The adoption conundrum

A while back, I saw my friends Fenton Slee and E over at Our Life Upstate discussing the new census on Twitter. The topic was the box that they had on there to check if the children living with you were adopted. Which as most of you may or may not know, strikes a deep chord with me. I am adopted, and I have been struggling with this situation my whole life. Slee is very opinionated, so I would expect her to be discussing this with E, who has 3 of the most beautiful children, 2 of which are adopted.

Usually, when people ask me about my being adopted, I am very open. Heck, ask me anything, go for it! Nothing makes me uneasy! Yes, they ARE my parents, no I don’t wanna know who gave birth to me, not do I care. Yes, I think I may be partially native american, and no I do not want to get a blood test.

So, on to the meat and potatoes of the post. When you are adopted, the whole lineage thing becomes a little skewed. When you go to a doctor, they ask you “what diseases run in your family”. I tell them that I am adopted, and I do not know, so please treat me like I have EVERYTHING in my family. Isn’t that how ALL patients SHOULD be treated? Just because no one dies of heart problems, shouldn’t you check for them anyways? And my mother even says that she NEVER told the insurance company when I was adopted that I was not “hers”. WHY would that make a difference? Would it CHANGE coverage just because I was born out of another woman’s womb, and not hers!?!??! I digress.

The situation with the census was a bit different. They will not even LOOK at those results for 46 years. I talked to my mother about it, and she brought up some good points. For one, marking the box is important for family historians. When you go back, and look for your family’s history, it is important to document who came from where. If my great grandchild wanted to do an ancestory project, or wondered why her skin is olive complection, but her second cousins were not, she could go look through old census records, and see that I was adopted, and that would answer that question. ON my mother’s side, her grandfather WAS adopted. By his grandparents. Which puts a HUGE hole in our family tree. Why? Because old census records show that he was THEIR child, and the only way we know he was NOT is because some one ancestor remembered, and passed along the story. But what if no one had passed that story along? We would have missed a whole generation of the family (his mother and father).

So tonight, I filled out my senses paperwork. And I checked the box. Yep, I checked it. Because I want to give my kids, and my kids kids, and on down the line a chance to really KNOW. Yep, I am adopted. Yep, I have parents. Yep, I am OK with that. And in all reality, it is only for the sake of accurate record keeping that that box it marked.

I would really appreciate comments on this post, it was a bit difficult for me to write. What are your thoughts? Opinions? I would love to hear where YOU stand on this whole thing!


14 thoughts on “The adoption conundrum

  1. My dad (actually my step dad) was adopted and, I think, feel similarly to you. Interestingly he thinks he may have a sister, possibly twin even, but isn’t interested enough to persue it. He loves his parents, and they are very much his parents. However, my sister is really interested in her ancestry from our dad. He checked yes on the census. He has no problem with her discovering her roots but he’s just not interested.

    Much love mama!

  2. From the perspective of family history I do completely agree- check the box. But it still feels a little nosy to me.
    We don’t use the word “step” in our household even though spouse never met mongoosine til she was nearly 4, rather, didn’t meet me til she was nearly 4. But he’s the only dad she’s ever had, so we don’t use the word step. Our intention is for him to adopt her, seeing as I don’t have to, having pushed her out my hoo-ha, but whether or not that happens, we’re very much “a family,” and I suppose to some extent the “step” box offends me too, even though I completely understand the historical and geneological desire for this information, I wish there were, equally represented, the boxes allowing people to express how they think of it or live it, because those records would be 100 times more valuable to a researcher down the road. Information without context is rarely useful in research (says the historian).
    And I’m still irritable that you only get to check the native american box if you’re “enrolled,” damn it.

    • The real issue I think is how society sees it. If society saw “step” children “adopted” children and “biological” children as the same would any of us care how our kids were classified? I know I wouldn’t it. The problem is that all to often “step” or “adopted” equals “not as good as” a biological child. And that is what gets my feathers ruffled.

      • I think, in all reality, it is not so much as “not equal” but different? Which is totally naive of me to say, because there are uneducated people all over that do see those (your) children as “less then” which makes me sick to my core. And I do think that it is different for your kiddos then it is for me, cause I “fit the mold” of my family and they are beautifully different. **sigh** If only we could fix the world one ignorant person at a time…..

