I have always hated labels. I have noticed that especially in the adoption world, there is a strong desire to label people’s stories, lives, or even their personality as either “happy” or “angry.” Stories are labeled as either “positive” or” negative.” This linear way of thinking is limiting to both the teller and the hearers of the story. It says that there is no room for a multi-dimensional person.
Someday I want to write a play about my life and labels and how they not only weigh a person down, they immobilize you.
The play would be like this:
On stage would be three circles, in the center circle would be a figure that would represent me. This person sits in the middle observing the two circles around me, which represent the stages of my life or the acts of people who influenced my life.
The times when my birth mother is in the circle to the left, the figure representing me would observe her pregnant with me with Catholic nuns and her adoptive parents standing around her shaking their heads in disgust. She would leave the circle and place the Baby Me in the circle with me and place the label “given away” on me. You would later see her have another child and the she would place “replaced” on me. Next time you see her she would be exploring museums in Paris and placing “forgotten” on me. One of the last two of her would be her reading the letter I sent looking for her and her crumpling it up and her placing it in my circle with the label “rejected.” The final time we see her, she is in the grave and the label “Never” floats over to me.
Interspersed with the scenes from my birth mother on the left would be scenes on the right of me. The scene of someone telling me that I “wasn’t born out of my mother belly” and someone placing the label “unwanted” on me. The scene of my adoptive mother’s stepfather blowing smoke in my hair and everyone laughing as he patted my head with him labeling me “amusement.” Another scene of kids in school calling me an Oreo or zebra and someone placing the label “different” on me. The next scene would be of a shadowy figure touching me and placing the label “molested” on me. Scenes of my friends dating and me being left out of dating and the boys clearly stating that they would not date “that black thing” with someone placing the labels “ugly black thing” on me.
By the time that all of this had happened, by my late teenage and early adult years, I am almost completely covered in labels, I am completely immobile.
People start coming from all around just placing labels on me, all different types of people from different times in my life-college, work, etc. And suddenly my husband appears and hollers “Stop! Get back! This is my wife and you will not do this to her.”
The scenes then changes and my oldest daughter comes from the circle on the left and tears off some labels, balls them up and they turn into a red stone that she places at my feet and a red arc appear over my head. Then my second daughter comes from the right and does the same, only her stone is orange and it creates an orange arc under the red one. My third daughter comes from the left and makes a yellow stone, which also brings the corresponding yellow arc, which should by now shows that a rainbow is forming. My fourth daughter creates a green stone and arc, my fifth daughter a blue stone and arc and finally my son creates a purple stone. The last arc appears and completes a rainbow and my family walks away holding hands with Bob Marley’s Sun is Shining playing… “When the mornin’ gather the rainbow. I want you to know, I’m a rainbow too” playing.
This is my labels story. The world weighs you down with them and unless someone cares an awful lot for you and takes the time to create something beautiful with them, then you will forever be trapped in the cocoon of these labels.
I have seen this time and time again with adoptees. Immobilized by the fear that someone will judge them, their story and their life. Trapped by the expectations of others that if their stories isn’t all sunshine and rainbows, that they will be labeled as “angry” or “bitter” this makes me very, very sad.
So many voices stifled. So many wonderful stories never told.
If my voice was silenced, you would never know that I feel that my children have given me purpose in life and a reason to live. Not only that, they bring sunshine and rainbows to my life. Isn’t that a beautiful story? Isn’t that a story worth telling (and hearing)?
But if I were to listen to some adoptive parents and some people in the general public who have no understanding of the complexities of adoption, I would never tell that story. Why? Because I would be labeled. Because I have to talk about the rain too. My life hasn’t been easy, and that is the truth. Is that “negative”? No. It is honest. Am I “bitter” or “angry?” No, but I am going to tell my story without filter or censor.
I hope someday I can find someone to help write my play because I think it would be a good one.
But until then, I just hope that I can tell my story without people labeling me or my story.