Why No Apologies?


Growing up, I didn't always feel good about myself or who I was.  I didn't know why I was given up for adoption and I had a strong need to know where I came from.  This need could never be satisfied by my adoptive family.

By fate, circumstance or God's Will, I was born at a time where it was socially unacceptable to be raised by a single woman.  I was surrendered for adoption at birth, never even being held by my mother.  This circumstance set up a series of losses, secrets and road blocks for my life.

Adopted people, many times, feel like they need to apologize for their feelings, especially negative ones they feel toward a system (adoption) that took away their origins, name and identity.  Society says it is o.k. if we are happy about being adopted (and grateful) but does not want to hear anything that may change the rainbow and lollipop ideas society has about adoption.

Adoption is like any other institution.  And who wants to live in an institution? (and yes, I stole that from Groucho Marx).  It is here to stay because there will always be children who need homes.

Adoption is glamorized in the media and during the entire month of November (National Adoption Awareness Month), adoption professionals (social workers/attorneys/counselors) and adoptive parents tell adoption stories to encourage and promote more adoption. Although the intent behind NAAM is positive, if you look closely, you will see a group of people missing from your television screens and favorite radio stations.

That's right:  you will rarely see an adopted adult speaking about adoption.  Our viewpoint is virtually invisible from adoption in media, policy and law.

This lack of understanding about the adopted adult viewpoint is also missing in the mainstream training of the helping profession. I sought professional counseling during my reunion, and I was unable to find even one therapist who understood the issues involved in a) being adopted b) experiencing a life-changing event such as meeting your mother for the first time in mid-life or c) even a basic understanding of the loss that many adoptees feel being removed from their original families.  I found many empathetic therapists, who openly admitted to me, they knew nothing at all about adoption issues.

Adoption can be a positive, wonderful experience for some children -- it can also be a confusing, difficult, time for others.  Most adoptees fall somewhere between those two extremes -- we appreciate the good we received through our adoptions, but we also acknowledge there are some downsides to being a minority in a non-adopted world.

There are many areas of change that must happen in the future of adoption.  Sealing and amending birth certificates is one of them.  Adoptees have two birth certificates -- the original, which lists the biological parent(s) names and in a majority of states is then sealed from public view -- even from the person who is the rightful owner of it (the adopted person).   The amended birth certificate, which lists the adoptive parents' names, is used as the "real" document that the adopted person carries with them for life.  (You can imagine the potential destructive power this has when you meet an LDA -- a "late-discovery adoptee" who never knew he was adopted until he stumbles upon some irrefutable evidence in adulthood.)

In the era of open adoption, the vast majority of us, still cannot access our rightful birth document. Many adopted people are in middle age, still wondering where they came from.  Archaic adoption policy, along with discriminatory practices, must stop if we are ever going to have adoption policy that includes adopted people as equals.  Certainly, a birth certificate belongs to the person who was born.

 “A birth is simultaneously an intimate occasion and a public event — the government has long kept records of when, where, and by whom babies are born. Such records have myriad purposes, such as furthering the interest of children in knowing the circumstances of their birth.”
 –6th Circuit Court in Doe v. Sundquist

You can love it or hate it, but when you are adopted, it's for life.  You can never stop being adopted because you never stop having more than one set of parents and stop having to explain to the non-adopted why this experience we live every day is not always what they think it is or wish it to be.

How does it feel to be adopted?
Where is your real mom?
Why did she give you up?
How do your parents feel about you searching?
Why can't you just be grateful you got a family?

These are the questions we, as adoptees, are expected to answer most of our lives.  When I originally began this blog, it was a way for me to process my adoption thoughts, as they were ever-evolving since my reunion with my birth family and receiving a copy of my original birth certificate.  I also wanted a place to write about my DNA journey.

But most importantly, this blog's purpose is a safe place for other adoptees to visit, read and know that they are not alone in their perceptions and feelings about being adopted.  

I welcome comments from non-adoptees, as long as they are respectful, with an understanding that most of my blogs are written with other adoptees in mind.

Thank you for visiting.

Lynn



7 comments:

  1. Very good. I feel the same way I wish we could get that through to the supreme court.
    I am a birth mother of a 23 yr old son. I am dying to find.
    We are all in this together....

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  2. So well written, Lynn. Your feelings mirror mine -- it took me a long time to feel comfortable enough in my own skin to explore my own feelings about adoption without apologizing for them. Sealed birth certificates and the secrecy in adoption are just intolerable, as far as I'm concerned, and I had good, loving a-parents.

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  3. Lynn - very well written........so many emotions wrapped up and it takes a life time to discover. I feel so blessed that I was reunited with my birth mom 2 years ago! Thank you for sharing.

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  4. I am so happy for you too, Cindy!! I am grateful for the adoptee community on Facebook who supports others like us. So glad we re-connected after all these years!

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  5. Lynn - I have no idea how I found your blog, but I just wanted to say that I appreciate your willingness to tell the truth about how you feel. I'm working on that... I'm an adoptee who is having a hard time deciding if searching is the right thing for me to do. I know that searching would change things forever. And for my family. I've been thinking, though, that the truth may be more important at this point.

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    1. I am a birth father, that was not the role I chose. My feelings are held back as I find them in contrast with societies sacred myths, my own child's feelings that I fear would crush her or alter her life experience deleteriously. I fear robbing her of herself empowerment, like when she apologised for not finding me sooner, like she was encouraged to do so but chose not to, or the fact that her a mother helped her begin the search, but blew up when she found her 1 st mom. Adoption has become impersonal, these secrets distort us, love becomes narcissistic for the want of a baby & wanting the baby to love back, despite the failings to the baby, lack of connection to the origins or desire to correct the harm being done to the original families. As in many cases the mother wanted her baby. Became isolated, under duress, weakened, became suggestive to solutions, that were not in her long term or her babies best interest. It is so not fair to make a baby search & suffer the unknown. Such is the lack of empathy, during the moment of acquisition, the excuse by policy, & the sense of entitlement through whatever.

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  6. Thank you, Anon for taking the time to share this with me. It means alot. Searching does change everything. I'm not going to promise you a rose garden, but for me, it has changed my life for the absolute better. I am not talking about relationships . . . but knowledge is power. Good luck to you in your decision. Hugs!

    Lynn

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