Sunday, September 30, 2007

Adoption Triad Support Group of Martha's Vineyard

Full Circle: An Adoption Support Group

Adoption is a life long journey for all of the triad members: adoptees, birth parents, and adoptive parents. Our lives and who we are is influenced and effected by this life experience we call adoption. In this support group triad members have the opportunity to share their stories and their expriences in a lay lead group that is comprised of triad members.

The group meets every fourth Thursday of each month.

Come and join our group and share your story.

Conversations with other adoptees or birth parents can often help ease feelings of isolation and difference that are rarely understood by those who are not adopted.

For more information please contact Gwendolyn Natusch at 508-560-6891.


Autobiographical Interactive Art

“There are very few human beings who receive the truth,
complete and staggering by instant illumination.
Most of them acquire it fragment by fragment, on a
small scale, by successive developments,
cellularly, like a laborious mosaic.”

~Anais Nin

Other Interesting Links

Yahoo Groups Get connected on the internet in yahoo groups. Talk with other adoptees.
Stay connected and link in to online chat. We have an on-line chat room.We are there every evening after 11:30pm Eastern.Why not stop in and join us? You might find it helpful. Click below to go to chat:

Emergency Medical Locators for Adoptees"Dedicated to those adopted whose lives are imperiled by medical Crisis, Medical locations Locating and obtaining medical histories for the adoption community and all in need.1st family traces for transplants availableFax: 775-845-4334Staff members are online 24/7 To handle emergency searches. No one should die simply because they are adopted.Email:

Adoption Crossroads, (HQ) 845-268-0283 (All days but Wednesday) Email: 74 Lakewood Dr., Congers, NY 10920 Other Meeting Locations: 444 East 76th St, NY City, Wednesday only: 212-988-0110
Schenectady, NY: 518-370-2558 (call for schedule)
Paramus, NJ: 973-427-4521, 201-843-9898 (call for schedule)
The Daily Bastardette features daily commentary by Bastardette on issues of identity and adoptee rights including open records for adult adoptees, Baby Moses/Safe Haven laws, and any other atrocity the adoption industry and its paid lobbyists--not to mention deformer "friends"--can devise to maintain The Adoption Culture of Shame.
The National Adoption Information Clearinghouse (NAIC) was established by Congress in 1987 to provide free information on all aspects of adoption.
Adoption LawSite created by The National Center for Adoption Law & Policy at Capital University Law School. The goal of this LawSite is to deliver a single online resource where prospective adoptive parents, biological parents, adoption and child welfare lawyers, juvenile and family court judges and child advocates of all kinds can turn to for child welfare and adoption law information.Adoption LawSite created by The National Center for Adoption Law & Policy at Capital University Law School. The goal of this LawSite is to deliver a single online resource where prospective adoptive parents, biological parents, adoption and child welfare lawyers, juvenile and family court judges and child advocates of all kinds can turn to for child welfare and adoption law information.
This is a great adoption forum if you want to connect and communicate with other triad members.
This website sells a movie entitled Unlocking the Heart about adoption and healing. There is also a curriculum on adoption and issues around adoption.

"Our mothers
given to us for life
standing in the windows
forehead glued ot the pane
send forth their absence
watch out for us
who go away
who come back
who do not come back"
-Jerzy Ficowski

Workshop for Adoptee Integration on Martha's Vineyard

Facilitated by Gwendolyn Natusch

At the tail end of this posting is a web address of my blog. It describes a workshop that I am offering in my home town. I hope to bring it to a larger audience eventually. It grew out of an exploratory art class that I took where I created my own process of internal healing. My goal was to create a series of boxes that told the story of my life. Each box was interactive and told of milestones and important phases and feelings that have encompassed my life. The final piece to the work was a large canvas with a representation of me "out of the box". The art work has been exhibited twice now. It was in the exhibit venue that I got a larger view of my art piece.As I created this art piece I worked with the writings of Caroline Myss, Clarissa Pinkola Estes, and some of Carl Jung's work. Each spoke to me of archetypes and how the individual has within them these larger embodiments. The universal idea of orphan, mother, daughter, wife, and woman played major roles in assisting me in coming out of my own limited story.When the art piece was completed and displayed it dawned upon me slowly that I had created my life story and had actually moved out of the role of victim in a very true sense. But what hit me like a ton of bricks is that I had told the story of the adoptee...the larger archetypal story complete with the healing and process stages without knowing that this was happening.The workshop that I have put together is done really to respond to my longing to assist other adoptees in the healing potential that comes from telling your story and healing the fractured pieces in it in order to move on to a larger definition of yourself. The process has given me such a solid sense of who I am and allowed me to move out of the life long story of being an "adoptee". I will always hold this as a true part of my experience...but it no longer defines me...I have moved to a place where I can feel and be whatever self definition fits me now in my life. In essence I am free of the story and can create a whole new one....this is such a gift!In the mean time if anyone would like to go to this workshop blog and give me some constructive criticism of it...I would be entirely grateful!

