Monday, February 11, 2013

The Strange, Strange Life of a Traumatized Adoptee in an Adoption-Loving World

I'm what some people would call an "unhappy adoptee" or an "angry adoptee." I get these labels because I speak up about the negatives of adoption, including sharing my own personal story of trauma and loss experienced as a result of my separation from my biological family, and in particular from my mother. I am aware that this loss has affected me throughout my life and continues to affect me to some degree even into the present day. I will never be "not adopted."

And yet, I am neither unhappy nor angry on a regular basis in my actual life. In fact, I would describe myself as relatively happy, on the whole. It's been a long road, but I find myself in a fairly good place here in middle age. I'm aware that my personal adoption story has much that is positive about it when compared to the stories of other adoptees I have met. I was relatively well-matched with my adoptive family. When I was ready to search for my biological family, the information that I needed was available to me and I had the support of my adoptive parents in searching. I have been able to process my adoption issues through therapy, writing, and other means. I have been able to learn about myself and to experience the relief of genetic mirroring through reunion. I currently have good relationships with four pretty awesome parents. I have a supportive online network of adoptee friends who "get" me.

Not a bad situation, all in all.

Adoptees are sometimes asked why we can't just "move on" and "let go of the past." This is not a simple thing to do because our past is part of who we are today, but though I may not have moved on, I have made my peace with my life's story. I have accepted "that what happened happened," to borrow a phrase from Betty Jean Lifton.

But I still get triggered emotionally when I encounter certain adoption-related stimuli. The main things that trigger me these days have to do with the current state of the domestic infant adoption industry in U.S. and with the "positive adoption language" used to promote it.

For example, a tweet such as the following will cause my blood pressure to spike:
Adoption Network ‏@AdoptionFeed "A Birthmother puts the needs of her child above the wants of her heart" - Skye Hardwick
Why does this upset me? It's not because I hate birthmothers or judge them for the choices they have made. It's because the statement includes the automatic assumption that the child's needs are best served by separating the child from the mother, an assumption I consider to be false. Yes, I understand that every situation is different, and there may be situations in which the separation is unavoidable or perhaps even the best of bad options. But it seems to me that mothers considering relinquishment today are given insufficient information about adoptee loss and trauma. Without such information -- without access to the stories of adoptees such as myself -- they cannot make an informed decision about what the child truly needs. Idealizing rhetoric about "brave birthmothers" making the "self-sacrificing" choice to do what is "best" for the child is manipulative. It comes from the industry (initially, at least), and its intention is to persuade mothers that their children are better off without them -- an oversimplification in some cases, and an outright falsity in others.

Idea go at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
I'm triggered when I open up my local yellow pages and see advertisements promising expectant mothers considering adoption that the choice of open or closed will be entirely up to them, when I know that open adoption contracts are rarely, if ever, enforceable.

I'm triggered when I see things like the National Council for Adoption's call for personal stories that they can share to "raise awareness about the positive option of adoption" as part of their iChooseAdoption campaign. And don't even get me started on the organization BraveLove and their mission to celebrate and increase adoption in the U.S.

It's a strange thing to be an adoptee who has struggled with adoption in our current society.
Adoption loss is the only trauma in the world where the victims are expected by the whole of society to be grateful. – The Reverend Keith C. Griffith, MBE
Lately, I've been thinking also that adoption is perhaps the only situation in which something that is a source of trauma for many is routinely celebrated and promoted by others. Think of other kinds of loss that people experience. Can you imagine those people walking around in a world that actively promoted the source of their harm?

Yes, I know there are adoptees who report being "just fine" with their adoptive situation. But does their  experience override my own? If a number of people reported getting food poisoning at a particular restaurant would we ignore their claims because others reported having a lovely meal?

My perception is that adoptee trauma and loss is given an occasional nod in today's world, but it is still not being fully taken into account in terms of policy and reform. And so I will continue to tell my story, rather than "moving on."

40 comments:

  1. I have these same triggers. There are some who seem to get it, and I hang out with them and I forget that there is BraveLove and iChooseAdoption who what to "increase" (!) adoptions! What? This just makes me shake my head.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thanks, Laura. I know what you mean. It's maddening!

