Tuesday, November 22, 2011

For Teen Adopted from Colombia, it's a Small World

At TeenInk, an essay from a Colombian adoptee about learning about her birth brother:
I was adopted from Colombia. The parents I live with today knew they wanted a little girl, and they also wanted to better someone’s life, so they decided to adopt. One day, they got a phone call about a baby girl in Colombia who had just been born and needed a family. Soon, they were on a plane to Bogota.

I have lived a completely normal childhood knowing that the people I call Mom and Dad are my “real parents” because I love them and they love me. I never met my birth parents and really didn’t know anything about them until one afternoon when I casually asked my mom if I had any biological siblings that I could contact one day. She gave me a worried look, and then said that she had planned to wait until I was 18 to give me the information, but she thought I was old enough.

My mother explained that I had two biological brothers living in the area and then took out some Christmas cards and letters that one had sent me years ago. The letters contained pictures of my oldest brother when he was four and I couldn’t believe how much of myself I saw in him. My mom told me that she had waited to tell me because she didn’t want me to be confused, but as time passed it got harder since she didn’t want me to think that she was trying to keep a secret. I had to be understanding. My parents never want anything but the best for me - I might have done the same thing.
Hmm, I'm not sure I would have been as understanding if I were in her shoes. . . . To see what happened next, and why the essay is entitled, "It's a Small World," go read the whole thing!


Anonymous said...

So the girl could have known her brother all those years and was kept away from him. That is confusing. It's a shame there is so much fear in adoption, it always hurts the birth families.

Anonymous said...

anon - it seems everyone involved is very happy and doing well. timing may be delayed but it came up when the child asked and it might be the right timing for that family. i think it's a sweet story.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous - the girl doesn't want to cause any conflict and is saying all the things she has been trained to say since day one. It's plain to see that keeping a sister away from her brothers is an unethical thing to do.
Nothing sweet about deception.

Amanda said...

Anon #2: She ended up being happy so far so keeping info of her origins and original family was OK? The end justifies the means?

I'm betting had she grown up with access to the information that belongs to her, she would have been just as fine :-)

In fact, maybe finer. Because it's the secrecy in adoption and thinking we're not old enough to know the most ridiculously simple things like our first parent's names and that we have siblings until we're 18, that perpetuates stigmas against adoptees.

I know adoptees who were PARENTS and working professionals by the time they were 18. Yet they're not old enough to know their own sibling's name? Come on now, what are we saying about adoptees here when we think things like this are OK?


Anonymous said...

I think there is nothing for an adoptee to be confused about when getting this information. Unless the adoptive parents "lay a guilt trip" with the information (i.e. we can talk about it, but it upsets me (the adoptive parent).

I bet for a number of parents like myself who have been forthcoming with this type information we have muddled through the difficult stuff together and come out the other side in a stronger relationship with our child.

It is not ethical to withold this information from a child. A parent should be able to present information in an age appropriate way from the time a child is brought home.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous One here again! I also find it really sad that she says the old "I'm so grateful that my mother was so poor she gave us up and made that sacrifice" type comment that you often see.

How weird is it to be grateful that your mother was so poverty stricken that she had to give her children to foreigners with money?


I also get the impression that this very noble and sacrificing mother is kept well out of the picture.

Sunday said...

I am walking a line here because the author here is still a child with a child's perspective and her thoughts and feelings are based on a child's (intentionally)isolated experiences. I have to respect her piece as clearly reflecting where she is right now in her own process. As our lives and experiences evolve our thoughts and feelings do as well, I wonder how a piece she writes about her adoption story will read in 10 or 20 years...

Anonymous said...

