Why I’m terrified to write this adoption blog
I’ve been thinking about this adoptee blog since the internet was invented and it’s taken me this long – 20 years - to pluck up the courage. Yet every time I post anything about adoption, this is what goes through my mind…
1. My family might be upset, shut me out – or even cut me off
Yes I’m fast approaching my fifth decade on Earth, and I am still worried about being rejected. Welcome to being an adoptee, and specifically a compliant adoptee.
In all likelihood my family would be shocked to hear I worry about them rejecting me. That I lie awake going over what I’ve said in case one badly worded ‘ungrateful’ tweet might cause them to send me back to the home.
N.B. I was never actually in a children’s home, but that’s how my brain works.
If you’re good, you can stay.
If you’re “bad”, e.g. if you write about how being adopted is an ongoing challenge for you, you’re out.
2. My biological family might cut me off
Well, they did it once before didn’t they? And that was to an unborn baby who didn’t have any opinions let alone dare to share them on the internet. Be careful you don’t rock the boat. (Never mind that my bio dad has told me, “Nothing you do or say will make me ever stop loving you.”)
Having lived without my biological relatives for all these years, and gone through the joy and angst of reunion, why risk the relationship now? Think of all the time and struggle it took to find them and make contact. Be good, keep quiet and don’t p*ss anyone off.
And bear in mind this is the UK and we have fairly reasonable laws and processes. Think of those adoptees in the US and Canada with closed records. Think of those international adoptees paying thousands of pounds to search across the other side of the world in a language they don’t speak.
3. Adoptive parents don’t like hearing it’s not all rosy
I know you love your children with all your hearts and I know being an adoptive parent is tough. I worked for the Be My Parent magazine at the British Association for Adoption and Fostering (BAAF), and I know that adopted and fostered children today need lots and lots of support.
I understand it must be a challenge to acknowledge that nothing you do will ever take away the pain of being adopted. But burying your heads in the sand won't help your children feel able to speak their truth. We're not looking to incriminate or punish anyone, we just want to be seen and heard. My personal wish is to help other adoptees feel less alone.
Some of the adoptive parents I've met and talked to are really on it, and super keen to learn and support their children. It's lovely. Honestly, I wish mine had been more engaged - but until I have that difficult conversation with them I'll stick to the old "sign of the times" rationale.
4. It’s negative and “wallowing”
Live your life and stop wallowing on something that happened almost 40 years ago. Yes many friends have told me this. I’ve also been advised to “play the hand I’ve been dealt”.
It would be a complete relief not have to think about adoption every day, but honestly it’s always there whether I acknowledge it or not. Being in the fog was easier in many respects, but it wasn’t real or true.
My hope is to come to a place of peace for the second half of my life. Since coming out of the adoption fog, I’ve met and spoken to many adoptees that have shared their stories of healing. I religiously listen to the podcast Adoptees On and weep. It’s definitely easier when we stick together and share tips, such as the ones I picked up at The Open Nest conference 2017.
5. Adoption has changed so much, what do I have to add to the current dialogue?
There is a theory that older adopted adults have very little in common with the adopted children of today. This theory was brought up in the Adopted Adults Support Group I attend. It riled a few adoptees for sure, probably because yet again we felt silenced/dismissed. You have to bear in mind that some of these adoptees have taken four or five (or more) decades to feel able to talk to anyone else about their adoption.
However, we can’t deny that adoption has changed massively over the last 20 years. My hope is that we can work together. I am close to two adoptees in their mid-late teens and I try to hold space for, and validate, their feelings. (Without projecting mine – such a challenge!)
6. What if my ‘issues’ are not all due to being adopted?
I’ve had various life advantages and challenges that are not linked to adoption and all this adds to the mix – examples include my skin colour, social status/class, education level, etc.
There is no clear test to see which of my characteristics, life triumphs and struggles are a result of being brought up in a non-biological family. Two things that give me additional information on this, however, are:
My parents also have biological children so I can talk to my siblings about what we have in common – any characteristics we share are either due to nurture or pure coincidence.
I’m in reunion and now have biological siblings to add weight to any elements I suspect are genetic.
7. How can I be sure of my ‘standpoint’ on adoption?
Things fluctuate. How I feel now will not be how I feel in a year. Adoption is a rollercoaster and over the years I’ve felt any and all combinations of happy, grateful, angry, numb, sad, hopeful, ecstatic, wanted, unwanted, devastated, alone, loved, lucky, ambivalent.
Currently my posts may feel a bit negative. This is only part of how I feel, but it’s a side of adoption that’s not covered enough or given enough credence.
The reason I’ve started blogging rather late in life is because I was waiting to decide how I felt. Now I realise all I can do is explain how I feel now and how I’ve felt in the past – e.g. during search and reunion and beyond. I truly hope this may help other adoptees, adoptive parents and birth parents along their journey.
I’d love to hear your comments below.