|Happened in Atlanta in 2013|
I have always found zoos tragic and distressing; perhaps the dislocation of those wonderful animals and birds, their imprisonment in lives not of their choosing or making, in enclosures that can never, ever replicate where they came from, reminds me of adoption.
We hear the same stories of ‘orphan saving’ and excuses for what in the harsh light of day is greed and the bending of others to the will of the ones with money and power, control and influence.
Yet again we are being instructed how to behave! I could bring you many quotes. Most of you adoptees have heard it all before and are weary of the tiresome instructions. This time it is around the concept of ownership of adoptees by adopters.
A dear fellow adoptee writes: “For many adoptive parents, they still do not get it: you do not OWN us, nor will you ever own us, make us your own, or become our ‘real’ parents.” (Von is referring to my post: here)
She was instructed not to speak for us all and is told not lump us in a group of all adoptees, whatever that means. We adoptees belong to the Bastard Nation, even those of us who were the offspring of parents who later married or who were married. We were ‘illegitimised’ in order for our adopters to ‘legitimise’ us with their name, our adoption and the erasure of our history, which was replaced with theirs. Some of us were commodified, sold and bought for large sums of money. No-one questioned that, it was accepted, part of adoption and it seems it is still accepted as ‘normal’ to pay large sums of money for children, but refuse to believe that means a commercial transaction has taken place. We are bought and sold, some of us are trafficked, stolen, kidnapped, traded for increasingly larger sums of money, as we make our way up the food chain.
We see time and time again adopters who have spent the money and feel ‘entitled’, to what it is not quite certain, but certainly it seems to the life of the adoptee, to the adoptee’s presence in their lives, to have ‘naming rights’ and to direct the life story of the adoptee. We so often see adopters who want to keep on directing the life of the adoptee in reunion. I could quote hundreds of examples of adult adoptees who are constrained from reunion with their biological families because
*they are not told they are adopted
*they don’t believe they have the right
*they are fearful of hurting their adopters
*they are afraid of losing both families
*they are threatened and blackmailed by their adopters
*they are encouraged to experience guilt for wanting to know who they are
*they are told they will lose everything
*they are encouragd to believe it is ‘either/or’ and that they can’t have both families
Because the need to know who we are and our identity is not about curiosity, but much, much more, many adoptees take the risks put in their way and find that the threats were real. It seems adopters are not only threateners, but feel very threatened by adoptees’ biology, our need to see our people, to know them and to make sense of that part of our lives before adoption. Our identity is about us, each of us makes it up as we go along, we weave a tapestry of the threads of our history, we become who we are and we are not owned as adults by anyone, our family is who we chose it to be.
If you are lucky and have raised us to be compassionate, inclusive and you have been open about adoption, encouraging and supportive of our exploration of who we are and generous and accepting in wishing us to have the most complete life possible, you may find yourself part of our family still.
Those who have not dealt effectively with their feelings about infertility, the fertility of non-biological members of the family, the presence in life of a mother and father who are the biological parents, the concept of life before adoption for the adoptee/s, the presence of trauma, loss, ambiguous loss for the adoptee/s, and who have not learned all they can about the effects of adoption, the monetary and political aspects of adoption may find hurdles and handicaps, stumbling blocks and difficulties getting in the way, making relationships unrewarding, hard to develop and maintain.
However you have raised us, whatever you paid for us, whatever you feel about us, you will never own us or our history or our story.
And you might like to check this out if you haven’t already – http://danielibnzayd.wordpress.com/the-adoption-honesty-project
We live in 2013...there is no excuse for those who adopt babies and children not to know our adoptee experience and harsh opinions...Until adoption is abolished or reinvented to respect our human rights, we will blog our strong opinions... Trace
This winter we will make history again with a new anthology of Native adoptee voices from across North America. Thousands upon thousands of us were placed in adoptions and lost to our tribal families and communities because of the Indian Adoption Project and ARENA and stranger adoptions.
Read more about these programs and the congressional history of the Indian Child Welfare Act here.