Category Archives: Uncategorized

New Jersey Adoptees OBC

I recently wrote in my post I Drank the Kool-Aid that I was so disappointed in my original birth certificate. I did not get the information I was hoping for. It did not list either of my birth parents names. It did not give me a birth name from my birth mother. It was actually illegally completed by my adoptive mother who claimed that she was the doctor. Yes I was devastated and furious at her and at the system for allowing this to happen. 

However, I am thrilled to note that a friend of mine who also knew she was adopted her whole life had a very different experience than I did. She received information on her birth mother who unfortunately passed away recently. She also learned of a birth father and four bio siblings!!! And she was named. I am so excited for her!!

Never give up trying to learn more about yourself. I’m glad I had already learned my truth without my birth certificate. I wish everyone the best in learning their own truth. 

I Drank the Kool-Aid: Adoptee’s Birth Certificate

I always knew I was adopted. Therefore, I always knew I had no medical history. I’d go to the doctor and tell them “I’m adopted”, end of story, no potential life-saving medical history for me. No chance to get those early screenings to learn if I might be a carrier of a deadly genetic defect like the one Angela Jolie got which led to her undergoing a preventative mastectomy, thus ensuring she will not die from breast cancer. No, not for adoptees like me with no medical history.

So when adoptees started fighting for the state to unseal original birth certificates touting their rights to their medical history, I was onboard. I was leading the pack tweeting and Facebooking my heart out to get the law in New Jersey changed so I could finally see my birth certificate. That miracle document that would tell me everything I always wanted to know. Even though I had done over twenty years of research and learned who my birth parents were, (detailed in my book Call Me Ella), I still wanted confirmation, in writing. I wanted to see if my birth mother had named me. I wanted to know where I was born. What time of day. I wanted to see my birth father’s name in writing. I wanted to know education, age, siblings. All those good things that people who were not adopted take for granted. I wanted written documentation of my start. Proof of my existence on day one, not a whole year after as noted on my amended adoptee birth certificate. For some reason I believed this knowledge would make me whole.

I was wrong.

I was one of the first to submit my application to the New Jersey Department of Health after waiting two and a half years after Gov. Christie signed it into law. The wait, he said, was to give birth parents the right, opportunity, to opt out, to have their names redacted from the document. This was a waste of time for me. I’d done my research. I knew all parties to my blessed event were dead. But I waited. And waited. Finally the day came when I could apply. I did.

Then I waited. And waited. Finally, in January, I was one of the very first to receive my birth certificate. I held the envelop in my shaking hand while remembering all the lies my mom had told me about my birth mother. Mom swore she had died in childbirth. She hadn’t. She swore she knew nothing of my birth father, or my medical history. Lies, lies. Now was the time I’d find out everything. Or so I thought.

I was wrong again. I knew something was terribly wrong when I bent the corner of the document and I recognized my mom’s handwriting. There was no denying that my adoptive mom filled out my birth certificate. She was in the hospital. On the day I was born. And she filled out the most important document in my life. Not only did I recognize that handwriting. She even signed the document with her real name and checked off the box, md, next to it. She lied on my OBC and said she was the doctor. Then she made up a fictitious birthmother name, (I know because it differs from that on my adoption papers) and put a big X over the entire section for father. I guess she got the last laugh.

But I don’t think she was laughing. From what I learned during my birth mother search, my birth was very painful to mom. She raised a child she had never planned to have. Not all adoptions are fairytale situations. Some adoptees are more like Cinderella. The unwanted step-child. I’d like to think most adoptions are beautiful. That a child grows up with loving parents who prayed for a beautiful, healthy child to come into their lives.

But remember. In every adoption there is loss. No matter how happy the adoption, the child in question always lost their original family. Their mother. Their father. Their siblings and extended family. Don’t tell an adoptee they are lucky without recognizing their loss.

I guess this puts an end to my search. No more hoping to find answers to my questions. I must settle to be satisfied that at least I now know what time of day I was born and at which hospital. I’m lucky I had found my adoption papers a long time ago or I’d be more devastated than I am now. Such an incredible letdown.

I hope other adoptees have better luck than I did. At least I can let go now.

One more thing – insurance companies should be forced to pay for all preventive genetic tests for adoptees. That could save many lives.

