The Declassified Adoptee, this morning, about telling adopted children they are adopted..what to say, what not to say, etc. Being neither adopter nor adoptee, I've not been privy to the emotions surrounding this action, but I have been told things that were said that gripe my gizzard to the max. I have also been told things that were said that any child with a brain would question..even the younger ones.
I mean, look at what mine were told. How many children are going to miss the contradictions in a statement such as, "Your mother loved you so much she gave you up?" They don't understand coercion and social pressure and understanding that "she wasn't able to take care of you so she gave you to us" is also hard to swallow.
My oldest's adopters had one of those saccharine, little books about how special it is to be adopted and they read it to her at an early age. Rather than having the desired effect of her happy acceptance of the situation, she was full of questions. She never could understand why I didn't come see her and she would wait for me on special days, thinking that, surely, I would come to her. I guess she didn't understand closed records and secret adoptions either, or see the sense in any of it.
She did learn, at an early age, that she shouldn't talk about her adoption outside the home. That, I am sure, gave her the impression that being adopted was, somehow, shameful. She has never been able to accept the fact that the lies and fantasies she was told were generated BY her adopters. She blames the state agency.
I did a good bit of digging and found out a few things. The people that adopted her pulled a few crony strings and made sure that, should I ever ask for information, I would be told that no records of her birth and adoption even existed. I was told this AFTER it became legal to gain access to non-identifying information. Finally, in the early 90's, after persisting and persisting, my daughter received non-ID on me that, while not entirely factual, was enough for her to find me.
Years earlier, when my daughter turned 18, she went to the agency, accompanied by her adopters, and was told a few facts along with a plethora of lies and twisted data. Although I cannot reveal my source, I was later told, by my source, that the information she was given was arranged between the state agency and her adopters. Insecure, obviously, and tired of her questions, the adopters (NOT the agency) told her I was dead, killed in an auto accident. She searched for a grave for many years.
When she went to see the adopters, excited and happy to have found me, she was greeted by this from the woman who adopted her. "We were told this would be impossible." I learned that this was a requirement from the get-go with these people...that there would never be a natural mother to muddy the tinted waters of their as-if-born-to fantasy. I also saw a picture of a very insecure woman who needed her dream world protected and reality kept at bay. I have managed, after many years of resentment, to feel a modicum of pity for her. My daughter has never accepted her adopters' culpability in all the flim-flam that went on. When I shared, as part of my own experience, here on my blog, what the woman who adopted her said to me after we reunited, she called an end to our 17-year reunion. I love her, but I can't continue to ignore facts and suffer lies. I certainly will not honor people who lied to my child for their own purposes.
My son has never shared what he was told and how he was told. He has kept his relationship with me on a very surface level, for the most part. The fact that he is a repeat offender with anger management problems does tell me more than he realizes. I do know that there was a lot of physical "discipline" involved in his rearing.
While both of my adult, reunited children were told of their adoption at an early age (I think I would have really blown up if they had not been told), I question what and how they were told. As soon as my raised children were able to understand, I told them about their siblings and tried to explain things to them. I had a lot of tough questions to answer from them, as well. One was, "why can't we go get them and bring them home?" Oh Lord, did I ever wish.... Then I had to deal with the one about, "why didn't you give us up for adoption?" Try explaining the sexual mores of the EMS to young teens in the early 80's. They couldn't believe that, as a child, I watched a black and white TV with only 3 channels and that we had to use a roof-based antenna. And how do you tell your children that their mother was raped only four months after losing her first-born to adoption?
Kids are smarter than we often give them credit for being. Our thought processes, as we age, become more and more convoluted by gray areas and situational semantics and all the blah, blah, blah of the adult world. A child cuts to the core with no side trips. For anyone to think that they can give a child a pat, canned answer like, "she loved you so much...." and that will suffice doesn't live in a real world with real kids. Kids need straight answers and all the facts.
Better yet, keep the child in the family of origin, preferably with that child's natural mother, and they won't need all those contrived answers.