Archive for the 'Adoption' Category

Oh, how I miss adoption fog.

The day I meet my mother’s family is approaching rapidly and now I wish I didn’t have to deal with any of it. I wish I could shove it all back into my subconscious, forget that I’m adopted the way those “happy adoptees” are able to. I wish I could be normal again.

Except I was never normal to begin with. It was all a lie. A lie I would be reminded of periodically when my non-relatedness to my relatives would make itself salient in whatever I was doing.

It’s kind of like driving a car that periodically makes a funny sound, and you know something’s wrong but you don’t know what, and you don’t have any money to fix it anyways, so you just put it out of your mind and drive along hoping for the best until it makes that sound again. Rinse and repeat. Sooner or later, you have to find out what that funny sound is and deal with it, or something’s going to break. I don’t know if I would have eventually barfed up my transmission all over the freeway the way my old Nissan Stanza did back when I was in college and hoping the funny sound wasn’t serious, but I know that adoption fog wasn’t really healthy for me.

It still seems rather attractive, even comforting. I know better. Adoption fog is what kept me from finding my mother in the first place, and now it’s too late. I can’t wait any longer. But I wish I didn’t have to go through this.

I’m so afraid of all the things that could go wrong. I’m so afraid that everything will go just fine and I still won’t feel any sort of connection to anyone. I’m so afraid they won’t like me.

Adoption fog was comfortable. I knew who I was. Well, not really, but I could pretend. But now there’s so little for me out there. Identity is becoming such a strange idea to me, I’m really not sure what it is anymore. The things that separate me from others, plus the things that connect me with others, plus the people I came from, plus the people I’m connected to now, plus the things I like and things I want and so on and so forth. How can a person just be a list of things and facts and desires and other people?

Was I born a little blank slate, written on for less than three months by the woman who gave birth to me? And the subsequent 37 years and four months, authored by others and, ultimately, myself? It’s such a seductive idea. It would make my life so much easier.

But I just don’t buy it, even though it fits with my overall social constructionist view of the world. I wish I could. But I know better. So I’m going to meet them and I’m going to hope for the best. Just a few more days, and names, voices and photographs will become real people. Will I become a real person, too?

Will I be a real boy some day, Geppetto?


Is shooting yourself in the foot so bad if it improves your aim?

Well of course it is, because there are other ways to improve your aim. I think the only upside of shooting yourself in the foot is that you are much less likely to shoot yourself in the other one.

I was reading vietK’s recent post on things we adoptees do to undermine ourselves and feeling a bit chagrined about my own recent ride on the drama llama, and it struck me that perhaps some of these things are inevitable, and maybe the best we can do is just expect them and deal with them. I think it’s natural to worry about conflict and disorganization harming “the movement” or “the community” and to want to come down hard on them when they occur. Not that vietK is doing that, of course, he’s pointing out the things that bother him (including, but not limited to, conflict and disorganization), and they bother me too, especially when I see them in myself. Also, I am not really responding to his post so much as posting the thoughts that it inspired (mainly about conflict and my own recent drama), and the main reason I’m linking it here is that I think everyone should read it because he makes some very good points.

Adoptees are an incredibly diverse group. Pretty much the only thing we have in common is the adoption experience. But it is really amazing to me how much that is, just by itself. It gives us so much in common, so much we can relate to each other, that it can be really shocking when we uncover unexpectedly divergent aspects of our adoption experience, especially when there is an underlying assumption of commonality. It can make people feel shut out, even when they’re not.

The persistent use of epistemic modality (“I think…”, “in my experience…”, etc.) does get a little tiresome but I think that too many unqualified declaratives can create an assumption of shared commonality of experience, or at least project one. We all probably know that we are speaking of our own experiences but it’s easy to slip out of that and wonder if we’re being marginalized. And even speaking strictly of our own experiences can give the impression that those experiences are in some way being asserted as norms, exemplars, or prototypes of some sort. I’m not saying anyone should stop doing this, or even do it differently, but rather that it might just happen from time to time.

