Childhood Adoption Narratives. Describe the story your adoptive parents told you growing up. What age were you? What feelings and questions did you have about this “adoption narrative”? Was it a satisfying explanation for you? Explain. As an adult, whether or not you are in reunion, comment on how much of that story turned out to be true. Has your adoption narrative changed? What story, if any, do you share with friends, acquaintances? How to others react to your narrative? Are they curious, supportive, silencing?
I’ve known that I was adopted for as long as I can remember. There was never a big sit down reveal, it was just a part of my story and who I was. And like most adoptees of the 1970s there was only 2 books to choose from for my parents to share with me. The Chosen Baby and The Adopted Family . I don’t really remember reading them as a child but there were always on my bookcase, available for me to look at whenever I wanted.
My parents shared what little bit of non-identifying information that my Mom had sense to scribble down on a piece of paper the day they picked me up. It was always taped in the front of my baby book, a few meager lines that spoke to my beginnings. My baby book even included the care sheet that my foster mother filled out with details of my last bath, favorite nap position and updates on my last bowel movement. I also had the court documents making my adoption official that held the mother lode of information tidbits – my original name.
As a young adoptee I would frequently go back to these bits of information, trying to piece together my past, or make sense of why I was adopted. Obviously with so little to work with, I was left with conjecture, speculation and downright daydreaming. Was it satisfying? No, not really, but it was my reality and all that I knew. I’ve since found out that some of the information was false, and that my assumptions/stereotypes around my birthmother’s age were very, very wrong.
I’ve never shied away from sharing my adoption story with people, not even as a child. I think because my parents made it simply a matter of fact point of my life, never a big deal, never a secret, I was always very comfortable talking about it. Now that I know more of the truth around why I was place for adoption, people are often shocked when I reveal that I was the product of an affair that spanned more than 40 years.
I also try to model my parents matter of fact approach about adoption for Liam. It is simply a part of his story, not something to be ashamed of or hide from people, and not something that defines him as a person any more than any other piece of his story or who he is. I will always share as much as I know with him and will never hide the truth from him, even if that truth is not what he would hope to hear.