I notice they didn’t call it “EX-Hoookers for Jesus.” OK OK, I’m succumbing to a little bit of clickbait in my headline. Janet was a volunteer – NOT a hooker – in the Las Vegas organization devoted to helping girls and young women get OUT of hooking and stripping and porn
I took a little detour off I-40 on the drive home from L.A. to stop by Janet’s back patio in the Las Vegas suburbs. I was late. I made three stops before I found a place with the time and the right kind of oil filter for my little red VW. Janet was patient. A therapist herself who gets on the floor and plays with foster kids, she had just been to her own therapist.
Janet is an amazingly calm woman. I find talking to her has a calming effect on me. It’s like free therapy. She was not always so calm.
I met Janet a few years back in Berkeley at a weekend retreat for a dozen or so adoptees. It was led by my close friend and writing coach Anne Heffron and Pam Cordano, a therapist who also became a friend. Hang out with adopted people who are doing the work to examine themselves and heal and grow and you will find an overrepresentation of women in the healing arts – therapy, counseling, social work, etc.
I don’t know why groups of adopting parents or adopted children or birth parents or people writing and thinking and making podcasts and books and documentaries about adoption is about 80% women. We can have a whole ‘nother long talk about nature or nurture. I just know THAT the percentage of women routinely is about 80. This intrigues me. If you have thoughts, shoot me an email @ Man@ManListening.com.
Janet really moved me when she spoke about the kids she treats who are stuck in the foster care system. They’re full of rage. They don’t know why. Janet just sits and plays with them. She connects. It’s not the toys or the playmate or the fact that she’s sitting on the floor with them. It’s when she tells them she was a foster kid just like them. They look at her differently. Even if they don’t form the word, the expression says it as the light goes on: “Really?”
How could this woman who must be a zillion years older than them – this grown-up, the age of their foster “parents” – how could SHE have been just like ME?
Because orphans, adoptees, foster kids, motherless and fatherless kids everywhere, we all know the same grief. We all know what it’s like to feel unwanted. We all know rage. And we all know what that rage covers up – primal fear. Our very lives depend on the kindness of these strangers – whoever they are. Our food. Our shelter. Our clothing. Our hugs or our slaps. All of it depends on not being thrown back to the wolves.
I had it great. I was born to white male privilege. But I hit the jackpot when it came to adopting parents. They were kind to me. They sent me to the best schools. They never so much as hinted that I would be thrown back to the vagaries of the Department of Public Welfare. But they didn’t have to. I knew it instinctually. I always knew it was conceivable. I just couldn’t talk about it.
Janet talks about it. In this week’s podcast, we talk about it together. Just listen.
Janet Nordine talks to Stuart about helping sex workers, foster kids, their rage, and healing on this week’s @ManListening #podcast which drops Thursday morning, January 7, before dawn.