The abortion or orphanage comeback…

20 Sep
Anyone else tired of it?
I see questions and statements posed by adoptees that relate to personal struggles and they believe, or ask if it is related to being adopted.  The feelings may be insecurity, lack of self-esteem, feeling of not belonging, being different or other feelings but all of them can be directly related to the loss that adoption brings.  Others who suffered abuse or we adopted from a different country, lost their culture, language, racial differences have more feelings to add to the list, and again, it all comes back to being adopted.  I’m sure anyone who has surfed the forums or blogs have seen these feelings stated or questions asked.
These feelings are valid and the adoptees have them and own them.  In return for asking a valid question or making a statement about them being related to being adopted, they get bombarded with  ‘my kids don’t feel that way’ type replies.  They end up being negated, dismissed, silenced.  They are shut down, belittled.  The strength that it took to put themselves out there is received with ridicule, hostility or defensiveness.  They are told that kids feel that way in biological families or that studies have shown that adoptees are just as well-adjusted as counterparts raised in biological families.  They may imply that it is the adoptees parents who are at fault for not raising the adoptee to have a secure sense of self and that today’s parents know better how to deal with this issues.  They inject words into the discussion that infer the adoptee who asked the question is mal-adjusted and just had a bad experience.  That adoptees and adoptive parents do just fine and ‘all is well’ in the majority of adoptions.  And perhaps they are the majority, perhaps not, but that is not the reason why the question or blog post was written.  Silencing and shutting down the adoptee voice is wrong.  Providing pseudo-supportive answers in a manner that proclaims your superiority because your child never felt that way is wrong. 
The reason why the question or blog post was written was to open a dialogue to find support.  Support from others who have been there and felt that.  Such a simple concept that helps others feel connected and that they are not alone.  That gives them a space to talk and deal with their realities and complexities of being an adoptee.  That being an adoptee is for life and that life is complicated by being adopted.  Knowledge that others felt and feel that way makes the journey less arduous.  It is also a valuable learning tool for parents if they would only open their hearts and minds and listen. 
I deal with insecurity, abandonment fears, feelings of low self-esteem.  I acknowledge that my temperament plays a large role in how I deal with these feelings.  But the feelings stem from being an adoptee because that was the beginning of my reality.  I have always been insecure so how could it not relate to the separation from my mother.  I would not have the feelings of being abandoned again, if I had not previously been abandoned.  My lack of self-esteem would not have been always present in me since a child, if I had not been given away.  Have other life experiences compounded those feelings?  Absolutely.  But the original act is what all those life experiences build upon or compare themselves too.  These feelings are the continuation of the first loss.  Each successive loss compounds upon the previous loss.  It is a logical conclusion that cannot be dismissed.  How each of us deals with these feelings is also up to us.  But to deny the feelings exist is not productive. 
Being talked down to, or asked stupid questions like would I rather have been aborted is mean-spirited.  It is hard enough dealing with contradictory feelings inside of you, that relate to not being able to imagine any other life than what you have lived and who you lived it with, and at the same time wishing you never had to be adopted in the first place, let alone stupid questions like the abortion one.  That question is very much like the question thrown at inter-country adoptees that goes would you rather have grown up in an orphanage instead of being adopted?  Two questions that should be removed from the dialogue.  There is no excuse for those who use those questions to shut down feelings, thoughts and words that need to be discussed.  I wish the adoption self-proclaimed-experts would focus on teaching others how to open their minds, be mindful, to think critically about all aspects of adoption from the adoptee experiences, instead of spending so much effort creating and teaching happy positive adoption language.  Seems like it would be a much better use of their time, unless it is the intent to never allow mindful thought in the first place.
For adoptive parents who ask the ‘would you rather be aborted‘  or ‘would you rather grow up in an orphanage’ questions?  I have tried to figure that out for years and the best answer I have is that they want to justify that adoption is the best solution, absolve and distance themselves of the guilt they feel hearing that adoptees feel the loss, because there was another different alternative to living with your family, abortion or orphanage life, so it becomes their default position.  They want to forget that the best solution is that the child grows up in their family whenever possible.  They came to be adoptive parents for many differing reasons, but for some of them, one reason and one reason alone drove them to adoption – they were infertile but wanted to be parents.   The adoptive parents who use these tactics seem to need adoption validated, normalized and even raised up to be equal to, or better than what they could not have, a biological family.   
I don’t believe adoption is equal to, or better than growing up in your own family.  I do believe it can be good.  I think you can be a family.  I just don’t think it is the same.  I worry that the ‘we are the same as’ mentality may cause the dismissal of the adoptees feelings, perhaps not now but what about the next generation?  I could be wrong but believe if you go into it with that mentality you set yourself up for failure.  Accepting it is different from a biological family puts yourself in reality.  For those who chose adoption as the 1st choice I believe most recognize that you might not be the child’s 1st choice, especially once they truly understand what adoption is and means.  For those who chose adoption as the 2nd choice I have seen many whose struggles may prevent them from clearly recognizing why they may be their child’s 2nd choice, a brick wall they cannot move past because they had to choose the 2nd choice and it has to be as good as having their 1st choice.  I am not trying to be mean-spirited or cruel, simply understanding that their loss and their own innate self-protection may not allow them an unbiased view.  They may say all the right words, but it is more of a repeating what I was told monologue which at the same time kind of questions it too.  At the same time I find it hard to understand why they cannot allow adoptees those same feelings that parents to adoption via infertility felt, and most likely if they are honest, will always feel?  Why?  Why not admit there is the same theme running between these sentences.  “I wanted to have my own baby to raise”.  “I wanted to have my own mother raise me”. 
Just like the closed era had stereotypes of how the adoptee was a blank slate and would become like whoever raised them and we would never question our role.  This new era of adoptive parents want to believe that allowing the child to grieve their losses that the adoptee will be healed, the adoptee will never come home and say you are not my real mother, the adoptee will heal completely, and all ‘will be well’, and they will live happily ever after.  I wonder what the future adult adoptees of today will feel.  My guess is pretty much the same as we do, some okay, some good, some bad, some indifferent, so deeply troubled, some mad, some happy…the list is endless.  And I guess they will also have plenty to say about the adoptee experience…

