Thinking About Adopting ?

A woman writes in my all things adoption group –

I’m not sure anyone cares about validation but I guess the administrators can decide. I just wanted to say thank you. I joined the group like many do, I was interested in adoption and really just putting a toe in the water. I waited my read only period. I went through the “wtf are these people talking about, anyone who adopts is a Saint”. Then I went through the “uh oh, is everything I know about the world even right?” Then I went through trying to explain this to my husband which didn’t go well. I’m getting ready to leave the group. Adoption is completely off the table and I’ve set up time to volunteer at my local teen pregnancy center.

Being a human is a wild thing. Thanks for being vulnerable and doing emotional labor. You really are impacting the world.

Edited to Add: I’ll gladly stay! I hadn’t thought about it but would be happy to stay and help where I can.

She was not the only one, soon others were chiming in. The one below was NOT the only one to express similar sentiments. This is also why I write this blog because I can reach others not in such a group or with such aspirations but who are uninformed about adoption trauma.

I was a Former Hopeful Foster-Adoptive Parent because of white saviorism. This group opened my eyes on so many fronts – I honestly feel like I see the whole world differently. I’ve learned so much about racism, classism, and ableism. The adoptees and former foster youth who share their stories are the smartest wisest people I’ve had the privilege of listening to. I am immensely thankful you allow people not in the triad to be transformed by this group. I have completely changed my behavior in the real world. I will never again speak about adoption as anything other than trauma. I talk to my friends also interested in foster care about why the child welfare system needs to be abolished and rebuilt, not changed from the inside bullshit. I can’t believe at one time I was willing to provide my home to a child in need but not the resources to their family so they could stay together. I find that incredibly effed up now. I am working on my CASA training so I can help get kids back home and prevent unnecessary adoption from foster care.

The Rev Keith C Griffiths (deceased adoption scholar and activist) quote exploded my brain: “Adoption loss is the only trauma in the world where the victims are expected by the whole of society to be grateful.”

And Paul Sunderland’s theory about developmental trauma caused by a newborn being separated from their birth mother. The trauma of not growing up with genetic mirrors, not knowing one’s medical history or having legally falsified identity documents. I had no idea about these things because I had never centered adoptees’ experiences in my perspectives. This group has truly transformed my outlook on the world !

Ownership And Abuse Is Not Love

It all depends on which side you are looking at it from . . . to the fog and to those with the gift of insanity to dwell therein. So let us reverse the imaged poem, shall we ?

My life could be better
I can’t imagine how
This was God’s Plan A
I have no doubt that
My adopted mother’s love
Does not eclipse
The bond with my first mother
Which will never be part of my life
My ancestral heritage
Is a deeper part of me than
My adopted family
Adoption IS inherently traumatic
It is actually harmful to imply
I should always be grateful
Truth is
Lamenting a loss before memory
Is how I grow, not
Focusing on my blessings
I don’t need sympathy
I need to grieve
I can’t honestly claim that
Adoption is beautiful

A Belief That Enables

When you make a decision, you make that decision consciously for only 5% maximum, the rest of your decision (95%) is controlled by your subconscious mind. The decision to adopt a child is conscious but there are subconscious factors below that which are influencing or will influence your experience as an adoptive parent. Some couples adopt for the same reason some couples decide to have a biological child – in order to save a marriage by bonding it with a child. Of course, the couples who adopt generally have other factors – most especially an experience with infertility and failed attempts at using reproductive medical assistance to have a child biologically. In other words, many adoptions actually start out on shaky ground to begin with.

So today, I came across something else that is more than a little bit disturbing. I hasten to add a trigger warning at this point for anyone for whom child abuse discussions might be too emotionally upsetting to continue. Having done my due diligence in this regard – you can proceed reading or leave this blog warned and saved the painful recollections.

It is sometimes asked – Why did they adopt just to abuse them. There is an assumption that adoptive parents wouldn’t abuse their adopted children because they went to so much effort to adopt them. All parents are capable of some degree of abuse – even with a great deal of love and often from ignorance or poor examples growing up. Therefore, it is dangerous to put any adoptive parent on a pedestal because sometimes adoptees are abused. It is a sad fact – and sad anytime any child is severely abused by any adult person for that matter. When the abuse starts… the people around them often say: well, those kids are very troubled and acting out. The adoptive parents are doing the best they can. Who can really blame them for doing what they have to do in order to control that child ?

One reason that it doesn’t shock or confuse me that some adoptive parents might harm their adoptees is that I have become aware of how common a trait of narcissism is among adoptive parents. Wanting a child doesn’t mean you’re going to treat them well. Adoption is inherently a selfish act – regardless of what you believe is motivating you. An adoptive parent may expect their adopted child to be compliant with any of their expectations or demands. That parent may lash out at their adoptee when they don’t meet those. Adoptive parents are not exempt from having anger issues and abusive tendencies.

Sometimes this abuse doesn’t begin immediately but when that cute baby becomes a rebellious teen. One adoptee shared her example – my adoptive mother actually said to me when I was 7 yrs old – “We wanted a baby, and you’re not a baby anymore.” That is how she explained they were going to adopt a baby boy.

Abuse is about possession and control. And in a weird, twisted kind of logic many abusers don’t actually think are they abusive. An abusive narcissistic parent may think they are a really good one. Being abusive goes against the savior narrative that so many adoptive parents have accepted as their reason for adopting. Adoption seems to be a process that attracts people who need to feel good about themselves. And once they’ve completed the adoption, they feel effectively immune from criticism because, after all, it was such a “selfless” act to rescue a child in need.

People adopt simply because they want kids. However, they may not actually have any idea of how to raise those children, once they have achieved that primary goal. These kinds of adoptive parents may have difficulty accepting that the child they adopted is an individually separate person with ideas of their own, desires, wants, and needs that do not necessary mirror the adoptive parent. In fact, often don’t While nurturing plays a role in the kind of person we each become – adoptee reunions with their birth parents after they reach maturity often prove – there is more to the genetic influences than many in the adoption industry want society to believe.

Another example comes from an adoptee with an emotionally immature mother – “She wasn’t able to have children and I think she thought a child would fix her. I was adopted at birth. I believe she thought I’d be a mini version of her but when I had my own emotions and interests, she couldn’t handle it. In came the weird emotional games.” It is way too common for adoptive parents to adopt a baby as a way to fix their own issues. It never works that way.

The abuse somehow feeds into these adoptive parents’ need to feel like they are doing something good. They are a “strong” parent and showing these troubled kids “tough love.” And then, there’s always the go-to excuse so many adoptees have hard – They should be grateful. They could have it so much worse. Never say to an adoptee sharing their experience something like – Just because you were abused by your adoptive parents, that’s why you hate adoption. Or sorry you had a bad experience. An experience sounds like a short term event. Adoption is lifelong.

Dismissing any adoptees’ discontent and trauma is victim blaming, also called gaslighting. It is an attempt to control the adoptees’ story in order not to break their happy, little “adoption is rainbows and butterflies” illusion.

A Change Of Heart

Mother and Daughter

Even under the best intentions, when choosing a semi-closed adoption plan, even after years of contact – emotions can change. So it was, when the relinquished daughter turned 18 and enrolled in college, that a problem set in. It was a blind-sided moment for the birth mother. At her blog site, Her View From Home, under the subcategory, Motherhood – Adrian Collins tells the entire story of occasional in-person contacts, until the hammer came down.

Suddenly, the adoptive parents were no longer supportive of her daughter’s relationship with her birth parents. She’d been instructed to choose between her birth family and her adoptive family. There was no in-between or chance of negotiation. Of course, after so many years, on the cusp of maturity, this baffled Collins. She immediately got on the phone, pleading with them to consider all of them a vital part of their daughter’s life. They wouldn’t budge. Instead, they hurled insults at her.

They accused her of conniving to steal their daughter. They questioned her motives and tore at her character. They jabbed at her most vulnerable spots as a birth mom. And as she sat flabbergasted, all she could think was – “What have I done to deserve this?”  Then, of all things, the adoptive mother even belittled her adopted daughter. Collins admits, “my voice escalated into shouts of, Why can’t you just love her?!” 

The vindictiveness amazes me. Days later, her adoptive parents removed all financial support from their daughter and said they regretted the adoption. They turned their backs on her and disowned her. Collins felt betrayed. She had entrusted her daughter to them, and now they’d abandoned her. The pain of watching her daughter endure this loss was almost as unbearable as the day Collins had left the hospital without her. 

It was her husband (and also the girl’s original birth father) who brought up the idea of re-adoption. “We can take care of you,” he told her.  Since she was already 18, she only needed to give her consent for an adult adoption to take place. In essence, her own birth parents became their daughter’s legal parents once again. Adult adoption is somewhat common between some kinds of parents and foster or stepchildren. It is rare when this occurs between birth parents and their biological/genetic child. They didn’t pressure their daughter in the least and only assured her that their only motive for an adult adoption was to extend even more love to her.

In spite of Collins own doubts about building a strong relationship with the daughter she did not raise, she says – when she looked at her daughter just before the adoption hearing in court – she realized her heart had been fastened to her daughter’s ever since she had carried her in her womb. She had promised to give her daughter the best life possible and she was always willing to do whatever it took to make that happen. True, she wasn’t able to provide that for her daughter at birth. Now, she was happy at a chance to take care of her daughter as an adult. When their names were called to enter the courtroom, she turned to her daughter and smiled. Her daughter smiled back.

She admits – I’ve spent time in reflection about my decision to make an adoption plan. Did everything turn out as planned? Absolutely not. Would things have fared better if I’d kept my daughter in the first place? I can’t say. Sometimes we have to take steps of faith without seeing the whole picture. We can only do what we think is best at a particular time in life.

If we do the best we can, we really can’t get it wrong. That is my own belief. The All That Is uses everything that humans do to make it right – maybe it takes a long time for the right to come out – and even if I don’t live long enough to see that – I do believe it does turn out in the long run. My own “adoption reunion journey” proved as much to me. The whole situation of both of my parents being adopted wasn’t perfect from my own perspective but I would not be alive if it had not happened. I have said before, and I say it again now – it was imperfectly perfect. Sometimes, that is as good as it gets.

I Am Adopted

Hi, my name is Meggan, and I’m a transracial adoptee. I picture myself seated in a circle with other adoptees as I type that.

“Hi Meggan,” they’d respond, and then I would share my story of heartache and sorrow to the only group of people who will ever truly understand. The truth is, though, that kind of support doesn’t exist for adoptees yet, and it should.

I am half white and half black, and back in 1982 that made me undesirable in most prospective adoptive parents’ eyes, so it took a few months until I was adopted. My adoptive family is white, so I never grew up understanding or connecting with my black heritage.

My mom kept in touch with my birth mother through letters, and I was grateful to have at least half of a connection to my roots.

Growing up, I was never around people who looked like me. I was constantly asked questions like “what are you?” or “what’s your background?” I was a mystery that people felt they needed to solve and as an adoptee, I trod carefully and simply agreed with their guesses. Kind of like this…

“What are you? What’s your background?”

“I was adopted, so I’m not sure what my background is.”

“You look Lebanese/Italian/Aboriginal/etc. That’s probably what you are.”

“Sure, maybe that’s it.”

It’s kind of silly, but I’ve had that conversation thousands of times throughout my life. I know people mean well, but this is often the plight of a transracial adoptee who is in the dark about his or her background.

I’m asked about familial history at every doctor’s appointment, and I only ever had half of it.

“Does cancer run in your family?”

“I have no idea.”

The look of confusion used to get to me, but I eventually got accustomed to it.

Adoptees don’t have a right to their history the way everyone else on the planet does.

I used to struggle with my identity feeling like I had none and floating through life like a chameleon. How could I have a voice if I didn’t know who I was or where I came from?

How could I speak my truth when people in my biological family told me not to?

No wonder adoptees have some of the highest mental health issues and suicide rates. We’re told to be grateful that we were chosen when deep down, we feel like we were abandoned.

We’re told we have no right to complain because we could’ve been killed instead.

We’ve been silenced for far too long, and out of respect for everyone around us, we’ve walked on eggshells trying not to disrupt the waters.

It’s only recently that I’ve been able to step into who I was created to be truly. We were never meant to live life without boundaries, without a backbone, or without a voice.

It’s time to change all that, step into who we were meant to be, and live our lives as authentically as possible.

Are you coming?

💛 Meggan Larson has a Facebook group for trauma overcomers: www.facebook.com/groups/weareconquerorsnow

💛 Connect with Meggan on IG: www.instagram.com/sheinspiresfreedom

💛 Website: https://megganlarson.com

💛 Please take a moment and leave Meggan a few words of support, encouragement, and love in the comments.

💛 Join me in raising awareness of adoptee mental health by sharing this post.

