Today, for example, there are several posts that have set my mind spinning. There's this one, from Jenn at "Insert Bad Movie Title Here," which has me thinking about my own partially written second-attempt letter to my biological father, whom I've never met. And this one, by Megan at "Earth Stains," which started me musing on my own struggles with chronic pain and the possibility of an adoption connection.
But the post that really reached inside and grabbed me today was this one, by Tonya at "Mommy Musings." This blog is a new discovery for me, and I'm glad to have found it by way of the New Open Adoption Blogs post at "Production Not Reproduction." Reading Tonya's thoughtful analysis of the book Found, I was at several points moved close to tears. I love how well this adoptive mom gets it ... or, at least, how well she gets me. She doesn't actually know me, of course, but in expressing her understanding of her daughter and of the author of Found, she is also acknowledging parts of me and my experience. I recognize myself in them.
I was particularly moved by the brief description of her daughter's tearful response to the movie Free Willy because it brought up a memory for me ... one in which I did not experience such understanding. I was in my mid-twenties and adoption grief was just beginning to surface for me. I went with a close friend to see The Joy Luck Club. At the end of the movie, one of the characters travels to China and meets her biological half-sisters for the first time. My friend is an expatriate who grew up far from the members of her extended family, and the movie struck a personal chord for her. It also struck one for me. As the credits rolled, other people left the theater but my friend and I remained in our seats, tears rolling down our cheeks. Eventually, she turned to me and said, with a note of irritation in her voice that surprised me, "I know why I'm crying, but I don't understand why you are."
"I'm adopted," I answered.
She shrugged her shoulders. "Oh right. I always forget about that."
I can't say for sure what she meant by that shrug. She was caught up in her own pain at that moment and probably didn't put a lot of thought into her response to mine. But I know that I interpreted it as a dismissal. It was as though she had said to me, "Well, that doesn't count. That's not a good enough reason for tears."
I was in the very early phases of figuring out that it did count ... that it mattered very much. I had grown up with the story that adoptive families are just like other families, only more intentional. I considered myself "lucky" to be an adopted person; it meant my parents had really wanted me. I was special ... chosen. I'd been with my adoptive family since infancy; nothing had been lost because they were all I'd ever known. (You can't miss something you've never had, can you?) I was just starting to figure out that there were pieces of my experience that didn't fit with this simplistic, happy story. During a different conversation, the friend who attended The Joy Luck Club with me admitted that she had a hard time remembering that I was adopted (and acknowledging that I struggled) because it didn't fit with her image of me. She saw me as someone who had led a perfect life, growing up in a perfect family. She didn't know what to do with any pieces of information that didn't fit with that simple view of things. I didn't know what to do with those extra puzzle pieces either either. I'm still figuring it out.
One thing I do know, though, is that I feel hopeful when I read blog posts like the one by Tonya. I love knowing that there are adoptive moms like her out there. I love that, through blogging, I have become part of a multifaceted conversation about the complexity of the adoption experience. I love that I am seen and that other adoptees are seen. Is there still work to be done? Of course. But I believe we are moving in the right direction.