Saturday, August 04, 2007

What It Feels Like To Be Adopted

Watched the British comedy movie Hot Fuzz, now on DVD.

While not as funny as the director's other hit, Shaun of the Dead, it did manage to capture what it's like to be adopted.

Of course, there was absolutely nothing about adoption in Hot Fuzz.

BUT!...

The main character, a cop, finds himself stuck working in a small village where his fellow police officers fail to recognize that murder most foul has struck. They insist the deaths were accidents. His colleagues make endless fun of him for overreacting to what are nothing more than a bunch of no big deal accidents.

The main character was clearly right. Something was wrong, but not one person acknowledged it. His viewpoint was marginalized. He was made to feel crazy. He was isolated.

During this stretch of the movie, I felt uncomfortable. Restless. At one point, when the main character was being ridiculed, I nearly hyperventilated.

It was just too much like certain real-life experiences as an adoptee. When you KNOW what's happened to you IS a trauma and you're surrounded by people who tell you it was hardly anything at all and to "just get on with your life" and "be grateful you didn't end up in an orphanage" and, "you were chosen!"

The difference between what most Non-Adoptees think about Being Adopted is so vast that the reality of our life-long "situation" can hardly be explained. So we're stuck living in Crazy Town, going slightly crazy. Or in a continual state of Adoption Fog as a survival tactic.

And then there was the internet.

It allowed us to find each other.

And we're not crazy after all.

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20 Comments:

Blogger LeRoy Dissing said...

Those closes to you might view that way but I never thought any adopted person was crazy. I did view adopted kids as "different" only because they were not living with their bparents. Always wondered why but never asked.

4:49 PM  
Blogger Nina said...

No, Leroy...but you seem to be an exception. Even some very enlightened and educated people I know have "lectured" me about the upside of adoption and seem surprised that another way to view adoption is that it starts w/a trauma.

7:44 PM  
Blogger Julie said...

You're absolutely right, Nina. Being an adopted person can be SO devastatingly crazy-making, it is a blessing and a relief for those of us who have found each other. (For some of your readers: "blessing" and "relief" do NOT equal healing, resolution or closure!)

Who wouldn't be angry and bitter about being marginalized all their life?!

9:07 PM  
Blogger LeRoy Dissing said...

I just wonder if ALL adoptees feel anger and bitter about being marginalized all their life. Is it fair to say that ALL adoptees are treated the same way? I tend to think many adoptees do feel marginalized and are in denial yet I do wonder if they ALL really were. Just a thought.

5:11 AM  
Blogger Nina said...

Julie, I guess it's what we DO with our bittnerness and anger. Some people think just having those feelings is dangerous in itself. But we can also harness it to be productive...in art, writing, to advocate for change. Before my adoption fog, I was just as angry and bitter...and it came out in very unhealthy ways. I am LESS angry now. Whew.

Leroy: Good question. There's probably no way to know that. I have a cousin who is adopted and he INSISTS he is not angry and has NO interest in adoption issues or finding out who is mother is, BUT he's simmering w/rage and takes it out on his wife. The question of denial is a tough one. I think society has done such a good job of promoting adoption as a wonderful, loving solution...without any mention of consequences to the involved parties...that many adoptees have also internalized this message and feel guilty for any feelings other than the most positive.

10:47 AM  
Blogger Nina said...

I forgot to say...I was MAJORLY in denial for most of my life. (I don't think majorly is a word, but it's quite fitting so I'll just use it)

7:04 PM  
Blogger Julie said...

I think it would be very difficult for adoptees NOT to be marginalized. Even if the aparents are great and never marginalize their adopted children, SOCIETY does. Aparents can't control how the rest of the world treats their adopted children.

I have been marginalized all my life but, for 40-odd years, I wasn't specifically aware of it. I was in denial - meaning that no matter what was wrong, it couldn't POSSIBLY have been related to being adopted. D'oh!

5:39 AM  
Blogger Andie D. said...

YOU NAILED IT. Oh my god you nailed it. Shit. I might just have to link to you - thank you.

6:19 PM  
Anonymous Annie said...

Yes, it IS a trauma, and one that almost everyone in society belittles or denies. No wonder I'm still stuck in Crazy Town. Had one of those "you can't undo what's done" comments at a family gathering of my partner's (don't do family myself these days), in response to my having just found out about the many lies told to me, and to the court, about my birth mother and adoption.
It is so good to read your voice here, thank you for so much honesty and for hitting the nail on the head, putting things into words that often have me saying "yes, that's it!" though I never could have found those words myself.

5:02 AM  
Blogger QFMan said...

ditto on all of this.

most people think of adoptees as lucky and mention that even they 'wish they were adopted sometimes.'

What an insult. So far as I know, no one has proposed giving a child up at birth as a way to increase its IQ. They aren't saying in "What to Expect the First Year" : "Now, if you want a well-adjusted, happy and even smarter baby, the first thing you need do is give your baby to someone else (who has narcissistic personality disorder lol)" No, you don't hear that because EVERYONE KNOWS it is not a good thing to do to a baby. These things, these little comments people say are so they can all go home and not have to think about it anymore.

The fact is...the fact is that it is the best of a bad situation. I think adoptees need to hear that it was a stressful event on their lives and not hear over and over how lucky they are. Please no one save our feelings anymore.

It's time for some enlightenment on this issue. Keep it up.

9:46 AM  
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