Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Rhonda Rae Baker: Found AdoptLit Book Tour

What a profoundly beautiful story.  I am honored to support Jennifer's memoir, Found, during this AdoptLit Book Tour.  I will never get tired of hearing about this memoir.  It speaks volumes to my heart and soul as an adoptee.  If you are adopted or know someone that is, I urge you to read this book.  Jennifer writes in such a way that I was taken deeper within my own darkness and given light.  She helped me look inside from another angle where I found new hope for healing in my own heart.  Thank you Jennifer for sharing your life and passion with us...you are amazing!
This memoir is more than an adoption story.  It is a story that will speak to the neglected, the abused, and the abandoned at every corner.  All those who have ever felt unloved or out of place in this world can find encouragement within the pages of this memoir.  Holding nothing back, she opened her heart and I feel connected because she understands my soul as well. 
My story has so many twists and turns.  Many parallels and synchronicities in life that a person couldn't make up.  This story is ongoing but I am writing and one day will publish my own memoirs.
As an abandoned infant, someone gave me to my parents who were on a waiting list for adoption.  They were already approved and happy to welcome me into the family.  They raised me as their own.  They loved me and my adopted brother with all their hearts.  They always told us that we were special gifts in their lives and wanted more than anything.  They are gone now as is my adoptive brother. 
I have since found maternal relatives.  When I found my biological mother’s sisters and brother, it was too late to meet her.  My uncle also explained that they were told I died in childbirth.  When we met in person, they were overcome with shock at my appearance in their lives.  I laughed at the surreal emotions bubbling over just seeing someone that looked like me.  This made one aunt cry and laugh at the same time.  She said that I reminded her of their sister and that my mannerisms were just like hers.  This aunt said that the tenor of my voice sounded just like her sister’s.  To compare a picture of us at age eighteen, several have thought we were the same person. 
I know where my features come from now.  What a relief to find out that I wasn’t born in a cabbage patch or another planet.  My DNA has roots and my love for music is founded in the connection with this family.  Every time I get to see one aunt during Pendleton Round-up in Oregon, we sit and hold hands.  There is something about just being together that brings us comfort.  Jennifer speaks of this genetic resonance in her memoir and my experience confirms this phenomenon. 
I would never try to replace my adoptive parents for they cared for me as their own.  They gave me every opportunity to find interests in life that fit my personality.  However, I always felt like a misfit and searched unconsciously for someone that looked like me.  There were too many secrets about my origination that kept me in torment.  It made me feel soiled in some way, as there was never any open communication about where I came from.  I didn’t know my birth mother’s name or what nationality she was.  This is why open adoption is so very important to help an adoptee establish identity.  To help the child find a place where they fit within society and find a reflection for their soul.
Although I’ve connected with maternal roots, they are not really my family either.  We acknowledge each other but are very different and distant which is understandable.  It’s as if I don’t belong to either tribe.  By nature or nurture, I’m connected with both in some way but I remain an individual.  I’ve learned to mother my own Inner Child and continue to grow towards my true identity.
The paternal side of my family tree is yet to be identified.  Since I was a product of an affair, it will take DNA testing to confirm who the father is.  After reading Jennifer’s story of reunion, I am reminded that part of me is still out there and I must find that piece to the puzzle.  It is imperative that I continue to search for my siblings.  I have at least three half-siblings on the maternal side.  It scares me to look for them because I am not sure I could handle another loss or rejection.  As I think about this blog tour, my heart is wrenched.  I'm crying and can't stop the bleeding inside from unanswered questions and the negating of what every adoptee must feel. 
Please consider the gravity of loss in Primal Wounds suffered by an adoptee separated from their natural mother.  These are very real feelings and emotions.  They affect every area of an adoptee’s life and interpersonal relationships, whether they are aware of it or not.  In fact, I was in denial for 30 years and then another 20 years for healing.  Open your heart to understand that maybe if I was told details of my story, the years of searching could have been spent on other successful endeavors. 
