Interethnic Adoption Experiences

Go ahead, look it up! The topic is virtually non-existent. There is a plethora of information about interracial adoptions and it’s effects on children, parents, and even society alike. We are familiar with stories of families who have adopted children from China or children from foster-care, whose race differs from their own. But, these are a far cry from what happens in private adoptions. I would like to discuss my personal experience being an interethnic adoptee, a person who was adopted by parents whose ethnic identity differs from her own.

If I were black, it would be apparent that my race was different from my family’s. No one would be trying to convince me to assimilate into the culture that I was adopted in. In fact, I’m sure that people would see it as insulting to tell me such a thing. However, I do bear a resemblance to my parents that is stronger than just the color of our skin. For this reason, I face a societal challenge.

For one, adoption, in this country, is an institution that is clothed with shame and secrecy. When shared, it is not uncommon to be met with uncomfortable looks and preconceived notions. There are various reasons for this. For one, adopted persons are the only people who have their birth records sealed. No other person, in any other situation has their birth certificate sealed from them. Sealing people’s records and making them unattainable permeates a culture of secrecy. Secondly, there is an assumption that adoptive parents are deemed to have a crown of sainthood because they chose to raise a child that they did not bear. Society often paints adoptive children in a negative light. News stations or magazines delivering news of crime will never fail to mention that the person who committed such a crime was adopted, if that person is. It’s easy for one to think: “Wow, look at those adoptive parents. They took him/her in, and this is how he/she repays them.” Such media exposure permeates the idea that adoptees are rebels and that adoptive parents can do no wrong. If you are reading this, and you are a rational person, then, I’m sure you know that this is BS! Adoptees come in all shapes and sizes. Are there adopted people in jail? Yes. Are there adoptive people who have committed heinous crimes? Of course! Are there adopted children who have made monumental strides in society? Yes! Look at Steve Jobs, for example. Are there abusive adoptive parents who have made life unbearable for the children they adopted? Yes. Are there excellent adoptive parents who have raised happy and healthy children? Absolutely. But, this is not depicted in the media and is most certainly not the general consensus of society.

With that being said, the sealing of the birth certificate encourages one to “pass off” what “appears” to be true. If my amended birth certificate says: Cristina Fernandez, born to Isabel and Jose, from Pinar del Rio and Santiago, Cuba, then what tends to reflect back is: “why make life hard for the people who adopted you? Why don’t you just let yourself pass as their biological daughter and tell people that you are Cuban. After all, you’ve been raised by Cuban people. So, what’s the big deal?” Allow me to tell you why this is insulting, if you are too big a fool to not have understood why already. I am not perfect. Why? Because I am a human being and by that logic, I am an imperfect person who makes mistakes on a daily basis. I can’t say that I have committed any major crime in the eyes of local law enforcement. However, in God’s eyes, we all fall into error in comparison with Holy and Righteous Almighty Creator. On that same note, my parents are also human beings who have made errors throughout their life. Please do not get me wrong. I don’t intend to write this post as a complaint towards my parents, or to make a list of everything they’ve ever done wrong. That’s irrelevant and quite honestly, unnecessary. My point is that we all make mistakes. Holding anyone in such high regard because you deem something that they have done as a “good deed” borders on idolatry. So, I beseech you… please do not idolize me or anyone else that you deem is a “righteous person.” We are just people. My parents choice to adopt had nothing to do with infertility. It was a calling from God, and as usual, He is to receive the glory… not my parents and not anyone else. So, to tell me that I need to “make their life easier” by lying about my genetic make up and my ancestral heritage is actually quite a sinful transgression of God’s law. People who argue for this also fail to see beyond the present scope. If I, one day, have biological children, they too will carry that heritage and so on. So, this “secrecy” can only go so far. Secondly, denying people of celebrating cultural traditions puts you at a loss of learning and loving people beyond country borders.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard the words “you’re Cuban,” be told to me with condescending looks. As if somehow, I’m “rejecting” Cuban-ness. Cuban is not a religion. Cuban is not even a race. Cuban is a nationality. I was not born in Cuba. I was born in The United States of America in St. Petersburg General Hospital and my name at birth was Tiffany Lynn. A sample of my cheek cells will CONFIRM that I have 0%… allow me to reiterate that… ZERO PERCENT… trace of any hispanic ancestry. None. I was raised by people who I have zero genetic relation to. But, they are my family. Family is not made up by DNA. It is made up of love, memories, and connections. But, the fact of the matter is that society is asking me to accept an ethnicity to which I have ZERO affiliation to JUST BECAUSE I have a spiritual, emotional, and legal connection to people of that ancestry. To illustrate, think about people in your life who you are not related to, but love dearly. Oftentimes, close friends become family. Imagine that you are hispanic, but you’re best friend is Korean. Obviously, because you have a Korean best friend, you will probably take interest in his or her interests, and expose yourself to Korean food and art. But, does that mean that just because you love your dear friend, you now must identify as Korean to the world, including the census and demographic questionnaires? Can’t you love your friend and his or culture, but still take pride in your arroz y frijoles con platanos maduros y tostones? The logic surrounding their arguments is flawed beyond repair.

