November 1) Adoption Stereotypes. There are a lot of stereotypes when it comes to adoption. How do you NOT fit the stereotype? What’s your least favorite stereotype? There are even stereotypes in the adoption community. How do you fit into those stereotypes?
I think I probably do fit the stereotype of a Baby Scoop Era adoptee. If not a stereotype, I’m at least quite typical. I grew up preferring animals to people and refused to play with dolls because I had no use for motherhood. I played the part of the Good Adoptee, constantly seeking parental/adult approval, but it was never enough: I never felt quite real. I felt sure the things that happen to real people would not happen to me. It’s tough to explain this. I felt I would not go to college even though my parents were always talking about college. I would not get married. Maybe I somehow felt I would not grow up at all? (And now I can’t, because no matter how old I am, I’m often referred to as “an adopted child.”)
I didn’t feel free to search until I moved out of my a’parents’ home. For half my life I either didn’t think of myself as adopted (just messed-up!) or didn’t think it mattered. It wasn’t until after I started searching that until I came “out of the fog” after reading Journey of the Adopted Self. I think my addictions and dysthymia (a diagnosis Lifton once said she got) are pretty typical too.
Also, I had a pony. Huge stereotype-reality alignment there. (-:
I don’t fit the stereotype in that I’m not terribly grateful. And I dealt with relationships in a slightly different way than the stereotype adoptee. That person is said to be terrified of being left again, and therefore to be anxious and clingy. I dealt with any fear I had of being “abandoned again” by making damned sure I would be the one to end the relationship, to abandon the other party, to leave. And I was, every time since that one guy when I was seventeen…and he tried to get me back and I said no, so take that, Mr. Guys Who Never Gave Me Away in the First Place!
My least favorite stereotype concerns adoptive parents. There’s a widespread idea that adoptive parents, because they wait so long and try so hard to get a child, must be superior parents. I mean, nobody spends oodles of money on a sports car and then wrecks it, or buys a beautiful new house and then fills it up with hoarded newspapers, or buys an expensive horse and lets it starve, right? Wrong, of course: more than one person has done each of these things. The fact that someone paid $30K to adopt doesn’t make them better parents than any other set of parents, although they might be. I think there’s a risk of its making them worse parents: they might expect more of a child they waited and hoped and prayed and paid for than they would have their own.
In the adoption community, I fit the stereotype of the adoptee who has been called “angry” and “bitter” so many times that I’ve decided to own these emotions rather than waste energy denying them. “Angry” and “bitter,” in adoption discussions, are always a derailing attempt. And I certainly do have some anger and bitterness, as I think this blog makes evident. It would be silly of me to deny that.
I’m not sure I like writing personal stuff like this. Dialing back the snark feels risky, and when I read back over it, it bores me. But hey, it’s only thirty days.