We’re moving into the second week of Summer, at least for those of us here north of the Equator. So much is happening. It feels like something momentous is taking place. Does anyone else feel this, or is it just me?
Old issues are surfacing in new ways. People are trying to come together. It feels like communities are gathering strength and reaching out to other communities. In a few hours, I’ll be participating in one of the nationwide protests against family separation and the detention of refugees and migrant children and parents.
Our world spins in crisis. Trouble seems to be everywhere: Another black teenager has been murdered. Another Native woman has gone missing. Another youth is locked away needlessly, pointlessly.
Another grieving mother weeps for the loss of her child–to suicide, to drug overdose, to police incompetence, to deportation, to detention at the hands of so-called border protectors.
Somewhere, a wealthy adopted child, triggered by widespread discussions of family separations in the news and everywhere on social media, cannot find the courage to give voice to the words that would convey her acute anxiety. In her mind she may understand that it’s not likely to happen to her. That is, she tells herself she probably won’t lose her family.
Except that, once upon a time, she did. The little girl inside her remembers the feeling of utter panic when she lost her family the first time.
While concerned adults around her march to protest the detentions of migrant parents and the breakup of families, the adopted girl fears that she might once again lose her parents, this time, her “forever” family, her adoptive family. Just like she lost every other adult that ever told her they loved her: her foster parents, the kind ladies back in the orphanage, her group home parents, her birth mother.
But what can this adoptee say if she cannot find the words? Depending on her age, she acts out: She cuts. She hordes. She rebels. She hits. She wets the bed. She throws tantrums. She throws her toys. She pushes away the ones closest to her.
Or perhaps if she’s older, she runs away. She sleeps around. Or steals. If she’s off at college, maybe she isolates. She skips class. She skips meals. She fails her classes. If she’s living on her own, maybe she doesn’t return phone calls. Maybe she self-medicates. Maybe she stays in bed all day. Maybe she quits her job. Maybe she simply stops trying.
Sometimes, she’s curled up in the fetal position. But no one knows this, because outwardly, she’s a successful over-achiever. She has been taught that she’s special due to her “chosen” status. She’s been told to feel grateful that she got adopted. She hears, again and again, that adoption was the best thing that ever happened to her. She’s so lucky that she’s not stuck in some orphanage or group home. She’s blessed to be an American.
So the adoptee hides her tears and forces a smile. She shows up at family functions, feeling anything but functional. But who notices? Who really cares?
The caring people in her family are all out protesting family separation, while inside her adopted heart, she’s the one living with the separation from family. When no one notices her anguish, when nobody can help her name the trauma she inhabits, she wonders who her family really is.
But let’s keep pretending that all is well in Adoption Land. After all, adoption is always in the best interests of the child.
Or so we choose to believe. And so the delusion–sheer madness–continues.
I mean this, Adoptees: I hope you are staying connected to your circle of support in these triggering times. Stay strong, and don’t hesitate to reach out.