Sometimes I think we have always been the adult in the room…

18 Jul

My friend Shadowtheadoptee and I email back and forth on a pretty regular basis.  We are both at the stage in life where our parent(s) are starting to lean on us to ensure they don’t make mistakes, or to do more and more for them.  See how nicely I can evade using terms that could upset people? 

Our most recent conversation got me to thinking how ‘we’ (general ‘we’ not specific to all or every adoptee) have always in certain areas of our life (adoption), had to make sure our parents were okay as well as others in the room. 

Things like insecurities over terminology, i.e. terms like real parents used for our other parents being next best thing to blasphemy, or ensuring we say our AP’s are our real parents – i.e. the right terminology to make everyone happy.  Just one example of many and one of the more benign universal examples. 

Other people’s perceptions about adoption, as a child I felt I must always put forward that being adopted is FAR superior than just being born and living with, you know, your biological parents – being adopted is WAY better.  Doing that protected our parents from other people and their gossipy, nasty tongues. 

Topics like searching had to be approached very gingerly, on tip-toes so to speak, and really made to seem not important, more like just a whim.  Is it any wonder why you hear the terms ‘curiosity‘ or ‘medical history’ as the two most common reasons adoptees wish to search?  Have you not figured out that they are the only two acceptable reasons too search according to both AP’s, and the world in general?  Anything else is being disrespectful to those saintly people who took in the unwanted child, OR, it makes others look down on your parents as bad parents.  The only solution as the adult is to provide the right answer that makes everyone happy and calm.

There are so many times I can remember being the adult that I could go on forever but it would be too specific and I am not willing to go there, I never go there because I have always been the adult, protecting the adults feelings.

As children, teenagers, young adults, we always had to be the adult to manage the adults feelings…

And as mature adults we are treated like forever children by AP’s who know better about adoption as they have gone through the process and are old-hands with 2 – 5 years of experience…versus our 25 – 60 plus years of being adoptees…but yet “they” are the experts doling out advice that is often not helpful, and is in fact unhelpful and damaging on a regular basis.

Legislators are just as bad or worse preferring to take the word of those ‘saintly‘ people who facilitated all those adoptions of you kids who weren’t wanted, so they must know best and we can’t change legislation to give you your original birth certificates, or make adoption laws tougher to ensure ethics.  Despite the proven ethical concerns, i.e. entire country programs closing due to massive fraud and corrption, or a history of coercive tactics used on mothers, nor the fact they have made millions facilitating adoptions.  They wouldn’t lie – I’m sure…

And now once again, our parents need us to be the adult in the room for different reasons this time, and we gladly do it, but it gets frustrating because quite often their memories have morphed over the last few years and anything they don’t want to remember is gone, and only the fluffy memories remain.

Sometimes I think we have had to be the adults in the room our entire lives…I am looking forward to my second first childhood when I reach that age.

Disclaimer – this is not saying I did not have a normal childhood but when it came to adoption stuff being a child wasn’t possible.


Posted by on July 18, 2011 in Adoption, adoptive parents, Ethics


Tags: , , , , , , ,

10 responses to “Sometimes I think we have always been the adult in the room…

  1. shadowtheadoptee

    July 18, 2011 at 5:44 pm

    Here’s to good friends who understand.


  2. Debbi

    July 18, 2011 at 6:03 pm

    Well said – adoptees develop the ‘people pleaser’ skill early in life. I have dealt with the need to please all my life and now that Iam almost 65, the real me is finally having a childhood and speaking my truth. I I lost remaining AP 2 months ago and although we had a decent relationship, it was like now I can finally be free and not have to concern myself about others feelings.

    I was adopted because AP ‘could not have children’ yeah right – when I was 14 yrs old, ‘they’ became preggies and to quote AP’s they were finally able to have a child of their own – all I can say is their miracle child has taken over and making certain the adopted get nothing – it isn’t about stuff for me – it was the shock of realizing I never was part of a family – ahh the great illusion, and at 65 yrs old, that is a hard truth to swallow.

    Even worse than realizing I never was considered a daughter, no matter how good a daughter I was, I was never good enough… so much for being an adult and people pleaser, worrying about adults feelings all my life was a waste of energy – the angry child is now out of the cage.


  3. The adopted ones

    July 18, 2011 at 6:29 pm

    Debbi – welcome and what you are going through now sucks…I am sorry. I also imagine you are not the first adoptee to find this out after their AP’s are gone. Tough to go through.

    I do have to say though that Von who comments here on a regular basis is going to be just thrilled that finally there is another adoptee close to her age…

    Stick around…


  4. Dannie

    July 18, 2011 at 8:28 pm

    Just out of curiosity, did at any time you ever tell other people to screw it?! Just by reading snippets of your blog here and there, it appears as though your parents were very open and progressive about how the family came to be in a time where many parents were lying to their kids about adoption or didn’t talk…..I would think if you let loose on some less then stellar person, they might not have raised an eyebrow….

    Either way, thank you for that insight. Difficult to read, yet it makes sense all at the same time.


    • The adopted ones

      July 18, 2011 at 8:36 pm


      Even though my parents got it far more than most even do today – the people around them didn’t. Then factor in small town where everyone knows you are the doctors daughter and they are religious in the era when ladies go to get their hair done once a week and dressed up to go to the grocery store AND party lines still existed.

      Do you remember party lines? We had a private line – one of the few in town. Most people had party lines so you can imagine how gossip flowed – just pick up the phone and listen in to whoever is talking about somebody elses business. The internet has nothing on party lines for gossip spreading in a small town.

      There was no way on earth I would have dared to say boo…or everyone and their dog would have known in under ten minutes. Plus I did not have the words/guts I do now…


      • Dannie

        July 18, 2011 at 8:50 pm

        Party lines??? wow….ok no I guess I missed those days. Although I do understand the “getting the hair done”….my mom and I go to the same stylist that goes to the same church, who has 95% of that church as a client….so that aspect I get.


  5. The adopted ones

    July 18, 2011 at 8:46 pm

    Dannie – I just realized you probably have no clue about party lines so here is a blast from the past from a telephone company complete with a link to a song about them…I didn’t listen to the song but assume that is what it is.


  6. Sarah

    July 18, 2011 at 11:54 pm

    Dannie you never had a party line??????

    Dang I’m not even 30 yet and we soooo had a party line.

    Probably had less to do with age and more to do with living in a poor rural area though.

    We even had a thing on the swing set…if you were swinging in sync with someone (you know…side by side and you peak when they peak?) then they were on your party line and you had to get out of sync to get them off your party line.

    Fun stuff.

    The post…not so fun stuff but understandable.


    • Sarah

      July 18, 2011 at 11:56 pm

      To this day I wait until I hear a dial tone before dialing out.


  7. Fran Whelan

    July 19, 2011 at 7:16 am

    Knowing I had to be a people pleaser led to date rape, marrying to please my parents, living with mental abuse for 10 years in the marriage (on top of 20 years of abuse as a child – it was normal parental behaviour in the 60s) and now suffering with depression and stress from trying to run a home, work and care for a sick partner….. When do I get to be a kid?



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