Something dawned on me the other day about being adopted that I had never thought about before. And, believe me when I say I've spent a lifetime thinking about adoption because, as an adoptee, it IS my life. In finding the adoption community and working with, communicating with, and becoming close to other adoptees I have found them to be some of the most considerate, loving, nonjudgmental, and supportive people I've ever had the pleasure of meeting.
Now, this is not a small case study for me either. I've been involved in adoption reform, support groups, healing sessions, conferences, seminars, and education for nearly thirteen years now. The adoptee population is made up from every segment and portion of the population nationally and internationally. Being adopted crosses all social, ethnic, age, educational, and religious boundaries.
I've had the pleasure of working with thousands of other adoptees over the course of my discovering these group's existence. I've been a witness to strangers reaching out to people they do not know, and friendships forming across miles between people who may or may not ever meet face to face. So how can this be? And, what do we all have in common? My opinion, the realization of how important it is to be understood and accepted for whatever experience we have in life and the right to express it openly without fear of being labeled or judged by those with no understanding of the issues and concerns adoptees face day to day.
I wonder if in being adopted it makes us so more introspective about ourselves? And, in attempting to constantly figure ourselves out and where we fit in the world and who we are, we more deeply examine ourselves and our motives, desires, and actions and their impact on others and the world around us? Because it seems to me that we, as adoptees, are more open hearted, understanding, and able to comprehend how we effect other people (not all I never deal in absolutes). Maybe as we have had our voices, our issues, and our struggles dismissed, discounted, and misunderstood, that we go out of our way to not to project that onto others and try and instead to take the opposite path of being careful of preconceived notions and inaccurate view points in interacting with others?
Maybe, despite the pain and loss and trauma so many of us experience from our adoption experience we can refuse to be closed off and shut down to participating in helping those in need, adopted or not. Whether it is simply a kind word or gesture and lending an ear or a shoulder when needed. Helping in a search in whatever capacity we can. And or, spending precious time, energy, and money working to change an unjust system so that no one else has to struggle like we have if it can be prevented. Adoptees in my eyes are some of the greatest people I’ve ever had the pleasure of not being related to in any biological or adoptive form, but call “family” anyway.
I am still angry and sometimes bitter. I certainly still feel lost to the system of adoption. But, I am found in unconditional understanding and acceptance by so many other adoptees who over and over extend benevolence and charity to others, in the face of overwhelming adversity. And, isn’t that what “family” is for?