Lynn Grubb, a Kettering resident and Miami Valley advocate for adoptee rights introduces her newest anthology, ‘The Adoptee Survival Guide: Adoptees Share Their Wisdom and Tools’ and her co-facilitation, along with Becky Drinnen, of an adoption support group for the Miami Valley region.
“The party-line within the mainstream adoption community says that adoption is a blessing and positive only, so, it may come as a surprise to some readers that many adoptees view being adopted as something to be survived,” author Lynn Grubb said. “Due to the glamorization of adoption in the media and other factors, adoption is often not recognized as having ‘loss’ at its root….loss of biological kin, names, heritage, home state or country, language, medical history and identity.”
The purpose of the anthology is to share the adopted adult viewpoints and experiences about being adopted and how it has affected not only their lives but the lives of everyone involved. The book is meant to be a supportive tool for other adoptees and to remind those, both inside and outside the adoption triangle, that adoptees are not perpetual children, but actually grow into adults with families, health issues and connections to their roots and heritage.
“We want to get people educated on the adoptee point of view because adoptees are rarely heard in media, policy and law,” Grubb said. “The current laws in most states in the U.S. are discriminatory to adult adoptees that should have equal rights to their own original birth certificates.” People don’t really hear from adopted adults. Our voices tend to be silenced.”
One contributor, Wendy Barkett, mourned the concept of loss on each and every birthday. To her, it was a day of sadness, separation and loss. In The Adoptee Survival Guide, Barkett talks about her emotional struggles with her birthday. “They just don’t get it,” she writes. “Simply allowing me to be sad on this day is not an option in their minds.”
Her friends and especially her adoptive family could not fathom why she was so sad on her birthday, especially since she had a loving family and was not in need of anything material. Is it that being adopted creates a hole in the pit of an adoptee’s heart that can’t be filled by others?
“As a young child, I would hope that my birth mother would show up at our front door with a huge bundle of balloons,” she wrote. Each birthday, her wish was to meet her mother. So, naturally on her 18th birthday, she went to the courthouse to get her adoption file with extreme excitement. With the building of anticipation, she never thought about the fact that she would be denied access to her own birth records. “The clerk let out a laugh when I asked her for it. I didn’t allow her to see my tears.”
During her search for her mother, Barkett learned that she had passed away before she was able to meet her. “I was brought into this world with tears of sadness rather than happiness- I was a product of an affair,” Barkett wrote. Because of the loss of a child and the married man, her mother eventually had a nervous breakdown.
She concluded her story by questioning how she’ll handle future birthdays after learning about her birth mother’s struggles and death- the fact that her dream of her birth mom surprising her on her birthday with balloons would no longer be possible. She said that she will continue, “…with the power of truth. If I hurt, I have the right to feel those feelings. I have a right to cry on my birthday. I also have the right to celebrate.”
Grubbs’ survival guide contains stories written by 30 adoptees and demonstrates struggles similar and far between- each having experiences as different as the next but with the same commonality and core – being adopted.
Grubb began her journey in 2005, when she began searching for her birth family after also adopting a baby girl. She started by seeking a support group from the adoption community. She found one and eventually started writing for the support group called, Lost Daughters, a collaborative, all-female, on-line adoptee writing project. She began writing to address many stereotypes believed by the some of the general public about adoptees. She became an advocate for adoptees in the “closed states” to have their original birth certificates. Before long, she was contributing essays to other anthologies, such as ‘Dear Wonderful You: Letters to Adopted & Fostered Youth’ and ‘Adoption Reunion in the Social Media Age- An Anthology’ and ‘Perpetual Child Dismantling the Stereotype.’
The State of Ohio recently opened up original birth certificates for all adoptees born 1964 to 1996 on March 20, 2015. Grubb attended the celebration on opening day in Columbus. The event was hosted by the Adoption Network Cleveland and was attended by hundreds of other adoptees. “It was an amazing experience to see this law pass after so many failed bills over the last several decades,” Grubb stated.
Grubb developed a blog called ‘No Apologies for Being Me,’ where she enjoys “flipping the script on mainstream adoption mythology.” She’s also an active member of The Adoptee Rights Coalition and is a volunteer co-facilitator, along with Becky Drinnen, of the Adoption Network Cleveland (Miami Valley) which is a general discussion group that meets every third Thursday of the month at the Oakwood Library to help provide support to adoptees, adoptive parents, birth parents and prospective adoptive parents.
Cathy Heslin, one of the contributors to The Adoptee Survival Guide best summed up her experience with being part of a support group of other adoptees. “When I explained why it had been hard with my birth mother, I looked up to see the others nodding at what I was saying,” Heslin said. “Being part of that group changed me. Before being in the group, I felt crazy for what I was going through. It wasn’t part of what we were told as adoptees. We were told that we were lucky, that we were chosen, that it didn’t matter that we were adopted. And so, whenever we felt otherwise, we felt ostracized. It didn’t fit. But, I found a place I fit in.”
‘The Adoptee Survival Guide: Adoptees Share Their Wisdom and Tools’ can be purchased on Amazon. For more information, email Lynn Grubb at email@example.com.