Adoption—Time Waits for no One…

“Hours are like diamonds, never waste them. Make every day a joy filled with anticipation. Radiate some personality flair that fulfills your purpose and provide what the world lacks. Be alert. Show support for your inner self. Drink in the sunshine before the day passes away because you will never experience this moment again.” Judith Land

Judith Land

“Statues immortalize the flavor and essence of people we care deeply about and want to be remembered by future generations for their personality, innate characteristics, and quality and substance of thoughts and actions; people who create an unwavering guide that help us discover moral truth, and understand the difference between and right and wrong.” Judith Land

Don’t be afraid of growing old, be afraid of standing still. Never procrastinate or delay because time won’t wait for anyone. Human events and concerns cannot stop the passage of time or the ebb and flow of the tides. Some things are inevitable, such as birth, death, the sun rising and the passage of time, so chose a path and get on with accomplishing whatever you’re supposed to do because the river continues to flow on past, regardless of what we do.

Sometimes we forget why we are here on earth. We forget that there is a reason for all the pain and struggles. If you are determined to do something, find a way to accomplish it, regardless of the number of obstacles in your path. If there is a chance in a million that you can do something, to keep what you want from ending, do it. Build your own rising tide of enthusiasm. Learn to do the right thing based on moral truths, traditionally held beliefs, right conduct, and knowledge derived from common sense and experience. A common person is not concerned with the calendar or the passing of time, but the individual on a mission is driven by it.

We build monuments of stone to someone’s passing, for fame everlasting. Nobody wants to be remembered for all the tidy little things they didn’t do, rather than the things they did do. If someone is curiously absent from your life, make a plan to reconnect with the missing soul before it’s too late, to make both of your lives complete.

Judith Land

 

 

Judith Land

Adoption Detective

 

 

 

 

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Adults bamboozled me into believing in Santa Claus

“You don’t have to be a child to be a victim of Santa Claus syndrome. Anyone who has ever been intentionally lied to, is aware of the hurtful feelings of deceit. Santa Claus syndrome is the intentional deception of others with the rationalized idea that lying, tarradiddles, falsehoods, untruths, fairy tales and perjury are acceptable behavior.” Judith Land

“There are things in this life related to adoption that we must come to terms with at some point in our lives. Some childhood awakenings are quite simple, while others are troubling and overtly traumatic.” Judith Land

Adoptees have many more things to think about. Uncovering the truth is often difficult for them. Awareness that adults were lying to me about the existence of  Santa Claus and the North Pole were equally troubling as the made up reasons for my adoption.

The threat of being judged and intentionally exiled from biological family members has a strong effect on the human soul and the fragile psyche and the spirit of an adoptee. “Santa Claus only brings presents to good little boys and girls. If your behavior doesn’t improve, we’ll send you back where you came from.” I know these feelings from firsthand experience. I had never had an honest or open conversation with my adoptive mother about my birth parents because any mention of them aroused jealousy and suspicion. Even in adulthood, my adoptive mother possessively clung to me as her only child.

The fear of imminent death by cancer eventually motivated my adoptive mother to unburden her most cumbersome secrets before she died. I was startled when she unexpectedly breached the topic of adoption. “As an adoptee, there are some unique things you are entitled to know. Some organizations provide false identities to adoptees to prevent them from locating their biological parents. Sealed adoption records protect birth parents wishing to live a secret lifestyle, unwilling to have their lives disrupted by unwanted children they previously rejected. At the time when you were born, fake baptismal and birth certificates were routinely issued to deceive adoptees by some organizations,” she calmly divulged while quietly sipping her tea. “Public policy may seem cold and uncivilized to you, but that was the law. Your baptism certificate states that you were baptized at Holy Angels Catholic Church, but that is simply not true. The document is a fake. You should write to Saint Lawrence Catholic Church to request a copy of your original baptismal certificate,” she suggested matter-of-factly.

