Biological Privilege

21 Sep

Have you ever thought about that?

I read this post Blood Matters and it got me thinking.

Could the reason why some parents, who early on understand why an adoptee would want to know their other family, simply be that, they have taken the time to think about the inherent privileges that they have, that come from growing up within their biological family? Is that how they understand that knowing both families takes nothing away from either, and in fact can enrich both?

And could that be the same reason why some parents never get there, because they have never gone there, and instead assume that they are not good enough, or enough for the adoptee?

And delving further, is that why they assume we are angry? Because they think, we feel our parents were not enough, and that is why we had to seek out our other family?

I think that both mom and dad did that level of deep thought very early on, and encouraged us to search if we wanted to, because they found they most likely would want to if they were in our shoes, and perhaps why I don’t understand why everyone doesn’t get it…

Interested in your thoughts from any side…

The only man I know who behaves sensibly is my tailor; he takes my measurements anew each time he sees me. The rest go on with their old measurements and expect me to fit them. ~ George Bernard Shaw


Posted by on September 21, 2011 in Adoption, adoptive parents, biological child


Tags: , , , , , ,

12 responses to “Biological Privilege

  1. T. Laurel Sulfate, Snarkurchin

    September 21, 2011 at 7:11 pm

    I agree heartily.

    Most people don’t seem to want to imagine what it might be like to be adopted. It gets put into the unimaginable category because imagining it would make the average person question everything they know about society, love, family, motherhood, fatherhood, class, power, race, America, the self, identity, and so forth. For the average person not involved in adoption, the thought process seems to be:

    “I’ve always been told adoption is beautiful–but I wouldn’t want it to have happened to me–but there’s nothing wrong with being adopted–so it’s wrong of me to not want it to have happened to me–so I will never, ever think of it.”

    For a’parents, I’d guess the thought process is prone to more convolutions, denial, and other forms of mental squirming than for those not directly involved in adoption.

    My a’mother got a lot of things wrong and continues to do so. She visibly stiffens when I use the A-word, and wants to change the subject immediately. But when I began searching, she didn’t miss a beat before saying “Good for you. I’d want to know if I were you.” She was capable of putting herself in my shoes that time, but not at many other times. I see the same continuum of awareness among adoptive parents that I do among men with regard to male privilege or among (my fellow) whitefolks with regard to that privilege.

    And, as with any other privilege, the system is set up to discourage the privileged from becoming aware of their privilege. “That’s how they get ya.”


  2. shannon2818

    September 21, 2011 at 7:36 pm

    thanks for reading and linking to “blood matters.” as an adoptive parent, I would never say that adoption is beautiful.


    • The adopted ones

      September 21, 2011 at 7:38 pm

      I think that T Laurel was speaking of John Q Public’s attitude in that statement – not parents.

      Really liked your post – it made me think.


  3. T. Laurel Sulfate, Snarkurchin

    September 21, 2011 at 7:48 pm

    I did mean JQP’s attitude, not shannon2818’s. Sorry if it wasn’t clear.

    Shannon, I also liked your post–I hope it makes a lot of people think!


  4. The adopted ones

    September 21, 2011 at 7:53 pm

    T Laurel – thanks for talking. I was kind of leary about using the term biological priviledge but that’s what I realized from Shannon’s post and perhaps common understanding is as simple as talking about that.


  5. T. Laurel Sulfate, Snarkurchin

    September 21, 2011 at 9:02 pm

    “Privilege” is a loaded term, and one I might not use in this context depending on whom I were talking to. For the purposes of this conversation, it “works” (for me).


  6. shannon2818

    September 22, 2011 at 1:01 am

    Thanks for reading everyone!


  7. veggiemom

    September 22, 2011 at 3:26 am

    Long before motherhood, there was a time in my life that I was very interested in genealogy…and I was raised by my biological family. Still, at that time, it was very important to me to find out where I came from before the relatives I knew. If it was that important to me, knowing all that I already knew, how could it not be important to my children.

    We recently did DNA testing on all of us. We have found several cousins of Blueberry’s in the adoptee world in the US. Even at 5, that is important to her…to know cousins, especially the ones that we friends we’d already met. While we haven’t found relatives of Violet’s on there, we found out some information about her ethnicity that was completely unknown to us. It gave us information that we would have no other way of getting about family origins. This has thrilled her.


  8. The adopted ones

    September 22, 2011 at 12:25 pm

    Shannon and Veggiemom – did your classes have a discussion on “this” looking at your privilege vs simply talking about the different losses an adoptee may feel?

    The more I think about it the more it seems like it might really be that simple.

    Or is it simply different personality / levels of being able to step outside of yourself that matter, and if if that concept was offered it would make no difference?


    • shannon2818

      September 23, 2011 at 1:09 am

      I never had a class that mentioned this, but I started thinking about it after I finished a book on adoption. It pointed out that many adoptees may go their whole lives and never meet another person who was biologically related to them. It made me think about how strange that would feel and all of the things that I take for granted as someone who has a large extended family.


      • The adopted ones

        September 23, 2011 at 12:47 pm

        Shannon – did it make you change your view on adoptees searching in regards to you personally as the mom. Stumbling for words here but did it make you realize it had nothing to do with your relationship? Does that make sense – I am still coffee deprived.


  9. shannon2818

    September 26, 2011 at 12:39 am

    It actually didn’t change my opinion about that, we’ve always been open with our kids’ first family. They still have visits with several members of the family. And, I’ve always supported our kids searching for their parents whenever they’re ready (and their parents shouldn’t be too hard to find). I’m really not sensitive about my position as a parent (well in regards to their first mom anyway.) I really think there’s more than enough love to around. I guess it just helped me see that my opinion about blood relations isn’t the only one. Actually, I think blogs by adult adoptees and first parents have made a huge different in my opinion about this (and many other opinions as well).



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