Here at Poddler’s Creek we are, as always, wrestling with change. It seems that while my health seems to be improving, we are, as a family, deciding on new ways to make life easier and changing how we live and relate to each other. Living is never a static process and involves adjustment, processing new information and trying to keep flexible, as well as the mundane like installing a new bathroom.
I sat round a table with my female relatives at the weekend. It was pleasant, enjoyable and involved plenty of new information to process, as well as the beautiful food we all brought to share. Of the relatively small number at the table, three of us had, in the previous six months, lived through a near death experience. They, like me, see those experiences as a gift, not just because we survived, but because we retained a strong sense of our selves, our priorities and our place in going forward into whatever life now holds for us. What was reinforced for me was that I have had the privilege to be adopted into a family of strong women, women who are not strident or loud, but firmly and gracefully go about achieving whatever it is they set their sights on. All the women round the table were examples of that in their own way and I feel proud to be included in such a family and to have had a part in creating it. None of them would hesitate to tell ‘Madonna to go fuck herself’, but they’d weigh it up carefully first to make sure it was justified and then do it politely but firmly, probably with humour and a smile!!*
We are expecting the birth of a new baby very soon. Should the baby be a girl, she will have fine and loving role models from the four generations before her. If a boy, he will join the males of the family, all from widely differing backgrounds and countries. He will benefit from their humour, their quiet but never failing support and their committment to family life. The adopted life has it’s tough times, but this is not one of them!
The last two years have been tumultuous, life altering and at times eye opening. Life has been full, busy and hard work, with so many opportunities for new developments, adventures and learning, much of it without leaving my bed and achieved from my ‘work station’ – the over-bed table I purchased to hold my lap-top and other toys. During this time of increasing disability, I have had such amazing role models, some of them amongst the young paralympians and those who supported them, like Adam Hills, bringing a new level of disability awareness to all who watched them achieve their goals with such humour, refreshing lack of self-importance and gratitude for having been there. I have little interest in sports, but a great interest in the truly heroic. I remember, as you probably do, the story of the young lad who was asked what he wanted to be when he grew up. He replied ‘A paralympian.’ Me too!!
There are many things to ponder in the adopted life, if you are interested in the many facets of adoption. This morning alone, I have read the story of Guatemalan twins ‘saved’ by adoption and lovingly reunited after a separation caused by life-threatning illness; of a mother who adopted boys, but feels no attachment to them; of code switching by a Korean adoptee; of autoethnography and it’s usefulness in telling the truth of adoption. I have been pondering a new book by a fellow adoptee, beautifully told, clear to read and with a message of hope.
Those who like to believe that the things they read written by adoptees show bitterness, unhappiness and require their patronage and expressions of sorrow for the sad life lived, demonstrate pity, the disempowerment no adoptee, mother or struggling adopter needs to be subjected to. Most of us live full, achieving lives with courage and great survival skills. Your assumptions tells us a great deal about you and say nothing about us! Those who like to refer to the truth of adoption, the facts laid bare, as ‘vile words’ usually ‘spewed’, need to work harder at shutting their mouths, opening their minds, their hearts and their attitudes and understand that they are not doing the best for the adoptees in their care when they refuse to look at the whole of adoption. Knowledge opens the way for more knowledge, more and better understanding, it doesn’t threaten what already exists if the mind is open and unblinkered.
I understand that this blog has been recommended for reading by Social Work students. I hope you’re getting something out of it, flexing your social work muscles and getting ready to roll! I’d be happy to put up a guest post, answer questions or post on a specific concern or area of adoption. Just ask!
*And for those of you who like a bit of satire – “Bono’s efforts to save the African savage from itself prove that the colonial imperative is alive and well,” Dakarai said as he walked with other village children collecting sticks to build a tree fort.