Why I Stand

"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.   

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.  


Angie said...

Well said. I cannot tell you how much I hear "she's the only Mom you have, just let her win" or "You are an adult now, move past it and forget her".

Nobody should or can ever compare their experiences, that seems to be one that crosses the board.

Thank you for your friendship and your words, needed the charge this morning.

Michelle Vandepol said...

i loved elie's night book. and the quote from santaya and anne frank. seems like good reasons for standing up to me. i don't know about your other readers, but i'm interested in a post about what brought you through your life to the place you are now (ie. things you've learned, ways you educated yourself, what kind of therapy you found most helpful, etc) thanks for considering :)

Rita Brennan Freay said...

You can never forget. And why should you? It made you who you are today. You are strong, you are a fighter, you have achieved....you are a fantastic writer. You are helping others. How can you bury any of that?! Your voice needs to be heard as you said, for your foster kin. They need you as much as you wanted and needed someone when you were there experiencing many of the same feelings. Its easy to say forget about things and move on, the truth is you'd be lying to yourself....who wants you to do that? I'd say keep doing what you are doing. Your voice is comforting to some, may be upseting to others (who cares), but as long as you feel good about sharing who you are and your experiences, I say go for it!!!! Thanks for sharing.

Rita Brennan Freay

Anonymous said...

You should never forget and no one has the right to tell you to! I love your quotes, so apropos.
I love your blog... it will inspire me while I move into my next goal in life... working towards eliminating AT!

Anonymous said...

Thank God hears the cries of widows and orphans. I always read that to mean individuals without a family whether abandoned or family dead. Jesus said Woe to Pharisees and Saduccees for God hears the cries of widows and orphans. Pharisees and Saduccees were the political and religious elite of their day. I understand that to mean that political and religious elite are to take care of the abandoned and alone.

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