adoptedwriter: (Swallowtail Butterfly)
July sun, frayed denim cut-off shorts and short-sleeved rugby shirts:
one with blue stripes, one with yellow stripes, but my favorite is the one with red stripes,
and my t-shirt with the graphic of an alligator wearing a person shirt.
Everyone thinks that's the best top ever.
I'm ready for camp.

A commissary stand selling stamps, post cards and candy bars, plus a soda machine right next door.
old pull-taps dropped in haste on the ground by the window. Remember to always wear shoes when you walk around here.
Mom takes photos of me by the gate before my parents drive away down the gravel road
which leads back to the AAA Highway.
The days will fly by.

A chlorinated pool, wide, blue and beckoning. My team won the relay on Olympics Night.
A softball field with red dirt and freshly-drawn base lines.
I caught my first fly ball in front of everybody one day.
Grilled cheese, tomato soup and "bug juice"in the dining lodge,
where the counselors do mail call at lunch.
Mom and Grandma write every day.

Racing down paths in my new blue Adidas,
a gift from my grandma before I left home.
I miss her.
Making necklaces with strips of leather.
Finding fossils in the creek.
Playing Oh-Wha-Tay-Goo-Siam with the littler kids,
and going to the campfires every night with the bigger kids.

Red sparks twirl upward above orange flames, and the smoke smells woodsy.
We sing Kumbaya.
A super-tall boy who looks like a track star wants to sit by me.
His hair is dark; I think his eyes are blue, but I can't be sure in the fire light.
His name is Patrick.
He says he is Irish, and it's cool to be Irish,
but I am adopted, so I wouldn't know about that,
but I fake it to fit in. "I'm Irish on my mom's side," I tell him.
I want Patrick to like me.
I've never seen such a handsome young man in my life except for pictures of teen stars like Robbie Benson and David Cassidy on the pages of Tiger Beat Magazine.

Every evening Patrick and I sit together at the campfire
except for the one night it rains, and everyone goes to the lodge,
and he seeks me out and we talk some more.
He's in drama club at school and got good grades in Spanish 1.
Our little brothers are the same age, and they are annoying and immature.
He likes my alligator-wearing-a-person-shirt t-shirt.
His grandma died last year.
He shares his roll of Lifesavers with me. Strawberry flavor is now my favorite candy.

He walks me back to the area where the girls' cabins are, but he does not cross the line.
He's good about the rules,
so he holds me close and kisses me secretly, and I think I'm in love
because Patrick the tall, blue-eyed, brown haired Irish guy who runs track and acts in school plays likes me more than any other girl,
and that's never happened before.
And we taste like strawberry candy...

Summer Camp is my Heaven, and I never want to go home.
adoptedwriter: (Swallowtail Butterfly)
Rita and Martin were sitting side by side at the bar.
They were total strangers with very little in common.
Martin liked to think he was stronger than he really was.
She was very sweet, but at times there was a sour side to her character.

Both Martin and Rita were feeling quite empty this evening. Neither one spoke.
And they stared across the counter, she with a glassy expression, he with his one green eye.
That green eye annoyed Rita.
She felt as though he was ogling her in an inappropriate way.

Martin made her feel uneasy and awkward just sitting there while beads of sweat dripped slowly down his side.
Rita wanted desperately to leave, but she could not. Suddenly she was frozen.
She shifted uncomfortably in her foam-green skirt and tried to look away from the offensive verdant eye,
But not before giving Martin one last salty look.

That’s when she noticed Bart in his white shirt and black bow tie.
Bart was Tender, charming and elegant. He could have entertaining discussions for hours, and she adored listening to him chat about sports, describe travel destinations and tell jokes with everyone.

Bart always looked on the bright side and saw the glass as half-full. A nice guy like Bart would serve Rita well!

