Friday, July 8, 2011
VON: In your life was there a pivotal event that changed you from being a victim of adoption to a survivor?
|Trace, 1st grade|
The adoptee moves from victim to survivor when they decide to break the law, when they decide to regain and restore their own identity, and get their name. That’s a giant leap forward.
My becoming a survivor happened in stages, in a sequence of events. As a child I grieved. I promised myself as a teenager that I would find answers but it looked impossible with sealed records in Wisconsin. I felt overcoming my low self-esteem was first. In my 20s, I realized there would be “emotional processing” I’d need to do, slowly, over time. Opening my adoption records was very important in 1978 but troubling since I had no help to locate my parents. This was before the internet. I also had to face reality that I might not find them or my parents might not be willing to meet me. I never met my mother Helen which felt like a second rejection in the 1990s. I was 38 when I met my father Earl in 1996. Reunions (or not having a reunion) take time to process. Over the years, other adoptees were great teachers for me since there are no guidebooks for dealing with adoption and the trauma. There is so much to understand, obviously.
Writing and remembering everything again and research changed me most – like a light bulb went on. I started to see adoption as an industry and a measure of control over a mother’s maternity and placed orphans in a state of emotional disgrace. Recognizing adoption as an institution, one that has outgrown its purpose, one that is damaging for mother and child, was perhaps my biggest transforming moment. (It was actually magical…)
VON: You say in your book adoption involves many traumas, not just the one of the loss of a mother. Many of the things that happen to us, the damaging relationships, breakdowns and illness result from those traumas. How do we move from being vulnerable, to strength and survival?
Trace: In my book, I mention four distinct traumas for adoptees and I know there are more. Adoptee and natural parents are vulnerable to the billion dollar adoption machine that still manipulates us. I felt manipulated. Restricting us from meeting, laws which prevent our meeting, then add a dose of shame, judgement and misunderstanding, all deeply affects and even harms adoptees. I do write about this in depth.