The Mona Lisa & Me



If I have two views on life things can look very easy. Right or wrong. Good and bad. Simple, right?


Black and white thinking causes me more anxiety and stress than any other pattern. Right or wrong feels like assurance and confidence, then turns either outward in anger, or inward in self flagellation. As an adoptee, I'm wired pretty tightly for good and bad. Sadly the badness came from my being relinquished, as a child of a mother unable, or unwilling, to care for me. The goodness came from being "chosen", by the adoption agency, by foster care, by my adoptive parents, by God.


With all this black and white, I kind of lost the ability to value the gray. I knew it existed, but the fight/flight/freeze which was my more natural state couldn't make sense in the more relaxed atmosphere of the myriad and mysterious choices in the sea of gray.


Black and white was simply, well, simple. It also fits the world view of much of my family and community. Until it didn't anymore.


When I finally chose to travel towards the gray those same family and community members found it unsettling. The changes in my thinking allowed me to make different choices, and to want different outcomes for myself.


I found myself challenged often. As I turned the corner at six months of sobriety, my dad casually offered a beer. "You don't have a problem anymore, do you?" When I began to value my body and did the work to heal from child sexual abuse, those who said they loved me but only used me responded first with shame and accusations, then pleading, and finally abuse.


It was my journey into the gray of adoption that has provided the most healing, and yet some challenges. The options for me as an Adoptee have grown, especially as I have found wonderful friends and family members, as well as communities of adoptees and others within the adoption constellation. Yet even in those communities I am often encouraged, sometimes pressured, to choose a particular way of thinking about adoption.

"Adoption should be a choice."

"Adoption should be abolished."

"Adoption needs to be fixed."

"Adoption is human trafficking."

"Adoption is a gift from god."

"Adoption is a sin."


I love and care about all those in our community, and I find no practical purpose in challenging others on what to me may seem like black or white views. I sometimes feel lost or abandoned when I'm wandering around in the opportunities that all the shades of gray offer, wondering at times where everyone else has gone.


The love of those in my world has lifted me far away from the shame and regret of my past. The love of my Higher Power has set me in a place of grace and humility from which the possibility to help others is endless.


It is the final piece of self love and self forgiveness that has allowed me the fullness of the gray. As I explore those spectacular nuanced moments of life I've learned that I am more than enough. I am more than black or white.


It's tempting to want to run to safety and comfort where groups have gathered. Then, when I least expect it, I'll find myself standing quietly next to another traveler, a seeker in the gray, and realize it's me I'm standing with. It's like standing in the quiet of the Louvre looking at the Mona Lisa, and suddenly realizing I'm not so alone after all.