Adoption does not cause this…

12 Mar
I started this post back in February but could not find the words to explain why I felt the need to talk about this.  Von posted about this topic this week in a post about traumatized adoptees with a link in it and it brought me back to this draft post to try to finish it…and because of this try to read this based on context vs specific words or sentences…
While there are parts of the links Von posted that I agree with, what I want to talk about is what I see happening to the mindsets in adoption and the blame game.  The words used seem to be creating a division between the trauma an adoptee may feel and the actual act of adoption, a denial in a sense.  I am still having trouble with my words  and feelings in describing the gut reaction I have when seeing this deliberate move to disassociate the act of adoption from the trauma that may be felt.  A move to assign the blame to the family of origin and make it all hearts and roses on the family adopting…perhaps it is the old demons vs angels complex…
This gut feeling of the move to separate adoption from the trauma an adoptee may have started when I was reading one of the many studies on adoption and of course the finding was that the majority of adoptees are just fine…and that ‘adoption’ does not cause the issues…
I have also read many statements that the abandonment, relinquishment, whatever term used, is what causes the issues and that the adoption does not.  That adoption rescues the adoptee and saves the adoptee…
I have also been told quite a bit lately that surrender, relinquishment, termination of parental rights is completely separate from the act of adoption. 
I disagree with all of the above.  Why?
I was surrendered for adoptionA family was found for meThe family petitioned to adopt me. 
I was the one common factor in all three steps and none of the steps would be required without me or would have happened without the other steps happening.  That links all three parts into one-act…me being adopted.
I wasn’t simply surrendered to be surrendered existing somewhere in la la land, I was surrendered for adoption.
They (the state) did not go looking for a family for a non-existent baby, they went looking for a family for a specific reason, me.
The family they found did not petition to adopt a non-existent baby, they petitioned for a specific baby, me.
Domestic adoption exists because a parent(s) surrender their baby to be adopted.  Domestic adoption exists because people want to be parents.  Supply and demand go hand in hand in creating an adoptee…you are not an adoptee until the act of adoption makes you so.  If they knew they could not have found a family for me do you honestly think that the state or agency etc would ever allow a baby to be surrendered to them when there is no fear of abuse or future abuse?  Or that a mother would willingly surrender without the promise that a family would be found or had already been found for the baby?  Do you really think that would happen?  I don’t and if it did it would be exceedingly rare and we would definitely not number in the millions like we do…especially today when so many adopting parents are in the delivery room already matched to adopt the baby…  
Why would anyone not see that adoption has many parts and participants but is one act to the domestic adoptee?  (note I am sure some adoptee out there will disagree but these are my feelings) 
Regardless if it makes parents feel better to blame the ‘trauma’ an adoptee may feel on the surrendering side, you really  have to answer the question that without the receiving side would there be the surrendering side? 
It’s kind of like what came first the chicken or the egg…or blaming a car accident on the fact that you bought the car…

Posted by on March 12, 2011 in Adoption


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10 responses to “Adoption does not cause this…

  1. lifecoachabby

    March 13, 2011 at 1:25 am

    Thank you for posting. My husband and I adopted domestically and I really appreciate hearing your thoughts.


  2. Susie

    March 13, 2011 at 1:37 am

    I completely agree with you. If not for the billion+ dollars generated for the adoption industry every year, and for the high demand for infants to adopt, I would guess that the majority of mothers giving their children up for adoption would be raising their children.

    Most mothers choosing adoption want to raise their children, but are made to feel that they aren’t worthy (because they are single, too young, too poor…) and are told and believe that choosing adoption is “the loving option”. They are not told about the life-long effects on their child or for themselves. They learn that later ~ on their own and too late.


  3. Kara

    March 16, 2011 at 7:01 am

    Amen. I am so sick of people saying that my adoption was an event, or that my feelings are irrational, or that my being rejected both at birth and when I first found my my nmom was about the situation, not about *me.* What people don’t get is that these things cannot be teased apart. I *am* the situation. My existence is what set the ball rolling. While “the situation” isn’t about the person I am today, it was about the infant me. Not that the infant me was to blame in any way, but it still was about my simply being there.

    And it sucks. It still hurts. I love what you say here.


  4. The adopted ones

    March 16, 2011 at 7:16 pm

    Kara – your words “What people don’t get is that these things cannot be teased apart. I *am* the situation.” describe exactly what I was trying to say – it took me a page and you two sentences…perfect!

    Thanks for all your thoughts – I appreciate that others can understand what I am trying to say.


  5. Declassified Adoptee

    March 18, 2011 at 12:03 am

    Great post!

    I came across a quote by an adoptee in a book I was reading today that reminded me of this. If I can find it again, I will post it for you.


  6. Melissa

    March 21, 2011 at 1:51 pm

    “I was the one common factor in all three steps and none of the steps would be required without me or would have happened without the other steps happening. That links all three parts into one-act…me being adopted…Regardless if it makes parents feel better to blame the ‘trauma’ an adoptee may feel on the surrendering side, you really have to answer the question that without the receiving side would there be the surrendering side?”

    This a great post…so true…and so frustrating when people, especially AP’s, try to compartmentalize the conditions constituting adoption (often to try to make themselves feel better…).


  7. The adopted ones

    March 21, 2011 at 1:58 pm


    Thanks for reading and commenting. I know you have written about this topic from an international adoptee perspective and it was a really good post. One day I hope to have the gift of words you have.


  8. graceling

    March 23, 2011 at 4:59 pm

    Thank you for the comment on my blog, and for your words here. Hearing the stories of adult adoptees is so important for PAPs/APs.

    You pose a question that I find very interesting, because of my link to IA, where children are often abandoned without the promise or hope of a family (the reasons birthfamily may abandon a child are too numerous and complex for me to fully understand, especially in a nation where their richest have the same income as the poorest in the USA.)

