A beautifully expressed essay about what "well-adjusted" means to adult adoptees by Sumeia Williams on the Relative Choices blog.

When I first started reading about adoption, I kept coming across the words “well-adjusted adoptee.” In 1970s the thinking was that adoptees should be content with their present lives and not think about their adoptions. I read studies on the Internet in the 1990s and it seemed little had changed. Questions beyond childhood curiosity and looking anything other than “happy” would get you labeled as having psychological problems or “issues.”

Technically, I was a “functioning” adult — a stay-at-home-mom who cooked, cleaned, took care of her children like most of my friends. I wasn’t prone to depression though there were times when I would go deep into thought. I laughed and cried, felt joy and anger like most people I knew. The difference was that I had a dirty little secret. I was actually thinking about my adoption and its effects on me.

This was my favorite part:

It would be a lie for me to say I’m not still angry. I am, but people often misunderstand what I am angry about. I came to terms long ago with the fact that I’m adopted. I’ve even begun to come to terms with many of my negative experiences that involved racism, isolation and even deception. Much of my anger comes from people labeling me with dehumanizing, dismissive and misleading terms. It also comes from frustration about the condescending attitudes we often face when we speak out. Sometimes it’s simply conviction and determination.

There is a difference between anger and all-encompassing, blind rage.  I write about painful, anger-inducing experiences because I wasn’t allowed to explore them before. Writing publicly about them also contributes to the understanding of the complexities of adoption. As a society, I think we still have an overly simplistic view of adoption. While current studies may scratch the surface by studying the different aspects of adoption, the “either/or” idea is still prevalent. Adoption is either good or bad. Either you’re for it or against it. The adoptee is either well-adjusted or maladjusted.

You can read the rest of this wonderful post here.

Author: JaeRan

Assistant professor at UW Tacoma, writer, and researcher.

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