Valentine’s Day for Adoptees

Searching for a topic for a day like this related to adoptees, I found this Huffington Post blog – Roses Are Red, Violets Are Blue, Adoptees’ Worst Fear Will Likely Come True – by Ben Acheson. The image I chose seemed to fit the sentiments of some adoptees that I have encountered. The subtitle of Ben’s essay notes – What if Valentine’s Day, or relationships in general, were a stark reminder of the most painful and distressing events that you ever experienced? What if they triggered a trauma so terrifically challenging that it forever altered your approach to life? Welcome to Valentine’s Day, and relationships, for adoptees.

Ultimately, Valentine’s Day is about relationships, or the lack thereof. It may evoke unpleasant memories of lost loves, but the nostalgia is normally forgotten by the time the flowers wither and the chocolates disappear. Or does it ?

Take a moment to balk at such a provocative, nonsensical claim; that saving a child through adoption could lead to a life of relationship problems. It is ungrateful and even accusatory to altruistic adopters. It is insulting to those battling depression, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and other psychological issues associated with adoption.

The development of intimate relationships can be a major challenge for adoptees. Their first and most important relationship was irreparably destroyed. The person supposed to love them most disappeared inexplicably. Then they were passed to strangers and expected to pretend that nothing happened.

The impact of that severed relationship is colossal. It permanently alters everything they were destined for. It alters how they attach to people. It causes bonding problems. It leaves them angry, sad and helpless. It interferes with emotional development and instils a persistent fear of abandonment within them.

This fear impacts future relationships. Many adoptees fear that what happened once might happen again. They fear that each new relationship, like the very first one, will not last. If their own mother abandoned them, then why won’t others?

It affects their ability to trust. Their trust in adults was shattered when they were most vulnerable. The idea that their mother loved them so deeply that she gave them away is a confusing paradox. Connection, intimacy and love are forever intertwined with rejection, loneliness and abandonment. Being unable to remember the traumatic events only compounds the problem.

Adoptees are sensitive to criticism and have difficulty expressing long-suppressed emotions. They have hair-triggers and lack impulse control, frequently overreacting to minor stresses. They can be manipulative, intimidating, combative and argumentative. Total absence of control over childhood decisions gives them an unrelenting need for control in adulthood. A counterphobic reaction of ‘reject before being rejected’ is a classic sign of stunted emotional development and unresolved trauma. That is not to say that adoptees do not want intimacy. They often want to ‘give everything’. They yearn for a close, trusting connection. They want to let someone ‘in’, but the openness and vulnerability is petrifying. Letting someone ‘in’ also opens the door to rejection.

Even if partners recognize that deep, sensitive wounds exist, they tire of walking on eggshells. The emotional rollercoaster is exhausting. They become sick of the ‘parent-role’ they often assume. Even if the adoptee matures and gains insight into their behavior, the damage may have been done. Partners may reach the breaking point and leave. But who is to say that failed relationships cannot be a blessing in disguise? For adoptees, the important lesson might be that you sometimes need to fail in order to truly succeed.

Colorblind Idealism

There seems to have been an evolution among some citizens in the United States to realize that racially colorblindness isn’t really the answer to racism. In the evolution of adoption and in an attempt to get some children in foster care placed in stable homes, transracial adoption was seen as the answer. As some of these adoptees have reached adulthood, they are increasingly speaking out about why growing up black in a predominantly white community and school has proven challenging, even difficult for them.

Recently The Washington Post had an article by Rachel Hatzipanagos that focuses on transracial adoptees – I know my parents love me, but they don’t love my people. A few years ago, there was a Medium piece – The Myth of Colorblindness by Rosa Perez-Isiah.

For adoptees, their adoptive parents couldn’t see and rarely talked about the racism they experienced. Classmates’ racist comments about their hair and eyes were dismissed as harmless curiosity. America’s racial dynamics were explained in the language of “colorblind” idealism. 

