05 May 2015

Language Matters: Adoption terms

This week, a semi-truck driver fell asleep at the wheel, hit a car full of teenagers who were stopped for a flagger on the highway. The car hit a pickup truck in front of it, and the truck hit a construction vehicle, which hit the flagger. The teenagers were killed instantly. The flagger is in critical condition. He has a broken shoulder, bleeding spleen, cracked spine, and several brain bleeds. He's in a coma.

The flagger is my brother. Sort of. I mean, we share the same DNA. We have the same biological parents. But I don't know him. This post not for sympathy, though prayers, good wishes, vibes, healing energy, or whatever would be appreciated, for both him, and the families of everyone in the accident, including the driver who has to live with killing three teenagers. The reason for the post is because I am having a very hard time talking about this because of the relationships, and the utter lack of appropriate language for them.

When I was born, my birth parents were young and utterly unprepared for parenthood, so they gave me up for adoption (GOD BLESS THEM!) Unlike most people in this situation, they stayed together, and 6 years later, started having more babies. 5 more babies. Sam (the flagger) came along about a year before I had Snap. When I was 22 and they contacted me through the ministry, I found all this out. My awesome parents flew me out to meet them and my siblings. Sam was about 4. As it turned out, I was moving to where they lived anyway (had already put down damage deposit!) and so I got to know them a bit until they moved to another province a couple years later. When they came for a wedding about 10 years ago, I saw Sam again for about 4 seconds. Gawky teenager. Shy. Putting on tough guy airs. That was the last I saw him. But I've kept up via Facebook with his Mom. So really. I do not know this man. I'm connected by blood, but nothing much more.

So what's the point other than oversharing, Luna? Well, it's this. What do I call him? He's biologically my brother. He's not legally my brother. Nor in any social way. My brother is the man who my Mom and Dad raised with me. The racist moron who drives an oversized truck he doesn't need, cares only about sports, brags about not voting ever in his life, and has never moved out of Mom's house (he moved his girlfriend in - and honestly, thank God. She's amazing, and they look after Mom who is so sick). He's the brother I know and love.

What do I call Sam? Birth-brother? Bio-brother? Doesn't that just lead to questions? Why is there no term? I can call the woman who birthed me my biological mother, or my birth mother, or my natural mother, and most people immediately figure out the situation. But siblings? Not so much.

And worse? What do they call me? Especially my bio-parents. There is absolutely no term for me that is acceptable. And we wonder why adoption is taboo! They gave up their right to call me their daughter when they signed the papers. I'm their daughter in genetics only. The reciprocal relationship term doesn't work. They can't call me their biological daughter, as they have three others whom they kept. When I went to a wedding of one of my "sisters", people kept asking me who I was. I had a hell of a time explaining, and eventually, just got cheeky and said, "I'm the one they gave away" and grinned. Well. That went over like a lead balloon. The man, who was a very old friend of my birth father, started on me about how inconsiderate that was, and how I had no idea what they'd gone through, and blah blah blah. I said, "Okay. You tell me. How should I introduce myself?" He had no answer, but informed me that I could be more kind. *sigh*

Adoption is so taboo. It's so taboo that the language doesn't even have a word for me for my birth parents because they are not supposed to ever speak of me again, I guess. And you know what? I don't even have a suggestion for it. How about you, comrades? Anyone have a suggestion for what parents of children given up for adoption can use to speak of these children?