This appeared on Twitter today – “Each #adoptee might feel robbed of their identity, but their stories are wholly #unique. Everyone is special and deserving of their truth.” As we used to say “It got right up my nose”.
Here’s why –
never make assumptions about how adoptees feel, or anyone else for that matter
not all adoptees feel the same
everyone’s story is unique – adopted or not
sick of being told we are special as if it’s some sort of normalising consolation prize, that thinking has produced a generation of people who think they are entitled
we don’t ‘deserve’ the truth, it is our right
stop patronising adoptees and telling us how to be, live, do adoption
While many appreciate the help of search angels there is always that risk of our search, our story and our journey being taken over, lead, directed and guided in ways we may not feel happy about but in our vulnerability and need will accept, because we have not had the opportunity to discover for ourselves or we have not allowed ourselves time and patience. There are situations in which it is not helpful to rush, to know it all at once or to be inundated with information. When we give over the search to others we give away our control, our power to proceed at our own pace and our ability to adjust, accept, integrate sometimes difficult information, painful facts and our judgement. There are so many lies, mistruths and misleading ‘facts’ in adoption that it is hard to judge what fits, is ‘true’, plausible or likely. When this is filtered through a third party, often a non-adoptee, someone who inevitably, unwittingly makes judgements and decisions, we can be misled in ways that may later prove to be very unhelpful, difficult or painful.
My own search took around twenty years. The first decade involved a serious red herring presented by my afather who meant well or most likely was continuing with his wish to get rid of me. Or maybe he thought he was doing the best he could for me, which he was. He gave me my mother’s name and my original name. Priceless pieces of information, but along with it a story about my mother and her identity. A coincidence produced a woman of the same name and age as my biological mother. She was easy to trace because of her profession and we corresponded for years. She believed we were related, there was a similarity and she was kind and thoughtful, while making it clear she was not my mother.
The law changed and I was able to legally make contact with my biological mother when I was fifty! We corresponded, talked, met, parted and eventually at the end of her life were in contact again. Over the years I had professed no interest in my father, had been angry with him at what I thought was his treatment of my mother. Once she had given me more information about him and made it clear she did not want his life disturbed I left well alone for a time. Eventually an acquaintance with an interest in genealogy offered to discover what she could about him. Amazingly she discovered a cousin wanting contact with family and the can of worms was opened. My cousin handled the approaches to my half-siblings clumsily and my brother and one sister wanted nothing to do with me. The others were amazed and curious, a long story for another time. I came to see my father in a different light and was glad I had not met him or been raised by him. I appreciated the difficulty of the times, the choices war time presents and the decisions people make. I had to learn the hard way and while I have no regrets I could have done it better. Hindsight is a wonderful thing. My professional experience taught me to proceed with caution, to think through carefully first approaches and in the end I gave that over to the professionals in the Family Services who did it with excellence. The things I perceived as skills were of no or little use to me and I was driving blind, just like most of us in this situation!
I have learned that the truth is hard to find. I have heard and read many, many adoptees’ stories and see that the truth is elusive, often well protected and reluctantly shared. We want to know, few want us to know! Self-protection is a strong motivation and the truth can be twisted, warped and slightly altered in ways which do not protect the ‘innocent’ – the baby born to become an adoptee. Our future was not envisaged as it really is and the chickens have come home to roost, sometimes in strange and unexpected ways. In that search for the truth many of us have found careers, paths to wholeness and survival and have made ourselves, crafted our own identities and live lives of productivity and usefulness.