Monday, March 7, 2011

History Waiting

History Waiting

It's universal. We make family trees, we talk to and honor our ancestors, we trace the people that came before us, it's important enough to make reality shows about it - Searching For..., Who Do You Think You Are. We have websites about researching our ancestry.

Why is it that in adoption the biological connection isn't considered very important but in the rest of society it's huge? The adoption industry wants people to think that it doesn't matter how the family is formed - a person's roots are meaningless, what matters is who is there to change diapers and play ball. Of course parenting well is important, but many times adoptees are expected to consider their history to be from their adopted family. Good parenting should also include being honest with our children about who they are. I grew up thinking I was half Cuban. I thought my history was in Santiago de Cuba and Cayey, Puerto Rico. I thought I was a combo of the two islands - Cubarican if you will. Well, turns out the Cuban side was the adopted side. That's not actually my history. I love my dad and I do have an interest in where he came from and what that means but it's not the biology of who I am.

The biology of who I am makes me wonder if I look like Aunt Shelley. Do I have any of Uncle Tommy in me? When I look at photos of my children I see the same chin on all 3 of them and I see it in 2 of my grandchildren. There's a thread of continuity there that's important. Maybe some of the features that I passed down to my daughter lost to adoption are the same features from the father and family I never knew. When my daughter's first son was born she was looking for the very first time, into the eyes of a person who was biologically related to her. That's huge because her roots had been cut off from her. And, when her first son was born I wasn't there. I had no idea I was becoming a grandmother for the first time. I now have 4 grandchildren, 3 of them live in another state but I have contact with them, they're part of my life. The youngest is almost 9 months old and lives nearby. When I look at her I wonder about the grandmother that was taken from me when I was a baby. How did she feel knowing she had a grandbaby out there that she couldn't see? When I look at my little granddaughter I can't imagine being cut off from her. What did it do to my grandmother to be cut off from me completely. Was her grieving similar to the way I grieved when I lost my daughter?

Some of these broken links were the result of family decisions and some were because of the adoption industry. It's not ok for people in a money-making industry to make decisions about who we connect with and who we don't. Closed adoption is not ok. Closing an open adoption is not ok. It's not ok that I found out about my own adoption when I was 26 yrs old. It's not ok that my daughter had to wait 22 years to find out her own history.

There are still a lot of histories waiting.


  1. Family secrets of all types do not work in the least case scenario and cause great harm in the worst case, as in adoption. So much loss, so much pain. So easy to prevent or fix with open records.

    (Like the painting too.)

  2. I will never have that connection with my grandsons.... never. I know that one of them is the vision of his grandfather and great uncles..... and uncles... .he has my chin and my face and eyes... the other is his grandfather....Long legs broad shoulders and narrow hips, his face is his grandfathers.....

  3. "Why is it that in adoption the biological connection isn't considered very important but in the rest of society it's huge?"

    I've never understood that either. It's just plain weird. I find it rather convenient too.

    Genealogy is one of my other hobbies in life. I enjoy the challenge of it. Plus I would like to have most of it done for my kids. I had the opportunity to share my tree with my oldest son (whom I placed for adoption.)but it was only AFTER the fact. He is home schooled by his adoptive mom. One of their projects was doing a family tree. I never got a phone call to ask about my family tree. This was brought up casually, on the last visit I had with them about 5 years ago. My son was absolutely petrified to ask me about it. That was the day when I realized that my whole "open adoption was a sham...

  4. oh yes, it's very convenient. The industry doesn't want anyone thinking about roots, heritage, family trees, genetics or about just how important those things are. They play it down so they can build the bank accounts up.