In her Medium piece, Perez-Isiah says – Colorblindness is the belief that we don’t see color or race, that we see people and that we are all the same. These beliefs are widely held by well intentioned people, including educators and school leaders. These are idealistic beliefs and there are a number of issues with this ideology. Colorblindness negates our diversity, race and culture because we all see color and we all have biases. When we identify as colorblind, we are suppressing our authentic views and in the process, perpetuating systemic racism. Race matters and it has impacts on opportunities, education and actual income (as well as its future potential). Colorblindness oppresses people of color. When you fail to see color, you fail to acknowledge the current narrative, a system of injustice for many non-white people.

Cross-cultural adoptions have been debated for decades. In 1972, the National Association of Black Social Workers took a strong stand against the adoption of Black children by White parents. Several years later, the federal Indian Child Welfare Act was passed to address the wave of Native American children being separated from their tribes and placed with White families.

The growth in transracial adoptions from foster care in recent years has far outpaced the growth in same-race adoptions and transracial adoption is now 28% of all domestic adoptions in the United States. More recently, the national conversation about systemic racism (driven by George Floyd’s death in 2020) has cast a new light on interracial adoption and prompted transracial families to confront the unspoken cultural divides in their own homes.

For adoptees, there is a transracial adoption paradox. Growing up, they experience many of the privileges that come with Whiteness because of their adoptive parents. When they then enter the school system or move out of the family home to live independently as adults later in life, they’re confronted with the reality of being perceived and treated as a racial minority. Not so subtle is the experience of white students putting their pencils in the hair of a Black student and marveling at the way the texture makes them stay in place.

When adoption agencies take on a color-evasive approach with hopeful prospective adoptive parents, they signal to these white parents that race does not need to be a significant factor in their decision-making. Then, by extension, it is no surprise that these adoptive parents might not think that the race of their adoptees is a significant factor in raising their child. Often these parents naively hope their support will make up for racial difference, even when they acknowledge there are challenges in raising a child of a different race.

From a transracial adoptee – “I believe that a lot of people think that adoption is this beautiful, magical, straightforward process. And also when they think of adoption, that they are centering around this “White savior” image and focusing on adoptive parents more than adoptees. And/or birth, biological parents — those two seem to get left out of the narrative a lot. I also believe that adoption from a birth mother, birth parent perspective can be very intense, very complex, very emotional. And I believe that we need to lean in and listen to adoptees and birth parents more.”

Today, many adoptees have their DNA tested, either at Ancestry or 23 and Me. For an adoptee that was raised white, it can be an amazing experience to discover their father is Black and see somebody that looks like them, finally a true racial mirror. One mixed race adoptee notes – “I think a lot of White people think that they have a good handle on race … and have what they would call a ‘colorblind’ kind of mentality. But I don’t think they understand that when you say the word ‘colorblind,’ what I hear is ‘I see you as White’.”

Another transracial adoptee suggests – “I think first acknowledging that your child is not White is, like, a huge step for a lot of White adoptive parents is to, like, see outside. Because a lot of parents see their child as, this is just your kid. They don’t see them in racialized terms. But in seeing them in that colorblind way, you are not protecting them. You are not preparing them to grow up and be an adult.”

Adoption is a trauma. Every adoptee has a different response to their trauma. Often it takes therapy to understand what was experienced as a pre-verbal infant and more importantly, how it continues affecting the adult adoptee. Therapy can help an adoptee get over feeling defective simply because they were given up for adoption. It can require learning that babies are placed for adoption for a number of reasons and that none of those reasons have to do with the baby or the value of that baby regardless of their skin color. The adoptee, not the adoptive parents, needs to be the center of their own life and story. Much of the narrative around adoption centers on the adoptive parents and frames their actions as selflessness and saving a child.

One Black adoptee admits –  I longed, and continue to long, to understand why I needed to be adopted, why I needed to be shipped across the country, why I couldn’t stay in the South, why I couldn’t stay with Black families, why I couldn’t have stayed with at least my biological extended family.” And though I am white and my mother was white too, this is a universal need in adoptees. My mom’s genetic, biological family was in the rural South and she was taken by train from Memphis to Nogales Arizona by her adoptive mother. For a long time, my mother believed she had been born in Memphis, a belief her adoptive mother was also led to believe by Georgia Tann, until birth certificate alterations made clear my mom had been born in Virginia which just made my mom believe she must have been stolen from her mother because things like that happened with Georgia Tann’s adoption practices.

