SEVEN

I’m not a poet and I know it. I wrote poetry in high school and college, mostly about lost love and the meaning of life, but never pursued it as a genre.

After my recent experience — cardiac arrest in recovery after my surgery two weeks ago to remove cancer from my bladder — I felt the need to express… something. Feeling fortunate to be alive, frightened by the thin line between life and death, and trepidation if I should ever need surgery again.

I share with you my “poem.”

Seven

Seas
Dwarfs
Days of the week

Seven

Samurai
Brides for brothers
Swans a-swimmin’

Seven

Come eleven
Deadly sins
Wonders of the world

Seven

Minutes it took to revive me
When my heart stopped beating

Seven

My lucky number

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JOIN ME IN SUPPORTING BREAST CANCER RESEARCH

In honor of National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and because I’m in the middle of my own battle against breast cancer, I have set up a campaign to raise funds for research through the Breast Cancer Research Foundation.

I am among the fortunate. Because of research, there is a drug (Herceptin) specifically geared toward fighting my type of cancer (HER2), which didn’t exist several years ago. And it is working on me! My tumors shrank during my three months of infusions of Herceptin and chemo to the point where the surgeon could remove the breast lump and affected lymph nodes along with clear margins. Soon, I will begin further infusions of Herceptin and radiation. My prognosis is excellent and I have no doubt that I will win this battle!

Some are not so lucky. I am doing this in hopes that continued research will find new ways to cure, and even prevent, breast cancer.

We all know someone who has faced the challenges of cancer — if not yourself, but a family member or beloved friend. Cancer of all types touches our lives.  I hope you’ll join me in the fight! Every contribution makes a difference.

Visit my page at: Denise’s Fundraiser

Thank you!

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CRUNCH TIME

Or more like CUT time.

Most everyone who reads my blog, as well as my closest friends, know that I’ve been diagnosed with cancer. Breast cancer in June, for which I was treated with chemo for three months (with good results in terms of shrinkage), ending just five weeks ago. More recently cancer has been discovered in my bladder. It showed up as a possible in the PET scan I got way back in the beginning of my breast cancer diagnosis. I put off the cystoscopy to confirm as long as they allowed me. Then it became important, to prove that it wasn’t related to the breast cancer (a rare happening, but still possible through the lymph nodes). It isn’t. But still cancer, and still needs to be removed and sent to pathology.

So I have two surgeries scheduled for October. Breast/lymph node surgery on Friday, 10/7, and bladder surgery in two weeks, 10/20. Based on what I’ve been told, the second will be far more minor, less invasive. Still, surgery is surgery, and I’m starting to get nervous.

I haven’t lost my positive attitude. These were all caught early, as I’ve said before, and my prognosis Is excellent for a full recovery. Which means remission, not cancer-free, I have recently learned. Once you have cancer, you’re never free. It can always recur and they check you regularly for that.

I just found out that I will have radiation for the breast cancer. As well as infusions of Herceptin (a targeted chemical they’ve already given me that’s not chemo per se), probably through mid-next year. It shouldn’t have the same side effects of chemo. Thankfully, because chemo f**ked me up beyond my expectations. Hopefully the bladder thing won’t require any, and will just result in regular checks to ensure it hasn’t recurred.

There are so many people with cancer who are far worse off than I. Some who are receiving chemo just to extend their time. Some who have much longer treatments and more surgeries. I feel fortunate in that respect.

Not like it still hasn’t been hard. I’ve been exhausted more of the time. Thank goodness for my devoted husband who has cooked and cleaned up after our meals (despite my lack of appetite), taken me out on errands, and attended every appointment with me. Thank goodness for my friends who have supported me so lovingly, and offered help that so far we haven’t needed.

But I feel like surgeries will be the end of the really hard part. And soon, after a few days (twice over) I will feel back to my normal self. Regain my energy and ability to do my regular stuff (like writing and shopping and cleaning out the cat’s litter box)!

I’m planning to organize a fundraiser for breast cancer research — that’s where I feel the money is best spent, since I have benefitted from the latest treatments and technologies, many of which weren’t available several years ago. I hope to get it together during October for Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Stay tuned and I hope you’ll join me in donating to this important cause.

