A friend in the City treated me to a ticket to go see Edward Albee’s Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? which is currently on Broadway at the Shubert Theater. I was familiar with the movie of course, and the theme of infertility intrigued me on this second view because of my heightened sensitivity to this kind of subject matter. A minimum of research on Albee revealed him to be an adoptee, and an angry one at that:
And the stuff about the “blond-eyed, blue-haired son” is the first hint of Albee’s ongoing obsession with writing about his own adoption by wealthy, conservative New Englanders whom he grew to despise. Many of his plays after Woolf, which was his first full-length drama, have dealt with the theme of “invisible” children.
I never felt comfortable with the adoptive parents. I don’t think they knew how to be parents. I probably didn’t know how to be a son, either.
He left home at an early age, and this play seems to be a further indictment of this “perfection of family” myth attributed to adoption at that time; he very distinctly compares adoption to eugenic “selection” of children. There’s the line at the end of the play when the imaginary son has been “killed” and Martha says, “Maybe we could….” and George immediately cuts her off: “No.”
This is a moment of adoptive parent awareness that I find to be pretty amazing, even though it comes from the pen of an adoptee. Albee seems to be saying that their imaginary child, as “alive” as he was, at least didn’t have an impact on any living being, and perhaps, with the couple’s acceptance of their childlessness, some actual healing might occur for them.
I include this long intro in order to frame the following questions for discussion:
- Are we aware of any other adoptees who raise the issue in a way which has such a large impact on the culture?
- Are there other examples in which the onus of self-exploration, self-examination, and introspection is shifted back in such an obvious way to the infertile parents instead of on to the back of the adopted child?
- Do we know of any adoptive parents who dare to tackle this subject in any way which is not at all indulgent of their perceived needs?