November 12, 2013
Oh, The Places You'll Go
My first introduction to "adoption poetry" was a framed version of an old classic, "Chosen Child". It hung on my Mother's bedroom wall right next to an ever-growing collage of my school pictures as I grew up. I never understood why I hated that wall. It felt as if when I entered that room I needed to avoid eye-contact with that wall, those pictures, and that poem. But I couldn't understand why. I thought I hated myself and my pictures, but now I realize it was the poem.
The poem had alot of contradictory statements which is confusing to an adopted child. The first stance says "I had to tell you, Dearest Heart, that you are not my own" ~ it goes on to explain how much she wanted and desired a baby and how we were brought together through adoption ~ then the last stance of the poem states that I am "her's, and her's alone". Now how can that be?
How can I not be her own, and also hers alone? It didn't make sense. Yet that is just one example of many "double-messages" adoptees grapple with in a life-time.
Think about it ~ according to the adoption industry, in order to increase the number of available babies for adoption (the commodity) we (adoptees) get mixed-messages galore ~ we are "unwanted", "crisis'", "abandoned", "orphans"; yet "chosen", "special", "lucky", "gifts". Our mother's are told they are "incapable", yet "heroic". Our very identities are "amended" in order to fulfill a role, and we're expected to cut ourselves off completely (the message of "sealed records") from the identity, heritage, and family-line we were born of.
Adoption is a legal contract that tries to do the impossible ~ "as if born to" can never replace the reality of profound loss for an adoptee, yet we are asked to live a life-time of splitting ourselves off from our very core. We become masters at people-pleasing and compliance because we are given a message that our adoption has made us "worthy". It cleansed us of being a "bastard". Our original identities are "sealed", and therefore, must somehow define us in shame. So we work extremely hard to earn our place in a world where everything about us had to be "amended" in order to be accepted. What a heavy burden for any child, any human.
As a young child I was the master home-made card maker. I would make elaborate cards for my Mom proclaiming she was the BEST Mother in the world. I think it was my way of trying desperately to ease the insecurity in both us. With the words of "The Chosen Child" poem always looming, I can now understand that insecurity.
Years after my reunion with my first family, I went to an art class which turned out to be a life-defining experience. We were asked to read the Dr. Seuss book, "Oh, the Places You'll Go" and then compose a poem, and create a companion pastel drawing. I had never taken art before and felt like because I had no talent that my pastel would be embarrassing at the least, but decided to go for it and try...
Well, something like 4 hours later, feeling like time was literally standing still, I brought myself back into the real world a different person. A person who had finally given myself permission to grieve and shed tears over my adoption. I had always heard that art was good for the soul; that it somehow unlocked the right (more feeling) side of the brain, and by the time I pulled myself away from this project I was a true believer. I vowed to take more art classes, set up a studio, and dive into this new found healing passion. Five years later here I sit without going one step further into that dream...
I'm just thankful for the amazing experience of that class, that teacher, and the healing that flowed through it.
"Oh, The Places You'll Go"
You'll wake up one day and find yourself floating
on Rivers of Golden Tears....
In deep scars of black and purple, too
Streaming from your hidden view
Amidst eyes of blue.
Encircling your heart is crimson red...
Blood of the fathers you never knew.
Finally you'll find the real 'you'
Though brown eyes still loom.
Safely hidden in this prison of blue
Your only chance now is to ride the hues.
Grief unlocks the colors of life....
You'll find your "purple" deep inside....
after the ride.
So close your eyes, and feel the depth
You'll find you're not alone...
Surrounded by the throng, the unseen tears...
I must visit the eyes of my forefathers...
The pain of my unknown
Connect with the blood with whom I found life
Love through the tears of my own.