Monday, January 16, 2012

Sharing Truths - Part 2

Confession: I still have a few more blogs to go on the Found Book Tour, and I know more will be posted tomorrow, but I need to take a break. I'm exhausted. I'm not saying this isn't an important conversation to have - I'm saying it's very similar to the one I have in my head on a near-daily basis.

I've come across so much insight and so many thoughtful explanations of people's positions within the realm of adoption. I think the one that stands out most for me right now is this:

There is no place for the word "just" in this discussion. As in, why don't you just..... you all know how this sentence ends.

To assume that putting together a family from the remnants of another, or to plan to expand your family by bringing in someone else's genetics or womb into the mix, or to work through how and when a birth family will interact with your new assume that these things are easy or fast or simple decisions, ones done without nights awake and therapists or counselors on speed dial, simply discredits everyone involved. We should start a petition to ditch that word, at least from this conversation. Who's with me?

Things I think about every night:

Origin stories. How to answer the "where do I come from?" How to explain why mommy and daddy didn't just fall in love and have you in mommy's belly like every one to accurately and honestly respond to these future questions, along with ones of identity and belonging and who are my people, and are you my real mommy or not? How to ensure my own baggage doesn't get in the way of my future child's....

But what parent doesn't have baggage?
And why do I assume my future child will have baggage?

Why do I anticipate this primal wound even though I am really unclear as to where that theory fits in situations that aren't black and white. What if there were my genetics, but not my womb? What if my genetics were missing, yet I carried a child in my body? What if, as Esperanza notes, all parties are present and there is nothing but love surrounding a child when they greet the world? Now, how about this one: not my eggs, not my womb, but I've been present from conception? Wishing it so, willing it so? Where will I fit into this situation?

Hopefully, we'll see.

All of this to say, as one of the other book reviewers already have, The Primal Wound is simply way too simplistic of a concept to be helpful. I want a new theory.

I also want to take this space to elaborate on some of the comments and questions that emerged from my responses to the book. I thought about continuing this conversation in the comments, because there is such a robust discussion there, but I'm terrified that blogger will zonk out on me mid-sentence, as it is want to do. So if I stop making sense, go there, read that first, then come on back.

Like Jennifer Lauck, adoption is not a path we have chosen to explore. Not yet. Unlike her, I can't say that we won't, because I've muttered those words about surrogacy. Things change. It is very very hard to say it's not a path you would pick for yourself if it becomes the only path that is available to the one thing you want and desire more than anything in the world - to be a mother.

I wholeheartedly disagree with this statement: " I equate being adopted to being a slave." Because all children, in one way or another, are "forced to perform for the emotional needs of our keepers." It is quite an enlightened parent that has no emotional need for their child, that doesn't rely on them to fill or complete something within them. As much as you want your child to be his or her own person, you also want them to want you, to love you, to need you on some levels. This is not slavery. This defines just about every human relationship that I know. We all have needs and we all strive to be the ones that fill those needs for others.

And speaking of relationships, here is something that has struck me:

Where is the father in this conversation? Why have we given no credence to the birth father? The adopted father?

In my personal experience, my birth father was rendered just as helpless, perhaps moreso, than my birth mother. He had no say over my fate. He was forbidden to see her, or me. He could have easily forgotten about this "phase" in his young life. But he was the one that marked my birthday on his calendar for 35 years. He is the one that wept uncontrollably at our reunion. He is the one, not my birth mother, that yearned to reconnect. Desperately. And I think his place in this story should be respected and recognized, and I think he has suffered immensely throughout his life because it never was.

I cannot imagine he is alone.

I'm signing off for today using Heather's words. And she has no idea how timely the second piece of it is since M and I were just debating if it is really ok to dislike a child and think they are an asshole (my opinion: yes. We can all blog about that one later). But here's how Heather sums things up:
I think both adoptive and biological families have an equal likelihood of being fucked up, and the level of fucked-upedness very much depends on how open and honest everyone is with each other. And even with complete open-ness and honesty, some people, even kids, can just be assholes and there isn't anything you can do to stop it.
Can I get an Amen?

Thank you ALL for your respectful input into this conversation that I know is going to continue, as it should.


Heather said...

"It is quite an enlightened parent that has no emotional need for their child, that doesn't rely on them to fill or complete something within them. As much as you want your child to be his or her own person, you also want them to want you, to love you, to need you on some levels. This is not slavery. This defines just about every human relationship that I know. We all have needs and we all strive to be the ones that fill those needs for others."

Yup. But it's not just the love. You also get a front row seat to watch a person grow into themselves, and it's awesome. Most of the time I definitely think the parents get more than they give.

And I know I'm guilty of neglecting the father in these discussions. I think most of it is because I'm a mother, and we are often talking among a circle of women. But I certainly should try and see things from the father's perspective a bit more.

Anonymous said...

Thank you so very much for these posts. I have thought about them non stop for two days. They've made me question things I had never thought about.

The thing I loved the most about the last post and the comments was how everyone could speak their minds in a non hurtful or offensive way, it's rare for that to happen with such emotional issues.

It's true what you said about the father, also something I hadn't thought about much. All too often we tend to see them as the careless impregnators!

KeAnne said...

I've been enjoying the various reactions and perspectives on the book. I am that parent who has a child with her genetics but not from her womb, and I wondered what the Primal Wound theory means for my situation. There was another "mother" in the room when my son was born. Not a first mother in the adoption sense of the word, but does my son not having her genes negate any kind of maternal connection?

Lori Lavender Luz said...

You bring up some good questions about what happens when we separate the genetic from the biological roles.

And an excellent point about birth fathers and how they are often marginalized.

I know I said it before but your input on this tour was invaluable.

Rebeccah said...

As an adoptive mom and a mom who just gave birth to a child who is not genetically related to me or my husband, I know I'm going to be struggling with many of these issues in the days and years ahead. It's lovely to see them discussed in such an open and respectful manner.

This week I had to explain to my preschooler why I can breastfeed his sister but didn't have the opportunity to nurse him, all the while thinking about how to explain to our new baby (when the time comes) why we have photos of her brother's genetic family but none of hers. Bottom line -- I wholeheartedly agree that the word "just" should be banned in all discussions about nontraditional family situations. The issues and emotions are incredibly complex and the situations are far too varied to allow for simplistic treatment or sweeping

m said...

Rebeccah, thank you so much for adding your voice here. I've just visited your blog for the first time. One hour later....

I am relieved, so relieved to know that there are moms like you navigating these tricky waters with unique situations of your own - because I am hoping that someday I need some advice.

Thank you for sharing here and a belated congratulations!!

Kate said...

M, thanks so much for referring me over to this post...I agree absolutely with your take on the slavery analogy. The black and white thinking around adoption can only be damaging to all the players. Primal Wound theory is everpresent in the back of my mind but as I'm growing into being an adoptive mom, I'm learning to try and take it all in and then let my child guide me. I do sometimes wonder if this theory (which, if I'm not mistaken, was proposed via highly subjective and anecdotal evidence, by someone who is not an adoptee, but an adopter) has become sort of a panacea for all that might ail an adoptee. If my child is unhappy/shy/not on track developmentally/depressed/insert-any-problem, she must be experiencing the primal wound. I think slapping one catch-all label on individual experiences of grief, loss and questioning identity undermines both the adoptee's individual experience, and their human capacity to grow and change (primal wound sounds pretty damn final and hopeless).

I'm new to your blog and wanted to say that I'm so impressed with the respect and civility shown by commenters with very different opinions - this is rare in online adoption conversations.