Being an adopted person is quite an adventure. Just ask Anne of Green Gables, or Anne with An E and her adoptive parents. I have been meaning to write a blog post about them for months. Whenever I have spare time, I slip away and watch the main character, Anne, authentically played by Amybeth McNutty, live life as an adoptee with her adoptive parents. There are many similarities between Anne and myself. Anne’s past was painful because her parents died prematurely and she was placed in a horrible orphanage, where she was teased and abused. Fortunately, she was adopted nine years later.
Most adoptive parents will identify with the challenges of raising an adopted child. The mother and father were brother and sister and childless. They made typical mistakes, but their challenges were magnified because of no backstory, no parental training or education, and no awareness that parenting an adopted child is taxing, to say the least. Anne really got on their nerves in the beginning, with her hyper-excitement and boldness in relationships.
I was much like Anne today. Much to my husband’s dismay, I bought a beautiful flowering plant with vivid red blossoms. There were already nice spring plants on our porch, but this one would be a show stopper. When I carried it through the front door from the car, my emotions were sky high. I felt like I was floating. I said to husband, “This is going to be so beautiful on our porch! I have wanted a plant like this all my life.” Did you catch the enthusiasm? Did you see what was seemingly exaggeration? Let it be known that I wasn’t exaggerating. I was revealing my true heart. Whenever anyone gifts me or whenever I’m appreciated for who I am, I am so full of joy that it seems I must burst. Yes, this is because I am a child of trauma, but yes, this is who I am as adopted person. Perhaps the level of my emotion correlates with the depth of my painful past? So, my husband, who’s had 55 years living with an adopted person, gently said, “Well, I’m glad you got what you’ve always wanted.” He loves me for who I am.
Characteristics of Anne of Green Gables
I’m going to provide some characteristics of Anne and perhaps adoptive parents can use as talking points to draw children in.
- Large Fantasy Life: Anne was able to dream dreams like crazy. She envisioned her outdoor hut in the woods where she and her friends would congregate. Also, when she found her adoptive mom’s wedding veil tucked neatly in a drawer, she quickly removed it and put it on her head, dreaming that someday she would be a bride. This is characteristic for children of trauma-it’s the way they can live in the present without thinking about the painful past. But, in the long run, this fantasy life, with work, can transform into a rare imagination that is sometimes manifested in art and writing. A resource for you is my children’s book FOREVER FINGERPRINTS: AN AMAZING DISCOVERY FOR ADOPTED CHILDREN. Find it at my author page: https://amzn.to/32PDctB
- Highly Excitable: Whatever Anne said, usually had an exclamation point after it. That’s where I identify with her! Exclaiming that my new plant on the porch fulfilled my dream of a lifetime was rather exaggerated. Sometimes, certain relatives make fun of me, I guess because they consider me a drama queen. But, I’m not. It’s just how I was wired from eternity past. Just call me “Sherrie with an S!”
- Advocate for the Hurting. Anne would go to any length to make sure the truth was told or that the hurting one got helped. She felt this was her calling in life. This is so me. For example, when the emergency crew came with blinking lights to our neighbor across the street, every single neighbor stood on their porches and watched. Quickly, I ran to their driveway to ask if I could help. I then reported to the watching neighbors what I’d been told.
- Insecure with Friendships: After Anne was adopted, the kids at school treated her like a wild card, mocking her gorgeous red hair. In the midst of this, she and another lovely young girl became friends. But, Anne had to make sure they were friends by drawing blood from a poke and mixing together. In her mind, that would assure her that she wouldn’t be abandoned by this friend, like she was by her parents when she was placed in the orphanage. On a personal note, I usually feel friendless. My husband corrects me by saying, “But you have so many friends.” But, I often wonder if feeling lonely is common for fellow adoptees.
- Loved Everyone, Including Those on the Fringes. She was loving to all people, even those that might seem scary or ugly to others. I remember when she met a salesman on the way to her hut in the woods. It didn’t matter that his gray beard almost covered his face, that his clothes were disheveled, or that he had everything from pain killers to tarot cards in his his backpack. Anne talked with him respectfully and and used your money to buy a heart-shaped pin. Of course her parents about had a cow when they found out.
- Deep Desire to Find First Family: The majority of adoptees I know want to know the truth about why they were placed for adoption. That’s because of shame: “Was I too small, did I cry too much? Was I too ugly? Did my parents really die before I was adopted?” How I identified with Anne as she combed through dusty records to find clues and how deeply disappointed she was when a seemingly open door closed in her face. When I was searching, I went to the hospital where I was born and asked the secretary for medical records. She refused: “Do we have an adoptee here?” For years I battled, even hiring a lawyer who found that she had no right to do this. Yes, state laws sealed my original birth certificate, but not my medical files. This experience makes me wonder in the back of my mind if there was something really awful about my late first mother and I. After I get done writing another book, I may revisit this. Agree?
So, remember friends, when you text or see me next, call me “Sherrie with an E!”
Dissolving Adoptee Resistance
Now, onto suggestions for dissolving adoptee resistance or rejection about watching the TV series together:
- Share your excitement first-and gently: “I’ve been watching Anne of Green Gables for a few weeks and I love it because Anne was adopted.”
- Let time pass. Adoptees are super sensitive when people aren’t authentic. This will build a wall instead of an open door.
- Share Why: “I love watching Anne of Green Gables because she reminds me in many ways of you.” If child asks why, share one of the characteristic of Anne from the above list.
- Ask: Perhaps something like this: “When Anne of Green Gables thought about her first family, I thought about you. Do you ever think about them?” Of course, your child will say an adamant no. This the secret of many adoptees. Part of our fantasy life is about finding our first family who lives in a castle in a faraway land. (For illustration of this, check out the main character of my children’s book: FOREVER FINGERPRINTS: AN AMAZING DISCOVERY FOR ADOPTED CHILDREN.) The art in this book is remarkable and you could use it to show how Anne might feel). Another excellent children’s book for this is FRANKIES CORNER, by Pam Kroskie and Marcie Kealthy.
- Signal Okayness: “I’m so glad that your first parent’s made you. They’re a part of who you are. If it were me, I’d think about them lots. I’d wonder if they look like me, sound like me, and move around like me. It’s okay to think about them often. I hope you do.
- Resources: Anne with An E DVD Series: https://www.amazon.com/Anne-Season-1-2/dp/B07MWFYKHN/ref=pd_sbs_2?pd_rd_w=aAgPQ&pf_rd_p=98101395-b70f-4a52-af63-8fac2c513e02&pf_rd_r=ZMEAXS6NRQT6GZX0K42X&pd_rd_r=8f813426-8a87-40da-959b-5625fc91f8be&pd_rd_wg=1DSdj&pd_rd_i=B07MWFYKHN&psc
- Resource: Netflix Anne with An E. https://www.netflix.com/title/80136311