Mother and Child

Mother and Child
Painting by Pablo Picasso

Saturday, August 14, 2010

The Terrible Secret

The Terrible Secret

I read those words frequently in adoption circles and I often wonder if people really think about them. At least as far as they apply to adoptees.

No, I am not an expert, not by a long chalk. I am simply curious, trying to learn and understand. But I know a lot about people and those words make me think...really think about how an adoptee might take them.

For myself, if I was told that I was a terrible secret I would be horrified. After all, I am a person. Real, tangible with feelings and emotions. If I was an adoptee it may go just a bit could go into the OMG she hated having me, or the "I am nothing but an inconvenience, that secret that no one could know so I wouldn't ruin her life."

Those are my thoughts....

But why do a lot of the mothers use that particular phrase? I have heard a number of explanations and the one thing that stuck out wasn't about not wanting their children, or being ashamed of a child. I think it has more to do with other things, which, except in a very peripheral way, has little to do with the adoptee. For the mothers of the BSE, it was about being told over and over that they would never have normal lives, sexual deviants, damned, and a thousand other things, essentially making them less than they were and even less than they could become. It was the secret of having a child that you could not claim and that you were not supposed to love.

That kind of secret, I think, is the kind that damages a person. The damage is not something that is about the child that is and was loved and wanted, but about the aftermath of a hate campaign and war waged on vulnerable women in a time when they most needed support.

I think, I believe I see, that this difference is often missed...sometimes we say things one way and the reader or listener hears something very different. In this, I think both sides miss the target. The adoptee feels unwanted and the mother is trying to express love without realizing that the terrible secret is not the child and the child feels that they are terrible.

I hope that is not always the case

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