‘We don’t see things as they are,
we see them as we are.’
I’ve been through an interesting, at times fascinating experience in my search to discover who the woman and man who conceived me were. My family adopted me at birth, the eldest of four children, all of us closed adoptions, handed over, contract signed, blank slate, renamed, a week after birth.
It began with a kind of awakening at the age of sixteen, when I went to a family reunion and saw a family tree created only with photos, and realised for the first time, I would not find any of my features, inclinations or tendencies mirrored there. I imagined it would end when I discovered the identities of those two people.
It didn’t end with the discovery, it is an ongoing story, however there are parts of the story that will be familiar to some, that might even encourage or inspire some who are in the process of, or considering doing the same thing, particularly as there are numerous challenges and obstacles to uncovering one’s identity, when we still live in a world where many governments have yet to recognise that knowing one’s identity is a human right, not a secret that they have the right to withhold from the person.
And the writing journey? Over the years I have shared a little of this story verbally, some of it in letters at the time (I was a big letter writer for many years) and nearly everyone has encouraged me to write it down. Fortunately around some of the events, I wrote notes at the time, but not all of them, and some of my notebooks where I wrote a lot about the second part of this story, sadly disappeared en route between England and New Zealand. I’ve let go of what I lost, and so those periods will be recalled with a more general reflection, rather than the intensity of the moment lived through. Now I shall write it, put myself through whatever it takes, to remember where I travelled on my journey to discover my real self.
I’m used to writing a blog, sharing what I read over at Word by Word, I decided that part of my writing process towards sharing a more authentic version of me, will be to blog a little more of my writing journey, of my personal search and research, into the story of how I came to discover who I am, since writing the book isolates me a little from the world. Though I feel fear at delving into the more personal, which I understand better now, (because adoptees harbour an enormous amount of guilt about looking into who they are), I shall endeavour to be courageous.
I never shared any of the beginning of this journey while it is was in the process of being discovered, because that’s when I was at my most vulnerable, when I didn’t have the answers to the questions that anyone might ask of me, intuitively I needed to protect that vulnerability, it was easier to not share it until I understood it better.
Even though I’ve passed through that initial process, writing about this subject now and sharing it, carries a certain amount of vulnerability, because remembering the story inevitably raises issues, even now, more than 20 years after these events occurred.
As adoptees become adults, the issues don’t diminish, they are with us always and rarely understood by anyone except other adoptees. By writing about it, perhaps we can help close that gap, help others understand and provide ourselves a safe space within which to explore these characteristics we share.
And you? How Did You Start Your Writing Journey? What Event Triggered Your Search?