Close encounters of the contact kind

My post today forms part of the Weekly Adoption Shout Out theme – contact.

Direct contact – close encounters of the third kind.

I make no bones of using this opportunity to plant a few thoughts.

However your family is made, imagine for a moment being together.  There will be love and laughter, conflicts and hopes, truth and denial, loss and increase; celebration and heartache – all in one room.  If we had to give that melting pot of experience a name, it would be something deeply evocative emotive; overflowing with depth and timbre.

In our adoptive families, they would have us believe the name of that gathering is ‘contact’.

Contact: a junction of surfaces, mutual tangency of the limbs of two celestial bodies, the junction of two electrical conductors, an association or relationship [Mirriam Webster].

Contact: an authority centric, institution focused, top down term that sanitises basic human bonds and strips them of all their wonder and emotion [Mumdrah]

Contact: a euphemism that tastes bitter on the tongue; tinny, awkward, hollow, municipal.

Contact: an instruction that communicates duty; an obligation to be endured.

Contact: a scene coloured with the grey of secrets, suspicion and partition.

Contact: a concept that turns a family encounter into nothing more than a meeting.

Contact: a word that transforms a family into alien nations struggling to overcome translation.

Words are powerful; metaphors for our cognitive framework. They inform our thoughts, our feelings and our actions.  This policy wonk terminology of adoption sculpts the lives of everyone and anyone who enters. Unaware, we inherit this pervasive language and it shapes our families to its own design.  Our use of it builds a restrictive cage around us, and perpetuates the trauma and isolation of adoption. It divides us and separates us, and upholds a system that is way off course.

These sterile words keep us all from a different way of thinking and understanding; one that could feed and nourish the road to healing and wholeness.  By using them, we collude and ally ourselves with their negative values. The mindset these words creates seems to undermine and fracture the families they describe.

Indirect contact.  Direct contact: all I can think of are those five iconic musical notes.

Think now how differently it would feel if instead of ‘contact’ we:

Gather. Visit. Party. Flock. Swarm. Throng. Huddle. Rally.  Assemble. Powwow. Get together.

I work hard not to be infected by this terminology of adoption, and I reject their words #bethechange

 

Family ties

In Mumdrah’s world, there is nothing simple about Family. 

Convoluted and complex, the warm care and comfort of our family comes with a deep pain hidden in its folds.  Love – for us – walks hand in hand with a hurt that haunts.

On paper we are just one woman and one girl, but in truth we are Legion.

Around our kitchen table sit people shaped holes. We do not know their smells, their feel, or how they like their tea in the morning because our knowledge of them is more illusion than real.  But they still belong with us, like a backbone.  And we favour giving them a presence in our everyday over the mistaken pretence of leaving them behind.

There is no competition, nor rivalry.

The strength of CHTs feeling for each of us is separate and contained, though it may sometimes chafe or collide, ebb or flow.  Accepting the dynamics of this love – far from alienating or undermining us – builds bridges and bonds us closer. The love she has for her mother presents no threat; for her to feel unfaithful would be the measure of my own deep failure.

This is our family, this is our circumstance.

Why hide?  Embrace and explore family ties with honesty, whatever the consequence; in spite of it.  There is no sanctuary from it’s shape, from its history, from its pain; but there is danger in the exile of any one of its parts.  Challenging though it may be, discovering and questioning the reality of her life story helps find a way through the pain.

Turning away from the truth leaves unanswered secrets.

Longing left unanswered becomes backfilled with fantasy. These children come to us young, but will not always be so.  Questions left unanswered now will return – in a year, ten, twenty – swollen and festered with yet more questions about complicity, deception, and time wasted.  Missed opportunities.

Our family may be formed like no other, but it is real; and we embrace it as it is. 

Family ties – for just two of us, we count in more parents and more siblings than you can shake a stick at.