November 1st sees the start of National Adoption Month in the States and as with groups like The Open Nest over here, there are some trying to prioritise the voice of adoptees (lostdaughters.com and #flipthescript are good ones to follow if you’re interested) but somehow… I still feel strangely flat about it all.
I have been trying to work out why this is- perhaps falling into that minority means that lots of things feel like an uphill struggle?
Perhaps being exposed constantly to media which reinforces old stereotypes about adoption feels negating?
Or maybe its because I live in a society that tells me I’m ‘normal’ in one breath- having assimilated into a family not of my origins- but yet ‘demanding’ and ‘traumatised’ and ‘difficult’ in another.
Sometimes it’s really hard to know who and how and what to be.
A lot of people have an opinion in how adopted people ‘should’ be- I’ve written about it before in the context of gratitude and other peoples expectations.
I have experienced it since making myself visible on social media, with suggestions that I am too old to have a ‘relevant’ view on adoption, or that I am somehow ‘opening old wounds’.
I don’t have an opinion on how other people should share their experiences, and I am a strong believer in people owning the things that have happened to them, sometimes that is the only way that their power can be redressed.
I have never considered myself defined by my adopted status- although if I did I don’t see that there would be a problem in that- what I do recognise- as lots of adopted people do- is that I am indelibly changed by the experience of having been adopted, the ‘sliding doors’ effect if you will.
I could have remained in my birth family, I could have been adopted by any number of other families, I could have been brought up in the care system. The possibilities are many. For non- adopted people (because is there a word for them? birth children? families of known origin? the norm?…) I suppose there aren’t all of those possibilities because they were born and kept.
Imagine being told you were a mistake, or an accident or that your mother had tried to abort you.
For me, being adopted is kind of like knowing all of those things, all at once. And that’s ok, because the flip side of that is that if I hadn’t been adopted I wouldn’t be where I am now – which is a pretty good place. I am fortunate and grateful for the family that I now have.
Being adopted has shaped me.
It has impacted my sense of self (including esteem and worth) ,my identity, my relationships, my personality, my interactions, my emotional resilience,my interests, my career, my parenting, my politics and my ability to watch films or programmes containing maternal separation (I think Bambi would destroy me!)
I wrote very early on about adoption running through me like the letters in seaside rock and that’s the only way I can define it. But it still doesn’t define all of me.