I realize I'm the queen of touchy subjects lately.
Sometimes I get the idea to broach a topic so sensitive and fraught with land mines of emotion that I don't even know how to discuss it honestly without killing someone.
The thing is, I honestly don't want to offend someone. And that's not out of fear or something. I truly respect others and their rights to believe what they believe. So I guess why I want to address today's topic is to urge others to practice a little sensitivity. Well, sensitivity is not quite what I mean. I'd like others to realize there are a million different perspectives and while mine may clash with yours, I'm still attached to it and feel strongly and sensitive about it.
I honestly kept scheduling the post to publish and the pushing it off. Like 5 times. Because I really didn't want to offend. But? It's important to me, so onward.
I'm adopted. I've mentioned that before. I've talked about my adoption in many different capacities. I'm not here today to advocate adoption; instead, I'd like to think about the insanity that surrounds fertility and reproduction and adoption.
I really want to make clear that I believe in reproductive rights. In that way, I think a woman's choices are sacrosanct. I am not here to question whether you don't want kids, you've had an abortion, you've had a surrogate, have injected yourself with whatever hormones increase fertility, have spent countless dollars for in vitro, have popped out 12 babies all naturally, have adopted 12 babies, or whatever possible scenario I can't even imagine that is unique to you. However you've lived your life and whatever is going on in your uterus is your business.
I will not question that.
I only want to shed some light on another perspective.
Being an adoptee, I've always assumed I would adopt one day. I haven't yet because, well, adoption can be even more expensive than giving birth and while I wouldn't get pregnant with a turkey baster now because I couldn't afford to have a child alone, there's no way an adoption agency would give me baby anyway. Short of stealing a baby from a fire station, I'm kind of stuck with the cats.
I shouldn't say that. I love my cats.
I do want to adopt. I believe it's important. There are countless children in the US alone without parents, and those are the kids eligible for adoption.
On the other hand, I've also always wanted to give birth. Maybe because I have little knowledge of my own conception and incubation and maybe because my adopted mother couldn't have kids (she had multiple miscarriages and one premie son who died), I greatly want to get knocked up and push out a tiny human.
But I don't necessarily hold on over the other. For me, it's all the same. It truly is.
It's likely I can't get pregnant anyway. I've got ovarian cysts, endomitriosis, and a tipped uterus. I haven't tried, but it's highly likely that conceiving is going to be a dramatic ordeal. Drama that I'm just not interested in.
And I once again point out I don't judge others who pour their money into conceiving, but I don't see myself doing that. I don't see myself poking myself with needless daily and spending my life savings in order to have a child which shares my DNA. Not when I could put that money toward a child who already exists and needs someone to love it.
A family member unwittingly hurt my feelings the other day. We were discussing just this as she's getting older and worrying about her ability to get preggers and I expressed my perspective in a way, I might add, that no way implied she should feel the same way. But she replied back with, "But I want to have my own child. It wouldn't be the same."
Let's forget for a minute that she forgot that her relative she told this to is adopted and her comment might sting. She clearly was just thinking of herself.
But a hint to anyone who feels this way: please don't ever say that. Just don't. Even if you feel like that, it's okay, feel that way. But it's hurtful so try to keep it to yourself.
But why isn't it the same? Why? And why would someone like me be hurt by that?
I've spent my entire life feeling less-than. My mother didn't bond with me when she heard my heartbeat. I don't know my crazy birth story. I don't know if she had drugs or a natural birth or a C-section. wasn't held by my mother just after birth as she met me for the first time and looked into my eyes. I wasn't breast fed.
Instead I was adopted. I was told I was "so special" for it. That I was chosen. Well, I'm here to tell you right now that that may be the case, but I didn't want to be special. I wanted to be the same. Not better or worse. The same.
I'm okay with that. I've learned how to be me.
So why can't we adoptees be the same? Why not? Is DNA really that important that a child born of someone else's gene pool can't be loved equally? Are we really that much slaves to evolutionary imperative that babies whose mothers give them away do not somehow have the same place in the tribe?
"It wouldn't be the same." Why not?
Don't get me started on how society discriminates without even knowing it. On medical history forms, there's never a column for "I don't know" or a line to explain why you don't know. I've had to explain that countless times. And had to fight for a mammogram when I had huge cysts in my breasts because my family "has no history of breast cancer." Um, I just don't know if it does.
Think about the last time you had to get a copy of your birth certificate. You probably went down to the county office and filled out some forms and they gave you a copy. Not so for me. I have two birth certificates, see, one with my birth name (Baby and my birth dad's last name) and one with my adoptive family. It's housed in Sacramento, California. So I either have to drive to Sacramento or order a copy, which could take up to 6 months. Or, I could pay $100 for a service to go get it for me.
