National Adoption Awareness Month and the Room of Dreams

That thing happened today when I was hiking. I was almost done, but I hadn’t gotten to the place and I was getting irritated. Everything was starting to feel wrong. I get afraid when I approach this place because it makes the world sour and I can’t just yank myself out of it. I become the sour, and the rest of the day is like wearing jeans that are a two sizes too small.

I turned off the Bon Apetit podcast I’d been listening to about cheese and went for the big guns: music. Ophelia by the Lumineers or Prelude by VW Nation or Meet Me in the Woods by Lord Huron are the three that have been my steady go-to’s for months. It’s like the Imitrix I take for migraines—the trick is to listen to the songs before it’s too late—before I’ve sunk into the sour. If I get the music in time, endorphins flood my system and I hop into the box of what is possible, dreaming my way free.

This month, National Adoption Awareness Month, has me painfully aware of just how many people are deeply affected and suffering because they were relinquished and adopted. I don’t want to be adopted, is what I was thinking this morning. I just want to be Anne.

The reason I can’t seem to just be Anne is the sour, and I can’t seem to fully escape it. One problem is I don’t know what will trigger it: low blood sugar, a baby crying, someone saying goodbye, someone asking me to do something, the fear that I am not good enough to merit my existence on the planet. Sometimes the breeze seems to trigger it, or a pain in my knee.

I realized today how much I depend on my imagination to give me a sense of myself. I was headed for the sour on the path today because I hadn’t been able to transcend my body in that moment and go to the place of dreams. That’s the place I love. I’m there now, writing, in the space that is both in my head and above it. I’m free in this place, not tethered to the world where one and one (mother and father) equal zero (since I don’t have a birth certificate with their names and mine, legally it looks like they created nothing).

Having a room for dreams attached to your head is a wonderful thing unless, say, you are a high school student who is being asked to be present and to be focused. Or unless, say, someone is asking you to submit a business proposal and you aren’t even really there. Having a room for dreams means I have one foot in my life and one foot somewhere else, anywhere else.

Now that I know better how deeply adoption has affected me, I can’t stop thinking about the children and teenagers and young adults who were adopted and who think adoption has nothing to do with their feelings of sadness or with their ADD or ADHD or with their habits of picking at their skin or at their lack of self-confidence or with their addiction issues or habits of lying or stealing of feelings that something is wrong.

Why don’t we have counselors that track adopted kids and let them know: Hey, there are the side effects of adoption. Let’s go talk about them. Let me introduce you to a group of other adopted kids so you can have a sense of community? Why don’t we let these kids know we know adoptee suicide is an issue, and we want them to feel safe to tell us their thoughts, however wild and ungrounded they might seem? Why don’t we prove to these kids that we understand what it means to be adopted and that we are fearlessly going to walk that path with them until death do we part?

If you adopted your kid, you need to find an adoption-competent therapist, and you need to make an appointment and send not the kid, but yourself. Learn. And then send the kid. It takes a village to raise in adopted kid in a healthy manner.

Who am I fooling? It takes a village to raise any kid. It takes the world to raise an adopted kid.