It Never Goes Without Saying

I had the good fortune to participate in a fiction writing workshop with a famous writer of short fiction and novels today. I had submitted a piece that addressed adoption in a sideways, maybe magical-realist way. The famous author asked me why I had written it and, when I replied that I’m adopted, asked me to tell my adoption story. She wasn’t picking on me–she had used this technique with other participants already, asking them why they wrote their stories and then suggesting they write the story of what really happened instead.

Folks, my adoption story is boring. It’s the classic Baby Scoop Era story everyone thinks of when they think of adoption. I warned her about that and told her the story, ending with “…so they got me when I was two months old and I’ve never known anything else.”

The famous author let a beat go by before adding “And you love them very much.” And although she had said some harsh things about my writing during the workshop, that was the only moment at which I felt angry at her. Rather than saying, “Yes, I love them very much,” like a good puppy, and rather than saying what I thought, I settled for this: “That’s the part I think goes without saying in adoption stories.”

Yes, famous author, I love my parents very much. Why is that never assumed with adopted people? Why, about us and us alone, does it always have to be said?

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5 Comments

Filed under Adopted And Happy!, General Ignoramitude, Stop Saying That

5 responses to “It Never Goes Without Saying

  1. 77yan

    It does seem that the assumption is that if you TALK about adoption, at all, that you have to be asked rather stupid questions to reassure the non-adopted that, yes, all is well in adoptoworld.

    Maybe if the world at large was less defensively cheerful about adoption, oh, I don’t know. Reality or something.

  2. Sunny

    It’s part of the implicit adoption contract, that we never agreed to, but must abide by.

    If the adoptee doesn’t “love them very much” (I didn’t/don’t) the choice is then to lie (yet again to please/provide comfort to other adults) or tell the truth and have everything you’ve said (and written) before struck out as meaningless.

    And stand out to everyone present as ungrateful and bitter, of course.

  3. Sunny, even though I do/did love them, talking about adoption in any terms other than “glowing, and only because someone else mentioned adopting just now” translates as “I hate my APs” to most people. I want to get to the point where, when I’m in a debate about adoption, I immediately say “My feelings for my adoptive parents have nothing to do with this.” It’s true, and saying so will let me save my energy for what I really want to talk about. Because this crap is a derailing technique…and it’s a cruel one.

    Implicit contract, indeed. Well put.

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