Tag Archives: Creme de la Creme

On DNA

For a teeny-weeny double helix, DNA sure packs a punch.

A couple of readers asked earlier this year what I thought about how one’s DNA answers the question “who are you?”  — especially in light of adoption. This was back when Who Do You Think You Are? debuted on NBC (it is scheduled to return next month).

So I had to sit down and think some thoughts.

I’m not a genealogist, but I do enjoy looking at old photo albums that belonged to my grandparents and that feature their parents. The generation of my great-grandparents goes back to the 1880s, and we don’t have any photographs from before that time.

I enjoy the stories of my maternal Scotch-Irish grandfather, who grew up in a sod house in Nebraska, a twin and one of nine children. I mourn that I don’t know much about my paternal Jewish grandmother’s history, other than the fact that her father owned a shoe store in Manhattan. She converted to Catholicism before my Dad was born, and her Jewishness was hidden from us until a decade before her death. I missed out on some of my heritage.

When you think about it, isn’t it amazing to contemplate a thread that goes back farther than your mind can grasp? That there is an unbroken line from you stretching to the dawn of humankind? That line, and the relationship webs that accompany it, connects each of us to every person who has ever taken a breath on this planet.

Teeny-weeny DNA makes me think gigantic thoughts like that.

DNA and the role of genetics can weigh even more heavily on people  involved in adoption. Adoptees grow up with the biology of one clan and the biography of another, and are sometimes unsupported in healing that split. Adoptive parents must accept that they have no hereditary influence on their child. Birth parents may grapple with the idea that a child of their own genetic line was lost to them.

So the question is: do I like poring over those musty photo albums because the people in them are part of my genetic line? Or do I like poring over those musty photo albums because I can see the people who raised the people who raised me?

It’s probably both. Nature AND nurture both play a role in my fascination with my roots.

I don’t have to put nature and nurture in a hierarchy because in my case they are the same. But people who were adopted are often asked to rank their influences. Who made you MORE of who you are — your parents or your birth parents?  In asking the question that can’t be answered, there is no win, only loss, because the question itself emphasizes and reinforces the split.

Why can’t we simply acknowledge that both biology and biography are important? Why don’t we move from either/or-thinking to and-thinking? I’m not even talking about 50-50 or equal measures because some things should not be put on a scale.

I’m just saying that DNA matters. And as a mom via adoption, that doesn’t bother me at all.

Because I matter, too.

A Moment in Open Adoption Parenting

Tessa was distraught after a Halloween party for not getting the nod for a sleepover at her aunt’s house. The excitement of the kid-oriented haunted house, the disappointment about the sleepover, and a sugar high made for a meltdown.

I got her into the car and she continued to wail about how mean her dad and I are. My husband and son were in the other car (long logistical explanation), so Tessa and I had some rare alone car time.

The wailing changed tone as we headed home.

“Why can’t Crystal and Joe be my parents!? I have never even been with both of them at the same time!”

Whoa.

daughter wants to live with birth parents

Continue reading A Moment in Open Adoption Parenting

Presence

I wait in the clearing for them to join me. It is my celebration, after all.

The sun is shining, bathing the lea in a warm glow. There is an entire meadow of soft greenery for us to dig our toes into. Nothing sharp, nothing dangerous, nothing to mar our time together. There is just the slightest breeze. The sky is the most pleasant timeless blue imaginable.

The first to arrive is a girl about 8 years old. Her skin has a sage tint, the downshot of difficulties in breathing. She brings me worms, leftover from when she gathered a bunch for her sister’s birthday. For some reason she thought worms would make a good gift. She is a bundle of fears, although she is well-fed and well-loved. I just want to hold her while she breathes. I want to breathe for her.

Soon, the 17-year old comes upon us, all arms and legs and attitude. She is skittish, like a colt, just waiting to be hurt. It’s because Doug, her boyfriend, has just dumped her for the 4th time. Well, they’ve broken up 4 times, but she was the dumper at least once. I think about telling her there will be many more heartbreaks, and that she’ll have ample opportunity to be on both ends of them. Each one hurts, but when it’s all said and done, she’ll be thankful that she and Doug (and the many that follow him) parted. I’d tell her, but she wouldn’t believe me. She hands me her diary, the one she just started and intends to keep for the rest of her life.

The next young woman arrives in a black gown and mortarboard and with a gold cord dangling from collar to waist. You can feel the promise that fills her. She looks both ready to tackle and tame the world and also petrified of taking her next step. She will face rejection after rejection before she comes on a job with a meager paycheck that will fulfill her emotional, if not monetary, needs. She is planning a wedding, but is having thoughts of calling the whole thing off. The burden of this thought weighs down her shoulders. I whisper to her, “listen to your gut.” She looks at me hopefully and shows me the keys to her first apartment. Where she will live alone.