There must be a way to bring awareness to society so a difference can be made for all in the adoption triad.  We need each other and I believe that with compassion, there is hope for understanding the adoptee’s heart cry.  I would never reject any family member for I have lived a life with many families.  Even though I was surrounded by family, I felt that there was something that made me different.  This lack of mirroring caused me to over-attached to my children.  They were the only blood-relatives I knew.  I gave freely of my essence to raise them so they would be strong souls.  However, I know they have been affected by unidentified shadows haunting their mother.  These dark places in my heart was where I get lost and couldn’t find my way.  My quest for healing has revealed missing pieces and as I discover them, my children are affected positively.  They need me to be whole.  I must continue healing so we all may feel complete within ourselves.  I will continue writing about this quest and one-day hope to unite with siblings on both side of my original family tree.
As I sit here this morning, my heart is overflowing with tears of gratitude for the insight Jennifer has so candidly expressed.  Being adopted changes a person and we can spend a lifetime searching for connection to someone, anything, and anyone.  I’ve questioned in my mind if every stranger was possibly my mother, if every boy or girl was my sibling.  I have adopted many in my life through attachment as I sought for some kind of connection to another human being.  A search for identify that has taken a lifetime of excruciating pain and devastation.  I have wanted to be held within my own kind.  I am overcome with hope in the possibility that we all might become whole one day.
Following are the questions that I chose to answer for this blog tour. 
What event (besides being adopted) do you think most affected the author? Why and how did it affect the author so profoundly?
I think the author’s loss of her adoptive parents compounded and/or resurfaced the loss of her birth mother.  The loss of her brother brought on additional losses as did not having a place to call home.  Compounding losses can lead a person into constant fear of losing more, adding to fear of abandonment and loss of identity.  Had she not lost her adoptive family in early life, it may have taken much longer in the search for identity to take place.  If my parents were still alive, I may not have had the courage to search.  They were not open to speak about my adoption and I would have remained silent.  Jennifer spent a lifetime adapting to surroundings, as all adoptee’s do.  She was shuttled around like someone owned her.  She lost more than anyone can even imagine and it’s hard to comprehend.  I am so happy that she was willing to search for the meaning of an adoptee's reality.  She has written about how we can find healing and start over.  Jennifer needed to return to the beginning of her story.  In essence, all of us need to hear and know our ‘original’ story.
Lauck argues that "the primal wound" affects all adopted children and reunions with first parents should be encouraged in most if not all cases. How do you think Lauck's reunion with her mother helped heal her own "primal wound"?
Searching for her mother was the only way this author could anchor her identity.  To discover where she came from placed her on earth.  This is the beginning of healing for any adoptee who does not have a connection with their heritage.  Without acknowledgement of loss and time for grief, these wounds fester in the body which will surface later in life as illness and/or pain.  Reunions with first parents is important for the adoptee to be healed.  If reunion is not possible then another way must be found.  What is needed for the adoptee to feel they belong or have purpose is a sense of where they came from.  This doesn’t replace the adoptive parents as they are the ones raising and nurturing the child if they are in fact this lucky.  The adoptee is not necessarily in need of a new relationship.  If the birth family is found later in life it is most likely they will not have many things in common past their genetic patterns.  Jennifer’s reunion with her mother helped heal the longing in her heart for connection.  She was able to be held and I’m confident the healing was on a genetic level just as she explained.  Once this resonating identification is made, the adoptee can move forward to lead a more complete life for themselves.  I had this connection with my aunt and experienced what Jennifer described.  Reunion with maternal roots profoundly changed my world and altered the path of my life.  It set me on a straight path towards discovering myself.
On pp 17-18, Jennifer talks about a baby searching for her mother after being born. How did this sensory-rich passage strike you? What thoughts did it trigger about the role you play in adoption?
Connecting with our mother is what every child needs.  If mother cannot be found, as in adoption or abandonment, there is loss on a cellular level.  A mammal behavior that is so natural it isn’t even recognized by those that have it.  When a child doesn’t have this connection in nature, they are destined for lifelong search until identified.  The sensory details of connecting with mother, a meaning for existence, and acceptance of self are interconnected.  A closed-adoptee never has this connection and relationship with where they came from.  This leads to feelings of loneliness and isolation that affects every relationship in their life.  Learning to adapt to fit in and ultimately attach smothers relationships.  The closed-adoptee doesn’t know how to be themselves because their mirror’s reflection is distorted.  Loss of individuality becomes the primal wound that must be healed in order to move forward in life. 