My personal experience being an Irish/Native American/Middle Eastern woman (according to the DNA swab test from ancestory.com), living amongst a mostly Hispanic culture has presented some challenges. The stories I share have NOT come from my parents. In fact, my parents aren’t fools enough to think that my food preferences and music tastes are a threat to our relationship. But, in the Hispanic community, I’ve faced adversity and discrimination. In part, I believe that a huge part of this has to do with Hispanic people not being open to adoption on a cultural level. Obviously, I don’t speak for everyone. My parents are Hispanic people who chose to adopt. But, as a culture, it’s looked down upon. When I’ve expressed my own interest in adopting a child from China (for which I am currently on a waiting list), I’m met with condescending remarks, such as “just wait to have you’re own so you don’t have to deal with adopting someone else’s kids.” These same people literally lose all the color in their face when I say “I’m adopted.” Dare I say, they don’t even apologize. Not being able to have biological children in the hispanic community is like a curse. Thus, there is even more pressure for children adopted into hispanic families to conform to this status, in order to expunge that shame pointed towards infertile mothers. This idea has been echoed throughout so many conversations with Hispanic women. This cultural view towards adoption is one struggle that I have had to face, and I must say, the most offensive.

Statistically, Miami houses a large portion of Hispanics, particularly Cubans. Thus, a lot of Cuban people are never forced to associate with other people who are not Cubans. In fact, a lot of people are not even forced to learn English, which further decreases your chances of making meaningful relationships with other non-Hispanic people. Therefore, the culture and traditions are relived, generation to generation, without exposure to other cultures and traditions that differ from their own. This has presented issues for me because I have had a lot of exposure to diversity in college and in graduate school.

In the Cuban tradition, it is virtually unheard of that someone live on their own before they are married. In fact, it’s almost like an abomination. I have done the unthinkable! Usually, people like this are those who like to party and have intimate relations with unmarried partners, none of which interest me. For one, I’m an introvert. Secondly, my relationship with God is my priority, and the two instances mentioned above would directly impact that relationship in negative ways. So, why did I move out? For one, I wanted to live closer to work. Another reason is because I cannot afford, physically, emotionally, and financially, to keep up a house in Miami on a teacher’s salary. Lastly, because I felt that it would drastically improve my relationship with God. All of these reasons, to an observer looking in, seem like responsible adult choices. I’m not a teenager. I’m 26 years old. My goodness, I’m bordering 30! I have a career and a master’s degree. I’ve proven that up to his point, I’ve made nothing but rational, adult choices. Now, stay with me. Being exposed to other people that have moved out for similar reasons exposed me to the truth that not everyone who moves out before marriage is some type of stereotypical slutty and irresponsible person. Sound logic would follow in that: can you imagine a 50 something year old bachelor or bachelorette living with their parents simply because of a stereotype? Not necessity or because you want to care for elderly parents… but just because of a stereotype? Of course not! What if you were an orphan? If that logic doesn’t apply to them, it should not apply to me either. Meeting people who have left home for the sake of education and maintained their core values to heart showed me that the stereotype didn’t fit most people, in general. I’ve made some friends who have traveled across BORDERS (meaning that their family is not even in the country) who have kept true to their values and certainly are not partying or having sex with multiple strangers. Interestingly, I had this one girl in my class, who was Muslim. I believe that she was about 21 at the time and was interested in getting married. In her culture and traditions, the idea of dating is non-existent. You are pretty much either engaged, or friends. There’s no in between. Although she was miles away from family, she was interested in marriage following this same tradition, despite the fact that in the states, a dating relationship typically precedes marriage. My point is that she was heavily exposed to a different way of life, far from family, and yet, still chose to keep that way of life, despite societal pressure. Meeting her was an awakening that this stereotype and way I had been taught to think was wrong. But, many of those Cubans, which I spoke about earlier would likely not find themselves exposed to a population diverse enough to question these concepts that they have been taught throughout the years. So, to many people in Miami, I’m the “rebel,” so to speak. This label has caused some havoc not only from family members, but, the average person I come into contact with, such as hairdressers, supermarket clerks, etc.

Another difficult area has been that of supreme loyalty to the family. In the Cuban culture, loyalty to family is everything. It’s common to hear “la madre es lo mas grande que hay,” or “a mother is the biggest thing there is.” With all due respect, God is the biggest thing there is. Neither one of my moms is bigger to me than the one who created me and put me in her womb. I may look like my mom, but I’m not created in her image. I am created in the image of God. How do I define family? Blood relatives? No. Adoptive relatives? No. Family are the people who have visited me when I was sick in the hospital. Family are the people who cried with me through deaths, broken hearts, and severe menstrual cramps (those who know me know I suffer from a condition of severe cramping where my knees lock and I can barely move). Family are the people who love you unconditionally, regardless of your major in school, your job, or the color of your hair. Family sees your soul, much like God does. With that being said, I do have blood relatives that I consider family. I have adoptive relatives that I consider family. But, I also have blood and adoptive relatives that I don’t consider family. It’s nothing personal. I either don’t know them or their only relationship to me is based on personal attacks and abusive behaviors.  For goodness sakes, I have had “family members,” which I’m using the term VERY VAGUELY, call me, my mom, and my grandparents to GOSSIP about this blog and get this… I’VE NEVER MET THEM! Haha. They called to gossip that I was being disloyal to the family by advocating for open records, despite the fact that I have never spoken ill of my family and made it quite clear that having a piece of paper does not change the facts that already are. Although the records are sealed, the facts still remain. Having the records open will do nothing more than facilitate a plethora of current difficulties for adoptees, such as passport status, social security status, citizenship status, and birthright status’ (as for tribal affiliation and Jewish affiliation. But, this supreme loyalty to the family has caused discrimination against adoption advocates in the community because their desire to own their identity, rather than having one’s family own their identity, is a form of Cuban heresy. Many Cuban people believe that only Cuban parents really love. Just the other day at the nail salon, I encountered a very well intentioned woman who said just that. Controlling people, making others stay home until they are married, and expecting undying loyalty is often masqueraded as “love.”

