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comment by someguyfromcanada
someguyfromcanada  ·  754 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: What We Lost: Undoing the Fairy Tale Narrative of Adoption

Outside of the Canadian residential schools system this is the first time I have heard an adopted child frame their experience as one of victimization. I know a lot of adopted kids, including all of my siblings. 2 out of 3 of my siblings would say it turned out great.

My parents thought they were unable to have biological children and in 1964 a priest approached my Mom and asked her if her and my Dad (who are white) would be interested in adopting from an orphanage in the slums of Kowloon. My eldest sibling, my only sister, then arrived in Nebraska at the age of 3, not knowing a word in any language and obsessed with hoarding anything she could get her hands on. The theory is that the orphanage was simply a dumping ground for children and they did not bother with education or have many resources. Weeks later they were asked if they would like a white boy from Ohio and along came my brother when he was something like 6 days old. So my parents went from zero to 2 kids in the span of about a month.

Less than a year later my Mom got pregnant and then popped me out. I assume they then realized I was a mistake and so went back to adopting. :) My youngest brother, who is black and Native American, arrived from Kansas at about the age of 1 month.

It was obviously never a secret that we had an adoptive family and we learned a lot about black, Native and Chinese culture, celebrated Chinese New Year, literally knew every black family in the small town we grew up in, lived on Native reserves for a few summers (my Dad was an archaeologist), etc. If they ever had any questions or concerns they knew it was always open for them to discuss it with our parents. Our very large extended family was 100% supportive if you can even say that about a bunch of people who never had/made an issue with any of it. Even my racist Southern Grandma who disliked all black people she did not know. Nowadays our extended family holiday dinners look like a meeting of the UN with whites, blacks, asians, muslims, jews, athiests, renecks, artsys, etc.

My sister and eldest brother have never really had any issue, and certainly no feelings of stigma or victimization about being adopted. My sister overcame her early lack of contact and education due to in large extent my Mom, who was a language special education teacher and probably as loving a person as one could be. She went on to get 3 university degrees and a long professional career. She is more well travelled than anyone I know and has even visted her orphange. Not to look for her bio parents (although she found out that even if she wanted to it would be impossible due to lack of paperwork) but just out of curiosity since she was in Hong Kong. My older brother went to university and was an Olympic and pro athlete and runs a very successful business. Neither one of them could care less about who their biological family is. After my sister's visit to Hong Kong I asked my older brother about it and he said something like "Why the fuck would I want to do that?" We get along great and have very similar personalities.

My younger brother is a different story though. A lot of it no doubt had to do with being one of the few black kids in a small, redneck white town. People would stare at him so he was very aware of his "otherness". He got called nigger. He would get watched by staff when he went into stores. All kinds of bullshit like that. It was a constant issue. Another factor is that he and my Dad had absolutely nothing in common and never really got along once he got into highschool. He did not give a shit about school and my parents were very academically inclined. He was completely irresponsible, extrordinarily self-centered and started acting up. I just recently realized that it started when my Dad developed a degenerative, progressively fatal disease with no cure. Maybe he was angry that my Dad was getting all the attention? Maybe he felt victimized by my brother and me giving him shit for not picking up the slack and being more supportive of our Dad? He would run away from home on a regular basis and only come back when he needed something, which my Mom would give to him. He would live in hell-holes and things would always go wrong and something would get broken or he would be evicted, etc. In his mind it was never his fault and he would not accept responsibility and it was always me that came to his rescue. He stopped going to school, eventually dropped out and never even finished high school. The first complete break in our relationship came when he and my Dad got into an argument and he physically attacked my disabled father and I jumped in and we duked it out until he ran away. That was the last time he ever saw my Dad alive. But of course he showed up at his funeral so he could act like the bereaved son and soak up the sympathy.

And so it went for many, many years. One of his "problems" is that he is incredibly charismatic and good-looking; he looks like a black Brad Pitt but better looking, with a better body. So he has always had women take care of him. My Mom has always given him money as he is a personal trainer and model whose income has always been inconsistent. I have bailed him out more times than I could count. Figuratively and literally. He had a son with a long-term partner and when that relationship came to an end he was charged with domestic abuse. I do not think anything happened but whatever. I had to come up with $10,000 cash bail on a Saturday morning to get him out. He moved in with me and I drove 90 minutes 3 times a week so he could see his son. For all of his flaws he was an excellent father who really loved his son. That went on for a year and a half until the charges were dropped. But he and the Mom hated each other so I still had to be the liasion in between the 2. For years. She was horribly cruel and manipulative even to me and he had it worse.

