On being a bastard

In the abstract, the adoptee is positioned across two tensions of the state – the assumption and legitimation of identity, and the power of the State to maintain an arbitrary secret indefinitely. When an identity is held tenuously, when identity is the first injury, individuals will find challenges to identity and authority re-traumatization, and suffer accordingly.

Self-disclosure is complicated within that environment, writing about my adoption, and the impact and effect that it had on myself, my family, and my sister, this is both something I feel I need to do and something that is both deeply troubling – doing this is a kind of lancing, a disgorgement of memory, cascading – but it is also deeply dangerous.

Adoptee trauma is that first whirling scar, it is navel, it is root trauma. Exploring that trauma opens up the psychic self to ticks and leeches, parasites both online and in personal life. Adoptees are magnets for weirdness and strange luck.

Or at least, that has been my experience and the anecdotal evidence I’ve collected from the other adoptees with which I’ve had long and enduring conversations. We are, as a diaspora, karmic accelerators; adoptee stories have historically brought down empires.

This is my story, then. What I dare tell – given the constraints of the lives throughout which I am enmeshed. Our social apparatus enables precise targeting of individuals in ways that are deeply disturbing – we are all easy targets for dedicated and relentless. Years of dissociative experiences, perhaps not dissociative states mentally, as much as dissolution of ethno- and spiritual identities, as well as a growing disconnection with the social structures that my adoptive family valued over all other familial bonds.

I am a bastard.

I was born to a young woman out of wedlock.

This is very important in rural Idaho in the early 1970s, enough so that a doctor, two pastors, a lawyer or two and at least one secretary got deeply involved in making sure that I was not left alone with that young woman.

It took me quite some time to confirm what I think I somehow almost always knew – that she had long brown hair, and did not look anything like my adoptive mother. Her voice was different. She knew how to laugh.

I don’t know why I know these things, but I knew them in my bones, like a song you faintly recall and are suddenly shouting, caterwauling, dancing along, but the noise is only in your own head. That is where these memories reside – pre-language, preverbal. I stand in a insular moment – the world of information is at hand, I am able to write to anyone, ask anything, and I still find myself unable to start a conversation of substance with this mother of mine I feel taken from and abandoned by so many…