14 Oct

I was reading a blog this morning that I recently found, that I am starting to enjoy.  She seems to be very comfortable with calling something an adoption issue, or a common issue among adoptees.  It’s refreshing.  She is also willing to talk about how each adoptees experiences are unique, as well as how life events can trigger feelings.  And she talks about one of my favorite adoption books in her most recent post Jaik.

I left that blog with the following questions for those parents who can’t see something for what it is – simply because she is so comfortable and able to realize what is an adoption challenge, or commonality among adoptees, and willing to identify it for what it is.

Why are some parents today so quick to assign a different reason for an obvious adoption related feeling, concern, challenge, or commonality among adoptees?  Why the need to pretty something up and make it seem like an anomaly rather than a reality?

Those questions started me wondering if because adoptions in the past were less glorified as the “be all – end all – best solution ever, and we all need to celebrate when a child becomes an adoptee” that she is willing to see the totality of the experience, or if it is simply because she has been an AP long enough to have grown kids.  Both may be valid answers, but then it doesn’t answer why some fairly new to adoption parents can understand, and yet others just deny any challenge or issue could be adoption related.  You see the denial and rebuttals spring forth all the time.

And then I went to one of my other non-adoption favorite sites and read this short interview on self-deception and why we deceive ourselves…and I think he may be right.  I need to do some more mulling but in theory it makes a whole lot of sense.

Evolutionary guru: Don’t believe everything you think

The human capacity for self-deception knows no bounds, but why do we do it? According to biologist Robert Trivers the simple answer is that it helps us have more children. He told Graham Lawton about the evolutionary benefits of lying.

Read the short interview and then apply it to the adoption world and tell me what you think.


Posted by on October 14, 2011 in Adoption


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13 responses to “Self-deception

  1. momsomniac

    October 14, 2011 at 3:32 pm

    Many of the APs I know are infertile. There is a LOT of pain around that, so I can see how deceiving one’s self about adoption issues might help a person manage that pain (meaning, it might serve one to believe that one’s child’s problems/feelings are NO DIFFERENT than they’d have been with a biological child). But I don’t know this first hand. And certainly not all of the APs I know do this, regardless of fertility issues.

    On a different (?) topic within the interview, while extremely deceptive people tend to THINK they are smarter than everyone else, I don’t think smarter people are more likely to be deceptive. Though the interviewee certainly had some data behind that claim, I’d need to see the data before I’d accept that.

    What was it the interview made you think of?


  2. The adopted ones

    October 14, 2011 at 3:44 pm

    I don’t think he was trying to imply smarter people are more deceptive – just how people believe themselves even knowing what they believe isn’t the truth.

    Re adoption – I think a lot is on the perception of how mothers who surrender get over it and chose adoption instead of had no other good choice. I do believe some don’t want to parent but don’t believe that is the majority. How studies are designed to meet the objective of the person instigating the study – not the reality. How the marketing spins calm the fears of corruption in poor countries where the facts support that corruption exists, and how people want to believe everything their agency states and all is just fine instead of doing their own research. Just the whole thing really – can’t talk about the bad stuff or you are labelled anti – despite the bad stuff being real. Look at another thing that happens – a child is deemed an orphan by some even though their mother, father, extended family still exist – it is easier to label an orphan than to face the real hard core issues. Not making a whole lot of sense but – no one looks below the surface – they want to accept the spin and go along and play the game.


    • momsomniac

      October 14, 2011 at 4:00 pm

      Ah, I see your point. I can understand how bio-mothers might have to do this to manage their pain. And how people desperate to be parents would deceive themselves to feed that need. Most of the rest makes sense too. The labeling has always struck me as bizarre though ~ the idea that one can’t point out PROBLEMS with a practice without being told that they are “angry” or “against” the practice seems downright disingenuous (like maybe what is REALLY meant is “Shut up and know your place”).

      The bit that made me want to see his data was this:
      “Is it right that self-deception is correlated with intelligence?
      Yes, at least for deception. The smarter your child is, the more he or she lies. In monkeys, the bigger the neocortex is, the more often they’re seen lying in nature.”


  3. The adopted ones

    October 14, 2011 at 4:11 pm

    I imagine his books cite the research. In many ways I can see that the more clever you are as a child the easier it is to get away with stuff through deception – some lies are really easy to spot because of the holes – others when the visual clues are not there and the story makes sense – I would assume that tapers off with maturity and the field evens out.

