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Thursday, August 10, 2006

Shredding Fabric

Happiness for me is walking into a fabric store. Bins and racks of beautiful, luscious, inspiring fabrics contain glorious spectrums of color for my eyes; also bolts of sensations for my fingertips. There are solidly woven cottons in matte and polished finishes; silks as soft as I remember my newborn sons' golden red hair. Rich, thick warm wools in crayon colors dare me to wash them in hot water/hot dryer just to see what they look like all fluffy and "fulled". Hunting along the narrow aisles of my favorite fabric stores gives me ideas for even more quilts to make than my 9 already in process. There are simply too many quilts to make in one lifetime. Sometimes, I find a yard of fabric on the 1/2 price shelf that I just know will add the right accent of color or texture to a quilt project patiently awaiting my attention at home.

So I decide to by one or two yards of a new perfect fabric. The sales person carefully measures and cuts the finely woven cloth that so many people have together produced. A cotton farmer has grown the seasons crops with great care and knowledge, harvested and sent the cotton to the factory where workers comb, clean and process the fibers. Other people artfully work to have the threads woven and dyed into a textile designer's patterns. Wholesalers, marketers, and transportation workers get my fabric to the shop shelves so I am able to continue my rather expensive habit.

Then, I go home and begin the destruction of the collaboration of all these people's careful and creative efforts. I destroy the piece of fabric that have I so excitedly chosen. I measure my fabric and I begin shredding! Yes, I clip the fabric at the salvage and rip it apart along the entire width of the fabric. And I do this again and again until I have shredded the entire piece into carefully calculated stips. Then, I cut these strips into smaller pieces before they are assembled into new configurations. And then I pierce my lovely little scraps of shredded and repieced fabrics numerous times with the sharp sewing machine needle; about six perforations per running inch in order to "quilt" my piece and give the fabric dimension. I have even had thoughts of applying paints and inks to some of my quilts; which would only further transforming the original purchased piece of fabric.

Sometimes, I find a shirt at the thrift shop or buy a brand new skirt off the rack because I know that it will fit right into a particular quilt.

These pieces of fabric which I cut from the bolt or away from a clothing item; fabric pieces that were once whole and beautiful or at least whole and functional, I must destroy in order make something else. Something new; something functional and maybe even beautiful too. On most quilts,I try for "beautiful". Some express sadness or a my mood or a certain message.

Am I trying to draw a parallel to adoption here? Yeah, it is pretty obvious that this is where I am heading.

Adoption, by law, creates a family. And in the best of situations, to the benefit of the child being adopted, the adoptive parents will love and nurture the child and create a healthy, functioning family. I would go so far as to say that an adoptive family can be beautiful and a "living work of art". (Note: I did not use "in the best interest of the child" here; rather I wrote, "to the benefit of the child.")

Now, on the flip side of the creation of the adoptive family, there is the destruction of the natural family which must first occur in order for the adoptive family to be created. War, natural disaster, failure of government leaders, illness and death are all things that can happen to shred the fabric of the natural family and separate its members. Horrible, evil things happen. Calculated separation through coercion and unethical adoption practices happen, too. All of these can result in families being ripped apart. Mothers, fathers and children lose one another. Grandparents lose their grandchildren. Siblings lose one another. Through any of these separations, the fabric of the original family will never be the same. The family will never be again that whole piece of cloth woven so very tightly according to natural law. Never again will all the threads of the family be in place and the original pattern be clear. Never again will it be a strong, whole piece of cloth.

The family that loses a child to adoption is shredded and torn. The part of a mother that is her child; certain fibers of her heart, fibers of her soul are pulled from her being and interwoven into the fabric of another family.

Can the adoptive family, this new creation, be a beautiful entity? Yes, I believe it can. Can the child love and belong in his adoptive family? Yes, I believe so.

Does the creation of this new "living work of art" balance out the horrendous and unspeakable loss of the first family? No, I believe it absolutely cannot negate for the child the loss of his/her natural family. The gain of the adopting family does not ever balance out the loss of the natural family. I heard someone else put it this way once; the books will never balance out to zero when it comes to adoption. The gains and losses can never be balanced out because they are simply not recorded within the same bookkeeping systems.

Adoption has happened. Adoption happens. And I believe that it should only happen when a child truly needs another family. All mothers, fathers and children should be given the support needed to stay together. And there are people who would disagree with me and say that adoption is never necessary; that legal guardianship is an alternative to adoption. That can be a discussion for another place and time.

What I presently feel the most strongly against is the continued promotion of adoption by entities of society which have the awareness of the destruction done to natural family members through the processes of surrender and adoption. For people and agencies to continue to promote and facilitate infant adoption with full or even partial awareness of the damage done to infants and their mothers and fathers; and to assert that grief counseling for the surrending parents and attachment therapy for adoptive families can "fix" or lessen the damage, is unconscionable.

In adoption, the end doesn't justify the means.

To create something new of potential good or beauty with the knowledge that you must first destroy something else, and to choose to proceed anyways...Well, it is best to dabble at this only at the art table; not the family table.


  • At 8:12 PM , Blogger HeatherRainbow said...


    Your words are artfully crafted. I wish there was some way we could get the money out of the adoption industry.

    the destruction of the natural family is a disaster. It's like people are playing a game of mix and match, and yet have no idea how much they are harming each person in the families.

  • At 4:10 PM , Blogger kim.kim said...

    Hey you are writing!! I am putting you back on my links, I thought you had stopped writing.

  • At 7:44 AM , Blogger dbannie said...

    Morning to you, both! Thanks for your comments, Heather. The mix and match part...so true. And thank you so much for linking me again, Kim.

    I presently have no links, 'cause I am so techno -uneducated. I really should go into the blogger help tabs and teach myself how to link!

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