It is with pleasure that I am able to dedicate my 1,000 post on this Blog to an interview with my sister author, who’s piece in Part One, on Surviving Our Adoptedness begins the new book The Adoptee Survival Guide.
Paige tells us in her autobiographical notes at the end of the piece, that she is an Ohio adoptee, a teacher and writer. She is married with two daughters and has been in successful reunion with her birth family for a long time.
She is the author of Akin To The Truth: A Memoir of Adoption and Identity. which is about growing up with shame and secrets during the Baby Scoop Era and how it felt to be an adopted child and young adult.
- I asked Paige –
- 1.What does it mean to you to be an adult adoptee today?
It means I came from adoption in an era of shame and secrecy, but it does not mean it has to stay that way. It means I have a (gladly accepted) duty to help other adoptees from my era, before and after, to form a sense of community, unification and even friendship.
- How has being part of the adoption community affected your life?
Having on-line connections to fellow adoptees is very valuable. Back in the late 1980s, I had a live, in-person, local support group, but it disbanded because the help and fellowship it offered sorta ran its course. I have one good friend from those days whom I see a few times a year. Now I have a new, semi-local group of adopted people and others from the adoption community to share with both on line and in person. Plus we like to write, so there’s an extra bonus!
- Where do you think you’ll be as an adoptee in ten years time?
Literally, in the same place, but with more wisdom and hopefully helping other adoptees navigate the complexities of adopted life. Personally, I also hope to be a grandparent in 10 years and be in a position to share a lot of my family lore with all the kids.
- How big a part does adoption play in your life today?
It’s huge since I have connections w my birth family, (mostly siblings…both in person and on line). Also I have cousins, one who is also a writer who got me started with a lot of encouragement and support with sharing writing pieces. I feel less like an adoptee, per se, and more like just a person who has all these relatives all over the place, which I love, but the reality is that adoption never leaves you, even if you have a great relationship with your first-family and love them all. Being adopted means that I am just “wired” differently from my adoptive family, and that will never change. (I sort of allude to this in my essay in the ASG.)
- What would you change about adoption if you could?
I think there needs to be more pre-adoption education experiences for both adoptive parents and natural parents before commitments are made. Prospective adoptive parents need to be better educated, now that we know, about how to deal w the specific needs of an adopted child…as a child and as a teen and an adult. There should be a course with a passing standard. As a teacher, I am required to take and pass certain classes in order to educate everyone’s children and deal with their assorted needs. Maybe adoptive parents should do something similar with one or two classes at least. Adoptees also could benefit from a class or two about how to cope with search and reunion aspects. It’s a great way to connect with people in a similar situation. You cannot approach other people in a combative way, which some adoptees do. That ruins it for the rest of us. Birth parents need more education about changing laws and how rules apply to them. They need to feel more empowered.
- What would you say are the key factors of your adoption?
At the time, mine was considered “closed”, and that was assumed to be forever. None of my parents (A or N), were aware that, in my state, I could access my records since I was born and adopted before 1964 in Ohio. I found out otherwise by watching a local TV talk show in 1987, and boy, did I want to exercise my rights as a responsible adult citizen!
- Do you have unanswered questions about your adoption? If so, would you like to share one or two with us?
Until I found out the truth, everything was unanswered. Once I had an OBC, I had first and last names plus middle initials of my birth parents. Because I lived in the same town, and not much had changed, and because I am real good at being a snoop! (LOL), I found out a lot of what I needed to know within a few weeks. The only thing now that I will probably never know since it’s not recorded on my OBC is what time of day I was born. I pretty much know everything else.
My A-mom has a theory that ppl born very early in the AM tend to be “morning people”. Ppl born late at night tend to be more like “night owls”. I have one kid who came at 3:46 AM. She is an AM person, (unless a paycheck dictates otherwise). My other kid was born at 1:56 PM. She’d rather sleep in late. I tend to like my weekend sleep, but if money calls, I bounce right up! LOL
- Have you had good role models or mentors in your life? If so, who were they and how did they influence you?
My two wonderful grandmas! They were amazing examples of how to manage on your own for many years as single/widowed people / able to take care of themselves. They had unconditional love for me and my brother, plus our pets. I learned so much from them about how to live life right. One grandma was very conservative, lady-like and “proper”. The other worked all week, had fun on the weekends and was a bit more “hip”. They made a perfect balance of life lessons.
- Have you any views about reunion or advice for those thinking about it.
Go for it! You never know till you try. That being said, go into it with an open mind and heart. You don’t know what you will find. The people you meet / find will be something like you, which is cool and gratifying, but they will also be themselves, as they have been before you met them. Embrace that. They are who they are. Just like with other relationships, you cannot change/help people unless they want it. Searching reunion should be about you finding out your information and making connections….not about getting anyone to change. Adoptive parents: Get ready,…This can and probably will happen. In an age of social media and available info, there are no secrets. If you have them, come clean now.
- What have you gained from adoption or from being an adoptee?
I have gained a perspective on living that no one else has. This old blog post says it best: https://akintothetruth.squarespace.com/config#/|/journal/2013/10/20/c2japjlfmts3qmb40ea06b6c46tvnn “Benefits” is all relative, please excuse the pun! LOL