To continue to the next leg of this book tour, please visit the main list at The Open Adoption Examiner.


Susan said...

"Had she not lost her adoptive family in early life, it may have taken much longer in the search for identity to take place. If my parents were still alive, I may not have had the courage to search." This makes so much sense now that you point it out. I had thought of the loss of her adoptive family purely as multiplied tragedy in Lauck's life, but missed the power it may have had to motivate her to seek the missing part of her.

Rhonda, thank you for describing so vividly your search for your self. I can see how secrets and missing people have profoundly affected you. I pray you will find what you need.

Rhonda Rae Baker said...

Thank you Susan! It seems that I say in 100 words what 10 could say...and yet you got me. Bless you...(-: It's a process but I'm truly finding my way!

letterstomsfeverfew said...

Rhonda -

First let me give you a big virtual hug. I know that was not easy for you to share your own personal adoption journey. As a first mother, I am heartened to hear your adoptive parents did they best they could for you. I wish you had found your mother before she had passed - I am certain that has only compounded your healing process.

I have heard from so many adoptees that they didn't feel comfortable searching for their first families until the adoptive parents had passed. I think you might be right - open adoption may be a way to help mitigate (in some way) the loss of identity that is inherent in close adoptions.

(And when will the powers that be FINALLY fix the stupid database and make "adoptee" a real word that isn't always auto-corrected!? Last time I checked, you are real. Grrrr.)

Rhonda Rae Baker said...

Thank you Melynda!

I believe the direction that open adoption is going will make all the difference for these children. My parents did the best they could with what they knew at the time and I'm thankful they nursed me back to health. They gave me so much of themselves. It was I that pushed back and surrounded my heart from getting too close or intimate. I'm healing from this and learning to embrace life. I'm learning to mother myself.

This tour has been very interesting. I believe that Jennifer is the bravest adoptee out there for sharing her intimate story. We are all blessed to have the opportunity for learning from her experience.

May we all heal and grow together. There are not three sides to the triad...we are interconnected and can help each other make this world a better place.

Thank you for sharing with me...(-:

Lavender Luz said...

"The closed-adoptee doesn’t know how to be themselves because their mirror’s reflection is distorted."

I think there is so much power in this statement. Our job, as adoptive parents, is to reduce distortion to the highest degree possible with what we have available to us.

Thank yo, Rhonda, for sharing your own insight and journey alongside Ms Lauck. Here's to continued healing and wholeness for everyone involved in adoption.

Rhonda Rae Baker said...

Thank you Lori...we press on for continued healing and wholeness. Yes, the more that we can bind together, the greater difference we can make in changing the 'scripts' of society about adoption. I am thankful that you organized this tour...I came VERY close to dropping out because it was too painful. May we stick together and help each other heal.

Tonya said...

Thanks for sharing your perspective as an adoptee. While our adoption is open, our children's birth mother has not had lots of contact with us. Every time I send a letter or pictures, I always invite more contact from her when she's comfortable. In the last year, she's started to have more contact with us, and I can see what a difference it makes for my daughter for there to be some contact with her birth mom. It seems that it actually makes her think less about her birth mom. We know almost nothing about her birth father and that is still such a hard thing for my daughter. So many of your comments I think probably help explain some of what she is dealing with. I'm glad you participated in the tour!

Jjiraffe said...

Thank you so much for posting such a beautiful response and about your own background. It was very enlightening and helpful.

jennifer said...

Nicely done, Rhonda...and as you know, since we have had a good chat about our sense of the many comments on this tour...I posted my global response to this tour here: Click Here

xo xo xo

Jenn said...

Great post! Thank you for sharing your story. Your response have me thinking and I'm so glad for what you have pointed out.

Lavender Luz said...

Hello, Rhonda.

The discussion that ensued from your very thoughtful post and comments has been illuminating in so many ways. If you have a comment or a resulting post that you'd like to leave as part of the central record of the Book Tour, please make sure to leave that comment or link at http://www.examiner.com/open-adoption-in-national/found-book-tour-day-1

Take care!