The way that a lot of Cuban people were treated back in the 1960’s and 70’s in excusable. Many American people called Cubans derogatory names like “spicks.” My mom can tell you stories about how she was bullied by American children and made to sit in separate classrooms for the “Hispanic kids.” Although my family is noticeably white, they reject that identity because there has really been no connection to other white people in the country. “American White people” are like a different race in the Hispanic community. They go by names such as: “los gringos, los Americanos, etc.” None of these are really derogatory names, but the message is clear: there is a barrier. I get it. I more than get it, I feel it. I’ve been met with comments more times than I count about how Americans are “different” and it hurts. I’m loved by my family, obviously. But, I’m not loved by the culture I was raised in. I’ll never fully fit in, and it goes past the blonde curls and hazel eyes. I’m not “really” Cuban. For goodness sakes, I entered their culture in the most shameful way possible: adoption. Similar to biracial people, I somehow feel like I never fit into each group, at least not completely. My cousin married a great woman, from Jacksonville. The rehearsal dinner was in Miami. The caterers were Cuban. At the rehearsal dinner, the bridal party pretty much stuck together and the groom’s party did the same. I was sitting with the groom’s side, well.. because their my family. lol. The caterer said to me as he handed me the plate: “yo pensaba que tu eras del lado de los Americanos.” Translation: “I thought that you were from the American’s side.” That distinction was made so incredibly clear to me that night. I wasn’t sitting with the bride’s family because I didn’t know them, not because of our shared or lack of shared cultural ethnicities. The distinction between Hispanics and “Gringos” in Miami is undeniable. But, for people like me, it means not fitting into either one fully.

Naturally, I find that people from the island are extremely racist. Any Cuban-American in Miami will tell you that their parents have had “the talk” with them about the provision of bringing home someone that’s black. The fact that I literally VOMIT at the thought of racism makes me a “liberal” in many Cuban people’s eyes.

Lastly, the undying loyalty to the Catholic Church has also been a ostracizing factor for me. I’m not Catholic. I was excommunicated from the Church upon request because my undying loyalty belongs to the God of Israel, whose breath of life is rooted in Jerusalem, not Rome. I don’t pray the rosary. I don’t take communion. I don’t eat pork (which that in itself automatically disqualifies me as Cuban, right? lol). I felt sick to my stomach sitting in a room with a large group of people, feasting over ham on a pagan holiday. It didn’t feel right to me. I was having a complete crisis of conscience. But, yes, hold your gasps. What you must understand is that in Cuba, there was very limited religious freedom for a very long time. Due to landmarks (which help tourism), Catholicism was not barred as heavily as other religions. The island also houses a lot of religions based on spiritism that were rooted out of Catholicism, so hated by God, as expressed in Deuteronomy 18:9-13. But, this is all that people had access to for so very long! The belief in God is innate, as we are made in His, so to cling on to the spiritual provisions handed to them was absolutely natural. I’ve had the privilege to live in a country where I have religious freedom, and thus, I’ve read the Holy Scriptures. I throw away any culture and tradition for the sake of God Almighty, even eating a long-time diet staple. Not being Catholic has also caused many Cubans to decide to disassociate with me.

I share this story because I hope that it gets to the hands of others with similar experiences. With so little information about the effects of the inter-ethnic adoption coupled with the pressure to conform and topped with expectation of adoptee loyalty, it’s no wonder that so little information is available.

 

The Most Common Misconceptions about Mental Health

 

Unfortunately, the media and pop culture have painted a picture of mental health issues that is incorrect, leaving the public uninformed. As a double major in education in psychology and a future school counselor, I feel a responsibility to share with you a more accurate portrait of some of the most popular mental health concerns today.

First, depression. Most people think that depression is a synonym for extreme sadness. In reality, people with depression are not always sad. Those with depression have lost an ability to feel. Depression is a sense of numbness, hence, an inability to enjoy things that one once enjoyed. Being numb can sometimes be more frustrating than feeling sad. Feeling numb can make one forget what it feels like to be alive. It is easier to trigger sadness than it is to trigger happiness. Happiness happens in the moment. To illustrate, try remembering one of your happiest memories. For me, it was the 90’s. My cousin and I use to play all day during the summer, go in the pool, and watch cartoons. My grandmother would make us hamburgers and hotdogs and we would say we were at the best summer camp there ever was, “camp Mima.” My mom would take us to get ice cream at Carvel and we would take our dogs with us, Philly and Sammy. I’m blessed to say that I had an incredible childhood full of love and laughter. I look back and I feel a mix of emotions: joy and nostalgia. Of course, my situation may be different because the person I shared all of these memories with has passed on. The feelings of nostalgia are amplified and can feel like sadness. How quick, though, did a happy memory become somewhat cumbersome. It is difficult to re-create a happy memory. Sadness, however, is easy to recreate. A sad memory can instantly bring us to tears, which is why people cry during movies. This is where we get the idea that depressed people are “sad.” The bottom line is that when one is depressed, sadness is the easier emotion to recreate, hence, taking them out of their “numb” feeling. Depressed persons are more likely to pick a sad movie because they crave emotion. The lack of serotonin in the system does not allow for proper functioning and regulating of emotions. So, often times, medication is prescribed.

This is different from temporary depression, such as grief. When one is grieving, the emptiness and hollowness in your being is a reaction to the loss you have experienced. You may experience this numb feeling as a defense mechanism to your sadness. Your body craves a break from the crying. While you may have a decreased appetite, your body will eventually realize you are starving, so this feeling of numbness gives you a “break” from complete sadness, so that you will muster up the ability to get out of bed or eat a meal. But, this does not imply that you have a chemical imbalance or a lack of serotonin in your system. If such symptoms persist past a certain point, according to the DSM, then it would be appropriate to seek medical attention.

