i went to lutheran social services last friday and picked up the search forms. it was kind of weird. as i approached the counter i became acutely aware of the social tension around the request i was about to make. it occurred to me that in this very very busy social services office where people are bustling around all day with thousands of tasks-- tasks they perform every day, several times a day. i presume that adult adoptee searches are not their most frequent request. i suddenly felt a little bit awkward about asking. it's a little bit like coming out. except that i am rarely freaked out by telling another person that i am a lesbian. the only part that sucks is that occasionally the information evokes a kind of judgmental tension that is always silent and never very comfortable. that is what this felt like. because being adopted is the kind of thing that--like being gay-- in this society we tend to not talk about. i found myself worried a bit about how the receptionist would react. not necessarily outwardly, because-- like actually coming out-- the reaction that causes friction is almost always internal. i was concerned not even about what she would say to me but about what she would think of the request. especially in a place that arranges adoption placements, it seems the staff who deal with these situations would have a whole set of beliefs and opinions about adoption. here is a list of the things i thought she might be thinking:
* "can't these people just be grateful for what they have?"
* "why can't they leave the past behind them?"
* "this is why people don't want to place their children in adoptive homes."
* "don't they know how much work this is?"
* "we shouldn't even offer this service."
i actually felt as though i was pushing the limits of my own ethical rights by suggesting that i should seek my first family of origin. i felt like the dreaded lost child, who has come back to seek some answers to questions they would prefer to bury.
but whatever, i walked to the window and asked politely if i could please have the forms i need to complete to initiate a search. my paranoia was not helped by the fact that the woman spoke not a single word. she exhaled. she looked around for a few seconds. she reached for a folder and pulled out a set of forms. even when i took them from her hand and said "thank you" she didn't say anything. so now i am pretty sure she believes that people like me are the reason women choose abortion over adoption.