I have two adopted siblings who are also from India, but we are not blood relatives. A lot of people wonder if they are involved within the adoption field like me. Do they speak about it or share their thoughts with non adopted people? The simple answer is no. Without putting them on the spot here or making them feel uncomfortable, they don’t discuss adoption at all and if they do, it’s certainly not with people outside of our family. And that is totally fine.
As I’ve discussed and many of you know, international adoption is a complex emotional process. Frequently I hear parents ask about their children’s adoption consciousness. More specifically, “when will my child start to explore their adoption as you have?” My answer – I just don’t know.
I think for a lot of adoptees, they begin to question their adoption and how that fits into their overall identity, as they start questioning who they are during their teenage years. It seems like a natural point of life to begin exploring identity issues. For others, they begin unpacking their “adoption box” when they are younger, and don’t necessarily have the words to describe all their feelings. For other’s they don’t even look into that box until their late 20’s, 30’s, and older. There is no right age to start doing so. For some adopted people, they have no interest in opening up that box and I think that’s acceptable.
My mom and I were talking recently about if a parent should push their child to explore their adoption. Again, this is an individual choice. On one hand the parents could easily turn their children off to ever discussing adoption if they bring it up repeatedly and the child is not ready or does not want any part of that conversation. On the other, when parents make no mention of it, I think that sends the wrong signal as well. It’s a fine line in discovering when to talk about adoption or not and there’s no one out there, no book or blog, movie to watch etc., which will tell an adoptive parent when they might be crossing it. The answer goes back to one of my mantras, being open, but more than just being open, being aware. You as the parent know your child (presumably) and you will have to decide whether you think they want to talk about it. But if you get no answer, then you should not push.
Adoption feelings are so unique and personal. There is nothing wrong with a child, a teenager or an adult, who does not want to explore that part of their identity. For many who have not yet or will never delve into that part of their lives, an outsider would not necessarily be able to tell from the surface if their silence has affected them or not. In our “let’s talk through everything culture,” sometimes it’s best to let adoption lie. I know I just angered social workers, psychologists and a host of other folks, but here’s my stance. Why push them? Or better yet, why make an adopted person feel like there’s something wrong with them because they don’t want to talk about their experiences, feelings and thoughts on the topic? To use the cliché, “why fix something that is not broken?”
In the case of my brother and sister, I have no real idea what they think about being adopted. We don’t discuss our adoptions with one another. It’s something we all share; I know we hold it as special to us and it uniquely bonds us together. But I don’t chat about the world of adoption with them and I’m pretty sure they don’t talk about it with each other. I have heard they are proud of me for talking about my thoughts and being open enough to do write about it. But rarely have they commented to me about this blog and I have no expectation that they should do so.
I can’t stress this enough. Adoption processing and opening the box, is not easy and it’s ok if adopted people don’t do it. They aren’t necessarily going to become angry and bitter because they never explored this part of their identity. For a good number of people, you would never know they were adopted. Talking about their adoption makes uncomfortable. Or it’s not a big deal to them or anything they even think about. That is their prerogative. Furthermore, for many adopted people they don’t consider being adopted part of their identity at all and I don’t have a problem with that.
I write about my experiences because I think I can put them into words in better ways than others and feel like I (as an adopted person) have a perspective that needs hearing. But, I’m still going through the journey myself, constantly discovering what’s in the “adoption box” on my own. Sometimes I get overwhelmed with it all, but for me it’s important to explore. For others they have no desire, no need and don’t want to and that is just as fine.