Why?

One of my newest and quickly a favorite, adoptee writers is Tony Corsentino. In this essay, LINK> Wtf Is Wrong with That? he shared the Tweet imaged above. He writes, “I took to Twitter in what might have looked like a fit of pique, though for once I wasn’t piqued.”

Every adopted person who searches for their biological parents could answer – why. His answer ? “I decided I needed to learn the identities of my biological parents because, after being diagnosed with cancer and, soon thereafter, becoming the father of two children, I realized that I was no longer content with telling doctors that I knew nothing about my medical history.” I remember those days myself and both of my adoptee parents could never tell medical professionals about their own medical history. This is one of those inconvenient truth about being adopted in a closed, sealed record type of adoption. 

“All men by nature desire to know.” ~ Aristotle I certainly wanted to know, my mom certainly wanted to know, my dad claimed he didn’t. He cautioned my mom against opening a can of worms. I think he was afraid to know.

Tony notes that this knowledge is forbidden. Certainly, my mom tried and was forbidden to know by the state of Tennessee. Tony notes, “I decided, somewhat in the manner of Huckleberry Finn, that if I was courting damnation to do this thing, then so be it, let me be damned.” You have to love that spunk !!

I remember long ago learning not to ask questions but to let people tell me what they wanted me to know on their own initiative. Tony says, “Questions are not obnoxious or offensive in content, but as asked in particular contexts. Imagine being asked if you cheat on your partner, or why you don’t have children. If you and I are more or less strangers and I put those questions to you out of the blue, you would of course be right to protest that it is none of my bloody business.”

Tony suggests that “question intrudes on a zone of privacy that people should respect. There may be no knowing what pain lies underneath an adopted person’s relation to the decision to search, or not to. To ask the question could be a trigger. Compare this to ‘Why did you terminate your pregnancy?’ or, of course, ‘Why did you relinquish your child for adoption?’ Whole histories of hurt might have preceded, and culminated in, these decisions.”

He goes on to share his thoughts about justice and power –

He adds – “To the extent that severance causes such harms, and that discovering one’s genealogical identity can help (or even be essential) to assuage these harms, then we can give real content to the idea of needing to know our genealogical identities.” Then adds, “part of what I was suggesting in these tweets is that we must separate needing to know from deserving to know.” ie Normative ideas grounded in our overall picture of human dignity and freedom.

He concludes by saying “if people better understood how deeply adoptees like myself are committed to reclaiming our moral dignity, and how central to that dignity the question of knowing really is (and is it really that difficult to see?), then we would not need to practice so much forbearance.”

Tony did have more to say than I have shared. The link is at the beginning of this blog if you care to read it all.

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