Anton, born in Argentina, adopted in Argentina
INTRO: Fellow adoptee Anton shares his story with us. There is such an intricate process to living life as an adoptee. Anton points us both in the direction of feeling our emotions as genuine and true, never hiding them and the need to be open and honest, while urging us to not forget to see ourselves as warriors and survivors, and ultimately realize the immense power in that.
“LIFE CAN BE BEAUTIFUL – EVEN FOR ADOPTEES…
I first would like to thank Amanda, as well as all the other people that have contributed to making the understanding of our particular lives a bit easier and by doing so, helping us to liberate certain angst. I wish I had met you guys 45 years ago!!
My name is Anton and I’m from Argentina. I turned 60 in March. I have two fully grown sons (26/22), and I managed to stay married for 17 years. Not so bad for an adoptee! I was adopted by a Dutchman and Englishwoman in Argentina, and was raised in Argentina.
So my upbringing was a mix of Western European Protestant culture/ethos in a Latin American Catholic country. I have done many different jobs in many different companies and was the typical: You can’t fire me, because I quit! (it seems we adoptees tend to quit at the slightest sign of rejection)
But I finally settled down, and for the last 22 years I have been making quite a decent living translating and during the last two years a bit of “dog-sitting”, which I enjoy very much! Nothing beats getting paid for doing something you like.
I have read almost all the articles published here and in other referenced blogs too, but one of the most eye opening/liberating ones I have ever read was Amanda’s:
I mean, imagine if this article got into to the hands of many adoptees? Many psychologists would run out of patients!! No pun intended Amanda.
I wasn’t told I was adopted, I sensed it (apparently Pisces and Rats are very alert/aware folks) and in my recollection I seemed to have blurted it out during an argument with my mother in a kind of: “You can’t tell me what to do, because you aren’t my REAL MOTHER!”
In my dubious recollection, her face went from a very pale white to an intensely red with anger one. I immediately realised that I had made a huge discovery. One that would change my life, in many other senses too. I can’t recollect if my parents decided to tell me truth (or their version of it, which usually isn’t even close to it) that same day or a bit later. Bear in mind that in “those days” it wasn’t so habitual to tell adopted children about their condition as such, and even less often, friends, neighbours, Facebook friends, Twitter followers, etc. Gen X, Millennials have a much more open attitude to full disclosure than Baby Boomers and any other generation before us.
A bit too open for my liking sometimes, but at least they don’t seem so afraid to be “exposed”. And what you fear/ignore you hate, even if it’s yourself or those who kindle that kind of fear/ignorance (as in lack of information).
Adoption used to be more of a “hush-hush” thing, which brings me to a central point in this post: MOST OF US – THE OLDER ONES AT LEAST – have had to lead a life of deceit. We have had to act the role of being a “normal child” – and none of us went to Drama school or acting courses, it was more of an OJT, and we began to get really good at it, because we did it to protect ourselves (bullying, protect our self-esteem, etc.) as well as our parents – so that no one found out that one of them was unsuitable to bear children, which used to be kind of a shameful thing in those days. Still is in a sense, as I don’t see women/men tweeting: I´m barren…deal with it.
So in those days, my parents and I, were “conniving” to keep a secret. A Covenant of Falsity.
A DAILY ROLEPLAYING with most of those around us, friends, schoolmates, co-workers, and even doctors! Eventually it becomes natural, but on the other hand you are always weary that “you might get caught”, like a WWII spy, without the getting shot and tortured part.
Probably because I was getting fed up with this cloak and dagger BS I began to “come out of the adopted child closet” with people that weren’t from my inner circle when I was 20/22, and one of my first outsiders was a gay co-worker that made the following reflection which has been branded in my mind since then: “Funny how we both have been living a life of secrecy/deception, trying to hide our REAL selves from the rest”.
Also, I don’t fear that I will be rejected by being who I am. Maturity has its perks. You probably have noticed that the older you become, the less nonsense you give and take. You realise that you cannot please everyone, all the time, and you actually don’t even care that much if you do.
This leads me to the other point that I wanted to make with my post: LET’S NOT BEHAVE LIKE VICTIMS. Let me be clear, I do not want to hurt anyone’s feelings, but I wouldn’t be 100% honest with you guys and my post, if I didn’t bring it up.
Being adopted might not be the best thing in life and yes, one probably has had to endure a life of secrecy, fear of mockery and bullying, and has had to hide one’s own condition and that of our parents, that probably weren’t that great at parenting either, but this also happens in many families with no adopted kids.
Many children have been raised and still do, with abusive, alcoholic, depressive, violent, etc. parents/siblings and they don’t go around acting like they are “handicapped” – and they are probably just as or even more miserable than “we, the adopted ones” are – I do not believe that it is fair/or even desired to turn “the adoption factor” into a kind of handicap or free pass to “feel sorry for ourselves”.
Self-pity is something most people – outside Facebook and Twitter – abhor, and if you look around, you might find that most of US adoptees are doing far better than 80% of the world. I mean, most of us open a tap and have drinkable water, our bathroom is IN THE HOUSE, we have electricity, paved roads, have a roof over our heads, aren’t imprisoned just for expressing our views, have access to free education (in Argentina even universities are free and yes, we are lucky) and free medical care (also free in Argentina but many state run hospitals suck), our children aren’t working as slaves in sweat shops, mines or forced by warlords to kill, maim and rape, etc. We are more concerned about not forgetting/losing our cell phone than when our next meal is going to be. In my book, that’s a pretty good life.
IN A NUTSHELL, THERE IS NO NEED TO ACT LIKE EVERYTHING IS FINE, BUT LET’S NOT FALL INTO THE TEMPTATON OF FEELING LIKE WE HAVE A RIGHT TO FEEL MISERABLE, JUST BECAUSE WE WERE ADOPTED. IF ANYTHING, LET’S SEE OURSELVES AS WARRIOR-SURVIVORS. WE MADE IT!
Finally, I never bothered to seek my birth parents. Figured out that if they never bothered to try to get in touch with me, then I needn’t do it either, so f….em. Plus, I am almost certain that my adoption wasn’t very “kosher” either. So the paper trail would probably very hard to follow. It is very unlikely that newly arrived foreigners could have adopted a “a green eyed Caucasian baby” – Hot items aren’t “given away” to foreigners. Not in Argentina and even less so in those days. Adoptions could take almost two or three years! More like a Brandgelina thing, only that I have a normal name and I didn’t share my house with a cornucopia of other kids.
Wish you all the best and thanks for sharing your stories!!
Written by Anton