I was shocked. It had never occurred to me that anyone would create false documents to protect birth parents from their own children. Hearing this information was an emotional low. When I was a child, adults had bamboozled me into believing that Santa Claus existed—and I had believed them. My reaction was the same now as it had been then. Childish stories about Santa Claus, the Tooth Fairy, the Easter Bunny, and a dozen other fairy tale characters living in pumpkins and tree houses in Never Land seemed harmless at the time, but these stories offered conclusive proof that adults lied to children to intentionally deceive them. I had been deliberately given false birth and baptismal certificates to prevent me from discovering my true self-identity—the names of my parents, my medical and cultural history and the exact location where I was born. The actions of the authorities were premeditated, deliberate, calculated and cold-blooded. My adoption was part of a formal conspiracy to appease birth parents living in the fear of coming face-to-face with their own children. The legal practice of falsifying birth and baptismal certificates was a tidy and convenient solution for everyone except the poor, helpless, abandoned child.

I went straight to my safety deposit box to retrieve my baptismal certificate. I immediately recognized that something was glaringly wrong. My mother was right. The information was incorrect. The document was a forgery because it had been falsely issued a year before I was adopted and fourteen months before my name was legally changed to the surname of my adopted parents. Exposure of the fraud that had been perpetrated on me provided a new challenge, sparked my curiosity, and reignited my enthusiasm for continuing my adoption quest. I tried to appear outwardly calm because it was easier to rationalize my thoughts and behavior from a secular, detached perspective than the inner spiritual, existential, and emotional base from which my innermost thoughts derived. It was difficult to constrain my fears as I wondered if the early part of my life was a dark place with evil people that I shouldn’t go. Was I naively engaging in an activity that I shouldn’t be doing? Was I unwisely about to uncover something tragic, misfortunate, and undisturbed? Would my actions generate complications and unforeseen problems?

Perhaps, I would be safer and happier—if I returned to Never Land and continued my perpetual childhood belief in Santa Claus along with everyone else in the world who was ever lied to about something they were steered into with immense emotional attachment.

Judith Land

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Adoption in Winter Wonderland

“I grew up with an idealistic spirit with a widespread belief in an amazing future that was just around the corner, much like the image in a winter scene captured by painter Thomas Kinkade, an idealized version of humanity depicting a futuristic utopia, where everyone is educated and thoughtful and kind, working together to improve life for everyone—a world where everyone is virtuous, fair-minded, and kind.” Judith Land 

“I grew up with an idealistic spirit with a widespread belief in an amazing future that was just around the corner, much like the image in a winter scene captured by painter Thomas Kinkade, an idealized version of humanity depicting a futuristic utopia, where everyone is educated and thoughtful and kind, working together to improve life for everyone—a world where everyone is virtuous, fair-minded, and kind.” Judith Land 

Being adopted and relocated to the heart of the Rocky Mountains during the winter season is the equivalent of living inside a snow globe—an idyllic setting depicting a time and place filled with joyful memories captured and frozen in time—a snapshot of a romanticized world during a previous epoch when life was very good. People are happy and free from want and separated from the negative influences of the outside world. Kids are playing and laughing and everyone is perpetually smiling. The statue maker’s creative magic shows sensitivity and imagination, triggering long held happy memories of a glorious time gone by and feelings of being free from want that spans generations.

Growing up is not an option. Progressing toward psychological maturity means coming to the realization that saying farewell to the poetic dreams of youth and images of a perfect life inside a snow globe are melancholic. Beliefs in a utopian setting idealized by the slow dreamy rhythms of the seasons in a world of the imagination, largely devoid of moral and ethical deliberations, are my refuge, sanctuary, and place of safety. The lionized memories of winter that I celebrated in my youth as an only child and an adoptee will never leave me, as long as I have my snow globe close beside me.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to every child and parent on the space globe we call planet earth. My wish is for every adoptee whose life’s trajectory has been radically altered through no fault of their own to be able to attain peace of mind in the coming year, if only in our dreams.