In order to show respect for people who battle with depression, please don’t say “I’m so depressed” just because you lost your bracelet. You are spreading ignorance and you look like a fool. 

As for anxiety, I can speak from personal experience. I have generalized anxiety disorder. It is a fairly genetic condition. It can also be brought on by traumatic experiences that are re-lived through exposure to certain stimuli. I was first diagnosed with anxiety in 2012 when I almost got into a car accident due to having to pull over and throw up due to anxiety in traffic. Just the other day, I was crossing the street in downtown Miami to find my knees shaking at the crosswalk. Movie theaters make my heart race (generally, dark and loud places make my heart race). On one occasion, crossing the street in miracle mile, I could feel my stomach doing backflips and I nearly went blind for a few seconds. Generalized Anxiety Disorder is not a “feeling.” It is a condition. My body produces excess adrenaline, causing fight or flight responses during something as minimal as crossing the street or watching a movie at the theaters. Without aide from medication, I typically want to hide out from the world, in fear that anxiety will strike. For this reason, people who do not handle their anxiety typically develop agoraphobia, a fear of leaving their homes.

I mean, just imagine for a moment, that you experience disabling anxiety when you cross the street. Agoraphobic people feel that if they leave their homes, a panic attack is waiting around the corner.

Everyone feels anxious. People with generalized anxiety disorder, however, feel anxious in day to day living. Typical pre-presentation jitters could cause vomiting and temporary blindness or deafness. Typical to people with depression, lack of serotonin, along with excess of adrenaline, play a role.

But, why do we say that anxiety and depression go hand and hand? Well, people with anxiety may fall into depression, not because they have no interest in activities, but because they want to participate, but live in fear. Similarly, people with physical conditions, like someone who was in a horrific accident, could suffer from depression if they are physically unable to do activities they once enjoyed. I have never suffered from depression. That is not something I have ever had to struggle with. But, I do suffer with disabling anxiety. I’m not broken. I’m just imperfect, just like you.

Please don’t say:

  • You’re too young to have anxiety 
  • What could you possible be anxious about?
  • Medication is really not very good for you.
  • Why do you have anxiety?

Because the answer is:

  • Anxiety has no age (Additionally, I know a lot of people much older than me who have less responsibilities than I do)
  • I have a genetic predisposition to anxiety
  • If I didn’t take medication, I would end up having to pull over in traffic to throw up, I would be unable to cross streets, I would have insomnia, and be at risk of becoming agoraphobic
  • Anxiety is just as much a part of me as my height, my hair color, and my eye color. I’m not “going through something.” I have a neurological condition
  • I’m not crazy. I’m in my right mind. I am very emotionally healthy. But, the excess adrenaline clouds my judgement and causes racing thoughts (ex: call someone. they don’t answer. they must have gotten in a terrible accident)
  • I don’t have anxiety because “something happened to me.” Just like some people are born with diabetes or blind, I was born with anxiety. Just because you cannot see it or touch it doesn’t mean it isn’t real. 

 

OCD

Lots of people think that OCD means obsessively neat. Obsessive compulsive disorder is a need to perform certain rituals in order to ease anxiety. For some people, this does involve having things in a certain place, organizing, or excessively washing one’s hands. For some, the “rituals” include having things in a certain place, asymmetrical balance, washing hands a certain amount of times, etc. These rituals can differ from person to person. The definition of obsessive compulsive disorder is not “fear of germs” or “super neat.” Samantha Pena shares her story.

In order to show respect for people with OCD:

  • do not self diagnose yourself with OCD
  • do not use OCD as an adjective for neat or orderly
  • do not use OCD as an adjective for clean

 

My Goodbye Letter to Pretty Little Liars

Not too long ago, the video Shay Mitchell made, bidding farewell to the almost decade long running show, Pretty Little Liars, went viral. The video was met with comments from faithful fans, just like myself, admitting that the end of the era has brought them to tears. I am shocked and bewildered at the fact that a television show can mean so much to so many people, including myself. So much, that it’s ending would bring me to tears. After watching Shay’s video, I promised myself that I would, too, write my own letter saying farewell to this phenomenon that made the way into our hearts via the small screens.

I’d like to take you back to the year 2010. I was a sophomore in college. About a year prior, my medical history, my ethnicity, my nationality, my genetic make up, the wrinkle in my nose, my laugh, my eyes, all crumbled down before my eyes with one word: adopted. Simultaneously, one of my closest family members was battling cancer at the age of 19. I had started college a year prior. It was a time filled with changes. With those changes, came an earnest and strong desire to hold on to just about anything that was consistent. But, the changes only came faster. It was a difficult era, understood by only a few. Most people know us as “late discovery adoptees” or “LDA’s.” It’s a minority group within another minority group. Despite not being in my particular situation, I had one friend who stood beside me and helped me work through all of my confusion and unsettled emotions regarding the changes in my life. Her name is Erika Gobbi. On one lighthearted night a week, we would watch Pretty Little Liars in her dorm room. Although at the time I had no interest in the show, I enjoyed making this trip once a week to talk between commercials. After the season 2 finale, revealing Mona as A, the show piqued my interest and I watched all episodes up to that point. From that moment on, the emotions on this show touched me in a special and particular way, some consciously and some unconsciously. I fell in love with this cast, with it’s characters, and what each has taught me.

