The known past can be laid to rest. It may not be easy, it may cause pain, and it may even require professional help. But the past that is known can be dealt with; given the proper attention and the appropriate help it can be worked through and hopefully even be left behind. But the unknown past never can. It will hover on the outer edges of your consciousness and will haunt you until you acknowledge it. It will rattle like ghosts in a graveyard. It will gnaw at you, with an increasing sense of urgency, until you face it. You can try to deny it, but it will rear its ugly head in your subconscious and keep you awake. And it will hit you like a ton of bricks when you least expect it. It may even cause a pervasive sadness, which I now recognize as grief.
For many years, I felt that something was gnawing at me. That there was something I was supposed to get to, or to be doing, that I wasn’t. It was as if something was nipping at my heels or as if I was always looking over my shoulder. I even wondered if other people felt this way, although I could never quite put it into words, or quite put my finger on it, to ask anyone. And the strangest thing is, the feeling has started to go away since I have been writing these blog posts and commenting about what adoption really does to a person. And, for that, I want to take a moment and thank my fellow blogger, Kellie, for her invitation to co-author this blog.
Yes, for the first time, I am finally feeling some peace about this sense that there was something I needed to get on with. I’m sure some of this peaceful feeling is also the result of finding my past, finding my blood family, and learning the story of why I was given up. You see, my life did not begin with Chapter Two. It started with Chapter One, and even had a prologue.
As our culture continues to try to normalize adoption, more and more children will run the risk of having unknown pasts. I realize that most domestic adoptions these days have some degree of openness, so most of these adoptees will not have the total void of their past the way we baby scoop era adoptees did. But there are still large numbers of internationally adopted children who will face the complete lack of knowledge of their origins as well as having to adjust to a whole new way of life. And for too many adoptees, their desire to know their unknown past will continue to be dismissed as mere ‘curiosity’. But this is not ‘curiosity’ we’re talking about, it’s family. Adoptees do not have only one real and true family. We have two. Curiosity may have killed the cat, but I don’t want to see the denial of our so-called curiosity threaten the lives of anymore adoptees.*
So legislators, stop stealing our pasts. You never had any right to do so when we were helpless infants or young children and unable to protest. But you can right this wrong by opening our original birth certificates in all 50 states. Our natural parents never had any right to anonymity from their own children in the first place.
Yes, the journey is much easier when you are not carrying your past. It can be hard to move on with your life when the weight of the unknown past keeps pulling you backwards. We all have the right to know as much as possible about our pasts, so that we can own our past and integrate it into the rest of our lives as much as possible. Maybe someday I can find my whole past, finally be at peace with it, and put this nagging feeling completely to rest.
I wish the same for you.