All of a sudden Bart reached across the bar and carefully cupped his hand around her,
and Rita began to melt a little…
adoptedwriter: (Swallowtail Butterfly)
It's probably not a secret that I am in the home stretch of writing a sequel memoir about being adopted. The first book was about growing up as an adopted kid in the "Baby-Scoop Era" of closed, secretive adoptions. This current book is about life as an adopted adult in the work place, as a parent and friend. It ties up loose ends from the first story and enlightens readers to the fact that as adopted people, the stigma and shame can do away, but the status never does, and it permeates into our careers, our parenting, marriages and friendships.

In order to write this memoir, I have leaned heavily on my personal experiences and research done by observing conversations that go down on adoptee websites and Facebook groups in which I participate. The best experts on adoption are not social workers and psychologists but instead are actual adopted people, their birth and adoptive parents, but mostly the adoptees themselves.

Unbeknownst to me, when I started down this path, there was/is a lot of bitterness and anger out there about being adopted. (This is worse than I ever felt, and I absolutely HATED it as a kid.) Some adopted people had miserable experiences growing up due to not being their parents' biological child. Others had OK experiences but just feel bad and annoyed that adoption had to happen in the first place. Also there are many who feel that, regardless of having a "good" or "bad" growing up experience, thanks to adoption, they feel irritated by some of the language and assumptions tossed around in the adoption community by the non-adopted folks who do "not get it" but appear to have authority on the matter.(I can relate to this part a lot as an educator by seeing who is and has been dictating teaching practices my whole career.)

One example is Simone Biles, the USA Olympic gymnast in 2016, who was technically adopted by her biological grandparents. Sports announcer, Al Trautwig, who has no connection to the adoption world, referred inaccurately to her parents as "not her real parents", or something to that effect. This caused quite a disturbance in the adoptee force last summer. Some adoptees would argue that her biological grandparents who raised, educated and provided for her are her parents. By law this is true. Others would cling to the notion that her mother who gave birth to her but was unable to care for her is the "real" mother. There's some truth to that as well.

Adoptees are a challenging bunch to satisfy in these matters.

I have learned to keep my mouth shut as a result of the great sensitivity of the Word Police who try to dictate the language of adoption websites and social media groups. I listen. I read. I learn. Then I go off and write.

I have my own opinions, which mostly fall somewhere in the middle regarding most of these arguments. If adopted adults want more rights, recognition and credibility in society, the bickering and divisiveness needs to stop now.

As adults, we are no longer adopted "children", and the states' laws need to reflect this regarding opened records. At the same time, if adoptees continue to argue and over-react due the terms "birth mother/father" as opposed to "natural" or "biological", their bigger want and need will be ignored while they waste time quarreling. (Having all states open their adoption records when adoptees become adults.)

Unfortunately, there are some adoptee/ birth/first/bio/natural parent groups that want it all, and they want it now. I don't think state government works that way.

In the meantime, I know my personal situation and stance best. I lay low on the interest group pages and sites, watch and assimilate. If I don't feel free to speak my mind I will save it for "the book".
adoptedwriter: (Swallowtail Butterfly)
I never knew how much I would love a child until I had a child.

While you gestated in me for nine months and eight days, we bonded. I chatted with you while driving to and from work. I sang songs and rocked out with you to Fleetwood Mac, Michael Jackson and Billy Joel. Your first concert was when I won tickets off the radio to see Huey Lewis and the News while seven months pregnant! I swear all the rolling and pushing I felt that night was you dancing and clapping along to the rhythm.

The Power of Love...

I was sonogramed later in the pregnancy due to concerns about placenta previa, which turned out to be a non-issue, but the bonus was, unlike at the 20th week appointment, we were finally able to determine that we were having a little girl! I'd had three dreams about having a girl, so I intuitively knew this, but the medical proof was sweet. I got a brief look at your face, and we made eye contact on screen! Driving home from the appointment, Peter Gabriel's "In Your Eyes" was playing on the radio. It was a magical moment, and that tune became Our Song.

But I was afraid. After all this time and all the good news we appeared to be blessed with, I was terribly frightened that someone somehow would make an error regarding either your life or mine.

But it never happened, and you were born fine. "Eight days late, but worth the wait!" we said Daddy proudly printed up "Strickland, The Next Generation" birth announcements to send out.