    Babies that are institutionalized don’t get a reward for crying so they just don’t after a while – babies in homes get picked up if they cry because you assume they need something or something is wrong – would the baby cry just because they want something instead of need something? Have they trained you? Or have you trained them?


  4. momsomniac

    October 14, 2011 at 4:31 pm

    Maybe I’ll check out the book. It’s definitely true with kids. But I don’t want to believe it applies to adults.

    And oh, trained me…definitely. ; )


  5. The adopted ones

    October 14, 2011 at 4:37 pm

    I was thinking of the different ways I practiced self-deception as an adult. Two distinct ways: For years I worked long long days and would drag myself out the door by 6 am every morning – bone weary – half way to work I would start telling myself how much energy I had and how much I looked forward to the day – I was still bone weary but believed I had tons of energy. When I got sick even though I kept going back to the doctor when she finally gave me a dx that wasn’t scary – I accepted it and made myself believe it – even though I knew better both from my symptoms and from my knowledge gleamed from dad. It was easier to believe something easy to fix than something that could kill me.

    I also think as younger adoptees – sometimes it is far easier to deny any impact than to face sometimes really hard truths.


  6. shadowtheadoptee

    October 17, 2011 at 8:03 pm

    “Do children come into the world as self-deceivers or does it take a while to develop?
    That is very tough to say. There’s evidence that deception in children starts at six months of age. By eight or nine months they have developed the ability to deny that they care about something that they do care about. But demonstrating self-deception is tricky.”

    I found this particularly interesting, especially after reading the link about Jake. When I think about my own adoption story, I think he is on to something. When he talks about the more intelligetn a child the more he/she lies, I didn’t see it as a lie of “no mom I didn’t eat the cookies you told me not to eat.” kind of thing. I thought/think it was much more complex. I’m not sure I can put it into words, sort of this, there is a fine line between geneouse and insanity. Obviously, I’m not the first, or I’d know how to spell it. Thanks for the links. Bothe were interesting


    • The adopted ones

      October 17, 2011 at 9:07 pm

      Shadow – that’s so true – especially for adoptees like myself. It’s a combination of deception in not wanting to be absolutely truthful because sometimes the truth hurts others and you ultimately become the bad guy at least in your mind.

      I think he also see self-deception in the same way we talk about adoptees in denial. You don’t know you are in denial until you aren’t. Life is good. Something so hard to wrap you mind around but what it boils down to is self-deception is a very powerful tool and also a very good coping mechanism and you believe it to be the truth.


  7. shadowtheadoptee

    October 18, 2011 at 1:11 pm

    Reading what he said about the intelligence factor, I kept thinking about how adoptees react differently when removed from their first mothers at birth: how they grieve differently. I kept comparing myself to my brother, who always had trouble and learning issues, so to speak. I was the quiet, independant, well adjusted, happy child from the start. He was the one always needing supervision, etc, attention, you get the picture; acting out constantly, even as a baby. It seems to me, when I really think about it, that I learned to deceive myself long before he truly did. Sort of, he, maybe, knew he needed the love and attention, on a subconscious level, and did whatever to get it. Where as, I subconsciously, told myself I didn’t and avoided it. Does that make sense? Though he is more athletic than I, I am more intelectual than he. Isn’t that a nice way to say that I am just more intelligent than he is, which, btw, he’d admit. lol I sort of see the same with you and your siblings. Not that I’m saying our siblings are stupid, because they aren’t, so I think it has a lot to do with each person’s personality along with their level of intelligence. Very interessting topic to study.


  8. Jane Ballback

    October 18, 2011 at 8:26 pm

    Hello Everyone,

    I wanted to comment on the blog about self-deception. I think this is part of the human condition, but when you are a parent of any kind, let alone an adoptive parent, self-deception is not something you can afford.

    I love writing my blog about my children, because all three had such very different reactions to every phase of the adoption and the growing up process. I am by nature a very common sense, and objective person, but many birth parents have told me, that they think my objectivity comes from being an adoptive parent. Perhaps they’re right, because when your children don’t come from your birth family, your expectations are very different, because you have nothing, nor anyone, to compare them to.

