Sunday, March 1, 2009

Adoption in the closet

Dawn’s post Families in the closet made me think of a family that I babysat for. They were my parents’ best friend’s wife’s brother and his wife and they had 2 little boys, maybe 5 and 7 when I sat for them. And both boys were adopted. The kicker was that neither of the boys had ever been told. As an adoptee, even at the wise old age of 14, that rubbed me the wrong way.

No matter what my parents’ short comings were, the one thing they did very right was to tell me that I was adopted from the get-go. I have no conscious memory of being told that I was adopted, it was always just a part of me, like knowing I was a girl and not a boy. Somebody obviously told me at some point, but it was very matter of fact and not a big deal.

I didn’t baby sit for this family often, but every time I did I flirted with the idea of “outing” the parents’ secret. I knew that I would be in a heap of trouble, but I just could not understand WHY they wouldn’t tell them. I was fed lines like “they are too young yet” or “we’ll tell them when they are ready”. Since I was adopted and I had known at a younger age, the lines sounded awful fishy to me. So I would tread a very fine line by saying to the kids things like “Did you know I was adopted? Do you know any kids who are adopted?” I figured I could give them someone to turn to if they had any suspicions.

AND the other thing was that the husband had 2 sisters who were adopted! My parent’s best friend’s wife and her younger sister were both adopted. They had always known (I interviewed them both for a paper I wrote on adoption in high school) and were both very open about their own adoptions. I also knew the boys grandparents (the adoptive parents to the sisters) and they were very open to talking about adoption too. So I never understood why they needed the big secret.

I’ve often wondered what ever happened to the boys. They would be in their 20’s now. I heard through my Mom that their parents had divorced. I wonder if THE SECRET had anything to do with it? I must ask my Mom next time I talk to her if she knows whether or not the boys ever found out?

Even with all of these cautionary tales floating around the internet and adoptees being all grown up and sharing our perspective, new adoptive parents will still go down the road of secrecy and look back once it all blows up in their face and wonder where they went wrong. I hope at least one stumbles across my little blog and thinks twice before lying to their child.
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