I know, I know – doesn’t this photo just tug the heartstrings, touch that wounded adoptee place that says I wish I’d had siblings, dear friends who ‘got it’ early and had lived with protective aunts and a big strong mother to smooth my path, guide my steps and care for me with deep abiding love and commitment. There is something deeply touching in the body language of these baby elephants that seems to indicate a feeling of security, safety and a protection of their baby space. Elephants are intelligent, sentient beings, easy to anthropomorphize, so who knows what is really going on? It really doesn’t seem too difficult to read, perhaps it’s the mammal in us that recognises other mammal behaviour.
Elephants too, like adoptees, are endangered, treated badly, abused and captured to entertain others. Many of us adoptees have deep relationships with animals and birds and sometimes found them to be the safety net that got us through childhood. I know I did and still identify with that place and am grateful for the comfort I have gained over the decades from bird and animal companions.
Currently my love is for all animals and birds; particularly for cats and geese, as regular readers will know. I longed to keep geese all my life, to know and understand them. Once I made the tree-change, the opportunity arose. Typically my first two were rescued from a tiny suburban backyard where they had been gifted, then hand raised and were creating havoc through boredom, lack of opportunities and a seriously restricted life. I learned a great deal very fast about goosewrangling, care and feeding. I was badly scratched that first day through inexperience and it never happened again. These two were very tame and one allowed herself to be cuddled on occasions; a big feathery teddy bear of a goose, still with me and still looking fine. Her double chins are growing as she ages…who’s aren’t?
I was thrilled to discover all geese are descended from the wild geese who migrate, travelling great distances to their place of safety for breeding. They are, in some way not hard to discern, a symbol, a totem, for this adoptee and the long journey of the adoptee homewards to knowledge, understanding and discovery of who we are, our real identities and our place in our own history.
When we are denied that knowledge, that opportunity and are cut off at our roots it seems the cruelest cut of all. Adoption deals us a rough hand but that perhaps is the hardest of all – to not know who our people are and where we came from and have assistance in where we are going. That cruel cut denies us so much guidance and opportunity to be ourselves, to feel at home with ourselves and to be comfortable with our ambitions, our skills, our abilities and our looks. How many times do we hear adoptees express their feelings about not fitting in, being unlike anyone in the afamily, being ridiculed or criticised for natural abilities and being discouraged from exploring avenues of study or work which fit with our innate inclinations and our inheritance. When we are cut off from that knowledge it seems we are being asked to live life with one arm tied behind our backs or in a blindfold! Of course, we have here an argument for open adoption. So very many open adoptions close within two years, have no legal requirements and often prove too difficult or were never intended to last, but were a carrot for mothers. The confusion of open adoption will in time tell, as adoptees come to adulthood and begin to talk and write more about their experiences.
And so to this, You Need Me To Do What? | You\’re My Second Mama, Aren\’t You. I have never understood why adopters tell these stories in the way they do. My own amother used to tell with amusement about how she starved me when I was placed, because she was so incompetent she couldn’t mix formula correctly! Over the years I must have heard dozens and dozens of stories by adopters about adoptees or accounts from adoptees about adopters and their treatment. I am still unable to discern the motivation, the purpose or what it is being illustrated in the telling and the method of telling.
It is possible to pull out a dozen or more interesting points being illustrated from the adoptee point of view but instead I have gone to the source, asking the author to comment so that we can truly understand. I await a reply with interest.
8th May – Jane’s reply
“This blog was a direct result of the volunteer work I did with Holt Children Services, volunteering to talk with parents who waiting for their adopted children. Since I’m not a psychologist or social worker, I thought the best thing to do with them to share my experiences as an adoptive parent.
What is interesting about my children. It’s that they all three had vastly different reactions to being adopted. They taught me many lessons about grief, fear, and a sense of abandonment that many adopted children have.
I read several books, and worked closely with a child therapist, who is herself adopted. She was the one that helped me understand the more complex issues and behaviors, that were hard for me to handle.
The Holt parents were very responsive to my honesty, and my humor. That is what I tried to capture in the blog. Because I’ve been a teacher all of my life, I do know that people like to learn from stories, and sometimes I simply tell a story that has general human interest, not particularly related to any adoption theme, and sometimes I just tell a funny story about parenting in general.
So often adoptive parents are well-meaning, but are unprepared for the deep feelings and trauma that many adoptees feel. I just try to give them a peek into that world.
Actually, my readers are the ultimate judge of exactly what I managed to get done. So readers, if you feel like commenting about your reactions to the blog, please do.
One more thing, on a very selfish level, every week for several minutes, I get to relive the happiest years of my life, with three children that I love so much.”