Losing My ?

As the child of both parents being adoptees and as the sister to my only two sisters, who both gave up babies to adoption – I’ve said “adoption” was the most natural thing in the world for me. But that isn’t quite right – it’s not natural – and all of the kids I grew up going to school with didn’t have adoptee parents (though thankfully, my parents were NOT my adoptive parents) and adoptive grandparents and adoptee uncles. So, I can’t really say it was commonplace to have adoption be so primary in our lives.

The closest I can come is that it was the reality. Not having a medical history for my parents when asked about that in doctor’s offices was just the reality.

Not knowing our racial heritage was just the reality. In fact, it may seem a bit odd but until I knew better (in 2017, when I was already 63 years old and both of my parents deceased), I honestly thought my mom was half African American and my dad was half Mexican – not kidding about that – that is how I was able to explain to myself that my parents had been given up for adoption – they must have been mixed race, which made me at least 50% mixed race along with 50% white (because I was definitely light skinned, blond haired and blue eyed). The truth was far from my creative imaginings. My mom had a lot of Scottish along with some English and thanks to slavery a smidgeon of Mali. My dad is half Danish.

My 4 adoptive grandparents were all wonderful people. My mom’s original parents were highly thought of and loved by their relations. My dad’s mother was loved and his dad, well he was a lot like my dad. Never knew he had even one child, let alone a son. More’s the pity – I think they would have made great fishing buddies.

Yet for about 5 years now, I’ve been reading the thoughts of adoptees wherever I find them and my perspective has entirely changed. I do not think adoption is a good thing in most cases. I actually thought my parents were orphans for the longest time – like until I was grown and heard from my mom that she was trying to get the state of Tennessee to release her adoption file to her because she was CONVINCED her adoption had been inappropriate (to a great extent because Georgia Tann had been involved) and she wanted to contact her original mother. Then, the state of Tennessee broke her heart because they told her that her mom had already died a few years earlier. She knew her dad was likely (and even that was not certain) older than her mom, so probably dead too. About 2 years after my mom died, I was able to do what she never could – get her entire adoption file from the state of Tennessee.

I do have Ancestry as well as 23 and Me to thank for most of my progress on my dad’s side. I now know who all 4 of my original grandparents were (something my own parents died never knowing). I have contact with some genetic, biological relations who are still living. I feel whole in a way I never even knew I did not feel before I learned all of that.

Somehow this song speaks to my feelings about all of this . . .

One Story For Today

New Orleans – 2005 – Katrina

Quick take – from an adoptee of a closed adoption: This is complicated. It’s painful, it’s bittersweet. I am thankful for the outcome of a very shitty situations. I am NOT thankful all 3 parties involved suffered in various was. I AM thankful for a good childhood and for love. It DOESN’T remove the grief and pain.

BACKSTORY/ CONTEXT: I was adopted at 2 weeks old, in a closed adoption. My family never hid it. We would have a small cake every year. They would ALWAYS tell me how much my birth mother loved me. They would tell me how thankful they are to have me as a daughter. They never made me feel bad for asking questions they couldn’t always answer or verbalizing thoughts about her and her situation. which I did, ALOT. Lol Our extended family didn’t treat me differently. Of course, my parents and I had our very rough moments. No one’s perfect.

I still had emotional problems, which I found out later in life were related to adoption trauma. It was hard. It had permeated every aspect of my existence. Its confusing and painful, It still hurts.

Katrina hit 8-9 months before I could legally search for her. I was distraught for the people but for personal reasons too… The hospital I was born in, the agency. The city, my only tangible connection to her was UTTERLY DESTROYED. Were my files lost?? Did she still live there? Was she ok? Was she trapped on a roof? Is she dead? It was maddening to know answers may have been swept away in raging flood waters. I had waited my Whole Life for them.

I’ve since reconnected my my birth mom and learned the circumstances that lead to her giving me up. And OMG it tears me up inside knowing what she went through, why she didn’t keep me. All the pain and trauma she experienced. SO MUCH TRAUMA. It breaks my heart. I have ALOT OF ANGER about her treatment by many people.

Knowing that my adopted parents struggled to start a family and for 15 years they watched their siblings and friends have So Many Kids makes me sad.

