Saturday, January 30, 2010

Who's side are you on anyways?

Thanksgivingmom recently asked me an interesting question:

... you mentioned that you wear two "adoption hats" as it were - and I was wondering, do you think you're most often heard as an adoptive Mom or as an adoptee? Do you sometimes feel that one of those roles negates the "voice" of the other?

My quick reply to her was:

How I'm heard depends entirely on who is listening! First Moms and adoptive moms hear me as an adoptee. Adoptees consider me a traitor to the cause and usually only hear me as an adoptive Mom.

I hate it when other people generalize (ALL adoptees have a Primal Wound don'tcha know!) so I guess I should expand on my answer and not leave it to such gross generalizations.

I have been an adoptee all my life, and only an adoptive parent for the last 7 years. To me, my "voice" always sounds much more slated to my experience as an adoptee. I don't feel like an expert as an adoptive parent. I haven't read all the books, heck, we fell into adoption so quickly that we never even took any of the courses that most PAPs have to go through when they are waiting to adopt.

People go to forums and read blogs to learn, to grow, to find comfort from those who have been down a similar road. And that is why I find adoptive parents hear me as an adoptee. I don't have any more experience then they do as an adoptive parent, but I can share with them my thoughts as an adoptee. And maybe their child will one day have similar thoughts so they can learn and grow from my experiences. First moms can hear what it might be like for the child they didn't get to raise. I can give them insight into what their child may be thinking or feeling.

Adoptees seem to fall into 3 camps: Those who don't like adoption, those who are okay with adoption, and those we never hear from. Me? I'm okay with adoption. Sure it can suck, it can hurt, it would not be my choice if I could build an Utopian world. But I don't feel that I've been scarred for life, that I am wounded or that it is the worst thing that has ever happened to me. For me, it is what it is. And I sometimes get a lot of flack for that from other adoptees. I'm told that I'm in denial. That one day I'll face some real life crisis and realize that all my problems stem back to adoption. They don't understand how I could form my family through adoption. And those are the folks that only hear me as an adoptive parent. My reality as an adoptee is so far from their reality that we just can't connect.

One of the first things that always seems to come up in adoption forums or circles is a proclamation of which side you are on.. "Hi, my name is Andy and I have been an adoptee for 40 years". We start to sound like we are part of some bizarre 12-step program. I think it would a fascinating experiment to host an adoption discussion where people were not allowed to say what their connection to adoption was. I think that people would initially be much more open minded to hearing what others had to say, but that eventually people would start attributing sides to everyone based on their own personal stereotypes.

So yes, I wear 2 hats and my words have different meanings to different people. All that I can do is continue to be honest, offer help and support when I can and persevere on this strange journey called adoption.


Brandy said...

Funny you posted this today. As a first mom and adoptee, I find my experience similar...but I rarely get to 'call' myself an adoptee.

It's sad really - because I've been an adoptee far longer.

Since I also had an open adoption (as both an adoptee and a first mom) I try to offer my experience to those who ask...

In my almost ten years in the 'community' (being open/active) I've had a grand total of three people honestly ask me about my experience as an adoptee in open adoption.


I think this is because people have to difficult of a time seeing me as an adoptee.

Lori Lavender Luz said...

This is one (of many) thiings that draws me to you, Andy:

"For me, it is what it is."

Because for whatever reason, these are the lives of my children. They are what they are.

Really, it applies to everyone.

I like the idea of your experiment. Maybe we should try an experiment and combine The Great Blog Cross-Pollination with the Open Adoption Roundtable.

Lora said...

Andy, I find this interesting. Maybe because I was one of those who said I was alright with adoption right up till I apparently stereotypically had a life crisis and wasn't any more at age 45.

I do not know alot of your history, but it seems you still felt the need to search for your first mother right? And I read your post about birthdays bothering you.And not knowing your family health history. So some parts of adoption seem to bother you.

Do you think that as an adoptive parent you have to keep a more open mind? Do you ever feel like you can not fully express any doubts about the adoption process?
I see alot of AP very happy to hear your thoughts on adoption. How does that make you feel?