They Know Where To Find Me

A mother writes on a long running blog familiar to some – “Do you plan to search for your birth parents” asked my impudent first mother friend at a reading by English writer Jeanette Winterson of her prize-winning 1985 novel Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit. Winterson brushed the question aside. “If they want to find me, they know where to find me” referring to her fame and her original parents in the UK. Subsequently, though, Winterson did search and had a good reunion with her first mother, a story she recounts in her 2011 memoir Why Be Happy When You Could be Normal. My question is, why this is considered by the blog author to be an impudent question and not a rude and disrespectful one? What would have been the reaction if Jeanette had come back with ‘Have you searched for your son or daughter and what was the outcome for you?’ Jeanette is an experienced author, a very talented author, who regularly appears at Writers’ Festivals and other events, she is used to fielding questions, both useful and intrusive. It’s what she does and what she has chosen to do. Why treat her as some sort of Disney-land exhibit, regard questions as another way of adoptee-baiting?
I have always found the way some treat celebs, minor celebs, the well- known, the prominent and the famous as some sort of other form of humanity rather strange and disturbing. We saw it on Thursday with the Apology for forced adoption when Tony Abbott, the Leader of the Opposition, a man with personal experience of adoption, was heckled for what some mothers saw as an insult, a slip-up and which incidentally the blog writer quoted about would have no quarrel with. He referred to birth mothers; had he done his homework better he would have avoided the pit of destruction and the resultant publicity which detracted from the occasion.
In remarking on the heckling yesterday on Facebook, I was given a short list of ways in which adoptees digressed from the solemnity of the occasion and informed that ‘dirty little mothers’ obviously shouldn’t be standing up for themselves by heckling. Where did that come from? A place of deep pain it seems, from where it is easy to jump to conclusions, assume attitudes and disallow opinion however valid. These painful places make it impossible to set up any dialogue that goes anywhere useful because of the recrimination, the set attitudes and a frozen in time position.
It seems sometimes as if it is impossible for adoptees to comment on adoption or the adopted life, except within very strict boundaries not defined by adoptees, where the rules are unknown and every step is on egg-shells. When we speak about our own lives, the effects of adoption, non-adoptees argue with us, tell us we are wrong because our version is not their version and they somehow intimate that we have defective memories, warped vision or inferior perceptions and are not capable of determining our own lives, interpreting our own lives or describing our own lives. That particular form of patronization is so belittling, smug and offensive. I could quote any number of examples, upset any number of mothers and adopters with my effrontery and no doubt some adoptees also, when I should be conciliatory and swallow any amount of information I know to be incorrect. No doubt I would be slammed for being so outspoken, for stirring up trouble and failing to please the mummies.
I am sick of being treated in this way, particularly as an older adoptee, older than most mothers and adopters around. I’m tired of the disrespect, the hatred and the double-think and double-talk. Many of us are not those precious babies who were ripped from the womb, torn from the arms or stolen by vultures and we never were. Some of us were given for adoption, we were not loved or wanted, grieved over and forever mourned. Some of us were abandoned, discarded, got rid of, sold, traded or allowed to believe we were the product of rape when we were not. Some of us were rescued from orphange life by our adopters, were loved and given opportunities and were loved by our mothers and our adopters; however unpopular that view is, it is the truth for some of us and will always remain so, regardless of how our view of adoption may change over our life time. When will we see mothers brave enough to tell the truth, the whole truth, to stop the deception, to stop stringing us along, rewriting history, giving us half the story, not remembering the name of our father although they remember the car he drove and so on. We’re grown up now, we’ll deal with the truth, however hard and hopefully we’ll be big enough not to judge, to understand and to have compassion.
There are mothers out there who have worked very hard to deal with what happened to them. They listen, they are respectful, they treat us like adults and human beings and they want to learn, to understand and to know. Just as most adoptees do. Some of them work hard with other mothers to help them see the truth, accept the past and welcome the future. They regularly communicate their feelings, thoughts, ponderings and dilemmas and may also work in some public arena to promote change in adoption. One of them in particular, here in Australia, was visible last Thursday and rightfully shown respect by politicians and others for her contribution and the way in which she contributes. Would there were many more like her to enable the oft-heard question ‘why can’t we work together? to be realised.

3 thoughts on “They Know Where To Find Me

  1. Good post Von – I talk about whatever subject I feel like…perhaps why I sometimes feel on the fringe. I see something, it interests me, I think and read about it, I write about it. Too bad if others don’t like it – what it has done for me is to both expand my knowledge and understanding, as well as allow my brain to heal and rewire. When I look at my earlier posts I see a vast improvement in regaining the ability to structure sentences and be concise – as well as how to spell again. 🙂 It’s a win-win for me and I have learned that some just like people to be like them, and when you aren’t it’s their problem.

    • So true!Impossible for some to deal with difference, it’s the basis of racism, stigma, adoptism etc and all about fear. So glad writing has helped you so much.Thanks for being here, so appreciate your comments.

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