I grieve the loss of biological connection. So much about how I am now makes much more sense. I talk like my birth mom. Have similar random things in life that we and my birth family share. Mu adoptive parents tried their best but didn’t really have the understanding or tools to deal with the sad things.

It is true that some adoptive parents are utter nightmares and should never have been parents.

I am thankful for WHO I ended up with. That my birth mom’s huge gamble of relinquishing her daughter for a better life worked just like she hoped. I am SO appreciative to have 3 parents who love me.

A lot of adoptive parents play the saint, throw it in their kid’s face. Feel entitled to being what THEY willingly and actively went in search of becoming. That behavior is NOT ok.

Blogger’s note – I feel guilty for lucking out (that I didn’t end up adopted when my unwed, teenage mother turned up pregnant because in my family adoption was so very normal – both parents were adoptees, so their parents were all adoptive parents). At this point in my own adoption discovery journey, I never really hope to hear that other adoptees had good experiences but I am thankful when they have had a good experience. But that’s not why I am here. I’m mostly here to deal with the hard topics and help reform continue to emerge. When the story I come across is a happy story, I’m glad to not be only a downer.

As humans, we ALL seek validation. It’s natural. With that said, tread carefully when you learn someone was adopted. Maybe let them give you THEIR perspective first before you ask what could be uncomfortable questions.

Betrayal After Betrayal

Today’s story courtesy of the LINK> Huffington Post – My Dad Hid My Sister From Me For Decades. Then I Learned That Wasn’t Our Only Family Secret by Sarah Leibov. I share excerpts. You can read the whole story at the link.

Her dad had impregnated his girlfriend long before he met her mom and she was placed for adoption. The truth was revealed because the woman was coming to Chicago where the author lived and not only her mother (who had divorced her father 20 years ago) and her brother (who also knew about this secret sister) thought Sarah might want to meet her.

Her brother knew because he was going through their dad’s briefcase seven years ago and discovered letters from this woman and began corresponding with her. The mother discovered the secret when she asked who sent an email she saw on her son’s computer.

Sarah describes her reaction to the shock of learning about this sister. I only noticed that I was crying when people passing me on the street gave me sympathetic looks. I sat down on the curb, shaking. I was in shock, but another part of me was relieved. Intuitively, I’d always felt that my father was hiding something from me. Hearing the news validated the fear I’d buried inside for years. I was confused as to why he had kept this secret. My parents had divorced and married other partners when I was young, and I’d already had every kind of sibling imaginable ― my brother, a stepsister from my mother’s next marriage, and three half siblings from my father’s second marriage. Why would he keep quiet about this one? I didn’t know why my brother had never confronted my father, or shared the news with me. It was betrayal after betrayal.

She didn’t want to meet her father’s hidden daughter behind his back, or hide it from him, as he had from her. She called her brother and told him, “Call Dad now, and tell him what you know, or I will.” The next day, her father asked Sarah and her brother to meet him at a deli she’d never heard of. She thinks he thought she wouldn’t make a scene in an unfamiliar public setting, but admits, “I upset his plan. Tears flowed down my face as I ignored inquisitive looks from people trying to enjoy their matzo ball soup.”

Her father told them that when his girlfriend discovered that she was pregnant, she told him that she was moving to another state and planned to place the baby for adoption. Two decades later, the hidden sister gained access to her adoption papers and reached out to both her birth parents. Their father had then started corresponding with her and even met with her several times over the years.

Sarah writes about their first meeting – My fiancé and I met my new sister at a restaurant the following evening. My father was right ― she was lovely, kind and unassuming. I noticed that we both had inherited my father’s dark eyes and curly hair. She seemed a bit nervous and just as intent on making a good impression as I was. In her warm presence, all my envy disappeared.

And in the years since, we have bonded over our mutual interests in music and meditation, both on the phone and in person. I am very fond of her, but it’s so much more than that. I admire her political activism and ideals. She is a health care worker, and I’ve never heard her blame anyone for the difficulties she has endured. She lives with an easy, open acceptance that is challenging for me.

The hidden sister turned out not to be the only secret in their family. Turns out that her maternal grandfather had an affair during his marriage to her grandmother. Her mother and this half-sister (discovered thanks to Ancestry.com) were born only a few months apart, but on opposite sides of the country. When asked if her father had ever traveled to the East Coast, her mother explained that he was a traveling salesman. “We hear that a lot,” the geneticist told her mother.