The following is a resource list of triad member blogs online:

Adoption Books of Interest

Being Adopted: The Lifelong Search for Self by David M. Brodzinsky, Ph.D.Publishers Weekly commented that "This illuminating book should help and comfort adoptees, adoptive parents, and others who search for their identity.

The back cover description reads: "Being Adopted uses the voice of adoptees themselves to trace how adoption is experienced over a lifetime, and their reflections are moving, keenly self-aware, and very personal. Replete with vital and astute analysis by the authors. This book offers a place to turn for thousands of adoptees who, at one time or another, have questioned the validity of their feelings but have had no one to compare their experiences with."

Adoption and Recovery: Solving the mystery of reunion is a companion volume to Adoption and Loss: The Hidden Grief by Evelyn Burns Robinson. A reviewer of the book states: "With this powerful and insightful book, Evelyn Robinson has created a completely new paradigm within which to understand adoption reunion."
Quoted on the Dedication Page of the book:
A Tear and a Smile
I would not exchange the sorrows of my heart for the joys of
the multitude. And I would not have the tears that sadness
makes flow from my every part, turn into laughter.
I would that my life remain a tear and a smile.
A tear to unite me with those of broken heart;
a smile to be a sign of my joy in existence.
by Kahlil Gibran
Evelyn and her son Stephen write this book together. Evelyn is a birth mother and Stephen is the son that she found after relinquishment. They are both from Australia.
From the back cover:
"Experiencing an adoption separation brings its own challenges, lessons and opportunities for growth and development. This original and dynamic book will help many people to meet the challenges that adoption and separation bring, to learn more lessons, and to take advantage of those opportunities."

Synchronicity & Reunion: The Genetic Connection of Adoptees and Birth Parents by LaVonne Harper Stiffler is a facinating exploration of surprising coincidences in the union/loss/reunion stories of families separated by adoption.

On the back cover: "We must be grateful to LaVonne Harper Stiffler for illuminating the mysteries of the connections that bind us to each other - and connect us to the cosmic mystery. A masterful work."

-Betty Jean Lifton(Author of Twice Born and Lost and Found as well as Journey of the Adopted Self: A Quest for Wholeness)

"This i s not only a terrific job scientifically, it is also highly practical, useful, and a spine-tingling read!"

-Berthold E. Schwarz, M.S. Author of Psychic-Nexus.

From the back cover:"Carl Jung knew 'synchronicity' to be a subjective experience with significant timeng and meaning for the participant, a clue to an underlying system of science and spirituality. Paul Kammerer used simply physical analogies for such coincidences and defined the "law of seriality" as a unifying principle at work in the universe, correlating by affinity. He believed this pull toward unity produces concurrent or serial events in space and time, bringing like and like together. After search and reunion, adoptees and birthparents begin to piece together the long years of separation and to seek their own explanations for uncanny coincidental behavior and meaningful information transfer that occurred when normal sensory contact was absent. This psychophilosophical exploration of the anecdotes of 70 reunited families will certainly stimulate subsequent investigation. LaVonne is a reunited birth mother."

Journey of the Adopted Self: A Quest for Wholeness byBetty Jean Lifton

Publishers Weekly:

"Lifton has written before on this highly charged subject ( Lost and Found and Twice Born: Memoirs of an Adopted Daughter ), but this is a more profound investigation of the trauma she sees as occurring when a child is separated from his or her birth mother and is brought up by people not of his or her blood. Lifton is for "open" adoption--meaning, to her, not only that the adoptee should have a chance to find out about his or her birth mother, but preferably that both sets of parents should get to know each other."

