Astrid Castro and I Talk about Adoption and Community and Hope and Love
I saw Astrid Castro post something somewhere about adoption, and because I’m like a dog who sniffs out that word--adoption, I was fast on her trail.
It was more than a trail. It was a river, and then an ocean. I got to swim in the ocean of Astrid and it was awesome.
She knows so much about adoption. I have been looking for her and there she was, in Portland, Oregon, doing her thing. Parents who have adopted their children write to me on Facebook and Instagram with questions and with an overall anxiety about whether their children will turn out having the problems I described having in my book and they ask me questions and I think, Uh…
I don’t know so many of the answers. I do know some wonderful therapists, and I refer these parents to them with the understanding the likelihood that these parents will contact these therapists are slim to none. Why? I’m not exactly sure. It’s just what I have seen happen.
What do parents who adopt need? What do people who are adopted need? What do parents who relinquished their children for adoption need?
They need help. The problem is that so many are grasping their wound with both hands so tightly in order to silence it or to keep it from pounding with pain they can’t let go to pick up the phone or to wave the white flag.
What I love about Astrid is that she has made it her life’s work, as an adopted person, and as a human being, to know all she can about adoption. She’s not a therapist. She’s someone who works to normalize the experience of how adoption has molded us into the people we are.
Luke Skywalker would not have had the same journey if not for Yoda. We need help to walk our truest path, not because we are weak, but because we are human, and part of being human is being part of the web of humanity.
There is no i in adopted.
(Yes, I really just said that and, yes, I did laugh while typing it. Adoption has an i but, luckily for me, adopted does not. A girl has to get her thrills where she can. A small thrill is way better than no thrill at all.)
It’s a group thing. But groups need guides. Groups need to know the forest so when the group goes for a hike they don’t end up in the dark, starving and lost.
After a few minutes of talking to Astrid on the phone, we were both talking fast and laughing. There is something so wonderful about connecting with people who have been there, who have done that. It makes the conversation fast, easy, and really efficient. You are able to get to the juicy stuff fast.
I wish my parents had had Astrid on their speed dial when I was a child. I wish they had gone to her workshops for adoptive parents and I wish they had sent me to her workshops for adopted kids. I wish they had watched her DVD on how best to communicate with your adopted child.
But you know what? I’m pretty sure they wouldn’t have done any of that stuff even if they’d known about Astrid because they didn’t think of me as their adopted child. They thought of me as theirs. And that last fact was both true and not true, and that blindness on their part, while it made me feel loved and accepted, also cost me tens of thousands of dollars in future bad life choices, two divorces, and years of sporadically crying without knowing why.
It would have taken incredible courage and self-love on my parents’ part to say, We love you and we know that because you are adopted there are things you and we need to know about the journey your life will be and the journey our life will be with you in. We will not do this alone.
The coolest thing for me about being adopted is the amazing spider web of connections I have with so many amazing people. First of all, from early childhood, my spider web was already spreading out because I had not one set of parents, but two. Granted, it took me fifty something years to identify all the responsible parties, but I know now, and the trampoline of my wide web just become stronger and more fun when I got to know it more intimately.
And then I meet someone like Astrid because she is adopted and we get to talk about people we know in common and love with a special love that those who are adopted know about: it’s a deep thing, a body thing, part of the spider web of breath and air and blood that keeps us on this planet. Adopted people know deep in their psyches how much they, we, depend on others for survival. And so love is a serious business.
Astrid and I got to talk about Joyce Maguire Paveo and how much she has done for us with her lifelong commitment to learning about all things related to adoption and to educating and helping countless individuals to best own their power and place in the world. We got to talk about April Dinwoodie and her fabulous energy, a person who creates love and hope just by walking in a room.
I haven’t even met Astrid and I already love her. Why? Because she’s so Astrid. Because she really cares about the well-being of other people. Because she’s smart. Because she’s funny. Because she taught me new things. Because her energy made me feel like anything is possible. That’s what I am looking for these days: possibility. What will happen next? What truly awesome thing can I be part of in this life, this life that is mine because, finally, after grappling with just how fiercely and completely relinquishment and adoption had affected my brain and body, I get to have fun. I get to be me.
I never imagined life could be this easy.
I just had to be myself.
You can learn more about Astrid and her work here: https://astridcastroconsulting.com. Enjoy the trip. It’s so much better when at least one person in your tribe has a flashlight.