Tuesday, January 05, 2010

No Happily Ever After

When we read a fairy tale or watch movies with upbeat endings, it is easy to pretend that life is really
like that. Of course, those of us who have lived more than a few decades know that sometimes IT
doesn't turn out OK, but, if we work at it, WE will be OK. Nothing guarantees anyone a happily ever after. We can only work at attaining peace of mind.

Yet, when we tell our stories to others, we often hear, "Well, you did get to reunite and everything is better, now." I do believe that many of the people who say that actually  believe it. It's very difficult for them to understand the impact that separation of mother from infant had on us all. They honestly believe that reunion fixes it all.

We mothers get a lot of "you did the right thing," or, "you didn't have to raise your skirt!" We're either heroines or whores. Adoptees get called ungrateful and greedy. Here we are, two generations, seniors and middle-aged people, and very few seem to understand what we are saying. Or, they just don't want to think that a tearful reunion doesn't fix it and wrap it all up with a big, red bow.

It is even more important that we keep talking thrugh the misconceptions. We are the ones keeping the light burning in the lighthouse that could guide society to learn the truth about the era of secrets and lies and filling the demands of a market for human infants. If we don't learn from and address our sorry past when it comes to the social experiement of adoption, we are, indeed, doomed to repeat and repeat and repeat it.

American writer David McCullough once said, "“History is a guide to navigation in perilous times. History is who we are and why we are the way we are.” Examining the errors of our past helps us learn what we need to do to change the present and save many mothers and children from suffering the same fate. Natural family preservation only makes sense if we know WHY we need to guard this most basic of human bonds. As long as adoption separation is seen as a happily ever after scenario, with reunion as some kind of reward for the mangling of our family ties, there will never be real, effective reform.

People just love their happy endings. Too bad that this story doesn't have one.


Unknown said...

Right on Robin! Either a heroine or a whore- you hit it exactly!

I posted a new blog today too- finally feeling up to writing again!

Unknown said...

Yes, everyone desperately wants a happy ending. No one wants to admit that their thinking has perpetuated the separation of families. It's a difficult fight, Robin. Thank you for keeping on with the fight!

Since i've been back in New York I've had serious debates on adoption. Yes, even the broad-minded New Yorkers have a problem getting their heads around the real destruction adoption has on families.

I wish we could have spent more time together. I hope to see you next time I visit Orlando.

Take care!

Amanda said...

Yet, when we tell our stories to others, we often hear, "Well, you did get to reunite and everything is better, now."

So true. I hear that all the time. It seems adoption, especially from the parents and children who were seperated, is UNIMAGINEABLE to those who have not lived it. I was adopted, and my point of view is as misunderstood as yours is sometimes.

"But you had a great family, but you had this and that and so on."

In the end of the conversation, though, all I need to say to them is

"At what cost?"

I was raised by great people. I have had a good life. But being adopted is something I will never be happy about. And the reunion? It's been an adventure. But it certainly is not a cure all fix all. It certainly has not made me feel un-adopted, and it certainly hasn't made either of my natural parents feel less far away from me. Adoption seems to be a distance that not even the bridge of reunion can overcome. And I'm tired of people telling me that it can.

Very right on Robin.

Mei Ling said...

"Well, you did get to reunite"

The thing is, every time someone says that, I want to respond: "But why did reunion need to happen? Why did the adoption NEED to occur in the first place?"