I hate to stoop to terms to make anyone feel truly badly about this, but society does expect a certain order to things and adoption is still somewhat on the fringes. Still bears a stigma. Racial and religious and gender minorities have fought for their rights for forever, but adoption is still somewhat secretive.
It wasn't but 50 years ago when we still lied to children because being adopted seemed so horrific. Then they'd discover their birth certificates at 19 and be traumatized.
Or there's the jokes:
Why is that funny? Why is it be so horrifying to be adopted?
Or, like I said, we compensate and call it special.
I know we like to think we don't care. We don't think like that. Of course we would love an adopted child the same. Of course. If we had to adopt.
Adoption is still a back-up plan. Still something couples have to turn to after they cannot conceive. After they've lost children. A last resort.
You know how in Steel Magnolias, Shelby's doctor told her she shouldn't get pregnant because it could kill her? Well she wanted a child of her own and got pregnant anyway and it stressed her body out and she died. Fictional character aside, this still perpetuates the idea that having a child naturally is worth dying for. And her own? As if an adopted child wouldn't belong to a mother in the same way?
Not that I think our children really belong to us. I don't think they're possessions. Belong isn't the right word. But do you get what I mean?
I do recognize the many people who truly don't feel this way, who choose to adopt out of their own will to do so. I've met them and they are my people.
Example: I know a family who adopted all three of their children. And I'm here to tell you those kids are the smartest, cutest kids in the world. And they freaking look like alike too. And they're a close family, closer than many families I know. These are my people.
But for every person I've met who understands this, I've met ten who think that having their own children is of the utmost importance. And if you do, okay, whatever, but every time I hear that it's just not the same, it hurts me personally. So just keep those thoughts under wraps. For the sake of being a nice person.
I feel like you're telling me I'm not good enough. I'm less-than. I'm not a real child, just a stand-in.
I'm here to tell you that's why so many adopted kids are overachievers, constantly trying to live up to the kids their parents couldn't have. I've met so many like me in support groups, all struggling, no matter how supportive and open their parents were, to just be normal.
I really don't understand it. In some cultures, the nuclear family doesn't even exist. Children are absorbed into the community and birth parents are inconsequential. That seems a far-off dream to me. Our society places entirely too much importance on genetic heritage. Tell me you haven't seen a dozen dramas on the news where someone famous (or even non-famous) discovers he's the biological father to some child. Well, who the fuck cares? I say. He's not the father. All he did was donate some sperm. He didn't raise that child. Why all the drama?
On the other hand, most of my family was really awesome. My cousin would forget I was adopted. We'd be joking about some similarity and say it must run in the family. Wait. Pause. Oh yeah! Adopted. I look like my father (my adopted father, for clarity), which he's so proud of, and which I didn't understand as a child because I thought that meant I looked like a boy.
I was also absorbed into bigger, friendship families. My parents' theater friends or swim friends and all their children. There, I could just be one child running around, having fun. It didn't matter how I came into the family because we were all one big family together.
On the other, other hand, my mother (my adopted mother, for clarity) used to leverage my adoption in her abuse of me. Whenever I displeased her, which was often, she'd threaten to send me back. So I took pains not to anger her, because no matter how hard things were, being abandoned a second time was my worst nightmare.
Or there was the time my grandmother, my dad's mom, was dying. I was 19 and my grandma was the only grandparent I'd ever known. She wasn't a warm woman, but I knew she loved me. My Aunt Sandy, the cow, my dad's sister in law (meaning she wasn't related by blood either) took it upon her magnanimous self to pull me aside and tell me that the family never thought of me as adopted, that they always thought of me as one of the family. 19 year old me didn't think to retort: well you clearly didn't because you're doing it right now. Plus? I'm more related than you are.
I didn't like her much anyway, so it didn't hurt too much. I knew she was crazypants.
The point being, the stigma is reinforced whenever people point it out.
Or every time someone I know complains about their own fertility, complains how she really just wants a child of her own, then suddenly remembers I'm adopted. She quickly covers with, "Oh but you're okay!"
That's like the white guy who has one black friend. "He's the nicest black man you'll ever meet." Mmhmm. Do you know what you're saying?
It feels the same way. I wouldn't want to adopt, but we're so glad you were. Right. Do you think about your words before they leave your mouth?
I truly do not get the importance here. Please, make me understand. I want to be sensitive. I get the desire to be pregnant and give birth. I do. I want that too. It's amazing to me. But why turn your life upside down, put yourself through trauma and pain, spend all your money, just to get pregnant? Is it so your child will look like you? Is it because you think you wouldn't love a child otherwise? Is it because you have such awesome genetics you just have to pass them on? What? What is it?
I was discussing this with my lovely friend Sonja the other day. She said, wisely, "A child is a child." Yes! That's it!
So what's the problem? Why am I constantly hearing that it's not the same?
I'm sorry if I've offended. But why are adoptees always carrying around a little bit of difference?
|me at 8 days old, taken by my foster mom|