December 22nd, 2004

Denial, Degradation and Deceit

I imagine all those kids in the schoolyard—as well as the eagle-eyed teachers and parents watching over them—will never have to give the slightest thought as who they are or where they came from…as does my Vittoria. For these fortunate folks their histories are secure. And in that history they and their children and grandchildren and distant heirs will reside in comfort until the island of Ischia, having risen up from the sea in a volcanic cataclysm eons ago, finally descends back into it.

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“For generations, adoption in this country was characterized by denial, degradation and deceit. Many adoptive parents were counseled to pretend they'd given birth to their children. It was considered ‘good practice’ to advise biological mothers (and fathers, when they were involved) to forget about the children they had created and ‘move on.’

“Adopted people were treated differently: They were routinely denied their medical histories in order to maintain secrecy, for instance, and they were told that the most human of instincts — wanting to know who you are and where you came from — did not apply to them.” [My emphasis.]

--From an editorial essay in The Los Angeles Times, December 21, 2004, by Adam Pertman, executive director of the Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute and author of "Adoption Nation: How the Adoption Revolution Is Transforming America," Basic Books, 2000.