    You ask “If they knew they could not have found a family for me do you honestly think that the state or agency etc would ever allow a baby to be surrendered to them when there is no fear of abuse or future abuse?” Well, I cannot answer that, but it is a very good question.

    I am an RN and my husband is an MD, my sister is a NICU RN. We have, not infrequently, seen parents who chose to relinquish a child because they “don’t want” a child with a diability, developmental delay, brain injury, Down Syndrome, etc. Many of these precious children will never be placed into a family (even here in the US where so many services and support options exist!) and will literally live in medical homes (orphanages for sick kids/adults) for the rest of their lives. In fact, the state often accepts the relinquishment of older (age 12+) children with these disabilities whose parents did try to parent them until the child became so complex/demanding/just plain physically BIG that they no longer could continue caring for the child at home. While they loved their child, the best way to meet the child’s needs was through relinquishment to the state, which gave the child access to care and caregivers that is not supplied/subsidized to them when they remain in their parent’s home.

    I realize this is a totally different situation that what you are referring to- the relinquishment of a healthy infant- but my point is that the State is often not helping anything or anyone but themselves by facilitating adoptions any more than private adoption agencies are. The system is messed up. Birthfamilies are not treated with the respect they deserve. Children are treated as commodities. And APs are lied to and threatened.

    (Complicating this is the fact that AA and biracial children wait so much longer for a family. Of all the children relinquished, AA/biracial and those with special needs will wait the longest- sometimes forever- for an adoptive family; these are the adoptable children in the US foster system. What is the birthparent understanding of this…? I honestly have no clue.)

    One other thought is this: safe haven laws exist- and in some states, exist up to age 18. Parents can chose to drop their child off at designated locations, no questions asked. I can’t begin to imagine the mental and emotional pain that would lead a parent to do this, ever, but I know that it must be immense, and at least some of the time, is more of a reflection/response to mental illness (such as depression, anxiety, schizophrenia) than a lack of desire for or love for their child.

    However, prior to these laws being routinely enacted across the country, babies were abandoned in Dumpsters- thrown out in the trash. I lived in the Chicago area when my oldest child was born, and I remember in the week following her birth there were 3 separate news stories of babies found in Dumpsters (safe haven laws were enacted shortly after this.) Only one of the 3 precious children lived. While the availability of relinquishment options for birth parents is part of a broken system, I personally feel it is better than a system where parents “throw out” their children because they do not feel equipped to parent them (either because of emotional/mental distress, or the reasons listed above: age, finances, single, etc.) Services and support for birthparents and family preservation efforts are needed.

    One thing I can comment on: I think for those who have not lived in a overbearing, and at times even cult-like, religious upbringing, the shame and fear associated with unplanned/unmarried pregnancy is hard to fathom. When I became pregnant at 19, I *knew* that if I didn’t get married to my boyfriend right away and pass the pregnancy off as the extension of our marital bliss, it would be next to impossible to remain a part of my family (age, time, and experience have proven this wrong… but I was 19- what did I know then?) When women live in this shame/fear environment, it often makes them feel as though only 2 options exist: abortion or adoption, because they feel they would be ostercized from their entire circle of family/friends otherwise. When you are young and alone in the world other than these family/friends, it creates a very real crisis, and in moments of crisis, our decisions rarely are logical, rational, reasonable, or even in our long-term best interest. Which leads back to my believe that support for women in all situations and walks of life is so important. (of course, this is a very complex issue as well.)

    Finally, adoption is trauma. The choices that leads to adoption are trauma. Bonding and attaching to a new family is trauma. And who experiences this trauma? Primarily the children. The trauma is not a relinquishment or abandonment… it’s the fact that children were designed to be nurtured by their biological parents, and adoption is 100% outside of that plan, from beginning to end- not one part of adoption reflects the way nature designed us (note: I don’t think this means adoption is bad, simply that it should be a last resort- kind of like diabetes medications: it would be better to manage blood sugar with diet, exercise, weight loss,etc, but when the physiological situation is beyond that- or when patients simply cannot change their diet/exercise/weight behaviors, chemicals/medications can help protect lives. It’s not ideal, but it’s making the best of what’s been handed to us.) To believe that the trauma that is adoption is from relinquishment/abandonment is naive.

    Anyway, I appreciate the discussion here. Thank you for sharing your thoughts. Sorry for hijacking the comments!


  9. The adopted ones

    March 23, 2011 at 5:13 pm

    Graceling – you did not hijack the comments – all of your points are really valid and should be brought into the light of day for discussion.

    The point you make about families surrending special needs at birth or at another point in time simply because unless they do the services their child needs aren’t available is absolutely wrong.

    You are right the whole system is messed up and am sure you and your husband would have seen the worst of the worst of it first hand, which must be very hard to bear.

    Really appreciate your voice – hope you keep commenting.


  10. Maru67

    May 11, 2011 at 3:53 pm

    Exactly! I’m not an adoptee, but based on my own experience have often asked myself this question, trying to make sense of it all.

    I was living with a so-called friend as a last resort, adamant that adoption was not an option, but still it was thrown at me. There was no agency, nor state child welfare department, just me, my son, her and the infertile couple waiting in the wings when I was given the ultimatum to ‘choose’ or else be subjected to being hauled away by the police when he was a week old. If that couple had not been there, had not wanted a baby and had not known of my existence or status, my son would not have been relinquished. There was no adoption plan (but my son had been told there was). I have always worried how this has affected my son, being brought up by people who had to have a baby at any cost, creating an adoptee, as you call it, and I bear the brunt of my action of abandoning my son.

    Sorry for the long comment.



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