Love to all! And stay healthy please!

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I LOVE YOU STEROIDS, OH YES I DO

I don’t love any med as much as you! (Sung to “We Love you Conrad,” from Bye Bye Birdie, if you’re old enough to remember)

What a joy to get a couple days of post-chemo, feeling revitalized and actually kind of hungry, and food tasting good again! Of course, it doesn’t do much for my sleep habits. I am like the energizer bunny at all hours of the night. But it sure beats not feeling like doing much of anything and taking afternoon naps

Today, I went to my writing girlfriends lunch, then to our writing critique group, and a finally to a reception put on a friend’s meet and greet for a candidate for Pima County Board of Supervisors, where I connected with local friends and neighbors. Didn’t eat dinner, but watched a little Olympics and one more episode of House of Card, fourth season. That is a banner day, believe me!

I know… the steroids only serve a few days’ purpose, to get me through the chemo, then I’m cut off. Back to reality, the usual aftermath. And that’s fine. Because, as I’ve said before, if I’m feeling lousy, then I can only believe that the chemo cells are under much larger fire inside of me. Plus, I have proof that those bad boys are doing their job. Tumors are shrinking, yay! I have every reason to believe that by the time I’ve finished my last full chemo in three more weeks, the pre-surgery job will be done. Just some margins to be taken out, a relatively simple procedure. Then on to the next step.

It’s more than pretty sure that I will have to finish out the year (through next June?) with more infusions of Herceptin, the targeted antibody for HER-2 (my particular kinds of breast cancer) that is the least invasive and most productive of the chemicals I am receiving. Fewer side effects from that too, thankfully.

Amazing that I have not been depressed. A little scared at first, but my medical team has me assured that my prognosis is excellent. I can do this! I have my eye set on the cure. And proof of that coming very soon, with a mammo and ultrasound coming up in a couple of weeks, prior to my last chemo treatment. Surgery will be 4-6 weeks after that.

Between early detection and new treatments, I am among the lucky ones. But keep those positive vibes coming! They help keep me strong.

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CANCER MAKES YOU CRANKY

I think I’ve turned the corner, from “no big deal, I’m going to beat this,” to “dang, this is a pain in the you-know-what.”

I still have no doubt that I’m going to beat this wretched disease and will end up cancer-free in the end. However, I clearly underestimated the pain in the you-know-what part. I’ve probably said before that I’m not good at being sick. Fine, put me out of commission for a day, make me stay in bed and rest, for a day, two tops. Just don’t cramp my style. I have places to go, things to do!

I was hopeful when they told me that the first infusion was the strongest, that the next three would be lighter. I thought I’d get over it faster. Not to be. The aftermath of this one is at least as bad as the first one. So much for having an iron system! Me and my big ideas.

My reactions have run the gamut. The only potential side effect listed that I’ve missed has been nausea. Hopefully typing that didn’t just jinx me. Meds have taken care of heartburn, diarrhea and sore mouth (thank goodness for the miracle mouthwash!). I have almost no appetite, and what I do eat doesn’t taste as good as it used to. They say that taste buds disintegrate during chemo. I developed a “drug rash” (according to my oncologist)— no, it wasn’t shingles, as my primary doc thought. So my chest, neck, and arms itch like crazy. Benadryl helps a little bit and they gave me a topical cream. Lately I’ve deveoped insomnia. None of the literature mentioned that, but I googled it and it is a potential side effect of one of the chemicals I’m being given. After those nights, I can’t function at all and end up spending most of the next day sleeping. Why I can sleep during the day, but not at night, I have no idea. Except for pure exhaustion. Today I developed a new side effect: a drippy nose. It’s not like a cold, i.e. no congestion, no headache or sore throat. My nose just rains down like a monsoon!

My hair is hanging in. I had it cut really short a couple weesk ago, so I’d have less longer hair masses to deal with. Since then, it seems not to be falling out as fast. I have a couple of balding spots, but I don’t think they’re noticeable if you aren’t looking for them. I’ve read that some people’s hair only thins, that they don’t go completely bald. It’s been almost six weeks since my first chemo, so I’m running on the late side if it’s going to happen. I have a wig and a couple of purple scarves, but so far I haven’t needed them. Since I hate hats or anything on my head in general, I’m hoping it won’t come to that. But I’m ready if it does. I have no special feelings about my hair and would gladly give it up in exchange for eliminating the other effects.

