Saturday, November 22, 2014

ROUND TABLE: What Does Your Mother Think? (Part 1) #FlipTheScript

One of our recent Round Tables began: "...Some of the most common objections to any adoptee sharing any experience include "what would your parents think?"

So, we thought we would share what our parents DO think. We are a varied group, but we are all women who blog about adoption, and that means our thoughts and opinions are out there for the world to see - including our parents. Just how do our parents feel about us being vocal about our adoption experience?

Today, we continue to #FlipTheScript when we, the adoptees, ask the question of ourselves...

Cathy @CathyHeslin: How do your adoptive parents feel about your views on adoption?
Deanna @DeannaShrodes: My adoptive father is very understanding, and even more so after he read my writings on adoption the past few years. When he read my story on my blog, that was also a huge turning point of a new level of understanding. He was extremely happy that I found my natural mother back in 1993 and was in on going contact with her (before she passed away.) And, it bothers him greatly that I do not know who my natural father is, and he has prayed very hard for me to be able to find him. It bothers him so much, because he knows how it has hurt me not to know. And he wants that hurt to go away. He asks me about it from time to time, and wants to know if there is any progress at all. I do not sense that he is asking to be nosy but more so to see if there has been any breakthrough, and if not, how I am doing with that.

To say I am extremely appreciative of his support is an understatement. The fact that he is so understanding has brought us closer.

Julie S. @JulieStromberg: I'm not sure how my adoptive parents feel. They are aware of my views on adoption and the advocacy work I do focused on restoring access to original birth certificates for U.S. born domestic adoptees. But this aspect of my life is not something they ask about and I don't bring it up--definitely a two-way thing happening there. It is my feeling that this is because just as much as adoption is a very complex, emotional experience for adoptees, it can also be extremely complex and emotional for adoptive parents. Particularly adoptive parents like my own who have experienced the challenges of infertility. Perhaps it is simply too emotional all around for my parents and me. And that's okay.

That said, I do think that current adoption industry practices play a key role in making the complex, emotional experience of adoption even more challenging for the parties involved by downplaying the harsher realities. When those facing infertility are simply told "don't worry, you can just adopt," this creates a myth that adopting a child can somehow remedy the pain and hurt of infertility. This sort of society-accepted, dismissive thinking doesn't do anything to support the complex, unique challenges of being an adoptive family.

Amira Rose @mirarose88: I actually just received a call from one of my adoptive mothers who was so profoundly moved by our video, and generally all the work thats being done around #flipthescript and adoption awareness and reform.... for her its such a welcome conversation because it bring to light conversations she had internally and with my other mom that they really grappled with but didn't have spaces to share their conflicted feelings about adoption.

In fact, they sought to change the adoptive spaces they were in to reflect a more nuanced view of adoption, a non-colorblind, class-conscious, critical view of adoption... On one hand they were so excited but also very viscerally felt the trauma of the situation. I think that because of these early feelings they were very supportive at every juncture of my growth as a adoptee, as a black women, etc, and they remain that way today.

In fact when I reunited with my family one of my moms was happier then i was. I had to explain to her that I was conflicted and unsure and scared and scarred and reunion was harder then i thought...and while, perhaps a morbid thought, my moms shared with me that why were very glad that i had reunited because they are older then my bio-parents and they were glad even after they were gone I would be tapped into this large loving family...whose presence has always been there...but now actual connections where there as well..i dare anyone to question my happiness, I remind them that I am capable of more then one emotion- I can be happy and critical and angry, and appreciative and none of that is contradictory- but most of all i dare anyone to invoke my adoptive parents in an attempt to silence me....jokes on mothers, who were moved to tears by the fact adoptees are finally being heard (somewhat) and are trying to #flipthescript, my mothers who have attempted in their own way to #flipthescript, my mothers would laugh in their face, help me shut them up, and then elevate my voice They think #fliptthescript is damn amazing, so necessary and profoundly inspiring... 