    ReplyDelete
  3. One of my son's adoptive family members takes regular pot shots at me, his mother. The most recent is a "quote" which reads, Family Is Not Always Blood", posted for all the world to see (myself being the main target, I am sure). These people have done nothing since I have found my child (after being shut out of his life in a supposed open adoption that closed after only a few years) but dehumanize and degrade me, when they know how I have suffered without my child. They claim to be good "Christians", nonetheless. The cruelty and hatefulness I have encountered has opened my eyes to the cruel realities of adoption. It has been my worst nightmare, instead of this "win-win" for all. I wouldn't wish it on my worst enemy. My child AND I have had to endure this despicable behavior all because his adoptive mother could not get pregnant at one time in her life. She ended up having her own son a few years after she adopted mine, but that was not enough for her. She had to continue to punish me for her temporarily infertility for the rest of her life. That is not love, even for the child she covets. That is sick and inhumane.

    To all those who have problem with anyone speaking of the pain of adoption, perhaps you could open your minds and hearts to the plights of others, instead of only yourselves. I know that is astoundingly hard, as I have learned the hard way...

    ReplyDelete
  4. Thanks for commenting, Sandra. That sounds like such a difficult situation!

    ReplyDelete
  5. Beautiful post. I do get triggered by the same things - when only positive is allowed and marketing that misleads without any type of disclaimer - yet required by advertisers of other types of products bother me the most. Is there not a federal advertising standards in the US that goes after them? Is it because Adoption is seen to be all good - so they assume anything posted is true and don't investigate? It boggles my mind.

    ReplyDelete
  6. I was struck by the following lines, which I read last week at Adoption Voices Magazine:
    "My belief is that adoption has become institutionalized in the world, much like racism. The myths of adoption are widespread and widely accepted without question." http://adoptionvoicesmagazine.com/expert-connection/expert-connection-why-are-we-reluctant-to-face-the-painful-truths-of-adoption/

    There's definitely something odd that happens sometimes. Adoptees and original parents speak up and share these heart-breaking stories of personal pain and the response is as if they have violated some sacred code or social order. I agree, it boggles the mind. I've sometimes said that being adopted feels like being trapped in a Kafka novel one's whole life!

    ReplyDelete
  7. Great post. I love "I've been thinking also that adoption is perhaps the only situation in which something that is a source of trauma for many is routinely celebrated and promoted by others" and "I know there are adoptees who report being "just fine" with their adoptive situation. But does their experience override my own?" Glad you're out there telling your story.

    ReplyDelete
  8. I hate being told how my children should be grateful/feel fortunate etc etc that we adopted them. I love them without a shadow of a doubt and love being their mum and see no reason why they should feel lucky that their birth family circumstances led to our adoption.

    Thanks as always for fab post.

    ReplyDelete
  9. It's interesting to read your blog. We were considering adopting through foster care, we wanted to help kids, like my uncles, who had been abused to find families. All the negativity and open hatred towards adoptive parents has lead us to putting it on the back burner. I hate to say it - but we are now afraid to adopt. We know it can be amazing and wonderful, but we feel that society now vilifies adoptive parents. We've put the plan on hold temporarily and hoping to find some sense in this situation. We want to help children, but we don't know if we are brave enough to take the hatred. We do know that adoptive parents aren't perfect and some can be truly horrible. But it feels like a war where everyone loses. I hope that people in all roles in this debate can talk to each other respectfully and improve the situation.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Thank you for commenting. I try my best on this blog to make it clear that I am criticizing a broken system rather than individuals or families, but apparently I am not always successful. Most of my criticism of the adoption institution is aimed at domestic infant adoption because that is the part of the system that directly impacted my life and because I have serious concerns about its current state. There are problems with international adoption as well but other people are more qualified than I am to write about that.

    I'm curious if you have read many things on my blog or just this one post. Are you aware that I myself am an adoptive parent as well as an adoptee? I adopted my youngest daughter by way of foster care; she was 8 when she joined our family. We have a very open adoption involving lots of contact with her biological family. I just came home from watching her score a game-changing point in her final basketball game of the season -- it was awesome! Parenting her is one of the great joys of my life -- more rewarding than I can possibly express.

    The child welfare system is also in need of reform in many states, and I would love to see our society place more value on efforts to strengthen vulnerable families _before_ kids come into foster care (not all kids in foster care were abuse; some had families that broke down in other ways). But obviously, children should not remain in unsafe or abusive situations, and we do need a way for children to be cared for by others when their parents are truly unable to do so. And once a child has been separated from the original family and reunification efforts have failed, I support the position of childrensrights.org that "child welfare systems must be prepared to move quickly to find them permanent alternative homes — usually through adoption."

    I strongly encourage people who are drawn to adoption to consider adopting an older child from foster care. I hope you will read the article I published at Adoption Voices Magazine on older child adotpion: http://adoptionvoicesmagazine.com/straight-from-the-heart/adopting-an-older-child-from-foster-care/

    Please feel free to email me at loveisnotapie@gmail.com if you would like to hear more about my experience of adopting from foster care. I'd be happy to answer any questions you might have about my personal experience.

    But this post that you have commented on is about something different. It's about what it's like to be someone like me, an adoptee who has struggled as a result of having been separated from my biological family and kept separated from them for 30 years, in a world where one encounters sayings such as "adoption is a beautiful option" and entire groups that exist solely for the purpose of promoting and celebrating adoption. Adoption is complicated. It involved loss. This post isn't about adoptive parents. It's about me and how I respond to certain things that I encounter in the world.

    ReplyDelete
  11. "but we feel that society now vilifies adoptive parents."

    Kind of how society has ALWAYS vilified natural parents? Doesn't feel so nice, now does it?

    That being said, I beg to differ. Adoptive parents more often than not seen as saintly and can do no wrong, while natural families just need to go away and let them live in fantasy land. How do I know? I have lived it.

    ReplyDelete
  12. I'm sure there's a lot out there but haven't found it. I'm adopted from Colombia. The 'may I help you' when I'm standing with my mother because I don't look like her. Appreciate the words spoken here as we'll as the replies.

    ReplyDelete
  13. Unfortunately, the experience of relinquishment and the experience of adoption have been lumped together. I've seen adoptees write things like "I hate my relinquishment and love my adoption."

    ReplyDelete
  14. I can see how some might say that, and I can respect that point of view, but it's not a distinction that resonates for me personally. I can say that I love my adoptive family, but that's not the same as loving my adoption. I didn't love growing up without genetic mirroring or knowledge of my roots, for example. Also, relinquishment doesn't occur in a vacuum. My mother was coerced into relinquishment, as were millions of others in the Baby Scoop Era. Adoption was pushed as the _only_ option. Even today, coercion is a big part of the adoption picture. No, not in all cases, but in far too many. Adoption does not exist in the world today solely as a solution to relinquishment; rather, in many cases, relinquishment happens as a direct result of the adoption industry's need to procure infants for parents who want to adopt.

    ReplyDelete
  15. I think coercion happens nearly all the time. They have just gotten a lot more subtle about it.

    If anyone who has ever relinquished a child ever prefaced that relinquishment with a thought like "I can't raise a child right now because ___", they surrendered their child under duress, and the fact that the only "help" they got was someone else helping themselves to the child is morally reprehensible.

    Infant adoption in particular is being used to shove as many women as possible off welfare before they even think of applying for it. The states buy into it because it saves them money. Never mind the money they are already spending on foster care because they will not make the investment into families that would keep a lot of these cases from descending into subpar parenting or neglect or abuse in the first place. No one ever accused Americans of being capable of taking the long view.

    ReplyDelete
  16. Try being a poor mother and get back to me. The anger you're hearing is the backlash.

    I witnessed people telling my ex-MIL (the adopter of my son) that she was some kind of big hero and I was a scumbag, only because she had adopted my son, no other reason. Everyone has been taught to knee-jerk assume that adopters are always good and parents are always bad. This is how it plays out.

    If he'd been with me all this time we'd have had financial difficulty. Since he went with them his metabolic health has gone down the tubes, and he's had to witness his stepgrandfather going on drunken rampages and being arrested for same. I have had some doozy relationships, but I have never had one with an alcoholic that lasted any length of time. Having been raised by them, I dreaded repeating history.


    I think my son would have rather gone without the money. Maybe I'll get to find out when he's 18 next year.


    The truth is that any idiot can adopt if they can just find someone willing to sign a child over. You do not have to go through an agency, you do not have to have a home study. You can do it totally private. That may vary somewhat by state but if one state's laws are a bit too restrictive, just go do it in another state and all the states will recognize the adoption. No problem.

    My best friend since second grade is a social worker and has no love lost for neglectful or abusive biological parents but has flat out told me that adoptive parents and stepparents are more likely to abuse kids than natural parents are. You just do not have that genetic link nor that continuum of experience with the child from conception onwards and if you aren't very, very careful and very, very aware, it can backfire. Most people don't have the stamina to keep that up forever.

    ReplyDelete
  17. We are in the process of adopting a special needs child and your blog has given me pause.

    ReplyDelete
  18. Thanks for commenting. I appreciate that you are engaging with these issues at the beginning of the process. You might find value in today's post at Lost Daughters, which engages with the question of how to define a successful adoption: http://www.thelostdaughters.com/2013/07/round-table-successful-adoption.html

    ReplyDelete
  19. Thank you for sharing. Question(s): so are you proposing something, a change of some sort? You describe a loved and happy experience with biological and adoptive fam - i did not understand how/where trauma enters? Respectfully.

    ReplyDelete
  20. Thank you very much for taking the time to clarify/expound on the term trauma and how that is experienced/defined by/for you.

    [Perspective disclosure: i am an adoptive mom. What brought me to your post was a search for information/perspectives on managing ongoing challenges w my daughter's biological relatives].

    While i am certainly aware of the many ways we non-biological families experience ourselves - i had not before seen the characterization "trauma" in the way you presented it. Additionally, it was significant to me that you did not identify separation from your biological father as traumatic i.e., being separated from your "parents". (?)

    In the diaspora of my family, we have many incidences of "separations". Our children were cared for because mothers have passed at childbirth, men have passed in war, divorces, re-marriages, adoptions, etc - whereby, children are cared for, parented, raised, by those with whom they may not share any biology, or share an indirect biological connection. While, there is a general understanding that the circumstances of those children were not intended, "planned", and/or the event(s) in the child's life were sad or represented a loss; There is this fundamental joy at the circumstance of having those children in our family. i don't have any experience(s) of the idea of "trauma" associated with the child's experience of circumstance - fundamentally. Nor do i, as an adoptive mom, observe this in my own child's life. As an adult, my child has not characterized their own experience as an adoptee in that way to me. So, i admit freely, i was jolted by what i understood you to say in the sense that there is fundamental psychic-level "traumatic" experience which defines all else in the child's life. And if this is so, have i been blind (as a parent - AND has my whole family been blind in that way) in not recognizing it? Just for clarity, i understand "trauma" to mean harmed, damaged, hurt - in ways that repair is not naturally occurring (a broken ankle vs a sprained ankle). Trauma as in the type of damage that changes the very chemistry of who one is, associated with the commonly held beliefs as in the case of rape, abuse, etc.

    i respect and hear you when you say what the experience is for you. And i appreciate what you described as triggers. i tend to, at least fundamentally, agree with you on the morality/ethical challenges surrounding the "industries" around creating/procuring children as commodities.

    However, fundamentally, i view my own experiences in my family of origin, and the family i have created with my child, as random as the gene pools we fall into. By that i mean, we inherit random things genetically - good and bad, viewed as positives or negatives - height, color, ticks, diseases; and we "inherit" family configurations just as randomly.

    Personally, i do ascribe to the mysticism that children pick their parents. My child and i joke when my child complains to me about my certifiable nuttiness - "Hey - you picked, and then re-picked your parents - so what are you complaining about?" ! ;) My own experience of my child's adoption is grounded in the indisputable multi-generational evidence no good could come, and harm would be inevitable, if my child were exposed on any level to her genetic kin. Thankfully, my child did not have that experience of harm in that way!

    All joking aside, i do understand and respect your perception of your experience, support and wish you peace and joy in your journey!

    Again, thank you for taking the time to dialogue, share and contribute to my (our) process.

    ReplyDelete
  21. Katie, i hope that you will continue to consider how you might come to parenting. Based on my own experience, and with a nod to some of the harsher points made - i would encourage you (& spouse?) to avail yourself professional assistance by way of therapy to flush out your objectives. My PERSONAL belief, is "helping" children as a primary motive, might unintentionally lead you and the prospective child(ren) into a blind alley. i know from my own experience, that i am no more a hero, than my mother who bore and raised me, or her mother, who died giving birth to her or my mother's grandmother - who raised her. We are all just parents. We have flaws, shortcomings, love, and selflessness. No biological parent conceives a child to "help" it. Nor should we (adoptive) parents imho. Children by definition need parents, We must come to the decision of parenting of providing what children NEED - and their NEEDS must ALWAYS supersede our own. Parenthood is by nature a fundamentally symbiotic relationship - however, if done for the right reasons, we ALWAYS put the children's needs first.

    With regard to the anger expressed by original parents in the comments - i will say this - i acknowledge the pain they feel. However, their need for relief DOES NOT supersede any child's needs - period. Nor, imho, is a birth-parent's pain the responsibility of the child to repair or an adoptive parent's to alleviate. The PURPOSE in adoption is to provide for the CHILD BY the adoptive parents. The needs of the birth/first family DO need to be met and attended to. It does NOT follow, however, that the adoptee, or adoptee's family is to somehow be the source of healing, comfort, growth, repair of, the issues within the first family that brought the first family to relinquishment in the first place - period. Using a ridiculously simplistic view: If continued relationship with the adopted child would "fix" anything, relinquishment, voluntarily or enforced, would not have occurred. Think about it. In my own circumstance, if there were evidence of growth and healing that produced actions that clearly identified the child's well-being was paramount, then i would have no objection to continued contact. But the level of vitriol in the comments below is indicative of work yet to be done - away from my child. Choosing adoption, voluntary relinquishment, enforced relinquishment are VERY different circumstances - adoptions are NOT generic. Open or closed adoptions are chosen by adoptive families with the best interests of the child in mind - as the child is who the adoptive parents have committed to care for. There are circumstances, where we are forced to choose. As much as a victim of rape who births and relinquishes a child makes her choice - for similar, but different reasons - the best interests of the CHILD. Repectfully,

    ReplyDelete
  22. "The mysticism that children pick their parents"? How sick and depraved.

    Second to the Myth of adoption as a valid societal means of family creation (it is grounded in indentured servitude, among many other rather not nice ways society deals with its poor and unwanted) is the Myth of randomness in our lives; this idea of serendipity, and coincidence, and non-agency.

    Both have their roots in the Calvinist underpinnings of both Anglo-Saxon capitalism, as well as the base principles of such societies, in which we live our fate based on our faults, meaning, the poor are destined to be poor, and deservedly so.

    I have returned to the place of my birth and have lived here for 10 years. If I were to document the interference, forced influence, and corrupt dealings of the country of my acculturation here, it would fill a few libraries. This is all readily available as information to be gleaned by those who wish to understand, often in declassified documents from the U.S. government.

    The idea that society "just is", and that things "just are", and that it all "just falls into place" is an offense against every last person on this planet who suffers for this, the prime delusion of Americans, among others in the "First World".

    Just as we might have agency to adopt, being of those who are assigned luxury and privilege in society, so we have agency to right such wrongs. This entire discussion, with a minor shift to, say, slave ownership, would point out how hollow such sentiment is.

    As I discover more and more how much resonance there is for me in this, the place of my origin, it is intensely offensive to hear anyone dismiss what I have inherited from my forebears.

    Because if it were so much "randomness", then we wouldn't have nuclear families to begin with; we wouldn't have genealogical research, and emphasis on roots and Ellis Island; we wouldn't have ethnic holidays; we wouldn't use expressions like "the spitting image of his father".

    To claim otherwise for adoptees is a hypocrisy almost as repugnant as that of our adoptions themselves. Anyone who uses phrases such as "the mysticism that children pick their parents" owes an apology to much of the planet.

    ReplyDelete
  23. When the very first glimpse of your response reveals hateful, vile, angry and hostile, combative emotions spewing out of control - it makes the point EXACTLY why parents would choose no contact with biological relatives. AND demonstrates how (some) first families have issues so emotionally dysfunctional and entrenched that the child would not be safe with them. Nor do some first families exhibit the necessary emotional development to be able to consider a child's needs and place those needs before their own. So, while attacking my perceptions gives you a place to aim - it does reinforce what many observed on this forum - when its broken, sometimes it can not be fixed. In those instances children are well served being removed from the environment, and we hope the first family gets help to heal and learn healthy ways of living. Unfortunately, your behavior reflects decades of the same kind of lack of insight for my child's biological relative which is why she will not have any contact with them. The circumstances of the child's conception, birth, neglect, endangerment, abandonment, and relinquishment are all the fault of the adoption industry, the state, the adoptive parents, etc.... NO ONE in the first family has attempted to do better when they know better. Or, even to SEEK to know better. Rather, they just demand access to the relinquished child..... Ummmm.... NO.

    ReplyDelete
  24. You are not a parent, you are a caretaker for a child's parents. That you prefer an individual self-glorification over any sense of communal cooperation speaks volumes of where you are coming from. Your trite and cliché categorization of me, while necessary for your salvationist narcissism, is more of a projection with no validity than anything else. How dare you lecture others! How you must pine for the days of the poorhouses, when those like me were forced to shut up and "know their role"! How you must long for the days when the Voiceless remained so, and your day-to-day of self-congratulatory exaltation was left unimpeded! Well, those days are over. And your emperor has no clothes. And your exceptional case is not completely told with only your voice. And it certainly doesn't represent the truth of the entirety of this practice and industry. And it is vainglorious on your part to even imagine that this is so. And the days when we, the displaced and dispossessed, are forced to listen to your drivel and be smacked around with the violence of your insinuations is come to an end. And no one is more "hateful, vile, angry and hostile, combative" than an adoptive parent who's revealed to be simply a doddering old man behind a curtain; an illusion of smoke and fire. Let me re-iterate: "The mysticism that children pick their parents"? Disgusting. Completely and utterly repulsive. Please defend yourself concerning this statement, instead of attacking others. It would do you some good. And you have a lot to make up for in this world, and likely the next as well.

    ReplyDelete
  25. Dear pcjmo8,
    Did you read the full comment? Are you understanding that
    the comment's author is an adoptee? Do you understand that adoptees were acted
    on as infants/children when we were powerless and voiceless, separated from our
    families, cultures, and roots without our consent & that in most cases our
    own birth records remain sealed off from us even when we reach adulthood.
    Contrary to the popular assumption that adoptees are happy and grateful (or
    that we should be thus), many of us are outraged about what happened to
    us and about the ways that the adoption institution continues to operate in the
    world today. As an active member of the online adoption community (which
    includes the above commenter as well as many, many others), I encounter on a
    daily basis the collective pain and suffering that is becoming visible as more
    and more adoptees, first parents, and other members of families impacted by
    adoption separation toss away the "adoption is great" script that was
    drilled into us in favor of our own words. Understand that this is the context
    into which your pat ("joking") comment about "the mysticism that
    children pick their parents" was dropped. I'm sure you can understand why
    we would fail to appreciate the "humor," or the implication that we
    "chose" our lot so we should just suck it up & not complain. We
    adoptees are getting more and more vocal ("uppity"); one way to
    attempt to silence people who speak out against injustice is to insist that
    there is no injustice at all--rather it is all simply part of a grand mystical
    plan. Uh, no. Adoption is a human-created
    institution and the infants and children affected by it were not the
    power players and decision makers. To insinuate (or insist) that we were is
    highly problematic and eliminates any possibility for constructive dialogue
    about the issues.

    ReplyDelete
  26. "i understand 'trauma' to mean harmed, damaged, hurt - in ways that repair is not naturally occurring (a broken ankle vs a sprained ankle). Trauma as in the type of damage that changes the very chemistry of who one is." <-- Yes, that fits with my experience of adoption trauma as well as with the way I have heard it described by many, many other adoptees with whom I have interacted both online and off. Here's a quote by a well-known adoptee writer:

    "I met a therapist who had been invited to work with a group of adoptees.... He seemed puzzled. He said that the adoptees in his group, and the ones he has begun to see in private practice, seemed traumatized. They do not shed their symptoms like his other patients. Their trauma seemed deeper, as if it were very early—almost cellular." — Betty Jean Lifton, Journey of the Adopted Self

    I also recommend that you check out the following: http://www.rebeccahawkes.com/2013/04/adoption-trauma-addiction-etc.html



    The video is one that I have encountered again & again in adoptee circles because so many of us see ourselves in it.


    And yes, I understand that not every adoptee is the same, but general trends can and have been observed in our population. Many of us go through stages (ranging from denial that adoption has impacted us to overwhelming awareness that it has to eventual acceptance of our fate).


    I am both an adoptee and an adoptive parent (older child foster adoption) so my self-education on adoptee issues is ongoing and important for her sake as well as my own. I hope you will find the above resources useful.

    ReplyDelete
  27. pcjmo8,

    Every adoptee
    processes his or her adoption differently. The actions of the first families
    you are in contact with may be maddening and frustrating. However. Consider,
    please setting an example for the person you are raising and rise above it. I’m
    not asking you to put him or her in an unsafe situation; however, if one of my
    first family relative were to contact me and say, “I’m sorry. I effed up, I
    want to try to repair our relationship going forward.”

    You know what?

    I would jump,
    JUMP to forgive them, to get to know them, to give them a 2nd, 3rd,
    4th chance. And let me tell you, the bad behavior of some of these
    individuals is … bad.

    Showing the
    person you are raising that you view their first family as dangerous and
    distasteful is akin to saying that he himself is dangerous and distasteful.
    Although, he may never express it as such.

    Also, to say that
    your child chose you, while a fluffy platitude, is not based in reality.
    Please, for the love of pete, base your statements of love in REALITY, not flowerly
    mysticism. Societal ills, drug abuse, untreated mental health issues created
    the need for a child to be removed from his or her home. Even so, the adoptee
    should have all of your unequivocal support in creating some type of
    relationship with his first family (even if it’s merely occasional letter
    writing).

    To Daniel’s
    comments. Right. On. And, comparing adoption as an institution (and I mean,
    think of it as an institution I’m critiquing, as opposed to adoptive parents
    themselves, personally) to slavery is a great one. It really puts into
    perspective our current views, and where (I hope) we’ll be in a generation.

    Even as a child,
    I told my parents that they bought me, like a slave. They paid money for me,
    plain and simple. (My bullshit censor was very sensitive from a young age.)

    It was true then,
    and it’s true now. And guess what? I love my adoptive parents! I know,
    confusing, right?

    But nevertheless,
    Daniel’s comparison of slavery and adoption is one that I encourage you to
    consider further. How absurd would it be to tell a house slave to be grateful
    she was a slave? She should be happy she gets to live in a house! Think about
    how she’d be living if she were back in Africa, where there are no
    brick-and-mortar houses! How the slave should appreciate that the slave owner
    takes care of her, and so on and so forth.

    The moment we
    turn our perceptions on their head, is when we can truly allow ourselves to
    understand the voiceless. You CANNOT talk to a slave owner about what it’s like
    to live as a slave. That’s obvious; although it might not be so obvious when
    applied to adoption … yet.

    ReplyDelete
  28. Great post, Rebecca. I'm with you, 100%. These campaigns you refer to are manipulative. The only way to sell pain is to wrap it up with a bow to those with money. Would birth mothers be as willing to "sacrifice" if they knew the whole story of what happens to their child's psyche? No way!

    ReplyDelete
  29. I agree Stacy. Adoptive parents are not usually villified -- mostly glorified. It's just another version of "you seem ungrateful for being adopted" because Rebecca wrote about it. It's like people have a need to see adoption as all black or all white. Sorry -- you just can't view it that way. There is deep loss and deep joy -- but it should never be packaged like we do package it here in the U.S.

    ReplyDelete
  30. This is my second attempt to respond I hope it works this time.


    While you may not consider it trauma research does. Research has shown that separating a baby from his or her mother after birth is traumatic for that baby. The trauma symptoms exist whether that baby is placed in a NICU or held by his or her loving father. Babies *KNOW* their mothers. They know their voices, they know their scent, they know their heart beats. Being abruptly taken away from what they know is a trauma. This does not negate the love and care they can receive from others nor does it mean all babies who experience this trauma will react in the same way, but it IS a trauma.

    ReplyDelete
  31. I had a lot of those triggering moments this past week with The Today Show highlighting adoption stories in only the positive...I had to shield myself from that kind of stuff once I realized it was happening...add in a few other significant triggers, and for the first time in my life I wound up in a psychiatric hospital for 3 days...it was not all adoption related, but it was adoption "connected"...I was glad I realized that I needed help when my regular coping skills did not work...it was a trip 47 years in the making...kind of surprised now it has not happened before now....and very thankful for caring staff, family and friends and a top-notch facility in the town where I live. It is no doubt I needed to go there, but now I have to figure out how not to go back :)

    ReplyDelete
  32. "it was a trip 47 years in the making...kind of surprised now it has not happened before now...." <-- I can relate! So many of us put so much energy into what I call "passing for normal" & when the facade finally comes down it can come down hard! Glad you got the care you needed and that you are finding yourself in a better place post-visit! xoxo

    ReplyDelete
  33. Also, this is part of why I get so frustrated when people say "I know an adoptee & he/she as NO issues related to adoption." How do they know? May the adoptee is really fine or maybe (more likely, based on my experience & observations) his or her stuff just hasn't risen to the surface yet. (I am one of those adoptees who long seemed "fine," but I wasn't.)