I’m told that all of this will disappear, or in the case of hair it will grow back, once chemo is over. I’m half way through these treatments now. The third on Wednesday, the fourth three weeks after that. Although it may take a while for some of the effects to disappear.

Someone once told me that chemo is designed to take you (i.e., your cells) to the brink of death, then they stop treatment just short of that. And my chemo isn’t even that strong, compared to what many are receiving! But I believe that is true for those with more severe diagnoses, who are being treated more aggressively.

I haven’t been writing (except on my blog and emails). I haven’t been reading, except in snippets. I go out on the occasional errand or to the grocery store. On good days, I do a bit more: out for a meal, to my writing group, a little fun shopping. I thought I’d be able to predict what would be possible on any given day, based on my first treatment. The day after chemo, I’d feel great, with the steroids they give me still in my system. The next week, not good. The next week or two, getting better. Then I’d be close to feeling normal right before they hit me again. Since the second infusion, predictability has disappeared. I just don’t know how I’m going to feel one day to the next. So all plans are tentative.

I’m one of the lucky ones, with a great prognosis, fabulous medical care, and all signs pointing to the treatments working. I have a huge bunch of cheerleaders, sending positive vibes and praying (whichever they choose), checking on me, and supporting me in all kinds of ways.

So please forgive all of the complaining above. Forgive my crankiness. It’s just a whole different world than I’m used to. I have whole new understanding for those who live with chronic diseases and go through constant treatment. And I look forward to being my usual self again very soon.

Thank you, more than I can ever express, to my friends and family members who are pulling for me!

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IT STILL HURTS

Even 47 years later.

“I can’t marry you.” He spoke slowly and firmly, as if lecturing a child.

“What do you mean?” I gasped.

“You’re not what I want in a wife. You can’t cook. You don’t even try to make yourself pretty. You don’t fix your hair.”

Stunned, I opened my mouth to tell him I’d try harder.

“I’m sorry,” he said. “You’re just not good enough.”

His words punctured my gut, left me bloody and raw. Believing them kept the wound alive inside long after my skin had healed over.

 —   Excerpted from Second-Chance Mother

Last year, with the help of a search angel I directed him to, my son found his birth father. I completely supported his decision to search, had for the 20 years we’d been reunited, but he didn’t seem in the least interested until recently. I gave him all the information I had, as well as copies of a few photos to confirm their resemblance which I found striking.

Regardless of how I felt about the man, I had always believed it was Josh’s right to discover that side of his roots.

At first he only had a couple of brief conversations with his father. Contact with his aunt and two half-siblings was more frequent, and they actually traveled to meet. Josh was thrilled and I am for him. Especially since I hadn’t had any more children, hence no siblings from my side.

A few days ago, Josh posted a photo on Facebook: smiling broadly alongside his father, John, and stepmother, who had traveled two days each way from their home in Georgia to meet Josh and his girlfriend Brenda in Missouri. He said they had “a great visit” and he “misses them already.”

When I saw this, my heart sank and I began to breathe heavy. The painful memories flooded in, even though it’s been almost 47 years since I had seen him.

Why? Because I hate the man? Even though I claim not to hate anyone, I have to admit that I believe I do. How could I not? He lured me in with his charm, claimed to love me, asked me to marry him, then dumped me when the going got tough. After five months we began to fight, and then I found out I was already three months pregnant. He never attempted to check on me after we split up, to learn if I’d had the baby, which he easily could have done through my best friend and her family, who had welcomed warmly during the time we were seeing each other.

Josh’s Aunt Sara (his father’s sister) initiated contact with me after reading my book. I’ve learned a lot from her. He married just four months after we parted ways, before Josh was even born. He had two children with her, then left them and his wife for another woman. I don’t know if that’s the woman he is married to now, only that he has also has a won with her. His older son does not speak to him, although his daughter does. Aunt Sara has disowned her brother for a number of reasons. She says he is an evil man. I had hoped he had matured and become a better person.

