We all come to adoption with a story, whether it’s a one-liner, or fills a page or two, there is a story. It could just be that we were abandoned. It could be more. I don’t think I’ve ever told the story the social worker told mom and dad about me. It was short, oh so short. It was the single story of my beginnings, where I came from, who I was, for over four decades.
I must say the crafting of my short story was superb for adopting parents. It ticked all the boxes any adoptive parents could ever ask for.
- Both parents were obviously intelligent.
- Both had seen (or saw) the value in higher education.
- Both were ambitious to do well.
- There was a reason why I needed to be adopted.
- There was no way I could have been successful in searching.
It was also a made up story with a few grains of truth woven in. I also heard another adoptee tell her story that matched my story, almost, as if, it was a story Social Workers were taught to use.
My story went something like this:
My mother attended the college not far from where we lived, she lived with her aunt. She fell in love with one of her professors and they had an affair. The professor she had the affair with was married, so when she became pregnant, adoption was the solution because divorce wasn’t an option.
That’s what I knew about my mother, my father, my family, and the why I needed to be adopted. I didn’t even know their nationality or age. The only other thing I knew was my surname because mom and dad knew all our surnames.
Pretty much all of it was not true. At all. When I told mom the true story, she didn’t understand why the social worker hadn’t told them the truth. There was nothing bad in the truth. My mother lived at home with her family and had a good job. Then the typical happened for so many mothers from my era; boy meets girl, they date, at some point they have sex, she’s pregnant, he bails, she goes out-of-town to a relatives home, has me, gives me up, returns to her parents home she’s always lived in and her life continued on.
But the typical boy meets girl story isn’t a story that ticks off all the boxes like my story did. No need to worry about the intelligence or ambition – the father is a college professor, the mother a college student. No need to worry, I came from solid middle class families. No need to worry about family support, she lives outside of the family home, so, obviously, there’s a breakdown of some sort, even if, they are still paying for college. No need to worry about the mother and father getting together and wanting to raise me, he’s married, divorce is looked down on in society. In other words, a perfect, healthy, white baby that no one is going to try to get back. No worry that the family by birth could ever be found, none of the details are true. It’s all good.
Today, stories told to adoptive parents still may not be the full story, even if you know all the parties, we all wear masks. I’m also sure there are adoptions today that have stories with only a few grains of truth in them. Adoption hasn’t changed that much.
Never assume that your child’s story told to you is the only story.
I’m not sure if this is the 6th or 7th time I’ve linked to the best Ted Talk ever done. I know the first time I posted was in 2010. If you’ve never taken the 20 minutes to hear the message she has, do it today. It does not speak to adoption at all. It has everything to do with adoption. If you’ve taken the time before to watch it, it never hurts to have a refresher.