Cultural Awareness and Appreciation

15 Jul

The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. If you try it, you will be lonely often, and sometimes frightened. But no price is too high to pay for the privilege of owning yourself. Nietzsche.

The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. If you try it, you will be lonely often, and sometimes frightened. But no price is too high to pay for the privilege of owning yourself. Nietzsche.

I just have this overwhelming amount of respect for all of the people who have brought me back into the world of my culture. It’s funny to mention that word, culture, because growing up with very North American (white) parents I never had that or knew what it meant.

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I love my parents so much for giving me the best childhood and valuable life lessons. I also could not be happier that they adopted my brothers to be my best friends and protectors. My idea of culture has just been to be loved and cared for by my family. Getting the chance to know my biological mother and family has been a real blessing. It has opened my heart to desire to learn about First Nations People. More importantly, I’m at a place where I feel comfortable tearing down that wall I have put up about my skin color or identity struggles.

Identity Moratorium

Every time I talk about it now it makes me realize how unfortunate it was that I never knew that with my skin came such strength and passion. I was always so confused by the connection and differences of appearances. Growing up I went to so many different schools trying to belong somewhere. My parents always tried to help me and support my desire to feel among friends. Yet when I graduated high school I realized that what I was searching for was not necessarily friends but a home to my identity issues.

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The more I get to see my biological family, the more understanding I have for the culture I am now becoming a part of. I just would like to thank everyone for cultivating an environment of learning for me. I am so appreciative for all of the cultural teachings.

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The First Time We Met…

2 Jun

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I keep delaying adding any sort of addition to the memory. Not because the experience was negative. It was anything but negative. It was an opportunity of a lifetime that sent fireworks off in my heart. It all started when I sat at a table across from the mother I never believed I would reconnect with. No experience in life has prepared me to fathom that particular sort of reality. 

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I picked a meeting place and a time. I picked one of my favorite places within five minutes of my house where I grew up. I decided it would be nice for her to see where I grew up. When I say ‘her’ I am referring to my biological mother. She and I had got in contact with one another about a month or so prior to this meeting.

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The weather, although it seems so irrelevant and unimportant, was supposed to be rainy. It was why I chose this restaurant and time. It’s never busy on a Sunday afternoon especially when it is rainy. Lo and behold that very Sunday happened to be the first sunny day in a long time. It felt like nature was letting us know how happy it was for our reunion. However, I could not find a parking spot. Everyone showed up on this day to be outside and around this quaint and lovely part of town. That is why I was late. 

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I remember frantically driving up and down the streets trying to inch in my car into a spot far too small to fit in. I was nervous. My heart was beating a million miles per hour. I thought if I didn’t end up finding a spot I would have maybe just had a heart attack right then and there. I finally found a spot. I jumped out of the car and started running towards the restaurant. As soon as my breathing caught up with my racing heart I kind of stopped a second to inhale and try to calm down. I walked to the door as calmly as I could possibly pull off. She had been texting me on and off from when I was trying to park to when I had left my car and started walking.

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She told me she was seated in a corner with her dad who drove her. I was opening the door and slightly panicking imagining her response with my late arrival.  I let it go. All of the thoughts racing in my head I simultaneously turned off. The need for my brain to rest and the space needed to absorb the moment were in motion. I saw her and knew that it must be them sitting in the corner waiting.  We hugged and it felt natural. My cheeks hurt from the smile continuing to curl my lips into my face. I was in a daze.

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I remember not knowing what to say but understanding that we were both going through the same emotions. An exciting moment and first time to see each other since I was a baby. I wanted to tell her everything and the words were just not coming out. Nothing really mattered more than just being in each other’s presence. A little birdy was perched on the window of my soul singing sweet songs.

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Where does one start their cultural journey?

23 Feb

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Well, to be honest I certainly didn’t expect 2013 to be my introduction to culture 101. Fortunately and Finally at a few years away from 30, I realized I was allowed to uncover the missing puzzle pieces of my life. I used to think it was an out of bounds discussion. The slightest peek into learning about my culture seemed completely unavailable for digging into. For sensitive reasons I had to take into consideration the concerns of others.

Those relevant details unfold here:

1. Adoption: I am adopted. Recently, I have been in contact with my birth mother online. As a child I was chastised for being a mixed mutt.

