Anyone who questions whether you can have a true friendship with a person you’ve only met online and never in person has never spent much time online in support groups or blogs. Case in point-my friend The Adopted One (TAO). TAO started commenting on my blog years ago, and she always impressed me with her intelligence, insight, and willingness to try to see things from a different perspective. Over the years, we’ve struck up a rewarding friendship of sharing and talking about all topics – including, but not limited to, adoption.
I appreciate that TAO and I come to adoption from different angles. I’m a mom through adoption and she was adopted as an infant. Just for the record, she has/had a great relationship with her parents and is also quite critical of certain aspects of adoption and how it is/was practiced. These two things can coexist quite comfortably within the same person.
Last week something online got under TAO’s skin, and she sent me an email asking me to write a blog explaining why adoptive parents seemed to demand to hear only positive adoption stories. I said I’d think on it, but challenged her to write from her perspective why we shouldn’t. She’s always up for a challenge and below are her thoughts. My blog answering her question will be posted tomorrow.
Can I ask all of you adoptive parents a favor? Can the focus on how much you love Positive Adoptee Stories vs. Negative Adoptee Stories stop? Please? I ask this because it creates a wedge, an unwillingness if you will, to communicate between groups in adoption. It is also demeaning to those adoptees that didn’t have very good adoption stories. It says you don’t want to hear their story. Their story is less than, and irrelevant, because your child’s story won’t be their story.
The need for Positive Only Adoptee Stories sets the bar too high and may be at the expense of your child.
There are no only negative adoptee stories, unless you want to talk about the adoptees like Hana Williams or Lydia Schatz, who I can say with utmost certainty, both had wholly negative adoption stories until the day they died while they were still children. Those are negative stories people want to pretend don’t happen to adoptees, but they do. Some will suffer less severe abuse, but abuse is not reserved for only biological families. When you dismiss those adoptee stories, you shame the victim of that abuse, and leave the teller feeling almost like you blame them for causing the abuse.
There also aren’t any only positive stories for adoptees, either. If there were, adoptees would not exist because that would be a world where adoption didn’t happen because there would be no need. A world where there were no losses, health issues, family fights, death, job losses, poverty, war, bullies, and predators. That isn’t this world. Every single adoptee starts off life, or at some point in their life, losing their family; it’s an unavoidable truth that can’t be escaped, nor downplayed. The consequences are similar for all, and why there are defined core challenges adoptees will face. How each will react, deal with, live with those core challenges will be based on the individual, their personality, their support system, if their parents are present for them and willing to share both the good, and the bad, and ultimately, what other challenges life throws their way.
Many of you came to adoption because of infertility, or pregnancy losses. You likely dealt with a lot of pain, tears, angst, anger, depression, days of hope, days of hitting rock bottom. Your journey may have lasted many years. During that time you probably also had times of being happy in your daily life–going on vacations; feeling joy just from the sun shining or a shared smile; and laughter at barbeques, birthday parties, and spending time with those you love.
Now imagine you exist in a world where people called for positive only infertility stories, and someone tells their story about how they chose to accept, and transition from the news, with positivity, into living a full life filled with great times and lots of love. They chose a different life, yet no less perfect life surrounded by family and friends they love. How would you feel to see everyone else thanking them for finally telling a positive infertility story, because there are so many negative stories out there? Would you feel that your story of pain was being dismissed? Yes, you had good times as well, but these good times didn’t take away the pain of infertility. If so, you can now imagine how the adoptee that just shared the pain they felt about being adopted might feel when they hear you rave about the positive adoptee story.
If you didn’t suffer from infertility or pregnancy loss, I’m sure you had other life challenges, that challenged you to the full extent of your capabilities as a person, and hopefully you can imagine the same scenario that I painted above for whatever you have gone through in your life.
Can you banish the terms positive and negative from adoptee stories, and simply listen to adoptee stories without apply a label, and take whatever the lesson of the story is, and tuck it away, so that just in case you ever need to draw on it, you actually heard it, and understood what could have helped?
P.S. Go on over to The Adopted Ones blog and check out her other posts. We adoptive parents MUST listen to adult adoptees, just as we want to be heard and someday want our kids to be heard.
P.P.S. My blog tomorrow will answer TAO’s question of why adoptive parents “demand” positive only adoption stories. And yes, I do have an answer and it’s a simple one. To receive notice when I post new blogs, sign up for our weekly e-newsletter below.
P.P.S.S. (I promise this is the last one) Read my earlier blog that I think sums up the whole happy vs. sad/positive vs. negative adoptee issue–Is There Such a Thing as a Happy Adoptee. It’s one of my favorites.
Image credit: Travel Bee