I’ve been following #flipthescript on Twitter these past
weeks. It’s been eye-opening
and uncomfortable knowing my kids’ stories. When we were placed with X, it was
a time of learning but not fully understanding the implications for
first-parents and adoptees. I believe 100 percent that X would have been placed
for adoption whether we were in the picture or not. At play in his story are
deep seated cultural values, a minor, and an unsupportive family environment. C
didn’t want to place him. We know this. We do what we can to support her
emotionally, although sometimes I wonder if it’s enough. Because our wish is to
keep communication open between them, and to openly acknowledge her place as X’s
mother, S and I have discussions around this at intervals. If X was old enough to grasp the situation,
what would he want to do? He doesn’t have a voice yet, and doesn’t even
understand the concept of adoption. So, as his parents, what do we do to ensure
the communication stays open, yet keep boundaries, because we are X’ parents,
we are not C’s parents?
Z’s story is vastly different from X’s story, and I don’t
know if we will be in an open adoption in the future. I like to think of it as
an open-door adoption, to take a page from Lori’s book. J doesn’t want contact,
but she wants letters and pictures. So, we will keep up letters and pictures
through the agency, always providing contact information in them. Keeping our
door open for the day she may decide she wants to meet A. The good thing about
hospital placements, is that despite the whole “anonymity” thing, we have her
last name. You can’t redact everything! So, we will keep that, for
the future when A may want to search.
I realize that my own quasi-adoption story is one that many
people would not recognize as adoption. After all, my mother was with me
throughout, and I was not taken from my family of origin. So, yes, it’s
absolutely different and I don’t understand the adoptee who was taken from
their family, placed in another family and grew up always wondering where they
fit. I know where I fit. I know the maternal half of my biological family and extended
family. What I can understand is
the feeling of helplessness when it comes to my own story. I understand the
feeling of being told to “just be grateful” when I tried to express my emotions
around not knowing anything about my biological father. Sound familiar? I
understand the secrecy that feels wrong, because I am the one affected, yet I
can’t talk about it. I understand the damage that’s done to a child’s psyche
and how that affects the child as an adult when parents refuse to acknowledge feelings
or talk about this big huge thing that happened to them. I did not have a say when
my stepfather adopted me and my brother. I may have been asked if it was ok,
but I was a teenager, compliant, and knew that whatever I said wouldn’t matter.
I hadn’t yet found my voice in regards to my family situation, so why would I
care? I am finding my voice now. I obtained my original
birth certificate, because I too have a fake one. For me, this is more about
owning the facts. I don’t necessarily need to find my biological father’s
family, but I have name and age information if I want to. My mother has some contact
information, but as is her way, she said she was going to give it to me and my
brother and then never followed through.
Now that I’m an adoptive parent, I can draw from
my own experiences of being shut down and vow to never shut down my kids. I can
learn from adoptees and first-parents whose voices should be just as loud as
adoptive parents and who need to be heard. I can advocate on behalf of my kids
and teach them the tools to advocate for themselves.
I can help them find their voice as they grow. I can normalize adoption as a
thing that happened to them, a thing that may define them, or may not. If it defines them and they need to speak out on adoption someday, then it’s
up to me to put aside my own emotions and recognize that what they speak out
about may not reflect on me as a parent. Or maybe it does. Because raising a child
who feels empowered to speak their mind is my goal. The secrecy stops with me.
No more secrets. No more lies. No more quashing.