Judith Land

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Adoption—Paternal Bonding

“Mother-infant bonding is a common theme in parenting research but infants can and do also create bonds with their fathers. Less is known about paternal bonding that tends to be based on physical and highly stimulating interaction, reflecting an exhilarating and fun-loving experience, different from a protective mother-infant bond. An infant’s facial expressions and emotions towards their father tends to be significantly different from their emotions towards their mothers, even at a very young age. Men are conducive to bonding but don’t like to sit face to face and talk about their feelings.” Judith Land

“There are not many relationships more sacred than that between a father and his son and no relationship will have a bigger impact on what kind of man a boy develops into than his relationship with his father.” Judith Land

This blog is an open invitation to male adoptees and fathers willing to share their opinions, feelings, personal stories and emotions about paternal bonding and what it means to be adopted, open verses closed adoptions, and the value of reunions with biological family members. 

 The public record on adoption is dominated by female voices expressing a variety of emotions that are different from those of male adoptees. Public discourse is dominated with first-hand accounts of reunions between mothers and daughters. Library shelves are filled with research data discussing the importance of maternal bonding and the negative consequences that occur when the primal bonds with the mother are broken or denied. The majority of adoptees that openly express a desire to connect with biological family members are female.

Please provide some of your own thoughts and observations on the differences and similarities between the emotional feelings, responses, and experiences of adoptees interacting with paternal family members and what may happen when this interaction is missing, intentionally withheld, or recovered later in life.

Included below are three examples from my files to stimulate discussion:

  1. Richard was adopted by a plain and uninspiring older couple. He knew nothing about his biological parents. He loved rich food attractively presented on elaborate table settings and candlelight, an experience that contrasted sharply with his domestic situation and lower economic upbringing. His eyes grew as big as saucers whenever he smelled or tasted exceptional recipes. He was overtly animated and inherently creative in the kitchen at an early age. His enthusiasm for well-prepared meals was highly contagious. When the name of his biological father was revealed to him, he learned that his father was a restaurant owner and a famous chef—like father like son.
  1. Robert’s adoptive parents died at an early age when he was a high school senior. He knew absolutely nothing about his biological parents. After his adoptive parents died he received a university scholarship from an unknown source. Robert was athletic and raced on the college ski team for four years. When he walked off the stage following his college graduation ceremony, a stranger extended his hand offering his congratulations, “Hello! I’m proud of you—I’m your father.” Robert stood there motionless, slack-jawed, and frozen in time as the man abruptly turned around and disappeared into the crowd, never to be seen again. 
  1. James was six years old, born in a foreign country, and living in an orphanage when he was adopted. He was naturally outgoing and happy. His adoptive parents were attracted to his beautiful smile and friendly disposition. He loved playing baseball with the other children, and later in life, using the same exceptional hand eye coordination, he evolved into an excellent golfer. After retirement from a career as a police officer, he was contacted by an adult male claiming to be his son. James was caught completely off guard because his former girlfriend had never told him that he had fathered her child. 

What advice do you have for James, Robert and Richard? All three individuals have concerns and questions about what steps to take next? 

Judith Land

 

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Adoption—Fighting for your Destiny

“The day we give up on small fights and start focusing on our destiny is the day we start becoming successful and content with the way things are,” Judith Land 

Life is an awkward frustrating toffee pull for many adoptees. Their lives are complicated and their relationships more complex than they often need to be. They have many more things to think about and more family issues to deal with that lead to confusion and disagreements. The more muddled the situation becomes, the harder it is for them to calm down, adjust to circumstances, and concede other points of view. 

