The Charade Ends Here: Nature, nurture and radical acceptance

Disclaimer: I want to be perfectly clear here that this text is not intended to explain recent events in the news, nor to excuse them. It is also not meant to represent the experience of all adoptees. It is a personal reflection, for which I take full responsibility.

Yesterday my online writing course instructor gave us an exercise in which she asked us to think of the things that angered us. I realized my anger revolves around a lack of understanding of the back story of individuals in specific social situations, such as adoptees, or teachers and students caught in a poorly adjusted school system. 

She pointed out that Writing is Caring; write a text to use your words to show you care. 

I care about adoptees. 

The tragic incident in Sainte-Rose last week, in which a bus driver rammed a bus into a daycare center killing two children and injuring others, swiftly brought that to the surface, particularly since I learned that the perpetrator was an adoptee. 

Of course I am well aware that you cannot draw direct links to explain behavior. Human nature is much too complex for that. However, the incident did get me thinking and wondering about the back story.

Somewhere inside that enraged man is an equally if not more enraged child who was given away, taken away from all he had ever known and brought into a totally different culture and way of thinking, living, acting with the inherent mandate to act ‘as if’ nothing had happened. 

But your parents love you. 

But we are giving you FAR more than your parents ever could. 

But look at all the privileges you have now. 

But for an adoptee, the need for spontaneous and unexplained resonance is ever-present, the need for naturally synchronized understanding and the generational legacy of world and life view that cannot be replaced by a new and seemingly foreign one. 

An adoptee lives a kind of lie, one born out of love and necessity. 

From the moment they arrive in the adoptive family, they are told they must take on a name which is not even their own. 

They are told to act as if the relatives of this new family are their own, whereas they are not at all. 

They are told to behave in a way that is possibly completely foreign to them (especially in the case of transracial and international adoptions) under the pretext of the assumption that this new family is their family. 

They are told there is no difference. You are one of us. 

Well, yes and no. 

Yes, they are now co-existing under the same roof and experiencing the day-to-day life of this new family, but inside they are not at all the same. 

But it doesn’t show. 

And so the charade plays on. 

With a heavy burden of assumptions, obligations and duties. 

If you are told you’re one of us, yet you don’t feel like it, you feel very guilty to admit it. 

Ashamed for not appreciating the wonderful privileges you are being given. 

How can you not appreciate being the object of the gift of a life beyond all your biological parents could ever dream of? 

And of course you do, but at the same time, you wonder. 

Who am I really? 

Who am I like? 

How am I like my biological parents? 

Where do my biological relatives live? 

What are they like? 

What do they do at Christmas and birthdays? 

What holidays do they celebrate anyhow? 

What do they believe in? 

Do they live close to me or far away? 

Do they even think of me? 

Do they even care? Anymore? 

Are they still alive? 

Will they come and find me? 

Do they even want to come and find me? 

Do I have any brothers or sisters somewhere? 

Were they adopted too or are they living with my biological parents? 

And the charade plays on. 

Everything is okay on the outside. 

But on the inside a whole other script is running. 

One you are much too ashamed to share with your biological family for fear of being seen as unappreciative and ungrateful. 

And so the charade plays on. 

My name is Claire Maria Ford, but that’s not my real name. 

I am Canadian, but not really, I was adopted by British immigrants. 

My biological parents were of Italian and Mauritian descent. 

I am brown, but really I am white on the inside. 

This is my aunt, my cousin, my grandmother, but they’re not my real ones. 

Do I have any risk of cardiac issues in my family? Well, I’m not sure, I was adopted so I don’t know. 

And the charade plays on. 

Until you do, if you do, locate your biological family. 

Then a whole new set of challenges arise. 

Yes, I am like them. 

Yes, I even look like them. 

Yes, I take after my mother in this, and my father in that, and have the feet of my aunt. 

The natural reflex to hug and kiss when meeting is powerful.  

But then what? 

A lifetime of silence. 

A lifetime of non-relationship. 

A lifetime of memories lived with a totally different set of people. 

Cul de sac




Once again, the charade plays on. 

I am one of you, but I’m not. 

I am like you, but I’m not. 

I act like you, but I don’t. 

I think like you, but I don’t. 

I speak like you, but I don’t. 

And the charade plays on. 

Kiss, hug, love you. 

But what does that even really mean? 

And so the comparisons begin. 

Grateful for the perhaps more cultivated and rich upbringing you enjoyed, but longing for that deep feeling of family culture and rich generational upbringing you would have had with the biological parent(s). 

Then the conclusions: perhaps I am better off having been adopted. Perhaps, but what if…? 

And the charade plays on. 

Neither here, nor there. 

Not one of them, or one of the other. 

The challenge is combining nature and nurture in a radical acceptance of life story to form an identity with what is here and now, with what is. 

I am. 

That’s it, that’s all. 

I am what I am: a mosaic. 

More than a label, it’s about an identity grounded in an awareness and acceptance of the abundance of species of life existing within my identity garden: Italian, Mauritian, British, Canadian and now French-Canadian through marriage. However, it also means coming to terms with the deep sense of loss and pain, as well as the amazing grace and generosity that brought it to be.

The charade ends here: I am all this. Not so much for better or for worse, but for what it is: life. Thank you Fords, Piccionis and Ramsamys.

My hope and wish is that all adoptees, international, transracial or same nationality, can come to terms with this truth.

Thank you for reading this today. Let me know what you think of the ideas I shared today: like, share or comment. I hope I didn’t offend anyone; that was not my intention. It is just to bring out into the open what it can be like as an adoptee.

Keep learning!

Claire xx

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