Adoptee: A Testy Label

Presumptuous title, I am aware. Lately I have been thinking a lot about what it means to be adopted and how it is different than someone who is not. Now I have posted many times about the things we feel and experience and how someone who has not been adopted could not possibly relate. It is true that there are things that could not even be comprehended. For starters, there is loss and grief. This loss and grief is not just of human bodies taken from your family tree but of your own identity and everything you were supposed to grow up to be but are not because you are adopted. What would my life have been like if I had not been adopted? Would I be wearing too small of clothes, living in a shack, would I have gone and finished school? What kind of values would have been instilled in me that would change the course of my life?

You can read all about how I thought and think these things in the many posts throughout the years but I wanted to focus particularly on the label, “adoptee”. I have actually never introduced myself as an “adoptee” to a person, more like a person who is adopted. I’ll say, “I was adopted from Thailand” or “I am adopted”. Yes, I am aware that my blog subtitle does in fact say “adoptee”, but that was a different time when it did come with some feelings. The way I feel about the term is that “adoptee” feels so official. It feels like you now belong to a standard definition. It almost feels (to me) like having the word “loser” stamped on my forehead. Is that too harsh? Saying that you are adopted is a much more gentle approach and makes me feel less of a victim, more of a teller of great experiences. The term “adoptee” based on reading so many adoption blogs seems to come with a great negative connotation; feelings of being broken and shattered, identities stolen and abused. While I have no doubts that there are indeed thousands, possibly millions of people who feel this way, the negative stereotype associated with the word “adoptee” seems so permanent. “I am adopted” seems more experiential and personal. You can come from broken places but you can heal too. The statement, “I am adopted” seems to foster more about your journey as a person growing up in different circumstances, rather than as a victim of a helpless process.

So what was the purpose of this post? That is a very good question. It was a random thought and I do not think it was bias necessarily, but I do hope it gave some insight on the idea that I saw a difference between the two introductions.

Does the term, “adoptee” spark you as being factual or does it come with some baggage? Or are you like me you who just avoids the label all together (except to subhead my blog) and would rather spend the extra few seconds stringing this sentence together, “I am adopted from…”



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