Let me ask you a question.
Do you feel a connection to your family?
I’m not asking, “do you like your family”. I’m asking if you feel a connection to them. The indisputable knowledge that you came from your parents, that you are their flesh and blood, and the unsaid concrete bond that it automatically implies. You may hate their guts, your parents may do nothing but fight with you, and your siblings may get on your nerves, but at the end of the day, they’re still family. And there’s a certain comfort in that.
Though not for some of us.
Some of us were raised by those who didn’t give birth to us. Most people will tell you it doesn’t mean the parents who raised you aren’t your “real” parents. That you are still just as much a family as any other.
And they are right. At least, partially so. If you are adopted, you should feel just as much a part of a coherent family unit as any other.
But there’s something that they got wrong, too.
See, I knew from a very early age that I was adopted. It wasn’t one of those situations where I felt all secure and then suddenly I was told and my world came crashing down (I tend to think that’s sort of a Hollywood view of it, really). It honestly didn’t affect me that much on a conscious level, but there was a sense that I wasn’t at home when I was in my house. That I wasn’t with my actual parents.
It’s not that I hate them, or even dislike them that much. They just sort of make me anxious.
I was raised in a bubble. My life was quite strictly regulated, and I always felt like I couldn’t make decisions and do things on my own. It became such a habit that whenever I had a problem, I just waited for my parents to fix it or bail me out. They tended to have high expectations (as most parents do, really), and I always felt so guilty when I didn’t do things as they wanted, but at the same time I was warring with them to try to get my way. We don’t really see eye to eye, me and my parents. They tend to air on the conservative side of things, and I tend to be just a little on the liberal front. They are very organized and I am very… well, creative, which totally implies a sort of disarray and eccentricity in one’s life.
But it’s beyond just simple lifestyle differences; many parents and children have the same problems. I just never had that bond with them. The bonds of family. I always felt distanced. And you know what? Growing up like that, I just ended up being more comfortable with them at arm’s length. They often try to initiate conversations, or invite me to go places with them, to try to make contact, but I always answer with a single word or two, saying that I’m busy or that I’d rather not. Because that’s how I’m comfortable. I think it sometimes bleeds over into my social life, doing the same thing with my friends, and I’ve tried to remedy that. Hell, this blog is another way I’m trying to do that. I want people to understand how I think and why I think things.
Understanding and empathy make the world go ’round, friends.
But back to adoption. You might be wondering if I’ve met my birth-parents. I’m 20, after all. It would make sense that I’d have tried seeking them out. But the truth is, I haven’t, and I don’t really have any desire to. I said just a paragraph or so ago that I keep family connections at arm’s length, and I have no intention of adding more people to that list. If I meet them, I will share my life with them, try to get them to understand me the same way I’m trying to get you to understand me.
But I’m just more comfortable being independent, so I’ll hold off on that for now. I don’t want a half-assed meeting. Just picture it; A detached me, some loser who hasn’t done anything with his life, showing up and… well, what? Would some teary-eyed reunion take place? Or would we just be strangers, awkward silence dominating the conversation? I don’t care to find out. Not yet, anyway.
The bonds that connect families are strange things. Something I don’t understand. It’s like having a group of friends, but ones you can’t choose and just have to put up with, lame conversations with extended relatives at Christmas gatherings and constant prying into your life (and to be clear here as well, it’s not that I don’t like these people either. In fact, I enjoy some of my relatives, I just hardly relate to any of them).
That probably sounds pretty callous of me. Am I a jerk? Maybe. But it is the insulting nature of ignorance. There is no malice behind my thoughts on the subject, just curiosity.
Brendon “outsider looking in” Regier