Sunday, December 29, 2013

An Adoptees Past, Present, and Future Part II


An emptied soul stands alone.
They erased who I was and gave me a new home.
Now lies not truth where my life used to be.
How could they take that away from me?
Did they really believe I'd never question,
what they gave me as a definition?
Of this person I was supposed to become,
and never look back on where I came from?
Where does one really draw the line
on how much past you can leave behind?
They expect out of us what they themselves could never do.
Despite what they say I am searching.
Wouldn't you?

I had some feed back from a couple of adoptive parents on the original piece I did last week about adoptees growing up as outcasts in their adoptive families.  After some explanation regarding my situation that was not just "bad parenting", or the issues were not related to adoption, and that all children had similar paths trying to belong in their families, I was asked to expand upon the piece and provide further clarification the complexities adoptees encounter with adoptive parents who seem to have trouble with the usual natural connection between parent and child.  So, here goes.

I remember reading in my Developmental Child Psychology text book before I even began or knew where to search for answers and solutions to my confusion over my childhood issues "Orphaned, neglected, and adopted children can often struggle with feelings of rejection and abandonment."  It was an aha moment for me.  There is was in black and white, in print, and was no longer just a theory in my head people told me was unfounded or simply not true.  When you add to that adoptive parents who struggle with the inability to connect with their adopted children because they are so different from them, it's a double whammy for many adoptees who are already coping with trying to find their place within a "stranger" family they are not related to.

When children are born they look to the faces and voices of their parents for safety, security, and trust. As they grow up they look in the mirror and see those faces reflected back to some extent.  At first it could be eyes, or a nose, or hair color.  Natural parents of biological children look for themselves in their children as well.  Later in life personality traits become more distinctive and comparable between family members.  The similarities are comforting, even if subtle and unrecognized for nonadopted persons.  Adoptees have lost their biological roots.  Yet this fact always seems to be denied and ignored and instead is undermined in adoption until it becomes evident in adoptive families it has caused a deep and abiding problems.   Only in adoption are genetics white washed as unimportant.

I see it in my own children.  Sometimes I cringe when my son gestures and I hear his father, my exhusband, in his tone of voice.  I also am proud when I see his kind and caring nature, and how polite and helpful he is, along with being a friend to almost anyone as I am (cause I'm the good parent lol).  I've watched it in my friends when they are at odds with a parent but don't realize the stubborn and argumentative sides of them don't make them different at all, it makes them more alike than they realize.  A knack for mathematics, or musical talents, from nail biting to habitual gum chewing, and food preferences I have watched as Adoptees who felt alone in their adoptive families reunite with their biological families to respond with such excitement and the response "So THAT'S where I got that from."  The evidence is overwhelmingly strong that nature plays a huge part in who we are as individuals and members of families.

When in an adoption you undertake bringing two separate genetic entities (plus) together there are going to be certain special needs and knowledge brought into the merger or the family is being set up to fail.  Truly understanding the potential for these polar differences to exist is crucial.  As I stated in the initial article, when you have two sets of people who are so extremely opposite in near totality these relationships are being set up for failure.  If not acknowledged and addressed the family unit can be doomed before it even has a chance to get off to a healthy start.

I could always tell my adoptive parents were frustrated and annoyed with me for some reason and I spent a great amount of my childhood trying to figure out why.  For them it was so much easier to blame me and when a biological child was born to them it seemed to make it clearer for them how really "out of line" I was in my thoughts and actions.  I was called "crazy" from a very young age, along with other names for simply wanting to be and do what other kids were.  I remember asking my Adoptive mother why she never hit (abused) my sister (her only biological child).  Her reply was "She never does anything wrong.".  After having my own children and working with kids for nearly 10 years I now know EVERY kid does things wrong.  It wasn't that I was always wrong I was just different from them!

The dynamic of not belonging and being an outsider in a family is magnified for adoptees because they have been severed from their roots and lost their true identity.  The knowledge of genetics is usually readily available to nonadopted persons and they grow up with some sense of who they are and where they came from, from an early age on.  It is a mystery usually and the information difficult to obtain ever, at least until older for adoptees.  The basis and foundation of known genetics and biology nonadopted persons have is so much more important than they realize, because as adoptees we know what it is like to grow up inside a family so different from yourself, carrying a void in your heart and soul for the family you were taken from, while being a square peg attempting to jam yourself into a round hole.

This can and does cause huge rifts between adoptees and adoptive parents that can and do last a lifetime.  It is not just my situation as an adoptee, or an occasional occurrence, it happens a lot more frequently than people realize.  It has been seen recently all over the news in the "Rehoming" of adoptees from one adoptive family into another.  I understand that it is hard for people to believe that parents who want a child so badly that they adopt only to discover there is no deep and abiding parent-child attachment, and sometimes even great resentment and animosity when a baby grows into a child that is nothing like they expected.  Adoption brings to the table a different set of issues than normal family building, and when ignored and swept under the rug by a society that loves adoption and the sweet stories of creating these "loving" families, it can wreak havoc in an adoptee's life.

Being an outsider in a family is not rare, being an outsider in TWO families (or more) is.  Complete with falsified birth certificates and redacted adoption documents adoptees are denied the ability to be and know who we really are.  We are shoved and pushed into molds that don't fit or feel right for us.  Our true natures and are stifled, silenced, and suppressed by parents who don't understand us because we are not like them.  We are told we are not different, but the actions and reactions of adoptive parents and others can dictate we most certainly are.  We are told we should be "grateful" for not being aborted or thrown in a dumpster.  And adoptees grow up and feel rejected and abandoned, ridiculed and misunderstood, and at fault for not being "good" enough for anyone.  And it is painful, and cruel, and humiliating, and the world calls it Adoption.