Is it possible I like whiskey because my biological parents were Irish? Do I have a greater propensity to speak Romanian because I overheard it in the womb (or even because my mother was Romanian)?
Previously (here and here), I asked what kind of narratives we choose (when we choose) to tell ourselves about our adoptions. Lately, this topic has resurfaced in a different form: what kinds of narratives are told about adoptees, especially in supposedly scientific research that has actually set out to answer questions like the two above. These studies aim to prove different sorts of truths about adoptees; the pitfalls and potentials involved in this are discussed in more detail here.
All of this being so, an adoptee wrote:
But beyond all of this, I want to know why, against everything having to do with my self-preservation in Lebanon, I feel a resonance in certain places and among certain people. Not in a “honeymoon” kind of way, but in a gut instinct kind of way. I don’t know how to explain it. And I don’t mind hearing that I am full of shit, by the way (emphasis added).
I can relate to this. I sometimes think or feel that I have a twin out in the world somewhere, and I’ve wondered for years why the intellectual spirituality of India (particularly how “natural” or “obvious” reincarnation has always seemed to me) and so much of Russian culture have spoken to me so elementally. I’d randomly wandered into an article about John Wayne Gacy, and one of his victims died in November (my birth month), and involuntarily I wondered if it was my twin brother. Sometimes these inexplicable connections seem almost somehow like my most authentic or compelling self.
Two things seem obvious about my experience and the experience quoted above. First, there is this inexplicable sense of something that “must be true” because it seems so convincing even though there seems to be no other worldly or reasonable reason why it should be so. Why should Russian music or literature affect me this way, for instance. Second, the fact of this being so inexplicable, so strange, raises a desire in me to have that experience be recognized by other people. I don’t mean, necessarily, that they have to agree with me that it is “true”. I’m perfectly convinced already that I am having this experience. If I were to insist I love Russian music because I’m a reincarnated Russian, you don’t have to believe it; it seems often, though, people have a hard time believing even that someone might experience such a thing in the first place, whether claimed as “true” or not.
Put this way, one may see immediately how this connects to what is often experienced by adoptees–the failure or refusal of the world to recognize the experience of the adoptee.
But I don’t want just to ask, “How have you dealt with the fact that people have failed to recognize your experience?” because I suspect in a sense we “already know” that answer too well–though maybe there’re important things still to be dug out of that. So feel free, if so.
I feel like I might ask, “Is this kind of experience–of an eerie or inexplicable affinity for some things–common to many adoptees, or is this just one of those things?” because maybe it’s important just to get that out in the open.
Maybe what I do want to ask is, “What are your experiences like this about?” because I’d like to provide an opportunity where you can bear witness to that experience, knowing that it will be recognized rather than refused, confused, or dismissed.