It is very interesting as months can go by without the issue of adoption coming into our home life and then suddenly it becomes the main topic of conversation for several weeks.
I have just got off the phone to Nana Charlene. She is my mother's, mother's, brother's daughter - so in effect my mom's cousin and my aunt. Although she was 'never really part of the family because she was adopted' (?), she now happily has the role of grandmother to my son.
At the age of 68 Charlene is beginning the search for her birth family. She has waited until her role as foster carer has come to an end and now is devoting her time to look for her roots. She is no great need to meet the family should she find out where they are, she just wants to know where she was for the first 8 months of her life. It is this the filling of the gaps that is so interesting.
Each adoptee will have their own need to fill in the gaps and each of those gaps will be different. Why does a period of time mean something more than a blood connection? Why would a relationship matter more than the deed that bought the situation to a head? Will the urge to discover the past be worth the possible jeopardization of the present? It is for all adoptees, I am sure, a difficult road to step onto - a road that will no doubt be filled with an ugliness that will be hard to face.
And yet for many it is a road that they are driven to pursue. When Nana Charlene was adopted all those years ago it was not something to be openly discussed, although she always knew that she was adopted. It was mentioned and then the discussion was closed. Throughout all these years the overriding curiosity of 'what' has been more important than 'who'. The conversation was distressing in the terminology that was used and is so ingrained and which I feel makes the whole issue of adoption complex. She 'gave me way', she 'didn't want me', my 'real' mother, 'abandoned' and even 'threw me away'. Such burdens to be carried. Positive words like 'adoption plan', 'relinquished', family 'options', birth family do not easily roll off the tongue and yet with positive language the experience changes and softens.
After an hour and a half, the only conclusion that we came to was - it is complex. There are no hard and fast rules when it comes to adoption, it embraces a multitude of options and choices and it is this what we need to realise to do the best for our adopted children. Give them the choice to find their own voice.