gallery Dear Adoption, Jokes on You

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Dear Adoption, Jokes on You

Here’s the thing…

I feel like I am supposed to be harboring all types of bitterness, anger, & rage towards you. I am supposed play the role of the victim in this drama called life. A woe is me of sorts. I am supposed to be riddled with abandonment issues, pent up hostility towards both my birth mom for giving me up, & my adopted mom for not being my birth mom.  

I am supposed to use “being adopted” as my crutch in life. The reason I can’t be or do something. I am supposed to be incapable of attachment, incapable of growth, incapable of rising above and breaking the cycle, and downright bitter.

Well Adoption… Jokes on you…

The simple reality is, I’ve never given that much weight to you. I’ve always known I was adopted, it’s a hard fact to hide from an 11-year-old. I’ve always had the “luxury” of knowing my birth family in one capacity or another. But being adopted has never been a defining factor for me. I acknowledge it as much as I acknowledge being a brunette. I slip it into conversations with the greatest of ease. Never letting it linger on my tongue for more than a second. Nothing more than a passing glance. Giving you your rightful place in my life as merely a catalyst for my transition from foster care to forever care…. Cliché cliché cliché…. And on with my life I went; open and honest about my reality but never consumed by it.

Nevertheless, that’s where I went wrong. Adoption, you sneaky bastard, you weren’t going down without a fight. You laid dormant just long enough to let me think I could get out unscathed. You allowed me to skirt through life, transitioning from childhood to adolescence to adulthood seamlessly. You granted me the ability to share my story with such wit and humor, as if entertaining a dinner party; even I was fooled. This entire time thinking, “I got this.” I would intently listen to other people share their adoption stories; sad stories, hopeless stories, stories filled with anger and despair. And all the while I would judgmentally think to myself, “Thank God I’m not them.”

So it seems Adoption… Jokes on me…

I was, as I was taught to be, one of the “grateful adoptees.” Actively reasoning away any sense of feelings that didn’t align with the “you should be grateful” mantra. I became an expert at evaluating my situation and eloquently explaining how I could see this was best for me. The “where I am” vs. the “where I could have been” rationale worked every time. I could logically whisk away any inkling of sadness. It would always & instantly lend itself to how appreciative I was for my parents. How could I not be after all? They rescued me. They were my saviors disguised as ordinary people. I knew the token “adoptee party line” and I towed it well.

But Fuck You, Adoption… Fuck You. You just couldn’t stay where I put you. You had to rear your ugly head, stealing my thunder along the way. I had meticulously crafted a special place in my life, riddled with sarcasm and avoidance, just for you. Void of all emotion towards you.  

And there you were supposed to stay.

But you didn’t… you got cocky. You decided to demolish my “ignorance is bliss” ideal. And, motherfucker, you came out like a wrecking ball, swinging, set to destroy everything in your path.

I didn’t initially see you coming. You brilliantly executed the ultimate blindside.

Bravo Adoption. Bravo.

As soon as I realized my dam was breaking I did everything in my power to plug every hole. I used every tool in my emotional arsenal to try to lock you back up, but let’s be honest Adoption, I didn’t have that many. I tried to repair every crack you could possibly seep from. But like water leaking, it always finds a way; so did you. You always find a way. You found your way out of the corner I tucked you into, and you infiltrated every single area of my life. You didn’t just trickle in, no, that would have been too easy. That would have given me a chance to prepare myself, to prepare those around me. For what, I don’t know, but certainly given me a better sense of control.

Instead you tsunami-ed your way into my life, my marriage, my most stable relationships, and you washed away every ounce of stability I had grown to love, to need, to rely on. You, who I have “known” my whole life, just turned my world upside down.

Jokes definitely on me

You wouldn’t take ‘no’ for an answer. You wouldn’t be forgotten, left behind, locked up, or ignored. You made damn sure I knew you were there.

So now what?

Here I am. There you are. Obviously with no intention of going anywhere anytime soon. So I guess I’ll have to learn how to live with you… but I don’t expect it to be easy… for either of us.

You’re expecting rage, bitterness, anger, & a myriad of other emotions. Well good news Adoption, because I’d hate to disappoint. You’re damn right I am filled with those emotions. But not towards you… I would never dignify you like that. I’m angry at myself that I couldn’t contain you, that I never saw you coming. Once again I was blind-sided… When will I ever learn? I’m bitter that events that transpired over twenty plus years ago are just now re-surfacing; are just now hijacking my life. That things feel completely out of my control… again.

