Knowing Your Truth
A normal and healthy part of human existence is knowing your truth.
Knowing your truth means knowing who you are and from whence you came.
It means having an understanding of the family history that has shaped your story, and recognizing the human dynamics that uniquely impact your tribe, backwards and forward.
Decades ago, there was a cultural misconception that babies were blank slates, devoid of genetic programming, and that adoptees were better off not knowing their first families.
Clearly, society knows better now. (At least we’d like to think we do?)
Yet the refusal of the Texas Legislature to pass proposed adoptee rights legislation this year and the discomfort much of society still exhibits in response to birthparents sharing their stories would seem to suggest otherwise.
It seems there is still a long way to go, before “knowing your truth” becomes a universally-accepted quest– for those impacted by adoption, at least.
Even in the open adoption community, knowing your truth can be a value embraced by those within our community yet perceived as a threat to those who may be closest to us.
We were reminded of this at Camp Abrazo just last month. One of our adoptive families brings their child’s birthmom and the middle-school-aged daughter she is parenting each summer, so the birthsibling and the adoptee can enjoy quality time together.
However, as the birthmom reminded us, her own parents have forbidden her from telling the adolescent she is parenting that the child she placed is a sibling.
The adoptee’s birthgrandparents think they are somehow protecting their daughter and grandchild by imposing this ban on the truth. We understand that their fear is coming from a place of love, but as the Good Book reminds us: “perfect love casts out fear.” (1 John 4:18.)
We fully suspect the birthsibling has already figured out the fact of who the adoptee is, yet the birthmother and the adoptive parents feel compelled to honor the birthgrandparents’ demand that the truth be hidden, for fear that violating their wishes may cause the birthgrandparents to cut off contact altogether.
(Oh, what tangled webs we weave…)
We can’t help but think that it’s going to ultimately be harder to one day explain this deception to all the children involved than it would be for the birthgrandparents to come to terms with everybody knowing the truth now?
They’re not alone in this, however. Knowing your truth and feeling empowered to speak it are two very different things, of course.
And we know plenty of adoptees who feel they have to protect their parents (whether by birth or by adoption) and plenty of birthparents who feel they walk on eggshells even in open adoption relationships, and plenty of adoptive parents who still worry about “saying the wrong thing,” even years after their child’s adoption was finalized.
Still, the truth in any adoption ultimately belongs to the adoptee, and we owe it to (all) our children to learn to embrace their truths– and to help them to do the same.
Because in truth, there is nothing about who any adoptee is, how they came to be nor how they came to be ours that needs to be hidden from them.
The job of every loving parent is to help their child/ren to handle life’s twists and turns, after all, and to love others as we love our ourselves.
And if in fact the truth has the power to set us free, then knowing our truth can only help us all be more free, and that’s a good thing.