Nov. 2, Monday
Talk about the “adoptee in the room” moment—that moment when you realize you are the only one in a space who can address a particular aspect of adoption experience, when you have to decide whether or not to speak up knowing that what you have to say may be confusing, unsettling, or triggering to others. Perhaps you have found yourself in this position at a work function, at a family gathering, or while with a group of friends. Or, you may have run into this situation in an online forum or on social media. Did you decide to speak or not, and why? If you did speak, what reactions or feedback did you receive?
Ohhh I cannot count the number of times I have heard an off-hand adoption comment made, gritted my teeth and forced a fake laugh so as to not stand out.
I’ll try and discuss just a few in this blog post. Shout out to Lost Daughters for posting these prompts to #FlipTheScript on #NAM2015. This is my second year participating, last year being the first time I ever heard voices that were saying the same things I was. My mind is honestly still a little blown, even a year later, that there are so many others out there who get it.
First story. Are you familiar with the Facebook account Suspended Coffees? In general, I absolutely love the concept and what they do. They share positive and uplifting stories of people making a difference in the world, showing love and compassion to those around them. A few months ago, they shared an adoption story and captioned it with something along the lines of, “What a great adoption story, but then again, aren’t they all good?” And it struck a nerve. So I sent a message to the account.
I wanted to share a different side to the adoption story you posted. Your comment, “… aren’t they all good?” really struck a nerve with me. I was adopted at a month old by a family member. I have two loving parents and siblings. Sounds like a wonderful story, right? It is and it isn’t. And that is why I am writing to you, so that you can have an understanding of the other aspect of adoption. Society wants people to believe it is only wonderful and good, but there is another story that needs to be told. That of the adoptee, the child, as it grows up and has to cope with all of the feelings involved with their mother giving them up for adoption. You see, the story is not just about us getting a whole new family. It is also about us losing our first family, our biological family. That is a story that everyone forgets. I highly encourage you to read this letter.
“The very foundation of adoption is that of loss – a child loses his or her mother, father, and entire family; a mother, father and family loses one of their children.”
I would also encourage you to search the hashtag #FlipTheScript on Twitter. It will provide an insight into adoption that most people do not think about, but one that NEEDS to be heard. Those adopted children, as wonderful as it is when they are adopted, grow up into adults with a lot of complicated and confusing feelings about the matter. These are feelings that are seldom addressed because we are expected to be solely grateful for the life we have been given.
I love Suspended Coffees. I love the feel good stories of the world, the stories that show the amazing side of humanity. This story was one of those, absolutely. But please take the time to read the information here and gain an understanding of adoption from the adoptee’s perspective, as an adult. I, and all adult adoptees, would be very grateful.
There are two sides to every story and adoption is no exception.
Thank you for taking the time to read this and thank you for everything you post here on Facebook!
Whoever runs the account responded and said they would read it and fully take it in. I went back today to try and find the post and could not. So perhaps they read the open letter and gained an understanding into the perspective of an adoptee and took down the post? I don’t know. But maybe my message made a difference and that means a lot.
I casually mentioned to a coworker once that I was adopted. Her response was the following. “Oh well. At a certain point, you have to be glad it happened.” Oh. Do I now? No, please don’t tell me that I have to be anything about my adoption. She went on to tell me that since she is so much younger than her siblings, they used to tell her she was adopted and that her real father was the milkman. How on earth is that an acceptable thing for kids to say to one another? How could she think that it was a good idea to then tell me that after just having told her that I am adopted? What a good example of perpetrating the negative connotation associated with being adopted. Annnd that reminded me why I usually don’t tell people I am adopted.
Which takes me to another story, one I mentioned in my first blog post here. I was in elementary school. The same school that my older siblings had attended, and had the same teacher, so she knew that I was adopted. A girl in the class was adopted by her step father and her name change was announced. After that announcement, my teacher felt it appropriate to then tell the whole class of another student who was also adopted. Me. I remember my cheeks flooding with warmth, as I sat there in embarrassment, not fully knowing why I was embarrassed. Later that day, on the playground, one boy came up to me and made the comment that has stuck with me to this day. “I bet your parents left you in a dumpster because they didn’t want you.” Talk about a slap in the face and a whole new realization of how others might view adoption. That was probably the first time I had an inkling of the complexity of the situation. To some, it was a very happy and joyful event. To others, it meant that I was unwanted and unloved, discarded like trash. Talk about confusing.
These are just a small percentage of the times that I’ve been hurt by a thoughtless, off-handed remark about adoption. Because society views it as a positive and happy thing, people think that jokes about giving the adopted kid back, or telling a kid they are adopted to mess with him are funny and acceptable. It’s up to us, the adoptees to spread awareness of how we view things. Join #FlipTheScript and let us hear your thoughts!