Adoption is complex. All of it. And sometimes we, as adoptees, don’t fully understand how complex it is until we lose our adoptive parents. Because many times, our adoptive parents, good or bad, are the only people who moored us to existence.
Years ago I read an essay titled “Keep my adoptive parents out of this.” And I could really relate. I was going through cancer; I’d lost my dad, with whom I’d had a lifelong contentious relationships; my mom was in a nursing home nearby suffering from severe dementia, but she always knew who I was. Suddenly, the problematic issues of adoption, on which I spoke with such ferocity, seemed so far away and ethereal as to no longer be real. I loved my mom. She protected me, stood up for me, made sure I had access to all those things that would allow me to make friends, thereby ensuring a social network within an upper middle-class tier of American society. How could I speak against her? I even asked, in one of my essays, how could I have this conversation of adoption without throwing her, or my birthmom, under the bus?
I’ve kept those two spheres very much divided. How realistic is that? And in doing so, how do I created an integrated self?
What are your thoughts?