The Power in a Single Word
I do not consider myself to be an ‘adoptee’. I actually dislike the word. It has a negative connotation that borders on being offensive.
The word adoptee is a label meant to define a person who is adopted. I was adopted and will forever be a person who is adopted. However, I am not an adoptee.
The words adoptee and refugee are two words that have very similar meanings. Refugees have been displaced from their country. For one reason or another, a refugee can not go back home. They have no place to call their own
My adoption experience is not different from the experiences of a refugee. Adoption has displaced me from my biological roots. Like a refugee, I could not go back and there was nothing to go back to. There was a period of time when I didn’t even have a family to call my own.
A refugee works to assimilate into their new life and become more then someone who has fled their country. I eventually came to be part of a family and have become much more then someone who was adopted as an infant. Neither the word refugee nor the word adoptee should be a lifetime label.
I am different then many people because of my early life events. By nature, I was born into a family just as we all are. However, I was adopted and raised by another family; my family.
I have experienced something that many people have not. Many of my life experiences are unique because of being adopted. Adoption has been my foundation. It has impacted every experience, every relationship and every feeling that I have had.
I tell people that I am adopted when the opportunity comes up. There is no shame in it. I have never wanted it to be a secret. Adoption has made me unique.
There have been situations when it’s been appropriate to tell someone that I am adopted. For instance, when talking to the doctor about family history. When I say that I am adopted, there is an awkward silence. The doctor looks at the blank space for family history and moves on without further question.
I have learned about my biological roots by doing genealogy research. It is a way to learn more about me. I have told people along the way that I am adopted. I get silence in return. Some people have the information that I could use in my research. They don’t respond to my questions and close the door quickly.
People are just not prepared with a response. To say ’well that’s nice’ would not quite be appropriate. I certainly don’t want to hear an apology or receive sympathy. There is no reason to be sorry. I do not want to be labeled an adoptee.
Being called an adoptee leaves me with the feeling that I am being defined only by the one single moment in my life when I was adopted. My life has been full of experiences and accomplishments. I am adopted, but that is only a part of who I am.