 

The Secret Life of an Introvert – The Phone Call

What’s the big deal? Jody makes phone calls all the time. She schedules doctor appointments. She argues with Comcast about why her rates have gone up. She even calls her husband, and her children. Why is this phone call different?

Her palms begin sweating. Her breathing becomes labored. She feels a little lightheaded. All of this drama just for a phone call to her sister-in-law. That’s nonsense, Jody decides. What’s the worst that can happen? She’ll ask about the kids? Maybe suggest getting together for dinner. That’s seems pretty straight forward. She’ll do it.

Of course Jody can’t just pick up the phone. She can’t just say, “Hi, how are you?” What would come next? She needs a follow-up to the opening line. Jody takes out her notebook. The one she keeps by her bedside to write down ideas she gets while trying to fall asleep. Those ideas that like to bounce around in her head, the ideas she will obsess about all night, if they are not written down.

Notes on the phone call: Hello. No, Hi! What if the other person doesn’t recognize her voice? What if Jody’s phone number isn’t in her sister-in-law’s contact list? She writes on her page: “Hi, this is Jody.” That’s good. That should work. Her sister-in-law would then say, “Hi! How are you?

Jody continues to take notes. She writes down answers to several questions that might be posed to her. She will say she is fine. The kids are fine. (Always say everything is fine. No one needs to know what hell you might be going through. That’s private.) Jody will ask about her brother-in-law, their kids. Then she will wish her good luck with whatever project she is working on. She did her job. She was nice. Just because they never called her shouldn’t make a difference. She would be proud of herself for making the effort.

Jody held on to this paper for days. Weeks, before making that phone call. The day finally came. She decided it was time to muster up her courage. To dial the damn number and get it over with. She would be proud of herself. She will not let her childhood memories of her mother telling her to hang up the phone and stop bothering an aunt affect her anymore. That’s the past. This is the present. She can do it.

After about two weeks, Jody, after finishing her lunch, sat down on the couch, in the quiet family room. No distractions. She knew her sister-in-law would be home. Her kids were out of the house. Now is as good a time as any. With trembling hands, she pressed her sister-in-law’s number. It rang. Once. Twice. She picked up. “Hello?”

Jody read the words she had written down. “Hi, this is Jody. How are you?”

Everyone responds with, fine, how are you? Not this woman. Instead she asks, “How can I help you?”

Um, I just wanted to say, hi. How are you?” Now Jody was shaking like a leaf. This wasn’t how this was supposed to go. The response she got was unbelievable.

“If you don’t have anything to say, I’m busy. Goodbye.” The sister-in-law hung up.

And that’s why some people don’t make phone calls. And that’s why some people really like texts. And emails. There’s not much worse than dead air on the other end of the line.

 

So when my daughter told me she didn’t really like talking on the phone, I could relate. I text. I email. But when she does call, it makes me very happy!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Secret Life of an Introvert – The Dinner

The pain wasn’t unbearable. It was uncomfortable. The bloating. The heavy feeling she had in her abdomen. The numbness in her legs. Jessica was tired too. Always tired. She Googled. Of course she Googled. What did these symptoms indicate?

Oh my God. Everything she read indicated ovarian cancer. It couldn’t be. She always worried about cancer. This was one of the cancers that was hard to diagnose. Is this the cancer that killed Gilda Radner? Is this the cancer that Fran Drescher had? That Fran Drescher beat? She Googled that.

She didn’t know what was causing this extreme fatigue and pain, but she knew one thing. It needed to be diagnosed. She called her gyno and made an appointment. They didn’t have anything available for several months. That’s ok, Jess thought. She could wait. Ovarian cancer often takes a while to diagnose anyway. She has already saved months by being able to tell the doctor what to look for. She possibly had saved her own life.

She couldn’t sit around Googling anymore. She had to go out shopping. Looking for something to wear to her husband’s business dinner that she agreed to attend. The business dinner for which she had nothing appropriate to wear.

A suit? Would look like she was trying too hard. A dress? No. Not an option. Like Hillary, pants are more Jessica’s style. A sweater? Yes. But all her sweaters were too casual. Yes. That’s what she would shop for. A more tailored sweater to wear with black slacks. Perfect.

Success! She found the perfect sweater. The evening will be a success!

Getting dressed, the fatigue is overwhelming. The bloating, the pain and numbness in her legs were more than usual. She shouldn’t have put off that doctor’s appointment. If this is cancer, it could kill her. Then it wouldn’t have mattered what damn sweater she was wearing.

