Monday, December 6, 2010

What Can Adult Adoptees Teach Me?

Once again my intended post has been high-jacked with a new mind problem instead.  These thoughts are triggered by a question on my favorite forum.  The responses to her comment tend to be answering her question differently than I thought she meant it, so I have decided not to heat up a pleasant discussion on getting our advice in parenting from other BTDT parents and particularly Christian Adoptive Parents if you are a Christian.  However, whether she meant her question the way the others are answering or how I took it, it made me think.  I was already thinking about it because of this post I went to because of my favorite blog's Sunday Linkage.

Why is it necessary to read, listen, and learn from so-called "angry" adoptees?  (insert whine)  Do we really have to?  They're mean.  

The link above has lots of excellent points about why, and really I don't know if I need to add to the why to listen.  However, I do believe I have a lot to learn from adult adoptees, and I've already started.  Some of these things may also be in books, but these are all things I needed to learn from an adult adoptee with their personal explanation of it for my mind to comprehend it.  In the months since I found the Adoption Blogsphere here is some of what I have learned:

Labeling the adoptees who appear the most upset by their adoption as an "angry" adoptee is demeaning.

The question "Would you have rather grown up in an orphanage?" shuts down honest discourse and says you are not willing to listen to their concerns with an open mind.

Adoptive children often feel an obligation to protect their adoptive parents from hurt feelings and will thus choose not to talk about adoption related hurts without the prompting and support of their parents.

Not everyone thinks adoption is a wonderful solution for orphaned children.  Many adult adoptees actively pursue preventing adoption.
Birthdays can be sweet, bitter, or bittersweet.  Yes, a year older is something to celebrate, but it can also be the reminder of their loss of birth family, culture, country, language, and what could have beens.  Take the cue from the child on how to celebrate their birthday.

Wishing one was not adopted does not mean one does not love and appreciate one's adoptive family.  It is just one more layer in the dual lives some adoptees feel they are living.

While the adopted child may or may not express interest in her birth culture, an adoptive family that shows no interest themselves or open disdain for that same culture will impact his/her self worth.

Adoptees want their families to stand with them on issues of race and adoption.  The whole family is impacted by racism and adoption--not just the trans-racially adopted child.

That loss of one thing cannot be replaced by the gain of a different thing.  The loss still needs to be grieved and acknowledged by those around them.

Family preservation is better than adoption even though it is not always feasible.  

Obviously this is not a comprehensive list of what adult adoptees can teach me; there is still more to learn.  There will always be more to learn, though someday I do hope to be learning it from my adult child who was adopted.  In the meantime, I believe I need to continue reading.  I will be honest and admit I am much more likely to look at past posts in a given link and swallow the lesson if the adult adoptee addresses me with respect and does not call me naive, selfish, or the devil incarnate.  However, I believe it is still beneficial to read posts from the whole spectrum of opinions even if I don't read everything all of the time.  By reading the whole spectrum I can learn not all adult adoptees are against adoption but even "happy, well-adjusted, and content" adoptees usually express at least a mild sorrow at losing their ability to speak their native language.  I cannot agree with everything said, and I will not adjust my parenting style to satisfy anonymous bloggers, but the more aware I am of the different ideas, feelings, and opinions the better I can judge what I need to take to heart immediately and what I can let my child guide me in.  Someday my child from China will be an adult adoptee for better or for worse.  Knowing the questions she might have as an adult and along the way will ONLY give me more wisdom as her mother.

(I would give you the links to each post if I could find them all because I know my take away is not all they were saying and I still have more to learn.  However, if you read the last 5 months of Our Little Tongginator's Sunday Linkage and the Rumor Queen's Adult Adoptee Writings Series and scroll around the adult adoptee blogs you find from these links, you are sure to find the posts I mean, probably.)


Christina said...

Thank you for this post. I'm an adult adoptee who appreciates it when adoptive parents, nay ANYONE, gets it and is willing to blog about these things.

a Tonggu Momma said...

This makes my work each week SO worth it. Thank you.