As my dad's digitizing project continues, he sends me daily updates. Yesterday's included this one of me on my adoption day. Note the annotation on the border of the Polaroid, obviously written with joy on the day.
I think it's lovely that my father felt (and feels) nothing but complete happiness surrounding my adoption. That makes at least one of us. Why shouldn't he feel unadulterated happiness? But I don't want to burden him with the shadows of my own sadness.
I've been thinking a great deal about several adoption-related conversations that are going on right now. One is about the relative insignificance of adoption trauma in light of other worldly tragedies (e.g., the Holocaust), and the second is about how adoptees, even when adult, are often brushed off as infants--rapped on the knuckles, if you will--when we say things that others don't like or want to hear.
Starting with the second: adoptees are often chastised for overstepping boundaries that aren't even evident, or worse, we're mocked for questioning things that people say about us. I think it's a ploy for some people to avoid dealing with their feelings about the things we bring up, especially when we're talking about how adoptees are being treated. Not many people like to admit that they're complicit in hurting people (I for sure know that I don't), but I believe that integrity means admitting when we have hurt someone, owning it, or even just listening to others when they tell us that we may have said something hurtful. This goes for EVERYONE (I have been taken to task for using the word "choice" related to surrendering and learned from the criticism), but I have seen nastiness in spades lately directed toward adoptees who speak up to say that they feel hurt or are worried about the feelings of other adoptees. Usually we're told that we need to stop and think about how our natural mothers feel. While this is important, we are ALSO allowed to have our own feelings, and these feelings may be in conflict with those of our natural mothers.
Being in one of those spots right now where I have been rejected in silence again,
And no, this isn't the Holocaust, or genocide, or the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius, or a tsunami. I am not making my story about anyone but me. But you know what? My BFF, who lived through the Khmer Rouge genocide and saw horrors I cannot even imagine, doesn't play the "I had it worse than you ever did" game. Because he's my FRIEND. He listens and loves me and supports me fiercely, no matter what. If it sucks for me, it sucks for him. He said that he's watched me these past couple of years and hoped that I'd at last be able to be angry about all that's happened, because anger sometimes helps propel you up and out of the mire. He especially felt this when I was suicidal last year. It's not good to get stuck in anger, but a good dose of it is often necessary to bring about change.
I'd say that people's use of metaphor is most profitably considered in terms of its authenticity. If you're making a spectacle of yourself for attention but it's clear that you want the attention more than you are experiencing pain (and yes, it's pretty clear when people are faking their dramatic outbursts), it's distasteful. But who are we to judge someone else's depth of pain? I find it hubristic to issue blanket statements about what others should and shouldn't do, or what they do or don't feel. Some of us HAVE lost our entire histories and families.
There are some adoption bloggers who have moved past the more difficult parts of their own experiences and don't feel the nagging pain so acutely anymore. They have integrated adoption into their lives such that it's not so central to their daily narratives. They go around saying, "This isn't a big deal. Ignore it. Move on." I am happy for them, but I would also hope that in their peace they would find compassion to allow those of us still working through our pain to cry and rant and think through our problems. Healing doesn't happen overnight, and I have been in this reunion game for less than two years! I hardly think that I can snap my fingers and be done with it. I tried the antidepressants, tried the therapy, and it's just taking TIME. Have some compassion, and pass the glue.