    I do think this is a healthy attitude for all parents. People are woefully ignorant about their ability to “clone themselves”, by giving birth to children, and often set themselves up with expectations that cannot be met. After all, their birth children are composite of everyone in their family, there is simply no predicting exactly how each child will turn out.

    Our adopted children, surprised my husband and myself continually. It is actually a very liberating experience to just watch the process, instead of anxiously waiting for one thing or another to happen.

    I also think that self-deception can be a serious issue for adoptive parents, because we often face more serious issues than birth parents do. There was one time that I waited too long to act on my intuition that one of my sons was deeply depressed. I acted quickly when I finally got “real”, but hate think about the consequences had I not done that.

    I love this blog, and look forward to talking with others of you.



  9. The adopted ones

    October 18, 2011 at 9:03 pm

    Welcome Jane. Very true on self-deception for adoptive parents – you have to be aware because you can’t compare to others in the family and you really don’t know what is potentially ahead either good or bad. Thanks for the compliment to Shadow and I.


  10. Lisa

    May 9, 2014 at 8:52 am

    I had a lot of very serious problems as a teen. My a parents did not make the connection ( nor did I)
    That this was adoption related…it was the 70s, and I think it was bad enough for them that their perfect adopted baby was stealing and using drugs and more…pretty much blew up their perfect pretend life of us being “normal” and just like everybody else.
    So I was just labeled “bad” and/or “spoiled” and of course “ungrateful”.
    They have really never forgiven me….and our relationship was more or less destroyed ( in my book anyway) because I was depressed, hurt, confused… You name it…by my adoption / I now know I was acting out feelings of fear and feeling unworthy.. Feeling not valuable.
    Would biological parents throw away their child so quickly?
    It’s easier I guess if you can just blame low class genes….and ungrateful brats!
    I’m semi ok now though.


  11. Tiny Paw

    October 25, 2016 at 7:03 pm

    I wrote a post last night (in response) to a self-deceiving adoptive parent……. I despised my adoptive family and I despised adoption. It is a one-way ticket to a mental health disorder, and it is the adults (the adoptive parents) who are causing the mental damage to adopted children. Be nice? how about I simply be truthful? and my post (as written last night) is as follows:

    She is the ‘only’ mother! Anything else is simply lies and make believe… ‘Let’s pretend’?.. No thanks. Not anymore. I’m done with lies. And I’m certainly done with the lies of adoption. I’m now an adult adoptee and I prefer to tell the truth…..Lies, lies & more lies….The reality of adoption for mentally unwell adults who like to inflict their lies on the minds of other people’s innocent children. ‘Child abuser’ is a more suitable term for adults who choose to lie to vulenrable children, and as for stripping other people’s children of their authentic identity? only a dishonest person who sees children as objects (a very sick person in need of a mental heath check-up) would do such a thing to another person’s child……..Remember, that these children are ‘other’ people’s children. That’s nature’s choice, not yours. That’s truth’s choice, not yours. But truth & reality must be denied at all costs in adoption, and that’s why the lies of Mum, dad & the name changes take place at the point of adoption – in order to trick the child (it confuses them) and it detaches them from them ‘self’.
    Do you know why most adoptees don’t fight for their human rights? (such as their identity)? (‘all’ non-adopted are entitled to their own identity), do you know why? because they are brainwashed so quickly that they don’t know they have rights…let alone human rights….They didn’t even know that they were human beings before the adoption, and most of them never will know…These are blatant human right violations that every adoptive parent (that I know of) engages in, and they then they pat themselves on the back for being a saint. Also, adopted children are forced to feel shame with regards to their identity. ‘Their identity’ that was taken away from them and thrown into the garbage because it was that bad…This ensures that the adopted child will then feel a sense of shame towards their own name and towards their authentic selves…..The adopted child has done nothing wrong, but, and because they have lost their mother, they will be punished with lies (in words, and action) about who they are….The adopted child is being used in order to make other people happy (infertile couples, etc) because that’s the role of orphaned children. To be objectified & used for the sake of others.The whole point of adoption is to enslave the mind of the adopted child to the adopters: ie: If they don’t know their own name? who are they? (In the mind of adopted children – they belong to the adopters – because the adopted child knows nothing else.). It’s brainwashing, it’s child abuse, and adopted children are basically being taught to self-deceive…to lie to themselves forever & for the rest of their lives (for the sake of others)….



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