2. Unidentifiable Race: I never knew why I had an “ethnic look” or what race I appeared to belong to. Eventually, a document revealed I was ½ First nations (maternal) & ½ Czech (paternal).

3. Guilt: My curiosity about my cultural roots would resolve in personal deep guilt and confusion. Even though I yearned to know about my background.

4. Betrayal: The thought of asking my parents about my background felt like a deliberate disrespect to them.

5. Emotions: I used to feel physically sick about even wondering about my birth parents let alone the idea of a culture.

The initial act of my adventure required involving my parents. How do you put an amazing parents in an uncomfortable position? I’ve shamed myself listening to my scripts of how I’d come across. It sounded along the lines of this…

“Hey, I know you love me, took amazing care of me etc. I just want you to know I am so thankful, appreciative and love you for that.”

(Hopefully I came across with a less aggressive approach that sounds like I’m not asking for money).

“All of that to say, I’d like to find my birth family & embrace my cultural roots. Not under any circumstance is this supposed to be a replacement. I know this isn’t something that will “complete me” or correct any emotional history.”

When I met them at a restaurant I wanted to cancel as soon as I stepped foot into the place. Where’s the manual for these situations? Adoption is DEFINETELY a common enough topic to make a Dummies book over, right?

They were fine. It went smoothly. I cannot believe I waited almost three decades to be ready to say that. Their involvement in any of the process of finding them includes a few questions so that vital statistics would accept my form. Since a couple times I’d been sent back the form for not having enough information.

There are so many lessons for me to learn through the process of finding them. I have yet to meet my birth mother, which is possibly the most exciting event to happen in 2013.

Has anyone had a less complicating process or an even messier one? All of this is so new to me, clearly!

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Why are we so disconnected?

21 Jan

I have an empty, lonely space waiting to be filled by your presence. I cannot share this experience with my family because they are unsure of why I decided to start in the first place. This unfamiliar scenario that continues to draw blanks appears to be wandering nowhere. My genetic makeup has given me these distinct features and roots that have never grown. All of the information and reality of that DNA is hidden under a rock.  Out of all of those tiny millions of rocks I am flipping frantically trying to find some sort of direction that will lead me to a hint.

Almost three decades I have been waiting to be recognized and I have never been even remotely close. I do not wish this confusion to continue to follow around any longer. Maybe all of the dead ends point to rejection and I am refusing to acknowledge that possibility.

A part of me will never understand why I had to wait so long to receive a piece of paper with minimally helpful information. Even now that I have the ability to rake through millions of documents, files, photos I am still left waiting. Nothing has become fulfilling anymore knowing that you are alive.

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Waiting for something?

2 Jan

And looking at you all I see
Is your waiting for something
Single file you’re a murder mile

Trying hard to become whatever they are
And saying whatever they say
So help yourself to this bitter pill
Or somebody else will

Elliot Smith

What if we are all just waiting for the next best thing? Something to numb the pain. Something to bring you success. Something to help you forget. Something to help you remember.

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The list could go on forever. I’d like to say that all of this brings me to believe that the world is at my fingertips. All I have to do is truly believe that I can do whatever I put my mind to. I’m going to save myself from being pessimistic on the only day somebody will notice I’m not supposed to be. Not going to step up on a soapbox to tell you how unjust our world is at the moment. All of the tragedy. In the midst of all of that you have to be the change you want to see in the world.

Otherwise, you’re just waiting in a line. A sad and pathetic person who just hasn’t quite realized that if even they do get to the front they’re not really there yet. If you’re passionate about something then stand up and start your own line. Pretend you’re the only one in control of the situation you want to be different.

Were you right?

1 Jan

Expectation is the root of all heartache.

I’m confused as to what your thoughts might have been when you signed those consent forms to give me away. My response to that declaration ceases to exist. Those documents have dictated the plan for my life. When I look at the pages I try to make sense of what happened. My confusion is merely a tiny fragment of the cluster of misconceptions that have situated themselves in my life. Perhaps, you faced trials and tribulations that brought you to your decision. Maybe our doubts were not so different. You might have been born with the same perplexities that I have encountered.

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The lack of sense of belonging that I have struggled with is not solely connected to adoptees. I understand that anybody can go through that sort of identity crisis. I wonder what you felt when you had me in your arms. I wonder if that was the wrong place for me. If feelings in general were valid enough to reason what my future would hold. If you could change your decision now – would I have stayed?