Dear Spencer,

Over the last 7 years, I saw a person on my screen who I always was, but was always afraid to admit: ambitious, intelligent, kind of nerdy, and generally more classical. I think that growing up, if I admitted the potential I was capable of, I would be held to a higher standard, and I was afraid to fall from that standard. So, I hid behind a personality that was not my own. I saw you, for years, struggle with feeling different from your family members. I saw you fall in love with Toby and understand the essence of true love at a young age. I understood your life in a way that I have not been able to relate to any character I have come across. I cried along with you when you found Toby standing over your kitchen in the infamous black hoodie. I worried alongside you when you missed the early admissions deadline to UPenn and cried with you when you didn’t get accepted. I felt your pain when Aria did not believe that Ezra was dangerous. I related to you and the fire in your eyes as you spent hours searching and searching for clues that would lead to you A throughout all 7 seasons.For the past 7 years, I cried with you, I laughed with you, and searched for answers with you. I was proud to say that Spencer Hastings was my alter-ego. When you were shot in episode 7X10, I watched with suspense, as my heart raced. As an adoptee, I’ve seen it all along. I knew Mary was your mother.But, when I heard her say the words, it resonated with me and I finally understood our connection. You were the girl I always was, but too afraid to be. But, you were also the girl who didn’t know. You were the girl who lived my reality, down to being that LDA that nobody quite understands.

Consuming myself in the mystery of A and your family’s  involvement was a means to exploring my own family’s well kept and haunting secrets. There were days that I searched endlessly for theories that would provide the perfectly tied up answer to A and his or her motives. I did this because I hoped there was a master theory to my own life. That there would be a perfect answer tied up in a bow as to why so many secrets.Your life allowed me to glamorize secrets and lies. But, as I watched Mary hold you on the night you got shot, I came face to face with the answer to the riddle that is both our lives. People lie because they afraid. People treat you as lesser than because they are intimated and uncomfortable with what is different. There was no greater mystery or explanation.  But, coming face to face with the harsh reality that this was the truth and there was no episode that would reverse all the pain and the sorrow by somehow tying up a series of events, was an experience that drew me to tears. For the first time, I didn’t hide behind my pain through a TV show with shocking revelations. I came face to face with the grief I had been living with, but never expressed. The grief of being treated poorly by some, lied to by others, and had secrets kept from me from the people I trusted the most. Thank you for allowing me to grieve with you. Thank you for allowing me to see the person I always was, but was too afraid to be.

As the show comes to an end, Spencer Hastings remains in Rosewood, a place that I can’t access or reach, but remains in my heart.

 

Bullies are Cowards

Believe it or not… I have been heavily criticized by certain people for my decision to write on sensitive topics by relatives and so called friends alike. People have said things like:

“How can you criticize a system that led you to where you are today?”

“Aren’t your parents enough for you? That’s how I would feel if my adopted children had a relationship with their biological parents” (grant you, this was a 24 year old girl who has no children and with the grace of God, she will never ever adopt children)

“What about us?, Aren’t we your family?”… said by people who have probably seen me twice in my life.

So, this is a direct response to these allegations, I would like to dedicate this post to answering each of these one by one.

How can I criticize a system that led me to where I am today? Easy. I’m not against where I am, just how I got here. Let me ask you a question… how would you feel if you knew that you were bought at a price? That the government allowed a legal agency to put a price tag on you? That the social workers, which were suppose to be the emotional support system for all parents were making a commission off of your adoption? And that once they made that commission, the government sealed your initial identity and essentially gave your family “copywrite laws” to you?… to be allowed to keep your identity a secret. And that even as an ADULT, you have absolutely no right to your birth records, adoption records, or medical history… because that was included in the hefty price tag. And then society, instead of supporting your rights as an individual… in an era where UNTHINKABLE crimes, like the murder of infants is being supported… people chalk you up as an ungrateful brat. One thing I’m not is ungrateful.But, my gratitude doesn’t always have to reflect on this ONE event that happened in my life.

I would be upset… Simple. Don’t adopt children. Don’t be friends with people who are adopted. Because the most natural thing in the world is wanting to know who you are and where you come from. Watch this video and then we’ll talk. If a parent can love more than one child… why is it so hard to comprehend that a child could love more than one parent? Sadly… when I found this video, on an adoptee support Facebook page, someone commented “Why is this on an adoption Facebook page?” Ummm…. because the fact that we came for A WOMB isn’t secret information…

What about us?… I have to love these judgers because these “relatives” have probably seen me twice in my life. Before you even THINK about making this comment to me… think and answer these questions honestly in your heart:

  • When is my birthday? Did you call me on my birthday?
  • Have you ever been inside my house?
  • Do you know where I work?
  • Can you name any of my hopes? Dreams? Goals?
  • What are my hobbies?
  • What is my ethnicity?
  • What is my dog’s name?

You can get off your high hypocrite horse now. Most of the time… bullies are cowards. Ladies and gentlemen… these are the people that are against restoring access to our records… bullies and cowards who have absolutely no relationship with adoptees.

 

8 Times I Suspected Spencer was Adopted

As a true PLL fan, I too love to look up theories and analyze the antics of the show. I’ve already seen several theories about Spencer being Mary Drake’s daughter. You can find a plethora of those theories all over the internet with quotes and pictures to support the claims. I’ve become convinced that Spencer  was the baby we saw last week being taken out of Radley Sanitarium. Upon doing some research, I saw this comment:

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The reality is that this “massive secret” is not limited to TV production. It’s happening all across America and other areas of the world. However, America particularly, because they have failed to reform adoption laws, perpetuating secrets and lies to the fullest. Spencer may not have consciously known that she was adopted by the Hastings. But, if I’m right about Spencer being that baby… I think that on a subconscious level, she always knew something was different. Maybe she didn’t attribute that to adoption. But, if she is, this is a very realistic portrayal of what many adoptees go through. As I’ve said previously, there’s nothing wrong with being different. But, those differences need to be embraced. God created differences for our entertainment and pleasure. How boring it would be if we all looked the same, acted the same, and had the same interests. We would all be fighting over the same man! lol. We would all have the same careers. The world wouldn’t function if we were all the same. Differences are for our benefit, not for our discouragement. But, when we treat people as if they are suppose to fit in somewhere, when it just doesn’t come naturally, the scenes shown below are very realistic. If you are reading this, and you have an adopted person in your family… embrace that they are different. Let them be who they are. Let love unite your family, not uniformity. Don’t be a Hastings.

