To be found implies you have been lost. Many adoptees express that they feel or have felt lost, due to loss.
Adult adoptees’ insights and experiences should not be ignored or disregarded; however they often are. Adult adoptees’ stories, sometimes painful or joyful or mixed, are valid. They should be invited to the “table” and encouraged to share, instead forgotten or often silenced. Adoptive parents need to listen to their voices.
I agreed to participate in a blog tour created around Jennifer Lauck’s memoir, Found. The blog tour, which goes on through January 17th, was created by the Open Adoption Examiner. Thirty bloggers have written posts, answering a series of proposed questions about adoption and Found.
Lauck, adopted twice before her teens, first shared her story in the national best seller Blackbird. Her sequel, Found, expands on Lauck’s fallout from having been adopted and suffering a traumatic childhood. Recounting her story, Lauck refers to the “primal wound.” It would be helpful if readers and adoptive parents were familiar with that premise (whether they subscribe to it or not).
Below I share my perspectives to several questions put forth from other participants after reading Found. I invite you to share your perspectives here, as well. Please (and thank you) be respectful when commenting; adoption is a complex and emotional topic.
Question: Jennifer Lauck wrote (page 34) “I felt dirty and bad,” when she was told she was adopted. Why? Was it because her brother mentioned the trash? Or there was more?
In my opinion it was both. There was so much secrecy and illness within and around Lauck and her family. From her account, she and her brother didn’t get along well, and he had his own issues. Many adoptees have shared that they feel they must have been “bad” to have been relinquished by their birth mother.
Question: My question is about Jennifer’s early adoption narrative as “God’s gift,” because I see my adopted son as a gift from God. Jennifer turns this metaphor on its ear when after hearing her brother’s declaration, “You’re adopted and gypsy trash.” She seems to suggest that that early narrative was misleading and, ultimately, the cause of her feelings of inadequacy and failure because she was unable to save her mother’s life. How do you talk your children about their adoption story, particularly when they are very young and unable to grasp all of life’s complexities?
Truthfully, with empathy and respect. The narrative needs to begin immediately, growing into a conversation, in age-appropriate language. A child should know all of their story, including the difficult truths, before adolescence (somewhere between ages six and eight). Parents need to encourage their children to talk and give them the words for the emotions they feel and express what they feel.
Question: What did you believe was the take-away message of this memoir? Did that idea change for you when you read the afterward?
From reading Blackbird earlier, I expected that Found would likely go deeper exploring Lauck’s past, hopefully healing further. I appreciated that she included the afterward and I happen to agree with her when she stated, “…we face a myriad of complex challenges and opportunities that must be faced, discussed, and resolved. Adoptive parents must be better informed. Birth mothers must be better informed. Adoptees must be better informed.”
Much can be learned from listening to and dialoging with older adoptees. I believe that parents can gain a deeper understanding and empathy, for what their child may be feeling or grow to feel as they come to understand what having been adopted means and how it has and will continue impact them and future generations.
Be part of the dialogue. Please take time to be a tourist; explore and share your perspectives about adoption. You may discover other kernels of truth. To continue to the next leg of this book tour, please visit the main list at the Open Adoption Examiner.