If adoptive families are asked something about their children they get upset. Some questions are asked simply to start a conversation, satisfy a quick question, or to learn and understand. At the same time, if people do not accept adoptive families as families they get upset. It is a circular problem with no possible winner. People are wrong to ask questions, and wrong to not accept them as families.
Curiosity is a really good thing. Without curiosity what in your home would you not have? Electricity? TV? Stereo? Electric or gas ranges? Central heating? Air conditioning? A bed which is not made out of horse hair or straw? What about the plumbing? How about how you get to work and back – walking, horse and buggy, or car?
What about lack of curiosity in medicine? If one doctor had not been curious about the extreme differences in morality rates between two birthing clinics, he would not have shown doctors that they could spread infection if they did not wash their hands between exams.
Semmelweis discovered that cases of puerperal fever, a form of septicaemia also known as childbed fever, could be cut drastically if doctors washed their hands in a chlorine solution before gynaecological examinations, but could not explain why, as his discovery was prior to the germ theory of Louis Pasteur (published 1861).
While employed as assistant to the professor of the maternity clinic at the Vienna General Hospital in Austria in 1847, Semmelweis introduced hand washing with chlorinated lime solutions for interns who had performed autopsies. This immediately reduced the incidence of fatal puerperal fever from about 10 percent (range 5–30 percent) to about 1–2 percent. At the time, diseases were attributed to many different and unrelated causes. Each case was considered unique, just as a human person is unique. Semmelweis’s hypothesis, that there was only one cause, that all that mattered was cleanliness, was extreme at the time, and was largely ignored, rejected or ridiculed. He was dismissed from the hospital for political reasons and harassed by the medical community in Vienna, being eventually forced to move to Pest.
Semmelweis was outraged by the indifference of the medical profession and began writing open and increasingly angry letters to prominent European obstetricians, at times denouncing them as irresponsible murderers. His contemporaries, including his wife, believed he was losing his mind, and in 1865 he was committed to an asylum. In an ironic twist of fate, he died there of septicaemia only 14 days later, possibly after being severely beaten by guards. Semmelweis’s practice earned widespread acceptance only years after his death, when Louis Pasteur developed the germ theory of disease, offering a theoretical explanation for Semmelweis’s findings. He is considered a pioneer of antiseptic procedures.
Curiosity is a good thing. Can you imagine what your life today would be like if no one had ever been curious? Humans are curious by nature. If something is different they are curious about it. You learn by asking questions. It’s all good.
But in adoption curiosity is not a good thing. And I wonder why? Does it go back to when adoption was a secret and people still believe it should be a secret? I thought we were long past that but I guess not. On one hand I hear complaints about how ignorant the public is about adoption and that they are always being asked questions, which also include rude questions. And how tired they get of explaining what adoption is and side-stepping the downright rude questions. I am sure it does get tedious but if all the public has to go on is stereotypes the media provides, then how are they going to learn if they don’t question someone who knows about it? Then I hear on the other hand how adoptive families want to be respected as families and their adoption story is their child’s story and private. Totally understandable but again, adoptive families are different from a biological family, and the public only knows the biological family aspect so they are curious and ask questions. Do you see the circular problem? If you want to be accepted then you have to expect to answer questions, that are outside of norm so that the people you want acceptance from understand. And no, it does not mean you need to provide your child’s private intimate story, but really can you not answer questions that are basic without getting upset?
Adoptees get asked questions and rude questions at that by adoptive parents all the time. We are asked about our most intimate thoughts and about our childhood. We also then told how we should feel about those same thoughts we just shared. We are told we are wrong to feel anything less than ideal about adoption. In essence when we say anything that is not happy we are silenced, scoffed at, dismissed and rejected. We are told about studies that show we are just fine. Because it has not been proved conclusively in a study (that everyone has to accept based on the study itself) that being separated from our biological family can cause problems, it is deemed untrue by those who weld the power in adoption. I added the link to Semmelweis above to highlight why asking questions is a good way to learn and not something to be upset with, but on further contemplation I also believe it also reflects the same type of dismissal of adoptees by others in adoption. We are the ones who have lived the adoptee experience and figured out what was and wasn’t related to being adopted, and yet few are willing to listen and change their way of thinking based on real examples.
So many of my posts start with one point and change mid-stream to another but somehow that’s how my mind wanders. All I know is that there is nothing wrong with asking a simple question. I ask them all the time. The day I stop asking questions is the day I stop learning. It is the day I start to die inside. My fellow blogger gets stupid questions from ME all the time – because I do not know what it is to live blind. I have to ask her questions so that I understand. I make blunders I am sure, but she always answers my questions because my intent is not to diminish her or be mean, it is because I don’t know, I care, and I need to ‘get it’ as much as a person with sight ever can ‘get it’. I need to figure out things and understand the why’s, what’s and how’s. Doesn’t everyone?