The theory: That most adoptees are just living their lives and those who are vocal are not the norm…aka angry adoptees, had a bad experience, ungrateful, mal-adjusted, anti-adoption, etc.,…
I’ve noted before that I never brought up the challenges of being adopted, I kept silent. I didn’t even share those feelings with my best friend, a friendship that has continued for 40+ years, until recently, but even then, just a few glimpses of the depth of my feelings came out. My friend knew the challenges we lived with my sibling, she saw them, they were real for her. She knew the challenges I faced in my long first marriage, she saw them, walked through them with me. Yet, she didn’t know the challenges I faced being adopted. She didn’t know, because how do you share challenges that are so foreign to those non-adopted that they have no reference from which to understand? How do you find the words to share them in a way that they feel real, to them? You can’t. Add to that, society dictates with the adoption narratives that you are wrong to feel that way, so, you stay silent.
And that’s the crux of the problem.
How to make something real to those who have never lived it. How do you make the loss of your biological family has on you real, while you live with your family. How can you find the words that explain the dueling feelings inside – mourning the loss of being raised by the mother who nurtured you in her womb, the rest of your family – while having a mom, dad, family?
The only way those feelings could be understood, a visceral understanding, is if, the mother passed away in childbirth. And that would be a tragedy then, the magnitude of loss that would shake anyone to their core, the thought of having lost their mother at birth.
A baby without a mother is a tragedy.
But when your mother is alive, but has chosen not to raise you? Many can’t see it as a tragedy, if anything, it’s a lucky miss, because who would want to be raised by someone who didn’t want them.
Society sees adoption as the solution and a beautiful thing to behold.
So, when either the orphan or one given up gets adopted, it’s a full on celebration of what a beautiful thing just happened. With adoption – you have parents, a family. Parents who, with intention, chose to parent you, and how lucky and blessed you are. It becomes a miracle. And not just a miracle for the child, but a miracle for the couple too. It’s beautiful. It was meant to be.
That shift of the narrative to include adoption can make it hard, if not impossible for the adoptee when they process being adopted, to speak, to be heard, understood, related to. Platitudes are common, understanding minimal, because you have a new family now. Any potential feelings the one adopted may have are downplayed, quickly solvable, if not, you need help because it’s not normal. The message is clear, those feelings need to be dealt with and done.
I doubt there is an adoptee alive who hasn’t processed adoption feelings at least once, if not many times over the course of their life. Whether that processing occurs when they are 8, 14, 25, 46, or whatever the trigger was that started it, or again. The question remains, how can anyone understand their feelings, because, to them, adoption is beautiful. Some even say it is redemptive. Our societal response is to not recognise the feelings of being an only, otherness, rejection, abandonment, feelings of loss, because adoption created you a new family. It’s all good now. Move on. When any of those feelings came to the forefront; whether it is a feeling of abandonment, low self-worth, loss of their biological roots, culture, country, language, lack of racial and/or genetic mirroring – whatever needed processing, can’t be explained to people who can’t conceive you having them. Society has chosen the miracle of adoption narrative, because, in it – everyone wins.
So, when natural feelings come up, how can you expect others to get it?
I wonder what the the long-term impact of today’s adoption narrative in society, complete with life books, adoption story books, the she loved you so much selfless narrative will have on the one adopted. Will it make it even harder to be truly honest with others. Will it be the panacea, the same challenges for them, or harder?
So, does the theory hold water? That most adoptees are just living their lives and those who are vocal are not the norm? Or did the internet provide the tool we needed to find a voice, a community? A place to find others like us, who’ve also been silent about being adopted for decades, while living their lives, and now, we have others who we can relate to? Will adoptees today find their voices sooner because they’ve grown up with the internet? Will they face the same theory, or will their voices be heard?