Sadly, the saviorism of white adoptive parents is just so prevalent. Unfortunately, there is a deep-seated belief that white people can take care of Black people better. I have been learning a lot about this in overall society by reading White Tears/Brown Scars by Ruby Hamad.

I end today’s blog back where I started with the issue of colorblindness – Why is the colorblind narrative popular? The Medium piece notes – it is easier to identify as colorblind than acknowledge differences that make us uncomfortable. This is easier for people to handle, especially in schools where we may lack the information and guidance to have difficult conversations about race. Another reason is simply not knowing…you don’t know what you don’t know. Many people also repeat what they’ve been taught and fail to reflect or question those beliefs. In the end, we don’t realize how harmful the myth of colorblindness can be.

Adoption is a challenging situation regardless – add in racial differences and it becomes doubly so. It takes courage and practice to shift from a colorblind to a color BRAVE ideology.

Are Mothers Ever Strangers ?

How is it a woman whom grows HER baby in HER body for 40 weeks, shares DNA, blood supply, HER body nourishes and GROWS HER baby, she then births HER baby, breastfeeds HER baby the first 4 days of life and hands HER baby off to strangers and a year later she is a supposed STRANGER TO HER BABY??? Are mothers ever really strangers?????

There was a story where a woman had a baby. Like 6 months later she passed away. But she was an organ donor. She donated her heart. They put the baby on the recipient’s chest and the baby remembered her heart beat. I think a face may be strange but baby’s do remember their mom’s heart beat

My biological mom is a complete stranger to me – even after meeting her and seeing her a handful of times over the years. It’s also extremely weird and uncomfortable seeing her and her family in public.

I was raised by my biological mother. We have no bond or attachment, I wish her health and happiness but really just like I do for everybody else.

I did not breastfeed (though I wanted to), but my first visit with my son was two weeks after I left the hospital without him. He was always better with me…didn’t cry, or fuss, etc. When he was six months old, the adoptive parent got angry with me (it was actually the adoptive mother) and withheld visits for three months. Birth father got involved and they agreed to stop withholding visits (though they did this repeatedly throughout my child’s life), and I went to see him with the birth father. He didn’t want anything to do with me. I knew in my heart that there was something else going on, so I asked birth father to wait in the living room and I took him to his bedroom, where he came alive and couldn’t stop laughing and smiling. It was the presence of birth father he objected to. Me, he remembered. Still, each time they withheld visits, or moved to a different state, I had to re-establish my relationship with him. He never forgot who I was, though. And I always sent him cards and gifts on our special holidays, no matter where they lived. They did, at least, give those to him, as far as I know. I haven’t seen him since his high school graduation in 2016, but I just finished putting together his Easter box (formerly known as a basket)…later than usual because my mother in law passed away, but full of t-shirts and childhood favorites like action figures. They didn’t have Baby Yoda when he was little.

My biological mom is definitely a stranger, she doesn’t know me, she’s not part of my life or my children’s lives. I don’t have a mom.

My biological mother is and will always be a stranger, she never had any intention of knowing me despite having the chance to rectify that during reunion. Not every “mother” wants to be a mother to all of their children. I really hate the idea that all biological parents are supposedly wonderful caring human beings, some of them are simply trash.

In my experience, no. My mom was never a stranger. I felt recognition to the depth of my being when we met face to face. I am literally made of her.

My biological mother feels like a stranger to me. She does not feel that I am a stranger to her. It’s a very uncomfortable dynamic.

The above received this reply – I expect that is what my son is probably going through now. Does it make you uncomfortable when she sends you cards, gifts or money? I have not stopped this with my son, and maybe he is too kind to tell me to stop.

Which received this clarification – I may not be the best person to ask. Everything my birth mother does makes me uncomfortable but that has more to do with the way she has behaved during my adult life than anything. She sent me 30 roses on my 30th birthday and I literally felt nauseated. It didn’t have to be that way though. I did not feel that way when we first met. I think my advice would be to make sure that you’re dealing with your own trauma and not putting it on your son. My birth mothers emotional needs from our relationship were so great that there was no room for me to have any needs or boundaries. Her need for me to heal her felt smothering. I couldn’t do that for her and it wasn’t my responsibility to try. Otherwise, I think it probably would have been nice to get cards and gifts. My birth father has been respectful of boundaries from the start and genuinely cared about my well-being and I love getting gifts from him. I think the fact that you’re even asking the question is a sign that you’re looking out for his needs and being respectful! I don’t mean to minimize the trauma or suggest that you should just be able to get over it in any way. Just that it’s worth working thru with a therapist on your own so that your relationship with your son isn’t the only place you’re looking for healing.

I think there’s definitely something to the idea that some birth mothers may feel more connected to the adoptee than vice versa. When we met I had spent most of my 22 years not really thinking about her, while she had thought of me every day, carried me for 9 months, gone thru labor, etc. From the start, it felt like there was just so much more emotion on her side than mine. I was mildly curious about my DNA but happy with my life. She felt her life was ruined and needed me to fill this huge hole in her heart. It’s a challenging dynamic.

I just want my surrendered son to be…well. We were very close until he got to be around sixteen. I have been thinking of him every minute of every day for all of his life, and I know it cannot be the same for him, so I have been doing my best with guesswork about boundaries. I suppose it is good for him that he lives so far away from me.

Not a stranger but an associate really. I’m made of her but we don’t have that bond since we were separated a week after I was born. We’ve been in reunion for 10 years but I don’t feel like I know her. Still a mystery.

My husband was abandoned by his mom at a young age and she is definitely a stranger to him. He saw her a few times growing up. He also had a very unsuccessful reunion.

Meeting my biological mom was actually what ripped me out of the adoptee fog. I was expecting to have this “knowing” of her. I wasn’t prepared for how much of a stranger she felt like. I didn’t recognize myself in her at all. It shut me down in our reunion for several years, while I went through deep identity work and trauma healing. The second meeting we had was two years ago when I flew to her and was able to meet my extended family. I started to recognize myself in them. Then we were leaving the family farm, when I noticed our shadows side by side as we walked. We have an identical walk. It finally clicked in and my body and spirit remembered her .I really feel that I had to bury my unconscious memories of her in order to survive as a child. I had to give into the fantasy that is adoption. It was so buried inside of me, but it was there waiting for me to do the healing work needed to remember.

Stranger and “legal stranger” are much different…or should be.

My birth mother is definitely a stranger, and probably will stay that way cause she doesn’t really seem interested in building a relationship. I’m just a dirty little secret from her past that she hoped to leave in the past.

I am no longer a secret! Biological half-siblings and I are connected via Ancestry and my biological mother knows it. And still she refuses a relationship. To which another adoptee noted – Mine doesn’t want my half-sisters to know about me, yet but I’m hoping if I keep in touch, she’ll change her mind. I really want a relationship with them at least.

It is definitely a paradox – Our original mothers will always be our first profound human connection. Very familiar, yet as an adoptee she is a stranger. It’s hard to explain to someone not touched by adoption.

Women’s Rights

The topic of abortion and it’s intersectionality with adoption comes up often in adoption groups as it does in religious groups, especially those that are strong anti-abortion.  Because every baby that isn’t aborted is a potential baby for sale to someone, usually a couple, who can afford to buy the baby.  And money is always involved.

Throughout history, men have made decisions about what a woman is allowed to do.  It goes back to biblical texts that support a patriarchy.  Most women of at least a certain mature age have spent a great deal of their life dealing with men who feel an entitlement to a woman’s body in one manner or another.  And throughout history, men have impregnated woman with no sense of responsibility for any conceptions that occur afterwards.

Abortion often comes up in conjunction with infertility.  Infertility has EVERYTHING to do with adoption. Abortion is also a topic discussed in a pro-choice adoption community group. Hopeful adoptive parents use their infertility to complain about abortion.

The most enlightened point of view is just because I can’t have kids, doesn’t mean another woman can’t decide whats best for her body, mind and soul.  I will always defend a woman’s rights – not just to determine whether to carry a pregnancy to term but for equal pay, for the right to be respected when she refuses to have sex with a man and to be free of the violence of domestic abuse.

In response to someone clearly pro-Life in my adoption group, one woman wrote – I am an adoptive parent who had fertility issues. While I would never choose abortion for myself, I will never judge a woman who does. That’s not my job. I leave all judgement to God.

As someone who had an abortion, that I still think actually was the right choice for my own self and for my male partner at the time, it is not an easy thing to live with.  It’s not “God” who judges me, but my own self, and I have reflected on it deeply many many times.  The pro-Life narrative that one can’t avoid doesn’t help with the paradox of believing in a human life developing in the womb and still making the decision that the life is not what is best for one’s self given one’s personal circumstances.

One woman wrote – I’ve been struggling with infertility for three years. It sucks. But I’m still very pro-choice. My struggle to get pregnant will never mean anyone else should be forced to go through a pregnancy.

A pregnancy is a long term commitment – 9 months – which is almost an entire year.  It impacts one’s ability to live their life according to their own trajectory.  If a woman carries the baby to term and then given it up for adoption, the impacts of that decision last a lifetime for the woman and for her child – and they are not happy impacts, even in the best of circumstances.  Like any horrific trauma, both may learn to live with it.  When a woman chooses an abortion, it is not the preferred choice, which would have been not to become pregnant to begin with.  In my case, work that kept me away from my pharmacy, meant I was late beginning that month’s birth control.

I also support society coming to the financial and emotion aid of any woman who carries a baby to term and wants to parent that child.  That is the intersection point where the trauma of mother and child separations could be prevented.  If one’s belief is in God, then perhaps the best perspective for a pro-Life woman dealing with infertility is that God chose not to make them a parent.  Acceptance, in other words.

 

Sadly Needing A Second Chance

It is a sad fact but more common than anyone could ever wish for that some adoptions fail and give rise to attempts to have someone else re-adopt a child.  What are the issues?

Audrey recently turned 8 and was adopted domestically when she was 6. She has a very strained, competitive relationship with the other child in her adopted family and has failed to form a healthy attachment to the family. They feel that Audrey will be happier, calmer and more likely to attach to a family who has no other children in the home under the age of 12 (a mature child). A family who is familiar with attachment issues would be a plus! Her family is willing to consider a single parent without other children to take their focus away from Audrey, as well as a 2-parent family.

Yet, consistently, these second chance “offerings” go on to describe the child in very glowing terms.

Audrey’s adopted parents describe her as creative, funny, sometimes stubborn, flexible, playful, helpful and artistic. She enjoys playing with Barbies and practicing her mothering skills with her Baby Alive doll. She is a great helper when she is one-on-one with someone. She likes to help with food prep, cleaning, and laundry, and likes to hear that she’s done a good job. Audrey has a set bedtime and falls asleep quickly. She sometimes likes to read a book before lights out.  She enjoys painting and often uses drawing as a means of communicating her feelings and memories. She loves to play board and card games. She can be very funny and sweet, especially when she feels that you are giving her your full attention. She is a mix of girlie-girl and tomboy—she likes dressing up in her mom’s high heels and wearing makeup; but will also play in the mud, climb trees and ride her bike. She is keen on taking off her training wheels soon so she can ride her bike independently!

Audrey has a good imagination and can easily entertain herself. She is a fairly organized child—neither messy nor overly organized. She likes to read and is currently enjoying Fancy Nancy and Dr. Seuss books. She is obsessed with unicorns, so if she can find a book about those, she will read it too! Her favorite foods are peanut butter, pizza and Indian food. She has a different favorite color for every day! Her adopted mom will say, “What’s your favorite color today?”

Audrey is in the 2nd grade, does very well in school and loves school. She gets mostly A’s. She loves the structure, the friends, the teachers and the social aspect. She attends a private school with a small teacher/student ratio and she thrives in this environment. Math is her favorite subject; she enjoys the challenge of solving problems. Her teachers report that she is “a joy to have in class—wonderful and sweet!” She is a worker bee—she loves to be given a task to accomplish for the teacher.

What is it about adoption that causes such a contradiction in the description of a child’s personality?  It is the fact that trauma is present and too often adoptive parents don’t want to work through the core issues with patience and tolerance.  They only want harmony and so if an adopted child is seen by them as the source of disharmony in their family – then they will seek to be rid of the child as though human beings can simply be thrown away if their use is not satisfying.