And after we were home, I was still afraid. I swear it wasn't hormones. I was always on the alert for something bad to happen. It was exhausting, but it's how I lived each day and night. I kept myself in check, but inside I was terrified of either you losing me or me losing you.

The TV news had an onslaught of stories about abandoned babies, including one at EPCOT in a ladies' room. Then there was the piece about a young mother killed by an angry boyfriend; the story about the house fire and all the children perished...I just couldn't...

And I thought about Billie, my birth mother, your birth grandmother, and how she died when she was only 36, as a young mother. My sister, KDN, was a baby and never got to know our mother either. Billie lost me to adoption, and my sister lost Billie due to heart failure.

And I couldn't stop thinking about how fortunate we all are to be living in times when we have better medical care and technology to save lives and prevent problems; how lucky I was to have the means both socially, physically and financially to care for my own children myself.

And I was in awe of how you looked so much like my birth father and me: same little mouth, fine, reddish peach-fuzz hair and blue eyes. I could never let you go...My baby...

But you did go: to kindergarten, to Girl Scouts, to basketball practice, to sixth-grade-camp, to AAA Driving School, to Prom and then college, where you went to a Halloween party and met the love of your life.

I had so many fears about raising you and having something go awry, but you have had very few fears, and I admire this about you. You are confidant, lovely, intelligent, accomplished, funny, still with reddish hair and those dreamy baby-blues.

And on your beautiful wedding day you were brave enough to break with tradition and went down the aisle your way to the that ever powerful song, "In Your Eyes"...Our song.

Now you own a home, have a good job and show so much promise. One day you guys are going to be great parents. You tell me you're afraid of raising kids in today's goofy, "effed-up" world full of weirdos, bad politics, terrorists and PTSD. You don't want to bring a child into this arena, but I believe you can do it. You have so much support, and honestly, society needs people like you guys to produce more good-natured, kind and bright people like yourselves. There's a safety in numbers.

My greatest wish is that somehow you can work beyond your fear of potentially messing up your someday-kid's life or not being adequate enough to deal with the future of our world. Instead, we have to keep living and finding ways to introduce more goodness and positivity into our lives and not let so much negativity curtail our options and plans.

I'm selfish, I admit this. I really want to be a grandparent. You won't screw up, I guarantee it. I also know it is your body, but you guys have a lot going for you. Please, please...find a way to be less afraid. I want to hold a baby again and play songs like In Your Eyes and The Power of Love and dance around the room with a small, cuddly warm person another time.

You're 27 years old. I'm forever your Mommy, and, G-d, I love you so much!
adoptedwriter: (Swallowtail Butterfly)
I gotta laugh: When I Googled this expression I saw a Youtube video hit and a link to a definition. I clicked on the link to the meaning, and pop up ads for hunting pants came appeared! LOL

This topic reminds me of redneck humor, and I LOVE redneck humor! I classify myself as an Appalachian American. I come by it honestly via both biological and adoptive family. The stereotypes never offend me. On the contrary, I will admit, there is truth to a lot of it!
That being said, you will never catch me:

1- wearing cammo
2- hunting
3- chewing tobacco
4- wearing Daisy Duke shorts
5- displaying a Rebel flag
6- driving a beat-up truck
7- using expressions like, “as the crow flies”, “good Lord willin’ and the creek don’t rise” or “possum ran over my grave”

I’m a non-traditional hillbilly. I here’s what I do:

