Updated: Oct 11
June is suddenly here, and the lazy summer days aren't far away.
They'll fly, as May has flown. Do I sound a tinge melancholy? It's not yet mid-summer, but is it too early to reflect on 2022's early months?
On social media, these past weeks have been rife with conversations that express anxiety, outrage, and sadness.
Covid seems to have taken a back seat, though we know the danger is still all too real. Despite our vaccine boosters and vigilance, we can't let down our guard.
The Supreme Court's decision to overrule Roe v. Wade is imminent, and states have set triggers upon the decision's passing that would ban abortion, as well as, potentially, the pill, and "Plan B." How many young women will die as a result of the loss of their right of choice, and access to reproductive health care?
Among social media adoptee groups, there is anger that we've been used as a talking point for pro-life politicians. Justice Alito's footnote to the leaked draught decision refers to a CDC statement made in 2018:
"Nearly 1 million women were seeking to adopt children in 2002 (i.e., they were in demand of a child), whereas the domestic supply of infants relinquished at birth or within the first month of life and available to be adopted had become virtually nonexistent."
Adoptees are aware of the commodification by the adoption agencies, that in domestic and intercountry adoption children are trafficked, and that relinquished infants are "supplied" and "put up for adoption" for ownership by life-saving, infertile couples.
This may sound harsh, as many of us have been privileged with lives in middle and upper-class families. Whether or not the couples are "deserving," as my adoptive parents were told, and that adoptees should be grateful, is another question. But adoptees were stripped of their rights to know; their natural heritage and identity, when it was decided by states that the adopters and relinquishing mothers were entitled to privacy over our rights to our original birth certificates and care records.
Adoption reform is needed to restore our right to our identity, our agency; our equality. When we are no longer marginalized, adoptees will have access to our unaltered birth certificates, and records of our early care. We continue to advocate for our equal rights under the law.
Yet, again, we mourn the madness that "America's Rifle" (N.R.A.'s term) has inflicted. We grieve the horrific slaughter of nineteen children and two teachers at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas--the brutality caused by assault weapons. We despair the lack of will of Americans to regulate, even ban them.
How are you doing? Are you taking care of yourself?
May is Mental Health Awareness Month, and it has been a stretch of weeks that brought anxiety and sadness to many of us.
USA Today posted an article touting "self-care" products like bath bombs, phone apps for meditation and yoga practice, and gratitude journals. Treat yourself, they suggest, to increase your well-being. A pedicure, long spa bath, or hot stone massage might well be a way to lift the spirits and ease anxiety.
Many must add anti-anxiety or anti-depressants to our self-care routines, and medication could be a godsend when taken appropriately. Exercise might be another person's drug of choice, balancing the hormones serotonin, dopamine, and endorphins: "feel-good" hormones. Good nutrition, of course, helps with mood swings and regulates insulin, cortisol, and affects our energy.
Eating for Good Mental Health and Well-Being
Lifespan article, June 2021 relating diet and mental health:
"Foods and food groups that are greats sources of these beneficial nutrients includes whole grains, vegetables and fruits, legumes, nuts and seeds, as well as fatty fish such as salmon." https://www.lifespan.org/lifespan-living/eating-good-mental-health-and-well-being
How writing helps me come to terms
My forthcoming book, I Must Have Wandered: An Adopted Air Force Daughter Recalls, a work of creative nonfiction, is a hybrid collage of letters, essays, and slices of life. In part, it is a coming of age and journey to self.
Like life, and memory itself, my story is revealed in fragments--how I have learned to assemble the pieces and make sense of my life. The process has mostly been beneficial, though not without its struggles. Writing has added purpose and direction to my days and has helped me cope in times of isolation.
Memory is inadequate, often unreliable, and always flawed. People, settings, and the times are imprinted on me by photos and first and second-hand accounts. Throughout my book, my truths are intact.
"Empty Lot Haiga"
photo by Agnes Caffrey
poem by Mel Gambutti
As a small child, there were few thoughts of yesterday. I anticipated events later, in self-consciousness. My memories connect to those I relied on; those closest to me, especially my parents and grandparents. They brought about and cultivated my memories. That's not unusual in a close-knit family that relies on each other for comfort and happiness, yet can cause each other pain and sadness.
I hoped my parents would drive me out to the Louisiana countryside to visit my seven-year-old friend. I was elated by the phone call invitation, as much as I had been crushed at having to move after second grade from our Alexandria neighborhood near St. Francis Cabrini school to base housing, after only one year. In the space of about an hour, I pet Mary Anne's 4-H lambs and had lunch. I didn't realize I wasn't to see my friend again. As an Air Force dependent, there were many such losses.
I think back on the anticipation around my birthdays, and my disappointment when Mom had to cancel my party planned for my tenth, because of a Tokyo typhoon. There were the scary, or negative anticipations, the frequent separations that fed into what would become my chronic anxiety and worry. Perhaps not so dreadful as my fear of nuclear war were my piano recitals, my father's wrath, math exams, and later, adverse situations during my teens. I now write them down to attempt to make sense of them and hope that my readers find words that resonate with their own experiences.
* Are you a Baby Boomer, or enjoy reading about the simpler post-war times of the 1950s?
* Did you grow up in the Vietnam era?
* Are you an adopted person; in the adoption community? Are you listening for #adopteevoices and want to connect with other adoptees with the same or similar feelings?
* Were you a military dependent/brat?
* Have you experienced loss?
I hope you'll read my book of memoirs!
Until next time, stay safe and be happy!
Mary Ellen (Mel)