Terms that trigger deep dark feelings of unworthiness…
It’s funny how we all have our trigger words, words that punch us in the gut and make us feel bad. With adoptive parents it seems for many that “real” is that trigger word, for first mothers there are many words that make them seem invisible, or worse, just a means to an end. For some adopted, illegitimate bothers them, where bastard doesn’t and they wear it proudly. Others don’t like either term. Some like myself, prefer to use the term illegitimate because it is an accurate legal term that describes the fact that I was born to a mother who was unmarried. To me it carries no stigma or unworthiness, just a definition. I don’t like the term bastard, it brings up bad connotations about the person, it becomes personal.
That term became very personal when I was treated by a group of people as unworthy, dirt beneath their feet. They didn’t need to say the word bastard, their words told me that is all I was to them – a bastard. No, this didn’t happen as a child, or even decades ago – long after the society I was born in that relegated us to the status of Filius Nullius – which denied us the right of inheritance, to hold positions in society, or even the right of protection by either parent (child support). Those laws, and the ramifications of them changed in 1968, years after I was born, and adopted, which before 1968 meant that literally, I was raised above the station in life I was born too…and one of the many reasons single mothers were coached to give their child up for adoption back then.
The event I speak of happened in this century, the feelings the treatment (words) evoked in me being seen by these people as nothing but a bastard in the full sense of the word – hit me full on. It caused me to realize that some, perhaps many, still see us as others, less-than. It made me aware of just how malicious people can be when they allow their true feelings to show, instead of the mask of political correctness worn in today’s society, yet underneath, deep down, hatred and prejudice still have a tenacious hold on some hearts.
The feelings those words created in me still come back to haunt me when I read articles like this one or the one posted later that week.
What I heard and felt when I read those articles, regardless of what their true motive or the intent was, that there is a proliferation of “less than” babies being born who are unworthy of their “Christian” attention, or, assistance to gather those mothers and children into their fold as a church to lift them up, and be the village it takes to raise a child. Instead of a clarion call to their followers to lift the mothers (widows) and babies (the fatherless) up into the fold and hold them tight, what I heard was that to be worthy of consideration in their society, the babies must be raised up to a different station in life, and adopted into a “Good Christian” home. That despite the heartache and grief involved, that is the only solution. The very same attitude that society had when I was born – which saw people like me marked “illegitimate” on our birth certificates, that denied us by law – the same rights as those who were marked “legitimate” on their birth certificates.
“I have learned that to be with those I like is enough”
― Walt Whitman
Oct 2014: You may speak freely, but please try to use words that everyone can hear about your individual story or view. If you don't, those who can actually benefit won't hear it, I want to see change in my lifetime. I may refuse to approve certain comments.
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