I made it through the holidays and my birthday unscathed (December Blog), feeling clearer, stronger, and more like me than I have in a while. My year ended with my 26 and 18-year-old children agreeing to wear matching pajamas with me on Christmas Eve while binging Christmas movies.
Anyone who knows me knows I love a heartfelt card, text, email, or an old-fashioned letter. I re-read the words repeatedly, and a text from my 1st born to start the new year is no different.
"I appreciate and love you for bringing me into this world. Us vs. the world since '87." --First Born
As I began to focus on the year ahead, I looked at the photos of me in my office, and they felt out of date. They are some of my favorite pictures of myself, but they capture a version that I no longer identify with. In those photos was the recently separated Gloria Gaynor's "I Will Survive" or Beyonce's "Me, Myself and I," on-the-way-to-divorce version. So what did I do? Remove a few, keeping a couple up as a reminder of the season I existed in survival mode and made space for future pictures of me in my current season. Let's go!
Adoption - Hollywood Style
For the past month, I intended to minimize my consumption of adoption. That meant not checking social media or following some of the blogs of other adoptees I regularly visit. I even made it a point to quickly change the channel when the ad for "Home for the Holiday's" adoption tv special came on. I caught up on tv shows, movies, and books that I thought would be easy and light adoption-free entertainment.
I was shocked by how many shows I watched had some adoption thread I wasn't aware of
when I started it. I watched the "Amazing Race," and yep, twin sisters adopted separately who recently found each other are contestants. I watched the Disney movie Cruella and was surprised to see that Cruella turned out to be a late discovery adoptee. I much preferred the animated film Meet the Robinsons, where they explored adoption instead of dropping the revelation of a couple of scenes in Cruella and it getting quickly pushed aside. I thought I would be safe with "Life After Death," a series on Netflix about a psychic medium and what pops up; his mother is a late discovery adoptee.
I grew up with Different Strokes, a sitcom where a wealthy white man adopted two black boys after their mother, who worked for him, died. The white savior was in prime time, and I tuned in every week. This show made me wonder if my mother was dead and that's why I was adopted, and if it was, why couldn't I be rich?
My first adoption movie was Mommy Dearest, starring Faye Dunaway as Joan Crawford. I was obsessed, and whenever it came on, my brother would groan and leave the room because he knew I would watch it. Again! I identified with the adopted daughter Christina so much that I started calling my mother Mommy Dearest secretly when she asked me to do something. My mother was not affectionate or emotional. I wondered what her reason was for adopting children and sometimes felt it was just for appearances more than the love of a child.
As an adoptee, the deranged-looking Faye Dunaway was what I equated my adoption experience for the longest time.
There is one movie that I like about adoption. Instant Family is a Comedy\Drama about a couple who feel like their life is missing something, kids. They sign up for Foster Care adoption and begin the process. This movie touches on the correlation between how animal and human adoption is promoted, why some people adopt, the foster care system, the white savior complex, the difficulty of older kids being placed in a home, the challenge of adjusting to a new family, and primary family ties. In the end, yes, the white couple prevails and creates a home for three Hispanic siblings, but at least you get to witness the arc of how they got there.
I gave up on tv and picked up "Before I Let Go," a book by Kennedy Ryan. Again I thought it was a simple love story, and it was until adoption popped up as an option to grow the characters' family after a miscarriage.
Finally, in the airport, hoping Southwest Airlines would get me and my luggage to my destination, I noted a white couple with a black infant, which I presumed was their child. I immediately thought of all the interracial adoptees who share their stories on social media and hoped the village surrounding that child included people who looked like her.
No matter how I tried to escape adoption, it was everywhere. It is good to see so many stories surrounding adoption, but let's be honest; most of them are feel-good stories. By the end, everything is wrapped up neatly, and the Hollywood version of adoption prevails. The rise of DNA testing should show you that it is a facade. I hope more adoption stories are made, including complicated ones where everything doesn't fit in the box after a couple of hours.
Meet The Robinsons
My Other Mother
Jumping the Broom
Before I Let Go by Kennedy Ryan
Black Cake by Charmaine Wilkerson