Cathy @CathyHeslin: Amira Rose - goose bumps! I just read your comment above about how your adoptive mom said she was glad you reunited because when she's gone, you'll still have family ... - MY adoptive mom said the exact same thing to me! I was shocked when she said it, and realized just how much my mom not only understood my reunion, but was glad for it.

Elle: My parents told me early on I was adopted, sort of impossible to hide when you raise an Asian child as a Caucasian couple. They also told me what they believed to be the reason why - that it even said so in my papers - I was relinquished because I was a girl. Which wasn't true. I recently just learned that it could not be further from the truth. Even so, mum and dad still think I should be grateful for being saved, what kind of future should I have had if my dad found me in time.

They are slowly starting to come around and have accepted that I don't see my life as a better life instead a different life. A happy life means different things to different people I would gladly have accepted a poor life with my birth parents and siblings over material wealth and higher education. I suppose it's not easy for APs to accept this. I don't dislike my life in Sweden, it's just that I miss my birth culture. Another bitter reminder for my APs which I love btw. They are supportive of me and my quest to create my own happiness they just want me to be happy. I know from experience their opinion may alter when I get closer to my goal. I think my parents are starting to come around because they realize I am their daughter but also my own person. For different reasons they are less involved in my reunion but still supportive of me in a distant way.

Also, this adoptee activism thing that I proudly am apart of is not that common in Sweden or Europe to I suppose. Regarding heritage and culture mum and dad tried to keep my link to my heritage by entering a Korean group when I was a small child. They left said group after a few years and as a young child I was honestly not that interested in Korea at the time.

Mum and dad loved me just like I was their biological child which has been a blessing and sometimes also similar to a curse. For different reasons I was never told that adoptees has a right to learn their mother tongue in primary school. It even says so in our education law but it seems mmunicipalitiesinterpret this differently depending on where you live in Sweden you may get it in other places you can't get it. Apparently this law was designed for immigrants and children of mixed heritage, those who come from native minorities too. Many people feel that adoptees in Sweden abuse this law since many adoptees don't use their mother tongue at home on a daily basis. Honestly even if my parents had been aware of this I am pretty certain that they wouldn't have put me in Korean class. Because to them I am Swedish, my first three months in life is just a mere parenthesis I think they feel like a child has no say but when they're older they can make a conscious choice themselves. For the very same reason I had not tasted any Korean food prior to 2010 (when I was reunited with my birth family). The little culture I had access to in my childhood was the obligatory tradition Korean Hanbok dress.

Maybe it sounds strange but I know they are supportive of me their own way. My grandma who I also love tremendously belongs to a different generation and we have had our share deal of arguments. She still sees me as the poor little orphan girl that was saved and gained a better life. I learned to choose my battles at least with grandma. My quest for happiness and identity has been very uupsetting to them all. But it has nothing to do with them and everything to do with me. Surprisingly grandma had the strongest reaction me and my brother who both are adoptees are her only grandchildren. Just because I'm on a quest it does not invalidate my childhood or upbringing or reduce my mum and dad to strangers. They will always be my parents and my family but I have a past, a different heritage and a first family that I also love. Maybe it's society that has influenced my need to reclaim a culture I should not be interested in. All the assumptions and generalizations that makes strangers assume I have this and that opinion.

Liberty: My parents, though resistant at first, have really come around. They are now supportive of me being in relationship with my birth family and understand now the complexities of adoption from my perspective. Seeing my writings helped. Many painful conversations helped. Allowing their love for me to be bigger than holding onto their own narrative helped. The experience has made both my parents and I grow, and made OUR relationship even stronger.

Aselefech @AselefechE: I like to think of my mother as a beacon of hope for many adoptive parents who just simply don’t get it, or who don’t try to understand the complexities of adoption. For as far back as I can remember, my mother has always been the individual who stepped outside of her box or comfort zone. I remember her being the only white person at my brother’s basketball games, loudly and proudly shouting words of encouragement. She always amazed me when I was a child, and still does now that I’m a young adult.

