30th October 2022 - Today is Adoptee Remembrance Day.
Why is it so important for us to remember? When I write ‘us’ I’m not just referring to the global community of adoptees and transracial adoptees but the wider societies who have facilitated, are actively involved with the adoption sector, childcare and child industries – because in some cases, let’ be brutally honest, adoption has become a market, supply and demand being industrialised to satisfy that demand.
“If you know whence you came, there is really no limit to where you can go.”
James Baldwin, The Fire Next Time
And that’s the irony for many transracial adoptees (and adoptees) - we have no idea where we really came from.
In part, I am sure this feeds into the grim statistic that adoptees are four times more likely to attempt (or be successful at) suicide. The statistical odds rise even higher for transracial adoptees. And yet nothing is really being done about this. In the US they are still deporting transracial adoptees (TRAS) back to the country of their birth, because the adopting parents failed to fully ratify their adopted children as US citizens. In the UK there have been several attempts to “repatriate” TRAS. Why, the Border Force did not recognise (or was not willing to) accept them as bona fide British Citizens. Even with documented proof of their citizenship. This comes as no surprise. The UK has a dark history of clandestine repatriations and enforced deportations (e.g. the British Chinese Merchant Seaman of WWII and more recently The Windrush Generation) something which is conveniently forgotten, swept under the carpet until it is exposed by investigative journalism.
Now that the UK has shamefully passed the Nationality and Borders Bill Act 2022 I cannot help but have concern for any TRAS in the UK.
Life as a TRA is, it has to be said, exceedingly odd in many respects. It is a complex, compound intricacy of interlocking parts. Many of which cannot easily be unravelled. As a TRA myself the quest to unravel and reveal the truth of where I came from is akin to the Gordian Knot. My efforts in the past were met with silence, denial, falsehood, bold-faced lies, dismissal, aggression and abuse. Why is it that institutions, some adoptive parents and societies would rather the TRA remain ‘in the fog*’?
“Please try to remember that what they believe, as well as what they do
and cause you to endure does not testify to your inferiority but to their
letter from James Baldwin to his nephew
That Baldwin quote goes to the heart of being a TRA or rather how the gatekeepers frame and keep re-framing the TRA
For those not familiar, for adoptees, the phrase “coming out of the fog” refers to adoptees coming to terms with feelings–often supressed emotions–and realizations about adoption and their adoption experience
Adoptee Remembrance Day is a vital step that will assist in the removal of societal and cultural blind. It will help reframe both narrative and linguistic syntax which is applied to TRA and same cultural/nationally adoptions. That will enable us the TRA and the Adoptee to
‘flip the script’ refocus and correct the lens under which adoption is viewed by society, adoptive parents, childcare providers , charities, infertility solutions and governments.
TRAS are not goods to be exchanged. We are not blank sheets upon which others can over-write. We are people, human beings, lost sons and daughters, dislocated, disenfranchised and dislocated “from whence” we came and many of us will spend a life time trying to find that. Some sadly are unable to shoulder the burden of that loss – which is why we now have Adoptee Remembrance Day
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