I’ve since talked to Josh. He knew I was upset by the photo and apologized. I assured him that he had every right to post it, that this is my issue and he is not to blame for my reaction. Even if I’d had warning that it was coming, I would have looked and obsessed and analyzed their faces, and felt the same way.

He told me how much it meant to him to put together another piece of the puzzle of his life. How he delighted in seeing their resemblance, not just in facial features, but body type, mannerisms and their senses of humor. He liked his father. Still, he acknowledges how he hurt me. Josh said his father apologized to him, chalked it up to being young and stupid at 22. I wonder if he has ever considered apologizing to me. Not likely. And not like I would accept it.

What still sticks with me to this day is how cruelly he treated me toward the end. That he said we’d get married, then kept putting it off. He participated in a pre-wedding party at my best friend’s family’s house, knowing he was going to walk away two days later. How he lied to my father and the military attorney who oversaw our “settlement” (what he would contribute financially toward my care), saying that I had slept with his friends as well.

My friends, having learned what we now know about John’s future behavior, say I dodged a bullet. But I can’t help but think that if only he had married me, even if it hadn’t lasted, at least my son would have been deemed “legitimate” and I could have kept and raised him with or without support. I wouldn’t have been thrown to the whims of my parental wolves who engineered the adoption to protect our family from shame.

I’ve since realized that hate is an emotion that will eat at me, and not affect John one iota. So I’m working on forgiving him, even without his remorse. It’s going to be a hard road. But if he continues to treat our son with kindness and respect, that will go a long way to getting me there.

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SHE BELIEVED SHE COULD, SO SHE DID

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My friend Edie just gave me a lovely wooden sign with those words. It means the world to me. This might well become my new motto.

The last few years have been rather unnerving, as the population of my loved ones begins to dwindle. I accept the loss of elders — my parents, aunts and uncles — even though I miss those who have already gone and anticipate the passing of others. What’s unsettling is realizing that I have reached that time of life where many of my friends— my peers, for crying out loud — are entering that stage. And worse, that even those my age and younger have begun to struggle with health problems that could shorten their time here.

Several years ago, a long-time friend and I shared a table with two other women at a fashion show luncheon. We got along so well that we decided to continue getting together for monthly lunches. We made a couple of attempts to include our husbands for dinner out, but they didn’t click like we did, so we stuck with ladies only. This went on for a few years. One by one, the others developed different forms of cancer — colon, bone, and esophageal — and died, after varying levels of treatment. I was the last one left standing. They were each a few to many years older than I. I felt lucky, and odd, to be that one out of four.

In that same period of time, I lost four other close friends: one several years younger whose cancer had gone undetected for too long; another just a year older, again whose cancer was discovered late; and two quite suddenly from congestive heart failure that hadn’t been previously diagnosed.

Their names were Sandy, Jan, Nancy, Nadine, Carol, Carollee and Joan. Four in California, three in Arizona. I feel blessed to have seen them all within a year of their passing. Two, within 24 hours of when they left us. Nadine when she was in hospice, and Carollee because we had spent the few days before shopping and goofing off while her childhood friend was in town, and the night before carousing at the movie Django Unchained at our community ramada.

Who knew?

Which brings me to my point. You never know from day to day, week to week, year to year, what life holds for you.

About a month ago, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. I had been faithful about yearly check-ups and mammograms for decades. In fact, I’d just had a mammo in seven months prior that was clear. Then I noticed some swelling under my left armpit. Many tests led to a needle biopsy which showed it to be an invasive and aggressive form that had spread from my breast into my lymph nodes. Within a week I had visits with a surgeon and oncologist, a port surgically installed in my chest, and my first chemo infusion. Thankfully, a PET scan showed that the cancer has not spread elsewhere in my body.

