I see this need so often on-line. Post one story where an adult adoptee speaks glowingly about her mom and dad and growing up, and it is passed around, linked to, emailed, lights up message boards. I get that deep need inside of both prospective and [adoptive] parents to hear positive things about adoption – I really do. It has to be tough building your family via a method that isn’t mainstream, and shouldn’t be mainstream. That in itself takes guts – and of course you wish to be reassured.
But…and you knew there would be a but…
Here’s the kicker (or secret) – we are just like the non-adopted. We had childhoods identical to the non-adopted childhoods. Some great, some good, some not-so-good, some brutal. Based on where we fell within the spectrum of childhoods, and if in the positive end of the spectrum – we laughed, giggled, followed mom or dad around mimicking every action. We played games, learned to ride bikes with one or both parents teaching us, built forts, climbed trees, went swimming. We had dreams of growing up to be a doctor, teacher, scientist, fireman, actor, writer, artist, dancer, to be just like mom or dad. We were excited Christmas morning, Easter, Halloween and every other holiday in-between. We loved vacations and watching home movies of those times, we were kids – just like all the other kids. Nothing different from your childhood stories if your parents were like ours. We really weren’t different from other children – just because we were adopted.
So why is it necessary for you to ask to hear positive childhood stories from adult adoptees – when you can just look at your own story, your friends stories, your cousins stories? Why?
When you only want to hear our positive childhood [adoption] stories you see us as perpetual children instead of your equal, adult to adult. It belittles us.
Please understand that our childhood [adoption] story has nothing to do with speaking up about necessary changes to how adoption is practiced today. Whether we speak about adoptee rights to their own original birth certificate, or stopping coercion in counselling of expectant mothers, or the insanely short time periods to sign papers so soon after birth, well you get the point that many areas in adoption need reform. We care about adoption being done right.
It shouldn’t come as a surprise that we are interested in the subject of adoption and how it is practiced, seeing as we have been adopted all of our life. When I got sick and diagnosed with a rare disease – I became interested in that as a cause, just like those who have a personal stake in seeing a cure for breast cancer – or any other disease or any cause – most people who have a cause – have a personal stake in that cause. It’s the same for adoptees and adoption – it isn’t rocket science.
Next time you ask why you don’t hear more positive stories by adult adoptees about their childhood – ask yourself when was the last time you posted a positive story about your childhood.