"She discourses at length, with reference to myth, legend, folklore, science, psychiatry, as well as to many personal experiences, about the crippling effect of the loss of the birth mother on the adoptee's sense of self; she even cites evidence showing that adoptive sons are more likely than natural ones to murder their parents."

-Quoted from book review of this book.

"A brilliant contribution to the work of healing in adoption. I highly recommend this to all members of the adoption triad and to professionals."

-Sharon Kapland RosziaCo-author of The Open Adoption Experience

Chapter One begins with...Betwixt & Between

"Then I shan't be exactly human then?" Peter asked.

"No.""What shall I be?"

"You will be betwixt-and-between," Solomon said, and certainly he was a wise old fellow, for this is exactly as it turned out."

-James Barrie (from Peter Pan in the Kensington Gardens)
Betty Jean Lifton is an adoptee.

Coming Home to Self: The Adopted Child Grows Up
-by Nancy Newton Verrier (Author of Primal Wound)
On the back cover:
Who should read this book?
All members of the adoption triad, anyone related to them, all professionals working with triad members, anyone who feels her or she is living an unauthentic life.
What you will learn:
The role of trauma in our lives, how trauma affects our neurological system, how the fearful child may be ruling our lives, how the meaning we give to events controls our beliefs, how beliefs control our feelings and behaviors, how to uncover the authentic self, how to gain power and by becoming accountable, how to improve our relationships and reunions.

Carol Shaefer, author of The Other Mother: A Woman's Love for the Child She Gave Up for Adoption writes:
"With enormous compassion and caring and exceptional knowledge and insight, Verrier reveals not only how to finally heal but also how to actually be better for the journey."
Nancy Verrier is an adoptive mother.

Things Not To Say To Adoptees

1. You're special because you're adopted. What you could say instead: You are adopted and this means you are now part of our family and we embrace you. You are a part of your first family too and maybe someday you will meet your first parents.

2. You were chosen. What you might consider saying instead: You were given to us to be our child to raise by your first parents because they didn't have the tools when you were born to take care of you. Your first parents thought that we could help you and love you and raise you because we have the tools now to take care of you and to help you be the best you you can be. This doesn't mean that your first mom and dad don't love you. All babies and children are loveable. For now as you grow up we have the privilege of raising you as our child and some day, if you want, maybe you will meet your first parents.

3. Your mother loved you so much that she gave you up. A more compassionate and honest response might be: Your mother loved you and I know that if she could have kept you that she would have kept you. Your first mother will always love you and think of you. For now she just isn't able to take care of you. Her choice to give you to us to raise is not a reflection of who you are or a measure of how much you are loved. You are loved and there are two families now that embrace you. One could tell more of the birth story here...And about the birth mother...

4. You're lucky. Things to consider: Luck has nothing to do with it. Saying you're lucky is like saying it is a wonderful thing to not know where you come from and then consequently not know who you are as the history and heritage stories and knowledge are absent. What should be said instead is a sharing of information in an effort to educate others. For the adoptee one should never say this to them, but instead an inquiry to them of something like the following might work: What do you think or feel about being adopted? What has been challenging in your experience being adopted? What has been hopeful? What has been hurtful?

5. Being Adopted Doesn't Matter What a way to make someone feel invisible by discounting their experience and life circumstances. Say...being adopted must matter; how does it matter to you?

6. You should be angry.Oh REALLY???? Things to consider thinking about and saying instead: Being angry is a healthy thing as it empowers one to come to terms with their life circumstances. It is natural to be angry in a situation like this as decisions were made that affected the adoptees whole life and internal world and sense of self. Yes, anger comes with the territory and if expressed and channeled in a healthy manner can indeed empower the individual to change, understand, and strengthen their sense of self and the control in their own lives. How about asking: Has being adopted made you angry?

7. You shouldn’t be sad. Well, we all know that no one likes to be “should” upon. There are no shoulds when it comes to feelings. Feelings are what they are. Asking an adoptee not to be sad is denying them the grief that they need to express as an outcome of the adoption experience. Being sad and expressing feelings of grief is the healthiest thing one can do. To deny them this process and emoting is to deny the tremendous losses that come with the adoption experience. As the adoptee finds their first families new losses emerge in their consciousness and new grief is experienced. As one goes through their life course and experiences things like the birth of a child, the birth of a grandchild, marriage, health challenges or other experiences these feelings of loss and grief resurface. Feelings of sadness come out at unexpected times, in reactions to things that make adoptees feel puzzled, and even when one is still and quiet and the feelings have no concrete preceding cause that makes sense. Grief and sadness are part of this experience and expressing and feeling these lessens their grip on us. I feel that the grief piece will never quite disappear, but by expressing it we lessen its grip and depth.
“To weep is to make less the depth of grief”
–William Shakespeare

One could ask instead: Have you had to grieve because of losing your first family? How has being adopted made you sad? Has adoption made you sad?

