One of my adopted cousins, someone I’m fond of but not close to today, had posted a photo of her child on his birthday. Lots of “Happy Birthday!” comments and “how adorable!” comments followed the post, but there was a short exchange that pointed out how very odd it is that people have a giant blindspot about adoption.
It went something like this:
Friend: “That smile is JUST like Uncle Fred’s!” Mom of Child: “I know! I think we also get our love of music from him.” Friend: “Aww, how sweet.”
Until 4 years ago, I did not have an Uncle Fred. Until 4 years ago, I was this quirky mass of likes, dislikes, and features that weren’t very much like anyone in the family I was raised by. I met my mother and her family, and I found a lot of my quirks and interests. I found my sense of humor. I still didn’t find my smile or my features, and I haven’t met the side of the family I do resemble.
Wanting to know who you look like, who you get your sense of humor from, where your musical or artistic talent originated — these things are so utterly normal that they are taken for granted by the majority of the world. For those who have always known, whose family have talked about how you have Grandma’s nose, or great-Uncle Earl’s time sense since you were a baby, they can’t even imagine life without these things. These passing comments don’t even seem important. But they are important.
Context is important. How we relate to what comes before us, what surrounds us, and what comes next are inextricably intertwined. People who have been affected by adoption are missing pieces. Adoptees are missing their past, what comes before us. Adoptive families are missing the future that included children who did have “her” nose and “his” smile. Original families are missing a member. We don’t take these things for granted. We’ve never had that option.
Welcome to #FlipTheScript Month. Adoptee voices are here to be heard. Adoption is supposed to be about our best interests, and we have a few thoughts about that.