I think adoptees are very sensitive to discourse because we are constantly being victimized by it. The adoptee experience is something that has been subject to authorship by non-adoptees with agendas for so long now that it’s hard not to react defensively when we think the authenticity of our own experiences is being threatened, even by one of our own. It’s hard not to jump to the conclusion that that’s what’s going on, because with non-adoptees that’s almost always what’s going on.

So how do you choreograph a porcupine ballet?

What is reunion?

In a little more than a week, I will go to Texas to meet my mother’s family. This is what the adoption literature calls reunion, and adoptees will often refer to themselves as being in reunion after they have made contact with their natural families. But I do not feel like I am in reunion.

Reunion. Re-union. Union, again. To re-unite, you have to have been united before.

I don’t know these people. They seem nice. And I’ve actually met some of them before, when I was an infant, so I guess it is a bit of a reunion in that sense. But the key union upon which all the rest of this reuniting rests will itself have no reunion.

I will visit my mother’s grave, lay my hands on the ground above her ashes, and try to feel close to her. I hope it works. I hope something does.

A few feet of packed soil.

I wonder if international adoptees feel closer to their mothers when they touch the ocean.

I guess I’m not adopted enough.

What follows is grumpy writing about forum drama that I’d rather just put behind me. I’m leaving it here because I think it’s an important historical document in my experience as an adoptee interacting with other adoptees on the internet, but I’m splitting the post to remove the text from casual viewing because it doesn’t really go with the rest of my writing. (Apologies to those reading over RSS, my edit probably made this look like a new post but it’s not.)

Continue reading ‘I guess I’m not adopted enough.’

Big surprise, “forever families” aren’t really forever.

Okay, so I did all this blogging about how I don’t like the term “angry adoptee” and apparently I am the sort of person whose hijinks amuse the Gods to no end because wouldn’t you know it, today I ran across something that makes me want to tattoo “ANGRY ADOPTEE!” to my forehead and march around carrying a sign that says “ANGRY ADOPTEE!” while I shout to random passers by, “I AM AN ANGRY ADOPTEE! AAARGH!!!” until someone locks me up in the angry adoptee wing of the nearest loony bin.

What could cause such a reaction, you ask? Well, if you’re an adoptee or even just a decent human being and you don’t want to be completely enraged for hours, possibly days or weeks, then do not check out this blog post in which cool adoptive mom Judy discovers, much to her horror, an ad in her local paper for an adoption replacement. Wait, that’s a little ambiguous, let’s hyphenate for clarity: re-placement. As in, placing for adoption again.

Chloe, re-placed adopteeSorry, Chloe. You see, it just didn’t work out. It was time to part ways. After over nine years. Hey, these things happen. We love you, but we’re not in love with you, and maybe it would be better if you saw other parents, and we saw other children. We just can’t deal with all your issues. This just isn’t what we wanted. But hey, we can still be friends.

Tragic, isolated case? Oh, no. This particular adoption agency has a fucking return policy. “When adoption can’t be forever, adoption disruption is an option.” Go read that page. Go read it! And if it doesn’t make you completely sick and/or furious, please do the rest of humanity a favor and throw yourself off the nearest cliff.

I was thinking about going through and listing all the things that are wrong with this, but I don’t even know where to begin. No, wait, here’s the one thing that I think bothers me the most, and that is saying something considering how much everything about this is just wrong. All this bullshit so many adoptive parents spew all over the internet about how they are their adoptive children’s real parents is a big fucking lie as long as things like this are allowed to exist. Real parents don’t need an escape clause. Any adoption agency that offers one should be shut down immediately and the people responsible for it never allowed to work with children again.

I have gone out of my way several times in this blog to say that I am not anti-adoption. However, if we have actually gotten to the point where adoption is not final, where adoptive parents do not have the same commitment to their children as I have to my biological child, then we truly would be better off outlawing adoption because it has become nothing more than trafficking in human lives.

She’s… so pop-u-lar!

Sometimes I think adoptees have some kind of latent telepathy or hive mind thing going. Not seriously, of course, otherwise by now we would surely have formed a vast conspiracy controlling the world’s economies for our own nefarious purposes while simultaneously maintaining a façade of lost souls on the internet trying to figure out who and what we are. And that’s just ridiculous, no way such a thing could be true! Hahahahahaha! Such a silly idea!