Posted by on September 20, 2010 in Uncategorized


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8 responses to “The abortion or orphanage comeback…

  1. shadowtheadoptee

    September 21, 2010 at 1:43 pm

    Have you noticed, or is it just me, that the comments of “my child/children don’t feel like that” seemed to come from APs with young children, usually preteens and younger? Children in that age group will ask questions, so parents answer those questions, but they never seem to equate the asking of questions as anything more than a child’s curiosity. If their children do not have those “feelings” of loss or abandonment, why do they ask questions? How exactly do they expect children that young to express those feelings when they are too young to understand those feelings, much less, put those feelings into words? How, exactly, is a child that young supposed to articulate such deep feelings of insecurity, abandonment, and loss to their parents when they have no idea of what those feelings are?

    When I hear a parent say about their adopted child, “My child doesn’t have those feelings.”, I want to ask, “Are you sure? How do you know?”. How is a child that young supposed to know they have issues with being adopted, when most of us didn’t realize until much later in life the effects adoption had on us? Can a child that young truly comprehend the complexities of adoption? Come on people, they are children. How are children supposed to understand such things, much less, go to their parents and explain such complex feelings? Young children can much more easily adapt and adjust than adults, so is it really surprising that they are happy children, when loved by their parents, and all their needs, as children, are being met as best the parents can? Do the APs that make these remarks think that their children don’t have issues because they seem happy and well adjusted, and aren’t moping around, depressed, acting out, etc? Do they really believe that adoptees, who choose not to search and find birth family, claim their birth parents are nothing to them, and swear that adoption has had no effect on them, do not have issues due to adoption? It’s just not that black and white.

    In regards to the question of would you rather have been aborted or grown up in an orphanage, my reply to the person asking such a stupid question is to ask them the same question. Adoptees are not the only ones who could have been aborted or grown up in an orphanage. It could happen to anyone. Being adopted is no guarantee of a better life. It only guarantees a different one.


  2. The adopted ones

    September 21, 2010 at 2:14 pm

    Too true my friend. I did not realize the full extent until well into adulthood and had experienced more losses – until then – I did not have context to provide understanding. I also see adoptees who wait to search agressively until their parents have passed away…I do understand their reasoning because I had/have it – do no harm to those who have been good to you and that you love – but at the same time – is it not a lie by omission? I always had that feeling as well – if I could not be truthful even if it hurt them – was I not buying into the secrets and lies of my generation? Being an adoptee is complicated…perhaps that should be stressed more often?


