Adoption: Finding Solace in Solitude
It is easy to become a narcissist when you’re are adopted; especially if one is an only child. It stands to reason that to be able to adopt a child, one is of some level of monetary means. Granted, there are a set of adoptions for which this is NOT the case; though for the sake of conversation, I ask that we acknowledge the possibility of this trend.
Access to money, in this manner, can lead to access to education, and reading. And reading can lead to places known only to the imagination. And in this story that is a good thing. Adoption being a cage all of its own, we get to learn how does a caged bird sing?
How does anyone sing?
Jacques Lacan was a post-Freudian psycho-analyst, neither label for which I personally claim any affinity. Regardless, an idea was put forth that I cannot help but appreciate. It echoes of words I once read ascribed to Jesus in the Book of St Thomas, “when the two become one”.
Lacan’s thoughts, as I remember them to be, were that while in the womb the child knows not any difference between three distinct entities. Then upon birth, a separation is inflicted and the three entities of self, mother and world make their individuality known to the child. What had once been a unified indistinguishable source of life and well-being, was now separate. And worse, there were things, people, who prohibited the attention that had once seemed ever present, omniscient and never-ending.
Regardless of adoption, we all go through this process to get into this world. It would follow that we are all trying to find the balance between ourselves and this world that can only ever be ours for a moment. Though for an adoptee this separation is explicitly more pronounced. And the road to reconciliation thus fraught with arguably greater magnitudes of the aforementioned struggle: to build a healthy connection between ourselves and the world around us.
So often, if I would lament to a “friend” anything about adoption the retort would be, “but your parents loved you.”
The woman who adopted me is a kind-hearted woman, until she isn’t; she can, in fact, be a cruel and malicious bully. She wanted to love me, as I’ve said elsewhere, it was easier to love the idea of me; and it is easier, still, to label the fetish as part of the savior-complex that plagues whiteness. I ask that we look to the impetus of a childless woman wanting to care for a child. What of her heart, how tortured her mind? What becomes of a spirit so susceptible to contort?
What is to become of their adopted child?
I took to heart my friends’ requests to recognize that they loved me. I wanted, and needed, to believe that white people were capable of the same depth of emotion that I experienced. I have little evidence to this, though I needed there to evidence, so I continued to look.
“You love me because you know me, identify and relate to my values, and appreciate my dreams?
Or you love me as Jesus’ loves? You love me because I am a child of the creator like you, and we need not ‘know’ each other to love that each of shares a story and carries a shard of divinity?”
This line of questioning got me arrested for disorderly conduct. The male who adopted me pushed me out of the house while the female called the police.
I sat on the front stoop with my hands on my knees waiting.
I was done fighting, or at least I wished to be.
The Buddha said life is suffering, but not as an end, as a beginning.
The woman who adopted me wanted a child because her husband and her life were not enough to make her feel whole. His father was a womanizing alcoholic for the largest majority of his life. He wasn’t either, just arguably covertly racist. Then he was told by his uncle Sam to kill uppity brown people in Vietnam. Now he had bought one for his high-school sweetheart. He is more lost than I will ever be.
We cannot give what we do not have, and their love was not a hand to hold but a cry that needed to be heard. My ears were to hear their suffering and my life, body and words to become the medication that assuaged their pain. They had not found the fountain of love they spoke and sang of every Sunday. I was to be their fountain of love; they were, as is all too easy to become, parasites.
I wasn’t them.
And I never would be.
Or so I hoped. Nature vs Nurture.
The second time I visited Colombia I was having a beer with my host, who quipped, “You’re so Colombian!” To which was being referred, was more than my appearance, but my mannerisms and appetite/diet as well. It felt nice.
There will remain aspects of me that are distinctly Mid-western American as well.
Regardless, I will be, as I remain to be uniquely, me.
And the struggle to find this me — to separate my identity from the projections of those who “raised” me, is but a hyperbole of the journey we all take. There were differences to be sure, that highlight the racism, able-ism and age-ism, endemic to American society. And far-from condoning an acquiescence to these combustible labels, I abhor the fact that an entire community continues to enable bigoted behavior.
Though, I appreciate that the experience has enabled me to connect with others outside of the labels used to define people, and to better see beyond the labels too carelessly pinned upon us.
I am lonely, but so are you.
I made sense of my loneliness.
You can too.
We’re all alone.
And we all know we don’t have to be.
We’ll figure it out.