09 December 2014

Jad Abumrad and the Adjacent Possible

So much is ruminating. November, Korea, #flipthescript, angry adoptive parents, co-opting original parents

Before all this, I processed my trip to Korea, the blank spaces in my life, my struggles in parenting a teen who’s forming his identity, while trying to reshape my own identity. I sat in my therapist’s office bouncing all these elements and captured them on his little legal pad.

Even with the success of #flipthescript on #NationalAdoptionMonth, I still feel I sit at the kids’ table. The core of adoption is the child. The child can be coveted and treasured or rehomed and abused. The child is “adopted.” Check that word. A verb or adjective that relates back to the adoptive parent or an adoption agency.

I want to own myself.

Last night, I went to the UW-Madison campus to see Jad Abumrad speak about creativity and discomfort in a piece he calls “gut churn.”

So much resonated with me. He began by talking about voice.
“Voice is yours and no one else’s. When trying to find your voice, you fill it with other people’s voices.” — Jad Abumrad
Wow. He called on audience members to “find your authenticity.” Then, his “idea grenade” went off … the Adjacent Possible, a theory by Stuart Kauffman. Here’s a good description on how complexity comes into play in the Adjacent Possible (Rifkin, 1981, p. 55-56, 76):
“Evolution means the creation of larger and larger islands of order at the expense of even greater seas of disorder in the world. ... In the process of evolution, each succeeding species is more complex and thus better equipped as a transformer of available energy ... Throughout history, qualitative changes in technology have always been toward more complexity ... ” — Jeremy Rifkin
Complexity. It’s scary and intimidating. In #flipthescript, the complexity of emotions in adoption finally came to the forefront and the perpetual parents, both adoptive and original, were scared by it.

I know that fear. I once wanted adoption to be fanciful, light and happy. I listened to the other voices of adoption … the agency voice, the adoptive parent voice, the birth mother voice. They formed my identity. I had, as Abumrad said filled my voice “with other people’s voices.”

Today, my voice is shaky but my own, and it can be angry as it protects my hurt. I admit that. My doctor says I am suffering from post-traumatic stress syndrome. When she told me this, I said, “I never served in the military.” But adoption and identity search within adoption is stressful, especially when the media and the general public quiet my voice with the voices of the perpetual parents.

My Abumrad “gut churn” was this past November’s National Adoption Month, Orphan Sunday and World Adoption Day. Abumrad asked, “Could the ugly be successful? It comes in the most terrified moment.”

The success of #flipthescript came from my terrifying moment of having to walk through the month of November, after a year of search and disappointment.

But the beauty? Well, Jad Abumrad said, “In periods of dark, walk with someone else.”

I did. Thank you, adoptees for turning my darkest month into a walk to remember.