The night of the dinner arrived. Jess was good. She plastered on a killer smile. Accepted a glass of Chardonnay, her least favorite wine but that was all they offered. She engaged in small talk as if she were a politician working the room. No one would know that this is the last place she wanted to be. She succeeded. Dinner over, they left. Went home.

So wound up from the night out, Jess couldn’t go to bed for hours. Even after a four-course dinner, she needed to relax in front of the TV and polish off the leftover salad, wilting in the fridge since lunch the day before, and a few cookies.

By 2 a.m. she was ready for bed. Finally. She drifted off. The evening was over.

The next morning, Jess awoke refreshed and full of life. No more bloating. No more leg pain. No more fatigue. Damn. It wasn’t cancer at all. It was the dinner. On the back of her mind for weeks. Even though she didn’t realize it, her body did. Her body never let her forget for one second that something stressful was coming up. Something she didn’t like. Something she was not looking forward to. Yes. She is an introvert. Even when she doesn’t think about it, it’s always there.

I understand Jessica too well. While my kids will do anything to go out with friends, go to a party, I am most happy to stay home. Alone is not lonely.

 

The Secret Life of an Introvert

As Jennifer stood by the window, staring at her mailbox, she recalled the thousands of times she had been in this same position…Watching the kids being picked up by the yellow bus. Waiting for them to come home from school. From dates. From college. Waiting for their cars to pull up in the driveway when they returned home carting families of their own for visits. Watching them back out of the driveway, leaving again. Missing them already, although subconsciously happy to get the house back to herself, quiet.

How many times has she waited at the window for a husband to come home from work, from a business trip, or (an ex) from God knows where? Worrying that something might have gone wrong. The what-if’s…

Today’s staring out the window is different than the other “normal” events. Every parent waits and worries for the child to come home. However, for the introvert, the worrying goes beyond the normal. For Jennifer, just the act of picking up the mail from a mailbox at the street can bring on anxiety. Has the mail carrier delivered the mail already? If not, she would look pretty silly to the neighbors walking to the mailbox and retrieving nothing. And she knows they are all watching. If she sees the mail being dropped off, has the mail carrier driven far enough down the street so they won’t notice her walking to the mailbox? Perhaps wondering why she didn’t come out when the mail was delivered, just to say hi.

However, after she knows the mail has been delivered, she still needs to know it is safe to pick up the mail. This is the event she can’t tell anyone about. The fact that her pounding heart and sweaty palms, not to mention her lightheadedness, is caused by the sheer fact that she needs to make sure no one is outside. No one is getting their mail. No one is pulling into their driveway. No one is coming home or leaving for work. She needs to know that there won’t be any chance that she would have to confront someone. To have to wave. To say hi. What if they want to start a conversation? What would she say? How would she end it?

When Jennifer is sure it is safe to go out and get the mail, she does it quickly. Head down, like she was taught to walk through the busy streets of New York as a child. Never make eye contact. Do not be distracted in your mission.

It’s terrible how a killer is described by the neighbors during that god-awful TV interview after a tragedy happens. “He was quiet. Kept to himself.” Yes, that might describe this particular individual. But most of the time, the quiet neighbor is a wonderful person, just shy. An introvert. Perhaps a very loving, friendly, caring individual who is just nervous around strangers. Don’t judge others. You never know what another person goes through just to get their mail.

Who can relate to Jennifer? I know I can.

Needlessly Gendered Products: Laxatives

I was looking at laxatives today (ok the secret is out) and I noticed Dulcolax for women. Reading the ingredients label I couldn’t find any difference between the green box I have been using and the pink box. When I Googled the difference I found this wonderful article that I wanted to share with you. I’m just so tired of gender based marketing. If we want the wage gap to shrink, or disappear, we’ve got to stop marketing to men and women, boys and girls, differently. I’m sure there are plenty of little girls who would love to play with toy trucks, and not pink ones. And yes, maybe even men could use a Kotex every once in a while for leakage problems.

The Span of My Hips

Something I am fascinated by is the products we buy that are needlessly gendered (and for which women almost always pay more). So I am going to start a semi-regular, ongoing series examining the marketing and reasoning behind needlessly gendered products as I come across them in daily life.

