Written by: E, adoptee.
Talking openly about adoption can be very complicated because of the gratitude we feel towards our adoptive parents and the desire not to let them down, versus our own sense of loss, confusion, and anger as human beings.
I was adopted in 1980 and grew up in a closed adoption - one in which my biological heritage was rarely discussed and one in which my own feelings of confusion/anger/grief/fear/isolation were never addressed. Either by choice by my adoptive parents or because they were so busy with life that feelings were ignored. This does not mean that they did not do their best or not care about me....quite the contrary. I was their treasured son and was put on a pedestal of sorts. This is where my own personal feelings of guilt, shame and self-denial can possibly be traced to, as I found that I simply could not live up to their expectations of me...particularly when I entered adolescence and then adulthood.
Rather than trying to mask or deny them I make the on-going choice to welcome these feelings into my life so that I can live my life in as emotionally honest a way as possible.
For their own reasons, my parents weren't able to address my adoption-related challenges and my thoughts, feelings and actions were often taken at face value. I do not begrudge them for this though, as they were only human, and I believe they gave me a much better life than I would have had had they not been my parents. They provided me with so many things, even if they didn't/couldn't recognize my inner emotional landscape. My parents gave me someone to call mom and dad. They gave me an education, birthdays, extended family members, a brother, a religious life, a sense of personal dignity, conversations around dinner tables, family road trips...and other memories that will last me the rest of my life. Although they are no longer alive I still hold the memory of our life together in my heart and it gives me courage, hope, joy, and strength to move forward with mine.
We individuals who are adopted face the tremendous task of putting our lives together with loss at its very beginning. We must "find ourselves"...choosing paths and careers, often times surrounded by messages telling us how happy and successful we have to be all the time...when something inside just does not feel right.
Going through the therapeutic process and doing a lot of personal exploration has brought me in touch with my own innermost feelings of hurt and loss. Rather than trying to mask or deny them I make the on-going choice to welcome these feelings into my life so that I can live my life in as emotionally honest a way as possible. Doing so has enriched my life in so many ways and connected me with so many wonderful people and experiences.
It has also allowed me to free the artist within me. As an artist, I know that had I not been adopted and lived "a perfectly normal life" my life would have unfolded in a completely different way. However, this does not mean that I cannot still make art...only that my craft now is influenced by what was, what is, and what could have been. I believe then that adoption is a never-ending life experience, as our identities themselves are never static. It is a river that changes its course at its very beginning, yet still continues to flow.
Adoption "success", in my opinion, is learning how to continuously navigate its course, both with peace and self-acceptance.
I've included a piece I would like to share. It is a popular selection in the classical guitar repertoire. It is by the Spanish guitarist and composer Franciso Tárrega, and it is called "Lágrima" which means "tear" in Spanish. I have chosen it because I think recognition of loss is central to adoption truth and growth and the melancholic mood of this piece vividly expresses the loss that can be experienced by all members of the adoption narrative.
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