S4E11 – UNRELATED: Fatherhood

Unrelated Thoughts on Being an Unruly Adoptee – Part 11 of 13

Becoming a father deepened my understanding of myself. I learned what I was capable of doing, I learned how to wake up and walk through the house before even becoming fully conscious when I heard my son cry out in the night. I learned how to change a diaper and clean a crib, give a baby a bath and install a car seat. All of these lessons changed me for the better. They made me human. There is a phrase that I first encountered in Betty Jean Lifton’s book Journey of the Adopted Self, the terms ‘genetic bewilderment’ and ‘cumulative adoption trauma.’ Becoming a father, meeting someone, finally, who looked like me, even if it took a few years to really become apparent, was a kind of anchor. It landed me alongside the rest of the mortal world. I felt, weirdly, that I had been born alongside him in some way. As for the cumulative adoption trauma, this moment of becoming a father presaged a new era in my life as a recoveree. I became aware of memories that were liminal, memories that I could recall because I could see the universality of experience in my son.