She could have easily been a selfish parent who wrote off the pasts of her four children, but she continues to encourage each of us. (I have a twin sister and 2 brothers, all adopted.) She understands that we all don’t share the same views of adoption, or the desire to search, and respects that.My mother in many ways has been the reason why I advocate for transparency in adoption. She gains trust in people by being empathetic and open to limitless possibilities.

It was hard being the only child in the family who wanted to search. Her support and willingness to listen mad that journey less lonely.

Mila @yoonsblur: How do my American parents feel about my adoption perspective and about my search and reunion? It's complicated, of course. My parents absolutely disagree and reject my point of view. They find my perspective objectionable and hurtful. I know they feel pained by the experiences and perspectives I've communicated (and I feel pained by their rejection of my views and experiences). However, despite what many have assumed over my years of blogging, my parents and I love each other immensely.

Honestly, I think our relationship demonstrates that adoptive parents and adoptees can differ vastly and profoundly in their adoption views and experiences but can still continue to have an evolving relationship based in love. We have definitely had our ups and downs, and my reunion has no doubt caused strain in my relationship with my parents. But that said, we are committed and continue to fight for our relationship.

They are my parents. I am their daughter. We just don't see eye to eye not only on adoption matters but a lot of things. But to their credit, despite their discomfort and objections to my search and reunion, they have been supportive in their own way, in the way that they could, in the way that they can. And that's all that I can ask. I can't ask them to be people they're not, in the same way that I don't want them to expect me to be someone I'm not. 
So, ultimately, despite not agreeing with most of my adoption perspective and my reunion, we have found a way to still have a relationship based in love. It is hard won and still a work in progress. And I ain’t gonna lie--it’s challenging for us all. But for us, at least, I think we feel that it’s worth it because ultimately we really do love each other.

Soojung: What a timely question, I just had one of the best conversations with Mom yesterday. I think her response to my writing has evolved (as my writing has too). Years ago, when I first started talking/writing about these things, I think she was shocked to realize how dramatically different my experience has been from hers, or what she thought it was. But Mom is an extraordinarily open-minded and compassionate person. I think it's been a lot for her to accept, that she could provide me with love, security, and a home, and a future, but she couldn't restore the identity and original family that I had lost. After my Korean family found me, I know she struggled with many understandable feelings of displacement and anxiety. Mom hid it well, and I believe she was genuinely happy for me too. She's always wanted happiness for me.

She doesn't always agree with everything we write here at Lost Daughters, and she doesn't always understand my feelings or perspective. But she's mature, secure, and open enough to understand that it's not a threat to her. At least I hope she feels that way because it's not a threat. The only threat would be if she reacted in a way that didn't allow for honesty. I really think she's grateful for this window into her daughter, because I've always been very careful and controlled with my emotions. In a way a lot of what I write is a letter to her, my way of sharing parts that she's never been able to access. I think it's made us closer and it's helped us both to understand each other better.

I should add, now my mom fields questions all the time about my reunion with my Korean family. People assume that she should feel rejected, angry, or that I'm a bad daughter. She's doing her part to spread awareness by allowing them insight to the fact that it's my right to know my history, regardless of how it ends up affecting her. She says that she got the best years of my life, getting to raise me and be my mom, and that is enough. She's a pretty amazing mom.

(to be continued...)

Join the Round Table: let us know in the comments how you'd answer today's question or Tweet ‪#‎whatwouldyourmotherthink‬ to share how you... and your parents... ‪#‎flipthescript‬ .

Lost Daughters truly is a sisterhood where our authors provide support and insight for each other in our own private space. Occasionally, we like to make these discussions available to our adoptee audience to benefit from and add to the discourse. 

So, grab a chair and have a seat as we lean in, put our elbows on the table, and tell you what we really feel.