The difference between being a bio adult and an adopted adult…
Bio adults are free to have express negative feelings about or personal challenges within a family. No one challenges them on whether or not they just don’t realize how good their family is, instead they are commiserated with, and told how great they are and to stay away from whoever is causing them grief.
Before an adopted adult dares broach any topic (might not even relate to family) they must publicly proclaim how they feel about their parents and then gingerly touch on any “iffy” feeling they may have about their family, or personal challenges they face that stem from being adopted. They are told how sorry the person is they are going through this, but reminded that bios have problems to and to stop blaming everything on adoption because it might not have anything to do with being adopted.
It is also striking to note that bios are not reminded that adopted have problems too.
“I have learned that to be with those I like is enough”
― Walt Whitman
Oct 2014: You may speak freely, but please try to use words that everyone can hear about your individual story or view. If you don't, those who can actually benefit won't hear it, I want to see change in my lifetime. I may refuse to approve certain comments.
February 5, 2011 at 11:26 pm
That’ a very interesting point and all part of how we’re supposed to keep playing out our roles otherwise we upset people.
February 6, 2011 at 2:56 am
Very true. Sometimes when I’m thinking of posting a reply on a forum etc I end up giving up because I feel I have to put so many disclaimers to justify how I feel. I don’t think I’ve read an adoptee blog or adoptee forum where the “I love my APs” disclaimer hasn’t been used at least once by the adoptee because if we don’t, it is automatically assumed that if we offer a negative view on adoption, it is because our adoption “didn’t work out” therefore what we have to say isn’t relevant. Not that we haven’t already been dismissed as being irrelevant because apparently being 60s adoptees from the closed era, we are not entitled to have any opinion on modern day adoptees, apparently only adoptive parents can. And if you say anything too positive about your biological family, you get the comment “grass isn’t always greener on the other side, it might not have been so rosy if you’d grown up with them”. If thing don’t go well with your biological family then you get the comment “see, that is proof that your adoptive family was better for you”.
Also, I don’t know how many times I’ve seen an AP post on ethics (eg re prebirth matching) and I’ve thought “hang on, I think exactly the same as you but if I say it, I get jumped on for being anti-adoption (or, just as likely, ignored)”.
Sometimes I think I should have a disclaimer on posts that says “The opinion expressed above has nothing to do with what I do or don’t feel about my APs”.
February 6, 2011 at 5:04 pm
I think it’s pretty normal for all people to first say they love their family (if they do) before saying anything negative about them. I don’t see it as something unique to adoptees.
The adopted ones
February 6, 2011 at 7:07 pm
Campbell whether or not a bio says how they feel about their family was not one of the points I was trying to get across.
February 6, 2011 at 8:12 pm
My apologies then if my comment wasn’t applicable.
February 6, 2011 at 10:21 pm
“I think it’s pretty normal for all people to first say they love their family (if they do) before saying anything negative about them”
@Campbell: Bio kids who were kept don’t have second “birth” families. They just don’t. They have step families and friends-who-are-family, but they don’t literally have a second blood-family.
Also, bio kids who were kept don’t have to disclaim everything. They are not (usually) told “Your mother could have aborted/abused/neglected you.”
February 6, 2011 at 11:06 pm
I kind of disagree, just a little bit, because I am not adopted, yet people get on my case about saying anything bad about my family, because they are ‘family’.
Yes, it is likely that what you say is true in many cases, but not all!!
I know that I can complain about my mom to people outside of my faith, but if I complain to people of my faith(christian BTW) I am told to ‘honor’ her still.
It all depends on who you talk to and how those people see the world.
Some people do not want to believe that bad things can happen to a family that has good intentions or does some good things (go to church, make money, be clean, adopt etc).
There will always be a world view in some people that refuses to see the complexity in others, but not all.
The adopted ones
February 7, 2011 at 12:16 am
Apparently my ability to not get my point across with words has struck again. I am exhausted so anything below may not make sense either.