In this scene, we clearly see that Peter and Melissa thrive on success. While everyone wants to be successful, this drive just doesn’t come naturally to Spencer. She may be intelligent, but she isn’t driven by being better than anyone else. Notice how Melissa feels like she needs to reel her in back “into her place.” The message is clear: It’s not okay to be different.

Veronica can’t even fathom that Spencer is telling the truth! Apparently, the idea of not going to U Penn is so unfathomable to her. Even Melissa feels like she needs to step in and “fix it.” Why does this have to be fixed? Spencer is clearly very smart. She can go to whichever other college she wants. What if she wanted to go to another Ivy? Spence doesn’t feel like it needs to be “fixed.” But once again, difference has been shamed. Even if different just means a different school, a different path to reach the same goal. Sadly, this happens quite a bit. We project our dreams and goals onto our children. With biological children, there is a genetic predisposition to pursue certain goals. For instance, I really love school. I’m an elementary school teacher. I am getting my master’s degree. I plan on pursuing more education afterward. I enjoy school. I will likely pass those traits of being studious and loving to read to my children, particularly if their father is the same way. It’s not set in stone. But, the chances of him/her liking school are higher. But, if we adopt, we cannot expect those same chances. We’d have to be prepared that senior year of high school, we might hear “I want to be an artist.” Of course, you can expect this from biological children too. But, the chances are much slimmer. You have to be aware that parenting an adopted child means that there are apparent differences. Adopted children are not blank slates waiting to be written on. They came from somewhere. They didn’t hatch from an egg. They came with interests, personality traits, temperament, and minds that may work very differently from yours. After conducting the color personality theory test to several people, I discovered that there is  HUGE genetic component. Try it yourself! Ask your family and friends to take it… and their families too! Don’t take my word for it. Just google it and hand it out to friends and family. My mom is an orange and I am a blue: polar opposites. But, I don’t try to make her into a blue and she doesn’t try to make me into an orange. We just accept that we have different results and pursue goals that are in line with the way God made us. My mom doesn’t LOVE school. She looks at all I have to do and wonders why I would give myself such a burden. But, she would never try to convince me to leave school. She admires my endurance. I admire her persistence and ability to get things done quickly.

I grew up in a family where nearly everyone showed interest in some type of health profession. I was always inclined towards working in education and counseling fields. But, I was never made to feel stupid or less than because of it. Sure, there have been people that wondered why I didn’t opt to study a career that would make me rich. But, that’s not the area that God blessed me with talent in. I have quite a weak stomach. And I’m terrified of needles. Instead of focusing on what someone’s goals are not… why not congratulate and celebrate their strengths? Why is this so difficult for some people?

Why not… sorry you didn’t get into U Penn… but it’s their loss! You’ll get into an even better school.

You’re a great teacher. The kids are lucky to have you. Maybe you can give me some advice on how my kids would learn best. 

Acceptance and embracing one another is key to happiness in adoption.

I laugh at this scene because it reminds me of myself. I always want answers. I don’t take what people tell me at face value. I want to understand people’s intentions. I don’t just “accept” things that people do when I know they are wrong. Melissa reminds me of someone in my family… always accepting injustice and repeating the injustice to others, rather than being determined to break the cycle. Melissa has a classical “sheep-like” mentality. But, only when it comes to following Veronica. She won’t listen to Spencer. She doesn’t listen to both sides of a story. The answer is always simple: her mom is right. Spencer grows frustrated with this. I mean… how can you not? When you’ve seen that grass on a particular side really IS greener and someone just doesn’t want to listen to you and is determined at blocking you out at all costs… how is this not frustrating? Now, things like this happen every day in many families, adopted or not. But, a lot of times, being adopted can feel like your a daisy in the midst of a field of roses. You’re all flowers and you’re all beautiful. But, you grow differently. You look differently. And you have different purposes/goals. I thought this scene was very depicting of this. Lift people up in their accomplishments, their desires, their pursuits… even if their not your own. Melissa and her mother don’t even show respect towards Spencer’s feelings. Veronica clearly has the right to support Garret Reynolds if she wants to. And Melissa has the right to support her. But, they shouldn’t have shunned Spencer for feeling the way she did. They should have respected her feelings, even if theirs were different. This is a classic issue adoption within families. Be the change. Be the difference. Raise adults… not puppets.

Melissa and Spencer have never gotten along, that’s no secret. But, I have to say that I side with Spencer most of the time. Melissa is just an impossible person. In this video, she’s acting accusatory towards Spencer, when SHE was the one on the Halloween train dressed in a suspicious costume. This is the way we act when we have secrets. We are always on the defense. Then, when the truth does come out… how can you possibly have good feelings towards people like Melissa? Secrets will haunt you and they will eat you up alive. An easy solution to not becoming a defensive and scared person is… don’t keep secrets :). Be honest with people. Even if the truth behind their story didn’t start off so great, lies only become dark when they are kept in dark attics. Let people own their stories and decide for themselves what they want to carry with them. It’s not your story. Sorry Melissa… but you should have been honest with your sister from the start… the masks, the train, and the fact that you may have known she came from Radley… which is further discussed a few videos down.

