Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Adoption writing every day: NaBloPoMo and NAAM

What do you know about  NaBloPoMo? 

What about NAAM? 

What happens when you smoosh them together? NaamNaBloPoMo? No! 

A month of blogging about adoption. 

NaBloPoMo was inspired by NaNoWriMo - National Novel Writing Month - where writers everywhere tip-type away to write 50,000 words during the month of November and, voila!, at month's end, the've written a novel (though usually a not very good one - but that's okay, they can still say, "why, yes, I've written a novel"). 

Well, out in the blogosphere, they thought there should be a blogging counterpart, so NaBloPoMo was born. A blog a day, every day, for the month of November. Cool, right? 

But, wait, there's more! The Lost Daughters (a collaborative blogging group authored by adult women adoptees that covers the wide expanse of the experience of being adopted) realized it was also National Adoption Awareness Month (NAAM) so they put together writing prompts to inspire writers who focus on adoption-related issues to post blogs on shared topics. Yes, not unlike what Kate and I do with Mothertone and ReunionEyes for Kathleen~Cathleen.

I will continue my Wednesday posts with Kate where we cover the same topic from the birthmother and adoptee perspective. In addition, I'm going to do The Lost Daughters challenge and write every day on the prompts from the list.  They'll be a bunch of us doing it, so it should be pretty interesting to see all the perspectives on the same topics. And, it'll just be a great experience to be compelled to write every day - maybe it will help me make it a habit!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Birthmother Birthday

I was going to send Kate a birthmother birthday card, just to be kinda funny...this was the closest one I found to half-way decent...

But since Kate hates the term, "birth-mother," I decided to skip it.

I called Kate and left a guilty voicemail today. I hadn't gotten her anything. It's impossible for me to get things out in the mail, I don't know why. I think about it, I just don't do it. But, thankfully, Kate understands. She says it's a Power-family trait, they're (we're?) just not good at birthdays and such. Kate said I was the first to wish her Happy Birthday, so I was ahead of the game. But when it comes to my adoptive family, they don't get why I can't get the responsible woman-thing down when it comes to things like birthdays and thank-you cards and so on. So I'm happy that calling can be enough for Kate, even if it still feels lame from my point of view.

Above is a picture from when I was first in Portland. Like, brand-spanking-new in Portland. That first winter, I guess. I had my mom sent out my warm Jersey winter coats, only to find I didn't actually need them in Portland. I was 22, so Kate would have been 41 there - my age now. Weird, weird, weird. I would have been out here for her birthday that year - I arrived on the 4th of July, so her Birthday was just a few months later. I have no recollection of what we might have done for her birthday, or how I might have felt about it.

This picture was taken (by whom???? Mary?) when I was first here - that first summer. We went to a Ceili, which is an Irish line-dance sort of thing, at the time I had no idea what it was. I thought it was kinda strange and yet caught my interest - and that really sums up reunion for me - strange and yet fascinating, because somehow, in the core, these foreign things resonate. The far left is Abby, my sister through Kate, so half-sister, 9 years younger, so she was around 13 there? 

Here's a picture of Kate when she was pregnant with me...

So, I was in Kate's belly during that picture. And then, here's when I met her, 18 years later. 

I guess our profile picture on the Kathleen-Cathleen facebook page is the closest we have to current. 

So that's Kate throughout the years since I've known her - or a few snapshots anyway.

to view my birthmother's blog on the same topic, go to:

Wednesday, October 17, 2012


In the process of writing about my adoption/reunion experience, I've been reading a lot more about adoption and reunion.

I've joined, and have been following, the Lost Daughter's blog, which I LOVE. It has successfully created what I had originally hoped to create in this blog but never got off the ground- a forum for adult adoptees to discuss their shared experiences.

One of the themes that seems to come up time and again, is anxiety. It reminded me of how unwieldy anxiety was in the early years of reunion, and it made me wonder where anxiety sits in a reunion that has been going on as long as ours has (in 2013, it will be 24 years since we met).

I don't feel anxiety that I will lose Kate, or that there's much that can damage our relationship at this point. Maybe part of that for me is that Kate was the "pursuer" in our relationship. Maybe not at first...after all,  we each individually threw our hats in the ring when we both called the adoption agency the same day on my eighteenth birthday and said we were interested in finding each other. But, after we met, when I understood that she wanted to have some kind of a relationship ... well that was something I had never considered and that threw off my sense of balance. What would having a relationship with my birthmother mean? And what would it mean to my parents? If I had a relationship with my birthmother, or with my birthfamily for that matter (yes, the birthdad always gets off easy ; ), would my parents think that I didn't think their parenting was enough, that "our" relationship, "our" family, wasn't enough?

