More thoughts on wishing that I hadn’t been adopted.

So the point I was trying to make in my last entry, that I think everyone seems to understand on some level but most people really don’t want to think about, is this:

Adoption is throughout and without relief the result of tragic events. It is a consequence rather than a choice. Even most adoptive parents would rather have had biological children, though I would be inclined to call their circumstances unfortunate rather than tragic (massive social pressure to reproduce in a world of over six billion people is what’s tragic, there).

Children aren’t stupid. They know this, at least on some level. They know they aren’t their adoptive parents’ first choice. And they know that no matter how you slice it, unless they were orphans, their natural moms gave them away to strangers. Their childhoods, their very identities, were settled for. Not by them, but by everyone around them. They may not talk about it, even when they’re asked, but they know it. Talking about it means thinking about it.

Everyone else knows it, too, if they know about the adoption. And the things we know about people–or more accurately the things we believe about people–affect the way we perceive them and, by extension, the way we interact with them. For example, research on gender socialization has shown that adults will perceive the same newborn infant differently (as evidenced by their verbal descriptions) depending on whether they believe it is a boy or a girl. Whether this results in adoptees being treated worse or better than a biological child would in their place I can’t really say, but I think it would be fantasy to believe that they are not treated differently.

In other words, life for an adoptee is a fundamentally different experience, and there are times throughout the life of an adoptee, both as a child and as an adult, in which this fact becomes unavoidably salient: being asked about your family medical history, discussions of family resemblances, conversations about national heritage or genealogy, or really just about any discussion in which someone brings up ancestry or “blood ties.” Do these things really matter? Yes. Of course they matter. If they didn’t, people wouldn’t talk about them all the time.

And then there is the moment, like I had the other night, in which you suddenly see how different your life was. Not how much better or worse it would or could have been, but how different it actually was, and still is. I suspect it’s very different for every adoptee. I only have my own experience to go by.

For the first time, you see your natural mother’s face, a face that resembles your own. You know it’s not just a coincidence. You imagine that face and yours together in a family portrait. Suddenly it’s no longer creepy to you that families look so much alike in family portraits. Suddenly you realize that you had always thought it was creepy before, and that it’s not normal to think that, and that you are actually kind of broken.

You realize that there are probably a lot of other ways in which you are kind of broken. You are, in fact, a shattered vase that has been glued back together. You imagine what it would have been like for that not to have happened. The fact that you may have been a cherished broken vase and that you were always carefully dusted and always held fresh flowers does not change the fact that you are a broken vase. What might have been, had you not been broken, doesn’t even enter into it.

Oh, you were also glued back together. Aren’t you lucky to have been glued back together? Aren’t you glad the people who glued you back together took such care in doing so? Just imagine what things would be like if you hadn’t been glued back together!

No, I’m not lucky, and I’m not glad I was glued back together, because I wish I hadn’t been broken in the first place. But yeah, other than that, being a cherished glued-back-together broken vase pretty much rocks.

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6 Responses to “More thoughts on wishing that I hadn’t been adopted.”


  1. 1 Diana June 16, 2007 at 6:02 am

    “Even most adoptive parents would rather have had biological children, though I would be inclined to call their circumstances unfortunate rather than tragic (massive social pressure to reproduce in a world of over six billion people is what’s tragic, there).”

    Most. I was perfectly fertile, but I wanted to adopt. It’s been tough…but totally worth it.

  2. 2 Julie June 16, 2007 at 6:08 am

    I like this metaphor better, and I like that I am no longer the only adoptee blogger with a penchant for metaphors. One more thing – I too wish that I had never been broken in the first place. It is no fun going through life being a broken thing, even if you were glued back together right away. The compound used may or may not be strong, but either way it is a foreign substance. It is unnatural, and never feels right.

  3. 3 Lillie June 18, 2007 at 1:00 pm

    Glued…and those little crack and glue lines are never really invisible. They’re always there as a reminder that the vase is forever imperfect, it has lost its value. Nobody wants to buy a broken, glued together vase. We’ve all seen Antiques Roadshow.

    And you’re so right iBastard, we ARE the second choice. We were settled for. Don’t go telling me again how I was “chosen.” Because if I didn’t go to the aparents I had, I would have gone to the NEXT couple on the list…or the next….or the next….

    Round and round she goes, where she stops, nobody knows…

  4. 4 iBastard June 18, 2007 at 2:11 pm

    Imagine if you actually WERE chosen. Wouldn’t that be creepy as hell?

  5. 5 Julie June 18, 2007 at 10:16 pm

    “Imagine if you actually WERE chosen. Wouldn’t that be creepy as hell?”

    Surro kids come pretty close, and the ones I know think THAT is creepy.

  6. 6 Valentina July 5, 2007 at 6:15 pm

    My mom was thrown into a panic when, in THE call, she was told if there were anything at all she didn’t like about the baby (me), to let them know and they would find another one. She drove to the agency trying to imagine what could or would stop her. “How could anyone not want a baby? What could be wrong with her? Three heads?” she asks, in a time-worn oral story. Then she described her great relief upon being handed me. “You were Perfect.”

    You figure out the conclusions I may have come to from this.


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