I am an adult adoptee.
I was permanently separated from my mother at birth. I don’t know if she held me or fed me or counted my ten perfect fingers and ten perfect toes. (I like to presume she did, because mothers love their children, right?)
I didn’t know her name until this summer. I don’t know what she looks like, what her voice sounds like, where she lives, if she’s funny, like I am. Crafty, like I am. Broken, like I am.
I don’t know the story of my conception and birth.
I know what I’ve been told, but as an adoptee you learn that people lie: to protect you, to preserve the image of adoption, to make themselves feel better, to hide the fact that they don’t know the answer.
I may never get to meet her or hear her story.
I am denied access to my records. That is a Right that any patient or client has, to view their clinical record. Their vital records. I am discriminated against, and treated like a perpetual child. I suffer for the decisions made when I was an infant.
A few days after birth I was given to a foster home. About a month after that I was given to my adoptive family. In the 5 weeks since birth, I had had 3 different mothers.
There’s a theory in adoption-land, the Primal Wound theory. It goes like this: we are within our mothers’ bodies for 9-10 months, if all goes well. We know her sounds, her rhythms, her smell, her blood. When we are taken from this person and never returned, we know this on a visceral level. Our baby brains have suffered a loss that we are never truly allowed to grieve. If a baby loses it’s mother to death, there is recognition. Grief is expected, encouraged on some level.
I am not allowed to grieve. Instead, I am told to be grateful. Be grateful that another family decided to take me in. Give me a second chance to have a good life. I’m better off.
This last statement makes my blood boil.
Every time someone makes an assumption about me in conversation, I have to decide whether I’m going to expose myself as an adopted person. If they presume that I’m Italian because of my maiden name, I have to decide whether I’m going to lie and go along with their presumption, or if I’m going to tell them that I’m am not Italian in any way (from what I’ve been told), I was adopted.
Or if they ask who I got my hair color from, or my eye color. What area of the world are my ancestors from, or this person in this town looks just like me, might I be related to so-and-so?
A thousand little unintentional cuts, reminding me that I’m different, I’m cut-off from this knowledge.
I do have a family, and I do have relatives. But not a single one of them are related to me by blood, with the exception of my daughter. Until I gave birth, I had never known someone who looked just like me. Who had my eyes, cheeks, hands.
Never. Not once.