Pursuing the expatriate life in Italy–“You’re a hard habit to break”–thank you, Chicago

I’m a heretic. Why am I a heretic? Because I have to let go of something I’ve supported for so long.

Because I’m becoming bored with the adoption thing. I guess I’ve reached overload. For nearly three years I have lived this book–writing, editing, promoting, book signings, etc. I’ve researched websites and other blogs. I’ve had radio interviews. I’ve pursued television opportunities (to no avail). And for thirty-six years I’ve lived the life of an adoptee seeking his roots and heritage, yearning for acceptance and trying to figure out his place in the world.

I’ve also read other blogs and websites.

Some of these blogs and websites are excellent and have been very interesting and eye-opening for me. Some I’ve found to be very negative and difficult to read. And I’ve come to a few conclusions.

The first conclusion is that I do not attach my identity to my birth status. I truly never have. Everyone knows my background. I have never hidden it, indeed, I’ve trumpeted the truth about my life. I’ve never been ashamed of my adoption because I’ve never felt any reason to be ashamed. I’ve never even been self-conscious of it. I’ve never blamed anyone because I feel there’s no one to blame. When it comes right down to it, I feel blessed beyond comprehension that I’ve had three families–adoptive, biological and extended–who all wanted me. Does anyone deserve so much?

I’m sure in the past there have been people who have tried to make me feel like I’m someone less than I am but I never noticed it because I never subscribed to such a Neanderthal ethic and I never gave anyone the power to lord such an attitude over me.

I credit all this to my family–my adoptive family. Again, I have to state that I hate using the term adoptive because I find it to be a qualifier when in truth they were my only family. However, for purposes of clarity, I must use it.

Anyway, my parents loved me to eternity and back. I was never treated differently or like I was “special”, not that I noticed, anyway. And none of my relatives ever mentioned the adoption issue to me or discussed it. They treated me as part of the family–which I was.

So my family was instrumental in treating adoption as the most normal thing in the world and not dwelling on it. I think that’s important. It was good for my psyche and my sense of stability and belonging.

The second conclusion is that I don’t see my adoption as a negative thing. Were there negative aspects of this whole scenario? Sure there were. Most of them revolved around efforts to ingratiate myself with my bio family. But are there negative aspects of EVERY situation in life? Of course there are. I could be negative and walk around with a chip on my shoulder. I could question my parents’ motives. I could question the motives of everyone involved.

But why in the name of God would I do that? Why should I make myself miserable? The past is the past and it’s over. The protagonists/antagonists are all dead. I have all the information I need and it’s up to me to approach this whole thing either positively or negatively.

I see Facebook pages, blogs and websites about people who have been terribly traumatized and abused because of adoption. Some parents adopt for the wrong reason and I’ve discussed this on earlier blog postings. Some people think they’re doing God’s work when maybe what they’re doing is mistakenly superimposing their interpretation of God’s work over something they want. Perhaps as a form of justification.

I know of instances where adoptees were sexually, spiritually, mentally or physically abused. There are thousands of cases where birth mothers were harangued and traumatized into giving up their children because they chose to (horrors!) have sex outside of marriage. The people who “helped” them, I’m convinced, were sexually-repressed, self-righteous do-gooders who also mistakenly decided their interpretation of God’s Will was the right thing.

For these adoptees I really do feel empathy. I cannot begin to imagine what their lives must be like. And while I know I can’t paint with a broad brush, I can’t help but feel that demonizing what has happened will not change anything. Demonizing adoption is not the answer and I see too many people doing that. They treat adoption as something that should never happen. What would they expect to happen in some of these situations? Do they expect every unwanted child to remain in a family in which it is not wanted?

The third realization I’ve reached is that this adoption thing is not going to be my bread and butter. It is not going to be the foundation upon which I place my nascent writing career. Now maybe that’s shortsighted. I could probably continue in this vein and market to the adoption community. But I’m not sure I want to do that. There are other things I want to write about. Perhaps I can use my book and my writings to make more contributions about adoption in the future, but I want more than that.

Am I biting the hand that has the potential to feed me? I don’t know. I’m not abandoning the topic of adoption or the market to which it speaks. I think that is prudent. However, it’s not going to be my focus anymore. I’m sure that I have more to say on the topic because it’s always evolving. And who knows? Maybe there’s another book for me to write on the issue. But for now, it’s going on the back burner as I prepare for my move to Italy.

And that right there could prove to be the undoing of my assertion that I’m weaning myself away from adoption. I don’t know what awaits me in Italy. I don’t know how and in which manner I will grow as I become more involved with my family and learn their language. I have so much to absorb. As I embrace my heritage, will I come to learn more about myself as a person, a man, a Christian, a human? As I learn more about Italians will I become more comfortable with myself? Will the Italian culture be an easy fit and complement my life? Will I complement Italian culture? Will all of this cause me to write more about the adoption aspect of my life?

I’m sure that I will learn so much that it will result in constant mind expansion–with a decidedly Italian twist. And I’m sure that the adoption issue will assert itself again. More than anything, though, I think what will arise will be a greater recognition of the nature/nurture dynamic. In other words, how genetics and environment impact a person’s life.

But for now Italy hangs in the balance. I can see the Leaning Tower of Pisa in the distance. It’s right next to the Colosseum and the canals of Venice. And it beckons. Drifitng away from the issue adoption is going to be a hard habit to break.



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