But Adoption, what you really need to know, apart from all those emotions is this: I am not going down without a fight. I may possess those emotions, but you can be damn sure they won’t possess me.

So Adoption… Jokes on you…

I refuse to succumb to you. You may have won this battle, but you better fucking believe I am going to win the war.  

I refuse to be another one. Another adoptee who can’t get past, their past. I may come out on the other side quite a bit different than I went in…but take note…I will come out regardless. You may have set out to consume me, but I am turning the tide. What you set out to use against me, to bring me down to your level, to hold me down, I am going to use for my gain.

Truth is Adoption, I can no longer avoid you. You have successfully made your presence known, and I am finally forced to confront you. You have unpacked your suitcase and taken up residence in a place you don’t belong. You are a squatter, and I can tell you right now Adoption, you’re going to wish you had stayed dormant. I may not possess the ability to make you go away forever, but rest assured I am going to find you your rightful place in my life. A sacred place, where I can simultaneously control you and value you. Adoption you may have your hooks in me now, but be aware, this place you occupy in my life, it is only temporary.

Because, Adoption… The jokes definitely on you.

Laurel Swanson was placed in foster care when she was 2 years old. She moved around to approximately 6 different foster homes, across state lines, until she was 11, when she was adopted for good. She is now a mom to four amazing kids of her own!

8 comments

  1. Brava, my friend!! You are one of the most amazing people I know, and I have no doubt that you will succeed beyond even your own expectations. Love you always.

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  2. Reblogged this on Gazelle's Scirocco Winds and commented:
    This is the face of denial, one that has never been dormant anymore than the fact of an adoption at 11 years of age or the foster care or the system which is adoption masquerading as ‘saviour’, ‘in the child’s best interest’, the ‘chosen one’ or removal from ‘the incompetent’ parent -or some such wording which beguiled this woman as child and continues its seduction as adult. None of this narrative is a joking matter; rather it like almost every adoption story is tragic… a tragedy that never quite disappears, and is only managed by our efforts to accept that we need to do whatever it takes to make what is called adoption obsolete , to make society of this country insist an ensure that we have equal rights under the Constitution to know who we are and to have a say in how our lives are managed-not by a state, or an agency , but by our choices-and no one else’s. We need to know that as children we were victims but as adults we are not. Nothing that harms or scars or violates a child can be sacred, and we only control what is now. What is in the past is out of our control, and the future is for the next generations; no one promised it to us. At age five, I knew that no one was allowed to take my identity from me-not a court or a state, or a country. I also was very aware that my siblings were hidden from me -something which has haunted me for 7 decades. What I also understood was that while the society which colluded with the courts to rob me of my true existence and the family that went with that, it was my own parents that chose to abandon me and my younger sister. The state merely allowed them to do so in impunity. It was I who suffered the consequences. I know who they were, but to this day I do not know the circumstances which lead to the abandonment., and as they died soon after I retrieved the information about them, their secrets have gone to their graves with them. Because I fought a system of secrets, lies, locked documents and the determination that I would never know who I was and am, I have not only documentation that I was never to have, but knowledge of ancestors stretching 3/4w around the globe… An adoptee I shall always be, but as the 2nd Mrs. de Winter said to Ms. Danvers. “I am mistress now!” Without the events in my life, I would not be the person I am now. Had I not become aware of adoption as an unrequested entity, I( might well not have survived beyond my early years. Adversity can make one weak, or strong. After childhood it is our choice which determines which we will become. Read on,
    and wish Laurel and her family the best.

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  3. Oh lord, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change what I am able to, and the wisdom to know the difference.

    ~the Serenity Prayer Vaya con dios, Laurel.

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  4. Just wow! I could have written this it describes my last few years so well! Only adoption waited until my 40s to knock me on my emotional ass.

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  5. It really does affect everyone involved, I am the daughter of my dad, the adoptee. Lots of hurt all of my life, rejected because of my dad’s rejection.
    Still have not met my dad’s birth family, but basically know who they are . Realizing these days and I guess am feeling a bit old, but does it really matter anymore? Love is love and we need to live in the now and appreciate that, easier said than done, I know . God Bless everyone!

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