They say you’re not truly a journalist until you get hate mail. Or rather, I should say, harsh comments.
A comment posted on my article, Lucky 17, was sent to me by my editor recently. She kindly asked me if I wanted to respond to said comment, or leave it be.
My automatic reaction was to roll over and fall asleep – because a good spa day will do that to a girl when presented with anything that involves “work”.
But I fought my automatic reaction and spent a good chunk of time simply thinking about this comment and how to respond to it. Originally, I wanted to talk about the flip-side of “you’re so lucky,” the ignorant, alternately extreme phrase “I’m sorry”. But that shall be postponed.
First off, I’d like to clarify a few things about my history:
- I do not know if I was taken from the slums. I have no knowledge about my birth story apart from that I was adopted as a baby from an orphanage.
- As addressed in my post Lucky 17, I have lived most of my life in America and am very thankful. People automatically assume that pain doesn’t exist for adoptees. That thankfulness wipes it away, when in reality, it just soothes it.
- The point of the article was “adoption is not all cake and glitter”. The piece was not about being ungrateful for being adopted. It was about the ignorance I get regarding adoption.
My birth mother’s decision to give me up for adoption was not a small sacrifice nor an easy one. Not for me, not for her even though it was the best choice for both of us. It’s not just “sad” that she had to give me up, it’s painful and heart wrenching for both of us. Losing her means I lost a biological connection, a history, a heritage, family heirlooms and the basic privilege of being able to look in the mirror and see part of her in my face. I lost a family. Losing me means she has to wonder every day if she did the right thing, if I am better off, if I even think about her, and grieve over a lost child. She will not get to see me on my wedding day. She will not be there for my graduation or the birth of her future grandchildren. She will miss all of that
Yes, I have thought that the reason my birth mom gave me up was to give me a bigger, better future. Hell, I cling to the idea. It keeps me sane, keeps me from wondering that if the reason she didn’t keep me was because I just wasn’t good enough. I have walked through the slums of India, the entire time clinging to my adoptive mom. I know what it’s like for females. I miss my heritage, not the “identity of being treated like a lesser human being”. Again, in some ways I am not Indian. Just a white girl in a brown body.
The people who tell me I’m lucky don’t know what they’re saying. They are assuming that I was taken from the slums when we don’t know if I was, or if I was given up by a well-to-do family that wanted a boy. These people say “You’re so lucky” out of ignorance, not with insight on my story or having truly seen or accurately read about the slums. It’s different when someone who understands my story tells me that I’m lucky. Those that have seen my bad days. They understand the gravity of the phrase “you’re so lucky”.
To end, I want to re-state the quote from Sheryl Ryan:
But there’s the catch22 again if you say so. [that you’re not as lucky as you seem for being adopted]. You become the hater…. wrong. And birthparents are supposed to feel thankful for APs (Adopted Parents) raising their kids… rather than everyone acknowledging the impossible set of circumstances that leads to a child being adopted.
Please, acknowledge the impossible set of circumstances that leads to a child being adopted.
A good read is “Secret Daughter” by Shilpi Somaya Gowda. I promise you will see multiple facets of adoption you never thought existed.
Read Antara’s previous adoptee posts here