Back in the 1980s MaryAnne Cohen wrote the following poem. It is published in my first book shedding light on...The Dark Side of Adoption, (1988):
I wish the word "adoption"
were just a word, again, to me—commonplace,
like "chair," or "sink"—
a thing, an object
of emotion, or shades of meaning.
Or, more exactly, I wish
The word "adoption" were a concept
so abstract, so ephemeral, like
"Transubstantiation," or "Relativity" . . .
That it could not wound, or stain, or
work its poison into every
corner of my life—
A curiosity, a game for the mind . . .
The word "Adoption"
were to me what it is to most people
someone else's problem, from which
turn away . . .
From which I wish I could turn,
could run, could hide,
could erase the word
From my personal vocabulary
—Mary Anne Cohen, Co-Founder, ORIGINS
Mary Anne no longer feels this way, but I do. Her words totally sum up how I feel.
I truly wish the word did not exist. Did not invade my consciousness; ruin the moment, the day, the mood. Crash me back to an ugly reality that changed the course of my life irrevocably and forever.
I try to go about my life as if it were devoid of the vile poisonous cancer that eats at my soul.
Some days - most days - are fine and I succeed in getting through without any pain.
But then, sometimes when I least expect it.....when I'm at a social event of some kind, having a perfectly good time, enjoying myself - like a "normal person" - suddenly, totally unexpectedly, the word pops up into an otherwise normal and perfectly fine conversation and I feel the pain cursing through my body and soul.
It is most always brought up as a joyous, positive thing. Something to celebrate to, be proud of.
Funny, that is never the case for someone suffering physical cancer, is it? They might be told that they are "brave" but they are not subjected to anyone telling them how wonderful it is to have cancer or extolling the joys of chemo or radiation...
Suddenly, however I am catapulted from enjoying the occasion as everything comes crashing to a halt.
My stomach turns and tightens up as I debate what to reply, wishing that the word simply didn't exist and did not inject itself into my life when I least expect it....didn't creep into EVERY aspect of life.
Sometimes, I just try to ignore it and smile as my peers delightedly show off pictures of their adopted grandkids, or tell me stories of going overseas to have gotten their adopted offspring.
I hate the word. I hate the concept. I hate the family separation every adoption creates in its wake. I hate knowing the pain it causes and most of all I hate how no one else wants to recognize the suffering and the loss and instead just focus on the joy.
I bleed - internally - but those around me extolling the joys of adoption cannot see it, and even when I try to tell them, they are unable to comprehend it. My pain - and that of all mothers who lost children to adoption - is inconceivable because it clashes with society's deep held belief that adoption rescues "unwanted" children....and helps everyone - including the mothers who it desperately want to believe "chose" it.
We cloak adoption loss in secrecy exposing only a flat one-sided, one-dimensional snap shot of the happily-ever-after family who won the prize....and we extoll them with accolades of nobllity and altruism to boot!
The adoptee in the "perfect family" photo is expected to smile and be grateful and we are expected to DISAPPEAR like "sperm donors" who simply jacked off in a jar.
I wish adoption and all talk of it would disappear from my life. I wish the shadow it has cast and the ripples it created were all gone and could never hurt me again.
I wish it never existed.