We had always got along amazingly but the relationship between him and the rest of the family began to unravel when he decided he was done trying to be a father to his son. It was too much work. Too mentally and emotionally tiring. To a great extent I could understand as the mother did everything she could do to make it hard on him to see his son. But I tried my damndest to talk him out of it. Perhaps I shouldn't have, but when I had used every other argument I could I even begged him not to reinforce a negative stereotype by leaving another black son without a father.

A few months later I had a bad break-up and, as I had been paying his mortgage and he was looking for a roomate, I offered to move in there. The night before the move I called to confirm that I would be there at such and such a time and he told me I could not bring my cat with me. When he already had 2 cats and a dog. And he would not relent since "I just don't want another cat here." "Umm... could you have not told me this a month ago?" "Do you understand what kind of position this puts me in?" At ten at night with ten hours before the movers show up. Too bad. Don't care.

My other brother was simply disgusted and my sister and Mom called him to say how unbelievable that was, especially considering all that I had done for him. He denied I had ever done anything to help him. So I emailed him once a day for ten days demanding the money I had lent him to pay his mortgage. He reported me to the police for harassment. I was so livid when the police called me. I told the cop to fuck off and mind his own business as this was a civil matter. I never tried to contact him again after that. My Mom and sister did but he would not get back to them.

That was 6 years ago. A month or so ago I was fixing something on my Mom's computer and saw that she sends him Xmas and birthday emails every year. And every year he does not respond. She told a good family friend that she cries all the time because she misses him so much. My sister emailed him a year ago and told him that our Mom has Alzheimers and he has not bothered to respond.

My nephew is in grade 12 now. I talk with him all the the and we go on vacations twice yearly at least. One of his friends told me that she looked his Dad up on FB and saw that he was posting pictures about meeting his "real family".

Going back to the original topic, as far as anyone knows he never had a desire to track down his bio Mom until after he abandoned us and am not sure which way the detective work went but he was the one who traveled several hours to meet them. There was no black man in the pictures so I guess he has not met his bio Dad. I might get some hate for this statement but I am unsure what he would have in common with them as he has always considered himself black and they are all Natives, obese, live in trailers and look they have had very hard lives. But apparently he now considers them his "real family". As I said, our mom would never have had an issue with meeting and getting to know them but I am not really sure in these circumstances since he has chosen to abandon his actual family. Twice now, both times when one parent was very sick. I think calling them his "real" family is simply wrong and maybe even cruel to our mother. Perhaps in this instance the adoptive parent is the one that has been victimized. We will never hear her side of the story though due to her disease.

Well shit, I did not start out with the intention, but that was by far the longest comment I have ever posted on any social media.

To finish on a happier note, my sister got knocked up in her last year of university, moved away so no one would know of her "shame" of having a child out of wedlock and gave the kid up for adoption. Only my Mom and I knew. That was 27 years ago and we have never spoken of it since. Not that it was taboo, it just did not come up. Two years ago the kid's Mom emailed my Mom asking if they were connected. My Mom was all confused so I handled it from there. First of all, I wanted to know if it was her quest or her daughter's quest. So she put me in touch with her daughter and everything was cool. My sister's first reaction when I told her was "What does she want?" and she was not ready to meet her. The kid and I kept in touch and about a year later my sister asked for her email address, emailed her and did not receive a response. I followed up with the kid a couple of weeks later and the email was in her spam folder! So they emailed, then spoke on the phone, then met, she eventually came to meet my Mom, my sister met the kid's parents, then we attended a large gathering of our family. And everything is great.

The odd thing is that they are so incredibly similar. They both have arts degrees, have traveled to dozens of countries, are in love with Jamaica (my sister lived there for years and the kid has spent 3 summers working there) and they are both obsessed with and have the exact same taste in clothing and jewelry. Next week end we are going to my younger brother's ex's house for dinner and my black nephew is going to meet the black/asian/jewish cousin he does not even know exists! So far, so good for that scenario.

[Fun Fact: My niece's cell phone was stolen from a bar and used by a gang-banger to phone the media trying to sell the cell phone video of Toronto mayor Rob Ford smoking crack.]




goobster  ·  754 days ago  ·  link  ·  

Holy shit... what?!?

What an amazing family story... I read every word. Completely fascinated.

In my mind, in the "Nature vs Nurture" argument, "nurture" always loses. I know too many stories like your brother, where someone just doesn't take what they are given, or stories where two people who are related but have never met, share an amazing number of traits, like your sister and her daughter.

To me, you can nurture anybody. But if it isn't in their nature, they won't take it.