There is an oft-repeated descriptor used to reflect the variance in adoptee experiences, that of a spectrum. On one end there are those adoptees where being an adoptee is at the core of their identity and prominently informs life decisions and the paths one follows. There is the other end as well, where the adoptee identity is a smaller piece that has little to no effect on one’s present life. And then there are all of those different points in between that are occupied by so many of us where it is less concrete. These points, anywhere on the spectrum, seem not to be static. Many of the adoptees I know flit in and out of being interested in their adoption or their biographical narrative. Inspired by a conversation or discouraged by an anecdote, they engage or disengage from whatever adoption related topic has been on their mind. Describing adoptees as a point on a spectrum is not meant to diminish the complexity of the adoptee experience but rather to help show how these moving points comprise such a vast range of experiences.
As an adoptee on the more active end of the spectrum one of the things I have experienced is an expansion in the way in which I understand adoption-intercountry adoption, specifically. This has happened through conversations with adoptees who have experienced a tremendous amount of loss, some of which they are able to identify and some of which seems more intangible. It has also happened through talking to adoptive parents about what they feel like they could have differently in raising their adopted child or building their adoption story within their family, also what they still hope to do for their family. The silence coming from some adoptive parents on their intentions to create a family adoption narrative, to honor their child’s country of birth or to tackle the transracial family topic, has also been a revelation. As these conversations continue, my sense of the complexity grows-of everything that adoption implies.
I think KINDRED has a role to play in helping to provide a place where some of those voices can be heard. Although our platforms are from being developed, the vision is there-to provide a space to adoptees and eventually help direct all those connected with adoption to the relevant services that they may need. This decades-long conversation about the adoptee experience should continue and we look forward to being a part of it.
- Ben Sommers