Friday, August 7, 2009

...they have to take you in

Home is the place where, when you have to go there,
They have to take you in.
- Robert Frost

Read the first part here.
The second part here.

It's not a coincidence that I flew to Utah to see my parents a few short months after Buddy and Matt first made contact with me. There was a moment when I turned to Chip and just said, "I need to see my mom and dad."

How do I explain to you that being adopted is like anything else in life: you don't question how it makes you different, you don't wonder about another life for yourself except in vague hazy daydreams about meeting your birth mother at some strange cafe some day, you don't think in concrete terms of father, brother, entire tribe of extended family. Your brain only goes far enough to include the face of a young woman and the terrible choices before her. She exists in the vacuum of your mind, held still as that young woman no matter how many years have passed.

I grew up knowing that I was adopted. I can recite the adoption stories of my siblings as well as my own. Mom and dad never once made us feel that we weren't a family like any other. There was no consideration or ridiculous notions of "charity" or "second-best". This was our family. We didn't grow in mom's belly, we grew in her heart. There was no thought of a "real" parent, only birth parent (comments about my "real mother" were always the most irksome--- who are YOU to tell me who my REAL parent is and what makes someone a REAL parent?). This line of thinking is rampant with the whole brouhaha over Michael Jackson's kids--- the dude was strange and messed up, I have no doubt. Possibly VERY messed up. These are all concerns for me in terms of the related thought for his poor kids and whether or not he ever messed THEM up. I have opinions about all of these things. One thing I do NOT care about is whether or not they are his biological children, his REAL children (GAG). The last time I checked, I was not a Muppet. Mom and Winston are not imaginary nor are they stuffed. They are real. And the blood, sweat, and tears they put into raising me as their daughter makes our relationship as true as anything I know. I'm proud to call them my parents.

After the first bits of contact with Buddy and Matt, I desperately wanted to see mom and dad, to hold their hands. To tell them how much I loved them. To eat their food (I was pregnant, after all). To smell their house. To wrap myself in my childhood for just a few moments. I felt like I'd been spun off my axis and repositioned in the cosmos. I felt like the stars I'd known so well had been moved to another corner of the sky. I felt like the entire world had changed colors.

I went to mom and dad to remind myself about where I came from--- and this is notable because my parents don't live in my childhood home. They don't even live in the same state I grew up in (California), so returning home is always a metaphysical and metaphorical experience. There aren't any marks on the walls from when I was three or a neighbor's house to remind me about feeding rabbits when the someone was out of town. There is only mom and dad and their spirits filling up the corners of a house they've made their own in retirement.

I can safely say that it still feels like stepping back into my childhood.

Going there was the perfect remedy for my homesickness, and it gave the three of us a chance to talk about everything that was going on.

(Now. The following statements are brought to you by WHIMSY'S OPINION, it thanks you for your interest.) No matter how fantastic and spectacular and magical and close your relationship is with your parents, it can be tricky (AT BEST) to navigate them through establishing connections with your birth family. Tricky at best, kids.

I now enter into the realm I call WHIMSY'S PROJECTION INTO HER FAMILY'S FEELINGS AND WHIMSY'S BEST ESTIMATION THEREOF. (Any of you who are 60-something-year-old adoptive parents, please feel free to speak up on the subject.) Remember, I was adopted in 1974, a time way before these new-fangled open adoptions. Mine was a world of adoptive parents who might not even get around to telling their kids that the reason they don't look a thing like Grandpa Humphrey is because THEY AREN'T RELATED TO HIM. My parents did the closest thing to new-fangled touchy-feely hippie thinking that they could, and they raised us knowing that we were adopted. And as much as we felt comfortable, we could talk about our adoption stories. We might even conjecture about our birth parents. But that's where the hippie open stuff ended. It's totally understandable. My parents are my parents. They don't question their place in my life except for this one tiny millimeter of a sliver of an area, and if I don't treat it with the absolute respect that it deserves, that sliver of an area could explode into a black hole the size of Texas. It is gut-wrenching, heart-stopping, worst-case-scenario stuff, but while they do completely and totally support me in this journey of knowing my birth family, I worry about them feeling threatened. My feelings for my parents are concrete and will never change. But they are human, and are, by design, fallible--- so it goes to reason that no matter how sure I am about their place in my life, they might still worry from time to time, as any parent would.

Without having my mom or Winston come in here and tell you this is what it's like, I can only go this far in telling you about my parents' feelings. Considering the stress, the pressure, the unique freakish WEIRDNESS about this whole thing, they've been terrific. My relationship with them hasn't been strained or thinned at all, I'm not even sure I can say it's been tested. But for sure, without a doubt, it's been strengthened.

Next week I'm going to actually get down to the Denver trip itself (promise!). There are parts of it that are actually FUNNY, and would be even FUNNIER if they hadn't happened to us. (HA) But for now, for today, I want to see if you guys have any questions that I can answer next week. Ask away - anything, whatever. If it's too personal, I'll email you. If it's too stupid, I'll tell you so. If it's too far off the subject, I'll probably answer anyway because just about now my brain feels like it's going to explode.

So before any actual exploding occurs, I'm signing off. Questions? Comments?


Anonymous said...

Thanks for addressing the parental issue. I keep trying to put myself in your parents position.

Thanks again for writing all this. I am loving it.

Amanda said...

I have no questions, I'm just enjoying (is that the appropriate word?) story.

Spadoman said...

I believe it was innocent of you, but you described love when you opined about your parents and what they might have thought about you meeting the bloods.

Love, plain and simple. That's my comment. Eloquently stated.

I linked to you today in my Only the Good Friday post. I was honored to do so.


Little Ms Blogger said...

I love your story and love the fact that you're so considerate of your parents.

My nephew is adopted and although he knew this growing up, it is still tough on my sister that he is trying to find his birth mother.

Amy said...

Thank you for sharing such a personal journey.

KAY said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
KAY said...

Wow, Whimsy. I'm with Amanda on this. I've really enjoyed (doesn't seem like the appropriate word) reading "The A(doption) topic." You've beautifully and succintly expressed so many things about parents, love, the "other" life.

This has been a complex and amazing story of LOTS of people. It's making me re-think what "Family" means too.

Waiting for the next installment...

clueless but hopeful mama said...

I am loving these posts too. I find adoption fascinating and am very interested in what it must be like for my niece who was adopted through an open adoption. How will knowing her birth mother from day one make it easier for her and my family? How will it make it harder?

(I know you can't answer those questions, but I am totally interested in your take on open vs. closed adoptions.)

M said...

I just love you. And I have to tell you that reading this and thinking about your parents during this whole transition makes me love them all the more.

I know your parents are muppets, but wouldn't Winston look fabulous as a bronze bust? I would totally let him watch over my dining room. And when people asked about him I would explain the wonderful Winston and his amazing Whimsy.

And your mom? How would we immortalize her. She has immortalized herself in taking that picture of you asleep in front of the refrigerator. Only an awesome mom would take a picture like that.

I love you.

Kristi said...

I'm coming into the story so late, but now I won't be able to stop. Thanks for sharing this journey!