Thursday, November 19, 2009

"I'll Stand by You" (?)

Did anyone watch "Glee" last night? In this latest episode, Finn, a high school football player whose cheerleader girlfriend is pregnant and has decided to make an adoption plan, admits to a friend that he's really sad that he'll never get to know his unborn daughter (the baby's actually another man's child, but he doesn't know that yet, so disregard that fact for now), and will never get to tell her he loves her. He also mourns the fact that she'll never know that he loved her and wondered about her and wanted to know her. The scene comes to a climax with him singing The Pretenders song, "I'll Stand by You" to a video of a sonogram of the baby that's playing on his computer.

"Glee" is a silly show. It's a sit-com with some musical theatre thrown in. I like it, sure, but it's pretty fluffy.


But I have to say, watching Finn sing longingly to a little pulsing sonogrammed image of what he thinks is his unborn daughter about how much he cares for her, how he wants to support her throughout her life both caught me off guard and choked me up.

So many of us who were adopted under the closed adoption system fantasize about having been wanted and thought about and cared for in this way, and so many of us never get to know if it happened. The not knowing hardens us, leads us to think we weren't wanted, weren't ever cared for, weren't longed for or pined over. Maybe it's just a fantasy, like the musical theatre sequences in "Glee." But maybe, just maybe, somebody really wanted to "stand by" us, but just couldn't.

Your thoughts?


coruscate said...

(I'm a terrible writer, so whenever the word you your is used, it should really be one or one's. A hypothetical reader, not you personally.)

In the quest for meaning with the absence of symbol, sign or signal the brain still creates meaning and invents the symbol, sign or signal. Like hallucinating in a sensory deprivation chamber, I can only imagine the permutations or fantasy that alleviate and torture someone in this situation, especially because it is so tied up in one's concept of identity. And the bottom line is you will never know. Even if you encounter your birth parent so many years later, their retelling of the past has been filtered and retold and warped for all kinds of reasons. Any lack of confidence in the truth of their explanation can continue to send you to that well of empty meaning if you are not aware of that risk. People are addicted to hope and that people are good and that a good soul can have deep regrets for choices they make is good drama for tv. I imagine an adult child of adoption will appreciate the hope that scene strokes and feeds. The truth must be that there are many feelings people have in that situation and those feelings change over time and those feeling change you over time. There must be as many examples as there are types of people and situations.

Like identifying a leaf using a dichotomous key, I think a rough decision matrix of the major reasons people are put up for adoption can be made and often are made by people. For example: 1. you are putting the child up for adoption for the best interest of the child or 2. You are putting the child up for adoption for the best interest of you, 3. You are dead because of some unfortunate calamity. For each of those you may 1. Regret the chance to be connected to this person's life 2. Regret this person's life 3. Have no idea what you are doing 4. You contemplate the seed of the relationship never germinating between someone who carries part of you daily 5. Are making a decision you never wanted to make because a. Your partner lied b. Your partner is an addict c. the child is a result of a sexual crime d. you are the passive aggressive revengeful type. 6. You mourn the choice and send thoughtful prayers out to the child you sent away for reasons you still aren't clear on and hope that some day you have what it takes to reconnect with that person and find that the gamble you took for their better life paid off.

Actually I don't think making question tree is really a productive act because the act of coming up with questions to illustrate the scenario are never answered, so new permutations to split some hair of importance are obsessively generated like the problem of meaning out of nothing I first brought up. The questions become different depending on how old you were when your parents decided they could not be parents and can wrench the sense of identity differently.

It would only be productive if the person can come to terms with the fact that there was a challenging decision to put someone (you) up for adoption and that you may need to be content with that to be complete. All the other questions you create in their absence really tell you about you and you would do good listen for yourself in their asking. I suggest the best thing you can do is get sick of coming up with possible questions for such because you finally realize the reasons are endless, and you may not like the answers or even understand the answers if you were finally told.

I guess you have the opportunity that others don't have, a chance to choose a fantasy that has the potential to make you a better individual or tear you apart. I suggest choosing the one that makes you a better individual so that if you every hear the truth you will cope with the joy and sadness of finally knowing with a greater chance of success.

JBH said...

First of all, I started watching Glee two weeks ago...and I'm hooked on the "fluff"! Curse the high school student who suggested it to me:-)! Normally, I'm at a singing rehearsal myself on Wed. nights and have not been able to watch.

Secondly, I totally missed the part where Quinn/Finn have been thinking about putting the baby up for adoption. If I had known that, I probably would have been choked up, too.

As a closed adoption adoptee who has not met her birth parents yet, I like to hold out the hope that my parents wanted to stand by me...but just couldn't.

Thanks, Finn, for singing one for us adoptees.

Andrea said...

Hear, hear, JBH!

P.S. I didn't know you are a singer! Me too! I'm in Anna Crusis Women's choir; which one are you in?

The Grauke-Collins Experience said...

My thoughts? Puck is hot.