For me, where the anxiety sits, and where it has always been, is in the worry that my relationship with Kate will upset my parents. I should know by now that they are okay with it. They've told me as much, like when my mom said that she was glad that I had Kate in my life so that even when she and my dad were gone, I would still have family in my life. And they've shown me as much, like when we all had dinner at Kate's house on Christmas day. But, they are old-fashioned, Irish-Catholic, and talking openly about how we feel about things is not exactly a family trait. 

Now, almost 24 years later, I feel like there's no question that Kate and I have a solid relationship. We see each other every couple months, talk every few weeks on the phone, and email/text regularly. I might not have words for what I would call our relationship (not quite mother/daughter but more than "friends with baggage") but I am secure in what it is, whatever it is. 

And, at the same time, I don't feel like my relationship with Kate has any effect on the total devotion I feel towards my parents. Although, when I screw up, and I do that plenty -  I might not remember to call and sometimes I forget important birthdays or don't follow through on what I said I was going to do - I worry that maybe they might question the way I feel towards them. So, although I should know better, and not worry about things, and trust my parents know how I feel, I don't. Maybe I should tell them.

So, for me, where the anxiety sits is not IN my relationship with Kate, but BY having a good relationship with Kate. And, for that, I should count my blessings.

to view my birthmother's blog on the same topic, go to:

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Coming to Portland

I took the greyhound bus from San Francisco to Portland on the Fourth of July in 1993. Next July it will be twenty-years that I've been here. Twenty years!

While I had come out to stay with Kate and get to know her better right after I graduated from college, I never expected to stay. That's what all the now-Portlanders say, actually. They come for a summer, and end up staying. However, I found that by starting with, "I came out to get to know my birthmother..." usually just led to a longer conversation than I was ready to have.

Right now, I'm working on the chapter of the book of that fateful trip out to Portland. Yes, fateful seems like a loaded word, but, man, now that I look back and see that it changed the course of my life, implicitly and unexpectedly, then, yeah, fateful seems justified.

Writing about the Portland of twenty years ago makes me nostalgic of that era of Portland, and I can just imagine how interesting it will be to read Kate's side, and her experience of Portland when she arrived in Portland about twenty years before me. Actually, I never put that together before - yet another synchronicity. She must have come out to Portland when she was about the same age as me? Eh, you the reader, will know better. Kate's writing about this too, right?

I went to the chiropractor today (Surah - do you read the blog? If so, then hi!), which is someone who is a friend of Kate's and the chiropractor Kate went to. I had never been to a chiropractor before I met Kate, but soon after I started working at Nike and was working in front of a computer non-stop for hours at a time, I got a crick in my neck and Kate recommended I go and it, too, changed my life. What a way to feel better!

Anyway, I found out today that Surah (the chiropractor)'s landlord is kicking her out. She works on Hawthorne in a great old classic Portland home / building. Meanwhile, around it, modernization is going up like crazy. Those who've been in Portland the past two decades know what I mean ... Clinton is not what it was, Division - the same, and now Hawthorne seems to be going that way as well.

You might think I'm complaining about modernization - condemning the new, multi-story structures that are replacing the old, classic Portland buildings that define the place. Truth is, I like both. I like how Portland continues to evolve and be an exciting, energized place to live with a new restaurant / bar / spot to go to every time we go out. I just don't want Portland to lose it's Portlandness... the "Keep Portland Weird" side (even if that was a phrase borrowed from lil-sister Austin).

I still remember my dad (my adoptive dad) smiling at Portland after his third or fourth visit as he watched the people walking by, saying, "They relish the Bohemian, don't they?" I couldn't agree more - but where he saw it as cute and quirky, I saw it as essential - a place where I could breathe and feel at home in a way I didn't in New Jersey. No, I don't want to lose that part of Portland and have it be a generic city like any other, but I still want it to be able to grow, change and explore - that's the Portland bohemian spirit anyway, isn't it? Stay curious, experiment, try the new, but know what was important in the old.

to view my birthmother's blog on the same topic, go to: