Not Actually Lucky

The perspective “out there” is improving and it isn’t happening by chance but because adoptees are speaking out about the circumstances of their lives.  And though it may not change at the individual life level, I am hopeful it is changing in the larger sense.

I recently read about an adoptive parent who was told – “They are so lucky you adopted them.”

This adoptive mother reflected on that perspective and realized – “They are not lucky! It is not lucky to be orphaned or born to a parent who is unable to parent at that time. It is not lucky to live in an orphanage or foster care, and it is not lucky to be thrust into a home with perfect strangers and try to form parental attachment and bonds with them. There is nothing about coming to the place where you need to be adopted that is a lucky and they are not lucky we adopted them. We are blessed to have them in our family, but if the luck had been on their side there would not have been unfortunate circumstances that kept them from being raised by their birth families in the first place.”

In my mom’s case, her adoptive mother was over the moon happy to have her.  But there were nagging doubts because she had been lied to about the circumstances of my mom’s “need” to be adopted.

She did not “need” to be adopted.  Her original mother WANTED to raise her and tried very hard to keep her but got bested by a master of deception – Georgia Tann.  My adoptive grandmother was told my mom’s parents were married students who weren’t ready to raise their child and were financially unable to provide for her.  That last part was the struggle my original grandmother was trying mightily to address.

My adoptive grandparents did feel blessed to buy two children, the “perfect” family unit of an eldest son and a baby sister.  But at least for my mom (I don’t know the circumstances surrounding my uncle’s adoption) it was all unfortunate circumstances.  No wonder she died firmly believing she had been stolen from her parents.  In effect, she was.

The Wrong Use Of Religion

I’ve never heard a religious person say that God decided they wouldn’t have children.

God is supposed to be without flaws or mistakes in all ways right? But not being able to have children is God’s way of saying adoption, when you’ve exhausted all the other angles?

Religious people never accept that infertility was God’s way of saying – you won’t have children.

It was just Jesus saying – take someone else’s child, believe that child is the child I took and returned for you. Take that child because I gave you money instead.

God forbid any of these families might chose to help mom enough to keep her child. No God’s calling wasn’t – help this woman with a job, so she can keep her baby. God’s calling wasn’t – teach her something, so that she has a skill. God’s calling wasn’t to be the neighbors that help a person grow and do better like she wants.

God’s only calling was take her child. Help her with food, clothing and bills till baby is here. God’s calling was support her emotions in your favor during pregnancy and make her feel like she will be part of your family. God’s calling was to take a child from a mom at her worst, when she’s trying to do what’s best.

F**k that God, he’s a f**king monster.  All this is just propaganda to continue the practice of adoption oppression.

Secrets

I think because my parents were both adoptees and I spent most of my life with no idea of my heritage or our family’s origins, I am particularly sensitive to the need to know.  Most people take what they know about such things for granted.  Adoptees are grateful when they are able to gain such information, since so very often they encounter only obstacles, sealed records, hidden identities and struggle with a lack of family medical history when they have unusual health challenges.

So I have gifted my husband and both of my sons with 23 and Me kits.  I want them to have a clear and honest understanding of their own origins.  For me personally, it isn’t the most comfortable situation but as my own family history indicates, it is important and I understand that.

Inexpensive DNA and the matching sites of 23 and Me as well as Ancestry do out family secrets now and even 20 years ago this was not an obvious risk to keeping secret children conceived in novel ways made possible by advances in reproductive science nor does it keep secret the relationships of adoptees to their true genetic relatives.

I think it is all for the good because genetics is now proving that DNA has more influence than previously believed.  A book – Blueprint: How DNA Makes Us Who We Are by Robert Plomin – makes a persuasive case for the primacy of genes over environment in shaping our individual personalities.  The genetic influence is great even in areas we’d hitherto assumed were almost entirely environmental.

So, you may need to reconsider those “secrets” you thought possible to keep from your children because chances are, they will know the truth for themselves eventually and if they didn’t hear it from you, they will likely feel they were deceived.

Finding Out One Was Adopted

Above is a segment of my Dad’s original adoption papers.  He was actually adopted twice (his adoptive mother divorced the first husband and remarried, changing my Dad’s name when he was already 8 years old). Upon discovering one of my Hempstead relatives, the first thing she noticed had entirely been missed by my own self, the Salvation Army appeared to “own” him and his mother’s name was nowhere to be found on the document.

I don’t know how old either of my parents were when they learned they were adopted but I believe each was as old as they needed to be told.  I think they always “knew” even before they consciously knew.

There are many ways an adoptee can learn they were adopted.  They might accidentally overhear a conversation.  They might develop a serious illness that requires accurate medical information.  They may discover papers in their adoptive parents’ files after their death or a stranger may come into their life (thanks to DNA testing) and claim to be related.

Most human beings have a need for love and a sense of belonging, also for self-esteem and a recognition of their value.  It seems the almost all emotional wounds need these and some also highlight safety and security and I believe that is true of adoptees as well.

There are so many sad, false beliefs that filter into the heart of an adoptee – something must be wrong with me because my “real” parents gave me away, I don’t belong anywhere, I probably never should have been born, I don’t know who I am and if my “real” parents could abandon me, anyone could.

An adoptee seeking reunion with their original family fears another rejection.  If they were adopted into a family with children already, they may believe they are loved less and many fear they could be taken away from their adoptive family and even fear that it might be the original family recovering them.

Adoptees suffer many side effects of having been adopted.  They may be subject to mood swings, they feel less equal within a family unit, they may be obsessed with the past, struggle with a sense of identity, see how they are different than the adoptive family they are living within, have a hard time saying good-bye, may be always trying to prove their worthiness, may expect to be deceived or engage in risky behavior and may exhibit behaviors indicating a subservience.

That is a lot but it actually is not the end of it – they may experience anxiety or situational depression, they may need to double-check facts for accuracy, they develop various insecurities, they may be cynical and reject the adoptive family.  An adoptee may fantasize about a reunion with their “real” family and actually seek them out.

On the plus side, an adoptee respects honesty and openness.  It may have been emphasized to them that they were chosen, even if they had a hard time accepting that as a positive aspect of having been adopted.  They are adaptable, analytical, appreciative, centered, curious, diplomatic, easygoing, empathetic, happy, private, sentimental, supportive and wise.

They are as complex as any human being could be.

Faked

It’s a sad story for a family that was trying to adopt a sibling for their son.  The woman who pretended to be pregnant can’t even explain it.

I once had a similar experience but it wasn’t related to any effort to adopt.  I was living in St Louis and I had a brother and sister as roommates.  Both the brother and I were working but the sister wasn’t.  She faked a pregnancy with us in order to have us support her with no contribution from her.

I have to wonder why any woman would attempt such a deception.  Pregnancy is a finite period and when the belly doesn’t grow like it ought to, something isn’t right.  Eventually, the truth outs itself.

I can only suggest this is a kind of mental illness in some women.  Maybe it is opportunistic.  Maybe it is also some of what isn’t right in adoptionland.

I really like what the son said after the truth came out – “I like our family the way it is.”