Monday, June 17, 2013

Sharing Personal Adoption Details With Others: How Much is Too Much?

I threw my arms around Amy’s* shoulders as she told me her news in excitement. She was pregnant for the first time. She and her husband had waited for the first three months before they shared the news publicly. “Please don’t tell anyone” Amy said, suddenly very serious. I wondered why she would think that I would share her special news with others. I must have appeared perplexed. “It’s just that I told my mom first. She was so excited about being a grandmother for the first time that she announced it to friends and family before I could,” Amy explained. “I hope I don’t sound petty she finished. “But this is my news to tell.”

What does this story have to do with information-sharing in adoption? Simply put, it exemplifies one of many parts of life that makes sharing a story (any story) with others difficult—the intersectionality of our experiences with the experiences of others. In this story, one event simultaneously made one woman a mother for the first time and another woman a grandmother for the first time.  Whose story was it?  Whose news was it to tell?  This story is an opportunity to look the merge of two stories without the stress of considering adoption on top of it.

Human beings are social beings and so much our stories are intertwined with the stories of those around us. It is the intersection of stories that causes curious people to ask our adoptive parents about our lives as adoptees. This is why “how much is too much?” has become one of the most frequently asked questions in the adoption community. This issue impacts each member of adoption in different ways.  As an adult adoptee, I must consciously decide how to answer questions about myself, my immediate family, and my original and adoptive families.  Likewise, fostered adults, original families, adoptive families, foster families all experience being asked something very personal and wondering what they should share or "how much is too much?"

Monday, June 10, 2013

In Sickness & Health.....and Search & Reunion? How my Husband Got it Right

"I thought you sent those things in months ago."  I turned to see my husband standing next to me at the computer.  I was filing through a stack of photocopied pages that held the key to finding my original family and reuniting.  I shrugged.  I had just given birth to my first child, and had left my job to take care of him.  I could not justify spending the near $400 on something that I felt was only for my benefit.  I tried so hard to explain how thinking about taking on this process was making me feel.  I could not spend this money on myself or open this world of unknowns.  "Yes you can," he said.  "What benefits you benefits this family."  It was that day that I wrote the check and sent the forms to the intermediary.  Just what was is that made me walk to the mailbox that day and put this special envelope inside?

I have written about the various many things that lead to me to engage in the search process for my original family.  It was a medical scare that helped me realize that knowledge of my biological roots is important to me.  It was giving birth to my first son and looking into eyes--the eyes of the first genetic relative I had ever known.  It was gathering up the courage to mention my search desires to friends, family, and my parents and feeling empowered by their blessing.  Yet I have never written about the catalyst, the specific push that made me send the forms to the intermediary after holding them for months and pondering reunion for years.  It was my husband.  I had already had his support in searching.  In this moment, he gave me the priceless gift of letting me know that he truly understood why I needed to search too.