Thursday, November 20, 2014

Adoption Does Not Define Me #AdoptionAwareness

Adoption Does Not Define Me #AdoptionAwarenessAdoption means a lot of different things to a lot of different people. November is Adoption Awareness Month and social media is a buzz with stories of hope, sadness, joy, loss, and everything in between. Some are written by Adoptees with an unhappy ending, Biological Mothers writing about open adoption and Mothers that have adopted. However, it appears that one perspective is missing, that of an Adoptee writing about their happy ending*.

Why is that?

Initially I thought that maybe the people that share just happen to be on social media and have an ability to put words to paper. Or that there are hundreds of different voices and not all people choose to share their story or want to be highlighted. Perhaps they’re like myself and didn’t know that this month even existed. But then I came up with another theory that resonated with me and my personal experiences.

In case you didn’t know, I was adopted.

This is the part where I want to segway and qualify my comments to within an inch for their life. To paint myself with so many labels that in the end I’m clearly only speaking for myself.

But here’s the thing, in my 42 years of life (all but 5 months of them being with my Parents**), 100% of the Adoptees that I’ve met who were adopted at birth and who are my age or older held the same opinion as I do on adoption and that is that – Adoption is No Big Deal.

Yes, Adoption is No Big Deal and yes, 100%.

Yet, subsequent generations (or Parents on their behalf) are writing about feelings of alienation, rejection and in some cases bullying. It’s a complete 180. Things are a lot different today then they were 42 years ago. Could Societies views provide the answer to my question?

  • Back then, they requested baby pictures of prospective Adoptive Parents so that they could try and “match” families right down to their hair and eye colour. I had never and to this day have still not met an interracial family or family unit that didn’t mimic that of the Nuclear Family,
  • They kept babies in Foster Care for two extra months due to skin conditions such as eczema and psoriasis and they tried to refuse adoption based on complications at birth or if you didn’t have the same number of chromosomes as the rest of society,
  • Open adoption was not legally supported,
  • Some children were not told that they were adopted and found out later or not at all.

I’m not saying that I agree with any of these policies***. I like to think that Society did the best they could given the knowledge that they had and that laws are now in place to ensure that the Child’s’ best interests and not discrimination are the basis for child placement.

And now, Society is faced with different choices but are they making the right ones?

  • Families have parties associated with the Child’s date of adoption or the date they came home or the date that they got their papers or in some cases all three. That’s a lot of parties for a child that may not care that they’re adopted,
  • Parents dissecting the use of the words “I am” or “I was” adopted. I use the terms interchangeably and while I understand that by definition they are different, no matter which one you use, they don’t change the way I feel or make me feel less supported,
  • Sending Children to therapy because their emotional needs are different from that of an unadopted child. All kids have emotional needs, adopted or not. If any of mine were associated with my adoption, I wouldn’t know it. Having said that, if my Parents had put me into therapy for just that reason, I might very well have some issues,
  • Purchase (and write) books with titles like “A Guide for Adopted Kids and their Adopted Parents”. My parents are my parents and not my “Adoptive Parents”. I am their kid not their “Adopted Kid”. To state otherwise makes me different and really has no bearing on whether I’m allowed to borrow the car or not,
  • Wearing Adoption jewellery similar to the ones that people wear for Nut allergies and Diabetes. Since when did Adoption become an affliction?
  • Research all in the name of Adoption. When I was a child, if my Mother had spent a significant amount of time reading and talking about her weight, I would be lead to believe that being overweight is a bad thing or at least something that needs to be figured out.

What if, in an attempt to support Adoptees, Parents and Society are creating an identity for people that they haven’t identified for themselves. That they wouldn’t identify for themselves. That to many of us, adoption is just one chapter and not a book. That it’s no big deal.

What if Adoption Does Not Define Us?

Follow #AdoptionAwareness on Twitter.

* Shayna over at Mommy Outside the Box has written a post providing some insight into her life as an Adoptee and while it doesn’t have a happy ending, it has nothing to do with adoption and everything to do with life.

** When I say “My Parents”, I am referring to the only parents that I have ever known – Nanna and Poppa.

*** I use the term policies loosely because I don’t know what was written law and what was just societal views perpetuated by those in charge of placing kids.

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16 thoughts on “Adoption Does Not Define Me #AdoptionAwareness

  1. Pingback: My Adoption Story. Spoiler Alert - There is No Story - Outside The Box

  2. Amy Stack

    I love this post.