I’m in for a few more infusions of chemo, every three weeks, then surgery (how extensive, they haven’t said), and more targeted chemo or radiation, depending on how effective the initial round of chemo turns out. In the meantime, I’ve been battling the after-effects: fatigue, light-headedness, heartburn, loss of appetite, and other things not fit for public disclosure. Because I rarely get sick from anything, I imagined I’d be spared the usual post-chemo symptoms. But that was not to be. I have good days and bad days. I hope these will become more predictable with each treatment, so I can plan ahead for what I will and won’t be able to do. I anticipate losing my hair, which is likely to occur in the next couple of weeks. I toy with the idea of getting a purple wig. I wonder if I can put off shaving my legs and just wait for those hairs to conveniently fall out too.

Slowly, I informed my friends, near and far, assuring them that my prognosis is excellent, that my treatment will be successful, and I have no intention of dying from this. I want them not to worry and, more important, not to fawn over me. Concern, support, positive thoughts and prayers are welcome. Pity is not. It makes me uncomfortable because it implies doubt that I won’t win the battle.

I have as many, or more, friends who have beat cancer as I do those who have lost the fight. What I believe I have in common with them is determination and a positive attitude. Even when the chemo is making me sick, I try to imagine how much worse it is for the cancer cells inside me, that the chemicals are attacking them full on and whipping them into submission.

Like my new sign says, “She believed she could, so she did.”

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WHAT A JOY!

Today was my granddaughter Naomi’s 20th birthday. Wow, that went fast! It doesn’t seem like 20 years ago that I waited for the call from my son Josh that she had arrived. When he sent me an announcement a pink bubblegum cigar.

I met her when she was just two months old and have been present in her life ever since, although more than half of that time from a geographical distance. She was born just three months after I reunited with her father, the son I relinquished for adoption 26 years before. How’s that for timing? I was a suddenly a mother and then a grandmother, all within a few months.

Of course, I was always Josh’s mother, but I didn’t get to raise him. I didn’t have any more children, then became a stepmother to my husband’s son Jeff when he was a teen. We had a rough time for a while, but I have always loved him as if he were my own, and today we are close.

But let’s get real. I never had the experience of motherhood from birth. and at 45 I became a grandmother. I doubted my skills in that regard, since all of the grandmothers I’d ever known had mothering skills in their background. I wasn’t even comfortable holding babies, probably a fear left over from having never held my own. I was afraid to hold Naomi when I first met her. But I did it. I made mistakes with her, like when her dad and mom left me alone to watch her while they were out for few hours, no one told me I was supposed to warm the formula before giving it to her. She cried and wouldn’t take the bottle. I was so distraught! They expected me to know, but how could I? I’d never even babysat a newborn!

The next time I saw her, she was six months old, came with her parents for an early Christmas at our home. That was a great time, with all of my friends coming over to adore her in her fancy holiday outfit. I remember her being especially interested in the men with beards!

I saw her again when she was nine months, and again when she was just a year and a half at Josh’s next wedding. Even though we hadn’t seen each other frequently, she clung to me, as if I were her safe person. A lot of changes were going on then, and I let her cry and hug onto me. I promised her I would always be there for her, even though she was too young to understand my words. I guess I knew in those moments that I would be a lasting force in her life. At least I hoped so.

I visited many times once she and Josh lived in Tucson, and we eventually made a pre-retirement move out of California to Arizona, 11 years ago. For a couple of years, I saw her and my younger grandson Gabe, plus my step-grandchildren Nick and Katie, once a week, picked them up from school, helped with homework (as if I could!) and took them two at a time for ice cream. They were a handful! At one point I took Naomi to dance lessons (hip-hop) on those days and watched her dance. That was a fun time for both of us.

Again we were separated, when Josh and his wife broke up and he was transferred in his job to New Mexico. More sparse visits. But when she came to visit, we always had a great time. We sang and danced to the oldies that I imposed on her. Our bond continued.

Since she graduated from high school and moved to Florida two years ago, I’ve wondered if we would keep track of each other, if she would no longer need me, want to talk to me.

Here’s the good part! She’s 20 and she still calls me, still wants to talk to me about what’s going on in her life, what her plans might be. She’s now interested in beauty school, either as an esthetician or a hairdresser. I think she’d be great at either or both! I totally support whatever path she wants to pursue. She’s a hard worker, a people person, and I believe she will be great at whatever she decides to do.

