Adoption is a complicated thing, but Matthew Salesses wants to be sure to thank his adoptive parents for being there when he needed them.
I was adopted at age 2, in July of 1984, a sick, language-less child. I have no memory of anything that happened before then. I have no memory of the two or three years after, or I don’t think I do. Sometimes, images pop up and I can almost put something together.
My first memory, or the memory I think of as first, is of sitting on a boulder on a hill in Germany, holding a green transparent visor, my father below. Sometimes, I wonder what being in another country, a foreign country, has to do with why I remember this, why it stuck
What I remember from that trip was what many boys remember of their fathers, that my father was superhuman, how he could carve a reed into a flute (sometimes in my memories, he cuts his finger open–did that happen?), how he could navigate another world.
Later, I needed my mother’s superhumaness. I needed her on my side. I wanted to cling to her but it never seemed in me to do so. Though I have relied on her many times in my life–both as a child and as an adult.
I write about the complications of adoption: it is a complex and extremely difficult thing. It is trauma. It is consequences. It needs to be looked at carefully, complicatedly. Each time I write about adoption, it is with a lot of fear, fear of being hurt, and fear of hurting my parents.
I want to make sure I thank my parents. There are many experiences adoptees have with their adoptive families, and mine is only one. It can be worse, it can be better. I often worry how my writing comes off to my parents; I don’t often put my hope in print that they trust me to see their stories alongside my own. To my parents, a writer’s thank you: thank you for the places you have made real to me, and for being there when you were there, and thank you for the place I come from when I am able to look at adoption critically, when I am able to have the words to do so.
More from Matthew Salesses on adoption and family:
Photo: Flickr/Mr Timney