing Finding Dory, all foster/adoptive parents should preview the movie first! We thought our teenage bio kids & 9 yr.-old adopted son (we’ve had him for 4+ yrs) could see it without us previewing it. Our kids sat in the row in front of us. Halfway through the movie, our 100 lb., very tall son, got up and came and sat on my lap for the duration of the movie. Dory has childhood flashbacks throughout the movie as she seeks to find her birth parents. The movie deals with multiple levels of abandonment and loss. While the ending is sweet as she is reunited with her birth parents & we realize her birth parents were looking for her too, there are elements of the ending that can have detrimental results for our adopted kids.

1) It was Dory’s forgetfulness that caused her to be separated from her parents…. basically, her separation was her fault.

2) Her birth parents were physically, emotionally, & mentally stable and ACTIVELY seeking for her. This is not the case for MOST of our tender-hearted kiddos. This birth parent ‘fairytale image’ can create a false image in their forming minds.

3) At the end of the movie, once Dory, Marlin & Nemo find Dory’s birth parents, they ALL (including the birth parents) travel back together to Dory & Nemo’s home and all live TOGETHER Happily Ever After. Some young foster/adopted kids might think that is the end goal.

So, bottom line… preview the movie first & evaluate for each child. There are some heavy topics brought up in the movie that are difficult for every foster/adopted child to deal with even at older ages, so don’t think this cute Disney movie is for everyone.”

Everyone has been seeing/hearing the adoptive parent side of it, but I think now it’s time to hear the birth parent side of it from one of us…

Let me touch on each of this woman’s points before going into my rant about what I think happened here.

1) Dory’s short term memory issues aren’t something she asked for – it just happened to her. If it was out of her control, it can’t really be her fault that she was separated from her parents.
It’s like saying that a child facing a challenge due to some medical issue they have, it’s their own fault if they fail. They never asked to have the medical issue, so it can’t be their fault.

2) I am a birth mother who more than likely could have cared for my child when they were born, but I knew that I couldn’t provide everything I wanted them to have. But that doesn’t mean that I don’t want to be part of my child’s life. That’s what open adoption is for. I still get to have a relationship with them, and be able to have conversations as they grow up about why I made the decision I did.

3) If you raise your adopted child to know who we are, allow us to be part of your/their life, and have conversations about why we made the decision we did then things won’t become complicated like that.

Okay, now for me to talk about what I think happened here: 

Honestly, I think that this woman hasn’t had (or even tried to have) a conversation with her adopted son about his birthmother. Now, maybe they don’t know about his birthmother. That could be part of the issue here. But I think it comes down to how comfortable the mom is with permitting the birthmother to be part of their lives.
When you have an adopted child, you have to know that things like this can (and inevitably will) happen, and figure out how you’re going to handle them. To me, it sounds like this adoptive mom hadn’t thought it would happen or thought about how to handle it. I can only hope she sat down with her husband and her son at home after the movie and talked about everything.

I also think that the mom is dealing with other things that are frustrating her and taking it out on the movie. There could be a lot of things that factored into her making that post, and I don’t know about them, so I can only write this response based on what I read and how I interpret it.

Silently Coping & Slowly Opening Up to a Few

I think the most lost I’ve felt, was after I lost someone very few people knew I had a relationship with. 

My emotions were all over the place. I felt like the roller coaster would never end. Tasks that should’ve been easy seemed like they were insurmountable. No one around me really understood what I was going through. And the one person who did, wouldn’t talk about it.

Writing didn’t really helps at the time because I couldn’t articulate what exactly I was feeling. I had lost this person, but because so few people knew about our relationship, the way I was feeling wasn’t really something they could wrap their head around. 

As time has gone on, I’ve slowly become less lost. But there are absolutely still days when I feel like part of me is missing. However, the truth, if I’m being honest, is that part of me IS missing because they were such an important part of my life. 

There isn’t any one certain thing that’s helped me to heal. I’ve just faced the tough days with as much grace and strength as I can. 

Sometimes that means watching Netflix for hours on end.

Sometimes that means staying in bed half the day.

Sometimes that means crying at the drop of a hat.

Sometimes that means escaping reality in books.

Sometimes that means I actually have words to express in writing – whether anyone reads those words is a different story though.

But now that I’ve started being more open about my story and experience, I’ve discovered that people will listen and sympathize even if they can’t ever understand what I’ve been through. And I’ve found an amazing community of people that act as a support system for me when I need them. So there are definitely days when I’m not so lonely now. 

I do still get lonely in my situation though because there’s no one who lives near me who understands. But those in my life who do their best to try and understand what I’ve gone through have definitely made the whole thing a lot easier. 

Honoring Sarah Fader

I know I did a post for Sarah’s birthday back in October, but this is something different.

Sarah, or as she and I have taken to calling each other, Koala, is an irreplaceable person in my life.