To put it bluntly and I am sure this will come off wrong too…Bio’s don’t have the ‘good adoptive family’ that must be perfect because they adopted and provided a home so an adoptee should not complain about any concern in adoption family related or personal concern. I am sure that a parent through adoption feels the same when they can’t say they are tired of being up half the night or whatever because they are reminded that ‘they chose that’…neither party is allowed the luxury of calling it as they see it and feel it as it happens. I think adoptees feel it more within the adoption community and perhaps the parents feel it more outside of the community…I could be wrong.
The second part pertains solely to adoptees where within the community we feel the need to add the disclaimers required about our childhood and parents (when we are so past talking about a childhood that happened decades ago) before we gingerly talk about something that we can trace our feelings back to being adopted as the starting point, then that concern at its core is adoption related, compounded by life, genetics, etc, sure but the starting point is adoption. Others will comment that bios have those concerns too and perhaps they do, but they were not adopted and therefore it is not the root cause that the adoptee has through thoughtful contemplation and review determined to be related.
And finally my point on bios never being told adopted have problems too is just that. Bios don’t get compared to adopted but adopted get compared to bios…why?
February 7, 2011 at 1:05 am
“I am sure that a parent through adoption feels the same when they can’t say they are tired of being up half the night or whatever because they are reminded that ‘they chose that’”
The funny thing is, we adoptees can understand that about our aparents and other APs but they often can’t understand that we feel as we do.
February 8, 2011 at 8:03 am
As a natural mother, I’m really close to putting a disclaimer on my forum posts, too. I am beyond sick and tired of being accused on a daily basis lately of being offensive or assaultive towards adoptive parents if I dare to talk about my own feelings and/or experiences. I’m at a loss at how exactly it is that I’m offending people simply by stating my own feelings or thoughts about different subjects. I’m sick of the whining….
February 8, 2011 at 4:45 pm
As an AP- I hope that I get it. If I have to hear one more time about how “lucky” my kids are or that they are “better off” (this from people who haven’t even bothered to ask about their first parents) ((not that it is any of their biz anyway, yo)) or that we are doing (shudder) “god’s work” I will just scream.
This seems to imply that we could just skate by on our parenting because after all, anything would be better than what they would be getting with their family of origin? Which is the begining of the attitude that you are seeing at the other end of the spectrum- be grateful because it could have been worse. What I just don’t get about that attitude is why certain children are afforded more because of the random nature of who they were born to. And gosh, if we started questioning that idea, that would be pretty upsetting, now, wouldn’t it?
Apparently I am a bit sensistive about this issue….
The adopted ones
February 8, 2011 at 4:56 pm
“Which is the begining of the attitude that you are seeing at the other end of the spectrum- be grateful because it could have been worse. ”
So very true and I never put the two together…I just hoped the “adoptee” was young enough not to cringe 🙂
February 8, 2011 at 4:47 pm
IMO, it all boils down to loyalty. Whether bio or adopted, prefacing a negative statement about parents, or family, with the “I love” is usually done out of a feeling of being disloyal, and ungrateful. I’ve heard bios do it, and IMO, they do it for the same reasons as adoptees. IMO, adoptees, seem to, on the whole, do it a lot more. The big difference between bio saying it and adoptees: adoptees were given away, relinquished, surrendered, placed, and loved so much one set of parents selflessly sacrificed so much just so the adoptee could have a better life with their adopted family, and a bios were stuck with the people who share their DNA.
Why do adoptees feel so obligated to preface comments with “I love my paretnts/family” more so than bio, because society keeps telling us we have a lot more reason to feel obligated and loyal to our adopted families than bios are made to feel, after all our first family didn’t want us, weren’t capable of keeping us, or some other such idea, so aren’t we lucky, grateful, that someone else did? Those things don’t have to be said with words. Sometimes it’s just a look, or an uncomfortable silence. As AO said, the difference is adoption. Adoption is what makes it different. No matter how many times people want to dismiss that main fact, it is, and will always bbe what makes adoptees different from bio. That difference is always there under the surface. Adoption will never be the same as bio, no matter how much we wish it were.
The adopted ones
February 8, 2011 at 5:00 pm
How are you? Been pretty worried about you lately…
Marnie’s comment above may also explain one of the reasons why we feel the need to disclaim everything even without being cognitively aware of it – because we have been told we are “lucky”…since we were old enough to comprehend…
February 8, 2011 at 7:30 pm
I am a bio-P, an AP and am married to an adoptee.
My husband clearly felt for years that he was not PERMITTED to say ANYTHING negative about his parents. It was both sad and problematic. People who feel they can’t look critically at their own parents are going to have a MUCH harder time working through crappy behaviors inflicted by/learned from those parents.
Things have been much easier for my husband since he realized that he can think/talk critically about his own parents to me – I will never ever tell him he should be grateful or feel lucky. His parents were people – with faults – just like mine (and just like us). And I am soooo glad he is finally willing to really LOOK at everything he learned from them and decide “Is this helpful/good?”
If one day ANY of my sons – regardless of how they joined my family – tell me I screwed up, I am going to listen. And if appropriate, respond. But not one of my sons will EVER be told that he should be “grateful” I was “willing” to be his Mom. That’s just BS. I am grateful and HONORED to be Mom to ALL of my boys.
I think more and more APs realize this – that WE are the “lucky” ones – not the children. And I think – I hope – when these kids grow up, it will make for easier/healthier adult parterships as well.
Thank you for sharing your thoughts on this.
February 10, 2011 at 3:59 am
i’m adopted, and i have never felt the need to put a disclaimer on my feelings about my family. nor do i think my bio siblings have ever felt a need to put a disclaimer.
nor have i ever been compared to my siblings who are bio to our parents, except maybe when my siblings tell me that out of all 6 (4 of whom are adopted) of us kids, i am the kid that turned out the most like our dad.
i was adopted and that’s that.
May 25, 2011 at 3:14 am
I love reading all of these points of view. As an AP one of my biggest concerns is how my daughter’s adoption will affect her throughout her life. It isn’t an obsessive focus but is a large concern among my many worries – will she achieve her goals and dreams, will she live a long and happy life, will she have fond memories of her childhood, will she be spared a great amount of heartache, etc. All things I would also worry about with a bio-child. The adoption part of her history is just an added concern. I hope I am able to raise her to be confident and secure enough to not feel she has to justify any of her feelings based simply on adoption and I hope others learn that she or any other adoptee shouldn’t have to. I wanted to be a mommy and adoption was the route that made me a mother. My husband and I are the lucky ones and we just focus on being the best parents we can be. Our adoption is open so she knows her birth family and that doesn’t make me feel threatened at all which I hope will mean she won’t experience any loyalty dilemmas. In the meantime I keep an open mind and try to read as many points of view as possible in an effort to not make mistakes myself.
The adopted ones
May 25, 2011 at 12:58 pm
Reagans Mom – Welcome – hope you find stuff to mull on here, and continue to join the conversation – feel free to ask questions if you have any.
June 20, 2011 at 11:04 pm
I am adopted and I have to agree with the ‘disclaimers’. If I don’t mention how grateful I am for the opportunity I was given I just generally feel ashamed and like I’m betraying them. It’s not that I have people telling me constantly I’m lucky and what not, because I don’t but I, myself, feel as though as I have to make it very well known before I can express my feelings. I’ve been having a lot of mixed feelings lately but I can’t just go and say ‘Sometimes I feel so angry towards my parents, because it’s like they are taking a place it’s not meant to be theirs and I can’t help but wonder what it would be like if things were different’. Nope, I can’t say that. I have to say how much I love them, how much I’m grateful and I have to stress the fact my feelings aren’t their fault because they haven’t done a single thing wrong. That just makes me angrier because I don’t want to feel the need to clarify that, but I know people will judge them as parents if I don’t and the last thing I want is for them to be hurt.