It’s a rare adoptee who would fit into the Either/Or category people like to paint us as, instead try seeing us as Both/And.
When you see an adoptee as someone who can love their life, their family, and also be taken to their knees in a heartbeat when something triggers the harder feelings of loss caused from being adopted, you see us as Both/And.
Both/And allows us the dignity to be able to talk to you about both the good and the bad adoption and being adopted brings to the table.
Both/And does not believe that if you love your family you won’t have feelings of deep loss related to being adopted, it means both can exist and one has nothing to do with the other.
If you see adoptees as Either/Or you divide us into two categories:
a) if you’re a good adoptee you fit into your adopted family as if it was meant to be; that we love our family, that we never needed to process being adopted, that we never had feelings related to being adopted, because how could we, we love our family and being adopted is always good.
b) if we are one of those adoptees who ALSO dares to also share the contradictory feelings that also comes with being adopted, we are one of those adoptees who are angry, troubled, whatever term you can think of, and obviously didn’t have a close relationship with our family.
Painting adoptees as Either/Or in the adoption community is troubling and divisive, it seeks to divide us into Either/Or, a line drawn in the sand. The Happy Adoptee vs the Angry Adoptee, the Positive Adoptee vs the Negative Adoptee, instead of recognising Adoptees will process being adopted at points throughout their life, how they deal with it is dependent on who they are, but whether they love their family has no relevance or stake in the loss they are feeling, it just doesn’t.
No one challenges people in adoption the right to process all the different feelings infertility brings to the table, the genetic reproduction loss, the pregnancy and birth experience loss, the loss of seeing yourself reflected back in your children, and all the other ways it hits you and takes you to your knees. No one challenges an adoptive parent when grief directly linked to infertility comes out of nowhere. Grief does that, grief isn’t once and done, it awakens when life events happen and trigger a feeling deep inside related to your loss. I’ll never forget how infertility grief overwhelmed mom for a season after dad passed. I didn’t challenge mom with well you adopted so what’s the problem, you must not love me, instead I sat with her through it, despite that sting for me, her grief didn’t tell me she didn’t love me. I didn’t doubt for a minute she loved me, or that her processing meant she regretted parenting me, instead that her resurgence of grief over not having dad’s child was understandable and triggered by dad passing – Both/And.
We are all complicated people capable of deep feelings and are able to hold contradictory, complicated feelings about the losses in our lives, while also loving those we are with and living life. Start seeing adoptees as you see yourself, instead of seeing adoptees as being incapable of holding Both/And when adoption feelings surface triggered by life events.