I need to ask for questions more often!!
When you were growing up, did you encounter any adoptees who had open or semi-open adoptions, and if so, how did this affect your perception of your own situation?
I had a friend who was adopted. We sat together on the bus on the way to school. Sometimes we’d talk about adoption because we were both in an adoption lunch group. That’s how I learned that she was in an semi-open adoption. This girl, Ann we’ll call her, sometimes received letters from her natural mother. According to Ann, her natural mother lived in France and wrote in French. Ann’s adoptive mother spoke French and would read the letters to her. In fact, Ann was learning French so she could write her own letters back.
As a kid, I was fascinated by all of this. I couldn’t believe that Ann was able to ask questions and get answers. She knew why she was adopted. She had a natural mother who could speak another language! I won’t lie, I was jealous. Ann and I were never really close and later I found out that Ann tended to stretch out the truth sometimes. I don’t know how much, if any, of her story was true.
What messed with my head even more was another friend, Peggy. Peggy wasn’t adopted. However, Peggy’s mother was the same age as my natural mother. And Peggy’s parents didn’t have a lot of money and were considered “poor” by my town’s standard (we weren’t that much better off in my family). What I couldn’t understand for the life of me was why Peggy’s mother kept her and mine didn’t. I had been told my mother couldn’t keep me because she was “young and poor”. Peggy’s mother was “young and poor” too, but somehow she grew up with her mother. And Peggy’s mother ended up finishing college and made a lot of money. And she grew up a lot. So I got to see firsthand how “young” and “poor” are two temporary problems. One more so than the other. I internalized at a young age that there had to be more to it that what I’d been told. I think that’s how I came up with the crack-whore-birthmother idea. And I think it should be noted that I never talked to my adoptive mother about any of this either because she never really liked Peggy’s mother. So my adoptive mom had no clue.
Thanks for the great question Rebecca!