1- drive an older car, but it’s not a truck
2- eat meatless a lot of the time, but I do love a good steak once in a while
3- make do and try to fix or at least repurpose things before I pitch
4- have a lot of yard / garden ornaments all year round
5- love Mountain Dew / Diet Dew, (but did not let my kids have it till they were much older)
6- don’t mind / judge people who use poor grammar, (but I avoid using it myself, especially at work and in writing, except for artistic license)
7- avoid wearing shoes, (except for work and the gym)
8- rarely get dressed up, (but when I do I like to go all out!)
9- appreciate and respect old pictures, styles, décor, hand-made items
10- revere my ancestors and their traditions and try to pass it on to my kids
adoptedwriter: (Swallowtail Butterfly)
I am not really an overweight person, however in the last 7-8 or so years, I have gained weight, and there’s been no good explanation why. Well, perhaps there is:
In 2007-08 I lost 15 pounds. My niece was getting married, and I had to buy a formal dress plus pay airfare for my kids and me to fly to this wedding. I wasn’t going to miss a chance to celebrate and be happy with my sisters for anything in the world. The problem was, I was short on money.
One way to save a little was to diet down and fit into a dress I had in my closet. It was burgundy, shimmery and lovely. I was extremely motivated, plus dieting meant less spending on groceries and lunch at work. It took four weeks before I lost my first pound. Four lousy weeks! Luckily I started early enough that I still had time, but wow! Four weeks! Really? WTF? What The Fat?
I had to starve and deprive myself of a lot of eating. I avoided going anywhere but my job for three months, but by Christmas break, I did have 11 pounds off and could wear the pretty dress just fine. Four more pounds came off after that.
I was pretty good at keeping the weight off with intense exercise and lots of saying, “No” for a few more months.
My daughter had a classmate die tragically in a car accident in late April. She was devastated, and honestly so was the entire school community. Then I was laid off due to cut backs and had to find a new teaching or aide position. I found one, but it was not an easy workplace in which to function. I was laid off again and began substitute teaching. (No school wants to hire an over-experienced 50-year-old when they can hire a 22-year-old cheaper.)
I also took some grad school classes, but that was stressful because I feared failing. The cost was ridiculous too.
My mother returned from Florida to Ohio to live near me, and within weeks of her arrival had a severe car crash. She could have died, and her recovery was arduous. I missed a lot of work time and ate a lot of meals out of hospital vending machines and puddings out of the “family kitchens” at the rehab place.
Then my father-in-law fell ill and passed away. He was the pillar of my husband’s family, but after he was gone, the family unit broke apart. There was a lot of bitterness and disagreement, and things got ugly. Suddenly hanging out with my recovering, persnickety, cranky mother was more pleasant than feeling judged and rejected by the in-law clan.
My brother in Florida was in big-time legal trouble and had to do prison time. (Think the guy version of Orange is the New Black). Going to jail is stressful on everyone. Among other deeds, he’d conned our mom out of some money, and she was pretty much broke, aside from her social security check, so we had, (and still have to), help out with some of her expenses, and my mom, being old-school, had, (and still has), a hard time understanding why I work three jobs.
My husband had some outpatient surgery that did not heal in 2013, had to have the procedure redone in 2014, and it still did not take. He was beginning to panic but would not do anything proactive. Finally one day he called me at work and asked me to come home. He was in tears. I drive him to an ER because he was either that physically sick or having a mental break down or both. Two hours later he was DXed with APL leukemia! It’s a curable form, but the 12 months of hospitalization, chemo and doctor appointments were challenging. My mother fell the day he was released from UCMC, and I was torn between bringing my husband home from a 4-week stay and leaving my mother bleeding on her living room floor.
I survived on more hospital food and wine.
Then my mother fell twice in 2015. Both were serious falls requiring months of hospital skin surgeries and in-and-out-rehab facilities. She battled the nasty side effects of MRSA and C-Diff. Thanks to great efforts on the part of several hospital staffs, a very kind wound care doctor, my friend, “L” and myself, she has recovered. The Mothership carries on.
Also, in 2015, my birth father died. Throat / tongue cancer is evil, ugly and hideous. The feelings of loss and anxiety over that hit me harder than I expected. My birth sisters had never been through a huge family loss before, and I grieved both with them and for them. I’d already lost two other dads.
During these years of difficulty, the one thing I did for myself was to become a fitness instructor. It’s income and exercise all in one. I don’t have to pay for gym / sports club memberships, which is a sweet perk. I work out 3-5 times a week.
I should be a twig. Right?
But I’m not. I’m not fat, but I’m not slender. I can’t wear that pretty, shiny wine-colored dress anymore. It’s not out of style, so it’s still hanging in my closet for just in case.
I know what I need to do, but now I have bad habits. I eat dinner too late at night. I sip wine and snack more than I should. I need to break these patterns, and it’s super-hard.
I’m still a healthy person and pretty damn fit compared to how my parents were at the same age, (55). Most people don’t think I am as old as I am. I have more energy than a lot of people in their 40s.
I just need to clean up my habits and try to figure out how to get 10 pounds off without starving myself.
adoptedwriter: (Swallowtail Butterfly)
My daughter, (Fuzzy1), is in nursing school. She loves all things bloody, gutsy and gory. You cannot gross this girl out. This is the person you want in your corner should things go wrong. She had the knowledge, some experience and a whole lot of tolerance.
She became inspired to pursue something related to medicine at a very early age. Learning disabilities held her back for years but she persevered. You want this girl to be your nurse because she personally knows how to overcome.
She muddled through high school, determined to un-label herself as destined for the vocational track. (Not that there’s anything wrong with vocational education, but she, (and I), felt she was being type-casted by a super-high achieving school district that was a lovely place to study but more focused on their blue ribbon status and bragging rights than teaching to ALL learners.
Fuzzy1 took geo-chem, college prep biology and then anatomy and physiology. She plowed through college prep English and read books and wrote papers with the students regarded as rock stars. She did not graduate with honors and trophies, but she exceeded everyone’s expectations and made it fair and square. Then she went to community college and made Dean’s List with a medical assisting degree. In a year or so she will have a BSN and currently is making all As and Bs! I’m a proud mom!
This is the person you want if you have a crisis. She is very good at what she does. She can take orders when she should and give orders when needed. (She used to be that bossy kid you did not mess with in junior high. Now it’s working to her advantage!)
When my husband was diagnosed with APL leukemia in 2014, she was concerned of course, but also fascinated and inspired by what she saw his care team doing to bring her dad into remission.
adoptedwriter: (Swallowtail Butterfly)
Recently I did my DNA test at My results were astounding.

