“Adoption—Blest Be the Tie That Binds”

The tie that binds is a poetic reference to relationships. It is our shared beliefs and experiences that link us with others that always have a hold on us. Common interests, adventures, knowledge, recurrent events and acquaintance can create friendship and love but the “tie that binds” is a much more lyrical way of saying it. “Ties” are a reference to the things that we have in common with another person and interests that we share. “Binds” are the feelings of unity that a shared interest or experience creates, meaning relationships and situations that unite people together to form lasting relationships.

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“Adoptees who feel alone in the world must learn to adjust to the significant events in their lives, evolving unpredictable circumstances, and altered relationships in response to those around them. When they feel the pain of the refugee, dispirited and sorrowful, despairing and downhearted, they should be reminded of the immortal words of Dean Martin, ‘Everybody loves somebody sometime. Everybody falls in love somehow.'” —Judith Land

John Fawcett, orphaned at age 12, gave us one of the most beloved farewell hymns of all time. More Christians upon parting have tearfully sung this hymn more than any other. He understood beauty and the sacrifice required to attain it; his words are the sort of legacy that we should remember. He reminds us that it is the fellowship of the holy spirit that leads us to encouragement, consolation, affection and compassion, which bring joy and beauty when we are of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, and intent on one purpose.

“Blest be the tie that binds our hearts in Christian love; the fellowship of kindred minds is like to that above. Before the Father’s throne we pour our ardent prayers; our fears, our hopes, our aims are one, our comforts and our cares. When we asunder part, it gives us inward pain but we shall still be joined in heart, and hope to meet again. This glorious hope revives our courage by the way; while each in expectation lives and longs to see the day. From sorrow, toil, and pain, and sin, we shall be free; and perfect love and friendship reign through all eternity.” John Fawcett

Regardless of how isolated and alone an adoptee may feel, Fawcett reminds us that to some extent we are all inextricably connected. We are all unique, yet individually we share common elements of our collective human heritage, preserved in history, mind, and traditions that are carried forth into future generations. No one is self-sufficient; everyone relies on others. The tracking of our ancestry through our blood, our genes and our written and oral histories, leads us to find our place in the world and in our families—reminding ourselves that we are all related. We all share one irrefutable tie with the web of life that tenuously binds us to this planet. We are all connected through six degrees of separation. Some members of a family look and act nothing like each other or the parents, yet the members of a family share a bond stronger than their differences. In all human societies a family is based on blood and ancestry and formal relationships, including the sacraments of holy matrimony and legal adoption, but families may also be defined as informal groupings of people united as a result of exceptional circumstances, notable events, and shared experiences. Separation from those we care about gives us inward pain but we shall always remain joined in heart. Glorious hope gives us the courage that we will meet again someday.

John Fawcett teaches regardless of how a family is formed, the tie that binds our hearts in Christian love is ultimately the strongest bond that joins us together, our hearts, and our minds and our souls to discover perfect love and friendships that last through all eternity.

Judith Land

 

 

 

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“Adoption—Infants remember more than you think”

“Parents who worry about early traumatic experiences in their adopted child’s life may be comforted knowing that children younger than nine months are poor at retaining ‘explicit’ conscious memories. However, even though a child can’t recall a particular event, a favorite toy, or a trip to the zoo later in life, those experiences may still be crucial to the child’s development. A child might not remember their diapered days, but ‘implicit’ memories formed in the early formative years may actually be the ones with the greatest impact on their lives.” —Judith Land

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During the early years children learn “implicitly” based on tacit emotions evoked by specific situations. As we begin to mature, we gradually learn to develop “explicit” memories through the interpretation of facts, uncensored details and abstract concepts. Realization of the truth about the sum of who we really are goes far beyond the intellectually explicit conscious memories of life’s experience. —Judith Land

A child’s memories are based on emotional responses and feelings that are strong right from birth. Emotions create powerful memories that the brain actually remembers long after the occurrences themselves. Infants spend the first few years of life developing an emotional understanding of the world—feelings and interpretations that remain with us throughout our entire lives. That’s why early childhood has such a powerful effect on us, even though we consciously remember very little of it.

