Thursday, July 24, 2008

Who needs the opposition

  • when there are adoptees ready willing and able to slam each other’s best efforts?

  • when organizations with 404 dead link webpages that haven’t been updated in years slam others for not updating their own in a month?

  • when you give your best, but it’s not good enough for the Monday-morning quarterbacks on the sidelines?

So who needs them to make us look bad, when adoptees throw insults like the forever children they make us out to be?

I’ve been told that emails to legislators don’t hold much weight with them. So I don’t send them.

I’ve been told what matters the most is snail mail letters, or, if time is short, faxes. I’ve heard varying reports of how many constituents each letter represents. 10? 50? 100? 1,000? I don’t know.

Let’s go with mid-range. Let’s say 1 letter represents 100 voters to a legislator.

So how many constituents are represented by someone face-to-face?

When someone offers time away from their family and career, to travel to the opposite side of the country, to attend a Conference simply because that’s where the legislators are?

How many does that represent?

When money is spent on a booth, on supplies, on hotel, on travel, on taking the time to be where they’ll be.

Did anyone expect that on the morning of July 23rd records would be magically opened simply because there was a demonstration? No, don’t be ridiculous. It doesn’t matter if there were 5 people, or 50, or 500 outside. To me, what mattered most, what I gave my money for gladly and will do again, is that there was someone inside that convention center. Someone saying to the legislators –

We’re professionals
We’re adults
We vote
We’ve been successful with your peers in other states
We want you to meet us
We want to be where you are
We care enough to be here
We want what everyone else has
We want you to know we’ll be calling on you to make it happen

And you know something – it’s hard to care. It’s a battle. When from day one you’re told your voice doesn’t matter. When you’re told to shut up and be grateful whenever you start to ask questions. When the very first time you realize that there is a 22 year old file clerk on the phone who can see your birth certificate, but you’re prevented by law from seeing it – it’s pretty damn hard to get the strength enough to care.

When you see others kill themselves for bills that die in committee, or bills that emerge mangled and distorted from their original vision – it’s pretty damn hard to care.

When you’re so disempowered by the burden of gratitude that adoptees are expected to shoulder – those who do care – those who give of themselves – how heartbreaking is it to see such courage torn apart bit by bit? Not by the opposition mind you, but by those who know exactly how it feels not to get what everyone else is entitled to.

We’ve got the opposition saying we’re not grown up enough to see our own birth certificates, and now we’ve got our own people saying we’re not grown up enough to demand them. Way to go. I guess we should just shut up and be grateful.

Let’s add insult to injury here – when you do care, when you’ve lifted yourself up above the ginormous crap that’s thrown on you, or I guess I’ll say me here. Wait, I’ll come in again.

When I do care, when I’ve lifted myself up above the ginormous gratitude crap that’s been thrown at me, I personally have a really hard time balancing my demand for owning the same thing every non-adopted person owns against painful realities like this:

Now that’s a tough one. Let’s get real. And yeah I made a promise that I wasn’t going to get partisan or shit on the blog, but I’m breaking this one for now. Because when you weight that depressing reality above against a birth certificate, all the old adoptee issues of not being important enough come front and center. I’m going to ask for a birth certificate, a birth certificate, when people are dying? When people are losing their homes? When the Constitution has been torn apart? When America as we knew it is gone? I’m going to get all worked up over a birth certificate?

Yes. Yes I am, dammit.

Here’s what I tell myself. Those horrors up there, there’s not a damn thing my State Legislators can do about it, other than write and call their elected officials in Washington the same as I do.

But what they do have power over is my access to my birth certificate. So that’s why I’m so proud of those who were there, I can’t stand it. Because they rose above. They gave their best. They made it happen. They made a commitment and they saw it through.

I’ll see you next year in Philly. And here’s why –

It’s not just for me.. It’s for someone right now, some adoptee who hasn’t even been born yet. His or her mother is sitting in an office with a rich woman, wearing designer clothes that she purchased by selling newborn infants at a sliding scale based on race. And this rich woman will be pretending to be the best friend this expectant mother has ever know. She will be convinced she’s not good enough to raise her own child. She’s not rich enough. She’s not married enough. And the best thing she can do is to give her baby away to strangers. Maybe in another state, say where the time frame to change her mind is shorter. And birth certificates are sealed shut. And maybe she’s vulnerable enough or hurt enough or scared enough to fall victim to the closed adoption trap.

When that adoptee is 25 years old and calling Vital Records, I don’t want them to hear what I heard at that age from a file clerk just a few years younger than me:

“Oh yea, I got your request, I’m looking at your records now.”

My certificate. My identity. What did it require to gain access to this horribly destructive secret, that to reveal it to me would cause the end of the world, what incredible training and security clearance and background check did it take to gaze upon my forbidden name?

A civil service typing and filing test.

A clerk typist can have it.

I can't.

See you next year in Philadelphia.

7 complaints from ingrates:

Unknown July 24, 2008 at 10:22 PM  

The thing is they don't even know, all they know is one article, not all of the press has come out yet.

They weren't there, they have no idea what happened.

It was wonderful, I can't wait for Philly, it is going to be bigger/better, and you know really that is kind of bittersweet, it can never be brand new again.

Yeah, getting shit on so deliberately by other adoptees who didn't do anything, that was an ugly reality to come home to. Politics are ugly though.

They couldn't take down the protest this time, and won't even bother it next time, and yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, to everything you wrote in this post, I will be counting the days until Philly.

Sunny July 24, 2008 at 11:54 PM  

I will be in Philly, too!

They are so jealous of her. Her enthusiasm, her youth, her rightfully taking over as the next generation of adoptee rights leaders.

I am awestruck by those who worked their tails off in N.O.!!!

maybe July 25, 2008 at 8:02 AM  

As an n-mom, I also want the records unsealed. I need the OBC that proves I did, indeed, give birth.

Philadelphia is not so far, maybe I should attend next year?

Anonymous,  July 25, 2008 at 2:25 PM  

Thanks T - I can't wait to meet you next year!!!!

Kali is amazing - she can talk to anyone and she has so much charisma that everyone stops in their tracks to listen to her.

I had a great time and I am very proud of all of us who didn't let anything get in our way, deter us, make us self-doubt.

This was our first time doing anything like this and I think we did a great job. Next year can only be better.

Catherine July 25, 2008 at 7:15 PM  

Thanks Ungrateful. I have so much to report I am bursting at the seams! This demonstration and booth was the BEST thing we could ever do as a group. Unlike some, we actually were there. Unlike some, we actually followed through with our commitments.
'Some' just can't be bothered with the real work.

Gershom Kaligawa July 26, 2008 at 7:27 PM  

Because for that "some" talking with legislatures isn't their thing roflol.

Well its mine, and not even my own people can stop me. I loved it, i can't WAIT for next year! i'm working on a new site layout now...

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