If you are an adoptee, birth family, adoptive parent, or prospective adoptive family, I hope you have found adoptee voices to follow on social media. I have gone from silently reading posts to commenting truthfully about my experiences and learning so much through the experience of others. I wanted to share some of the posts of adoptees and birth parents, my replies (aligned to the right), and expanded thoughts on the topic.
Nikkinowknows, a birth mother, shared her reunion experience on Instagram and asked about others' reunion journeys.
Reunion is a complicated, beautiful, heartbreaking, and fulfilling journey for which I am so thankful. I have been in a reunion with my son for five years and my birth mother for 7. There is no cheat sheet on how to maneuver it. There are difficult moments, but there has never been a moment when I wish I had not found both pieces. Therapy is essential, and healing is continuous. The difficulty in reunion is nothing in comparison to not knowing.
Following other birth parents' journeys has been a balm to my spirit. The past year of being in these adoptive social media groups has garnered me a community. In the pain of our experiences, there is comfort in knowing others understand. For 50-odd years, I had no one to share the feelings of being a birth mother. As the reunion with my son has drifted into a low period, reading the stories of others helps me to stay hopeful that, in time, the tide will turn once again.
Theblackadoptea asked: As a young adoptee, what was something you wanted to tell your adoptive parents but couldn't?
That I often wondered who I would grow up to look like.
My appearance is one of the main things I obsessed about growing up. I knew I was adopted, but I had no clue whose features I had. Although I am a same-race adoptee, I didn't look like my parents. At least, I didn't think I did. Eventually, I tied my identity to my father, who was similar in complexion. I can only imagine the difficulty in shaping your identity when you are a transracial adoptee that may not have anyone in your life as a child that looks like you. That is the one thing I hope prospective adoptive parents consider. If you adopt a child of another race, build a support system that reflects your child.
Ridghaus, a birth father and a late discovery adoptee, spoke of his decision to choose adoption for his son at 18. "The backward glance has greater clarity. I would not choose adoption again because I now know what it means to be a father."
I totally understand the backward-glance comment.
Parenting is hard. PERIOD. My backward glance has me realizing I could have raised my son. It would have been hard, but it was hard when I had my daughter ten years later; it was still difficult when I had my youngest seven years after that. At 16, I thought adoption was better for my son and me because that narrative seemed to appease the adults in my life. That was the narrative I told myself based on my own experience, not knowing at 16 how adoption would weave through every facet of my life.
Anonymous, posted: It should not be legal for a minor to be able to permanently sign away rights to their own child. If an individual is not old enough to even rent their own apartment, they are not old enough to sign away legal access to their child.
I was definitely not mature enough to understand the psychological, emotional, and spiritual ramifications of carrying a child only to let him go. I needed so much more support than I received. No one in my world allowed me to imagine a life with my son. I didn't let myself imagine that because, as an adoptee, I felt indebted to my adoptive family and only wanted to please them.
Adoptees Crossing Lines, a podcast launching in November, posted a question. What does adoption mean to you?
Adoption means being unsettled. Hoping one day you feel at home within yourself.
I feel like I am in pursuit of this every day. I have recently felt detached from a lot of people. So many of my relationships did not feel authentic. They felt as if I was playing a role but that I was not truly attached to the outcome. Except for my three children and my nieces, other familial relationships feel obligatory. I continuously seek that place within myself when I do not feel like I have to prove I am worthy to anyone.
Sagittarius adoptee on Twitter asked: Meeting my mom for the first time in 32 years. Any tips for preparing myself?
Honor your emotions that arise before, during, and after the meeting. All of them are valid! Write about the meeting afterward, and you will be amazed at what pours out on paper.
Writing has saved my sanity on many occasions. My journals are the reason I was able to write a memoir. There is a quote by Joan Didion, "I don't know what I think until I write it down," which is exactly how I feel when dealing with adoption. Pouring emotions out on paper and re-reading it provided clarity that was hard to come by when thoughts circulated in my head.
Mary Ellen Gambutti was one of my first followers and recently published her memoir, I Must Have Wandered: An Adopted Air Force Daughter Recalls.
Reading her story was fascinating because she has pre-adoption letters between her adoptive parents and the church. I have never seen anything like that. Reading letters that showed her parents' longing for a child was beautiful and heartbreaking. It reminded me that many adoptees are not chosen, as so much as the child is available. The depiction of Mary Ellen's mother growing up reminded me of my own. Both were nurses who may have been great in their profession, but nursing care does not always transfer into motherly care.
There is no shortage of adoption perspectives. Some adoptees have absolutely no ill feelings toward the process. I am somewhere in the middle and appreciate the voices sharing their experience. November is National Adoption Awareness month, and I thank you for following me here and hope you support other adoptees as they share their adoption journey.