Infants as young as six months old implicitly remember emotionally stressful situations and are able to anticipate that negativity when exposed to the same situation again. Stress hormones increase when parents ignore their child until the child is reassured the situation won’t repeat itself. The links between emotion, stress, and memory have led scientists to believe that traumatic childhood events may trigger memories that are remembered more vividly and retained longer than routine experiences. Adult social behaviors, resistance to stress, and language skills are influenced by what happens during the early stages of life. These findings explain why adoptees who experienced isolation and neglect as infants, even when they can’t remember specific situations, still need the help of a therapist or counselor to address social and emotional stress and anxiety as adults.

Scientists who study memory support the idea that the brains of infants are set up to learn quickly and make rapid associations. Babies are much more sophisticated than many people realize. Memory begins early on, even before a child is even born. Babies who are played the same nursery tune regularly during pregnancy can recognize and remember the song at birth. They form memories that last for incredibly long periods of time. Newborns recognize their mothers’ voice at birth and are quickly reassured by her smell. They quickly learn the mother’s face and recognize the father, if he has been present during pregnancy. In the first two months babies recognize familiar faces and voices they will remember through seven months of age. This kind of recognition is the first indication of memory that increases dramatically during the first year. At 3 months, babies can remember new pictures and toys shown to them six days previously, offering proof that babies this age have recall memory. At 6 months they continue to remember how some toys work through their second birthdays. At about eight months babies learn to recall people who are familiar and develop anxieties toward strangers. At 9 months old, babies are able to remember where toys are stored and imitate actions they have witnessed. Missing the mother is a vital sign that the child has a clear memory of her just being there, and creating alarm when she isn’t visible. Toddlers continue to prefer smells they were exposed to in the first weeks of life. Long-lasting conscious memory of specific events develops in stages and begins when a baby is about 18 months old. First, they encode primitive sights and sounds. Then comes the accumulation of general knowledge and language. The final kinds of memories are autobiographical recollections of personal experiences.

Ten things about memory that parents of adopted children should know: 1) Memories provide the building blocks for learning. 2) Children of highly elaborative mothers tend to have earlier and richer memories. 3) Parents expressing positive emotions heighten a baby’s attention and arousal much more than someone with a placid facial expression and neutral voice. 4) Children remember far more and at earlier ages than previously thought. 5) Many memories last a lifetime. 6) Memories don’t always remain constant. 7) Emotional responses to stress tend to be remembered longer. 8) Spiritual memories linger long after our conscious powers of recall. 9) Implicit memories formed in the early formative years based on our emotional responses to stress may actually be the ones with the greatest impact on our lives. 10) Realization of the truth about the sum of who we really are as adoptees goes far beyond the intellectually explicit conscious memories of life’s experience.

Judith Land

 

 

 

 

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Similarities between Golf and Adoption

Some days are appropriately used for diversion and pleasurable experiences to help us forget about the daily routines of work and parenting, the grind of commuting, children, and events that give us stress, and do something out of the ordinary that makes us happy, like going for a walk, having a nice lunch, breathing fresh air, planting flowers, visiting an old friend, and getting some exercise. Knowing that it is good for the soul to be lighthearted, chipper and silly once in a while, I decided to play golf.

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“Oh! By the way, I almost forgot to mention that I had a hole-in-one on the golf course recently. It was a perfectly sunny day, a controlled swing, a straight shot, and the thrill of a lifetime—almost as exciting as finding my birth family.” Judith Land

There was no reason for me to think about adoption issues yesterday—until it suddenly dawned on me how many similarities there are between raising children and the game of golf. Faith is important because they both involve an endless series of tragedies obscured by an occasional miracle and there’s seldom any evidence of the things that you prayed for—and there is always the lingering expectation that you’ll do better next time. A battle of wits, providence, penitence, and pleadings for redemption, mulligans and gimmies are about equal in both cases. Golf is all about execution, potential and accomplishment—the same feelings of wonder and joy that a parent experiences when a child accomplishes something extraordinary.

We dream and fantasize about all the wonderful things children will do when they grow up until we come to the realization that there may be an errant deviation in their life’s trajectory—like when your golf ball deviates off course and ends up in the rough or at the bottom of a pond. Parents live vicariously through their children, the same way fanatical amateur golfers emulate professionals making millions of dollars on television. Some kids watch too much television according to the parents and kids are quick to complain about the golf channel being left on all day. Learning good manners and teaching morals and ethics are important aspects of the game of golf and child rearing, but we seldom pay any attention to our playing partners and children unless someone is incredibly suffering, throwing things, or screaming obscenities.

