National Adoption Day 2021: A performance piece

Child Sitting On Large Math Number Block

Well, yesterday was National Adoption Day, that very special holiday where hundreds of children ritually and legally across the country, lose their names, histories, and biological families, and turn into someone else. Why is such a loss, such a tragedy celebrated? Why is the privacy of these children invaded and manipulated?

I’m old-fashioned, I know.  But, why does all of this statutory “family building” have to be so incredibly public (for some people) on the third Saturday of every November? Now, I don’t believe adoption and adoptees should be hidden, but is there really any good reason to commercialize the intimate? Commercialize loss and family and legal dysfunction, to upend it into a win-win? I don’t mean that these kids aren’t going to “good homes” I hope they are, of course, but there is just something so damned creepy about the whole public process and spectacle, invented by the adoption industry, to promote its trade. It’s just so consumerist…and we adopted people, no matter what our age, are consumed.

These kids who end up in the news and on Pinterest and Instagram and Facebook, without their consent, are real people with real emotions, and real inner lives.  I know that my adoption was known to some of my parents’ friends. Hell, maybe all of them, I dunno.  I never asked. But, I remember only one person ever asking me about it.  My babysitter Starky. That’s her last name, but she never used her first name. She was one of the coolest people I ever knew  She introduced me to film. and James Dean, Jean Simmons, Jeff Chandler, and Montgomery Clift. She hated Marilyn Monroe for being blonde and objectified, and to this day I feel guilty about loving MM against Starky’s superior opinion (Talk about abandonment issues!)

Anyway, one day Starky asked me if I knew who my “real mother” was.  I felt the blood rush from my head. I thought I would hit the floor. I didn’t. But, I was so angry at my mom for telling Starky I was adopted. Or maybe she told Starky’s mother who then blabbed to Starky.  They were friends. How dare she!  How dare they! That was my life  My story! ! never told my mom about the incident, but I never forgot it either. Luckily, it didn’t affect my relationship with Starky…and she  didn’t care when I rooted around the house looking for “my stuff.” I never told her what I was looking for, but maybe she knew.

The kids publicly adopted yesterday are younger than I was when this business with Starky happened.  They probably don’t have as much consciousness about their situation and adoption and what it means. I was older, and I did. It burns my soul to the core to see these little kids put on display to sell a feel-good product and mythology to a clueless public.

National Adoption Day is artifice.

National Adoption Day is a performance piece!



Day 21 of 30–
9 to go


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