Learning about these statistics fascinated me the way a car accident often fascinates us (in horror) as we pass by and are grateful we are safe.
Adoptees are 15 times more likely to commit parricide (kill one or both adoptive parents) than biologic children. Of the 500 estimated serial killers in U.S. history, 16 percent were adopted as children, while adoptees represent only 2 or 3 percent of the general population.
Dr. David Kirschner has been an expert witness in 20 homicide cases in which the accused was adopted, usually as an infant, or in early childhood. In every case of these adoptees who killed, he found a remarkably similar pattern, including a history of sealed original birth records, a childhood of secrets and lies (re: birth parents and genetic history), frustrated, blocked searches for birth parents, and untreated, festering adoption issues of loss, rejection, abandonment, identity, and dissociated (split-off) rage.
This sub-group of adopted killers who he has seen consistently had a strikingly similar fantasy of the birth mother: That she was an all-giving, all-loving, nurturing, wonderful, perfect being. He had expected to find conscious anger/rage directed at a malevolent, rejecting bad mother – but instead there was this paradox of an idyllic birth-mother-fantasy image. The anger and rage toward birth parents was there – but deeply repressed, often dissociated and cut off from consciousness, and ultimately acted-out with violence toward the adoptive parents or others. In these extreme cases, the split, false, secret self described by many adoption experts, had evolved into a more malignant, clinical Dissociative Identity Disorder (aka Multiple Personality Disorder).
Adoption has long been neglected by mental health experts, as well as the criminal justice system, in the search for causes of eruptions of extreme violence. Some adoptees believe that they have been conceived out of wedlock in the back seat of a car or by a prostitute. One adoptee who has written about her search for answers was conceived in an act of rape. Regardless of the sad circumstances that lead to a person’s birth and relinquishment – truth is always the best policy. In the absence of truth (due to sealed adoption records and changes in identity details) an adoptee and even their children are left to make up stories to fill the gaps in real information. I know that happened to me and within my own family.
Not every adoptee will suffer in the extreme this way but every adoptee deep inside has issues of abandonment and rejection. For this reason, I do believe we have to find a better way to care of children who need a stable home with loving, caring parental figures. No identity changes, no hidden familial truths. Honesty is the best policy going forward.