Dock into the sunrise

Everything that I do not know creeps up on my conscious and stirs my thoughts to invent these stories. Stories that are woven into beautifully intricate patterns where our lives intersect and our hearts connect. My vision is so tainted when I wear these rose-tinted glasses of our past. How inconsistent these moments come and go. The next time you reappear in my imagination I am bitter that you have no apparent trace in my life.

 

Trial & Error

12 Dec

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My heart aches for you (birth mother). I don’t know how to emotionally and physically push past or through this pain. I know that you’re alive. I know that you’re actually out there somewhere. It’s highly likely that you are even in Vancouver, BC.

However, I have come to the conclusion that there is not a single sign of you available at the moment. I have finally received my live birth record about a month ago. I have spent more than 5 hours a day trying to find information on you. I’ve read hours and hours of obituaries. I’ve looked at pictures so closely I’ve started to believe they resemble you.

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I have an empty, lonely space waiting to be filled by your presence. I cannot share this experience with my family because they are unsure of why I decided to start in the first place. This unfamiliar scenario that continues to draw blanks appears to be aimlessly wandering nowhere. My genetic makeup has given me these distinct features and roots that have never grown. All of the information and reality of that DNA is hidden under a rock.  Out of all of those tiny millions of rocks I am flipping frantically trying to find some sort of direction that will lead me to one.

Almost three decades I have been waiting to be recognized and I have never been even remotely close. I do not wish this confusion to continue to follow me around any longer. Maybe all of the dead ends point to rejection and I am refusing to acknowledge that possibility.

A part of me will never understand why I had to wait so long to receive a piece of paper with minimally helpful information. Even now that I have the ability to rake through millions of documents, files, photos I am still left waiting. Nothing has become fulfilling anymore understanding there may never be an answer or conclusion.

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Before Reconciliation, There Must Be Truth

7 Dec

Stupid Questions From The Bottom Of My Heart

3 Dec

Nothing about the process of trying to find your birth family goes without a tug at your heart. There are no responses or reciprocal communication. A minute of certainty slowly slips out of focus. The restarting phase feels reminiscent of your childhood memories when you fell off your bike while learning. You feel like a child that gave up after falling too many times. Just walking your bike home covered in scrapes and bruises. You can’t remember why when you started you were so determined to not be defeated. You want to be strong. You try to shake it off by telling yourself that falling is part of learning.

Truthful Words

The fear that another dead end is right around the corner leaves you hopeless. You want to take a break. Instead you try to convince yourself that a few more hours will get you back on your feet. Sometimes it feels like you can’t get off the train at the right stop no matter how hard you try. Even if the luxury of planning your life out perfectly had existed all you can think of is how this ended up on your plate. You’re confused at the amount of people who can relate are all hiding somewhere.

You’ve never wished so hard there was a dummies manual on ‘how to be an adoptee’  for sale. You sit there imagining how you’d rip out the FAQ section in the back. How relieved you would feel knowing that others had this problem. All you need are some answers to the questions you’ve been living with since you could talk. Those questions you have kept to yourself for decades. The very same questions have changed your life. The questions that you regret asking are still floating like dark clouds following you everywhere.

I have grown up battling perspectives on these unanswered questions. I never fully understood why teachers would go out of their way to lie to me. Not that they ever intended to fill my young absorbent sponge of a brain with false hopes. It was a bit of a shock when I reached university and felt so tricked. Although to be fair, Profs have also reiterated the same line suggesting ‘there is no such thing as a stupid question’.

Stupid Questions Exist?

Perhaps, the conditions of a stupid question didn’t quite fit my situation. I remember when I asked that question for the first time in Kindergarten. I was introduced to humiliation at age five. Nothing rhetorical or confusing about a child asking, “why was I adopted?” The emptiness of that answer had filled me with embarrassment. A fellow preschool student let me know that it meant that my parents didn’t want to keep me. Eventually I realized that in so many words give or take the reality of that answer is right.

It was a stupid question. It was a question I hadn’t realized was stupid until many years later. Not because of the hurt it caused the people in my life, but there is no real easy way to answer it. No child was born ever prepared to question their identity.

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