Thursday, November 5, 2009

Every Adoptee Searches

When I started actively searching for my first mom, I started getting a little crazy. The emotional turmoil of deciding to move forward with a search, the waiting, the wondering, the ambivalence, the feelings of disloyalty... All of it drove me a little mad. (For those that know me, a little MORE mad.)

I began scouring the internet for resources to help me. I'm sure I've mentioned this before, but I didn't really know anyone adopted when I was growing up (or really, until I got into reunion), so I didn't know how other adoptees felt about this. I just wanted some insights into what I was going through.

I stumbled upon a review of Being Adopted: The Lifelong Search for Self by Brodzinsky, et al. I ordered it from Amazon and began devouring it immediately. The book was a life-saver in many ways: for the first time in my life I realized I wasn't alone in how I felt about adoption. I think that's why the book is still the first one I recommend to anyone when it comes to books about adoption.

One passage, in the first half of the book, has stuck with me:

We are often asked, "What percentage of adoptees search for their birth parents?" And our answer surprises people: "One hundred percent." In our experience, all adoptees engage in a search process. It may not be a literal search, but it is a meaningful search nonetheless. It begins when the child first asks, "Why did it happen?" "Who are they?" "Where are they now?"


Those questions are some of the earliest ones I can remember. Asking them helped shape my childhood and, ultimately, my identity.

We usually take "search" in such a literal way. And it is heavy with implications and pitfalls. What does it say about our feelings towards adoption, towards our adoptive family, towards ourselves? But I have to believe every adoptee searches, in precisely the way that Brodzinsky and his co-authors suggest.

Some adoptees may resolve those questions without ever performing a literal search. Or some might abandon the search before it ever gets that far. But I have trouble believing that any adoptee never asks these, and related, questions. Never wonders about where they came from.

Those questions, that wondering, is a form of search. We may forgo carrying it through to the end, to finding out real answers, but the questions are always there to be asked.

I'm glad I found some of my answers.

1 comment:

jmomma said...

that is such a good point. Thank you.