An uncompromising statement: I am opposed to adoption because adoption is opposed to the truth. I need to qualify this. I am opposed to the dominant idea of adoption in our society, and in other Western societies, which is that adoption is a nonbiological means of building families with children who have been severed from their parentage. It is the idea I oppose. I do not oppose all adoptions, or even all adoptions carried out under this dominant idea. I do not oppose my own adoption—which is to say that I believe neither that I should not have been born, nor that my mother should not have relinquished me, nor that the people who subsequently called themselves, with legal sanction, “my parents,” should not have been able to do so. Opposition to the dominant idea of adoption is consistent with all of this. Different adopted people who, like me, oppose the dominant idea of adoption hold different views about their own adoptions. Some believe they should have not been born, i.e., that their parents should have had the option to terminate their pregnancies or, if they had the option, should have taken it. Others believe that their parents should not have relinquished them—either that they should have had the support necessary to keep their child, or that (assuming they actually did have the necessary support) they should have used it. Still others believe that the people who ultimately, by legal sanction, started calling themselves their parents should never have done so. These are all reasonable views to take, and every adopted person’s life is different. I oppose the dominant idea of adoption without opposing my own adoption.
This is wonderful, Tony, and a lot to think about. Right now it resonates with the angry, rebellious teenager I was, who rejected adult authority ferociously because just who the hell did these people think they were anyway? Like how DARE they force me into this life and family I did not ask for and expect me to be grateful and well-behaved?
Most of my adulthood I've been ashamed of that kid with the planet-sized chip on her shoulder but, in my 50s, I've been growing a lot warmer to her. She knew she was expected to form attachments to the wrong people, unsafe people, from the very beginning and she was fighting it with her whole being. She knew attachments were always precarious and she wanted to be unattached from all of them.
Later she had internalized certain common notions about maturity and forgiveness, giving people chances they didn't deserve. And she tried to form attachments, under the premise having relationships of any kind made her a valid person. A person who belonged. By being possessed. And now I'm thinking how I have never thought of myself as possessing anyone, though I'm certainly capable of being jealous and territorial, as most people can be. But I have wanted desperately for someone to want to possess me, and never let me go. That's what I believed unconditional love was and (I now see) it's what adoption wanted me to believe. A "fog" of love, if you will.
Fascinating as always Tony! I have to slow down and read so carefully because you always articulate new ideas right on the edge of my awareness, so fresh, carving a new edge of adoptee consciousness. Thank you 🙏 . I am currently writing a graphic novel memoir which attempts to come to terms with my own adoptee experience, through the lens of Buddhist ideas , by the way! ( Posting about it as Emma Burleigh on twitter)
I'm just now reading this, Tony, and I appreciate it greatly.
Quoted from and linked to this in my own blog today. I deeply appreciate your perspectives.