Even with some personal spiritual/religious beliefs, I feel fairly certain that I am not supposed to be here. The Creation of Me was a moral failing according most religious and societal tenets. Born to teenaged parents (married, but teens nonetheless), I was a mistake that needed a more “stable” older couple to redeem. One man’s trash is another man’s treasure and all that.
My biological parents got married SO THEY COULD RELINQUISH ME. Wrap your brains around that. Mom was a minor (by only a few months), and the only way she could sign relinquishment papers was if she was emancipated in the form of a marriage. I was relinquished against the desires of the rest of my biological family, who thought baby was coming home to a very large and desperately imperfect (but also loving) family. I don’t talk about it much, and that is all I will ever say about the circumstances of my relinquishment in a public forum, but I am sharing this to bring light to the deep inherent understanding that so many of us live with:
I AM NOT SUPPOSED TO BE HERE. I WAS A MISTAKE TO BE REMEDIED NOT A HUMAN TO BE EMBRACED.
Adoptees are raised in contradictory narratives:
- Since you are Given Up, Adopted, and Chosen and subsequently Rescued, you must have a very special purpose in life (spoiler alert, your special purpose is most often being such a sweet and compliant adoptee that you make all the Muggles have good feels about adoption….think I am wrong? See The recent viral video of child adoptee praising her adopters)
- Having children out of wedlock, too young, in poverty, in dysfunction, etc…is a moral failing. These children need to be PREVENTED from coming into existence. If we can’t prevent them, then they need to be redistributed to the married, the older, the richer, the “more stable”.
How can I realize my “special purpose” if I am not even supposed to be here? How does one shake the Great Mistake Beginning and actualize any individual sovereignty when your entire LIFE is entangled in these opposing narratives? How does one pay fealty to both the MISTAKE/RESCUE narrative and also the SPECIAL PURPOSE narrative if I am not allowed to just be ME, whatever I determine that to mean?
Reunion threw me for a loop. I would never undo it. And I believe that every adoptee has a right to see their biological context, for better or for worse. But I want to knock another MYTH on its A**:
Many of us who have the privelege of a biological reunion do not emerge from it more WHOLE, but all the more profoundly aware of the places we inhabit that look more like swiss cheese than a big sold block of cheddar. (sorry, more food references, it’s kinda the only universal analogy I can scrap up lately) Additionally, we are starting to hear from adoptees growing up in open adoption…they aren’t claiming to be “more whole”, just more aware of their Swiss Cheese-ness from a younger age. “Knowing” your biological family isn’t better adoption…it’s different adoption.
Reunion and biological context, for me, has brought me that most profound realization: I am just not supposed to be here. According to all societal and cultural norms in which I was created and born, I AM A MISTAKE. You are likely cringing reading this. Perhaps saying, “see, I knew she was just a broken and angry adoptee in need of healing”. But you would be wrong. My radical acceptance of this fact IS my healing. It is the place I finally begin to feel okay in my own skin as an adoptee. It is how I have made sense (and continue to make sense) of everything.
Regardless of whether or not I am SUPPOSED to be here, I AM here. So how do we learn to “be here” when we started in the context of “not supposed to exist”? How do you exist in the space where the act that brought you into existence is seen as a great misstep/sin and yet your “redemption” is to be seen one of the greatest stories on earth? How do we wrest ourselves from these two opposing narratives that actually have very little to do with US, the ADOPTEES?
This “learning how to BE here when we weren’t supposed to BE here” is quite literally the lonely work of the adoptee. Usually in isolation. Without any empathetic guidance. And when we merely reflect this contradiction and its outcomes in a bigger and more public way, we are the subject of dismissal, scorn, and even outright hatred. We aren’t even allowed to explore this concept for all its worth for our own healing and personal autonomy…because the feelings of Muggles must be preserved above even the real life well-being of the actual liver of Adoption: THE ADOPTEE.
I am not “supposed” to be here. But I AM. That doesn’t make me miserable. It doesn’t make me damaged (even though it certainly could do those things and that would be a VALID outcome). Baseline, it gives me an added layer of complexity to wade and navigate through that others do not have to wade through. Above that, if I dare wade through it it also makes me the subject of outright dehumanizing and retraction of compassion. See, new layer upon layer…
So, when I and my fellow adoptees are willing to wade through our lived contradictions in a way that makes us SEEN and vulnerable to those who do not understand or share our experience…will you please stop your brain/mouth connection before you indulge that immediate objection? Please and thank you! If you are patient, observant, compassionate, and open…you will see that you are having the great privilege of WATCHING THE HEALING HAPPEN RIGHT BEFORE YOUR EYES.
You have a part in it. That part is allowing adoptees their full human experience and expression thereof. You can even do one better than “allowing”. You can help elevate and even celebrate adoptees speaking in authenticity and honesty.