  3. shadowtheadoptee

    September 21, 2010 at 3:11 pm

    I often have wondered if I would have felt differently, handled things differently, and in general, reacted differently, in regards to my reunion with my birthfather had my adoptive father still benn alive at the time I reunited. I’ll never really know, but there is no doubt that my loyalty to my Father, would have played a role in how I reacted to the situation.

    I’ve always been overly protective of my adoptive mother when it came to my relationships with my birthparents. I would, and will, always protect my adoptive parents from knowing just how much my adoption, and my reuniting, has effected me. Not hurting my parents will always be more important to me than how I feel about being adopted, or just how much pain was involved in my reunions with my birthparents. Loving, and protecting my adoptive parents, trumps any feelings I may have regarding my adoption and my birth parents everytime.

    For most adoptees, and especially small children, the fear of hurting our parents, or disappointing our parents, which translates into the possibility of being rejected by our parents, will always out way the truth of our deepest feelings. Looking back at myself as a preteen, it is so evident to me now. At the time, I was just a kid, who had not emotionally developed enough to understand why finding a small piece of green paper describing my birthparents, made me feel so uncomfortable and afraid. I understand it now.

    So, are people really certain that their children don’t have those same feelings and issues as other adoptees just because they don’t talk about it, wish to reunite, etc?


  4. The adopted ones

    September 21, 2010 at 5:06 pm

    Me too – I consciously have always protected both mom and dad and that included any reunion stuff. They are my mom and dad and hopefully people reading this blog understand that. Personally I think they did more right than many of today’s AP’s in regards to adoption related stuff which is why I believe living in reality is the only method because it was their method.



    October 2, 2010 at 6:57 pm

    Hello, I am in search of treatment for RP. When I googled RP, your blog was in my search. I have been diagnosed with RP since the age 13. I am now 31 and am coming to a point in life where I am evaluating everything including this awefull disease. Just had a few questions for you. How old are you now? any children yet or have you decided against it, who on your birth parents side has RP, What is your nationality? I hope you don’t mind sharing with me. I feel very low at this point and am pulling myself out of a pit . Thanks


  6. shadowtheadoptee

    October 4, 2010 at 2:08 pm

    Hi Nicole. I’m in my mid 40’s. I’ve been totally blind for about 10/12 years. I’ve never had any children. It wasn’t that I actually decided not to have children. I just never quite got around to actually considering it. I had, however, decided that If, by the time I reached 35, I hadn’t had any children, I wouldn’t have any after that age. RP really didn’t play any role in my decision to not have children, most likely, because I was never in a position to give having children a serious thought, and I didn’t want to be raising young children in my 40’s. I hope that makes sense.

    So far, I seem to be the only one, in both my maternal and paternal, families, that has been affected by RP. My lazy eye came from my birthfather. The far-sightedness came from my birthmother. Also, on birthmother’s side there are other eye issues, such as, all the males seem to be color blind, and my maternal grandmother had age related macular degeneration. Other than that, there has been no signs of RP. My siblings, and cousins, children are all still too young, three years and under, for signs as yet. We are keeping our fingers crossed. My sibling on Birthfather’s side has three children with no issues relating to RP either. The doctors labeled my RP as , I think, X linked, or something like that. I don’t really know what it means.

    I’m not a part of any research programs anymore, but I know there are many doctors researching RP and trying to find a cure. Stem cell research is my biggest hope for a cure. There’s been some success with gene therapy too. It’s all still in the early stages as yet, meaning animal research. Some are progressing and the possibility of human research is something I expect to see in the next year or two. Have you checked out the “Foundation Fighting Blindness”? I believe the website is, but I could be wrong. Let me know if you have anymore questions. Keep up the hope. They will find a cure.


  7. thebeautifulopportunity

    December 29, 2014 at 5:11 pm

    Well, the world is full of clueless people, TAO. And we are all clueless about something at some point. When someone says something mean or senseless, it’s more about them and where they are in their lives rather than about you.

    I am very sorry that people’s thoughtless words sometimes wound you. Sending you a big hug!


    • TAO

      December 29, 2014 at 5:22 pm

      No worries, I’m old and just enjoy writing in hopes of people tucking things away in the back of their mind just in case they need them… 🙂

      Since you seem open-minded – next time you hear someone say specifically to or about an adopted child – your mother chose life, his mother chose life – ask yourself if they aren’t just saying the same thing as you could have been aborted…seeing as how I’ve personally never heard someone say that to a child raised in their biological family…

      Have a wonderful and safe happy new year…



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