Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Ouch!

From adult adoptee Issycat at Adopt This!: "Everyone claims they want to hear what adoptees really think until they say something they don’t like. What’s up with that?"

Ouch! Though she is talking mostly about other adoptees who disagree with her frankly-expressed ambivalence about reunion with her birth mother, she could just have easily been talking about adoptive parents.

I'd think that even the most open-minded and well-intentioned adoptive parents can have an "ouch" moment in hearing what adult adoptees have to say -- I admit to more than a few ouches in reading Tai Dong Huai's description of the OCD meeting! I can just see Zoe writing something devastatingly similar in 10 years' time. I think the mistake adoptive parents make is in trying to avoid the pain by dismissing what adult adoptees have to say that doesn't follow the happy-happy-joy-joy adoption script. Just call them "angry adoptees" and you don't have to deal with what they say.

So I keep reading, keep listening. I DO want to hear what adoptees really think. Even when it hurts. Because my pain pales in comparison with what my daughters feel. And until my kids are old enough to explain, this is how I can know.

7 comments:

Mei-Ling said...

Yeah, my friend was the exact same way. In the beginning she tentatively brought up the topic and wanted to know if it was okay to ask questions.

I told her about how it happened and that my mother relinquished me because of [reason], which is why my sister was born.

She was all empathetic and said it was understandable. Then I went on about loss and how my sister had what I did not - because of me.

From that point onwards, my friend has not been able to understand because as she put it: "At least you have two mothers who wanted you."

Yes, yes I do. But that does not stop the hurt from knowing that one could not keep me and the other only got me because of a random referral.

Wendy said...

I agree. Though some days it just feels so hopeless to be the adoptive parent, you're damned if you do and damned if you don't. But it's not about us, it's about our children. So, I read the adoptees' blogs to see how they feel as adults, and I take in their words knowing that each experience is unique.

Wendy said...

I read for the reasons you do Wendy. I try to glean from all of the unique experiences and draw the lines among the common threads. There is no way we can take away the loss, I guess that is the first thing to understand.

Sheri said...

Malinda, unless I've lost my marbles, that story was a piece of fiction. And, I was unable to find a bio on the writer - can you point me to one that states (unequivocably and believeably) she is a Chinese adoptee?? The writing was pretty polished for a teen.. Reading it, I couldn't help but think it belonged on snopes.com - debunked - rather than on a website featuring short stories by fiction writers.

Mei-Ling said...

Sheri:

http://adopttalkcanada.com/forum/index.php?topic=277.0

It's fiction simply because she hasn't written directly about her personal experiences. Many of these stories are *based* on her life but apparently are not actual *reflections* OF her life.

Wendy said...

Creative non-fiction would be the best term. I write in that genre myself, there is more truth than creation.

malinda said...

Sheri, yes, her genre is fiction. But one can feel an "ouch" from a work of fiction -- some might argue that fiction is the best vehicle for providing that ouch! And there is a ring of truth in what she writes, I believe, that makes it seem clear she's drawing on her childhood experiences. It'll be interesting to see if she'll blog about her life and feelings as reality rather than fiction.

Here's Dong Huai's bio at CHA, an Asian literary magazine:

Tai Dong Huai was born in Taizhou, China and adopted by an American couple who had no idea what they were getting into. Her fiction has appeared (or is upcoming) in Smokelong Quarterly, Hobart, Thieves Jargon, elimae, Underground Voices, Wigleaf, 55 Words, Cause & Effect, and others. "New Baby" is from her collection in progress, I Come From Where I've Never Been. Tai lives in Connecticut, consciously close to Yale University, with her pug "Sparkle."

And here's the link: http://www.asiancha.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=blogcategory&id=55&Itemid=136 (sorry, I can't do a hot link in comments!).

You might also want to check out her interview on another online literary journal, where she explained the title to a new collection she's putting together, I COME FROM WHERE I'VE NEVER BEEN as follows: "The title refers to China, where I was born. I was five when I was adopted and remember little more than the orphanage and sitting in an airport with two strangers who held my hands and couldn't communicate. Simply put, I feel as distant from my own birthplace as a person in O'Hare Airport feels from the City of Chicago."

And the link is: http://www.smokelong.com/interview/taidonghuai23.asp

I, too, can be suspicious of people on the internet, so I'd checked her out pretty thoroughly before posting about her. But of course it is hard to know how much in her fiction is autobiographical.