8. By finding her you are invading her life. Perhaps. And yet without finding her I might never find my self. My birth brought our lives together in a intertwining that holds us together stronger than any other connection I may have in my life. The invasion happened when I was severed from her and adopted into another family and made to adapt and bend to find success in that family. It would be surprising to find that in some way and on a very frequent basis, the memory of my birth and existence doesn’t invade her on some level. She gave birth and for this she forever has the responsibility to respond in some way to the child she brought into this world. This is called taking responsibility for my actions. One could ask instead: How do you think your first mother will respond to your contacting her? Will she be surprised or feel as if her life will be interrupted after so many years after relincquishment? The question asker should also do some inner pondering if they have a negative stance to adoption, reunion, or birth mothers. What is it that disallows them empathy and compassion in these questions?

(Things Not To Say orginated on the Adoption Crossroads website. I have reprinted it in part here on my blog with Joe Soll's permission. I have added the response alternatives to the list.)

Things not to say to a Birth/First Mother

1. "So, if you get pregnant again, will you give them that baby, too?"I don't think I need to launch into a lengthy explanation as to why this question is both highly offensive and inappropriate. Apparently all inklings of tact fly out the window when adoption is mentioned.

2. "It's so nice of the parents to let you see their child." I've heard from quite a few birth parents that the response they wanted to fling back at the offender rang something like, "Yeah, just like it was so nice of me to give them my child." Speaking from our personal experience, J & D don't think they're simply being nice by letting me see the Munchkin. They honestly believe that my presnece will benefit her in the long run.

3. "How much did you get for the baby?"As in money! Payment! For a child! This is the flipped coin side of the question adoptive parents are often privvy to: "So how much did you pay for the baby?" Not only is this one morally and ethically offensive, it's also illegal. Which leads us to the next trio of statements, all rolled into one.

4. "How long have you been clean?" or "Did you ever finish your high school education?" or "How many times have you been in jail?"Apparently people associate birth parents with drug addicts, criminals and people who never graduated high school. These stereotypes are not only a slap to one's self-esteem but absolutely ludicrous. Refresh yourself with the findings about who birth parents are in the recent Even B. Donaldson Adoption Institute Birth Parent study.

5. "If you were just going to give the baby up, why didn't you have an abortion?"For some birth mothers, this is a highly inflammatory question and don't blame me if they come out swinging. Abortion, like adoption, is a highly charged, highly debated subject. Suggesting that a woman who carried a child to term should have just had an abortion is most often insulting her on some pretty core levels. Beyond that, abortion versus adoption debates are often an apples versus oranges topics.

The above Things Not to Say is borrowed from The Common Room: A Birthmother Blog at

Things Not to Say to Adoptive Parents

1. How much did she/he cost?

2. Why did you go and adopt--couldn't you have your "own" child?

3. Did you buy that baby?

4. Maybe now that you adopted, you'll have "your own" child.

5. She/He looks nothing like either of you.

6. What are you going to do when she/he looks for their birthparent?

7. Do you know her/his "real" parents?

8. I sure hope he/she fits into your family!

9. Why didn't his/her real mom want him/her?

10. Don't even tell him/her they are adopted, they'll never know.

11. Too bad you had to adopt!

12. Whose fault is it you can't get pregnant?

13. You're doing these kids such a favor.

14. S/he is so lucky to have your family instead of his/her own.

15. An older child is damaged goods .

16. She's your daughter?

17. What about your own kids? What do they think about this?

18. She might come from a cursed background.

19. What are you going to do when you have kids of your own?

20. Do you think you love them as much as you could love your real kids?

21. You got kids the easy way you never even had to be pregnant.

22. What if the real parents come back and kidnap them?

(Things Not To Say orginated on the Adoption Crossroads website. I have reprinted it in part here on my blog with Joe Soll's permission. I have added the response alternatives to the list.)

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