But anyway, one of the things that’s been on our hive mind a lot lately (here, here, and here–the Vietnamese team takes all three medals in this event!) is anger and bitterness, and how these ways of describing (and dismissing) any adoptee who harbors any negative feelings about adoption at all just won’t go away. I’ve written about this too (several times now), and I would fall over from shock if there haven’t been a dozen others, but it just won’t go away. It’s really frustrating! Some variant of “angry adoptee” shows up just about every day on the search engine hits for my blog, and I don’t know if it’s from some adoptee who really is angry looking for like minded folk, or what.

It’s tiresome and I’ll try to shut up about it, or maybe just find a way to joke about it, but I know I can’t really let it go as long as I keep encountering it. Like misheard lyrics to a popular song, the idea of the angry/bitter adoptee just keeps coming back again and again no matter how many people we try to correct, no matter how thoughtfully and carefully we try to explain. I guess it’s just the cross-eyed bear that you gave to me.

Adoption did not ruin my life or crush my soul or whatever.

I am not going to deny the experiences of those for whom adoption has made their lives miserable. They say it and I believe them. But it did not make mine miserable, and I think there are a lot of worse things that could have happened to me. This does not mean I’m “grateful” or think myself “lucky” to have been adopted, or some other bullshit like that. On the whole, being adopted is worse than being raised by one’s biological parents, all other things being equal. Of course, all other things were not equal, and given the circumstances into which I was born I cannot say for sure which would have worked out better for me.

I wish that I had not been adopted, and by that I do not mean that I can see an alternate universe in which I had not been adopted and things had worked out much better for me. I wish that I had not been adopted, because I wish for all the things that people have because they were raised by their biological parents. Things they are so used to having that they aren’t even aware of their existence or what it might be like to be without them. That’s what I mean.

I don’t think the lack of those things has made my life hell, but it has made it more difficult than it would have been otherwise. As a person, I am incomplete in ways that are very difficult to describe. It took a long time for me to realize that, too. It’s hard to admit that there might be something wrong with you, especially if it can’t really be fixed. It goes against our whole culture.

But that is not hell. Hell is being sexually abused, or watching your family die in some war, or something like that. I’m not saying that some adoptees don’t go through hell just because of their adoption, but I am saying that I do not think that I have.

Sometimes it seems like people take the position that if adoption isn’t the best thing ever then it must be the worst thing ever, or vice versa. It’s not just that I find this frustrating and unproductive, it’s a kind of thinking that is completely alien to me. To me, it sounds like this: A: “Three is less than four.” B: “Oh yeah? Well it’s more than two, so it must be as much as four! More than four, even!” Or maybe like this: A: “Three is less than four.” B: “Oh yeah? Well two is less than four, so clearly you believe three is equal to two, and you’re just whining about having two when if you would just open your eyes you would see that you have three.” I’m not saying that it actually is like that, it just sounds like that to me. Maybe someone can explain it to me a little better.

I feel like every time I criticize adoption or make fun of certain aspects of the culture that surrounds it, people want to pigeonhole me as the “bitter adoptee” who hates his own life and wishes he’d been aborted. Apparently there really are some adoptees who are at least somewhat like that, and I honestly don’t understand them any more than I understand the “happy adoptee” who claims to have absolutely no negative feelings about being adopted. It’s really not my place to deny either of their experiences but I can’t connect to them, either.

I wish we could talk honestly about adoption without getting caught up in agendas or having to stay within particular camps. I wish the people who really hate adoption could hate it without comparing it to genocide or the Death Star or whatever. I wish the people who are really happy about being adopted would stop implying there’s something wrong with everyone who feels differently, or at least show some signs of having done a little introspection rather than just knee-jerking.

I wonder, if we all had a conversation with no adoptive parents or natural parents in earshot, and absolute certainty that none of what we said would ever get back to anyone outside our little covenant, what would we really say to each other about adoption?