(first published July 2008)
Dr. Jeff Mirus, writing on a totally different subject than I am about to, discusses “The Mockery of Being.” Because it’s a very hot topic and not the focus of this blog, I’m not going to get into his article (or allow comments on it) except as it relates to what I’m about to say — and of course, as this is my adoption blog, how it relates to my feelings on adoption. 🙂 Pardon the lengthy quote, but I wanted to include enough information as a set up for the second quote below.
Dr. Mirus writes:
The answer lies in the widespread mechanistic and instrumental view of reality progressively adopted by our culture over the past two hundred years. By “mechanistic”, I mean the idea that anything and everything may be tinkered with, adjusted, altered, or manufactured to produce a desired result. By “instrumental”, I mean the attitude that anything and everything is an instrument to be used for my own ends. This view of reality can be traced back a very long way in various forms, but the explosion of material progress through the manipulation of nature and machinery beginning in the 19th century catapulted this view to dominance. The further dramatic explosion of both information and material benefits in the latter part of the twentieth century served to complete and intensify this gradual shift of perception. As a result, most of us now view reality far differently than would have been possible in an earlier era.
The problem with this shift is that it ignores the nature of being as a given, as something which we receive so that it might disclose itself to us on its own terms. If I instinctively see everything as an instrument for my own purposes (including my own body), and if I believe I can always figure out a way to manipulate things to suit my purposes, then two things happen: First, I become extremely self-centered; second, I become blind to any meaning which exists in the very nature of things, closed to the gift of creation which beckons me to live according to a purpose that has been stamped into my own being from outside.
When an instrumental approach to reality becomes a substitute for love itself, it is particularly damaging. Though we may not understand this, we feel it very quickly whenever we are used by someone whom we love and who claims to love us. We feel cheapened; we feel betrayed; ultimately, we feel that we have been mocked. In fact, whenever love is replaced by manipulation, whenever what should be the object of love becomes a mere instrument for something else, things have gone terribly wrong. The same cheapening is at work. The failure to recognize and act on the true worth of the other is always a betrayal, always a mockery.
It is this last paragraph that I feel relates well to my feelings on adoption. I feel adoption can be seen as both “mechanistic” (anything can be tinkered with to produce a desired result) and “instrumental”(anything – or in this case anyone – can be used as in instrument for my own ends). Despite the fact that we adoptees are often told from birth that it was all because of love that we were relinquished (“she did it because she loved you and wanted a better life”) and ultimately adopted (“we love you so much that we chose you to be our child”), I’m sorry, but that love just seems to ring hollow. As we grow up we realize that we were very likely a “problem” from the moment of conception, and often remain a thorn in the birth mother’s side forever (in grief of having to relinquish, or in other ways). We’ve gone from being human, of “being”, to being mechanized, considered a “thing,” a “problem” that needs to be improved, hence the adoption. Birth mother could not live as she desired, so birth baby gets the shaft. Birth circumstances, if they are known, can mitigate or exacerbate these feelings, I’m sure. Knowing that my birth mother was employed and 20yo, and my father was also 20 and in college, makes me think my relinquishment was more a matter of me being an “inconvenience” to them than an impossibility, as might be the case of a much younger mother without support (or in any number of other circumstances). [eta: I found out after reunion that my mother was 18.]
It doesn’t end when you are adopted, either. The adoptive parents are also often trying to solve their own problems (infertility and the gaining of their “perfect family.”) We are seen not so much as a problem than as a solution, yet that still takes a chunk of our humanity out of the picture. I’m not a solution, I’m a PERSON. While I’m sure I am extremely lucky to have been adopted, and I *DO* love my adoptive parents, it doesn’t exactly erase the fact that “we feel it very quickly whenever we are used by someone whom we love and who claims to love us. We feel cheapened; we feel betrayed; ultimately, we feel that we have been mocked” as the author states above. In my family, I know my adoptive parents really DO love me, not just claim to, but that almost makes it feel worse! I think it is easier to forgive those who do something wrong and *don’t* love you, it hurts more when the person actually *does* love you. Although I bet not one adoptive parent thinks they are doing anything remotely like this to their adopted children! Probably because it is not an action being done or not done by either parent, it’s just a function of the adoption triangle/adoption process.
I have often wondered why I had so much anger bottled up inside me – I had a good upbringing and parents who loved me. Why all the anger?? I could never pin it to anything. This seems to explain a lot. Who wouldn’t be angry/sad/hollow when deep down they get a sense they’ve been used all their life?
Here is the place I usually say, “These are the questions, wish I had some answers!” LOL At least this article has a framework I can draw truth from, to replace the lies the adoption process and/or society imposes on me:
* I do have worth.
* It’s indelibly stamped on me by my Creator
* My adoptive parents did/do love me. Really and truthfully. No matter how the whole process made me feel.
* I’m not crazy for feeling this way.