Friday, October 29, 2010

Sit Your Ass Down Already!

"For the survivor who chooses to testify, it is clear: his duty is to bear witness for the dead and the living. He has no right to deprive future generations of a past that belongs to our collective memory. To forget would be not only dangerous but offensive; to forget the dead would be akin to killing them a second time. The witness has forced himself to testify. For the youth of today, for the children who will be born tomorrow. He does not want his past to become their future." Elie Wiesel, Night, Preface to the New Translation (New York: Hill and Wang, c2006), page xv.
The words of Elie Wiesel, the Nobel laureate and Holocaust survivor stand as a testament to why we must never forget this dark period of human history.

Recently I was told by someone I love and respect:

You should just forget that ever happened to you.  You were a child, you didn’t know and don’t remember what was going on behind the scenes.  You had no control over what happened to you, so you just need to forget all about it.  Every time you write or speak about what happened to you are embarrassing your parents.   

Oh, Crap!  I’m sorry Mom, Dad (and wife), I forgot my life is ALL ABOUT YOU…again.  It is the one clear message you have giving me all my life and yet, somehow I fail to grasp it and make it my own.  Maybe I should write it down a couple hundred times to help me remember it.  anyway...

There seems to be a lot of that sentiment floating around regarding us waifs.

Don’t talk about your experiences because it is upsetting to us.  Do not discuss problems with adoption or foster care because you may hurt some ones feelings, your APs, birth parents, foster parents, or abandoners may feel picked on.  

You were fed, clothed, and survived you childhood what more is there anyone needs to know?  What could possibly be left to discuss?  And why do you insist on trying to make us think about how our actions affect others?

I can not speak for anyone else out here, but I know I do it for the kids.  I do it for MY kids and I do it for my foster kin.

I am the third generation of my immediate family who spent time being raised by people other than our parents for various reasons.  Think about that for a seconded and tell me that I should forget all about MY history.  Think about that and tell me I should shut up.

“Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it” ~ George Santayana

I am not attempting to directly compare our struggles with the atrocities of slavery or the Holocaust.  We do not study slavery in this country to persecute white people in general.  We do not build Holocaust memorials and museums to embarrass the German people as a whole.  We do it collectively because there lessons to be learned about what happens when we as humans lose sight of the rights and humanity of others, and children are little humans with real feelings and rights of their own.  

Despite everything, I believe that people are really good at heart. ~ Anne Frank
There will always be children like us, who will inevitably end up in the care of relatives and strangers.  There will always be "good people" who mean well and want to help children in need.  I speak out about my past in hopes of helping those "good people" preserve the future of the children in their care.  


Claudette said...

Well said. The more we discuss these issues, the more we help those who will come after us.

Von said...

"You had no control over what happened to you, so you just need to forget all about it." exactly the reason you need to remember!

Amy Koffron said...

Absolutely dead-on! Shame on whatever idiot recently told you that. Obviously, they have something or someone's shame to hide.

I've had billboard campaign ideas repeatedly popping into my head. Something like "families don't let children......." And, there'd be a picture of our dad and wife all dressed up at some bar mitzvah party that cost as much as car. All the while, you were in foster care and they were fighting with all their might to not pay our mom child support.

Yep, that's a mighty lot of shame to expose and I can see why they might want you to SHUT THE HELL UP!!

Sunday Kofffon Taylor said...

Yes, Von…and it is proof that: 1) even intelligent people do not think before they speak. 2) That the rules change when it when something affects the “ME”

We are all for remembering what is important to ME. We are all for truth when it makes ME or someone I love look good. Heck, we are even for the truth when it makes some one we DON’T like look bad. But if the TRUTH makes ME or someone I love look bad it must be silenced…no matter how true I know it is.

That is just human nature, I supose it can't be helped.

Sunday Kofffon Taylor said...

@ AMY! They are not an idiot, just human. (And slightly narrow minded / blinded when it comes to people in THEIR family)

Screwed Up Texan said...

Thank you for writing this post. Although I was not in any state run foster care system, I lived with other families inside my church from the time I was 15. It was hard and painful and still is to this day fifteen years later. Sharing my story has made me stronger and help bring more peace than keeping it inside ever did. Thank you for helping to break the shell of shame as I call it.

My story: (not on my regular blog)

Sunday Kofffon Taylor said...

Allie, “the shell of shame”, very fitting, I like it. As you know speaking out has it’s consequences, so I thank you for kindness and for speaking out as well.

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