Adoption. What can I say about adoption without entwining my entire life into the narrative?
You all know I am adopted right? Today is my adoption day. 30 years ago today my parents picked me up from their child services agency in San Bernardino, California.
I am adopted. It is the least interesting thing about me, to be honest, but the one thing people never fail to find fascinating. To want to ask a million questions about. I don't mind, to be honest. I'm glad people want to know a real opinion from someone who's actually been there instead of just listening to the many TV psychologists who are pretty sure they know everything there is to know about the adopted child.
And I can't tell you either, really. Because every adopted child is different. Every adoptive parent different. Every experience different.
Except in the ways that we are all the same. And those ways are numerous as well. Usually included in our similarities is a fear of abandonment or either trouble trusting or becoming too trusting. Most fellow adoptees I meet have trouble in relationships because of a fear of not being loved.
But no one recognizes us for the way we are the same as the rest of the world. We are adopted first. But we're also stupid or smart, gifted or struggling in all the same ways as you. We fought with our parents and begged for shit we didn't need.
Nevertheless, there is that big A over our heads and in our files: adopted.
The one line I heard most growing up was: you're so special! I didn't want to be special. I just wanted people to see me as the same. Ordinary. By focusing on the special, I just always felt different. When, really, my life was the same as any other kid's.
Minus the shadow my mother cast over everything.
I don't want to talk about my mom much today, but I have to, at least a little. Because my adoptive identity would be different if my mom hadn't beat the crap out of me and threatened to send me back when I fell short of perfection, which was always. But it's important to note that biological kids have abusive parents too. You just never know.
So my experience as an adoptee is certainly tinged with my mother's abuse, but I still have a positive opinion on adoption. I never once, not in all my thirty years, pined for the love of my biological parents. Not once did I imagine they were rich and would come rescue me. Not once. It's complicated to explain why and you'll have to sit in on a therapy session to really get it. But basically, even though my mother made my life hell, I didn't feel any connection to my birth parents. Not at all.
You should also know that I knew a little about my birth parents. Not much. It was a closed adoption. I, however, had a cool social worker who told my parents a little more than she should have. So I knew the why of my adoption. Instead of my background being a big mystery, I had a story. There was no fantasy to concoct and I didn't feel the need to go digging.
It's also important to note that my dad was incredible and supportive of me my whole life. If you read this blog at all your probably know this. My dad and I are working through some of my resentment of him for letting my abuse happen and whether or not he knew. But that's between us. But had my dad not been such a good guy, I may have a different opinion on my adoption.
Perhaps. I don't know that.
And while the rest of the world loved to focus on my adopted status, my family and friends were actually pretty awesome about it for the most part. My cousins and I would forget, notice some similarity between us and say it must run in the family. Then we'd suddenly remember. Oh yeah! Not related. Hah!
Except there was that time my Aunt Sandy decided to show her true colors. I was 19. My grandma was dying. My Aunt Sandy (who was my dad's sister in law) pulls me aside and tells me, "You know, you should know that we never thought of you as adopted. We saw you as part of the family." I just stood there, speechless, wanting to say, Oh yeah? Well obviously not since you seem to need to remind me of it. Never mind that she married in anyway. Bitch. Plus? Nice time to bring that up.
My evil aunt and my harpy mother aside, my experience was fairly positive and I have a healthy relationship with my adoption today. I absolutely advocate adoption (Plus I loooove alliteration.).
I endorse adoption fully. Kids need homes. I certainly see myself adopting one day. It may be the only way I get to have a child.
I also love that adoption is becoming more mainstream, thanks to the rainbow coalition of Jolie-Pitt kids. As ridiculous as they are, they've opened doors. People are starting to drop their obsession with blood relations as the be-all end-all of family and seeing family as a much more fluid concept based on love and care and those who are most involved. I think that's awesome!
But I also worry it's becoming a trend. Let's go get a baby from every country. Without thinking it through. Without realizing you're not buying a purse or even a pet. You're becoming a fucking parent. I can't stress enough that it's traumatizing enough to abandon a child once. But if that child gets abandoned over and over, that's just the cruelest thing I can imagine.
I spent a good chunk of my adolescence and young adulthood obsessed with the psychology of adoption and foster care. I did research paper after research paper in high school and college. I wrote and I wrote because no matter how I felt and how I wanted to decode that, there are millions of children pushed through the system who had/have it worse and who no one notices.
Everyone wants a baby. But after 3 years of age, it's unlikely a child will be adopted. And that's when the parents release custody. Many parents in prison hold custody, trapping their children in foster homes. However bad you've heard it is, it's worse. In every county in the US. These kids go through hell.
I had not intended this post to be a rant about the system or adoption. But once again, the writing takes a life of its own and writes itself. I can't remember the last time I wrote a funny post. Which makes me sad a little.
I swear I still have a sense of humor, people. I swear.
And that? That I wasn't born with. That I got from my dad who is the punniest dude I know.
That's gotta be a point for adoption. Right? Who else has an adoption story?
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