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The Courage to Talk About It

04 Nov

When adoptees talk about being sad, grieving the loss of their biological families, feeling angry, and in general other unpleasant feelings involved with being an adoptee, others, sometimes get nervous, feel uncomfortable, and avoid the topic. Sometimes, people will get defensive, feeling the need to point out what they see as the positives in adoption, while negating the not so positive aspects of adoption. Some people will even get angry at an adoptee, accusing the adoptee of being ungrateful, or unappreciative of what they have, with the attitude of, “How dare you!” It seems, that some people, when they read, or hear, of an adoptee expressing their feelings of grief, or anger, in regards to adoption, picture that adoptee as a miserable and unhappy human being, who needs to get a life, get over it, and be satisfied with what they have; the here and now. Then there are those, who will dismiss the not so pleasant feelings of an adoptee, by a judgment of that adoptee must have had a bad experience. If only it were all that simple.

As an adoptee, I’ve dealt with the issues, and attitudes, in adoption all of my life. I’ve had no choice in the matter, even as a child, when I didn’t consciously know that was what I was doing. I’ve faced in all of my families the different attitudes towards adoption, brought about by societies influence, and I’ve witnessed the pain it causes all of us, not just adoptees. I may not always feel happy about being adopted. I may even wish I had never been adopted from time to time, as a good majority of adoptees probably do. You see, being an adoptee is not an easy thing. Even adoptees, who seem to be blissfully happy, have to deal with, and face the not always so pleasant attitudes and feelings, surrounding adoption whether we want to, or not. The same goes for the others in the triad.

Whether we consciously admit it, or not, we don’t really have a choice. There always seems to be someone standing there, waiting to remind us that being an adoptee, adoptive parent, or first parent, makes us different from society’s view of what is normal. I believe this is the reason so many adoptees, those who search, those who don’t, those who talk about it, those who don’t, and, in general, most of us would say that we would rather not be an adoptee. We would have rather been born to one family, or the other family, and not transferred from one to the other. To put it as simply as possible, what we really want is to not have to deal with it at all; not have to balance the good against the not so good parts of adoption.

I cannot forget that I am an adoptee, any more than I can forget that I am now blind. There is no pretending otherwise, no real denying the fact of either. Doing so is, and has always been, a recipe for disaster and pain; one way or another, sooner or later. There is always something, or someone, to remind me of both facts. I was born to one family and raised by another. Once, I could see, and now I cannot. Nothing will change those facts in my life.

No one wants to hear an adoptee say that they don’t want to be adopted. No one likes to hear us talk about our grief, our feelings of loss, or our anger at being in such a complex, confusing, and yes sometimes frustrating situation. When we do talk about it, sometimes, what we say seems to hurt, in one way or another, everyone that loves us. Knowing that is a huge burden we, adoptees, bare, as best we can, even when we understand it isn’t really our burden to bear. We all handle it differently. Just knowing how our own feelings may hurt those we love, hurts us too, which is why most of us go to such lengths to protect those we love by keeping those feelings to ourselves, sometimes, at the expense of our own emotional well-being. As adoptees, it seems, no matter what we feel, we take the chance that our feelings are going to hurt, not only us, but those we love as well, and there isn’t really anything we can do about it, or to stop it, other than to stay silent.

When I started writing for this blog, I did it as an expression of myself. It was, and is, an outlet for my feelings about being an adoptee that had reunited with my maternal and paternal biological families, but I am not just an adoptee, I am also blind. The journey to find out who I am as an adoptee, and my journey to figure out who I am as a blind person, is so intertwined that I can’t tell one story without the other. You see, there is the me, born to D and E, and there is the me, adopted by J and W, just as, there is the me, who once could see, and the me, who now cannot. I am one person, with four different identities, trying to make them all one.

Reunion is difficult under the best of conditions, and my reunions were no different, having many extenuating circumstances that made things even harder. When I began writing for this blog my relationships with D, and E, were on hold. As my reunions had hit a road block for the time being, it was time for me to focus on my feelings, instead of worrying about others. In the beginning, with the exception of my husband, I hadn’t told anyone of my new hobby. I was doing this for my own benefit. It certainly would not be hard for anyone, who knows me on a more personal level, to figure out just exactly who “Shadow the Adoptee” really is, were they so inclined. I made it simple enough, part of me probably hoping they would.

I’ve made a strong effort to keep this about me, and my feelings, not about my family’s actions, attitudes, and the like. I did so for three reasons:

The first being that this is about me, a blind adoptee, and not so much my families.

The second reason was to protect my families from the scrutiny of people who have no idea what we have been through, do not understand, and would rather judge us than see what lay below the outside surface of the complicated circumstances of our lives, thus, putting the blame for my feelings on my families, instead of listening to what I was trying to say.

The third reason was to help others know they are not alone in their feelings, someone else understands it isn’t always easy, or pretty, and to put into words what so many disabled, and adopted, people would like to say, but, for whatever reason, cannot, in an attempt to help others understand us better.

Nothing is all good, or all bad, certainly not adoption, and, just for the record, neither is having a disability. No matter how hard people want to try to make it something it is not, adoption is what it is. None of us would be who we are today had adoption not touched our lives. That isn’t good or bad. It just is. Saying it is one or the other will only cause pain for someone. Acknowledging, accepting that it is simply, both goes a long way to easing the grief, the loss, the pain, and, once again, for the record, the same can be said for a disability.

