I sometimes feel the way that John Raible described in his recent blog post.
At every turn, I’ve watched a non-stop backlash as adult adoptees offer up their perspectives, only to be patronized, talked about, criticized, researched, publicly psychoanalyzed, infantilized, trivialized, and dismissed.
I want so much to share my experiences with adoptive parents in order to help them be better parents to their adopted children. However, it is difficult to share my experiences and open myself up to harsh reactions. It is tiresome to have to justify my right to my opinions. It is tiresome to have to say “yes, I love my parents” or “yes, I am a productive, well-adjusted, stable individual” before my voice will be heard. Many adoptive parents say they want to hear what adult adoptees have to say but I often find that not to be true. I often feel that I “over share.” I sometimes say things that make adoptive parents uncomfortable. I say things they don’t want to hear.
I also struggle with not saying enough. I find that as I write this blog I want to be more assertive, more direct, and yet I worry about coming across too angry, too confrontational. I’m not sure I’ll ever find a happy medium. I often feel my decision to talk about the mistakes my parents made is seen as sour grapes or the comments of an ungrateful child. They are not. I stress over and over that I am very close with my parents. We have a wonderful relationship. However, that doesn’t mean there aren’t fundamental parts of my childhood that I believe could have been better. My parents could have handled my adoption issues, specifically my transracial adoption issues, much better. Has it been easy for my parents to hear or read my criticisms? Of course not. But they also fully support me in knowing myself and growing to be a better person. And when it comes to examining issues of adoptive parenting they fully support facing the tough issues and rehashing some of their parental decisions. If it helps today’s parents be better prepared or more aware of the nuances of parenting an adopted child they are willing to put their “dirty laundry” out there.
My mom has told me many times over the years that they “did the best they could.” I believe that is mostly true. My parents didn’t have the luxury of discussion lists on the internet, support groups, culture camps or countless books on (transracial) adoption issues. They didn’t participate in or read empirical research studies or watch documentaries on adoption….because they didn’t exist at that time. They DO exist now. Adoptive parents can no longer use the excuses “we didn’t know” or “no one told us.” All the information is out there and available. But it takes parents who are open and willing to confront the hard issues to effectively parent their adopted child.
Are you dismissing the wisdom of adoptees that have walked this complicated path before because it makes you uncomfortable? Are you confronting the true needs of your adopted child and providing them the most informed parenting possible? I truly hope so.