She’s a Bastard

ImageShe’s around five in this picture.  The “she” being me of course.

 So many things are happening in the adoption world right now. The Baby Veronica case brings many tears.  We are fighting for the right to have our Birth Certificates, our history, our medical information.

 Imagine!  Not even allowed to exist on paper in a “real way”.  The pieces of paper issued all those many years ago were false.  They were made to look like the ones taking us home were are “real parents”.  I was a no-name baby.  One that was never seen, nor held, nor touched by love, nor given a name.  A name is an important piece of who we are.  Our identity is behind it.  Our history and nationality, our existence.  All in a name.  A name that is put on the original birth certificate.  The one we never got. Unless, like me you didn’t have a name.

Can you imagine what that’s like?  To never know who you really are.  To only exist in secrets and lies, like the false birth certificate “the new parents” are given.  

I was told recently I was an angry adoptee.  I don’t feel that I am at all.  What I am is a fighter for rights, for what is rightly mine/ours. My heritage, my health history, my family, my tribe.  Now, come on…if you spent five decades searching for those things, can you not see how when they are taken away, hidden, kept secret one might have a tinge of WHY!  Not anger but frustration in knowing its all there…right there. and you can’t see it, touch it, be part of it, have it, be loved by it.  Right there.  So close and yet so difficult to grasp and hold on to.

Some of my friends don’t have the right birth dates, the right place of birth.  Some have no idea of their last names like I was without for 30yrs. Some were stolen, mothers told they were dead.  Some were kidnapped and claimed by strangers.  Just last night I saw on the news a Pakistani show was giving babies as prizes in a game show!  My God!  It that the price people put on precious new lives.  The stories read like something out of horror shows.  Unless you are touched in some way by adoption you have no idea of what goes on in the underbelly of this world with babies bought and sold.  Traded or given away.  Killed or just left to die.

I’m not saying adoption isn’t a possible solution in some cases.  The system is full of children who would love to be adopted rather than be tossed around in the foster system.  Support for the mothers seems to be quite a logical solution but oh no…gotta make that money you know.  Babies are worth big bucks.

I’m getting off track here.  There is so much to say about adoption, never mind my own personal experience.  Most people who are adopted have what Betty Jean Lifton calls “The Bastard Moment”.  You know it because you feel like you’ve  been kicked in the gut.  You feel it rather than just think it.

It’s the moments, and there may be many that bring the reality of your birth home and it hits hard.  The blow is usually enough to put you on your knees in pain.  The veil of secrecy lifts. Moments like your cousins telling you, you are not part of the family or perhaps, as I describe in my memoir Finding Heart Horse, my own adopted mother telling me I was a Child of Satan and she would send me “back” if I didn’t perform properly. Those childhood moments sting of course but the real Bastard Moment comes when you discover your biological family.

You discover, as in my situation that my siblings didn’t know I existed but the rest of the family did.  Adoptees already have this sense of non existence and when you experience times like those, it puts you back into the place of being that “dirty little secret”….the bastard child…the one that wasn’t wanted.

Knowing too after death of a mother, that her friends had never known, she had never shared the secret, not even with the birth father…how can one not feel like a Bastard Child all over again.  The emotional pain she must have experienced to completely block out the “secret” must have been excruciating.  

Don’t get me wrong, I understand, I forgive, I empathize with her and why she felt she had to give me away…but she kept the others.  Some studies have shown that the unborn child is acutely aware of the mother’s emotional stress and feelings toward the fetus, just as a child that is born to a mother full of wanting and love can feel the sense of pleasure.  For the unwanted the feeling is one of fear of death.  Already feeling, knowing  rejection.

Bastard moments happen many times and  it doesn’t hurt any less with time.  Rejection by the biological family or birth mother usually results in a feeling of loss,  of emotional abortion or an actual death of self.

 For those not adopted its difficult to understand the depth of this pain.

I exist.  I am a real person.  I should have the rights you all take for granted.  The only way this will change is by fighting as the group that we are.  The group of Bastards will see change in this lifetime.  Please try to understand and support instead of passing us by as if we were invisible.

In Women Who Run With the Wolves, Clarissa Pinkola Estes discusses the difference of being a survivor and a thriver.  She cautions about still relating too closely with that inner wounded child.  She explains that it can keep us stuck and tough.  Instead, she encourages us to build an alter or a tribute to pay homage to the survivor.  She says, “To be the child survivor beyond its time is too over-identified with an injured archetype.  To realize the injury, and yet memorialize it, allows thriving to come forth.  Thriving is what was meant for us on earth.  Thriving, not just surviving, is our birthright as women.”

I see now, that the writing of my two memoirs Finding Heart Horse and The Wall of Secrets is my tribute to the survivor in me, I honour that wounded child.  Now, the Bastard is thriving..

8 thoughts on “She’s a Bastard

  1. when we adoptees hear soul-crushing negative comments, the derogatory name calling, the social stereotypes, stigmas by others who may lack within themselves awareness, empathy, compassion, experience of being adoptee AND we place the responsibility back on those whose fixable ignorance belongs to – we adoptee empower ourselves to stand against the invisible contradictions and injustices systematic adoption yields. and it comes with a high cost to our own personhood as adoptees. life-time wounds, injuries, scars emotional, psychological, physical, spiritual so deep and wide we adoptees tread in perpetual healing mode… adoption laws and processes need updating to reflect the RIGHTS and options all adult adoptees deserve as any other citizen takes pleasure in from birth.

    great blog post Claire!!…and i am a proud ANGRY adoptee bastard until our voices are heard and laws reflect our legal rights to our original birth certificates and our adoption information…

  2. Labels ! :(……I was labelled “illegitimate” and “just my half sister” as a child ….and instinctively (even as a very little girl) I knew it was wrong …..I am a human being….why are you labelling me ?….(but of course the emotional damage/hurt was done)…..(with the taunting from my little sisters….I also began to wonder if I was adopted because I didn’t “fit in”….2 sisters against one…My god….the damage done to us as children. (My little sisters had no idea what they were saying…sadly they learned those words from the adults in our lives). “Bastard” really hurts Claire(it cuts the heart like a knife)….I am happy you are releasing that on paper into your books…and beginning to thrive….You are a “Butterfly” I have always known you to be …and I hope you will never need to look back:) (Thank you for your honesty and sharing this space for so many others who also need healing…you are probably helping more people than you know ! ).xoxo

  3. Reblogged this on The Life Of Von and commented:
    “Some studies have shown that the unborn child is acutely aware of the mother’s emotional stress and feelings toward the fetus, just as a child that is born to a mother full of wanting and love can feel the sense of pleasure. For the unwanted the feeling is one of fear of death. Already feeling, knowing rejection”
    But now “the Bastard is thriving” in a community of thriving Bastards. We’re doing our best, living our lives, understanding adoption as we never have before.

  4. We don’t really know what burdens others carry, even from before birth. I thank you for opening your soul so that others can find their voice, too.

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