Adoption Narrative Prompt

Describe the story your adoptive parents told you growing up. What age were you? What feelings and questions did you have about this “adoption narrative”? Was it a satisfying explanation for you? Explain. As an adult, whether or not you are in reunion, comment on how much of that story turned out to be true. Has your adoption narrative changed? What story, if any, do you share with friends, acquaintances?

I am two years older than my a-brother, and have vague memories of him entering our family. I’m told this is when I was given the adoption narrative by my parents, but honestly, I have no concrete memories of this actually happening. I tell people, “I always knew,” and when my a-sister came along, I was 6, and answering the question (where do babies come from?) with “offices.”

The story I was told was that my parents were too young to keep me. While my adoption was legally “close” (in ability to get identifying information or access my records), it was “semi-open,” in that once a year I received a birthday/Christmas gift, a card, and sometimes a few pictures. I don’t remember the feeling around my own narrative, but I do remember feeling shame around receiving gifts every year, because, unlike my siblings’ families, mine was always consistent and they stopped getting gifts when they were little kids. I remember one year, I think I was twelve, where I found a package under my parent’s bed (I had been snooping because it was the first year I hadn’t gotten a gift, and I was feeling panicky), and my a-mom told me that she hadn’t wanted me to open it because it “makes your brother and sister feel bad.”

As an adult, I think the most striking thing about my adoption narrative is: a) how much it ACTUALLY fits the dominate adoption-myth-narrative, and b) how much information was left out…the negative or white space, that could have painted a much different picture if I had known.

Like, I had no idea until I was in reunion that my dad was still in the picture 3 years after my relinquishment, or that both families actually wanted me raised with them (my maternal grandparents, paternal uncle). I had never been led to think about my father, as I had simply gone with the negative/white space storyline that he was a deadbeat. I was surpised by reunion to find out how sad it really feels to meet my mother, who is still, clearly addicted to drugs and alcohol.

I think one of the hardest things about my narrative is when I talk with the general public about my desire for family preservation, open access to records, limiting adoptions, eliminating the baby-buying mindset, and acknowledging the grief and pain and voices of adoptees, because my story fits the “crackwhore young birthmom” narrative. It feels invalidating to say, on one hand, I have been “blessed” by the adoptive life I’ve lived, and yet, on the other hand, I wish I wasn’t adopted.


  1. It’s unheard of to have the family still “involved” I would guess making it much difficult on everybody involved. Buying things here and there but then again, it’s the sentiment and is beyond their control that your birth mother made that decision affecting grandparents, uncles, etc? Hm, I dot know what I’m saying but just my generalization of adoption that I clearly know little about.

    I loved your sharing of your adoption! It’s nice to learn about the writers I follow.

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