For those of you who are not adoptees, have you deliberated on what it is like to not have been adopted? Have you considered the benefits that you derive from your non-adoptee status?
I am a non-adopted person. In reflecting on this typically “invisible” privilege, I realize that I take much for granted. Think about it…
- I know exactly when and where I was born. I know how my mother gave birth to me, how long she labored before expelling me in the world, under the bright white lights of the sterile surgical suite. I know I was wanted, and that my parents enjoyed creating me.
- I’ve had no problem getting my birth certificate—before I married my husband or when we adopted our children. All of the information is on the birth certificate; nothing is redacted. My birth certificate is not a delayed birth certificate.
- I know my story. And when I’ve craved to know more I’ve asked my parents, grandparents, read family letters, and explored the genealogy contained in my mom’s family Bible. When my grandmother didn’t want to tell me the ugly I pushed, because those were the stories and history that fascinated me and helped me to understand her, and appreciate the fortitude of my family.
- I am comforted in seeing the physical resemblances in the faces of my brothers, nieces and nephews. People have always shared how they can pick us out of a crowd. I know that my dimples, curly hair and ruddy complexion come from my father and my stature, smile, and eyes are gifts from my mother, who I resemble more and more as I age. I share left-handedness with my maternal grandfather, who died when my mom was just two-years old.
- I know my medical history, what issues and diseases occur frequently within our family gene pool. I know what my mother, brother and grandparents died from. I know about the fertility and female health of the women in my family. I can provide answers in confidence when asked by my physicians.
- I am not wary about being asked a range of questions about my family by others; about being judged by the moral or political biases they hold about adoption, my birth mother/parents, birth country, or culture of origin.
- I don’t wonder whether I should share my status = adopted. I am not asked a range of questions about adoption, or expected to be a bridge for adoptive parents or for people of my race or ethnicity. I am not expected to feel gratitude for being part of my family. I am not made to feel that being curious about where I come from or seeking answers makes me “angry.”
We can’t walk in the shoes of those who have been adopted. However we can, through reflecting on our non-adopted privilege, begin to understand and develop the tools of empathy and compassion for those who have been adopted. We can be open to what they face on a regular basis and we can support them in their healing and lifting their voices.
Food for Thought: The above points only begin to scratch the surface. What else can you share from your perspective? What other benefits derive from non-adoptive privilege?