The inertia and stasis of adoption.

Whether cliché or heartfelt, we often speak or hear of the adoptee search as being a “journey”, implying a destination. I’ve often said that the journey replaces the destination, but recently for reasons having simply to do with sheer mortality, I find myself a bit more desperate to know family, to know origins. Perhaps this comes from the realization of being here almost a decade at this point.

In an item about our true selves, or finding our true selves, we discussed this a bit more; it also appears on a web site discussing an Ethiopian woman’s return to her place of birth, as well as the recent New York Times story on Jane Jeong Trenka. It has led me to ask this question: How do you handle those who “pull back”? Who wish you to remain in another place, as another self? How is this framed to you; what form does it take; how do you reply?

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4 thoughts on “The inertia and stasis of adoption.

  1. Recently I took a break from being an adoptee (which only lasted about 20 days). There is no departure in my thinking – it’s lifelong with brief vacations. I had pullback in reunion and still find myself doing it to my relatives who I think deserve more time with me but distance prevents it. For those not in reunion, there are no easy paths. It takes real time to get to know natural biological relatives – it’s the history we are missing that we need to know to fill the emptiness. Time heals.

  2. I let them go. I refuse to be other than myself. I was blessed to be given my history by both sides in reunion and have most of my questions answered. I had to come to terms with being very different from my biological relatives in ways that mattered to me. We are alike in ways I value but not enough to pursue the difficulties of ongoing relationships with those who showed willing, some did not and that’s fine too.What is hard is ‘the hot potato’ when you are inexplicably dropped for no reason you can fathom.One sister told me she no longer needed me to talk to after I had supported her through a cancer scare and maybe that’s how all my sisters are together but it wasn’t for me! I just don’t communicate and they know where I am if things change. I appeared out of the blue and disappeared into the blue!

  3. It reveals itself to me as pent-up energy, waiting for a sign that I might go back Stateside. In his last months with us, my adoptive father would often blurt out in total frustration: “So when are you coming home?” At the family gathering after his passing, a cousin asked the same. My use of “back” instead of “home”—”I’m not sure when I’ll be back next”—takes on overwhelming significance, and my refusal to say “home” referring to the States, or worse, my outright statement that “I am home” here in Lebanon wasn’t/isn’t taken very well I don’t think.

    It’s like keeping the lid down on a leaking pressure cooker. If I give an inch….for example, I remember once saying to my sister that if, if I were (subjunctive) to go back to the States, I’d probably live in Oakland (I was visiting her in the Bay Area). This got back to our father, who turned it into a declarative statement, such that I was all of a sudden asked: “When are you coming home? I heard you got a job in Oakland….” I do want to understand, but at the same time, it can be irksome.

    There is currently a possibility that I will need to be back Stateside for a good stretch of time in the coming year or so. Friends have jumped on this and are house-hunting based on this possibility in North Jersey. I laugh and I play along, and do research on web sites that show in bright red neighborhoods with high Arab populations (I’m not sure I like the idea of putting such maps together). At the same time, while I understand the emotion behind it, it sometimes feels like someone tying ballast to your waist when you are trying with all your might to lift off, just a little bit, from the ground; trying out broken wings, just to imagine a bit better what soaring might mean. For the “placeless”, I feel this can be a bit distressing.

  4. I too, let it go. Every day, every minute. Even when we’re together. What family would I choose to be part of that will not see me and love me for who I am? I spent my entire life trying to make other people happy. I thought, if I just be who they want me to be, they’ll like me and I’ll never have to worry about losing them. What I’ve learned in the process, is that in reality, my closest relationships are steeped in authenticity and, a key, vulnerability. What is the old adage that says something like, I would rather be hated for who I am than loved for who I am not (?) Maybe a Marilyn Monroe quote? Anyway, you get my point.

    It’s been a really difficult process for me to learn, but ultimately, I’ve chosen to embrace myself first.

    I spent the day with my Iraqi birth cousin last Saturday. I took him to my boyfriend’s capoeira event thinking it would be fun for him to see them play. By the time we got there, everyone was drinking and dancing around in their bathing suits, some of which were Brazilian style and left little to the imagination. I had to just let go. My family matters to me, don’t get me wrong. But I spent my first 20 years trying to be like everyone else and lost myself in the process – and I see the danger in that now. Ultimately I value who I am and would much rather know my family struggled, but learned to love me for being me, rather than having a family who loves me for qualities that aren’t really authentic to who I am.

Adoptees, what do you think? We welcome your replies!

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