Monday, September 21, 2009
The "perfectly happy" adoptee and his perfectly content birth/first mother
Ever get tired of reading newspaper accounts or hearing on the tube that someone who was adopted was "perfectly happy" with her adoptive relationship, but gee, she was curious? Well, we are. It happened the other day through the Adoption News Service and all three of us found ourselves automatically irritated.
Writers outside of the adoption world always feel that they have to assure the world that the adoption was picture "perfect, " the adoptive parents in line for sainthood, everything was honkey-dorey before they continue with the story of a reunion, just to make everyone know that this was no ungrateful little bastard looking for her/his roots. Or they say that the birth/first mother was perfectly content with not knowing and Whoops! along comes the child "she never forgot."
Well, dammit, most of us, if not all of us, are not perfectly happy with our decision to lose a child through adoption (except some who are typing madly away at some adoption.com sites from which we have been banned) and most adoptees are also not perfectly content with having been given away, because you cannot be available for adoption unless someone leaves you on the proverbial doorstep somewhere. Being adopted from a foreign country today also raises the possibility that you were stolen or kidnapped or bought and sold. But "perfectly happy"?
How can anyone adopted be "perfectly happy" with having been adopted in the first place, and particularly if one is unable to trace one's original roots? How can anyone truly be "perfectly happy" with the idea of having been born to a mother who could not keep you? One can come to acceptance, one can grow up in a family where love and understanding abound, one can love their adoptive parents and family, but being adopted means that someone had to give you up first. Being adopted in most places in the United States also means that the individual was stripped of the right to know his or her true identity in the mistaken belief that "identity" was not an important part of anyone's makeup and--identity.
And whether the adoption was good or bad, sweet or evil, longing to know the truth of one's identity is simply a matter of intelligent curiosity--a fact that most legislators and journalists and a fair number of adoptive parents have trouble comprehending. Yet only in adoption is curiosity considered pathological; in every other area, curiosity is seen as a sign of intelligence.
For mothers who relinquished their children--unless they can compartmentalize their emotions into a box and lock them up tight--we are never perfectly happy. We deal with the pain and sorrow of loss all our lives. We marry men we should not, we marry men simply because we know they will never leave us, we marry the next man who walks into the room. We have a life, yes, but we are always looking backwards, looking for the child we did not keep.
So please, dear newspaper and television reporters, stop telling the world how "perfectly happy" everybody was until they found their true parents and identities.
Adoption is always painful. Or here's a shorter version: Adoption sucks.