IMO, the girl was not afraid to cause conflict, but she, instead was very well centered and had a healthy relationship with her A-family. Why is it, when an adoptee actually LIKES their a-family, and feels protective over them, they somehow cone off as having an unstable relationship and sense of self, when in fact, it can be completely opposite?
The simple fact that the mother WANTED to wait till she was 18, and DECIDED to be flexible and change the plan, BECAUSE the girl inquired, shows that the girl had a stable relationship with her A-family.
It also does not state how old the girl actually was when her mother disclosed the information to her about her bio brothers.
Im actually interested in knowing how young some people think children should be before finding out bio information....2 years? 5 years?
Obviously, the mother was concerned about her ability to process the information before she more mature.
My daughter was found outside an apartment complex, and we have video of it, but at 7 years old, we still have not shown her that video. So, I suppose in some people's eyes, I'm unforgiven. But I KNOW my daughter would not see me that way, just as this girl does not see her mother that way. She is very emotionally healthy to have the view point she does.

Anonymous said...

Adoptive parents who seem to "get this concept" of not withholding information are able to introduce elements of a child's story from the moment they come to them at any age.

At a young age you start with basic information and use general statements that might apply (i.e. your parents couldn't look after you, you were put in a place where you could be found, you (might) have brothers and sisters etc.).

As the child matures you add more to the story based on how you see your child processing information.

By the time they are a young adult you are adding very complex pieces in.

There is no big moment when the truth is revealed. It is gradual and child-centred. The adoptive parents put their own fears about the other family aside focus on educating their child in a gentle way about their authentic story.

It is very simple advice that most adoptive parents are given now. Not sure why some adoptive parents still don't get it??

Anonymous said...

nicely said anon at 5:16.

Anonymous said...

Not sure why some still don't get it??

Perhaps because the pendulum swings wildy every few years or dependent on the leading "voices" and authorities on the subject of adoption.

Not get it? Maybe because we are told time and again that no matter what we do, the end result will still be a feeling of utter loss and grief on the part of our child as they age? Not that I subscribe to that mindset.

Still don't get it? Hmm....maybe because we are being told that like all people, each adoption is unique and should be handled as such? Except for this one story? Or this one child?

AND finally...when will SO many of those who gripe the loudest remember that ALL parents make mistakes and that all parents are in fact human, not armed with crystal balls or handy manuals...that most of us are simply doing the best we can in any given situation. Bio. or adoptive.

Would this AP's choice have been my own? Who knows. Not walking in those shoes.

But the fact that her daughter was raised to be a seemingly grounded, thoughtful, forgiving and bright young woman at THIS age, counts for something. Again no crystal ball, but is it just me, or do some of these commenters seem to rubbing their hands together with delighted glee, imagining the day she pens a bitter, hate filled montage towards her family? Pathetic.

And finally to Anon.5:35; who are you to dictate another's story?

Why on earth after every thing we read, much from Adult Adoptees, would we dare to color the stories of our children or force an outlook or perspective on them?

The story is their own. We are being told/directed to keep it for them and share in age appropriate ways/times, so that THEY can filter it as they would. As they can. As they should.

A forumula? Not so much. Not every child is "ready" at the same age to dissemiate the same information.

That's why it IS a parental call. Sorry if that rubs ya wrong!

Keeping parts of the story safe for them IS NOT the same as not telling them they are adopted or making the" big reveal".

Perspective please people....perspective!

Anon. MM

Nameless Writer said...

Speaking of perspective, is it really a normal and grounded reaction to be grateful that your mother was so poor she had to give her children away? And is it really so very well adjusted to praise your mother for giving you away while at the same time showing absolutely no interest in knowing her?
Is it an appropriate reacting to be mild and understanding that you could have known your brothers while growing up but were denied that opportunity?
Speaking of perspective, I really don't see how you could interpret passive acceptance as being well grounded at all.

She doesn't have to be grief stricken and angry but if I found out my mother had been so incredibly poverty stricken that she had to give her children away I would find that unbearably sad and feel compassion for that woman who had felt so alone and unprotected in the world. A woman who had been forced to do the unthinkable.

Perhaps my perspective is all wrong? Who knows!