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Thursday, August 18, 2011

Lost & Found


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?

Our Other, Other Mother

"Gosh, Amanda, how many moms do you have?!" I can imagine people (non-adopted) thinking when I talk about all the moms in my life.  I have something like five moms, really.  I have a first mom, an adoptive mom, a mother-in-law, a foster mom, and my paternal aunt, who has become like a mother-figure to me on my paternal side, which I like, because I will never meet the man who fathered me.  Of course, when people ask about "my mom" as most people mean when they say "mom," I answer about only two: my first and my adoptive.  When it comes to adoption, we're all accustomed to the "what do your a-parents think?!" whenever an adoption topic comes up but interestingly enough, few people have ever asked me what my mother-in-law thinks.

When I was first searching, reuniting, and meeting my first mom, my mother-in-law did not really say a whole lot about it or ask me very many questions.  I never really wondered why until someone volunteered that she may have her own challenges to overcome with my reunion because I have children with her son.  Now the grandchildren are not only "shared" between two grandmothers, but three.  Will this mean less time and fewer holidays spent with her because there are more grandmothers/grandparents to visit?

The only response to this suggestion I had to was to let out a heavy sigh.

So many people's feelings to worry about, so many people to please, where is this mythical, legendary "triad" or "triangle" people reference that suggests one single adoption only impacts and involves three parties?

When your son marries an adopted woman, I suppose adoption impacts your life too.  As I increasingly grow more aware of just how many people in several families that just one adoption can impact, I can't go into "make everything wonderful for everyone" mode.  This is my life; this is how it is.  What is best for me and my kids, and yes, even better for my husband too (not saying it is best for anyone or everyone else) is for us to have all of my families in our lives.  It may be difficult for others and even hard for them to understand but I just have to trust that they will support what is best for me because that is what being family is all about.  So, no more worrying about it.

What has your mother-in-law said/thought about your adoption/reunion?