When I was growing up anything bad was not shared outside of the immediate family. Skelton’s were closely guarded and locked away in the closet. Bad marriages – people stayed together. Domestic violence – women wore thick pancake makeup to hide the bruises. Sexual, physical, or emotional abuse by parent to child was never mentioned. Any other sexual or physical abuse by family members to the child covered up. Mental illness was hidden. Families had to be perfect. All of that was the reality during the era I grew up in – good families did not tell secrets out of school.
But all that has changed. The stigma has lessened if you are a victim (at least for now). Rape victims are not picked apart in court for what they wore or how many men they dated prior to the rape. Victims are much less victimized when they report the abuse than they were even half a century ago. Progress. Women are believed and taken seriously and the abuser taken away to jail. Times have changed and will continue to change for the better hopefully.
But – and you knew there would be a but, in adoption any peep that all was not perfect creates an unwillingness to believe the victim, if the victim is the adoptee. In adoption the suspicion is placed on the adoptee for causing the abuse to happen. The adoptee just didn’t adapt. The adoptee is just angry or has issues or is mal-adjusted. It is the adoptees fault. No one wants to believe the adoptee who was the victim of abuse – be it parent to child sexual abuse, physical, or emotional abuse, or any combination of the three. No one wants to believe that a sibling would sexually abuse a sibling, or that a cousin or other relative would because you know we aren’t really related.
No one wants to talk about it because that means adoption is not all sunshine and roses and the best thing since sliced ham. It means the process of weeding out those who are not good enough failed. Not only did the process fail but the education precluded information relating to sexual abuse by family who are not related and how that can create an excuse all on its own. The system let the adoptee down and the adoption community compounds the victimization of the adoptee by not believing or worse yet, dismissing it as if it couldn’t really be that bad. The adoption community is not willing to talk about it and make it okay to talk about it. Because if they did talk about it, it would mean that just like in biological families there are good families, mediocre families, bad families, and families that should never have been granted the right to own a dog. It would take adoption off the pedestal that the community wants to pretend it has a right to.
But isn’t it time to recognise the system set up can and does fail? That we as an adoption community can also fail to support the victims? How many headlines do we need to read before we stop blaming the adoptee for what went wrong and start believing that it can and does happen?
How long before it is okay to talk about all the different types of child abuse that happens in adoption to the adoptee?
How about we start believing and listening to the victim and not look for excuses?
Note I am primarily speaking about domestic infant adoption but of course there are overlaps between all types of adoption.