Sunday, November 29, 2009

Not Just a River in Egypt

In general, when talking to adoptees about their feelings regarding adoption, I try to take them at their word. In other words, if someone tells me they are fine with adoption, I don't immediately assume they are in denial. Nothing in my experience requires that all adoptees feel the same way I do to validate my own feelings.

I do understand why the "denial" charge is often bandied about. Many adoptees report feeling as though they have come out of a "fog" with respect their own attitudes about adoption. They explain their own stories with reference to their own denial. And given that the experience is common (if not ubiquitous), it is easy to think that other adoptees may be going through the same thing. And I have no doubt that some adoptees are in denial.

But I don't know someone else's heart. And even were I to suspect denial, it's not my place to share it with the person. Someone who is in denial will only dig their heels in if they are not ready to confront whatever it is. And someone who isn't in denial is just going to be turned off. So even when I do wonder, I keep my thoughts to myself.

But there is another form of "denial" in adoption. It is the tendency to deny the negatives of adoption.

Most people are willing to acknowledge, especially when confronted with cases, that there are bad outcomes in adoption. There are adoptees who are abused, neglected, and even murdered. But it seems a strong tendency to deny problems with adoption itself. These are just bad experiences, exceptions to the beauty that is adoption itself.

I suppose I understand. Parents (whether adoptive or biological) want to believe they are doing right by their children. If they believe that adoption itself is harmful, then they have to wonder about their own roles in that. Adoptees themselves do not want to be thought of as broken, damaged, or victims.

But it is the constant denial, that refrain, that keeps ringing in my ears. I don't mind the individual that looks to their own situation and sees it as a positive. But when that is generalized to all adoptions, what is being denied, by others, is my experience. In order to preserve adoption, adoptees who are angry about adoption are told that they are wrong.

That turns denial outward; it becomes a denial of the reality that many adoptees experience. And just as I don't accuse others of being in denial, I don't deny injustices and injuries that I don't experience. In other words, whether or not every adoptee experiences the injustices and injuries of adoption, that doesn't make them not real. Just because some individuals would rather believe that the world of adoption is just fine, doesn't make it so.

It's true that denial is not just a river in Egypt. And any adoptee who has ever spoken up about the problems of adoption can attest to it.

(Clearly, I have to quit reading adoption blogs that I stumble upon. At least, I have to quit reading the sunshine and rainbows blogs. I do appreciate all the positive comments on yesterday's post. I'm trying to talk myself into believing all of you, instead of the voices in my head.)


Cricket said...

Awesome post...and very true.

tiger said...
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