And yet, I am neither unhappy nor angry on a regular basis in my actual life. In fact, I would describe myself as relatively happy, on the whole. It's been a long road, but I find myself in a fairly good place here in middle age. I'm aware that my personal adoption story has much that is positive about it when compared to the stories of other adoptees I have met. I was relatively well-matched with my adoptive family. When I was ready to search for my biological family, the information that I needed was available to me and I had the support of my adoptive parents in searching. I have been able to process my adoption issues through therapy, writing, and other means. I have been able to learn about myself and to experience the relief of genetic mirroring through reunion. I currently have good relationships with four pretty awesome parents. I have a supportive online network of adoptee friends who "get" me.
Not a bad situation, all in all.
Adoptees are sometimes asked why we can't just "move on" and "let go of the past." This is not a simple thing to do because our past is part of who we are today, but though I may not have moved on, I have made my peace with my life's story. I have accepted "that what happened happened," to borrow a phrase from Betty Jean Lifton.
But I still get triggered emotionally when I encounter certain adoption-related stimuli. The main things that trigger me these days have to do with the current state of the domestic infant adoption industry in U.S. and with the "positive adoption language" used to promote it.
For example, a tweet such as the following will cause my blood pressure to spike:
Adoption Network @AdoptionFeed "A Birthmother puts the needs of her child above the wants of her heart" - Skye HardwickWhy does this upset me? It's not because I hate birthmothers or judge them for the choices they have made. It's because the statement includes the automatic assumption that the child's needs are best served by separating the child from the mother, an assumption I consider to be false. Yes, I understand that every situation is different, and there may be situations in which the separation is unavoidable or perhaps even the best of bad options. But it seems to me that mothers considering relinquishment today are given insufficient information about adoptee loss and trauma. Without such information -- without access to the stories of adoptees such as myself -- they cannot make an informed decision about what the child truly needs. Idealizing rhetoric about "brave birthmothers" making the "self-sacrificing" choice to do what is "best" for the child is manipulative. It comes from the industry (initially, at least), and its intention is to persuade mothers that their children are better off without them -- an oversimplification in some cases, and an outright falsity in others.
|Idea go at FreeDigitalPhotos.net|
I'm triggered when I see things like the National Council for Adoption's call for personal stories that they can share to "raise awareness about the positive option of adoption" as part of their iChooseAdoption campaign. And don't even get me started on the organization BraveLove and their mission to celebrate and increase adoption in the U.S.
It's a strange thing to be an adoptee who has struggled with adoption in our current society.
Adoption loss is the only trauma in the world where the victims are expected by the whole of society to be grateful. – The Reverend Keith C. Griffith, MBELately, I've been thinking also that adoption is perhaps the only situation in which something that is a source of trauma for many is routinely celebrated and promoted by others. Think of other kinds of loss that people experience. Can you imagine those people walking around in a world that actively promoted the source of their harm?
Yes, I know there are adoptees who report being "just fine" with their adoptive situation. But does their experience override my own? If a number of people reported getting food poisoning at a particular restaurant would we ignore their claims because others reported having a lovely meal?
My perception is that adoptee trauma and loss is given an occasional nod in today's world, but it is still not being fully taken into account in terms of policy and reform. And so I will continue to tell my story, rather than "moving on."