Thursday, June 6, 2013

“I Felt Like I’d Been Kidnapped”

153 - Wet City Night
Trevor gingerpig2000
My adopted daughter and I sat beside each other in the car, talking in quiet voices as I drove us through the dark on the way to register her for a soccer program. On this occasion, our conversation turned to being adopted. This is not something we talk about often, but it is something that connects us.

Our stories differ. I was adopted as an infant, without so much as even having been held in the arms of my original mother. My daughter spent her early years with her first mother before coming into state care at age five, when the family came into crisis as a result of a domestic violence incident against her mother, addiction in the family, and other factors. And yet there are things we understand about each other, adoptee to adoptee.

On this night we talked about her time in foster care … how her foster parents and others hadn’t seemed to understand what things were like for her, why she behaved as she did, and how confusing and disorienting that period of her life had been.

“I can’t say for sure,” I ventured, “but I imagine it must have felt a bit like you’d been kidnapped.”

I understood the excitement that resonated in her voice when she next spoke. I recognized the thrill that I myself have felt when someone finally understands something that no one else has seemed to get before.

“Yes, Mom,” she said. “That’s it! That’s exactly what it felt like! I felt like I'd been kidnapped!”

How had I known? What led me to make that guess?

I was intellectualizing. I was speculating. I was drawing a rational conclusion based on what I knew of her experience. Yes, of course I was. But that's not all that was going on.

Some people will dismiss my views when I tell you I was drawing on my own experience. I was an infant when I was placed into the arms of my adoptive mother. Surely, the adoptive home was my true home. Wasn't it, as people are fond of saying, "the only home I'd ever known"?

You will believe what you believe.

It is difficult to put words to things that happened before one had words … before conscious memory. I can only tell you that when I made that guess, sitting next to my daughter in the dark, I was drawing in part on something inside of me – something old and familiar and deep in my cells. I felt it in my body. I knew because I knew.