This is my third post about Perpetual Child: Dismantling the Stereotype (Adult Adoptee Anthology). Lynn Grubb’s essay “Mother May I?” is a thought-provoking reflection on the perpetual child syndrome.
In this piece, Grubb structures her personal experience as a how-to manual for a game. Only it’s not a game, but her very life.
The government and the adoption agencies and her (birth) mother have all conspired to keep the narrator a perpetual child. She’s not allowed to have any knowledge of her origins unless they decide she can know. She describes the hoops she has to jump through to find her mother.
Ultimately, she does find her mother, when she’s past 40, and she asks about her father. Her mother says she has no information and, anyway, he’s a “bad man.”
The narrator tries to find the father through a DNA test, but who she finds is someone else with a dead-end.
The last part of the essay describes the feelings of rejection that she got from her mother’s decision. It wasn’t a “loving choice” or a “desperate decision” to the narrator.
Grubb describes feeling like a perpetual child in a way that I can’t stop thinking about:
Realize that you are similar to Peter Pan in that you can never grow up according to the authorities inside the adoption world.
In the adoption world of agency, adoptee, adoptive parent, birth parent, government, and the media, only the adoptee is Peter Pan. And Peter Pan is a fantasy story, not real life. It’s time that Peter is allowed out of Neverland and into the real world with knowledge of his origins and background and his larger connections in that world.