I am also proud of our grandson Jordan, who will be senior at UCLA next year, with a math major. Now there’s something that I can’t even relate to! But he’s an ace at it and I trust that he’s on the right course to pursue his dreams. Thank you Jeff and Lainey for helping him get there! Jordan and I aren’t close in the usual sense. Maybe we would be if we’d spent more time together, but I believe that he and his grandpa have a bond that will last, based on their common interests.

Nor am I with grandson Gabe. Although we enjoy each other’s company when we’re together.

So maybe it’s a girl thing. In any case, it is my absolute joy that Naomi still wants to talk to me. Still trusts me. Still wants me in her life. And misses me. Thank you for that, my pumpkin, poodle, and sweet boogaloo! Oogum Boogum to you! Now and always!

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MITIGATING AND MANAGING COLLATERAL DAMAGE

I was supposed to participate on a panel at the American Adoption Congress 2016 conference in Denver in late March: Mitigating and Managing Collateral Damage: Impact of Adoption on the First Family.

My friend Suz spearheaded it and I was initially excited by the opportunity. I’ve presented a few times at AAC Conferences and found it very rewarding. I was also looking forwarding to meeting Suz, her husband Rich, and many others for the first time in real life.

I take my commitments seriously and can’t remember ever pulling out of one so important. Thus, it was with heavy heart that I did. I had worries about being a positive contributor to the effort, which I’ll elaborate on, but had made peace with that, and in the end it came down to being overwhelmed with too much going on during the time leading up to the conference. It just didn’t feel right to make the trip.

Thankfully, Suz recruited an excellent replacement (Susie of Finding Christoper), and reported that the panel drew a full house, with lots of audience interaction. I’m thrilled at the result! I would have liked to have heard it.

So what was my big deal? I absolutely agree that there is collateral damage as a result of adoption: to the mother and her child, obviously, but also to the first family (including the grandparents, the mother’s siblings, i.e. aunts and uncles, and other immediate family members. Then, there’s the mother’s future relationships, especially with boyfriends, husbands, in-laws, later children.

It’s taken me a whole month to pull these thoughts together.

How does having relinquished a child for adoption impact all of those?

I can only speak from my own experience.

I was sent away from my home in Hawaii to Los Angeles. Away from my support system of friends. My immediate future put in the hands of an adoption attorney and the woman with whom I was placed to live out my pregnancy. I felt trapped and hopeless.

My relationship with my parents got worse. They were ashamed of me for getting pregnant out of wedlock. Not like I expected them to be thrilled by the situation, but I resented them for their lack of compassion and support. It was, after all, their first grandchild.

My siblings and extended family didn’t know. Many of my friends (those who didn’t live nearby) didn’t know. I was told to keep it secret from those who didn’t. My parents insisted that while I was sequestered in Los Angeles, I send letters to those friends to their house and they would mail them from there, as if that’s where I was.

After my son’s birth, I was scolded for any feelings of grief or loss that I felt. When I developed extreme stomach pains and no cause could be found, I was told I was imagining it. I was told to buck up. Get over it and move on.

When I couldn’t get over it, I felt as if I were defective. As if I were the only woman in the world who had gone through this. I was alone. Because I wasn’t allowed to talk about it. I had no outlet. So my means of “moving on” was to rebel.

I rejected every accepted way of life. I found love in all the wrong places. Hooked up with men who couldn’t commit, who were as screwed up as I was. I rejected every man who could have offered me a stable future. Instead, I was attracted to losers. That was what I felt I deserved. Not to have true love, anyone who could commit to me, or to have more children.

Ah. the more children thing. I thought that’s what I wanted, but clearly I felt undeserving. That having given up my first child (even though that was not my plan, my decision), I would be a bad mother. Why else would I have sought out situations where that would never happen?

Eventually, even when I met the man who would become my husband (almost 35 years ago!), it took me a long time to trust. I was certain he would change his mind, reject me, leave me. When we married, he had a teenaged son with problems. My inability to deal with that cemented my feelings of ‘bad mother.” I expected that my husband would choose his son over me at any minute and want a divorce.

