The Sound of Hope

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This is the second year I’ve participated in an adoption memoir blog tour, orchestrated by my friend and colleague Lori Holden. As part of the tour participants have been asked to reflect on different questions pertaining to Anne Bauer’s The Sound of Hope:A True Story of an Adoptee’s Quest for Her Origins.

When reading The Sound of Hope I was again struck by how the lack of openness in adoption further impacts the adoptee (I’ll use the term adoptee here if I may, since that is what Anne refers to in her subtitle). I’ve read a number of adoptee memoirs and they share common threads mired in feelings tied to core issues—loss, rejection, grief, guilt and shame, identity, intimacy, and control. The Sound of Hope is no different.

I’ve selected three questions and provided my answers below. But hey; let’s have a conversation. I welcome your viewpoint in the comment section. Let’s get started…

Question: In her adoption memoir Anne Bauer speaks of her connection to her birth mother and father, “The bond between us couldn’t be completely severed as everyone, as everyone wanted it to be. Another part of me existed somewhere in the world, a part I was once attached to and depended on for life. To me, the umbilical cord served a function that was much more than physical. It was my essence, my origin, my connection to my biological ancestors. As far as I was concerned, the chord was still attached. Who were these people who were the cause of my existence? Did they wonder about me in the same way I often wondered about them?” What are your thoughts about this passage from your lens (adopted person, birth parent, adoptive parent)?

Of course, my lens for the purpose of this blog tour is that of an adoptive parent. I appreciated how Anne used the umbilical chord as a metaphor to express connection to her biological roots. I do feel what a person feels is affected by their temperament, life experiences and perspective. Some are more driven to know about their roots than others.

Question: Anne writes of her adoptive family, “On the outside, we look very much alike. We have the same eye color, the same fair complexion – yes, the adoption agency did its job well.” What are your thoughts on how important appearances were at that time (the 1960s)? Have we made progress? In what ways? And what do you think contributed to the change?

I remember reading this passage and thinking “we’re getting there.”

This may sound harsh, however I feel looking the same was one way in which adopting parents could shelter their “secret,” perhaps stemming from shame of not being able to create a biological child, perhaps on not understanding how to parent a child who was adopted, avoid the discomfort of the truths.

I sense we’re making more progress in how families are created—trans- and multi-racial, gay parents, single parent, and in openness—open adoptions and access to original birth certificates. And I believe the pressure has largely come from those who have suffered silently for so long, adult adoptees.

The focus in the past was more on the parents whereas it should have been on the child and their emotional health, their future.

I work with hundreds of families annually and this is where we focus, on the child. And I encourage parents to be open and shine light on all of the truths—even the tough ones, weakening their hold.

Question: Why do you think Anne’s father called her original mother her “bionic” mother instead of “birth” mother?

I felt it was his way of dealing withthe situation, although I didn’t find it agreeable. When I reflect on the term bionic, I think of strength, perfection, superhuman. It seemed that although Anne’s dad thought he was being open, it only went so far, and he was unsuccessful in convincing Anne’s mom to be open and supportive. Anne’s father wasn’t able to fully acknowledge that Jo was Bauer’s biological mother. Jo was bionic because she conceived and gave birth, something Anne’s parents failed to do.

Be part of the conversation. Please feel free to share your thoughts on any or all of these questions in the comment section. Discussion typically yields perspective and growth. I look forward to it! And remember, to continue to the next leg of this book tour, please visit the main list at LavenderLuz.com.

{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

Geochick April 6, 2013 at 2:56 pm

That’s an interesting take on the term “bionic” as it was used by her father. I felt that he couldn’t deal with the reality that he and his wife were infertile, and that he couldn’t acknowledge Jo’s place in Anne’s life no matter how he tried to appear supportive. Deep down, it seems, he couldn’t quite go there.

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Kellie April 4, 2013 at 9:53 pm

As I commented on other tour stops, the “bionic” mom term was odd to me, too. Obviously, some terms used to identify members of the adoption “mosaic” are meant to be derogatory. I don’t think this is one of them, but I feel as if they often get in the way of real conversations happening. (I am not faulting anyone for their annoyance. I have plenty of terms I’ve heard used that make me want to scream) I wonder if the the author was frustrated by the tour members preoccupation with this?
I am also curious about your statement regarding assisting families and focusing on the child by exposing truths and diminishing their power. Do you refer to all lies being exposed? In your experience, how do children in adoptive families deal with lies told by their parents about their adoptions?

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JoAnne Bennett April 4, 2013 at 12:45 pm

“I do feel what a person feels is affected by their temperament, life experiences and perspective. Some are more driven to know about their roots than others.”