Adoption Detective | Judith Land

“Many adoptees find themselves in difficult situations that naturally lead to disagreements, conflict, and strife. They struggle for autonomy, privacy, equality, self-determination, and freedom. They are goaded into bickering and feuding with other family members and peers, often over trivial issues. Disagreements are a way of life, but they don’t have to cause havoc. There are many books on how to deal with disagreements effectively and they should be available when needed.” Judith Land

What adoptees eventually must learn is that one of the greatest turning points in life is when you come to the realization that it isn’t worth spending a lifetime consumed by negative thoughts triggered by resentment, feeling sorry for yourself, self-pity, and regret—knowing that it’s fruitless to blindly resist reality and continue to pick fights with everyone who disagrees with you. 

To be successful in life, learn to choose what you fight for wisely and know that small fights are for small fighters. Stop fighting against the gossipers and the trouble makers. Stop fighting public expectations of how you should live and behave. Stop fighting in laws, colleagues and friends who aren’t true. Stop fighting to change the opinions of stupid people with small minds. Stop resisting and give up on fighting for small things—insignificant things of little consequence—things that aren’t worth your time. Stop fighting for attention, fighting with family, fighting with inconsiderate people, fighting for your rights, fighting to please everyone, fighting to prove others are wrong about you. 

Use common sense and fight for important things that are attainable. Take responsibility for your life and career to determine which direction your life will go. Know that you can change your destiny by defining your goals and focusing on your vision for the future, based on who you are and what you do. Power your dreams with hope to alter future outcomes to ensure your destiny. This is the path to happiness.

Judith Land

 

 

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Adoption—Time is the allegorical Father of Truth

“Everyone can relate to having regrets and doubts and feelings of sadness related to an adoption. Have you ever spent a dreamy afternoon scanning past experiences over and over again wondering what would have happened—if only different choices had been made—thoughts that waste valuable time and eat you up inside? Obsessing about wrong choices, feelings of hopelessness and victimization, hoping that memories would somehow disappear, if only you could just re-envision the outcome you always wanted.” Judith Land

People who become complacent or unhappy with their current lives tend to look back on their past regrets to think, “if I had just done this or that…” If you catch yourself starting to wander back into those time changing thoughts, I think it is time to ask yourself what about your life would you want to change right now and how can you in the future because the future is the only thing you can change. Wanting a change in life is fine, it’s even necessary to grow as a person, but nothing will be changed by wishing you had done something different in the past. If you feel this way, it is time to start recognizing where you want to be in life and what steps you need to take to get there.

“I have had many moments in life that I can’t help but think about how different they could have been. Thinking too much about ‘What could have been’ may actually be ruining your life. The past will never change but, the future is yours.” Judith Land

Adoptees and birth mothers sometimes experience deteriorating emotional wellness, triggered by charged memories and persistent negative thoughts, resulting from the residual after effects of an adoption that is a cause for concern. When we feel emotionally out of control due to stress and anxiety, it often leads to mood-active responses that can become disruptive and inappropriate.

When bad things happen and we perceive things in a negative way, we get stuck ruminating about past decisions and events, wondering about how things turned out, thinking about choices that were made and why they happened—or could have happened—over and over. We brood on, worry about, and deliberate about these things in our minds. We mull over and agonize about past decisions that were made either impulsively or unwisely and the consequences of those actions. We become sad when we focus on our problems, indulging in self-pity and worries. We feel bad and helpless, angry and resentful. Often, it’s these ruminative thought cycles that drive our emotions up, and not the actual event itself.

Ruminating about the negative consequences of an adoption may cause you to feel yourself losing control. There are even times when you’re tempted to roll on the floor and scream at the top of your lungs. When emotions start to feel overwhelming, pause. Take a couple of deep breaths so your emotions can get a rest and start to calm down. Consciously bring those intense emotions down a bit, so you can carefully choose what to do next.

