There is a scene in Deann Borshay’s film, “First Person Plural” when she says, “I can’t talk to my (adoptive) Mother about my (birth) Mother…it feels like I am putting dirt in my mouth.” Those words continue to resonate with me as I finally heard another adoptee say out loud what I had always felt not just in regard to my birthmother, but about adoption in general. I believed that if I said something negative about being adopted, it was an affront to my adoptive parents and all that they did to bring me here; I would sound so ungrateful. Truth is, I am grateful for my parents decision to choose adoption. I am grateful for the gift of family and knowing what family means. I am grateful for my sisters and I am grateful for the values my parents instilled in me. I hear their words often in my head. I wonder how often non-adopted people thank their parents for giving birth to them? For most of us, being adopted is just as random as who we are born from. Any parent who tells their kid that their child was chosen for them is feeding their kid a pipe dream. It is a falsehood, anyone who has worked in placement know the way it works.
Too often we adoptees are told how lucky we are and how we were given chance and opportunity that others only could wish for. I think that’s crossing the gratitude line too far. The way I see it, the problem with the whole gratitude thing is that it leaves me wondering, at what point can I stop being grateful? How many, how much till I can stop saying and showing I am grateful? I never got that answer. It never seemed to be enough. What happens then is that rarely a week goes by when I don’t think, “Am I entitled to be this, to be here, to own this?” It leads to second guessing happiness as every joy is bittersweet.
Wasn’t I entitled to a family, a parent, someone who would love me and care for me? Are we not all entitled to that?
So then, no, I am not grateful for being adopted. I don’t use ‘grateful’ and ‘adoption’ in the same sentence. To say it outloud feels like a curse word. I am grateful for the opportunities and for my courage to accept each challenge as an opportunity. Would I be me if I were not adopted? Probably. Would it all be different if I had not been? Yes. And for that I am most grateful.