Day One: Stereotypes

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.

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21 Comments

Filed under NaBloPoMo

21 responses to “Day One: Stereotypes

  1. TAO

    “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.”

    Exactly what I did for many years – if I could sense them starting to actually care meant I felt nothing for them instantaneously – like a light switch was suddenly turned off. I could not offer a reason back then but I kind of think that goes down to the bare bones of adoption – when someone loves you they leave – why I particulary hate the “she loved you so much she “made an adoption plan” for you”…

    Good post…

    • Thanks, TAO.

      I wasn’t quite that extreme–I mean, I was able to maintain one relationship for sixteen years,and I could say “I love you” back and mean it and all that–but I needed to have the upper hand in every relationship and I needed to be the one who ended things.

      Telling adoptees their mothers loved them enough to give them up sets us up for this stuff. Words are powerful, especially words said to children by parents.

  2. I so hear you on thinking that normal things would not happen to me. I ran after them begging! I was the “good adoptee,” to a T. I got the excellent grades and tried never to cause my parents a moment of unrest. I *never* felt good enough, though. I had the pony, too. His barn name was Grey, show name “C’est la Vie.” He was my best friend. Truly.

    I still feel like I am shit at most things, especially the mom stuff. Maybe you were right not to go down that path. Oops, too late for me. At least I can pay for their therapy. 😦

    • Mirren, I’m so glad to know I wasn’t the only one who felt that way. I wonder how many others did?

      My “hony” (he was maybe 14.1 hands) was my best friend too. I don’t think I would have made it through my teen years without him.

      I feel it was right for me not to have reproduced. People who didn’t know me from Adam’s off ox would say “But you’d make a wonderful mother!” No. No, I wouldn’t have–in part because the men I had relationships with were not daddy material. People say that “wonderful mother” thing to every woman who isn’t one already as far as i can tell.

  3. Love the snark but enjoying this new light! Me too re the animals. I still prefer them to most people.Ditto relationships which I have always ended although have experienced longevity/entrapment.

  4. Emma

    As an exiled mother, I am so glad to hear that somebody actually got those ponies that all our babies were supposed to get.

    • Yeah, some of us did, whatever small comfort that might be. )-:

    • Emma, I certainly loved my pony but having him didn’t make up for the losses. Not by any stretch of the imagination! He is long gone and I am still struggling with all of it. It is funny how ponies are part of the stereotype. I didn’t have the pool, though. (((Emma)))

  5. sundayk

    “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.” -many believe that this wildly held belief is a contributing factor in the abuse of adopted children and why social workers and society in general often see adoptee abuse happening and do not step in…they assume all adoptive parents are saints, that they themselves must be confused. Somehow that makes more sense to them than that someone would spend all that $$$ and then abuse the kid.

    • That makes perfect sense to me, especially when it comes to international adoption. The “white” (Russian, etc.) kids seem to get abused and killed at higher rates than children who are obviously of another “race.”. Is it because they “look” American (i.e., white) but don’t behave as their American parent expect them to? I suspect it is.

    • I think it has more to do with them telling everyone how great these new parents are going to be (just so they can make the sale) and they aren’t going to be bothered with telling anyone they were lying

  6. Marylee

    I was just plain angry before, now I’m angry I didn’t get a pony too!

  7. lucrezaborgia

    Oh the parents thing…akkk!

    I hate how every time I discuss adoption and the coercion or read someong blogging about adoption, in pops someone with this thought!

    “Well, adoptive parents have to have home inspections, take classes…blah blah blah…it costs so much money! Parenting is a privlidge, not a right!”

  8. Pingback: stereotypes and labels | beyond two worlds

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