Tuesday, January 23, 2007

The Adopted: How Far Have We Come?

Mia recently ran an open letter by artist/writer Julie Rist. (Please check it out and Mia's reaction to the big and varied response at http://miassavinggrace.wordpress.com/ )

Mia received more than sixty comments. Several in tone and content reminded me of the unique status we adoptees have in society. Only WE can have that experience yet the non-adopted often have much to say, sometimes because they are vested in certain perceptions. They may be related to an adoptee, married to one, know one, have one or desperately want a baby and plan to adopt.

Often, I sense a bristling. Clearly, some do not like or feel comfortable with our less than happy viewpoint that run counter to the aggressive marketing of the $1.4 billion a year adoption industry. There are suggestions that we should "bloom where we are planted" and the ever present reminders that biological children have unhappy experiences too or less than perfect parents or the implication that we are "maladjusted" or intent on living in the past and that we should "just get on with life" and quit "worrying about that which we cannot change."


Why can't people just respectfully listen and learn?

The adopted are not some uniform product made for mass consumption. Yet, while our experiences are different, we share so many "issues" that simply cannot be denied. As Robert said on Chosen Babies, "we are siblings of circumstance."

Each is a deeply personal experience. In the case of Julie, she expressed herself and her research through a "letter" to be pinned to a surrendered baby's shirt written from the baby's point of view. It was artistic. It was not meant to actually be stuck on a kid's shirt. Sheesh. But there rose up not just disagreement, but that odd phenomenon of the non-adopted coming forward...bristling...with thinly disguised (or naked) indignation.

It's sort of a "How Dare You Think Like That" and "No, no, no...You Should Think Like this..."

Are we forever to be treated like third world countries...to be viewed as "children" who don't know better by patronizing Powers?

It's kinda like going to an amputee's blog and telling her, "You should be happy you still have one leg."

I am reminded of the words of Jean Paton, written in 1954, in the "The Adopted Break Silence" and I wonder: how far have we come?

"Everyone except the adopted has been talking about adoption. About certain parts of adoption, the parts that can be seen and the parts that can be heard. The rest is silence-or was.

What other human institution has so little comment from those within it? Or what other group is so much said from without and so little from within?"



Blogger Aurelia said...

Nina, something is odd with the link? I clicked on your sidebar instead.

That said, yes, we have far to go.

10:41 AM  
Blogger Nina said...

Hi Aurelia,

Fixed the link. Thanks for the heads-up. When I saw your name, I freaked. It's not very common and it's the name of a main character in a novel I'm trying to write. Maybe it's a sign!

1:55 PM  
Blogger Rebecca said...

Nina, I saw your comment in Mia's blog and followed you here. I'm looking forward to reading more of your blog. So much of what you say echos my own sentiments, LOUDLY! Would you mind if I linked to you from my blog? You inspire me. :) Rebecca

2:30 PM  
Blogger Aurelia said...

It's not really my name, of course, I picked it because it was the name of Julius Caesar's mother. She created the c-section and her son took all the credit, as I say on my blog.
Anyway, take it as a sign that your book will do well!

2:32 PM  
Blogger Nina said...

Yes, Rebecca..please link and I'll do same.

And Aurelia..I went to your blog and saw background. I forgot about THAT Aurelia. Totally. To me, it's a very old fashioned Mexican name...popular in the 20's.

2:47 PM  
Blogger Paula O. said...

I couldn't agree with you more.

"Why can't people just respectfully listen and learn?"

I ask myself this all of the time.

8:15 PM  
Blogger LeRoy Dissing said...

I think people have strong reactions/feelings to certain topics - adoption being one of them. Sometimes they write down their thoughts without thinking them through or researching the issue further. Of course, you will always have those who "think they know it all" and that is the closed mind who feels no need to learn anything more.

Then there are those that post their uninhibited feelings because of anonymity that the internet provides. I personally want people to be honest and up front with their thoughts and feelings but also express them with a degree of sensitivity to those who will be reading. This medium can be brutally honest and also things can be taken in a way the writer never intended. We cannot see a person's face, hear the voice inflections, gestures and the like. All we have is the words here, which can be very powerful but also very misinterpeted too. All the more reason to think through an emotional response to someone's experiences and how to communicate that response effectively. Nothing is perfect to be sure.

Nina...good post. We learn more by listening or reading than probably any other activity, yet I wonder how well people really listen these days, especial to things that do not conform to their already preconceived notions. Probably not much. I appreciate your openess and willingness to share of yourself...very refreshing and educational.

4:12 AM  
Blogger Nina said...

Leroy, I totally agree about expressing opinions on the net but...this also happens in the real world. Friends, family, acquaintences and sometimes, strangers, weigh off in a manner that's a bit hard to describe. It's almost like they're personally offended by anything besides the "happy adoptee." I stopped talking about adoption w/a good friend when I told her birthdays make me feel sad and that I had just figured it out. She gave me a long lecture about why I shouldn't feel that way...something she wouldn't normally do about another subject. And then there's the old favorite, "Gee, I wish I were adopted!" If I just had a dollar for every....

5:04 PM  
Blogger Joy said...


Have I told you I really love your blog yet today?

I really love your blog Nina.

It's sooooooooooo good,

It is sooooooo good to not be the only adoptee.

5:44 PM  
Blogger LeRoy Dissing said...

Nina...I think it is sad when people think that you are to be the poster child of a happy adoptee. It is one thing to have that notion and another to not listen to the adoptee explain why they feel the way they do...accept where you are and acknowledge it. To me that would be the courtesy thing to do. I don't know if there is a book on adoption etiquette but there probably should be. I think it is sad that there needs to be one but the need seems to exist.

8:50 PM  
Blogger chez said...

Yes Joy - I second that motion - it is really really really really really really good to not be the only adoptee feeling what I feel out here in the big wide world.
I do really enjoy reading your blog Nina.

3:29 AM  
Blogger Nina said...

I get all warm and fuzzy thinking about all of you, Joy, Chez, Mia, Paula O., Rebecca (and of course the always empathetic Leroy!) and, since my memory is faulty today...every other adoptee who blogs and comments and speaks from their hearts. It IS nice to feel like we're not alone! THANK YOU!!!

9:57 AM  
Anonymous FrustratedSearcher said...

I have been searching for my birth mom for months now with no luck. I did find a cousin of my through Search Pirate (www.search-pirate.com) but she hasnt been much help to me.

1:21 PM  
Blogger Nina said...

Frustrated Search,

How disappointing for you that your cousin wasn't of more help. Bummer. Especially if she wasn't willing and had it in her power to do so. But as I've learned, there are powerful forces at work that keep a secret a secret. I found my mother within a month because my nonidentifying info. had listed my half-sibling names and several last names, too. The whole search business is exhausting - mentally - so you may find yourself so discouraged that you take a break and find yourself re-energized later. Even though my reunion has it lots of ups and downs, I am still glad I did it. It is very grounding and I hope you find your mother one day, too. It pains me that meeting our own mother has to be so difficult when it should be the most obvious, simple thing in the world to do. Warm, positive thoughts in your direction.

7:06 PM  

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