Misunderstood

Suddenly, friends and family have discovered what I have been writing about daily for over a year and they are understandably confused.  I would not have understood before about two years ago myself.  Both of my parents were adopted and so adoption was the most natural thing in the world to me.  Both of my sisters gave up children to adoption.  What I can say is that ignorance is bliss.

But for adoption I would not exist and I never forget that.  But for adoption my mother would have grown up in abject poverty instead of the privileges of wealth as the child of a banker and socialite.  My husband has said that my story could be viewed as pro-adoption and that is the truth.

Even so, I cannot ignore the many voices of adoptees and the original mothers who have suffered because adoption carries with it inherent wounds and that is what I tend to try and explain in this blog.

Even so, today I read a heartwarming story.  I am sympathetic to the pain of infertility.  I do believe that couples who have struggled with that really DO need to seek counseling before adopting any child.

Back to that heartwarming story.  A couple was traveling on an airplane with their 8 day old adopted daughter.  The mother have given birth in Colorado.  It had been nine long years of fertility treatments, miscarriages and adoption stress for this couple.

A flight attendant announced that he’d be passing out napkins and pens for anyone who wanted to jot down a message for the new parents. The cabin erupted into cheers and applause. A steady stream of people came by to coo and congratulate the couple.

One of the napkins read: “I was adopted 64 years ago. Thank you for giving this child a loving family to be part of. Us adopted kids need a little extra love. Congratulations.”  YES, some adoptees are truly grateful and I do not doubt that but I pause on that thought “adopted kids need a little extra love.”  Hmmmm.

The flight attendants explained to the couple that they are married, and a fellow flight attendant had done this for them while they were on their honeymoon. They wanted to pay it forward.

The new father shared, “Adoption is wild with uncertainty.  You wonder, is this birth mother going to choose us? What happens if she changes her mind, if she backs out?”  The overwhelming support the couple felt during that plane trip was also a time when they were worried that their daughter might somehow be stigmatized.

Southwest Airlines released a statement saying, in part, that the crew showed “kindness and heart” on that flight.  Common kindness always matters.  I actually do care about every part of the adoption triad.  Just saying.

#NotMyNAAM

It was almost two years ago now, that the door opened for me on my parents adoptions.  I had already lived 6 decades of my life and both of my adoptee parents had passed away.  In this brief amount of time, I have been able to become “whole” as regards my parents original parents – ie I now know who my grandparents were and something about each of their individual stories but thanks to adoption, I’ll never know them.

As I began to educate myself about all of the aspects related to adoption, I also truly began to understand there was something rotten in adoptionland.  I have also begun to learn about better alternatives for seeing to the well being of children and hopefully to the healing and repair of their original families.  Society has a long way to go.  I digress and not really.

The paradox for my own self comes when I consider the reality of my own existence.  Two major aspects of that have become crystal clear for me in the last two years.  [1]  I would not exist but for adoption – my parents would have never met.  [2]  It is a miracle that I was not given up for adoption as well.  Conceived by an unwed teenage mother in the deepest part of the Baby Scoop Era, I believe it was my dad’s adoptive parents who insisted that he quit the university he had only started to study at and do the “right” thing, marry my mom and go to work.

So becoming aware of ALL of the problems with adoption presents quite a quandary for me personally.  Even so, I am a #NeverAdoption convert now.  November is National Adoption Awareness Month.  It is NOT a time to celebrate the ripping apart of families to support a profit-driven and often ignorant practice but a month to begin to educate yourself if you believe adoption is all unicorns and rainbows, ie happy endings always.

#NotMyNAAM

 

 

If It Was So Good . . .

why am I so unhappy ?

It is a paradox and difficult to explain beyond the fact that fear and trauma put the child into a survival mechanism.  Yes, even with a loving and kind, caring adoptive family, an adoptee can feel messed up a lot of the time.  The adoptee may rationally feel like they should be okay with having been adopted by such nice people.  Yet, they are sad.  There is a trauma that exists deep down in every adoptee whether they ever become aware of it or not.  Adoption by strangers is never a normal experience in reality.

Adoptive parents may say, “My adopted child is so close to me.  It is like they are attached at the hip.”  While this may seem like a good thing, and the adoptive parent interprets this to mean that their child is well adjusted and/or bonded to them, it is actually a fear driven survival instinct in response to an abandonment, even if the child could never define it as such to their adoptive parent.

Sadly, the perspective of many adoptive parents is something akin to owning a possession.  In some adoptees, the response to the adoptive parents is similar to repulsion.  While an adoptee may attach, it is an attachment based on a longing for what is not there between the adopted child and the adoptive parents.  It is inescapable that all adoptees are deprived of something fundamental that affects them developmentally.

The young adopted child will eventually stop crying for the need that can never be met.  Unfortunately, in this surrender, the adoptee is seen as “such a good baby”.  By the time this happens, the adoptee’s attachment style has already been deeply altered.  They adapt.

Adoptees know how to use all of the different attachment coping styles, and switch between them based on the specific situation they find themselves in. Very little of what they are expressing outside reflects their true internal feelings.  It is not how they are really feeling or what they are really needing.  Mostly it is about appeasing the adult who is caring for them.  It is a survival tactic.  Always, what is seen, is even so, coming out of a deep and unaddressed trauma.

Sad And Heartbreaking

I find myself in such an awkward position.  I have come to see that adoption is not the happy, rosy picture the industry wishes to paint because it is so lucrative.  Even so, but for adoption, I would not even exist.  What a quandary.

So to get real – adoption is never about the child who becomes an adoptee.  This is the reality.  As difficult as it may be to accept and understand.

Certainly, I am anti unethical adoption.  My mom’s adoption was unethical.  My maternal grandmother was pressured and exploited in a difficult situation that to her unending sorrow resulted in losing the baby girl she fought so hard to keep.  It wasn’t her fault.  She was a victim of Georgia Tann who was a master at the art of separating mothers from their children.

Even though my existence is decidedly an effect of two adoptions (both of my parents were), that does not mean that I cannot see the problems with adoption – especially for the child who is forever wounded in a deep place and may not even know what the actual source of their emotional pain is.

So, it is not positive or beautiful to take another women’s child.  Period.  There has to be a better way and that is to provide for a family to remain intact.

And there is also the issue of the father.  Yes, some are unconcerned about the child they helped to create.  It may also be true that others that never get a chance.  I believe my dad’s father never even knew he existed.  Since he was married, my dad’s mother probably simply never told him and handled it herself.  My dad was so much like his father that I believe they would have been great friends.  It wasn’t her plan initially to give my dad away, though at 8 months, she let him go for adoption.

Everything about the act of adoption is sad and heartbreaking – for the adoptee certainly – but I also believe for the natural, original parents as well.

Chosen Parents

There is a poem common among adoptive parents and often framed and hung on the wall.  There is actually more than one version out there.

“You’re a chosen child
You’re ours, but not by birth
. . . Chosen above the rest.”

“I had to tell you, Dearest Heart,
that you are not my own.”

This concept of being “chosen” is often disturbing for an adoptee.  This is not a supermarket where people go to buy commodities.  Adoptees are human beings with feelings and so many of the messages they receive are contradictory statements and confusing.

When my sister learned she was pregnant, she also knew that without a willing father to help her raise her son, she needed to give him up for adoption.  This being a “modern” version, her son wasn’t chosen so much as the parents to raise her son were chosen.

Couples submitted applications, glossy proposals of why they would be the best choice.  I was with my sister as she tried to make a decision.  She sent these packages to me for my opinion – though the ultimate decision was one she made for herself.

The messages adoptees receive are paradoxical – they were unwanted, abandoned, and yet chosen, special and lucky.  They rarely feel the “yets” as much as the more obvious facts.  Their original mothers are often marginalized as “incapable” but oh, they were heroic to give up that baby to a mother who could raise a child no other way.

Adoption is a legal contract to which the child never agreed.  They are made to appear “as if born to” with their identity amended to hide their true origins.  An adoptee is asked to live their life split off from their true identity.  They become masters at people pleasing – sometimes compliant, other times defiant.