I am so tired of the trope that all adopted persons are damaged, other, not like us.
This rant follows an evening of Law & Order: SVU. I started the episode halfway through, after the revelation that the adopted child had orchestrated the murder of her younger sister, the biological child of her adoptive parents. The adoptee had been abused by her bio dad, and was taken away as a pre-teen and then adopted by this family. She was portrayed as a sociopath, describing herself as dead already.
I have no doubt that childhood abuse can break people, can create a blackness so deep that the real person never emerges. But adoption is often shorthand for damaged, rejected, defective. How messed up do you have to be for your parents to give you away?
I know that SVU is all about the broken people, but this trope pops up all over. Saying ‘you’re adopted’ is an insult children throw at each other.
Then of course one throwaway line from The Avengers that sucked all the air out of the theater for me. Everyone else laughed. Because, of course, right? Loki is adopted, of course he’s filled with murderous rage.
I haven’t even scratched the surface of this. I have only just begun to acknowledge and process how it makes me feel to be so unique, so other.
I was discussing adoption with KidMakes, we were talking about Phineas and Ferb, a wonderful cartoon about a blended family and how these kids spend their Summer Days. Phineas’ American mom has married Ferb’s British dad and they all live together in Suburbs, USA. KidMakes felt that this meant that Ferb was not Phineas’ real brother. When I explained how my brother and I have different bio parents, she felt that meant we were not really family either.
And that’s what I feel most often about adoption, a sense of unreality. Like I am pretending to be a part of my adoptive family, or my chosen family. That because I do not have blood ties I am not real. That because I do not know my original mother I instead sprouted like a Cabbage Patch Kid and was plucked from the ground by my Aparents. Because I do not know my source, that source could be anything.
My adult brain knows that this is silliness. My child heart is not so sure.
More to come.
*What do you know with your brain that your heart refuses to believe?