D, my Dad, the one who passed to me my green eyes, dark hair, a curious nature, and a zest to experience life to its fullest, recently came for a visit. We’ve survived the first year of our second attempt at reunion, which, by the way, makes it a true reunion in every sense. We’ve overcome a lot in the past year. It’s still hard at times, but in a different way now; still so many emotions popping up from time to time.

A while back, I had shared with him one of my posts, “I Cannot Deny It”. He had asked to see more, but I wasn’t ready to share everything, as my first few posts here on the blog, were written about him.

As I mentioned above, like many adoptees, I was afraid sharing such intimate feelings was going to hurt him, but more so afraid of opening up, and trusting him with such intimate parts of myself. During this visit, he, once again, asked if he could read the blog. This time, I agreed.

I have to admit, I was a little concerned as to just what he might think when he reads our blog. He is a bit new to all the not so pretty things about adoption. Facing the fact that you have a daughter, who was placed for adoption and is also blind, when she shows up 40 years later, will do that to a guy. He is beginning to see, for himself, all the things society tried to hide all those years ago. He’s feeling a lot of the same things other natural/first/birth parents feel, and wish they didn’t have to feel, the same as we adoptees wish we didn’t have to feel. It’s kind of hard not to, when your life is suddenly so intimately affected by adoption. I know it’s not easy for any of us, and sharing such intimate feelings is a frightening thing. Reading the intimate feelings of the one you reunited with can be just as scary, especially when that person is as opinionated as the likes of me.

Most of my family now know that I blog. They know it’s about adoption. Most, who know me well, know that if you don’t want to know my opinion, don’t ask. I give D credit for asking, and it means a lot to me that he did. Welcome Dad, to our blog. I hope when you read, you will feel free to talk about it with me, disagree with me, laugh with me, cry with me, scream with me, learn with me, and most of all grow with me. For those of you reading, I want you to know that along with the sad things, and difficult feelings, I’ve written about, there are many happy things, and feelings, I haven’t shared as yet. You see, it’s not all bad, and it’s not all good. It just is what it is, my life.

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6 Comments

Posted by on November 4, 2011 in Adoption, adoptive parents

 

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

6 responses to “The Courage to Talk About It

  1. dpen

    November 4, 2011 at 8:13 pm

    Wonderful post Shadow. You pretty much nailed the total ambivelence that many adoptees feel.

    I am gald you are communicating with your dad and he is listening. That is so important.

    Can I ask a question? If its to personal you can just remove it. How does your blindness play into your adoption? I understand how it as totally changed how you view yourself as does adoption…in terms of idenity, but does it interchange with your feelings on your adoption? Also retinosa pigmintosa is herditary is is not? Do you have other family memmbers with it?

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  2. cb

    November 4, 2011 at 11:14 pm

    Great post, Shadow.

    We may have the courage to talk about it but do others have the courage to listen?

    Whenever I try to tell people to be careful not to invalidate their child’s feelings, all I get are people saying that their child won’t have negative feelings, they won’t be bitter, negative, self-pitying like we older closed adoption adoptees – their child will be like all their own adoptee friends whose “greatest joy in life is being adopted”.

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  3. shadowtheadoptee

    November 5, 2011 at 4:30 pm

    CB, I know exactly what you mean. They may not be ready to hear it, or willing to hear it, but speaking up, wll, the seed is planted. Nothing you can do from there but wait, water, and hope. Thanks.

    Dpen, yes, RP is hereditary. Nope, just me so far. Seems I’m just the lucky mutated gene in my family. That isn’t to say the gene will not effect my siblings children. There is just no way to know. Talking about how adoption and blindness are so intertwined would be a blog in its self. Without both, my life, and I , would be sooo different from what it s and who I am.

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  4. The adopted ones

    November 5, 2011 at 10:03 pm

    “No one wants to hear an adoptee say that they don’t want to be adopted”

    But yet no one would choose to be an adoptee. The disconnect is what always amazes me. If you ask them if they would happily have chosen to be given up at birth and never know anyone from their family I seriously doubt you would get many takers. Obviously those abused might make that choice but talking about normal functional families I don’t think so.

    “As adoptees, it seems, no matter what we feel, we take the chance that our feelings are going to hurt, not only us, but those we love as well, and there isn’t really anything we can do about it, or to stop it, other than to stay silent.”

    And that’s the crux of it – we are the middle and the feelings of loyalty pull us back and forth and never end. You can’t love both families – you can only love one family. It tires you out.

    I think this is my favorite post you have done.

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  5. veggiemom

    November 5, 2011 at 11:13 pm

    I’m glad you are willing to talk about all the hard stuff now.

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  6. shadowtheadoptee

    November 6, 2011 at 2:55 pm

    Thanks everyone.

    AO, even those abused don’t really want to be adopted. What they really want is not to be abused; for the abuser(s) to be the kind of people they ought to be instead of who they are. It’s just easier to wish you were adopted in such a case.

    BPs feel guilt, and APs feel grief, it seems to me, sometimes, our role in all of it is as a constant reminder of what cannot be. Hmmm, my minds going pretty deep into the philosophy here. lol I hate it when that happens. lol Just can’t stop myself sometimes, that curious nature of mine, seems makes people uncomfortable, and gets me into trouble regularly. lol

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