You shouldn't long for anything more.
You shouldn't be curious.
You shouldn't feel connected to your biological relatives.
You shouldn't love them.
You shouldn't need them.
You should always remember that your real parents are the ones who raised you.
You should be loyal to the adoptive family.
You shouldn't talk too much about being adopted.
Adoptee friends, what Shoulds and Shouldn'ts did you internalize? Did you get them from your adoptive parents or from the broader culture?
My adoptive parents never said any of these things to me directly, but the messages were encoded in the words that they carefully repeated from the pamphlet the agency gave them—words intended to foster a feeling of belonging in me by emphasizing how completely they considered me to be their daughter and a member of the family … no different than if I had been born to them. My parents were well intentioned, and they were doing the best they could with the tools that were available to them at the time. But the unintended result was there was no acceptable place for the feelings of "not belonging" that naturally arose in me. Such feelings are a natural part of the adopted life, but they were forbidden feelings, as were feelings of affection and connection toward the biological family.
I understand that it's important to keep things in perspective. There are worse fates an infant could have than to be placed into the arms of a loving, infertile couple. I know that my adoptive parents love me. And I love them. But please don't try to tell me that that should be enough. It isn't.
The feelings that I have regarding my biological family are natural and normal. They are encoded somewhere deep within my DNA. My biggest challenge as an adoptee has been my ongoing struggle to come to terms with these emotions within the dominant culture of adoption, which neither validates nor approves of this aspect of my experience. I am continually shrugging off these Shoulds and Shouldn'ts. I shake them off. I claim my own truth. But they are persistent, these cultural beliefs. It's a process I must repeat again and again.