Friday, April 12, 2013

Round Table: Why We Write What We Write

It can be triggering for both adoptive parents and biological parents, as well as others, to encounter expressions of pain, loss, anger, etc, in the writings of adult adoptees. Readers sometimes wonder why we "dwell on the negative." Others may feel uncomfortable with our tendency to be so open and public about matters that were once considered private family matters. And yet, many of us feel compelled to tell our stories in an honest and transparent way. 

Lost Daughters, what motivates you to write? Is "silence is not an option" an accurate statement for you, and if so, why?

Susan Perry Silence has not been an option for me ever since I was treated so poorly by my adoption agency and by an attorney as I attempted to find out the truth about myself. Until I searched for my original parents, I wasn't aware how discriminatory adoption law really is. I did delay my search because I was afraid of hurting my adoptive mother's feelings, and I do find it easier to be open now because my adoptive parents are both deceased. Maybe my a-mother could have handled my desire to know more, and I'm not giving her enough credit. But I really did love her, and I did not want to cause her pain. I can remember when as an older person she said, "Oh, I hate to think of you coming from another mother -- I like to think you came from me." She certainly didn't intend to be hurtful -- she was just being totally honest. The problem, from my perspective, is the adoption system itself, a system that continues to present adoption as the win-win solution to difficult circumstances, and refuses to address the problems and inequities. My a-parents were not prepared at all for the complexities of adoption, just as many a-parents today are not prepared. I write to share whatever wisdom I have gained from my 62 years as an adopted person in the hope that my voice, along with many others, will bring about some much needed change in the institution of adoption. Denying grown adopted people access to their own certificates of birth is a sad reality that must be changed.

Rebecca Hawkes I write about adoption because adoptee voices have been left out of the conversation for too long. I write because an entire system has been created, supposedly with the "best interests" of adoptees in mind but with very little input from those most affected. I write because it took me so long to find my voice and now I am determined to use it. I was given a map by others that was supposed to guide me through my experience of adoption, but it was inaccurate and more-or-less useless. It was a map created by people who hadn't walked the territory. So now I am a cartographer, drawing on my experience and the experiences of others to help create a truer map.

Karen Pickell When I began writing about adoption, I didn't realize that's what I was doing. I just felt I needed to write about my life. Initially, the impetus was to make sense of it myself, but gradually my intent has shifted as I've realized the truth of my situation. I was surrendered for adoption during the Baby Scoop Era--a term I only learned last year. Before I began exploring my adoption in my writing, I didn't fully understand how much larger my situation is than only my own life story. While the details of our stories differ, I now realize that the basic human truths in my own story echo those of millions of other adoptees all over the world. At this point, I write not only to tell my story, but to give voice to the many others who do not have this inclination to speak publicly. I also write about adoption in the hopes that by speaking openly, I am helping to alleviate some of the stigma surrounding being adopted. My goal for my writing is the same as for my life--to tell it like it is.

Deanna Doss Shrodes Silence is not an option for me anymore. I have encountered resistance and that shows me all the more reason why I must keep going. I use resistance as fuel to move forward. I write about adoption for several reasons. Catharsis is one. The fact that truth must be proclaimed is another. Connecting with the amazing people in the adoptee community is a great benefit. And being a voice for the voiceless is yet another. I remember what it was like to be an adoptee in the closet, afraid to share my truth. I remember what it was like counting the cost of all I had to lose and making the decision to go public. I remember what it was like to face the consequences of my choice to come out of the closet. These things are not easy and countless adoptees are not able to do it yet. But their voices are crying out behind the scenes. I know many of us at Lost Daughters receive private mail from people who say, "you're saying all that I feel. But I can't say it yet. Please keep going for those of us who can't put ourselves out there." I've had adoptees tell me they won't even "like" my Facebook posts even though they want to, because they know their family or others they fear will see it and they will face retribution. It is for these people and so much more that I write what I write and will not be silenced.

Jenn I write because I deserve to have my story heard. I'm very much a secret, and I hate the lies and shame that seems to go hand and hand with adoption. The only way to truly break the mold is to speak out and shed the veil of secrecy. When I started searching, I never felt so alone in my entire life. I felt like nobody understood me. By blogging, I'm doing my best to show others that they aren't alone. We each have our own stories, but there are commonalities throughout them all. And they all deserve to be shared.

Liberty No one has a problem with us adoptees writing. They have a problem when we publish, or write publicly. Because our stories intersect with others', and, further, because often our stories highlight the problems of the mainstream view of adoption.

Lynn Grubb I love this round-table discussion. I echo what everyone has already said about finding my voice and speaking for those who cannot or will not out of fear. I also write to show people that it's o.k. to search, even when you are scared of the outcome. My writing is a testimony to others that you can take big risks, fall down, get back up and still be happy your searched even if the outcome isn't perfect. I think some of my coworkers think I'm nutty doing DNA testing at my age, but I'm o.k. with that. I would challenge anyone who tried to shame me, "Do you know both of your parents?" "Do you have your birth certificate?" "Were you lied to your whole life?" Once people can really put themselves in an adoptee's shoes, I know they can get it. The Ohio adoptee rights bill is proof of that.

Peach: I auditioned for "Listen to Your Mother" only because I feel (like all of us here) that WE need a voice too, in the issues of Motherhood. I am glad I didn't "make the cut", because I know it would have been extremely hard on me to get up there and be so vulnerable. However, it reinforces the pain of being "the odd man out" in that our stories are so different than the rest, and we are swimming upstream to dispel the myths that society has accepted about adoption. Even during the audition, I was trying to read the faces of the women listening, and it was exactly the same as other times I have been brave enough to share my story ... the "deer in the headlight" look. I so hope you girls can bust through "Listen to Your Mother" next year and get our stories heard. Love you all. Here is the submission I used: