Friday, September 28, 2012


Context is everything

"Adoption is the right choice for some people. It isn't all evil."

Taken by itself, the above statement is one with which I do not disagree. I understand that each adoptive situation has its own unique set of circumstances, and in some of those circumstances adoption may be the best available option, though not necessarily a painless one. 

So why was I triggered when I read the statement earlier this morning? Why did feelings ranging from anger to despondency flush through my body?

I was tweaked because the statement appeared as an anonymous comment at the end of a long blog post in which a mother who relinquished wrote of her person experience of pain and trauma resulting from adoption. In that context, it was hard for me to interpret the statement as anything but a dismissal—as one more case of a message falling on deaf ears. "Did he/she even read the post?" I thought.

Sadly, such dismissal is depressingly familiar to me. I am weary—oh so weary—of people telling adoptees and original parents what our feeling about adoption should be, shutting their ears to our descriptions of our actual experiences.

I do understand—I really do—that not all adoptees and first parents experience the pain and trauma of adoption on the same level as the rest of us. I know that there are adoptees who look at their lives, weighing the gains and losses of adoption, and conclude that in their situation the gains far outweigh the losses. I understand that there are biological parents who relinquished and experience a relative degree of peace regarding the decision. I consider some of these people to be my friends in the online world; I respect them and I want their voices to be heard.

But there are also those of us who have struggled, and our voices need to be part of the conversation, too. There are those of us who tried for years to stick to the official script of adoption and to feel only the approved "positive" emotions, only to have those other, less positive emotions, such as grief and anger, sneak up on us from behind and knock us flat. There are those of us who have gone head-on into the trauma, and through doing so have found our own true voices. When we emerge on the other side, speaking with these voices, relating our journeys, putting words to our personal experiences, please do not dismiss us. When we reach inside and pull out deeply personal narratives of the pain we have experienced, please do not pick that moment to tell us that adoption is a good thing. It is not the time.

And while we are on the subject of hearing adoptees and first parents, please take a few minutes to watch the following if you haven't already seen it on facebook or elsewhere (video credit). "If I am bitter it is because my feelings and experiences are constantly devalued and disregarded." Yep.


  1. truly a must read. thanks, as always, for sharing your perspective.

  2. The last statement, "Oh, dear God."

    The anonymous commenter didn't get it, it was just like the cartoon. I read the post yesterday & the comments. Like you said, that comment is one that I could occasionally agree with, but the comment after that post was not in the same context at all.

    It is sad that we have to have these conversations over and over again.

    Thanks for sharing the video, I had not seen it before.

  3. So many times those "dismissive" comments are made because the one commenting feels as if he/she needs to justify their own choices. (I've done that before.) The problem is that it isn't true listening when we spend our time trying to defend our own positions. If we are compassionate and sympathetic, we are strengthening each other. Whether my son's adoption was "the right choice" or not does not matter to what another person has experienced. It really is time to open up and accept that our stories are not the same, that our stories do not dismiss another person's pain, and that we really should help each other through the muddled adoption waters.

  4. Freaking. Awesome. How have I not come across this before?? It's every adoption comment (except one) that I've ever had said to me, all rolled up in one clip!


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