Monday, June 15, 2009

Go Ask Your Father

Father's Day's just around the corner...

Did any of you listen to This American Life last week? It featured a narrative told by Lennard Davis, author of Go Ask Your Father: One Man's Obsession to Find Himself, His Origins, and the Meaning of Life Through Genetic Testing, which will be published in 2009 by Random House.

Davis isn't an adopted person, a few years ago, after his father died, Davis's uncle told him that he (the uncle) was Davis's biological father.

The meat of the story is about Davis's quest to find out if his uncle's claim is true, and when it becomes clear that the man who raised him is definitely NOT his father, he says he feels "abandoned."

This is the part that caught my ear--feelings of abandonment run so rampant in me, and in many other adoptees, that I'm always trying to figure out how to come to terms with them, how to contextualize them in new ways to understand them better, and in doing so, to drive them away.

So Davis feels abandoned when he finds out his father is not his father, which highlights the fact that keeping secrets from people about their origins almost always leads to more pain than openly sharing the facts from the very beginning would have done.

(Thank you, thank you, thank you, Sharon and Bob--my parents--for telling me I was adopted from the minute you got me. I wish all adoptive parents had your strength and foresight.)

Anyway, so even though Davis is not an adopted person, he feels abandoned in the same way that many adopted people feel because his parents kept secrets from him about his biological origins.

The reason I bring this up is that so many non-adopted people have a hard time understanding adoptees' feelings of abandonment; they say things like "but you were chosen," or "you were raised by wonderful, loving parents, how could you feel abandoned?" So here you have it, nay-sayers: proof that feelings of abandonment arise from confusion about one's origins, no matter the circumstances.

I'm curious about what you readers think of the "abandonment issues" argument: your thoughts? Comments? Questions? Let's hear them!


sabchen said...

Thanks for this eye-opening blog. Well-meaning non-adoptees may try to make adoptees feel better, but they can inadvertently make you feel worse. I'm going to keep reading your blog!

Andrea said...

Thanks, Sabina! I'm reading yours, too! Do you want to link to mine on yours? I'll do the same for you!!