Sometimes it is hard for adoptees to talk with people about their experience of adoption. I know that I have always felt that it would be difficult for people to understand my feelings and thoughts about adoption unless I had a very long time to talk about it… or write about it 🙂. I usually don’t want to talk about it for very long unless someone is truly interested. It would suck to bore someone with adoption talk. It’s those adoptee insecurities at my id level (Or is it my ego level? I don’t know. Ask Freud) that tell me to fear inflicting boredom on others by talking about adoption. I know for certain that no one could handle talking about it with me as much as I talk about it with me (inner dialogue, not schizophrenia).
I, as many adoptees do, think about myself in terms of adoption every single day, trying to understand it and explore myself in terms of being an adopted kid (I’m no longer a kid but whenever I think about myself in terms of being adopted I feel like I am analyzing my inner child). So here I am, philosophizing about, analyzing and exploring adoption day in and day out, and then someone asks me a question about it, usually expecting a short concise answer. Not only short and concise, but definite. There is not always a definite answer, and if there is I am still searching for it.
I get these questions from people expecting a short answer and I think “oh $#!+ what do I say? Well, what will make them feel like I answered their question? Oh, I know! xyz will suffice for sure!” and then I answer with xyz.
I was out the other night and I told an old man who asked me what I am doing with my life (you know, every 20-something’s favorite question) that I was working on a book about adoption. After he asked if I was married and said “wouldn’t it be better to adopt if you were married?” I explained that I was adopted, not adopting. He then asked “what’s it like being adopted?” I said “can you read? I’ll let you know when my book is out and you can read it.” His answer: “I don’t read that well.” (oh Vegas…see what your education system does to people? This old man can’t read my book!) I do not have a short answer as to what it is like to be adopted. This may possibly be the most loaded 5 word question a person could ask me. My story as a whole can express what it is like to be an adoptee from my perspective, but I do not have a one-word, or even a one paragraph, answer to this question. Not only that, but I don’t know what it is like to not be adopted. How am I supposed to quickly tell anyone what being adopted is like, in terms that will make it clear how it is different from not being adopted?
That’s one of the most difficult things to figure out. How do I get someone to understand an experience that they may not even be able to wrap their mind around?
For instance, answering the oh so cliche but usually sincere question, “who is your real mother?” if you have your biological mother, how can I get you to understand that my biological mother is not my “real” mother? Why does “real” mean something different for me than it does for you? Why does “real” not mean the woman who carried me for 9 months and gave me life? Is it that raising me and loving me is more important than creating me? And then, is it actually biology that makes your mother “real”, or are our mothers “real” for the same reason? Are they both real, not because they made us, but because they mother us? These are all questions that run through my mind and heart, and questions I would need the time to discuss with someone in order to feel like I really helped them understand who my “real” mother is (and that is just a fraction of what being an adoptee is like). Every other question about adoption has a similar flurry of thoughts for me. I could sit and philosophize about it for hours, probably days. But is that really what anyone who says “who is your real mom?” or “what’s it like being adopted?” really wants to do? I don’t think so.
“What’s it like being adopted?” My short answer: “It’s pretty good.” The real answer: my entire life story, the underlying emotions, thoughts on research and the questions I’m still pondering.
LOVE always and forever,