Saturday, August 23, 2008

Can we just stop pretending?

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We all come into the world with experiences. For many adoptees it is a early experience of loss, the loss of birth family. With this comes, a need to understand and make sense of why this experience happened. Sometimes there is a nagging question of whether something is wrong with them. It is a natural fear that without knowing why or how this happened, it could occur again and the fear of what it would be like to be alone.
Adoption practice, in attempting to soften the loss experience has tried to alter the reality. It has tried to omit the harshness by focussing on the experience of being chosen by a new family. It has created beliefs that one could forget that early experience with enough love in a new family It put forth a belief that children raised in an adoptive family would develop in the same way as children born into families. It said the early connection and role of the birth family could be ignored and that young, unwed mothers would be happier not attempting to parent their babies. As the numbers of adult adoptees searching for their birth mothers increases and many birth mothers are stating that they did not feel they had any other options, we are slowly having to face the limitations of these beliefs.
As a society we are often unsure and sometimes uncomfortable about how to grieve losses and are uncomfortable with things which are different. The historic approach to adoption has tended to edit out the loss and difference and focus solely on the joy of the new family. The truth is that it is not possible to omit such powerful and important realities so they become secrets and unexpressed emotions which affect everyone involved.
This means that perhaps we need to rethink our basic understanding of adoption.
Adoption means that when we lose someone very important to us at any time, it has some profound effects on us. When it happens when you are really tiny, it's harder to understand the effects, the lack of continued connection means that you did not have the opportunities you needed to understand your loss and your experience.
For adoptees this missing information and foundation can leave them guessing how they fit into this world. Without this "nascent connection", a solid understanding of their self can be missing. Without this "nascent
connection", their sense of where they fit and belong can be hard to achieve.
Keeping secrets, pretending something did not happen when it did, omitting parts of stories and truths can leave them with the feeling that something is missing or something is wrong.

What if we just stopped pretending that we are ALWAYS doing it with the best interest of the child in mind. What if we stopped pretending that lies, secrets, and denial are a good thing. What if we stopped telling adoptees to feel lucky and grateful, but instead said, "Tell me your truth, I am ready to listen?"

1 comment:

Sandy Young said...

Excellent post. the truth shall set you free, says the wiseman. Let's give it a shot, shall we?