In the movie "And then she found me" the adopted sister (helen hunt) says to her brother, who is the biological son of their parents:
You don't know what it's like to be adopted.
The brother simply replies:
And you don't know what it's like not to be adopted....
At the time I saw the movie, I somehow liked the answer but did not understand it's implications. Now, years later, as I am reading through the posts on our FB group about "trans racial adoption/fostering" - I find a deeper truth in it.
Ever since I have started talking to adoptees, I have been feeling uneasy and sad about the fact that my life choice to adopt rather than to procreate, which was made out of a whole hearted "yes" to life and it's many possible roads and pathways, seems to be at the root of so much heart ache, despair and pain - for adopted children.
I am wondering if this seemingly "negative" side to adoption might be one of the reasons that too many people regard adoption as a "last resort", when all else fails and after they have often spent mind boggling amounts of money on artificial ways of conceiving. Is it a fear to adopt rather than the imagined need to have a biological offspring, that makes people shy away from the adoption option?
I was also wondering at some point- had I heard all these stories before I chose to adopt - would I still have made this choice - or would I have opted for the seemingly easier road of giving birth to my children through my body?
Would this have saved me from challenges and problems around adoption and even more so cross cultural adoption? Absolutely.
Would this have made my life and my children's lives easier or even better.
I don't believe this for a moment.
I don't know what it's like to be adopted.
But I know what it's like not to be adopted.
I grew up in my biological family. Some might regard this as a privilege. I do and I don't.
I don't see an inherent difference in adoptive and biological parents.
There are as many different parents as there are parents in the world: bad parents, ignorant parents, indifferent parents and loving parents - but how a child comes to them does in no way define their ability to be a loving parent.
Or to put it bluntly - a "bad" parent to an adopted child will be an equally "bad" parent to a biological child.
And by "bad" parent I am not talking about a possible lack of material support or a need for grand shows of affection - but a missing heart connection to their child.
It is true that love can not solve the problems that and adopted child might feel about being the one standing out in a crowd, or about blank spaces in their past that might never be filled in. But love - a true heart connection to a parent - can create the environment in which these problems can be openly acknowledged and dealt with.
At the same time, love can not solve the problems a child growing up in their biological family might feel about standing out in a crowd or about their parents divorce or the fact that they don't know their father.... (think about the increasing number of sperm donor babies and how they will feel about "blank spaces" in their history)
Every child comes with their own set of problems and challenges in life. We as parents can only love them the best way we know how to. What has shaped us shapes our ability to love.
Where a mother or a father have lost their connection to who they essentially are, they can not instill in their child a love for who she is and as an adult this child will battle with feelings of "not being enough" and "not belonging".
For adopted children, at some point in their lives, these feelings might make sense , because after all, they have not been born into this family.
For me they did not.
Growing up, I felt alienated, misunderstood, and basically not seen at all as my parents tried to "raise" me as the child they wanted to have rather than the child I was.
Through my teenage years I wished I was adopted so I could leave them and find my "real" family. Somewhere out there, I felt, had to be a mother and a father who really loved me for who I was.
Today I have come to understand my parents limitations as a result of the trauma they experienced as "war-children" - with absent fathers and mothers barely surviving, stranded in camps or as refugees on the road.
Today I don't need my parents to survive and this (and years of therapy :-)) enables me to find compassion and forgiveness and reconnect with the love that every small child has in her heart for the people who care for her - without judgement.
Today I have found my family of choice in my children and my husband and my friends - my whole new adopted family.
So I am putting it out there - (and as I am writing this, I know I am treading on thin ice here as I in no way wish to challenge what people share about their heart felt emotions ) - that growing up in the unique circumstances we all do, adopted or not, creates sadness, trauma and suffering throughout our life's journey - and being adopted can be one of many and the most obvious explanations for feelings of alienation, disconnection and confusion all children experience.
Only for adopted children these feelings have an additional meaning as in many cases they also tie in with feelings of loss experienced early in their lives and the fantasy that there might be someone out there, who could be the missing link, the perfect parent, who might just give them the sense of belonging and "completeness" they have been longing for all their lives.
And this is where we are all essentially the same - adopted or not: we are forever looking for a lost connection and often don't realise that it is the connection to our own soul that is missing and that no one - no parent or lover or friend (or country or culture or cause) - can replace this connection. We sometimes get a taste of what it feels like to be connected, when we are overwhelmed by love - as children, lovers or parents. But inevitably this passes and we are stranded yet again searching for the missing link to our own souls.
As parents we will always make mistakes. To be truthful about our limitations and have an open mind and heart always with our children is our biggest challenge. Adoption is not more or less difficult or problematic or rewarding or beautiful than having biological children - every family has it's own miracles and challenges .
I have always felt that adopting a child in today's world makes more sense than creating a new life. Adopting does not create more problems than bringing a child into this world. Just different ones. And just the same amount of joy and love and sleeplessness.....
I don't believe in miracles - I rely on them
I don't believe in miracles - I rely on them
You found my blog and as I am experimenting with the weird and wonderful world of cyber publishing, let me explain what a gunna is: it's a word for all things desirable, something that makes us happy and warm and comforts us when we feel tired or sad or lonely. a gunna is the best gadget in the world! it was leah s first word for all things she wanted. Or you might also know it as: dummy, schnulli, pacifier binky, schnuller...... and so on. So this is for my beautiful