Another kind of experience

I feel weird sharing and commenting on other adoptee’s writings when I don’t necessarily agree with them. I don’t want to critique someone else’s experience, and that’s not what I’ve set out to do. But I read this essay and I had some thoughts.

The essay is one young woman’s reasoning for why she does not want to meet her birth mother (her experience, her choice of terms). Her argument/logic/reasoning is that she loves her adoptive family so much that she doesn’t need anything else. She admits that she was very curious until her bout with a serious illness, and her family was there for her.

I’ve been trying to parse out what troubled me about it, and I think it was that this seems like a false equivalency to me. “IF my adoptive family is enough, I don’t need to know more about my origins.” The problem is the flip side of that — the equation that says that searching for your biological/natural/first/birth family or families means that your adoptive family is NOT enough.

I think parts of these statements are true for different adoptees. Statements I’d buy as truth would include:

  • I love my adoptive family.
  • I don’t love my adoptive family.
  • My adoptive family is wonderful.
  • My adoptive family was awful.
  • My adoptive family was/is complicated.
  • I am content with my life how it is.
  • I feel incomplete or unfulfilled in my life.
  • I want to know more about my origins/genetics/first families.
  • I don’t want to know more about my origins/genetics/first families.

It’s when one of these is used to justify another that I start to see Adoption Industry speak. Wanting to know more OR not wanting to know more — both of these make sense to different people or to people at different times in their lives. Equating wanting to know with lack of love or investment in your family? That sounds like the bad parts of the Industry speaking, to me.

We feel what we feel. But how we interpret or place those feelings in context depends on what we’ve learned from the world around us. I think the mixed messages and confusing signals from US culture surrounding adoption makes it even more complicated for adoptees to find and own their truth.

As an adoptee in complicated reunion, my need to search for my roots says nothing about my feelings for my adoptive family EXCEPT that they are not my biological roots. That’s fact, not feeling.


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