One of our dear American adoption community members had this comment left on a post he made about family and his adoption. I have ‘borrowed’ it because it so neatly illustrates one of the many fallacies and assumptions we adoptees are peddled by non-adoptees, in this case, a mother – Women had to survive the best way they could in an unforgiving society, being a mother of loss, I was, and have been judged for having sex outside of marriage but that did not make me a bad person, regardless of how society has judged us we are and would have been loved by our children who saw us as being nothing less than perfect. Your family and your mother would be very proud of your determination and successes and that is what matters nothing else
Here in Australia we adoptees have struggled with this approach to us and our adoptions by some mothers, particularly since the time of the forced adoption Inquiry. Those of us who challenged their assumptions and the ‘party-line’ were ostracised, bullied, belittled, ridiculed and sent to the Gulags, because we dared to speak our truths, to tell our stories and to do so in our own voices, in our own words and without reference to the made-up myths which must have been set in place to make the hard painful facts of adoption livable with. When mothers-of-loss campaigned for so many years for an Inquiry, I don’t believe they had foreseen or anticipated that so many of us adoptees would come out of the wood-work. We were still referred to as ‘babies’ or ‘children’ and maybe we were still thought of that way. We still are by some, many of whom should know better. I have seen, many times, the idea expressed that we adoptees saw our mothers as ‘perfect’ or even ‘nothing less than perfect’ and that assumption or some other, is so often followed up by a set of assumptions about the adoptees’ own mother, who is unfound, unknown or maybe even dead, but certainly not in a position to have made assertions about their feelings about the adoptees’ achievements, successes, knowledge or place in the world. No doubt these words are meant to comfort and soothe, but they may not reflect the truth, reality or be in any way useful to us as we search for our truth, try to make sense of our lives, our past and our genealogy. They muddy the waters and try to make us believe that all mothers are the same , all adoptees the same, with the same stories, feelings, reactions, goals and beliefs.
If we have learned anything in the last few years, it is surely that adoption is not a ‘one-stop-shop’ but an individual and quite unique event/experience/story/process/journey/trauma/loss/salvation and so on for each of us, and that it is our prerogative to explain that, identify it, name it, describe it, speak about it and find words for it, or not, and that the time when others can feel comfortable in taking over those functions is long over. Non-adoptees have no right to speak for us, to invent the language by which our adoptions can be talked about, written about, discussed and described. Many want us to shut up, to keep quiet and be silent, others want to describe, explain and story-tell for us and others want to control what is said about adoption and adoptees and believe adoption is beautiful and that love will solve everything! There are those non-adoptees who find adoption a convenient vehicle to talk about themselves or as a dramatic plot ‘thickener’, a useful dramatic ploy and some, like one of my half-sisters, use it as their very own T.V show ( the very one who came to visit, but chose not to tell me she had given up a child for adoption after her first three children were born and considered my existence ‘hilarious’) because they love the drama and ‘reality’ of it. We are told all manner of things that may or may not be true, approaching the truth or relevant to us. We often find mothers-of-loss telling us we were all ‘loved and wanted’. Our online activities tell us that this is quite clearly not the case and the events related by adoptees show us that so often we are not wanted, let alone loved or even cared for or about. Not just the first time around, but the second time as well ,when many of us consider we are lucky to have experienced ‘reunion’. It is heart-breaking to note the number of adult adoptees who go through months, sometimes years of rejection, being dangled on a string or are being asked to remain a secret in order to preserve or protect a mother and her story. I believe we are owed the truth, honesty and decent treatment at the very least, along with the knowledge of who we are and where we came from. Sometimes the truth hurts, but we are adults and surely entitled to be given the opportunity to deal with our truths, to be honoured enough not to be spun lies, half-truths and cosy myths which eventually we have to ask “Who are these for?”
And the Armadillo up top? How neatly this beautiful creature rolls itself into a protective ball which none can change. It reminds me of those who are so self-contained in their opinions, views and ideas that they allow nothing to alter their view of the world, can allow nothing to disrupt the status quo and their delicate equilibrium. In this way they survive the world and its angers, threats and challenges and who can blame them? When something works so efficiently for you why give it up?