There are mixed attitudes among the adoption community that attempt to hold the adoptee back in terms of making progress with connecting to his or her biological past. Many professionals, (i.e. social workers, clergy and medical practitioners), especially those from older schools of thinking, still believe that we should just be content and thankful for the lives we had; the lives we would never have been able to experience if we hadn’t been adopted. It’s like a Law of Jante in which the adopted individual feels shamed if they speak out and disagree.
Unfortunately, sometimes among fellow adoptees, there is dissention when so many are struggling to accept a reality they despise: that their birth records in some states are legally closed. When one adoptee is fortunate enough to actually find their birth family and have successful relationships, and other adoptees do not or cannot, resentment grows toward the one who had good luck. I see way too much of this behavior in on-line support groups for adoptees and birth parents.
I am one of the “lucky” adoptees. Some people are going to hate me for that, and I have to accept it. Unfortunately, as much as I want to shout from the hilltops about how proud I am of my birth family, my heritage and history, I cannot say much in certain support groups. I am even careful in groups where I trust the members because you never know who might be having a “Bad Adoption Day” and have hurt feelings.
That’s the thing. Another commonality among the adopted is a fear of offending others to the point where it inhibits our own progress, lest we be rejected. Many of us felt rejected at birth, and no one wants to relive that or accidently trigger ourselves.
Back to my DNA results: One thing I learned, that I had no idea about, and neither did my birth sisters, was that I have Scandinavian, (Swedish-Norwegian) heritage. As per the custom of some of my ancestors, among most adopted people I interact with on line, I am very cautious. I begin with restraint and humility. I share very little unless asked. I listen and observe. Then I think and I write and reflect. This practice keeps me out of on-line trouble most of the time.
adoptedwriter: (Halloween Cookies)
I'm in for Season 10 of LJ Idol! Whoo Hoo!!! Happy Halloween!!!! AW
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