#adopteementalhealthstories #nationaladoptionawarenessmonth #naam

Why It Is So Hard

It is often, almost always, difficult for an adoptee to have a conversation with their adoptive parents about how hard it has been for them to be an adopted person.  I believe most adoptees are highly sensitive to their adoptive parents feelings and emotions – whether the adoptee tries very hard to be perfect in order to please their adoptive parents or is sullen and defiant or passive and withdrawn.

There is a genuine fear of rejection and abandonment.  Most adoptive parents feel passionate about doing a good deed and don’t really want to hear that it may be problematic.  At times, it even borders on a savior like delusion.  Just as it was with my mom’s adoption through Georgia Tann, even today, adoptive parents don’t want to know that the system that allowed them to buy a child is in any way a corrupt one.

Even in situations where the adoption is as ethical as any can ever be, an adoptee may find it impossible to ask about their original mother, father and other related biological family members.  Can not even begin to discuss feelings of abandonment. Many simply sense it would be an absolute nightmare to even try.

The prevailing feeling is that people devoted to the idea of adoption don’t want to understand anything perceived as “negative” towards adoption.

And more often than I care to admit – I read stories like this one.

My adoptive sister and I don’t even say that our adoptive mom was abusive. Since she was a narcissist, everyone else thinks she was so nice and loving but that was her public facade. In private, she was mean. But I doubt anyone who knew her when she was alive would believe us if we tried to tell the truth. It ends up making me feel like I have these big parts of my life that I have to keep secret.

Or this one on trying to talk honestly with their adoptive parents –

They’re convinced I’m hyper-sensitive, over emotional and ungrateful to them. They absolutely have a savior complex. They live as though my biological family doesn’t exist, and I don’t exist outside of the box they tried to keep me in.

And even sadder still –

My adoptive mom is deceased (and told me before she died that she wished she hadn’t adopted at all).  It would just be too hard to get my adoptive dad to understand my feelings regarding my adoption. We just don’t really talk about it.

The only discussion I know of my mom having with her adoptive mother was when my mom was in high school and the story about Georgia Tann’s baby stealing and selling scandal broke.  My mom always knew she and her brother (not biological but also adopted from the Tennessee Children’s Home) were adopted and from where.  She asked her adoptive mother about it.  Her adoptive mother said something like, yes you came from there but you were NOT one of “those” children.  That was the end of it.

 

Yes, This Is A Thing

This celebrates a child leaving foster care because they have been adopted.

To be certain, any sort of celebration of adoption day is only for the adoptive parents… adoption day for adoptees is a loss. It’s a legal severing of an adoptee’s ties to their biological family and biological roots. It is the culmination of trauma, and is the start of new traumas. It also feeds the savior image of foster/adoptive parents, which is terribly insulting to adoptees and isn’t accurate. In the cases where non-kinship adoption is unavoidable, it should be done privately and discretely. The story belongs to the adoptee, only they never had the power to decide or say what they actually wanted – in most cases, an intact family into which they were born.

Children’s brains and emotional intelligence that aren’t fully developed yet. Their nervous system is screaming “yay permanency! Woot woot!” And the only way a kid knows how to celebrate is a party; or a certificate; or gifts; or social media posts; and whatever else they’ve seen other former foster youth or adoptees do.

What they ARE NOT able to process is 1) adoption DOESN’T guarantee a ‘forever home’ at all 2) what’s happening to them is trauma– not a celebration 3) even if they DO end up with a forever home, it may be an eternity of pure unadulterated hell (mentally, emotionally, relationally) 4) the “permanence” also means their actual biological family history and heritage and traditions, etc are now permanently gone and the list goes on and on. They’re unable to look at it from a 30,000 ft view and understand the gravity and finality of it all.

Really the issue comes down to NOT celebrating a child’s adoption publicly and not even within the family if possible.  This doesn’t mean to invalidate whatever feelings and emotions a child may be having – especially about getting out of the uncertainty of foster care and multiple placements.  However, adult adoptees will tell you that as they aged and could reflect from a mature perspective – being adopted is always fraught and traumatic – even in the best of circumstances.

Many adoptees spend much of their life in a “happy fog” trying their best to be grateful for this un-natural thing that happened to them – not in their control nor with their conscious approval – usually by adults and the legal system.  Best to go as minimal and low-key about it all as you possibly can, no more than privately within the immediate family, if celebrated at all.