Sunday, November 25, 2012
NaBloPoMo Day 25: Understanding
Today's Prompt: How important is it to you that your friends and/or spouse can understand you and support you? Do you think they can ever really know what you're feeling and going through? How do you help them to understand things from your point of view? Do your friends and/or spouse seem interested in furthering the discussion? Do they read books, blogs, or otherwise educate themselves about adoption issues? Do you disagree about any of the fundamentals? Do you agree? Do you think that your relationship with that person has altered their view on adoption in general?
We were already married and I was pregnant with our second child when I decided to search for my birth mother. Luckily, he was very open to the idea of even his own adopted children searching for their biological relatives, therefore he supported me completely. Without him in my corner, I don't know if I would have had the strength to go through with my search. He watched me wrestle with all the questions and emotions that came up along every step of my journey. He put up with my scouring the internet all night long while I was searching, then emailing constantly after I reunited with my birth parents. He held me when I cried. He listened patiently when I ranted. He pushed me when I needed to be pushed and comforted me when I felt raw. I'm lucky that he's pretty even-keeled emotionally, because I have been up and down and all around.
Even though I know he always supports me, there are still times when I realize even he doesn't completely understand how I feel or what I'm going through. It's not his fault. He's always known his biological family, so he's never experienced how it feels to not know. No matter how many times I explain to him how I have felt throughout my life, he will never be able to feel that way himself. But I keep explaining, because every time I do, I know it helps him relate to the scope of the loss I've experienced and helps him remember that the pain is still there.
I've also realized from talking with him how in the dark adoptive parents can be about how their children feel, even when they have the best intentions. This is particularly true, I think, of adoptive parents of us baby-scoop-era children, because of the lack of education they received at the time they adopted.
I don't always feel that everyone in my life gets what it's like for me to be an adoptee, but sometimes I realize that it's partially my fault that they don't get it because I don't always like to talk about it. Who wants to talk about why she's different from everyone else? And who wants to hear about how difficult some days are, if for no other reason than some small triggering event like not receiving a timely reply from someone? Even when I feel down, I don't want to drag others down with me. Another component of why it's sometimes hard to talk about adoption is because there has been an aura of secrecy surrounding the topic. I almost feel disloyal to my adoptive family sometimes when I talk about being adopted. The flip side, though, is that if I don't ever talk about how it, I'm not giving the people in my life any opportunity to understand me.
On the other hand, I've been in situations when adoption has come up in conversation, only to have the conversation shut down once I reveal that I'm an adoptee. This has happened with other adoptive mothers, for instance. Unfortunately, there are people who don't want to hear what adult adoptees have to say about adoption because sometimes what we have to say runs counter to what they would like to believe.
Blogging here is part of my effort to be more open about my feelings toward adoption. I'm happy that my husband and some of my friends have been reading these posts, but I'm equally happy for my words to reach anyone who's touched by adoption. I think that by more of us opening up and talking freely about our experiences, we can help bring an end to the secrecy and taboo that surrounds adoption and hopefully increase understanding of how complex adoption really is.
Karen Pickell was born and adopted in Ohio in the late 1960s. She reunited with her birth mother in 2005 and with her birth father in 2007. Her husband is an adoptive father of two children, now grown, from his first marriage, one of whom was adopted from Korea. Karen and her husband live in Florida with their two biological children. Karen holds a Master of Arts in Professional Writing from Kennesaw State University in Georgia; she has published poems, essays, and stories, and is currently drafting a memoir. She previously served on the board of directors of the Georgia Writers Association, as editor for the Georgia Poetry Society, and as associate editor of the literary journal Flycatcher. She blogs about writing, adoption, and other topics at www.karenpickell.com.