It’s National Adoption Month, and yet again, the one voice not being widely acknowledge in this conversation is the one voice that could help make adoption about the people it’s supposed to help — the children
I have been writing about adoption as long as I’ve been writing, but with one notable exception — the letter I wrote to my first mother when I found her, to ask for contact — I’ve never shared any of this writing with anyone. I think that, for the first 30 years of my life, I was convinced that no one cared but me, that adoption mattered only to me. I thought that wanting to understand meant that I was broken.
Actually, it did mean that I was broken, and that only acknowledging that adoption was formative, important, and not something that happened to me in the first week of my life but rather something that I live with daily would open a path to wholeness. So I made some decisions 4 years ago and began a half successful search for reunion. Since that day, I’ve written more and more on adoption as I’ve tried to process the Pandora’s box I opened. The box is in me, influenced by the world in which I live, but I had no idea how many questions and thoughts and emotions I’d been denying, and sometimes I feel that I’ll be sorting them out forever.
What would have made the most difference to me, living as an adoptee, would have been for the people around me to know and acknowledge and support the fact that adoption is complicated to live with, and differently so for the only person involved who made none of the decisions that got her there. If my parents had known, had been able to acknowledge that, I feel things would be different for me today. I feel that my path would have been somewhat eased.
And that — the need to acknowledge, validate, and share what it means to live as an adoptee — is why I am here. Not “here” on this planet. “Here” on the internet, sharing, out loud. I am here because I hope that somehow, in some small way, I can be part of that change for the better, towards a paradigm shift in the adoption world that recognizes the complexity of this identity.
It took me the better part of two years to connect with adoptees on the internet, and even in the few years since then, that connection is mostly passive on my part. When I read adoptee narratives, I feel a sense of understanding and wholeness that nothing else in my life provides. In adoption, we become part of many families. My family is my first mother and her family. My family is my adoptive mother and adopted brother and some of that family. My family are certain friends who know me and love me and support me. But my family is also the other adoptees in the world, the only group that understand certain fundamental things about me that I can’t yet even articulate myself, yet.
I want to add my voice to that group, finally, to reach out an be part of that community, even if I’m not ready for all of my other families to know about that yet. I want to be part of this script flipping, where adoptee voices are recognized, heard, and listened to.