Kevin is an accomplished writer and public speaker who enjoys sharing his experiences as a transracial adopted person to help other adoptive families. He is one of the panelists for our Inside the Adoption Circle webinar on Tuesday, January 22.
The following was written by Kevin after he presented with Judy and Patricia, our other featured panelists.
This past weekend I was fortunate enough to be a part of a powerful discussion at an adoption conference in Chicago. I was the adoptee representative of the triad and was joined by an adoptive mother and birth mother and for approximately 45 minutes we sat in front of about 300-400 people and had a conversation. It was our chance to ask the questions of each other that we have wanted to know personally or questions we thought others in the audience would want to know. It was a unique opportunity to have a unique conversation. Since I never met my birth mother and I didn’t really talk about adoption with my parents, I used this as an opportunity to further try and fill in some blanks for myself. Yes, at 45 years old, I still have blanks that I need filled from my adoption experience. I have recently come to the conclusion, that as an adoptee, I will never “just get over it,” like some people may assume. So my journey now is to address the issues and struggles to find closure and peace, and pass along these lessons to those who come behind me. From this conversation, on the ride home for Chicago, a powerful image came to me that I wanted to share.
It is my understanding that many adoptive parents look at the triad in the shape of an isosceles triangle (Mr. Fridge, my 10th geometry teacher would so proud of me!) where two points are closer together and the third point is a considerable distance away. This way the adoptive parents and adoptee are in close proximity to each and the birth parents are at a distance. One of many unspoken thoughts is that if we can keep the birth parents at a distance than the relationship between adoptive parents and adoptee will remain intact and close. Having an open adoption, may be scary for some adoptive parents because it’s seen as threatening to their relationship with the adoptee, therefore, it’s easier to keep the distance between adoptee and birth parents at a comfortable detached distance, if at all.
But what if the triad was diagrammed in the form of an equilateral triangle (look at me Mr. Fridge!) where all sides are equal. This way you can’t push one point away without all points growing further apart. Then I wondered, how can we adoptees have a close relationship with our adoptive parents if we have unresolved issues with our birth parents?
Upon further reflection it became clearer and raised more questions. If adoptive parents work with adoptees and help them work through their relationships with birth parents and teach the adoptee how to love birth parents, won’t that also teach the adoptee how to love the adoptive parents? If, as an adoptee, I am taught to keep my birth parents at a distance doesn’t that also teach me to have a distant relationship with my adoptive parents?