    I am half-adopted. Is that a term? My Mom married when I was a toddler and her second husband adopted me.
    My two boys are adopted, but we do not want that to be their identity. We’ve talked about it, but we don’t dwell on it. Our hope is that when the boys are older the fact that they are adopted will not be “who” they are, it will just be a part of them. My internal dialogue hopes that the boys will be like “I used to have a green bike, monkey socks and look there’s a squirrel!”

    We were encouraged to read several Adoption related books, join Adoption related support groups/ forums, etc. We were also encouraged to celebrate Adoption Day or Gotcha day and even the social workers brought cake and presents. One gift was a photo frame that had “My Forever Family” engraved on it. It was a nice thought , but what couldn’t it just say, “My Family”?

    Reply
    1. Sarah Post author

      Dear Amy,

      Love your approach to your boys adoption. It sounds so organic. Just like life.

      Perhaps you’ve chosen that path because you’re adopted and realize that it’s just a part of you and not “who” you are (hope I’m not putting words in your mouth, I paraphrased your comments).

      I remember one of the first book (series) that I received called “The Adopted Family” (http://www.journeysofthezoo.com/2012/10/glimpse-into-life-being-adopted.html). I enjoyed it so much that I kept it and saw it just the other day.

      Thank you so much for sharing a piece of your story.

      Besos Sarah.
      Sarah recently posted…A Good Motto to Live ByMy Profile

      Reply
  3. René

    This is brilliant, and one of my all time fave zoo posts. Brilliant. I could not agree more, although some folks might feel differently.

    Reply
  4. Peady

    I am glad you think it’s no big deal. That’s good.

    It’s amazing to me how difficult it is for people to adopt, when clearly there is a need.

    The process for couples wanting to adopt is exhausting.

    The process has also changed so much over the years. Open Adoptions are amazing when they work well!

    I agree with you, your parents are your parents. That’s all they’ve ever been. 🙂

    Nice post!
    Peady recently posted…They Love Me AnywayMy Profile

    Reply
    1. Sarah Post author

      Dear Peady,

      I could have added that “42 years ago there were a lot more babies and children available for adoption”. It’s a shame that it’s so difficult nowadays. I think that more good people get lost in the system then the bad people that they’re trying to protect the kids against. Then again, it only takes one and we’ve all heard of those stories. Glad I’m not the one making decisions.

      Besos Sarah.
      Sarah recently posted…Prematurity: The Pain I Turned into Purpose #WorldPrematurityDayMy Profile

      Reply
  5. Jo-Anne Pfoh

    I love reading everything you right and I am glad your adoption had a happy ending. I could not agree with you more being an adopted child is not who you are it is what you are. My mother sucked and still does lol but I just do the opposite of everything she ever did and boom I have an amazing son. It amazes me the strength that people have like you ty for always sharing. Now I am off to read Shayna’s post

    Reply
  6. Pingback: Favourite Reads {3) - My Unwritten Life

  7. Shecki @ Greatly Blessed

    I just found your blog (through Pinterest). As an adoptive mom, this post was very encouraging to me. Yes, it’s a part of my girls’ identity, but it needn’t be ALL of it. Our situation is compounded somewhat in that my adopted children are from China, and the rest of our family is white. I’m very glad that we live in a diverse enough community that my 2nd grader is one of 6 Asian girls in her class.
    Shecki @ Greatly Blessed recently posted…Odie the Stray Kitten & Odie’s Best FriendMy Profile

    Reply
    1. Sarah Post author

      Dear Shecki,

      I am so glad that you found me too. I am honoured that you found my post encouraging.

      While I don’t know what it’s like to be in an interracial adoption and/or what it’s like to be anything other than white, I know that kids can find anything to tease others about and pick on their differences. Right down to names, clothing and hair styles. Many things have changed over the past 42 years, that’s not one of them. Personally, I just see adoption as another one of those differences. No bigger or smaller.

      Thank you so much for stopping by and sharing a piece of your story. If you or your daughters ever have any questions, feel free to ask me.

      Besos Sarah
      Sarah recently posted…Beginners Guide to Cooking a Turkey Dinner #ThanksgivingMy Profile

      Reply
  8. loucheryl

    Awesome post. My cousin was adopted by aunt (my mom’s sister)! And one of my good girlfriend’s was also adopted. 🙂

    Reply

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