Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Adoptee Feelings are a Reflection of their Experience--Not a Judgement of Others

In the community that I grew up in, there were a lot of stereotypes about unwed mothers and adoption.  In my journey, I've noticed that there are a lot of adoptees who encountered those same stereotypes and there are some who have not.  Of course, the people I've met are not necessarily a representation of what  the majority of adoptees think, it does provide me with insight as to what stereotypes and issues adoptees may encounter.

I recently read one adult adoptee's amazing blog about the struggles of being adopted.  Somewhere in the comments section, it was suggested to him that his adoptive family would be offended by his feelings.  Later, someone suggested that his original mother would be offended of his adoption-specific feelings of ambivalence.

I think part of the disconnect is that some people may not be recognizing that adoptees have their own experience within adoption.  We are not merely an addition to someone elses' experience in adoption.  With a unique experience in adoption comes a perspective that other individuals with different roles in the adoption system may not have.

I think it is very good to encourage empathy and understanding with others.  But there's a difference between encouraging empathy and telling someone their feelings are invalid because of how someone else feels.  I know my original mother has experienced adoption-related pain.  I also know that part of my hurt is knowing that she hurts; she is my mother and I love her.

I remember one of the first things an adoptive family member said to me, they specifically called me to tell me this, when they found out I was seeking reunion was to be sensitive to my parent's feelings.  I don't think anyone can really understand how hard it is to embark on reunion and then to have others enforce the concept of eggshell walking.  At times, I felt like my personal journey was more about making sure everyone else was OK than it was about me.

I will always encourage my children to share whatever they're feeling with me, even if it hurts my feelings, so that I can be there for them.  I hope that no one would ever discourage them from that.