Hi Judy, I’ve been pondering your statement :). “I believe that most family and friends that knew me while growing up would say I never expressed an interest in searching for my birth family. I have often wondered why besides the obvious reasons: my loyalty for my adoptive parents was strong and unhealthy. I always knew deep down that their confusing love came with conditions. I still remember when mom asked me why I told anyone I was adopted. Not as a question out of curiosity, but more, “Don’t tell anyone.” She had a way of controlling my feelings with her tears and words.

But I believe most people who know me now would be surprised. I may have been okay not searching for my birth family had my adoptive parents not put me between a rock and a hard place. They wouldn’t tell me why my only birth certificate was supposedly “lost” and were adamant that they were never going to never tell me the truth to many disturbing questions. Perhaps I feel this way because I learned disappointingly that my birth mother passed away when I was a little girl and that my many half-siblings weren’t thrilled by my disruption in their lives. I can just look back at this whole crazy journey and say without a doubt…having a picture of late my birth mother, especially when I was in high school, would have helped my self-image. And since my adoptive mother knew she was deceased, “What could it have possibly hurt?”

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Tonya April 4, 2013 at 12:16 am

I found your thoughts on the “bionic” mother reference interesting — It really points out how important it is that we adoptive parents come to terms with our own “issues” to keep them from spilling over into our kids’ lives.

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Kathy April 2, 2013 at 11:12 pm

Here via The Sound of Hope book tour and really appreciate your perspective on Anne’s story and the questions you chose to answer.

This really resonates with me:

“I do feel what a person feels is affected by their temperament, life experiences and perspective. Some are more driven to know about their roots than others.”

Though I am not an adoptee or an adoptive parent, I have always been more driven to know about my roots, than other my family members. Also, as someone who dealt with secondary infertility and loss for five years, what I feels has most definitely been effected by my life experiences, which helped to shape my perspective, as well as my ability to be more sensitive to the trials others face in their lives.

I don’t think “we’re getting there” sounds harsh. I think being honest about where we are in this process of changing the way we think about adoption is so important and voices like yours are vital to moving forward.

One of the most important things I have learned over the past few years, as the sister of an adoptive parent and aunt to her two adopted children, is what you say here, that “the focus in the past was more on the parents whereas it should have been on the child and their emotional health, their future.” Participating in this book tour and getting to know Lori and the work she does to try to open minds and hearts to the merits of open adoption has really taught me a lot about what is/should be most important in the adoption mosaic (love that term, that I first learned about via Lori and this book tour).

Thanks again for sharing your point of view on all of this and how cool that you also have a book related to this topic!

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Judy April 3, 2013 at 9:02 pm

Hi Kathy,
We all arrive into the mosaic via such different journeys. I appreciate these blog tours because readers and participants are able to share viewpoints and really listen to and consider what others are saying about how adoption has impacted them with grace and without judgement and, hopefully, move forward.
Judy

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Anne Bauer April 2, 2013 at 7:46 pm

Around the time I started my search the politically correct term was “biological mother”. After my Dad referred to her as my “real” mother, I corrected him and that’s when he started using the word “bionic”. He was never that great with big words and although he meant it as a joke, him using the word bionic always made me feel like it was a reference to me being processed rather than birthed out of an assembly line like a machine rather than a human being. I honestly think my Dad is the only one who ever used this reference.

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Judy April 3, 2013 at 8:46 pm

Hi Anne,
As a reader, adoptive parent and parent educator the term definitely caught my attention. I wasn’t sure what to make of it. It’s nice to have the “backstory” of why your dad used the term bionic when referring to Jo. Thank you for clarifying.
Judy

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adoptee April 2, 2013 at 6:29 pm

There is nothing good about being adopted. Being removed from abuse and neglect to a good home still does not warrant the punishment of adoption. Would so may people adopt a child if they coul,kt changed their last names or Lpretend” they are their own kids? I think not. Adoption is not a replacement for bio- children it is repeating the shameful cycle of relinquishment.

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Judy April 3, 2013 at 9:06 pm

Thank you for sharing your perspective on this tour.

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Lori Lavender Luz April 2, 2013 at 11:25 am

First of all, I apologize that the link I gave Judy was incomplete. The rest of the tour can be gotten to via http://lavenderluz.com/2013/04/adoptlit-sound-of-hope-book-tour.html.

What a good point about being able to find those core issues in so many narratives told by adopted people. You cover these so well in your own book, What to Expect From Your Adopted Tween, as well as how to effectively help your child through these issues (and yourself!). Like you, I saw it as a pejorative term, meaning she was somehow less than human.

So glad to have your voice on this tour, Judy, as always.

Interesting thoughts on perfection and the ability to give birth, regarding Anne’s dad calling Jo the bionic mom.

Agreed: shining light helps neutralize the hold that shame and secrecy can have on people living in adoption — especially the child. And especially the difficult truths, as you say.

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Judy April 3, 2013 at 9:04 pm

Thanks again for bringing so many of us together for a very worthwhile and important discussion, Lori. :)

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