  3. Did I miss the part on the census about being adopted? I’m an idiot.

    I, for one, am not adopted. However as you know, I have ZERO relationship with my father and even less of a desire to know anything about him or the fucked up family he came from. However, I am like you… I have no clue if I’m Indian, Italian, or a horses butt. I wish that I at the very least knew my nationality because Hayley would have a better idea of who she is. Randy is Romanian/Jew and I’m…. uhhh, I have pale ass skin and black black hair. (?) Whats that called? :s

    What I DO know is that I will be the first in a long line of dark-haired whatchacallums to not be obese, to not abuse my child, to get a college degree, to move the fuck out of Indiana and try to do something with my life… I might as well be adopted!

  4. Hmmm… it is a very interesting point of view. And maybe your mother, having been doing this longer than me or maybe she’s just smarter than me, has a better perspective. I suppose for me it is slightly different as anyone who would look at our family would know in an instant that the two kids were adopted. What we get most now is that people also think our biological daughter was adopted. Which I suppose you could say would leave her ancestors confused about their roots if it is not clear. And that is a very good point. I think if the whole race issue did not have me all worked up I might not have been so upset. But that is a different post. One I already wrote and discussed to it’s death. 🙂

    I went the other way with it. I tend to baulk at people who want to see a difference. Yes, I totally get what you are saying. I really do and God knows you are probably more right than I am. I mean really it is you who is in the same position as my children. It just riles me that people see a difference and so I refused to answer. I did not answer for any of them. I would have if they had asked more questions. If it had actually been something that would have said something about the society at the time – domestic or international adoption? where are they from? how old when adopted? What year were they adopted in? – as opposed to just a blanket statistic on how many people in our society right now were adopted. I am honestly hoping they call and ask about my lack of answers. I doubt they will but I am hoping. I would love to get to tell them they are asking (what I consider to be) the wrong questions. Or at least not enough questions. Jenna at The Chronicles of Munchkinland had a really good post that gets to the heart of what I am saying. –

    • I think it is just disheartening that all of this is because of a tool that we use to track lineage. In all reality, people dodged the census back in the day because of different reasons (living out of wedlock, ect) and now we are faced with feeling….well…FEELINGS about a box that we may or may not check about our CHILDREN! I don’t care if that child came out of your womb, or the lady down the street! Who does she call mama? Who rocks her to sleep every night? Check the box, or not, that child is still YOURS.

  5. All I know is that I come from a blended family and it is not the terms that define who we are or what we feel about one another. My dad is my dad. I love him very much. My sister is my sister. I will be there for her always. While the saying “blood is thicker than water” doesn’t apply to us literally, it still applies. YKWIM?

  6. Well, as I see it, adopting is making a choice of loving and caring for someone that you “don’t have to”, choosing to love that little one. And for those adopted the choice is theirs, you may want to know who where biologically responsible for your being here, but it’s again a choice you have, the fact that you are adopted doesn’t mean your parents aren’t the ones you’re living with and the ones that love you aren’t your REAL parents, pffft.

    As for the census, I think it’s a good idea, just for the sake of knowing, not because that’s gonna mean that your kid is not yours, or your parents are not your parents.

  7. I don’t mind the questions, it’s just a book, it’s not a branding or tattoo. People share more on twitter. I see what you mean by the family tree. My mom’s side I had a step grandpa who had a son who he was pretty sure wasn’t his. And I always agreed with my grandma that family is who you make it and you can never have too many people that love you. And Dan’s never met his dad, he’s in a prison just a few blocks from my parents house where we are currently living.

  8. This is the link that shows the questions on the Census:
    Am I missing the adoption question somewhere? I’ve looked at it several times and I don’t see it.
    I know many people have had questions about the race/ethnicity questions as well and this link also does a pretty great job of answering these, in my mind.

    This information is widely used to make decisions on a national scale and allocate funds, so I didn’t have any issues with filling it out. But this is probably because I didn’t feel sensitive about answering any of the questions on the form. It just felt like a standard form I’ve filled out a 100 times before.

  9. Okay, I just figured it out. Apparently it’s under question two and asks “biologial son or daughter” or “adopted son or daughter” or “step son or daughter”. Sorry, now I feel dumb. Although I did feel that the info on that site explaining how the census is used is helpful. Maybe don’t bother publishing my last comment. Sorry about that.

  10. I’m adopted too and I know my full history (weird screwed up story) but my parents are my parents whether I’m their biological spawn or not 😉

    I went ahead and checked the box too…never thought much about it really, I don’t know why it matters either way other than researching family history. The census is super nosy!

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