Monday, June 7, 2010

Adoptee Identity

As though it wasn't enough to be confused about my identity because of my adoption, increasingly I seemed to be confused about my identity as an adoptee. How do I fit into those who identify as adult adoptees? Am I angry? Am I calm? Am I overly-simplistic? Am I too nuanced? Am I holier-than-thou about my exceedingly clever views about adoption? Have I not thought through the issues well enough?

I'm not making sense. I know this. That's okay. This is my blog. I don't have to make sense if I don't want to.

I read so much about adoption. And I see so many adoptees speak with authority about their ways of viewing adoption. In books. In articles. On the web. Some of them I admire. Some of them seem condescending. Some of them seem confident, and some just as lost as I feel.

How I feel about adoption, about all my families, is... complicated. And I'd be the first to admit that I "deal" with a lot of that complication by minimizing its impact on my life. I live nearly a thousand miles from any relative, adopted or blood. I keep distance between myself and my families, as a result I do not have to confront and settle conflicting emotions about them.

I would never claim nurture doesn't matter. Obviously how I grew up affected me in profound ways. But I have worked so hard to forget it, going back twenty years, long before I was really willing to confront adoption issues. And it seems obvious to me that nature matters.

Growing up without other adoptees around meant that I didn't know what was "normal" for an adoptee (if there is such a thing). I had no one to talk about it with. Now, reading about how others think through the various issues, I still sometimes feel like I'm a stranger in a strange land. And the problem is, I don't know anywhere that doesn't feel like that.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

The Worst That Could Happen

I often find myself doing things I don't always want to do because I don't want to disappoint others. I am, in short, a people-pleaser.

And it has to stop. At least a little bit.

I beat myself up over it. I inhibit myself, which causes me to feel more isolated and alienated, which causes me to withdraw further into myself, which causes... Well, you see where this is going, I think.

The latest case in point concerns the Adoptee Rights Demonstration in Louisville at the end of July. For the last six months or so, I've been planning on going. Indeed, I thought I could arrange my summer visit with my (adoptive) family around the trip. They only live a few hours away.

As we began planning for our summer travel, however, I began to feel more and more guilty about taking a couple of days to drive to Louisville. I began to worry my parents would be upset by my shortened visit. And I thought I was being selfish in wanting to go.

Just this past weekend, I resolved to go. Of course events could conspire against me, but assuming they don't... I have been wanting to go to this gathering for almost three years. And this is my first real chance at being there.

What is the worst thing that could happen if I go? My parents are upset with me? Are they going to abandon me? Probably not. They haven't done so yet, so they aren't likely to do it now. Either they won't be upset at all, and all the guilt is just from my own internal voice. Or they will be upset. If they get so upset that they write me off (very unlikely), then I need to wonder if I really need them. If they are mildly upset, well... they are still being unreasonable.

I need to do this. For me. I need to gather with other adoptees in the fight for our rights. And I need to meet some of my good online friends. It's good for my mental health. And if I don't, I will just wind up resenting my family, which seems especially unfair since they haven't expressed, as of this writing, any distress about me taking the time to go.

All I can do is go, and hope that it doesn't upset them. And if it does, hope that they can get over it.

I know this may seem like a minor thing. For me, however, if I stick to it, it will be something of a breakthrough. I'm not used to thinking of myself.