The Giver

(first posted 2013)

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Originally posted today at my main blog, but it belongs here, too. I’m discussing giftedness on and off on the other blog which is why the two topics are together.

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I’ve found a book that explains, in a way, how I feel being gifted AND adopted.

The Giver by Lois Lowry – (spoilers!!)

Jonas, a twelve-year-old boy, becomes the receiver of all memories in a world where all has been reduced to organization and sameness and lack of memory for the past.

Everyone lives in controlled family units.  A mate is chosen for you, there are “birthmothers” whose job it is to make babies and those babies are placed with a selected family – only two, a boy and a girl of course, and a respectable age distance apart. Everyone turns the new year old at the same time at a ceremony, and your job for life is carefully chosen for you. Apparently there is no sunshine, and they can’t even see color. Everything is Same. People seem quite happy.

Jonas is chosen to be the one person to receive memory of long ago, to be able to have wisdom to advise the elders.  He becomes The Receiver, and the old man giving him his knowledge is known as The Giver.  There can only be one Receiver…they felt it too painful to have choices and memory of the past, so “they” did away with them long ago for the population at large.

Giftedness:
Throughout the book Jonas receives memories of things like rainbows and Christmas, peaceful days on a lake, the reality of breaking a bone in an accident, hunting for live animals, and the horrors of war.  He begins to “wake up”.   The waking up is hard.  It’s beautiful and rich, but extremely lonely and painful. Remember, everyone else is still “same” and can’t comprehend things like war, hippos, or the color green.

People say gifted people are bragging if they ever have need to discuss their giftedness, or sometimes when they are living their lives being “smarter.”  But I see it more like Jonas.  I feel “other” and “different” — lonely.  It can be both exhilarating and exhausting.  You feel awake to things others can’t see.  You feel “more”.  You don’t want to give up the more. Can you, even?  But you also want people to stop telling you you are wrong to feel “more” — “Stop being so sensitive!”  “Stop showing off!” (when really, you were doing nothing of the sort. You were just “being.”)

Adoption:

Here’s a quote:

“They were called Grandparents.”
“Grand parents?”
“Grandparents. It meant parents-of-the-parents long ago.”
“Back and back and back?”  Jonas began to laugh. “So actually, there could be parents-of-the-parents-of-the-parents-of-the-parents?”
The Giver laughed, too. “That’s right. It’s a little like looking at yourself looking in a mirror looking at yourself looking in a mirror.”

The people of the “same” world couldn’t comprehend that as you and I do. Oh wait, I mean as you do, if you aren’t adopted.  I don’t.  I can only see it as an outsider. The benefit the people of Jonas’s world had was that they ALL lived that non-related life.  I believe, in our world today, science has not yet begun to tap into the importance of a young child seeing himself reflected back by his relatives on the young child’s psyche.  I think it’s there.  Sure, we can move on and live full and amazing lives, but something huge is missing. Some core truth.

Later Jonas realizes that what is lacking in their current life – where everything is organized for safety and practicality is *true love*.   Children are produced and moved from birthmothers to families to fulfill a need.  In a scene with his parents, Jonas asks, “Do you love me?” The parents chide him for using unspecific language — a big no-no in their world — and say that better words would be “have pride” or “enjoy.”  That’s what I feel as an adoptee. I was part of a business venture. Useful. I can’t shake the feeling that what adoptive parents really mean when they say, “I love you because you are my daughter” is “I love you because you are fulfilling the role of my daughter.”  Big difference. The second one begs the question, “So, if I step out of my carefully prescribe ‘role’ – then what.”   In my mind a big chasm opens up to nothingness at the “then what.”  No stepping outside of your role! Ever! That would be bad. BAD.  So I’m left playing a role for 44 years and not being human, being ME. (I know adoptive mothers that would deny to the hilt feeling this way, but it doesn’t change the *feeling* from the adoptee’s perspective).

I know not all adoptees feel this, but I know plenty that do.  I’m not sure what the difference between us is.

Or maybe I just see it “more.” Feel it “more.”

But I’m not giving up the pain, because the alternate is to live a colorless life.

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