Dear Adoption, You and I Have Had a Tumultuous Relationship
Over the many years I have known you, we’ve struggled to make peace with our connection, with our history. There have been vast stretches of time in which my only hope was to meticulously scrub your existence from my past, as if erasing your mark on my story also removed your tragic entrance into my life.
I’ve heard rumors of the sickening way you’ve treated others in the past. When someone else who’s been in a relationship with you relates stories of your loving touch, I pause to acknowledge my confusion as well as my hint of jealousy. I cannot help but wonder at the reason you chose this one to handle with such care and dignity. Some recall the beauty with which you introduced them to the kind, loving people you’ve chosen to become their family. I can see so much gentleness in their eyes as they recount memories and experiences for which they offer you their gratitude. Your matchmaking skills have progressed in a myriad of ways over the time I’ve known you. You continue to grow your business and create additional opportunities for those who are looking to advance. They eagerly line up for your services and connections.
I have witnessed the shambles you’ve made of lives. You have been known to lie to parties on all sides of the relationship. You’ve made reckless, hasty matches which were little more than herding clueless people into thoughtless pairings. In the extreme, these pairings have been fatal and you’ve tried your best to hide these matches. Instead, often stories are shared of the dysfunction of the relationship. One party was too young to ever comprehend what you were doing or to articulate their feelings of confusion and fear. The other party was too often kept in the dark about this relationship they believed would be the panacea to all their struggles. You used your business again to serve up half truths, full deceit, and absolute negligence before walking away and leaving both parties to discover the truth; to flounder through developing some semblance of trust and connection. Sometimes they were successful, but there are countless anecdotes of failures.
In my own experience, I have mostly felt you turn your back on me. I’ve had brief periods of time, mostly when I was younger, in which I realized I’d forgotten you existed. You were like those people from high school that I haven’t thought about until a picture pops up on my social media feed. Now, I concede that your influence colored every relationship I had after you, including and most significantly, the relationship with myself. I hadn’t grieved my last relationship before you forced a new one on me. I was too young to comprehend what you were doing to me or the people you introduced to me. You caused me to spend years being ashamed of my lack of knowledge, my lack of identity, and my inability to point to the woman whose genes and mannerisms I had inherited. The all consuming way you took over my life created an insecure, angry, confused young girl who sought affection from no one and believed she wasn’t worthy of love. These feelings produced tension in my most crucial relationships. I remember moments of heartbreak in which I couldn’t grasp the cause of my pain, my inability to connect to others, and my constant urge for perfection.
Why do I write to you today? What do I want you to know? I’ve found love in many places; in my children, in a man who is also an adoptee, in friends who recognize and identify with my experience. It took me over 40 years to find true love for myself and while it is no longer angry or insecure or confused, I still feel your influence there. I have found connection with others. I once mistakenly believed that to protect my heart I must be strong and distance myself emotionally from everyone. Through friendships with others who have had relationships with you, I have learned to be open, to perceive my vulnerability as a strength, and to empower myself through the courage to articulate my fears, my questions, and my lessons. You stole innumerable things from me; some of which I still don’t know. But my life is full in many ways and I now view you from a different perspective. I used to hate you for the way you’d changed my life. Now, I appreciate your touch on my life because it brought the most important people to me; my best friends, the man I love, and a community of immense support, courage, and activism of which I’m proud.
What are my plans for you now? I want to hold you accountable for the way you continue to match others together. I want to advocate for those whose lives you change. I want to educate those who believe they’re ready for you; they’re not. And while you will eternally influence my relationships, I recognize it now and am able to better regulate the degree to which this happens. I will never deny our relationship, as tumultuous as it’s been. Our relationship will be like so many others from my past. When others ask about you, I know I can think of you without tears or anger. This is how I know I’ve healed. This is how one moves on. This is where I’ve found myself.
Thank you for this well written, beautiful and real description. I am a newer (7 years in April) dad to 2 boys (9&10), and I find myself bouncing some of these questions around, wondering how people get the dangerous “savior” idea and try desperately to hold it through all of the struggles, to the point of damaging all involved. And finding my self in mid discussion realizing that when it comes to their experience, I really have no right to speak on it. I will forever be learning, and it is through insight like you have presented here, that I am able to reflect and, I hope, progress my own knowledge and experience.
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