Why would YOU keep this kind of secret? What about YOU? What about the secrets YOU’RE keeping?! Notice the difference in handling situations. You would think that Veronica would be SO relieved that the girls were found after having been missing for hours… that she would  allow Spencer to relax and get some sleep before she dropped a  bunch of questions. Had this been Melissa, I think Melissa would have WANTED to stay up all night, chatting. The temperament and the personality between her and Melissa is perfectly aligned. The fact that Spencer wants to handle the situation different is the real cause of conflict here… not Veronica’s inquisitiveness or worry. Once again, we have a classic case of difference=conflict.

Veronica is afraid. If she was defending Garret Reynolds because she believed him to be innocent… why is she afraid? Because she has secrets of her own, which she is afraid will be revealed. I know that fear. I’ve seen it in the eyes of so many people. Tell the truth the best possible way… with loving and kindness… or it will come out in ways that you wish it wouldn’t have.

The way we handle crisis is a biological/genetic phenomenon. We can learn to adjust our behaviors at any point in time. We can learn techniques on how to handle issues. But, we always come into the world with an innate way of handling things. The way we naturally conform to if no one would intervene to change it. This video shows that Melissa and Spencer have a completely different way of handing issues when they arise. Spencer is much more “go with the flow.” Melissa wants to get things done immediately… and she wants to sweep them under the rug. The Hastings family is naturally inclined to sweep secrets under the rug. It’s the way that they handle crisis. This is what Spencer has been taught. It’s the environment she grew up in. But, genetics prevails in this situation. She may have grown up being taught that this was the way to handle issues. But, her instincts tell her otherwise. She doesn’t handle crisis in the same way. How should this be handled? Spencer should be glad that her sister and her mother “get things done.” But, the Hastings should respect Spencer’s openness and honesty to handling situations.

Those of you who have had the privilege of meeting my sister know we have pretty much the same basic personality. She’s very soft-spoken and she goes out of her way to make people feel better. Do you know anybody like this? If i was institutionalized at Radley, this conversation that Spencer had with Melissa would never happen. We’re just too much alike. It’s not so much that people who are related are always so much alike. But, the illustration here is that regardless of upbringing, there’s just personality traits that we don’t shake off. People who are related, I think, have a more accurate notion of where their relative is coming from. They have a clearer picture of what goes on inside their minds. We are hormonally, biologically, and genetically in tune with people’s characteristics and why they do what they do. I was shocked that my sister had the same habit of making knots in the ends of her hair. We both have the same habit, even though we were raised in different places. We both loved backstreet boys and hated n’sync. We both order the same things at McDonalds (plain cheeseburger… emphasis on the plain)! We both hate onions. We’re both just naturally good at the same things. If she makes a certain gesture, with certainty, I can probably tell you what she’s thinking… because I do the same thing. Just because we have that natural synchrony doesn’t mean that you can’t establish that with other people who aren’t related to you. But, it does take work. My grandparents have been married for over 60 years. They have that synchrony. But, it took work! In families who have chosen adoption, this takes work too. You don’t naturally recognize facial expressions and habits. You have to observe. You have to take time. And you have to be interested. Melissa, sadly, doesn’t show interest. She’s too busy fighting the fact that Spencer is just naturally different.

And so is Veronica…

The longer you keep a secret… the more chance you have of it coming out at the worse time possible. When we make people feel like being different is bad, we’re the ones losing out on everything God has given them to offer us. Celebrate people for who they are as individuals. Realize that there ARE genetic predispositions that WILL enable people handle things differently and react differently. But, be grateful for that. Because if we were all the same, as I said, we would get nowhere. Appreciate that you have people in your family with different approaches and different talents. Consider that people who have been adopted have a story. That’s their story, as an individual. It’s their right. Where they came from and who they were before they came to be a part of your family is a part of who they are today. They are different. But, they are also beautiful.

Why Gay Rights and Abortion have NOTHING to do with one another

In America, our first amendment right is to religious freedom. This means that freedom goes both ways. The government cannot make everybody a Jew, a Christian, or a Muslim. Hence, there are going to be religions that endorse the union of homosexual couples. If you would like the right to practice the religion of your choice, you also need to allow for others to practice their own. All three of the monotheistic religions above, who condemn homosexuality, also believe that we are given free will. Hence, it is not our job, as humans, to take away somebody’s free will unless their wrongdoing imposes on other legal infractions, such as the death of someone. So, if a religion is sacrificing children, for instance, the law would become involved and persecute those individuals appropriately. However, this is not the case in the event of LGBT people. As far as I am aware, LGBT people are not hosting rituals where children, adults, or animals, are being sacrificed. Therefore, the government cannot, legally, infringe on their rights.

You have the right, as a citizen of this country, to condemn or condone homosexuality. This right is not taken away from you. Nobody can tell you what to believe. As a parent, you have the right to raise your children with whatever values you wish. As religious clergy, you have the right to marry whatever couples you chose. This also extends to heterosexual couples. If a clergy member refuses to marry an interfaith couple, this is also their right. This is called religious freedom. This has not been taken away from anyone.

