Altruism

I was a very very naive freshman in undergrad and received my education on relationships, men, sex, beauty, good and evil from my uberwise fellow freshmen sitting up way too late every night in the dorms. My roommate’s boyfriend used to love to goad me on my gullibility and naivete.  There was one conversation that stuck with me whereby he declared that there was no such thing as a truly altruistic act.  I was reprimanded for being so stupid as to believe that goodness remained one truth in the world.  I know the reference to Phoebe and the sitcom Friends will readily come to mind.  Keep in mind…naive…no TV…and not a clue about Friends.  I fell for it.

My first thought at that moment was “my parents adopted me.” No truer act of altruism could exist in my 19 year old mind. He was so wrong. He had no idea about who I was, my story, and how I had constructed this thought as fact to live life.  For the next 15 years+, I was left often wondering if I was slowly going crazy.  As my world expanded so too did my perception of altruism and love.  I got to witness unconditional love that had no rules for good behavior.  I got to see families that showed love in ways I never knew and as I began to recant stories of my life I was met with puzzled responses.  I began to see that my sense of altruism was just a bit off.  Meeting other adoptees, their adoptive families and even their birthfamilies, made it hard for me to be believe I fell for the oldest trick in the book – to parent is a selfless act.

Today, I heard some terribly sad news.  On a day that we celebrate love I heard angst, bewilderment and utter distain for this world of international adoption.  From this vantage point, I see that there really are people who lie to pull a child away from one family for another.  There are people who look to reach their fiscal bottom line in the deceit of others who seem to have less and are struggling.  There are those who remain in denial that their decisions have altered the lives of innocent children that permanently effect the future generations of that child, his birthfamily, his future children and future grandchildren.  Last week, I saw a colleague struggle as he heard a child wondering when his parents were going to decide to no longer keep him in their home.  What a lesson for a young 10 year old to have to learn.  I had my own woes as family members struggle to understand why the love they received had to hurt so much and come at such a long and painful cost.  These last two weeks have been really tough.

But then again, there were moments of light.  I sat across from a couple of friends as they embark on this thing called parenthood and adoption.  The love they have for each other and their future child was really great to see.  They asked a ton of questions and were curious, thoughtful, scared and excited.  It has made me consider my vow to no longer do homestudies just for them.

This week is one of my sister’s birthday and it’s a big one.  I cannot look at my life with any regret because she was there the whole time.  Adoption did that for us.

I don’t see altruism in the purest sense anymore.  The veil has been lifted.  But I still manage to see love.  So, to loveisms everywhere, Happy V-Day!

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