A very sad woman enters our circle. She’s in her 30s and she’s been crying, crying, crying. The losses she has endured have sucked the very life out of her. She has beautiful, glorious child-bearing hips, which are going to waste. Her dreams have evaporated. She feels alone (although, still well-loved) and without hope. We instinctively move toward her, trying to sense if she will allow us to comfort her. I barely recognize this woman — the toll has been so drastic. Can’t she see that this chapter, like all the others before, will end? Her hands hold only tissues full of tears.

The next woman to grace the clearing has graying hair, still long like I knew she would. She is weary — after all, she is raising teenagers. The one knows how to trip all her wires and the other is just growing up and away too quickly. She has a peace about her…the peace that comes from repeatedly being shown that this, too, shall pass. Her eyes pierce through me, chiding me for my petty complaints about the drains of childrearing. She has brought me a watch — one that ticks twice as fast as normal.

We turn to receive our final guest. She walks toward the west and is a few inches shorter than the rest of us grown women –still a head taller than the child. She is white-gray in hair, fissured of skin, and her eyes and lips have lost several shades of their original vibrancy. For all her physical feebleness, the corners of her mouth are upturned. Her eyes are kind, and she exudes patience. Like the sky above us, there is something timeless about her. She extends only her trembling hand, representative of the enduring body that houses her immortal spirit.

These are my Selves. They have come to honor the fact that I have been on the planet for another turn around the sun. They bring me their tokens and dreams and insights. I envelope them and am enveloped by them. One by one, I welcome each into my heart, accepting the gifts they have brought. I acknowledge the gift she is, she is, she is, she is, she is, she is.

I am.

Image: C Victor Posing Studios

The Meaning of Life, According to Me

Maybe it’s because of Halloween. Maybe it’s the full moon. But I notice bloggers talking about the deep, fascinating topics that merit response.

This morning, I opened Niobe’s blog for a post on the beginnings and the ending of creation.

Next on my Google Reader was Mel on an eerily prescient psychic reading she had years ago.

Their posts bring out in me long comments that would be better as blog posts.

Today I’ll respond to Niobe’s post.

How did it all start? The Universe?

Let’s call the “unthinkably small, unthinkably hot, unthinkably dense something” God, at the risk of anthropomorphizing what is really energy.

God is unlimited. God is unity and there is no duality. God is all. God lacks nothing.

Well, except for one thing: God lacks the ability to experience limitation.**

Well, God WANTS to experience everything, including limitation. So God decides to break Godself into gazillions of separate bits — a Big Bang. Only the separateness is an illusion — each bit is still a part of God, but doesn’t necessarily realize it. Each bit has the job of bringing back the experience of limitation back to itself — back to God.

Tash, in a comment on Niobe’s post, quotes William Fowler, that we are all stardust. This I believe. We, other animals and insects, all elements of the universe, are products of the Big Bang, each bringing back experiences of limitation back to ourself, back to God, with varying degrees of consciousness.

I imagine a river of soul material, of consciousness. A drop of this consciousness decides to leave Unity and occupy a physical body in order to bring back stories of the experience of limitation to God.

Now, this drop doesn’t care if the experiences are “good” or “bad.” The unlimited God doesn’t prefer being enormously happy to living under the Khmer Rouge. In fact, in Unity, there can be no such Duality. This drop just wants juicy. Interesting. Worth leaving Unity for.

I imagine this God-bit passing through Wardrobe, like the costume place used for plays and movies . Only instead of clothes hanging on the hangers, there are scenarios. “Which one shall I wear for THIS play?” God-bit thinks. “Shall I be born as an Untouchable in India? Or shall I manifest in Europe and have a Midas Touch in love an business? Maybe I’ll be born into a middle class family in Pittsburgh and I’ll have no sperm? Oooh, how about being a sick baby? Hmmmm….maybe I’ll be born into a political dynasty. They all sound so ripe with possibilities.”

God-bit selects the scenario and enters the stage. But there’s a catch.

One of the rules of this game is that a veil descends upon incarnation, causing the God-bit to forget it is part of God. After all, if it remembered, limitation wouldn’t really be experienced.

The play, then, is about finding our way back. To remember we are unlimited, we are God. And, as Shakespeare said, all the world is our stage.

I see us evolving from Homo Sapiens (wise man) to Homo Noeticus (spirit man). As each of us separate God-bits lives more mindfully, as we live more from our Essence and less from our scenarios, as each of us discovers that we are, in fact, One, we bring about the end of all suffering — which is simply the fallacy that we are separate from what we desire.

God will have experienced limitation, and we bits will all have found our way home.

** I got this idea years ago from the book, The Game of God.

I feel very vulnerable as I hover over the “Publish” button.