It can seem counterintuitive to accept the things that are bothering us, but indeed, it is good advice to “accept the things that you cannot change” when you want to control your emotions. No matter how upset we become, our emotions can’t change things that are unchangeable. So ask yourself: What part of this situation is unchangeable? Remind yourself to accept those things and focus your effort on the things you can change for the better. Strive for the capacity to be aware of, control, and express one’s emotions, and to handle interpersonal relationships judiciously and empathetically. Use self-restraint to maintain your composure and stay calm.

Another strategy is to redirect your thoughts by getting up and doing something different, and changing your surroundings. This approach helps give you a moment to reset and take your thoughts in a new direction. Infuse some positive emotions into the situation to beat back those negative feelings. Look for the silver linings in whatever it is that’s bothering you. Improve your communication skills and advocate for your needs in your relationships with others. Infuse some positive emotions into the moment with something funny or inspiring. Positive things can often deflate even the most intense negative feelings. Stay calm and exercise self-mastery by doing something that generates happiness like watching a funny video, so you can start feeling yourself again. If you still feel all riled up, try exercise as an effective way to boost your mood. The greater the intensity of the workout, the greater the impact on your mood. The physiological changes that happen in your body make exercise a great solution for intense emotions that you’re having a hard time handling with other strategies.

Time is the allegorical father of truth. If the nurturing goddess Mother Earth and the elderly Father Time allow us to achieve inner peace by reuniting us with significant others from our past, embrace the opportunity, and remind yourself that emotionally you’ve never really been apart. This is what life all comes down to at the end of the sidewalk.

Judith Land

 

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Adoption—What is the meaning of énouement?

“Enouement is the bittersweet sorrows of having arrived in the future and not being able to tell your past self how things eventually turned out.” Judith Land

“I was very eager to discuss my childhood experiences with my birth parents when I met them for the first time, to let them know what my life was like, and disclose the fact that everything had turned out okay in the end. This experience made me wish I could turn back the clock and go back in time to know them when we were still young.” Judith Land

Most adoptees experience feelings of enouement at least once in their life. Enouement occurs when we arrive in the future and wish we could turn back the hands of time and return to the past to convey our intimate thoughts to our younger self to let ourselves and significant others know how everything turns out in the end—to let everyone know what the future holds. 

One of my favorite movies is Somewhere in Time, staring Christopher Reeve and Jane Seymour. Christopher Reeves becomes obsessed with a photograph of a young woman at the Grand Hotel in Michigan and dreams of traveling back in time. He is approached by an elderly woman who places a pocket watch in his hand and pleads, “Come back to me.” Having died of a broken heart, Christopher is transported back in time and reunited with the woman in the picture who had died eight years prior on the very night she gave him the pocket watch. It is a mesmerizing story of enouement with an enchanting and romantic aura of the past.

Heartache and obscure sorrows may lead to despondency when aspects of the truth remain vague and indeterminate for many years; nameless, enshrouded and concealed, unknown except by rumor, allusion, and innuendo. It is not possible to time travel; we are only able to return to the past through our imagination, fond hope, illusion, fantasy, and daydreams.

Feelings of enouement overwhelmed me when I eventually discovered the identity of my birth parents, grandparents and extended family; the bittersweetness of having arrived here in the future, where I finally had the answers to how things turned out in the real world—the choices I made, the experiences I had, the person I became, and what my family was like—priceless intel that I instinctively wanted to share with anybody who hadn’t already made the journey, as if there was some part of me who had volunteered to stay behind, who was still stationed at a forgotten outpost somewhere in the past, eagerly awaiting news from the front. 

Calm reflection brought on by introspection means thinking about the things that happened to you with an attitude of curiosity and self-exploration to draw conclusions about yourself and other people with a sense of nostalgia and sentimentality. Introspection leads you to learn more about yourself and how you’ve changed over time and why you feel the way you.

Reminiscing at length about the pivotal events in life and the feelings they evoked both then and now, and sharing those memories with our younger self and significant others is what we strive to do when we connect with persons we care about from the past—this is the feeling of enouement.

Judith Land

 

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