Please read this beautiful and moving post by Daniel And you will stop, and you will feel a certain unease as you barely dare read more, you will sense a creeping disquiet as you deny each card its due, as you feel each card’s presence in space marking just another of five hundred odd and sundry ways of abandoning a child. And for some useless reason you will try to maintain the order of these filings, for some strange reason you will try to keep a sense of reverence holding these cards, these lives, in your hands; and for some reason you will carefully replace them, and you will quietly close the drawers, hands shaking.
Daniel was raised far away from his beginnings, but has returned to where he began, to make a life amongst his own people.
TAO has written in a place of insomniac wakefulness of a program watched about returning and has questioned why adoptees should be regarded differently in wanting to search, to know their heritage and who they are.
I shouldn’t have been amazed but I was – two different lines from the same family separated over 130 years ago – but the resemblances were striking, including the mannerisms.
Now, if that had been a story written online – no one would challenge the want to know what happened, even if they personally wouldn’t. It would just be a good story, some might question going on such a long trip, or even why they cared after all – the line had split 130 years ago – but it would be doubtful that they would be warned that they might not like what they find. Doubtful, they would be told they shouldn’t care about what their ancestors stories were, or what happened to them, or want to find living relatives – because they had a family now, and didn’t need more relatives in their lives.
Why are we any different? How can we get those who don’t get it – that adoptees are just like they are – some want to know – others don’t? I struggle to find words that will make the penny drop so they can understand we are just like them .
Some years ago now, I was reunited with my mother. She was fortunate enough to have many photos of her family and ancestors, which she generously shared with me, without being asked and because she instinctively knew I would want to know. For a time I let them lie until I was ready to deal with the information they contained. I also did some searching and was able to find a wealth of information about my Great-Great Grandfather and his family, inluding photos and other material about his life. Enough to write a book in fact.
I could never have met these people, they died long before I was born, some of them nearly 100 years before, but I feel a connection when I look at them, which seems to come from looking at people who look like me, have features I recognise and am familiar with. They are in my comfort zone.
During some of the time I lived in the UK, I lived in a large city and regularly visited friends in the country. I always travelled the same road to their village and was very familiar with the countyside, the villages and towns in the area. The old houses and cottages were of stone, mellow and familiar, roofs were often of thatch and the gardens traditional cottage gardens with all the trees, fruit, flowers and vegetables associated with that type of garden. I discovered all those years later, long after I had returned home, that this area I knew so well and travelled often, was the country of my ancestors. Their village was one mile off the road I travelled so frequently, their graves were in the churchyard, their plaques in the church and their home still intact, transformed now into a Nursing Home. The Vicar had buried the last remaining family member bearing my family name only a year before. Their presence in the village was still intact, alive and remembered. In one of those serendipitous things that happen in life and particularly it seems to adoptees, my best friend lived in a village only six miles away. She spent an afternoon photographing everything she could find of interest bearing the family name. She also admitted her aged Aunt to the Nursing Home and visited often, spending time in the building and grounds of my ancestral home. The home of the people with my name, who look like me lived in and had carried out their lives since 1700 until the present time.
Seeing those photographs was one of the most life changing things that has ever happened to me. This was my roots, my heritage, my history and it gave me a solid foundation, one I realised was missing and I had lived without for over fifty years. This was pivotal in my becoming an adoptee activist and in my strong feelings of believing that all adoptees must have knowledge of who they are, where they came from and who their people are. Why would we be unlike others who wish to search, to know their families and their history? Why don’t some of us have the right to do so? It is an injustice so great, an act of such discrimination that came from the stated purpose of giving us ‘a fresh start’, a new life as a blank slate in which our bastard status could be wiped away, forgotten and forgiven. Of course it doesn’t work that way, our beginnings are never forgotten, our bastardness never wiped away and we can never be blank slates because biology matters, nature so often triumphs over nurture. In reality, disguising our beginnings or trying to, with false birth certificates, lost or sealed records, lies and omissions is to protect those who ‘erred’, made ‘a mistake’, got someome ‘in the family way’ but didn’t want the consequences or wanted to pretend they were not infertile. In later years we have become the focus of soul savers who collect ‘orphans’, sometimes children with families, make them adoptees, regardless of their real status, in order to make a tally of saved souls. Christian Ministries speak proudly of how they now have 100 adoptees within their community or whatever the number is, of kids bought/stolen/trafficked/removed from their families and communities, their heritage and homeland when other solutions could be found to family cohesiveness if people wanted it, countries and Governments wanted it, were committed to it and made it a priority.
Selling orphans is profitable, it meets the requirements of a lucrative market and it is in some instances much easier than trying to provide for the adandoned, the misplaced and the kids who cannot and should not live with their biological relatives in the home country because it it unsafe to do so. These are the ones who need homes, families, loving care, and fast, not eventually or never, after bureaucratic delays, legislation which doesn’t do it’s best for children and ‘care’ which does more damage than it does good. What has happened to our committment to children, to our duty of care and to our sense of reality if we can let these things happen under our noses, in our neighborhoods, in our communities and to our children?