Even though both of my parents are adoptees and even though I have one niece and one nephew who were given up for adoption, I was quickly put in my place in a FB group that is intended to be a safe place for adoptees to tell their truth. Just stop, I was told. Stop thinking you know how adoptees feel.
To be honest with you – growing up I knew my parents were adopted and it mattered to me only in the sense that I didn’t know my heritage – what country did my genes originate in ? After I became an adult, my mom shared with me both that she was searching to learn who her parents were and said “as a mother, I would want to know what became of my child” and was devastated when she was told her mother had died a few years before. End of my mom’s reunion dreams. As a practical person, she had learned her father was much older than her mother and figured that even though Tennessee couldn’t determine whether he was alive or not, he was probably dead. She gave up.
Recently I bought a book by Amanda H L Transue-Woolston titled The Declassified Adoptee – Essays of an Adoption Activist. I’ve only read two essays so far. In her second essay, she writes about adoptees who never talk about being adopted. That would be how my dad was. I never heard him say anything about it. My mom once told me that when she was searching he warned her that she might be “opening up a can of worms”. That speaks volumes to me. I believe he was afraid to know what the truth might be.
Adoption was just a fact of life in my family. Accepted. The way things were. Not a bad thing and not unusual, though I didn’t have any friends growing up whose parents were both adopted.
It is interesting to note – I have been reading A LOT – from all sides of the issue now. I want to understand it all – how my original grandparents may have felt, how being adopted may have impacted my parents and my sister’s children and how my adoptive grandparents may have felt.
It may be true that because I am the child of adoptees and because I am the aunt of adoptees that I am absolutely impacted by the adoption experience. I just wanted to make clear today that I also realize I will never truly know how it feels to be one.
In in the words of Transue-Woolston – “There is no one cookie cutter mold that defines what being adopted is or that can be used to exclude other adoptee narratives from ‘counting’.”