There are so many elephants in the middle of the room in the world of adoption that I think there is a herd of elephants standing in the way of real conversation. Usually I do not use qualifiers (titles) but this post needs them.
In this world of adoption land that takes one individual from one family and makes them part of another family, there is this ongoing concept of the “perpetual child” labelled the adoptee. Common statements today call the new family the “forever family” instead of the adoptive family (or in my terms “family”). Prospective adoptive parents wish and wait impatiently for their “forever child” not their adopted child. Adoptive parents are encouraged to choose language to teach their child that their adoption was a “one time event” and not something that is part of the identity of the “forever child“.
The adoptee also known as the “forever child” may be part of any number of studies* or success stories long before they have the adult capabilities to make a decision on whether they wish to be studied or held up as success stories. The studies cover a wide variety of topics from attachment to IQ’s to identity and well-being. If in fact the young adoptee is the one who answers the questions vs. the adoptive parents speaking on their behalf you really have to stop and ask yourself just how valid that answer will be in 20 years, will it have changed as the child matures and sees life through a much different lens than that of a 5, 10, or 15-year-old? Have you asked yourself why you cannot find studies where the adoptee is an adult and the questions are focused not on how their life was as a child and the interactions as a family, but rather on how they now view all the parameters of adoption and the impact it really had on them throughout their life? But that is not the point of the studies. The point of the studies is to prove that adoptees do “just fine” being the “forever child” in the “forever family” and that “the adoption was just a one time event“. The results of the carefully designed study is highlighted and broadcast by the adoption industry, and happily accepted by adoptive parents and those waiting to become adoptive parents. It gives them hope.
In vivid contrast to the studies in today’s world of blogging there are real voices of adult adoptees that tell it like it is, each different, each unique, all important, and all have the same underlying theme, being an adoptee. These voices are not the voices of the young “forever child” answering predetermined carefully worded questions designed to produce the results the study wanted, they are the voices of adopted adults who have the guts to stand up and say wait a minute, there is much more to being an adoptee than the adoption industry told you. There can be pain, loss, feelings of rejection, lack of genetic mirroring, lack of self-identity, knowledge and a whole lot of questions and feelings that no one wants to talk about including the fact that we are adoptees for life and it wasn’t a one time event, the elephant in the room no one wants to see or accept it is there. That we speak up for our benefit in making sense of these feelings, finding our own support community that really understands, something many of us never had until now.
That many of us also think it is important for the next generation of adoptees to understand it is normal to have these feelings and understand others have felt these things too, and that means we want you (adoptive parents and prospectives) to listen, think, mull, and take our words to heart, interact with us and not just give lip service and then dismiss us as mal-adjusted like the blog in this post by Von.
But to do that you need to remember our blogs are not parent blogs about day-to-day stuff, they are blogs about common topics we adult adoptees want to talk about, things about adoption that impact us. You may find snippets of day-to-day stuff mixed in, but it is being adopted that brings us together and gets us talking. Blogs where viewpoints differ, but we all have adoption in common that bind us together and we talk about what needs fixing, acknowledging, working through the tough parts, what angers us, what makes us feel hopeful, many, many other things, but they should never be confused as a diary of our day-to-day life and interactions.
And yet it seems there is always the adoptive parent or prospective adoptive parent who just simply cannot wrap their head around the fact that a) there is a specific reason for these blogs and followers which is to talk about adoption and the impact on us, b) that we are more than just what is talked about on these blogs, c) that we are not “forever children” but in reality we are living, breathing, adult individuals that have families, vacations, children, puppies, careers, friends, gym memberships, degrees, and have the ability to form our own opinions about many things, including adoption.
And while there are more and more eyes wide open and willing to listen adoptive parents and prospective adoptive parents, there are many more who only provide lip service, or trust what their agency said, or that their child has never felt that way (you all need to please trust me it isn’t easy to say negative things about being adopted to your parents).
Others simply cannot get past the fact that we aren’t children and question us over and over whether or not we love our parents. That somehow we must not love our parents if we are thinking critically about adoption. I am so done with that question and I dare each of you to think back to the last time you had an opinion on something that someone did not like – did they turn around and ask you if you loved your parents? Seriously - enough is enough. Melissa at Yoon’s Blur was just subjected to this again and wrote yet anotherpost on this topic even though she has done this countless times, the question always pops up in comments.
So please consider how your words impact us and how it would feel if you were the group that was forever dismissed as being “forever children” of a “one time event” that in reality lasts a lifetime and impacts us in numerous ways and yet are treated by some as if you the “parent” always know best, regardless if we are old enough to be your parents…we are pretty easy to get along with if you are willing to accept that we know from our own lived experiences what it is like to be an adoptees, something a non-adopted individual will never be able to duplicate simply because you aren’t adopted.
*Studies – I am in two different studies for my rare disease. Before I became part of either study they talked to me about the study extensively including, any known impact it could have on me, how the info would be used, the ethical considerations, the privacy of the participants, and then a written statement confirming these details requesting my agreement to participate…that is how a participant should be treated…think about that and then about all the unethical adoption studies that have been done on children, specifically the separating of twins just to study nurture vs. nature…
Bay of Pigs 17th April ( 1961 ) : A group of 1,500 Cuban exiles supported by the US government invaded the Bay of Pigs on the southern coast of Cuba in an attempt to overthrow the government of Fidel Castro. The invasion failed miserably and by 21st April all had been killed or captured. One year earlier the CIA had recommended to the Dwight D. Eisenhower Ad […]