Today’s entry is Duculax. I saw an ad that advertised Dulcolax and, now introducing, Dulcolax for Women with the always charming implication that regular (default, normal) Dulcolax is for men (who are, similarly, regular, default, normal) while us delicate flowers need our own Dulcolax. It even comes in a pink box!

product_imageproduct_laxative_tablets_for_women_lg_new

                                                                         And I was so curious. What is it about our delicate…

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What’s in Your Closet? Coming Out in 2015

Bruce Jenner came out of the closet. At sixty-five, he’d been there for a long, long time. (I’m using the pronoun “he” because, although he identifies as a woman, he told Diane Sawyer to continue referring to “him” as “he”. I assume “he” will become a “she” after the upcoming documentary.

Cristela Alonzo came out today on The View. She came out as having grown up as a poor child.

What does a “closet” hold? A lot of baggage. Stuff we don’t want anyone to know. Stuff we are ashamed of. What’s wrong with being poor? Why would anyone have to hide that? Why would a child feel shame that their parents don’t have money, you might ask? It’s not the child’s responsibility to earn a living. To provide for their family. But put yourself in that child’s shoes. Literally. Imagine for a moment how the “poor” child feels looking down at their own hand-me-down shoes with the worn-out soles glancing down at the new Converse/Vans/Sperry-clad feet of her classmates. I said classmates, not friends, because the cool kids are friends with other kids in their same socio-economic-sports-click class. Yes, kids, like adults, are snobs.

Our closets are chock full of shit.

OK, my closet it chock full of shit. My issues that I had to deal with myself as well as others issues, have been locked away, in my closet.

Relating closely to Bruce Jenner is my newest. No, I am not transgender. At least I don’t feel I am even though most of my thought processes are what society deems as male. I’m good at math. If you tell me a problem, I want to find a solution, not just offer comfort. And if asked what I see myself in, I most likely would tell you about a cool car rather than a fancy dress or piece of jewelry.

Society is weird. If Bruce Jenner wears a dress, he must be trans/gay/cross-dressing. If I wear pants, I’m comfortable. But I digress.

Coming out of the closet means you are ready to tell someone something they don’t know about you. Something you feel they might judge you about. Something that might make them not like you. Something you fear will change your life.

In the past I came out as a binge eater. Embarrassed to eat my  favorite foods in front of others, I literally hid food in my closet, my drawers, to eat while alone. So no one would know. I found comfort in Weight Watchers where there were other people like me. Others who could relate to my problem. Others who would not judge me, but accept me as I was; a person struggling day-to-day with an eating disorder. In turn, I spent years counseling others with their food addictions. Helping others helped me. I still have an eating disorder, but it no longer controls my life. I can accept that I have good days and bad days. Coming out of the closet made a tremendous difference in my life.

Sometimes your closet is full of other people’s issues. What is, or should our role be in coming out for someone else? Bruce Jenner felt tremendous relief coming out as transgender. No longer having to hide, he is now able to live his life as a woman. Dressing as a woman. Wearing makeup. More importantly, not having to hide from his family and the public. But what about his family? They must be relieved as well. The whole world suspected Bruce was transitioning. We saw the changes in facial features. The long hair. The nails. We speculated. So did his family. But it wasn’t their story to tell. They had to keep quiet. They had to keep his secret. Now they don’t. I imagine that would give them a tremendous sense of relief.

I don’t just imagine this. I know it.

For years I kept secrets that tore me up every day. Married to an alcoholic, I didn’t want anyone to know about the dui’s, the job losses, the car accidents. I couldn’t tell the few friends I had for fear I’d lose their friendship. And I definitely couldn’t tell my parents. They would have insisted I leave him. Since I was confident I could fix him, I led a secret life, struggling in the background, hiding money and emptying bottles. His addiction was not my story to tell. Until Al-Anon. There I could open up. There I could be myself. Share my struggles. Get advice from people who understood my problem. People who had been-there/done-that. Al-Anon members told me it wasn’t my job to fix the alcoholic. That I couldn’t even if I wanted to. They helped me break free. Eventually I realized that I could no longer subject my children to the life of living with an active alcoholic, so I ended the marriage. I was finally free to rid my closet of another large piece of baggage.

However, LGBT is different. So many people are still in the closet because of fear they will be judged. Bruce Jenner hopes his coming out will make a difference. I pray Bruce Jenner’s coming out will make a difference.