Golf is fickle and expensive like children—but you can’t resist the illusory joy even though you know you may loose money and end up with a broken heart. In both cases, our patience is always being tested by a lack of consistency and an inability to focus on realistic expectations. Mornings mean choosing something colorful to wear that meets the dress code. You typically get off to a good start with high hopes and but then something inevitably happens and you or your child suffers a brain cramp. Every child wants to achieve a high score on their tests and every golfer strives to lower their handicap. Performance is continuously scored, recorded, handicapped, and posted for everyone to see—when scores are below expectations, we blame the instructor and optimistically agree to pay for private lessons and buy more technical aids. When things go well and outcomes exceed our expectations, we brag excessively and in great detail.

Golfers tell humorous antidotes about golfing partners and parents brag about their children’s mini achievements. They both prattle on about many of the same nonsensical things when achievement is high and use expletives to describe unprintable frustrations when they aren’t. Nonverbal communication, including furrowed brows, rolled eyes, clenched teeth, and red faces are often the most telling signs for understanding the hidden feelings and frustrations of parents and golfers that are normally difficult to communicate in an objectively explicit manner. Pantomime, gestures, emotional whining, slang vocabulary and exaggerations are routinely used to enhance communication and convey ideas.

Children and golfers test our patience at times. Children wear “Pampers” and when they poop in their pants someone is always there to help, praise, and hug them but when an adult golfer wears a diaper it “Depends” who is named in the will as to who will help them. Always remember to have faith and pray for a better outcome next time. Settle on reasonable expectations. Remind yourself that it’s okay to vary your daily routine and be silly once in a while, as long as you wear something colorful and keep the children’s best interests in mind.

Judith Land

 

 

 

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Adoption—On a Wing and a Prayer

“Are there similarities between glider pilots and adoptees who unexpectedly find themselves in foreign lands surrounded by strangers? Glider pilots landing in unfamiliar surroundings suffer from disorientation and arrive with no possible way of getting home. Perplexed adoptees arrive as anonymous newcomers in foreign environments where they are automatically expected to cope with entirely new circumstances. They both wake up in the morning facing a diverse group of people with dissimilar backgrounds, unconventional habits, and speaking different languages.” —Judith Land

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“Glider pilots and adoptees have no alternative other than to face adversity, danger, and great risks with no second chances or alternative choices—their fate is determined by the wind.” Judith Land

“On a Wing and a Prayer” is a modern idiom meaning to initiate action with only the slightest chance of success with the hope and expectation that you will succeed, even though you are relatively unprepared for the consequences of what could happen.
If you initiate an irrevocable action based solely on a wing and a prayer, you have the aspiration of succeeding in the face of great difficulty under dangerous and risky circumstances—hoping that God or luck will be on your side.

Gliders have few provisions for safety and none for comfort. There is no shortage of headaches and more than a few tragedies. Landing is a planned accident. When a glider pilot is assigned a mission his or her chances for success are often very low; many things may go wrong and they often do, including fatality. When a mother agrees to relinquish responsibility for her biological child and place it in the care of an outsider she is also taking a potentially unassailable risk and neither she nor the child can ever be guaranteed the outcome will be positive.

The phrase “On a Wing and Prayer” hit a chord with the public when gliders spearheaded nearly every major allied assault during WWII. Landing was a planned accident. If you survived the landing in foreign territory you first had to orient yourself, then find, assemble and set up your equipment. One-third of all allied glider troops were killed or wounded. The United States built more than 14,000 gliders and trained 6,000 pilots to fly the “flying coffins” as they were called. Never before in history has any nation produced so many aviators whose duty it was to deliberately crash land, and then go on to fight as combat infantrymen in unfamiliar fields deep within enemy-held territory, often in total darkness. They had no motors, no parachutes, and no second chances, or alternative choices. With only a one-way ticket and a slight chance of success many arrived in very bad condition.

Perhaps, the next time you hear the phrase “On a Wing and a Prayer” you will also think about present-day adoptees and their mothers hoping that luck and God are on their side, as well as, the aviator heroes of WWII.