    ReplyDelete
  34. As you know it's an incredibly complex situation for all involved, however it does jar deep within me when the adoptee's voice is not acknowledged. I am a 29 year old reunited adoptee in the UK and I think it is a real shame that there isn't an understanding of this deeply ingrained bias towards the positive and the 'voice' of the bio / adoptive parents. I believe this is mainly due to ignorance but it can do real damage. I am very much at peace with my situation and in-fact wouldn't change a single thing. I'm considered by my friends and loved ones as a very well-rounded, upbeat person, but if there's one subject that gets me feisty it's this. These issues of shame, guilt, fear, and general feeling of being 'not quite good enough' should be enough of a burden for a child to bear let alone having its feelings (however difficult to understand or articulate) repressed. It's clear to any self aware, adoptee that there are both positives and negatives that need to be spoken about in equal measure. This currently isn't happening and it is a real shame because it is damaging to the adoptee and the process as a whole. It took me a long time to unpick years of denial and in-articulation of unexpressed emotions to get to where I am today. If you google 'adoptee' very little comes up. I'm trying to change this in my small way (@adopteeuk ) Being adopted isn't something that you 'deal with' and then you can put it away in a little box. It's a constant process that can enrich your character. Life triggers will always come along but with the right support network and platform to share our situations hopefully we can make it a much more easier process and break down these current biases. :)

    ReplyDelete
  35. The.Best.Interests.Of.The.Child. I can not see in the emotions of the words you speak - where your deep unabiding love care and concern for "the child" is. i do see YOUR Id leading your thoughts and emotions. i do see YOUR pain and hurt. i do see that what Rebecca clarified for me is a reality. i do NOT see that the responsibility of THE CHILD is to assuage your pain. Nor, do i see how attacking another person - me or adoptive parents in general is valid. i do not see how people who had nothing to do with the circumstances of a pregnancy that resulted in a relinquishment are legitimately held as "the bad guys" and worthy of hate (Rebecca's point about the "industry" aside) . i think, Rebecca calls for self-examination of motives and unintended consequences, with a call to make changes where changes need to be made. For me, those things are valid. For me, Rebecca's call is heard. For me, i would under no circumstances expose my child to the vitriol - and it is palpable - expressed by a first/birth parent exhibiting behavior such as yours. Best Interest of MY/our child. i am done conversing with you on this matter as long as the pain from which you speak leads you to attack - because of course, there is NO communication, just attacks. i hope that you heal, and that people in your life support that, i hope that you find peace and joy and live your full life's potential with and in love, security and safety.

    ReplyDelete
  36. No, i didn't - i confess. The spirituality with we as individuals come to the table includes all - and i do believe that souls come more than once to this world. And i do believe that we all have a path that leads us back time and time again until we learn the lessons life has to teach us. That being said, i will apologize for not stating that in full. i stopped reading with the "attack". i did NOT realize that an adoptive child was speaking. And i apologize for that. Not making excuses for myself for not hanging in there thru the whole response in any way. i will say that pain is experienced by all of us for many reasons in our lives - adopted or no, as i said to you in describing my own first family. While i understand we hurt and express pain, it is also an understanding that experiencing pain in and of itself does not give us permission to attack. And that is what that was. If you scream because you have an open wound, people understand that and move to help and assist. If you attack someone because you are in pain, people tend to back away. That is what i did. i can't help. It is reflexive. And it seems i would be likely to get bit. i apologize for my own short-comings in that regard. Thank you again.

    ReplyDelete
  37. :::Thunderous applause::: You win the Adopter Trifecta which requires you to a) dismiss the one speaking (an adoptee, despite your projection that I am a parent) by qualifying them in terms of some kind of "scale" of mental well-being that you have invented on the spot; b) claim that their valid resistance to such a qualification is an "attack" and then retroactively define what you are doing as a defensive measure; c) walk away from the fray you started (with the very act of adoption) as if this discussion is being held on your terms, and based on your desire to be a part of it. Do we disappear when you aren't around as well, like Alice in the King's dream?

    Such unmitigated hubris. Such bottomless arrogance. Such a sorry excuse for a so-called parent. I will from now until the end of my days thank God endlessly for not allowing your "mystical" child-choosing-parents idiocies to have forced me to live in the same house as yourself. For this begs the question: When the child temporarily in your care raises such ideas, what will you say to them? To what degree will you dismiss them? This is what you have to answer for. Because you have just failed your practice session, and you don't get "second tries" in real life. Now you may go. You are hereby dismissed.

    ReplyDelete
  38. I also know non-adoptees who've gone through horrific things and appear 'fine'. Nobody would say 'But I know so and so and they were abused/ had alcoholic parents etc and they're 'fine'. Who is anyone to speak for another person's experience? Only adoptees get this! And as you say, adoptees are very good at appearing 'normal'. And many explode at one point because they can't keep pretending- I was one of them too! I think every adoptee has a kind of meltdown before 'leaving the fog'

    ReplyDelete

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...