Yes, she’s my boss, but she’s also one of my best friends.

No matter what the issue has been, Sarah has always been there for me.

When I was struggling with finding the right medication for my bipolar disorder, she was there (virtually) for me the whole way. Because she knows what it’s like to feel like you’re a guinea pig when searching for medications.

When my grandmother passed away (very recently), I was indirectly told by her to take my time getting back to my work on formatting our second anthology.

She’s a single mom, living in NYC, raising two rambunctious kids. I don’t know how she does it. But she does, and she’s a badass for it!

She has been living with panic disorder since she was a teenager. But she has come out the other side of that ordeal stronger and knowing how to handle it as an adult. Rock on lady!

Even when she’s struggling with her depression or anxiety, if she can help someone else with a problem they’re having, she will. And that’s an incredible thing.

She’s been supporting herself and her kids writing articles for different sites, like The Huffington Post, Quartz, Psychology Today, Ravishly, YourTango, and The Good Men Project.

She took the idea of having a place for people living with mental illness to share their stories, starting it as a section on her personal blog, and turned it into an amazing national nonprofit organization – Stigma Fighters. I don’t have many people in my life who can say that. I’m so incredibly proud to be able to call her my friend!

I’m not trying to embarass you in any way.
I just wanted to talk about how awesome you are and share it with the world.

Courtney Keesee – A Guest Post Interview

After posting this picture to Instagram and getting an overwhelming thank you from Courtney, I thought I would do blog post with them.

So without further ado, here is the guest post/interview we’ve put together.

Courtney is a very close friend of mine. Recently, they’ve become like a sibling to me. They’ve been going through a journey of their own, that has been shared on the internet via their blog and YouTube channel. However, I wanted to ask a few questions that a few many of us are probably wondering.

So without further ado, let’s have a conversation with my wonderful little sibling!

Gender Dysphoria – what is it?
Gender Dysphoria is a feeling that your biological sex doesn’t match your gender identity. Often times, it can cause major anxiety about one’s sexual parts of their body, ie. their breasts or penis. Each person experiences it differently, but often times people will find themselves hiding something that gives them anxiety about their gender identity, such as binding.

What do you mean when you say you identify as nonbinary?
I do not identify as male, or female. Nonbinary is a gender identity, and an umbrella term for more specific identities such as agender (no gender). I use it as my identity itself because I do not like to define my identity so strictly. I just don’t feel male or female. But I also use multiple other terms to describe myself, such as genderfluid (some days I feel a little more one or the other) and genderqueer, which is more about not subscribing to conventional views of gender.

What exactly does LGBTQIA stand for? Specifically the IA…
Lesbian, Gay, Bi, Trans, Intersex, Asexual. 
More often than not, you will just hear LGBT or LGBTQ. LGBTQIA is just a more inclusive terms. 
Someone who is intersex is biologically both male and female in some way. 
Asexual are people who lack sexual attraction, and there are many sub groups/identities inside of it. 

Your dad is super supportive. Had he always been that way?
Yes, and no I suppose. He has always let me be me. I have been able to buy guys clothes with him since I was a kid. I grew up being called a “tomboy” and he loved my interest in things he was also interested in.
However, growing up, I did hear transphobic and homophobic things come out of his mouth. He has worked very hard on understanding what those things were and why they were problematic. A big part of it was simply not being educated in our issues.

How has working for Stigma Fighters been helpful for you on this journey?
While I knew who I was, maybe without such specific terms, I didn’t have the courage to come out. The more I have worked with Stigma Fighters, the more my self confidence has soared, and I finally got the courage to come out. I also met an amazing community of people who are so open-minded and accepting of who people are.

Is there anything that you friends can do to support you on your journey?
The biggest thing is listen. If I say something harmful to the tran community, listen and don’t fight back or claim that we are being oversensitive. Because more than likely, there is something that you have never experienced that is the cause. 
Also, try to understand. And try to use the pronouns, etc., that I say honor me best. 

Is there anything else you’d like to tell people? Ways to avoid offending/insulting people in the LGBTQIA community?
The biggest thing you can do to avoid offending our community, is asking or listening when we explain why something may hurt us. Avoid statements like “I support gay ___ but” because you are basically telling us you don’t. Avoid anything that may invalidate someone’s identity, such as saying that someone who is non binary is just butch lesbian or femme gay. And the list goes on. In short, just respect us and who we are. We aren’t a petting zoo for you to make fun of us or observe us in our natural habitat. We are humans too, and we want to be treated with respect. 

I definitely feel more educated after having asked and gotten answers to these questions. The one thing that made me comfortable asking these things, is that Courtney is very easy-going and willing to explain things they know you’re genuinely curious and really trying to understand. 

Thank you so much for taking the time to answer these questions for me! Maybe I can have you come back another time for another guest post interview.