Judith Land

 

 

 

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Pets benefit adopted children…

“Pets are mood-enhancing and benefit adoptees in many ways by improving mental health, cheerfulness, feelings of psychological well-being, and self-esteem. The presence of animals fosters positive social, cognitive, emotional, and physical development. Pets relieve stress by lowering blood pressure, feelings of isolation and loneliness, and increase opportunities for exercise and socialization. Pet ownership is associated with better physical and psychological health, and fewer doctor visits. Pet owners feel closer to nature and all living creatures.” —Judith Land

Everyone knows that kids love animals because they offer companionship. Animals are the focus of storybooks, music and movies. Children confide in their favorite pets, whether real or imaginary, because they are nonjudgmental. Bedroom decor and clothing honors them. Closets, shelves, and toy chests are typically littered with toy collections—fuzzy stuffed animals and critters of all shapes and sizes. Children love animals because they teach and delight and offer a warm special kind of friendship.

pets | Judith Land | Adoption Detective

Pets enjoy love and attention. Always nonjudgemental, they offer fun, random excitement, and excellent companionship. They help reduce stress, improve self-esteem and make kids lacking social support more approachable. These are my puppies “Cha Cha Bandita” and “Lily Amora.”

The emotional benefits of pets are well known. It is impossible to stay in a bad mood when petting a soft kitten or playing with a small puppy. Children learn that pets enjoy love and attention; they are excellent huggers. Animals rely on their owners for food, water, shelter, and exercise and the accepting of responsibility triggers empathy. Pet therapy opens tremendous options for adopted children who have experienced psychological trauma. Educators have long known that therapy animals help challenged kids relax and become better readers. Pets offer love and companionship. They are good listeners. They keep secrets and enjoy comfortable silences.

Pets make children more approachable and give others a good reason to approach and communicate with them and make new friends. All of these benefits can reduce the amount of stress children experience in response to feelings of social isolation and a lack of confidence and moral support.

When I was a child my dog Toby had a very positive effect on my personality because he gave me something to be temporarily passionate about. He was unpredictable and fun. I enjoyed crawling after him on my hands and knees through the doggy door. He stepped on my dolls, tracked dirt into my room, jumped on my bed, licked my face, and cleaned up any food I dropped on the floor. He provided random excitement that reduced my social inhibitions and triggered feelings of being spontaneously joyful. His unpredictability caused me to smile and his easy accessibility gave me a friendly warm body to hug.

Judith Land

 

 

 

 

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“You’re Adopted!”

My eight birthday is a day I’ll never forget.

Come sit beside me on the couch. I have something important to tell you,” my adoptive mother Rosella unexpectedly blurted out while nervously extending her hand.

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“Awareness leads to understanding, understanding gives rise to acceptance, and acceptance is where self-confidence and self-esteem begin to grow. Children facing the challenges of adoption want to be mainstreamed and prefer not to be separated out or have to sit on the sideline. They want to have fun and be accepted like every other child. They want to understand the simple truths—and they certainly never want to feel isolated or be left all alone.” —Judith Land

I hesitatingly complied. My senses were heightened in response to her uncharacteristic manner of speaking. The dark living room curtains were only partially open, leaving the air inside muggy and the lighting subdued. I automatically sensed that something out of the ordinary was about to happen. My mother’s odd tone of voice was much too high pitched for this to be an ordinary conversation. I sat rigidly at attention with my hands folded politely on my knees. The couch was ergonomically designed for adults and unfit for my small stature. The bristly fabric was scratchy on the back of my legs. I still remember that it was a dark, drizzly, cloudy day outside. My adoptive mother was not a warm, intimate hugger and her overbearing physical proximity caused me to writhe in my seat. She cleared her throat rather rudely before introducing the topic with a very bold statement.

“I am not your real mother. You had another mother before your father and I adopted you.”

I stiffened my back and sat upright. My mouth was closed; my lips were pursed tightly together. I had nothing to say. I didn’t know how to respond. Prolonged silence heightened the tension between us. Rosella had never understood why I had always been somber, withdrawn, and introverted probably because she had never been informed of the trauma of separation from the loving foster family I had already bonded with before I was adopted. The fact that my internal suffering had never been resolved had imposed a great strain on my adoptive mother. In response, her patience with me had often been overtaxed. I was an only child and when things went wrong and she became flustered with my inquisitiveness her normal reaction was to walk away and leave me in my room to play by myself.

She continued speaking. “You had another mother before me who gave birth to you. She named you Judith. She wasn’t legally married. You were an accident. She gave you up for adoption because you were illegitimate. She was too young to take care of you.”

