I read a ABC News story this week called Graying Adoptees Still Searching for Their Identities.
Adam Perftman, Executive Director of the Evan B Donaldson Adoption Institute was quoted as saying “Knowing who you are and where you come from, it turns out, is not just a matter of fulfilling curiosity, it’s something that helps human beings develop more fully psychologically to understand and feel better about themselves.”
Those of us who were adopted in closed adoptions were told, either directly or indirectly, that where we came from and who we were was not important. Our identity began at the time of adoption and our history was no longer relevant to who we were. Wrong.
I don’t belive it is possible for an individual to develop a strong sense of self-worth when the self that they were born to be is clothed in secrets and shame. Certainly in my case, despite loving adoptive parents, low self-esteem was a factor in choices I made as a young adult that shaped the rest of my life.
In the video attached to the article, Carol Cook describes how an adoptee feels to be denied access to the truth; at one point she likens it to a house without a foundation.
I am thankful that the Province of Saskatchewan, Canada where I was born established Post Adoption Services and that I was able to find my own truth. I was fifty years of age when I read my own adoption file and it was then, and only then, that I was able to find peace about the circumstances of my birth. This was twenty years after I first obtained non identifing information and subsequently was reunited with members of my birth family. Twenty years, during which I processed the information, worked through the grief, and learned to accept the truth.
Adoptees need to know that it’s not wrong to want to know about their medical history, their ancestry, and everything else that goes along with it. We need to be able to shed the cloak of shame that was thrown over us through no fault of our own.
Without the truth, the foundation of our lives will always be shaky. Our grief may be hidden but, rest assured, it is there.