Adoption

1971 christmas

“For years, I had puzzled over being the only dark-haired, darker-complexioned person in our family. My emotional make-up and character didn’t quite seem to fit with the rest of my family either. I had kept searching for similarities between my parents and me, as every child does, and had found none. But my mom Hildegard had been very convincing as to our shared blood. She had scared me with stories of how her multitude of hereditary afflictions would manifest themselves in me as I grew older. She had a large goiter on her neck as well as suffering from acute asthma. I had inherited both from her, she insisted, and would suffer as she did eventually. No matter how unpleasant the knowledge, no matter how lost I felt, and whatever life threw at me while growing up, at least I had always been secure in the knowledge of who my family was. It proved to be quite dysfunctional at times, but it was a family. But now, with my dad’s revelation, the truths on which I had based my life shattered into a million pieces.” (Excerpt from Paralian, Chapter 1)

Most of our decisions are based on prior experiences. In the case of my parents, my adoptive mom came from a traumatized post-war family and my adoptive dad tried his best to somehow neutralize her neuroses. This all led to a string of lies that, over the years, became longer than Pinocchio’s nose.

Based on personal experience, I urge all adoptive parents to not underestimate the instincts of their adopted children. When you have been given away early in life and have lost your mom, an instinctual memory manifests itself, a sense of homelessness, a longing for something the child itself can’t even define. On top of this underlying time bomb there is a more conscious awareness of something always being slightly “off”.
As I grew up I remember getting my bearings – or at least trying to – by comparing myself and my actions and emotions to those of the people in my immediate environment. Of course everyone is different but, still, I was puzzled as to how I always seemed to be so different to practically everyone else around me – not only in soul and spirit, but also in appearance.
On really bad days I fantasized about being adopted, seeing it as a good thing. On good days I rationalized how genes skip generations and how maybe there was a dark-haired, temperamental grandpa somewhere whom I’d never met. Surely I had inherited all traits from this mystery person hidden somewhere in the dense forest of our family ancestry.

What always prevailed though, like a menacing shadow following me wherever I turned, was a feeling of deep homelessness and loneliness.

My parents were terrified of telling me the truth, because especially my mom feared I’d run off to my “real” mom as soon as they’d disclose my real identity. I honestly think no adopted child would ever do that. Our “real” parents are the ones that have been taking care of us, have made sacrifices, and have been our safety net over a long period of time. We share a history together. And after some time, history becomes stronger than blood.

When my dad finally revealed the truth I was shocked and uprooted. A myriad of conflicting emotions rocked my entire world for a while, like an earthquake, complete with landslides and falling debris. Still, through it all, and after I came out of it, my adoptive parents remained – and always will be – my parents. I never even call them “adoptive” parents. When I found my biological mom she was a stranger. Blood, in the end, was not enough in and off itself.

Don’t be afraid to tell your kid he or she is adopted. Do it as early as possible. It’ll preempt the hurricane of conflicting emotions that will be sure to rage within once all thought processes properly kick in.

Told at a very late stage – in my case when I was twenty years old – the revelation can have disastrous effects. In truth, I could have easily killed myself. Pure stubborn strength (a strength I didn’t even know I had at the time) prevented me from exciting well before my time. Everything I believed to be the base of my existence vanished in the blink of an eye. All that was left for a while was a deep, dark vortex opening its ugly maw beneath my very feet.

I wish I had been told from the beginning. What a privilege it could’ve been to know I was loved even though I had arrived in my biological mom’s womb. If you think of it, how beautiful to be chosen by a couple because they want YOU and no one else to become the center of their universe.

Extraordinary Summer Reading!

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We are nearing 3‘000 followers on this page which is truly amazing. My heartfelt thanks to all of you for your dedicated interest and support!! It means A LOT:) I’ll keep sharing anecdotes, memories, and thoughts with you and I’ll keep updating you on what’s happening in Paralian’s world.

As a sunny summer “thank you” I’ve got a little giveaway in store for you: Up for grabs are 30 ebook copies (epub, not Kindle format) of Paralian.
Send me a message via this link: http://www.liamklenk.com/contact/ and I’ll send you a code to redeem your copy within only a few days.

Paralian will take you on a turbulent, heartwarming, and uplifting journey! A summer reading experience you’re not likely to ever forget. Dive into the odyssey!