Upon learning about this, Sarah was angry at her grandfather for deceiving her mother, similar to how she had been angry at her father for withholding a sister from her. It was frustrating that because the grandfather was deceased they couldn’t get answers from him. I know the feeling. I would love to know why my maternal grandfather appears to have abandoned my maternal grandmother and the baby that was my adoptee mother.

When she saw how overjoyed her mother was to have discovered a sister so late in her life, Sarah’s perspectives changed. It wasn’t their actions that were reprehensible, their decisions to hide what happened had caused pain.

She ends her essay with this – “Enough time has been stolen from me and now its my responsibility to recover what has been lost.” I understand. Building relationships with people who didn’t know you existed for over 60 years isn’t easy. I simply keep trying to stay connected with my “new” genetic family.

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Pluses and Minuses

A Former Foster Care Youth, then Adoptee writing her thoughts… contemplates – Am I the only one that struggles with going back and forth with being – glad my parents gave me up and then, at the same time sad that my extended family didn’t keep me ? I can’t imagine the person I would be, if I was raised by my biological parents… if I were to guess, I probably wouldn’t have finished high school and would be living off welfare. But being given up also caused additional trauma including feeling unworthy, unloved and abandoned. I was sexually abused in the first foster family I was placed with. Then, the second family had so many foster kids, I never got attention. The family that adopted me did so because their biological daughter passed away at 20 years old, so they took me in. I always felt like I had to be who she was… Then again, my adoptive mother did teach me to be a strong, independent woman who doesn’t need to depend on anyone including the government, financially. So I think, there are pluses and minuses in being given up and adopted. However, I also think, if my biological mother had received the help she needed, mentally and financially, maybe I would not have had to go through any of my imagined or my real outcomes.

I am not an adoptee myself but I have thought about such things. Both of my original grandmothers could have raised my parents had they had the proper support and assistance. I have no doubt about that. My mom may have grown up in more poverty because her adoptive parents were financially very well off. This did allow some benefits and privileges for my mom and for me and my sisters. I’m less certain about how my dad may have turned out.

His original mother was unwed and had an affair with a married man. I doubt he ever knew he had a son as his extended family here in the United States and still living in Denmark did not know he existed. DNA proved my relationship to them. My paternal grandmother did go on to have other children but also a rather difficult life as I have been told. No doubt he would have been loved. He was very important to his adoptive mother as well who had a huge influence on the outcome of my own life. She was a strong woman in her own ways.

I grew up with good adoptive grandparents, aunts and cousins and I am grateful for all of them. Learning about my original family has had a bittersweet effect on me. It has left me more lonely in odd ways – not part of the adoptive or the genetic families – in reality. More alone than I was before I knew . . .

Sometimes People Change

For people with adoption in their family, reunions are always an unknown quality. Like, even though my maternal grandmother was married to my maternal grandfather, why did he leave her 4 months pregnant ? (I do have theories but will never have actual answers – my cousin with the same grandfather doesn’t think his nature was not to care about his children and from pictures of him with my mom’s half-siblings that would seem to be true).

So an adoptee wrote – I think I found my birth father’s family. I am unsure if I should reach out. My birth mom told me he is a horrible person and the treason she put me up for adoption was due to his violent behavior and abuse towards her. I want to but I’m nervous.

It is not uncommon for a woman who has been the victim of domestic violence to want to protect her children from her abuser. Putting the child up for adoption can be seen as a way to provide distance and safety for that child. Case in point – My son’s birth father was/is a terrible sociopath, which is a big factor in my choice for adoption. Because it’s his mom and not me in charge, I have no concerns about him knowing his paternal grandparents and aunts. They’re very connected, and he loves it! So I say, go for it. You definitely deserve to form your own opinion.

Abusers don’t abuse everyone – so remember that before running away with – he said it wasn’t true, so it mustn’t be. You can still reach out but have boundaries to keep yourself as safe as possible. Maybe he is a reformed alcoholic or got help. There just tends to be a misogynistic perspective of – he’s nice to me, so no way he was not good to my mother, in many of these cases – and that is true across all family types.