However, regardless of your beliefs on homosexuality, you have no right to treat people as less than human. I cannot fathom that there are actual people AGAINST protecting another HUMAN BEING from getting terminated from employment or being evicted from their homes on the basis of who they are attracted to sexually. There are no grounds for this. I will use two examples. Suppose an Orthodox Jew married a Reform convert who did not perform a halachic conversion according to the written and oral law. In Orthodox Judaism, a conversion is not considered legitimate unless the convert performed the conversion through the Orthodox branch. Thus, the person who converted through the Reform tradition would not be halachically Jewish from the Orthodox perspective. This would be against the Torah commandments, as technically, this marriage would be comprised of a Jew and a non-Jew. I have yet to see an Orthodox Jewish funded organization attempting to remove these couples from their home or have them terminated from employment on the basis of their interpersonal relationships. In Christianity, there is a warning against being unequally yolked, and is typically explained in the context of marriage. It is not advisable to marry a non-Christian. Yet, I have seen no Christian organization on the internet advocating firing employees or evicting tenants based on marriage partners. All three of the religions above advocate for sex within marriage. But, I have yet to see a funded organization advocating the above for pre-marital sex offenders. In the view of Christianity, there is none righteous. So, on what basis is this sin somehow the worse, meriting unemployment and homelessness? I’m not talking about your beliefs on what is right and wrong and what is best for marriage, families, and children. I’m talking about equal protection under the law for discrimination that is a threat to life and safety of others. I cannot fathom why ANYONE who LOVES the Almighty and believes that we are all His children and His creation, subject a class of people to be treated as less than human.

Which brings me to abortion. Abortion is the legal murder of a child from inside it’s mother’s womb. I don’t care about what anyone says regarding choices and the woman’s body. Less than 1% of abortions are from rape, incest, and a threat to the mother’s life. I repeat: LESS THAN 1%. These incidents are isolated and should be treated as such. Thus, I won’t get into it too much. I will say that if the mother’s life is in danger, the baby’s life is in danger. Thus, the baby is not going to live if the mother dies. So, I don’t understand why this is an argument. If the baby is inside of the Fallopian tube, for instance, the mother’s days are counted. This would result in two lives taken. So, in this case, I believe that it would be justifiable. Nonetheless, this is a TRAGEDY! Any choice would have been a sad choice. It is a lose-lose situation. I know someone, whose identity I will not share, was raped, and chose adoption. Again, however, these are isolated incidents and comprise of less than 1% of abortions in the United States. Thus, treating them on an individual basis is completely doable. For the other 99%… if you chose to open your legs to get it in, you can put your big girl pants back on, and open your legs to get it out. You like choices so much? Well, you had a choice NOT to have sex. You had a choice to use protection. Choices were made that led to a pregnancy. Now, there is a human being living inside your body. It has a heartbeat. If bacteria is considered life on Mars, then how can we not see a baby’s heart as life in the womb? This is your CHILD. YOUR CHILD. You are so blessed to have one. This is  YOUR BABY. Two people came together and made A HUMAN BEING. This child KNOWS that you’re IT’S MOMMY!!! It already has a sex. Sex is already determined at the moment of conception. Bacteria on Mars doesn’t have a sex. But, your baby does! What more proof do you need that this is a human being? Killing anything with a heartbeat is murder.I recently posted on Instagram, a story of a saline solution abortion survivor. These abortions are performed after the first trimester. It involves a dosage of poisonous solution into the womb via needle. Labor is then induced and the woman will give birth to a still born. This woman survived the abortion and a secret adoption was arranged. The parents were then upset that an arrangement was done in secret, instead of providing truth to them that their baby was indeed alive. I’m sorry, but I heavily disagree with these so called parents. You attempted to murder your child and having that child taken away was an appropriate measure to ensure her safety. You were not cheated. Your child was cheated by you for having murderers as parents.

It’s simply not normal to have the desire to abort your CHILD. From the moment of conception, the process of bonding begins. The most natural thing in the world is to love your child. It is your own flesh and blood, attached to you. You are like one. It’s just such a beautiful expression of God’s love and of motherhood. It’s nature’s perfect bond. Thus, most of the time, abortions occur because the pregnancy was a result of sinful and uneducated circumstances. Children having sex with no sex education. First and foremost, I have to ask myself why children at the age of 12 are having sex to begin with. Why is there such little supervision? Why are we treating 12 year olds like their little adults? Their not. Children need to be treated like children. They need to be supervised. There has to be rules. There has to be protection in place for children. They not only need that, they deserve it! Childhood is so short. Why are we not protecting this and putting a fence around it? I blame parents, society, teachers, schools, and the media. All of it. 12 year olds are not little adults. They are CHILDREN. They shouldn’t be attending school dances. They shouldn’t be dating. They shouldn’t be having sexual conversations with members of the opposite sex. Children need adults to protect them and provide guidelines and rules. We are failing today’s children by treating them as older than they are. Secondly, sex education HAS to be provided at the appropriate times. I would suggest late middle school/beginning of high school. Sex education is not an attempt to promote sex. Sex education has to be approached from an educational standpoint and an anatomy standpoint. I am a religious person. I embrace conservative values. But, my Bible says that God made male and female. And teaching children that male and females are different anatomically and thus, are able to procreate children as a result, is just truth. To explain what sex is, how it happens, and how pregnancy and diseases are prevented is just an extension of learning the anatomical components of sex.

An egg on it’s own is not a baby. A sperm on it’s own is not a baby. I do not advocate for the protection of eggs and sperms. Every month, my unfertilized eggs leave my body through the process of menstruation. Their nothing but cramps and puddles of blood. But, if fertilized by a sperm, then that’s not my egg. That’s my baby. And if I’m not ready to be a mom, there’s a plethora of options, that don’t involve murder, and I would be the last person to stigmatize people who make those choices. I’m sure that all of those LGBT couples who can’t conceive would feel the same.

So, you can be pro human rights and anti-abortion. After all… doesn’t that make the most sense?