My eyes became dry from not blinking. I reacted tentatively as I attempted to absorb what she was telling me. My rigid body language probably made a pretty strong statement that I was uncomfortable and confused. I had no comprehension about what the word “illegitimate” meant, and I was completely baffled about why I would ever be referred to as an “accident.” I understood the concept of adoption in an abstract way, but the underlying ramifications were more mysterious than clear. I was merely a child and stood dejectedly off to the side with my eyes lowered with an injured expression on my face. At that very moment, I needed spontaneous love and reassurance. I desperately wanted my mother to stop talking, hold my hand, and give me a big hug, but no warm hugs or reassurances were forthcoming. Our conversation ended abruptly without any sense of resolution. Rosella turned her back and returned to her normal duties in the kitchen. I could tell that she felt an enormous sense of relief now that the moment she had dreaded for so long was finally over. The events that transpired that day formed a lasting memory that I will never forget.

Perhaps, an opportunity for positive bonding could have occurred if my mother had simply hugged me and invited me into the kitchen to help decorate my birthday cake or engage in some other mother-and-daughter activity. Instead, I was coldly left alone to clean my bedroom and finish my daily chores. My adoptive mother had given me a lot to think about. I never forgot that day. I closed my eyes and pensively dreamed of my mystical connection to another mother far away that I knew nothing about.

Judith Land

 

 

 

 

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Adoption—“The Best of Times…the Worst of Times”

There are times when I pause to wonder how the 50,000 adopted children who enter the American child welfare system this year, often due to abuse and neglect, will refer to the best of times and the worst of times, knowing that many of them have suffered traumatic loss and have special physical, learning, behavioral, and health needs?

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“In folk belief, the notion that a portrait falling from a wall as an omen of impending death remains one of the most widespread modern superstitions. Tabloid news values for providing a good story frequently override accuracy and truth telling needed to comprehend serious social issues, including adoption and single parenthood, and the enduring consequences of social ambivalence.” —Judith Land

The number of children born to single mothers in the United States increased from five percent in 1960 to 40 percent in 2014. It is the most impactful, tragic, far reaching, and weighty consequences trending today because children born to unmarried mothers are more likely to experience poverty and socio-emotional problems. Single mothers can expect lower incomes and a greater dependence on welfare assistance. The children are more likely to have low educational attainment, be absent from school, and remain unemployed. They can expect to fare worse across a wide range of behavioral and emotional outcomes. Children born into these surroundings and circumstances are at a disadvantage for achieving prosperity, education, and a Hollywood ending, even in the best of times.

Although doubt will always remain about the ultimate cause for something as widely diffuse as the evolution of social customs, there is no question that public ambivalence about out-of-wedlock pregnancies, single parenthood, and the difficulties caused by adoption has significantly changed our society by decreasing opportunities for affluence and happiness for many children. Ideally, all children would be able to grow up well cared for in their families of origin so adoption and single parenting would not be needed. Pursuing this vision is a crucial international agenda for all countries.

Charles Dickens’ novel, A Tale of Two Cities, opens with the statement, “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair…” His story speaks of Paris and London during the French Revolution; two contrasting situations and environments during a period of chaos, upheaval, conflicts, oppression, despair and suffering verses an abundance of human prosperity, joy, hope, optimism, and happiness. It is a cliché that contrasts and compares opposite ways of living with no shades of gray in-between that has the same meaning today as did then.

The “Good Old Days” is another popular phrase that is a product of selective memory and sentiment; a positive belief and an attitude held by people who believe that a previous era is preferable, more desirable, and less demanding than the current era. It is an expression that provides intimate and uncomplicated views of the way things were that reminds us of childhood, sunny dispositions, and untroubled relationships. It is an expression of exuberance, romanticism, and admiration characterizing a golden age when circumstances were positive, our lives were in waltz time, and everything was coming up roses. It’s easy for some people to be nostalgic for the way things were when families ate dinner at the dining room table and things were built to last. Work couldn’t follow you home on the weekend. Airplanes were glamorous and people dressed up to go to the theater. Home remedies solved health problems without the help of expensive medicines. Relationships were respectful and romantic. Face-to-face communication was normal and people knew how to have a conversation.

“What are the best years you can remember when hopes were high; relationships were positive, you had good health, energy, and vigor, and you were content with the way things were? Was it the carefree, heady, and reckless days of youth, middle-aged competency, contentment, career fulfillment and satisfaction, or was it during an era of old age bliss, comfort, resolution, and retirement? Count yourself as fortunate, if you have lived a good life and have fond memories of an interval of time you refer to as the ‘Good Old Days’ because not everyone is afforded that luxury.” —Judith Land

Judith Land

 

 

 

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