She's Adopted

They just didn't tell her

The fool

on October 2, 2012


“Our law emphasizes the right of the child. It demands that children be told the truth, that they are adopted. Sometimes we think it cruel to tell a person the truth (first as a child, later as an adult). But that view reflects a colonialist attitude. Only the colonizer refuses to respect the identity of the colonized.” –  Graciela Fernandez Meijide, member of the Argentine Congress, on the 1997 law making it mandatory that adopted children be told they are adopted.

It has been over a year since I’ve discovered, by accident, that I was adopted. Since that day, I feel  as if the ground opened up beneath my feet and as the days goes by i keep falling into an abyss. This free-fall seems endless to me. Who am I? Why had the people who were supposed to love me and protect me lied to me my entire life? I lost my sense of trust and I’m angry. I feel rejected by life. all these things that could have been, or, along a different kind of life trajectory, would have occurred, simply aren’t going to be–too much of life has already been lived. And people withdraw. The anxiety is just too great, the disappointment is too great.

Everything I knew until that day was a lie; I was a fool.

All of us, in this most individualistic of societies, no matter how high or low our class status, no matter how exalted or mean our positioning in terms of money, education, gender, race, adoption, or any other marker of group differentiation, own one thing. Our narrative. Our story. The presumption is that we start at birth and march in a straight line through youth, adulthood, and then old age, with our traumas and joys providing wrinkles, switchbacks, and all the other individualistic imprinting providing the plots of our narratives.

This was the string that was cut for me.

I not only lost particular assumptions, such as my assumption of ethnicity, but also my basic assumptions concerning ethnicity; not just the particulars of family history, but my assumptions about family. Most of all I was forced to examine, in detail, every assumption I had about identity.

When I finally reached out to other adoptees through a local support group, I found we had much in common such as the longing for grounding in our identity and the questioning of our “official” stories. I found the emphasis on search in this group, and others I contacted at that time, confusing and frightening. I wasn’t ready to search and right now I’m not even sure I ever will.  As my friend Chris remarked to me when I told her I wasn’t even considering locating my birth family   at that time, “Who needs more people to resent?”

It has been a little over a year and i still haven’t  exhausted the rage I have against my parents and the rest of the family. I Isolated myself and sank deep in my anger and resentment.

I realize that when I was adopted back in the ’70s, adoption was still deeply wrapped in shame. Shame of illegitimacy, shame of infertility. My parents’ decision not to tell me has a certain dysfunctional logic. Many of the stigmas that stained past attitudes about adoption have been lifted, but members of the triad* still face many conflicting attitudes and social prejudices. Adoption as a means of forming a family still suffers by being “different.” The temptation to sidestep the pressures of “difference” by denying the reality of a child’s adoption is still compelling to some.

The quote at the beginning of this article intrigues me. It rings true to me, yet is dissonant with the memories of my parents’ love for me. Can we be colonized by those entrusted to love and care for us without condition? Of course we can, and the lie that creates Late Discovery Adoptees is only one remarkable motif in a discordant symphony of family dysfunction. I feel the only resolution to this contradiction is to bear witness, and encourage all the others who have had their truth stolen from them to come out of the shadows and speak up.

Hi, I’m Luciana Gualberto, but you can call me Lu. I am an LDA** born in Brazil and I am starting to live out my purpose. Join me on my journey as I prepare myself to travel home someday in search of answers.

*Adoption Triangle or Adoption Triad: A term used to describe the three-sided relationship that exists in an adoption between birth parents, adoptive parents and the adoptee, each of which is interrelated and inter-dependent on the others.

**LDA: The term “late discovery adoptee” refers to those who learn they are adopted once they are adults. The impact of the discovery later in life depends on individual circumstances, but research has suggested that it is common to experience some degree of initial shock. Long-term impacts can vary and may include feelings of anger and betrayal directed at adoptive parents, depression, and issues with trust in other close relationships ~ source:

One response to “The fool

  1. Brad says:

    Very heartfelt story. I must say that you may feel like a fool. However you are no fool. You may have been fooled. But, you are no fool

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