Recently, I was able to volunteer and view a one-actor show called “The Good Adoptee”. I met the playwright, Suzanne Bachner, briefly during the CUB retreat I attended last fall. She has been hosting the play in the New England region while the OBC bill has been facing legislation again in the area and surrounding states. The play is an autobiographical representation of Bachner’s journey as an adoptee.
The beginning portion recounts her early life, always knowing Bachner was adopted, and having certain fantasies of what that meant. She compared it to the myths that everyone tells their children like the Tooth Fairy, Santa Claus, and the Easter Bunny. However, the myths of what she believed was her adoption story slowly became revealed into something more puzzling and complicated. As an adult, Bachner struggles to regain a sense of identity as she encounters many frustrating phone calls with an insensitive social worker assigned to her adoption case and a self-absorbed investigator she hires to find her birth parents.
During the play, as Bachner discovers who she was before she was adopted, she reflects on how she is split in two: the person she grew up knowing, the child her adoptive parents raised; and the person she was when she was born, the baby surrendered into foster care. Even though I am not adopted, that part of the play resonated with me the most. For a long time now, I have noticed that I feel split in two: the person that goes to work, socializes with friends and figuring out my life as an adult; and then the birth mother who is grieving every day and sees my daughter in every child/baby I encounter. I am not sure how to merge the two together or if I even can.
Watching the play made me worry about the journey my daughter might endure as she gets older. I am unsure as to what her adoptive parents have told her about her adoption story. I am uncertain whether she will want to know more about where she came from. Her situation is different than Bachner’s because it is still currently an semi-open adoption. Will she have easier access to getting her birth information? Will she have to jump through more hoops since she is not in the same state as where she was born? Will I be able to help her through her journey of identity? Her future and mine is incredibly uncertain.
Bachner’s play ends with her finding her birth mother and beginning a relationship with her. She discovered that her birth father had passed just a few years shy of her starting her search. But, she went to the college her birth parents met and saw a picture of him in a yearbook and found a sense of closure that way.
I found the play to be brave and inspiring as it touched on so many issues regarding an adoptee’s struggle through life. Not that all adoptees feel the same way, but so many strive to find a sense of self whether they reunite with their birth families or not. It is not always enough to know medical information from a birth certificate or adoption record. Adoptees searching for information or reunion is about connecting with others, having their family tree fill and grow, and feeling wanted and loved. Adoptees live a different life than those who are not adopted. I know my family tree, I know what happened the day I was born, I see the physical traits I have in my parents, and many other things that may seem insignificant and can be taken for granted. But, many adoptees do not have that knowledge or even access to it even when they become adults. Suzanne Bachner’s play is not only a true account of her story, but an accurate representation of what many adoptees go through.