The Boy Who Knew

1974 sylt keitum

As a child I knew instinctively… trapped within this little girl’s body was a little boy… and that’s who he’d always be…

“Each summer, I couldn’t wait to get back to the ocean. The sand dunes seemed to traverse the island like mountainous, slow-gliding golems. More than anything, I longed to reclaim my freedom. As little Stefan, tiny but sinewy and bronzed, I would sit in the sandbox for hours, baking sand cakes and building castles. Soon I would find friends and we would have sack races along the beach or explore the shores of the dark blue North Sea as pirates. The beaches gleamed as golden as if the many grains of sand under our feet consisted instead of millions of sparkling stars. We felt sure our secret treasure chest couldn’t be hidden far away.  For a few summer vacations, I remained the adventurous pirate Stefan, feeling free as a bird and more myself than ever before.”

Excerpt from Paralian – Not Just Transgender

Turbulent Seas

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Another short excerpt for you from Paralian. I was only days away from saying goodbye to my Indian Ocean home when a group of experienced divers and I were out on a full-day boat trip to a neighboring atoll. Then a storm hit us full force:

“… We clambered back onboard, which was no small feat, considering the heavy scuba equipment on our backs and the heaving deck. As we secured our equipment, Captain Ibrahim moved the boat towards the edge of the atoll. Maldivian dhonis aren’t built to brave stormy seas. Their flat-bottomed keels are constructed to enable them to slip easily over shallow reefs.
“The heavy waves we are experiencing now, are nothing compared to what’ll await us once we leave the shelter of the atoll,” a resigned Esa explained.
In good weather, crossing the channel of deep ocean between the Noonu and Lhaviyani atoll usually took two hours. There was no telling how long it would take us in this tempest. We briefly considered waiting out the storm and taking shelter in a harbor right where we were. Then our captain made the decision to forge ahead.
The full seriousness of our situation finally hit me as I watched Captain Ibrahim clutch the steering wheel. In all my time on Kuredu, I had never seen a captain afraid. Captain Ibrahim was the best, utterly fearless and wise, way beyond his years. He now held on to the steering wheel for dear life, his body language radiating tension, his knuckles white from the strain.
Our small dhoni was lost in an ocean of giant waves. Either watery walls rose up before us, or deep troughs opened up behind us…”

Want to know more? Grab your own copy of Paralian as paperback or ebook at any of the following online stores: Amazon, Waterstones, WHSmith, Troubador UK, Apple iBooks store, Google Play, Nook, Kobo, etc. Thanks in advance for diving in!!

Indian Ocean Mementos

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Just yesterday, I re-discovered this picture from 2008. It used to be posted on the staff board of the Maldivian dive center where I spent four profoundly inspiring years. Consequently, today, I am feeling even more nostalgic than usual about those turquoise years. Let me share another little tidbit from my book with you from those times:

“With my clumsiness gone, water became my ally. Amidst the turquoise depths of the Indian Ocean, I gracefully floated, somersaulted, vaulted, stopped, and turned at my leisure. I was weightless and graceful in body – yet even more important, I was weightless and graceful in soul as well. This was the true sanctuary I had always searched and hoped for.

In addition to the Indian Ocean wrapping its strong, tender arms around me, I was blown away by the underwater life. Now that my uncoordinated struggles didn’t scare them into flight anymore, most reef inhabitants ignored my presence entirely. During every dive, hundreds of brightly-colored, graceful creatures went about their daily routines without so much as a glance towards the little guy hovering peacefully in front of them with a tank on his back. My first encounters with fully grown sharks took my breath away. Amazingly, while immersed in the Big Blue, I wasn’t scared of anything – respectful yes, but not fearful. I felt at home.”

If you want to dive in deeper, you can find Paralian in all major online book stores (Amazon, Waterstones, WHSmith, Google ebooks, Apple iBooks, Nook, Kobo, etc. as well as directly from my publisher, Troubador), or you can have your local book store order it… What better time to let yourself be whisked away on an odyssey than the middle of summer?

Unconditional Love

a retraction - bogert

This lovely, good-humoured correction to a child’s birth announcement years after the fact just made my day!

In a perfect world I’d wish all human beings were capable of such unconditional love and acceptance… thanks so much to the wonderful parents for their open and genuine gesture!

Can I Do Something?

Caught a flu in the middle of summer. I am now in a near-zombie state on my couch and – dare I admit it – googling myself 😉
To my astonishment I found 2 (!) newspapers in Nigeria who picked up last week’s Mirror article about the transgender part of my life story. It makes me wonder if there is any way I can reach out to organizations in Nigeria and maybe help actively by sharing my experiences, giving speeches, talking to people in person… there seems to be an interest to know more. Definitely something to look into…