It may be wise to look up his criminal record to be safe, but just like you, there may be good people he fathered or is related to, even if your mom is being honest. The adoptee replied – I looked it up, and he hasn’t had a charge since 1999. To which the advice giver said – maybe he was just someone who has criminal behavior when intoxicated and he got clean. Wouldn’t be the first! And the adoptee replied – He was intoxicated according to the arrest record. It’s hard to say. It could even not be the right person, but based on the information I was given, I’m confident it is. Even if he sucks, it’s better to live with the knowing than to live with the regret of wondering. You might have accurate information on who he used to be but you don’t know who he is now. 

More practical advice – Don’t share too much too soon, so you can walk away and not look back, if you need to. With that being said – people may make up things to make themselves feel better or he could have changed. Every person deserves to be heard out, if the person needing the explanation wants to hear it. It’s likely been quite some time since you were given up, and, sometimes, people change. Sometimes the situation was misunderstood. Sometimes the situation isn’t what it was presented to be. I’d contact them anyway. Don’t pass out your home address, use a texting or messaging app to contact them by phone, meet in public places, if you’re meeting them. Don’t put your own address as a return address if using the mail, use an email that you don’t use for everything, if by email.

Good to realize – People always have stories. They don’t always line up. Your mother has her side and her experience. It is valid and important. However, she has a story that has a different character. A different man. People change over time. They live. They learn, they grow and they die. You can wait until it’s too late and lose the chance to answer your questions or you can take a chance. We adoptees hear stories of others all the time. Never knowing our own. We hear how others are effected but we are overlooked. All for our “protection”. So many people have agendas. They don’t want to look like the bad guys. They don’t want their mistakes brought to light. Understandable. However we aren’t responsible for them being comfortable. 

This person’s experience matches my own experience on my maternal grandparents side quite a lot – They were farmers and country folk from southern Illinois (just to note – mine were Tennessee and Arkansas). Family was important to them. I was a missing piece to ALL of them in the family. A missing child. How horrible to think if I had not decided to find them that they would have always wondered what happened to that baby girl (just to add – that was also the case re: my mom, they all knew she existed). Me. I have now been welcomed back whole heartedly back into the family fold. No questions no judgements and all my questions answered. I know that the chances of that are so chancy but it was worth it for me. I hope that you can find some sort of closure or comfort in your journey. It’s always so scary to start, those first steps.

Carrie Coon’s Adopted Sister

This quote caused me to go looking for more information because we watched Oliver Stone’s Salvador last night. Here is what I found thanks to LINK> Pound Pup Legacy – exposing the dark side of adoption.

Carrie Coon had just turned 3 in 1983 when adopted sister Morena, 4, joined her family. From the beginning, the two girls were very close — and together they made a charming pair, with Morena the dark one and Carrie the fair one, both pretty girls with long, straight hair. Morena was one of several hundred young children from El Salvador who were adopted by Northeast Ohio families in the early 1980s. That was when the Salvadoran civil war was at its height.

In the summer of 2000, Morena’s younger sister, Carrie (who was then 19), traveled to El Salvador, hoping to make contact with the biological family that her older sister could not remember. The war in El Salvador ended in 1992. And within a few years, the biological parents of some of the children who had been stolen for adoption during the conflict came looking in the United States. By that time, most of the adopted children were in their teens. Carrie was 16 then. Morena was 18.

75,000 people were killed in the El Salvador civil war. Morena was not one of the children who learned they had been stolen. John and Paula Coon, who also were raising three sons, had orphanage paperwork that included the names of Morena’s biological mother — Rosa Sanchez — and her father — Flores. By that time, they also had located Morena’s older sister, who was adopted and living in Sacramento, California. Both girls are lucky to have survived. Morena says today she would love her family members to know she is OK and to know they are OK, if they also survived. “It would be kind of hard to put them in my heart now,” she said. “I mean, they always have a place there — the way I think they are. But to find them, it’s like meeting a perfect stranger.”

Morena in 2000 was 21 years old and in the Navy. She was serving on the aircraft carrier John Fitzgerald Kennedy stationed at Mayfield, FL. She understood her sister Carrie’s interest in finding Morena’s Salvadoran relatives. It was for that reason, that Carrie joined a group of 55 Ohio students — including many Salvadoran adoptees — who traveled to Santa Tecla, El Salvador, as part of a medical mission to an orphanage there. The orphanage was located in Ahuachapan, near where Morena’s birth family came from. The group was led by Dr Harvey Tucker of Children’s Hospital Medical Center of Akron. Morena said that Carrie, “. . . just wants to know for herself what kind of people they were. I just know that’s the way she is. We are very close.”

Carrie remembers how frightened Morena was when the two girls were preschoolers together. “She was really possessive of her toys. I remember I wanted to hug her, and she would run away because she was afraid of me.” Over the years, Carrie became more and more interested in Morena’s Salvadoran background. She recalls their parents taking them to see the 1989 movie Romero about the Salvadoran archbishop who was assassinated during the war in 1981. The film included some graphic scenes of the war and its violence. “My parents never really held us back from those things,” Carrie recalled. “. . . When I saw the movie, and just the violence there, I was fascinated by that society and how those people have so little, compared to what we have here.”

Carrie and Morena’s parents told their children that Morena had been rescued from a dangerous place, where she had been so poor she had had to sell candy on the streets. “It was pretty frightening,” Paula Coon recalled. “We went (to adopt Morena) on the weekend after the U.S. Embassy was bombed — in July of 1983.”

In elementary school, Morena didn’t always blend in. “People would say, ‘Is she your real sister?’ because we don’t look alike,” Carrie said, describing her sister’s dark-skin, her dark hair — the features she got from her Mayan ancestors. “A lot of people didn’t know what adoption is, and where El Salvador is.”

The teen-age years were hard for Morena. She was a senior in high school when publicity surfaced about the Salvadoran children being stolen for adoption here. It caused a crisis with her adopted family. “Morena has never said, ‘You’re not my real mom, you’re not my real dad,’ ” Paula Coon said, “But she was becoming disruptive in the family.. . . Morena had more baggage than the average teen-ager.” Though it was hard for her to accept her older daughter’s distancing behavior at the time, Paula Coon said, “Carrie always knew and understood what Mo was going through. Carrie said to me, ‘I have talked to other kids like Morena — and they’re having the same problems.’ “

Morena was able to return to being on good terms with her family. During her time in the navy, she called home from the base “almost every day.” And, although Morena does not retain any of the Spanish language that she spoke as a toddler, her sister Carrie became a Spanish-language major in college. Carrie was excited about her trip to El Salvador because it was a place she had always imagined, ever since she and Morena became sisters. “We take everything for granted here,” Carrie said. “I have always wanted people to understand about her (Morena), where she came from. I thought this would help me understand her a little bit better.”

Want to add this from an adoptee – I carry the life long burden of being “ya know she’s the adopted one”. I let it define me for so many years. I was and am just a kid, grandkid, a person, who happens to have been adopted. Took me a very long time to figure that out. It stymied a lot of my younger years.

How To Answer What’s It Like

Though my mom talked to me about her being adopted, my dad never did. I didn’t have enough background foundation to ask more direct questions of my parents and since they are both deceased, that opportunity has been lost to me. Therefore, I am always interested in adoptee’s who share how it feels to have been adopted.

Some stories for a Sunday morning –

As an adoptee, I get a lot of questions about my experience and feelings toward my adoption. I have found great value in trying to understand and explain those experiences. Recently I was asked by a friend, “What is it like for you to be an adoptee during childhood ? What about as an adult, is it the same or is the experience different ?”

I have so many mixed feelings about it confusion, pain, anger, and loneliness are the primary feelings I have about it, especially when I was younger. I didn’t understand why I was so different from my family and from others. It was always a hot button for someone being a jerk to press – being unloved by my birth mother or disposable by her. I mean, the family I grew up in ? We don’t look alike, act alike or even communicate in the same ways. I was sent away during a four year period of my childhood to boarding schools and wilderness programs because they said I was “out of control.”

I just had so much anger when I was younger but now I truly believe that my adoptive parents had no idea how to handle me. I didn’t get to say things like “it’s because of my heritage,” or “it’s the Irish in me” because I really didn’t know my history. Those feeling are subsiding with age and time and my search for who I am increases yearly. I want to share those genetic connections that others share and see my quirks in another person, without seeming like I am ungrateful.

My adoptive parents are very supportive of this search but I know that it does hurt them. As a father myself, I am finally experiencing some of those things and kinds of similarities I always wanted, and it is a beautiful feeling. The feeling now is more longing, hope, and feeling lucky to be alive (I know this is not a popular thought with all adoptees but it’s how I feel), and an acceptance of my own reality as I create for my own self my life going forward. It still hurts, a lot. And it fills me with the constant fear regarding my other relationships that I might again experience being abandoned.

Blogger’s note – my father never did get that son he wanted. My parents had three daughters and so, maybe that is why my mom was more forthcoming with me, than my dad was.

Another one – I was fostered from birth and forced to become an adoptee at the age of 10 (it was a closed adoption during the Baby Scoop Era, a period in history starting after the end of World War II and ending in the early 1970s, my mother was coerced to relinquish her rights just before I turned 8 years old).

I still hold a deeply felt anger for the lies I was told and also the physical and mental abuse at the hands of the woman who was allowed to adopt me. I miss my natural mother daily – always have and always will. What I have found empowering as an adult adoptee (yes, it is part of who I am & always will be — I am an adoptee) is speaking out for others, advocating for current foster and adopted youth, so that there’s the opportunity for them to have a better childhood than the one I experienced.

I never would have thought so but doing the DNA tests and discovering living blood relatives (aside from my daughter and her family — who are descendants – and my estranged mother — I never knew of anyone) has been healing. Additionally, I’ve become very involved in building out both sides of my ancestral/heritage family tree. It has been an education in many ways, and although there is a bittersweet sadness to so much, there is also an identification of where I actually do belong within the life/death continuum and that has been an emotionally uplifting experience that has caught me off guard but in a mostly positive way. I am honoring their ancestral (genetic/genealogical) legacy, at the same time I am acknowledging my own place, while learning many things that even my mother (who hid my existence) never knew.

Blogger’s note – for my own self as well. Doing the DNA tests at Ancestry and 23 and Me have filled in the gaps that parents died never knowing. I still need to complete the “new” family trees I started for each of them with their birth identities and genetic relations at Ancestry. It just feels like the right thing to do for each of them. I now have family history. When one has grown up without that, it is difficult to describe how amazing that actually feels.

The next story – I was in the fog until I was about 20. I always knew I was adopted. And my adoptive parents did so much better than most. I always felt like the rug would be pulled out from under me. Always waiting for some big bad disaster. Always distrusting and always feeling like I was somehow “wrong.” As an adult, I have worked really hard to break the cycle of harm. But I still always feel like I have to prove something or I am not valid. And I don’t think I will ever feel like I fit in anywhere.

One last story – as a child I was very curious about my heritage, I always wondered if I had siblings. My adoptive parents gave me a good childhood, we did a lot of things and they were very loving. As I got older, I was also “out of control” and my parents didn’t know what to do. I ended up, moving out at 17 years old.

I had been living in the fog, up until last year. Now, as an adult, it’s like a rollercoaster. An unexplainable ride of emotions from good to bad and everything in between. I’ve been through my reunion. I have 4 half brothers, who I love dearly. I have no relationship with either biological parent. No romantic relationship in my life BUT it’s nice to know that I’ve consistently sabotaged most of them, due to my fear of abandonment (now I understand why). I’ve spent the last year or so really healing from my adoption trauma and it’s felt really good. I still have pain that will never go away. I struggle mostly with the desire to love my biological mother as I “should” and resenting her terribly for abandoning me (twice). She wants no relationship with me and I’m ok with that, it just makes me sad.

Profiles In Adoption

National Council for Adoption recently conducted this survey of adoptive parents. They are supposed to be surveying birth parents and adoptees next, but it’s clear from this survey who has the loudest voices and is viewed as most important when it comes to adoption. This organization is the face of what can be viewed as the adoption machine in this country.

You can read the 48 page report, based on the results of this survey, at their website. Look for the “Read the Report” link in the orange bubble here –>National Council for Adoption. The paragraphs below come from the report’s highlights, as excerpted on page 3, with some additions from my current perspectives.

Adoptive parents tend to be very highly educated and have relatively high household incomes. According to their adoptive parents, adoptees have very positive educational outcomes. Some have an Individualized Educational Plan (IEP). This is a plan or program developed to ensure that a child who has a disability identified under the law and is attending an elementary or secondary educational institution receives specialized instruction and related services. Some have a 504 Plan. This is intended to help kids who need more support in public school. This plan’s name does not clearly identify its purpose. A 504 plan makes changes at the school level, so that the child can learn. Some people mix up 504 plans with special education. They’re not the same. Special education is special instruction for kids who need more than standard teaching. A 504 plan, on the other hand, is about making sure the classroom fits how your child learns.

Anyone who has been at all involved in broad based adoption related communities (that is one that includes adoptees, adoptive parents and birth parents) would not be surprised to learn that due to the trauma involved in adoption generally, many adoptees will receive an impact diagnosis of some sort during their childhood. They will also therefore require therapeutic services after an adoption has been finalized.

The current trend in our modern times is that, eventually, adoptees will regain some contact with their original birth parents, siblings and other extended genetic family. In the best circumstances, the adoptive parents encourage and facilitate these reunions.

Also related to modern trends is that adoptive parents with a child of a different race/ethnicity will seek activities in which the child and their adoptive parents can participate so that they may become familiar with cultural aspects related to their biology and/or country of birth.

Today’s blog is simply to make your aware of this survey and resource for information you may not find through other avenues.

It Happens

It is surprising how often this happens and it is never intended but . . .

First the question, then the answers –

So a couple adopts a child because they believe they will never be able to have a biological, genetic child. Then, surprise – the adoptive parents actually discover they have conceived. What effects do their having an adopted and then a biological child have on that first child who was adopted ? Question for adoptees, is there anything that your adoptive parents could have done to make it better for you ? Is there anything they did specifically that was harmful to you in relation to the new sibling ?

Responses –

[1] The short one – I have two brothers that are biological to my adoptive parents. This effects me everyday. I ask birth mom, why me ? I wonder what might have changed her so that she could have been a better mother to me ?

[2] The longer, more detailed perspective – Stop pretending biological and non-biological children are the same. Educate yourselves and take the burden off the child. I was adopted as an infant. My adoptive mother became pregnant 5 months after my adoption was finalized. My “sister” was always the much preferred, longed-for first choice. With her birth, I was superseded. I will admit that I was “a difficult child” (due to an un-recognized infant trauma. My “sister” was easy (with her natural parent/child connection). I grew up with a front row seat view of what a healthy, biological connection looks like. The way human evolution intended it to be.

What my adoptive parents did do right was treat us outwardly and monetarily the same. We both had the same opportunities and resources. What was chronically neglected were my unseen needs, which were instead passed off as troublesome personality traits. So, although my adoptive parents KNEW I had “problems,” they did nothing to address those. What I wish they had done is what they would have done if their biological daughter was chronically ill: move heaven and earth to help her and thoroughly educate themselves on her issues.

I wish they had understood the different needs of a non-biological child and not burden themselves with the expectation I would ‘heal’ simply through therapy, while they themselves did nothing. Instead I wish they would have proactively learned how to be effective, gentle, therapeutic caregivers to a child living with early grief and loss among genetic strangers. I wish they would have gone the extra mile for me that my “sister” did not need from them.

It Can Be Hard To Reconcile

Consider this. You are an adoptee. You are highly dependent on your adoptive parents’ good will. You have already experienced what felt like abandonment or rejection, regardless of whether that was the truth of your adoption circumstances. This reluctance, and often even an inability to get to the honest truth within one’s self, is true for many adoptees. It is even possible for them to be happy with the people who adopted them – I know that my parents were, and that as the “grandchildren,” we loved and respected and cherished those people.

One comment on this graphic image admitted – “Shit it took me until I was 25 to even have this conversation with myself.” Another said – “took me until my early 50’s.” or “35 for me!” And this – “Going through the fog was unlike anything I could imagine. Isn’t it nuts? I’m 31 now and I’ve only talked to 2 people honestly about it all.”

More – “I’m only 55. So it’s still only been a few years and I’m still reeling some days.” Or this, “The last couple years I would think I was through, only to be thrown back in even deeper.”

I have also read The Primal Wound by Nancy Newton Verrier – I would recommend it to anyone with adoption within their own family background. I found it balanced and fair in her perspectives as the mother of an adoptee plus a biological child, and not only that, as a therapist to families with adoption related issues.

So this one resonates with me – “40 for me! And that was only after my birthmother died and a fellow adoptee gave me ‘The Primal Wound’ to read.” 

One wrote – I want to share this on my personal page but I know my adoptive parents will be offended. In response, another person noted that this is how so many adoptees feel. They’d never risk sharing their feelings. Going public on Facebook is brave. I do it and then most of the time I get annoyed – it’s crickets and so I delete it.