My self image sucked for well more than 20 years after I had surrendered my son. Even though I found ways to make myself feel “worthy,” including being excellent in my chosen craft (writing and graphic design), successful in business, and forming meaningful relationships, I still suffered emotionally.

We reunited almost 26 years after his birth. There was the euphoric beginning, and then issues on both of our parts, the trauma of being separated, my guilt and remorse, his anger at having been placed with abusive parents, both of us regretting the loss. I learned that he had given up two children of his own, after his first marriage failed. My parents held back, did not accept our reunion immediately. In fact, I had to force their hand to finally meet him and get to know him. Although they all tried for a while, the connection didn’t stick.

So, how to mitigate and/or manage those impacts?

The more I thought about this, the more stubborn I became in my belief that they could not be. If adoption agencies/advisors/attorneys/social workers, etc. were honest, told potential birth mothers what they would likely have to deal with, would woman would go ahead with adoption? Some perhaps, but I suspect most wouldn’t. Hence, they would lose a client, a child to place for the big bucks. Deal over.

If anyone had told me: how screwed up I would be after relinquishing my child, how screwed up he might be, that it would be difficult to find each other, how even if we ever met again it would be such a long and intense journey, that we would both have difficulties forming and keeping relationships, that I would forever have shame and regret, that he would find it hard to forgive me, that my family might still reject him, that he might repeat history by relinquishing two children for adoption. Would I have still let the adoption go through? I don’t believe I had a choice. But maybe I would have searched harder for another option. Maybe I would have run away with my baby and found a way to make it work, for better or for worse.

Hence, I believe that the only way to eliminate those impacts would be for mothers to keep and raise their child.

That said, I will admit there are things adoption professionals might do. Tell the truth about the impacts. Provide realistic counseling prior to relinquishment — not brainwashing about how it’s the best thing for the mother and child, but how hard it’s likely to be for both. Ongoing counseling to check in with the mother and what’s going on for her after. Encourage journaling about her feelings. And yes, open adoption records, so she can find her child or he/she can find her once they are of age. End the secrecy, within families, and in the real world.

The impacts of adoption are real and life-long. I applaud those who are seeking answers to mitigate those impacts for mothers who truly don’t want to parent or have no other option. But I continue to believe that the separation of mother and child is never for the best. I will always support family preservation, whatever it takes.

I have lived through the consequences of adoption. It is not good for anyone, except for  the couples who (although I’m sorry you can’t have children any other way) who benefit from this depraved industry of selling children. I hope that someday it will refocus on providing homes for children that truly need one, rather than providing parents with the children they think they must have and are entitled to.

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NOTHING SIGNIFICANT ON MY DNA REPORT

So I got my results from my ancestry.com DNA test. 

I realize that the only possibility of new information is dependent on relatives also submitting to the test. 

My niece Emily showed up as a probable cousin. Huh? My cousin Kendall as a cousin, which is correct. How do they distinguish the relationships? Why cousin instead of something more accurate, as in Emily’s case, niece?

In any case, I got my answer. If I do have another sibling (i.e. if my mother had a child she relinquished for adoption before she met my father), she/he or her/his children have not yet done a DNA search… and may never… or maybe they don’t even exist. If they do exist, and if they ever do the DNA test, it’s my understanding that I will get updates. That was just a wild guess on my part anyway.

I received a long list of possible 4th-6th cousins. And received a message from one. I’m not really interested in expanding my family tree. Should I be? I already have all the information I could ever want on the immediate and extended family on both my father’s and mother’s sides. Thanks to cousins who already did this research.

Unless one of those 4th-6th cousins might be misidentified and/or perhaps be a niece, nephew or cousin from my mother’s “other child.” If there ever was such a person.

I realize that many people do this to learn more about their roots and may want to dig deeper. I do not.

What I did learn (and not a big surprise), my ethnicity is: 52% Scandinavian (Swedish), 16% Western European, 14% Great Britain, and 14% Ireland, with traces of Russian and Eastern Europe. I have always said “I’m not Irish” on St. Paddy’s Day, so may have to change my story to “a little bit,” and wear some green.

I have adoptee friends who have found close family members via DNA, including mothers, fathers and siblings. So I have to believe this works. Maybe more information will come to me down the line.

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