Being gay, identifying as a gender other than the one you were assigned at birth, is not a choice. It is who you are. The way you were born. There should be no more shame in being gay than there is in having blue eyes or red hair. Or yes, being chubbier than the Hollywood ideal.

The statistic that forty-one percent of transgender people attempt suicide is a percentage I can’t wrap my brain around. That figure is “attempting” suicide. Not “thinking” about suicide. This has got to change!

Why is gender so important in this society? We are all people. We are part of the human race. Get over it. People are people. Accept it.

You don’t have to be LGBT yourself to come out. When someone in your life announces they are part of the LGBT community, you wind up being part of their story. For instance, if your brother has a boyfriend, when talking about your brother’s boyfriend, you are essentially telling the world your brother is gay. The way you present that information, the way you convey someone else’s “story” tells a lot about you. Not about them. Be proud. Just as you would telling about a girlfriend your brother might have. If you don’t make a big deal out of it, others won’t. (This is positive thinking. I’m not naïve enough to believe everyone will be accepting. But I can hope.)

As I said, I am not Lesbian or transgender. However, I now feel I am part of the LGBT community. I used to have to most beautiful, talented, intelligent granddaughter in the world. Now, after a lot of reading, and with the help of outspoken celebrities like Laverne Cox and Bruce Jenner, I’m now starting to understand a little more about what it feels like to be transgender. To identify as a different gender than the one in which you were assigned at birth. It’s not my position to “out” anyone. I just want to share that I am now the proud grandmother of the most handsome, talented, intelligent grandson in the world. And he identifies as transgender.

If you or a loved one has issues that are stuck in a closet, find help. There are many support groups  online and in person that are there for you. Reach out.

#72 Passover Traditions from Jewish Cultures Worldwide–Guest Blog by Rachel Landau

I miss being with my family on Passover. It was a really big deal in my house where, in addition to recalling the Jews’ exodus from Egypt, we regularly recalled the Seder in which the children accidentally got the real wine while the adults wondered why their wine, actually grape juice, had no kick. This year, while enjoying a holiday brunch at my in-laws’ house, I began to wonder why some of the foods they served where different than those I’d grown up with. So I googled my question and this article is what I found. I thank the author, Rachel Landau.

Beyond Victoriana

This Monday is the first night of Pesach, or Passover. In the days when the Temple was standing, every Jew was required to make a pilgrimage to the Temple and make an offering there. Around the world and on six continents, Jews still follow the same structure for a Passover seder, as outlined in the Haggadah nearly two thousand years ago. But Jews are not monolithic: each community adds its own variations and customs to the mix.

A picture from the Sarajevo Haggadah, one of the oldest Sephardic Haggadahs in the world. The Haggadah is the text that contains the order and the ritual traditions of the seder meal.

There are roughly three different strains of Jewish cultural movements, all of which have many different subgroups. After the destruction of the Second Temple, the Romans forcibly removed Jews from their homeland and scattered them throughout the Empire. Thus, three distinct…

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The Face of Transgender is Beautiful

The face of transgender…

The face of depression…

The face of despair…

The face I’m looking at is the same beautiful face I remember as a baby.

The larger than life eyes stare into my sole asking why am I in so much pain?

I wish I had an answer. I wish I had an answer for all the teens who struggle on a day-to-day basis just to figure out who they are. Why they should keep on going when sometimes it seems like it would be so much easier to let go.

I must remember that the faces I’m looking at today are the lucky ones. The ones who are getting help. The ones who had someone to go to when they needed to be heard.

When our teens cry out for help, how many of us have the strength to listen?

How many of us have the courage to take their feelings seriously?

I wish I could do more. Right now, I’m comforted to know he is getting help.

I Don’t Belong

I don’t belong,,,
I’m adopted in a world of people who grew up with siblings that looked like them.
I’m short in a world where height is envied.
I’m curvy in a world that covets jutting bones.
I’m introverted in a world that craves selfies.
I abstain in a world that drinks as a sport.
I cry watching loved ones hurt because I can’t take away their pain.
I’m lost but don’t want to be found.
I’m alone and content.
I envy those who have the courage to be themselves.
I admire those who stand up and declare they don’t fit the mold.
I believe there are new molds being made every day.
Look in the mirror and be proud.
Same is boring.
Happy and healthy new year to all those with the strength to break the old mold and create a new one.