Adoption 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.