The need to hear positive adoption stories…

07 Oct


I see this need so often on-line.  Post one story where an adult adoptee speaks glowingly about her mom and dad and growing up, and it is passed around, linked to, emailed, lights up message boards.  I get that deep need inside of both prospective and [adoptive] parents to hear positive things about adoption – I really do.  It has to be tough building your family via a method that isn’t mainstream, and shouldn’t be mainstream.  That in itself takes guts – and of course you wish to be reassured.

But…and you knew there would be a but…

Here’s the kicker (or secret) – we are just like the non-adopted.  We had childhoods identical to the non-adopted childhoods.  Some great, some good, some not-so-good, some brutal.  Based on where we fell within the spectrum of childhoods, and if in the positive end of the spectrum – we laughed, giggled, followed mom or dad around mimicking every action.  We played games, learned to ride bikes with one or both parents teaching us, built forts, climbed trees, went swimming.  We had dreams of growing up to be a doctor, teacher, scientist, fireman, actor, writer, artist, dancer, to be just like mom or dad.  We were excited Christmas morning, Easter, Halloween and every other holiday in-between.  We loved vacations and watching home movies of those times, we were kids – just like all the other kids.  Nothing different from your childhood stories if your parents were like ours.  We really weren’t different from other children – just because we were adopted.

So why is it necessary for you to ask to hear positive childhood stories from adult adoptees – when you can just look at your own story, your friends stories, your cousins stories?  Why?

When you only want to hear our positive childhood [adoption] stories you see us as perpetual children instead of your equal, adult to adult.  It belittles us.

Please understand that our childhood [adoption] story has nothing to do with speaking up about necessary changes to how adoption is practiced today.  Whether we speak about adoptee rights to their own original birth certificate, or stopping coercion in counselling of expectant mothers, or the insanely short time periods to sign papers so soon after birth, well you get the point that many areas in adoption need reform.  We care about adoption being done right.

It shouldn’t come as a surprise that we are interested in the subject of adoption and how it is practiced, seeing as we have been adopted all of our life.  When I got sick and diagnosed with a rare disease – I became interested in that as a cause, just like those who have a personal stake in seeing a cure for breast cancer – or any other disease or any cause – most people who have a cause – have a personal stake in that cause.  It’s the same for adoptees and adoption – it isn’t rocket science.

Next time you ask why you don’t hear more positive stories by adult adoptees about their childhood – ask yourself when was the last time you posted a positive story about your childhood.


Posted by on October 7, 2012 in Adoption, adoptive parents


Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

45 responses to “The need to hear positive adoption stories…

  1. Kellie

    October 7, 2012 at 3:00 pm

    When my daughter was pregnant and considering adoption, all we heard were positive adoption stories. We needed to hear the bad as well.
    You are completely correct, though. Who tells their childhood stories about their biological parents unless they were somehow remarkable (good or bad)? Why do adoptees have to try and soothe their adoptive parents ego by telling stories that they (the ap’s) wouldn’t tell about their own childhood experiences? In my opinion, it only makes sense if they feel guilty about taking their children away from their biological parents.


  2. Rebecca Hawkes (@motherdaughterB)

    October 7, 2012 at 3:12 pm

    Great post!


  3. Sam

    October 7, 2012 at 4:11 pm

    I totally agree. Adopters seem to have this incessant need to have their ego’s stroked and sensibilities protected at all times; when they don’t seem to care much about how others suffered from their gain. The way the swarm first mother and adoptee blogs when a ‘not so positive’ view is offered and denounce our truths and the pain we have lived is proof positive of this. How dare anyone have a view other than ‘rainbows and sunshine…’


  4. Maralee

    October 7, 2012 at 4:23 pm

    Rebecca, I really appreciate this perspective because it is very different from what I naturally feel. I am an adoptive parent and do a lot of reading about adoption particularly from the perspective of adult adoptees. I want to understand how my children may someday view their adoption. The same way it is in most life situations, the people with the strongest feelings have the loudest voices and often those voices are negative and have hurtful things to say about adoptive parents. I continue to read them because I do feel I have a very real stake in how adoptees are treated and how adoption is handled. I never want my kids to question the ethics of how they came to me or feel they aren’t entitled to know their history. I read so I can learn and continue to be an advocate for them and their birth families. My hope is exactly what you’ve stated- that my children’s childhood and relationship with their families will be just like any other kid, but much of the adoption reading I do tells me instead that their adoption will color the way they see the world (and particularly the way they view me as their mother) in a negative way.
    I am encouraged to hear positive adoption stories not AT ALL because I consider my adopted friends to be perpetual children, but because I want to learn from what they experienced. What did their parents do right that helped them feel included and loved? It’s the same reason why I read the difficult stories from adult adoptees- I want to understand what contributed to them feeling a distance from their parents. We all learn both positively and negatively from the environments we were raised in and can contribute to each other’s parenting wisdom when we share about the successes and failures of our own parents, whether that’s about adoption or any other topic. It is discouraging to parent with this voice in my head saying my kids are destined to reject me because of their adoption, which is what I would believe if those positive stories weren’t out there. (I’m not much of a comment writer, but I felt like you were asking a really legitimate question of why some of us need to hear the positive stories so I hope this helps clarify.)


    • TAO

      October 7, 2012 at 4:45 pm

      Thanks for commenting Marilee – just want to point out I am not Rebecca and this is only a post she recommended.


  5. Maralee

    October 7, 2012 at 4:49 pm

    Thanks, TAO! Took me a minute to put that together 🙂


  6. eagoodlife

    October 7, 2012 at 9:24 pm

    Reblogged this on The Life Of Von and commented:
    Some positive thoughts from TAO and wise words on childhood stories. Why are we asked to delete part of our stories to make others comfortable? Why do many mothers want to tell one adoption story in which all adoptees have the same beginning and the same fate? It denies our individuality, puts us into a manageable box and means reality doesn’t have to be encountered or dealt with.We not only care about necessary adoptions being done right we care about our adoptions being viewed accurately if they must be viewed at all.


  7. Vibeke Henriette

    October 7, 2012 at 10:12 pm

    I so, so do agree.


    • TAO

      October 7, 2012 at 10:17 pm

      Thanks Vibeke – really like your avatar!


      • Vibeke Henriette

        October 7, 2012 at 10:21 pm

        Hehe, thank you – I`ll let him know (Billy…) and you`ve got a friend for life 🙂


  8. TAO

    October 7, 2012 at 10:20 pm

    Thanks to everyone who commented – appreciate the support and have been remiss in acknowledging it.

    Here’s a sweet article about a man and his dog I read this morning that is worth passing on.

    Now I need to get back to watching the O’Reilly / Stewart debate…it’s pretty funny…


  9. Bluejuluej

    October 9, 2012 at 1:30 am

    Clap clap clap!


  10. Alex Stan

    October 9, 2012 at 2:11 pm

    If I had been born to my adoptive parents, my childhood experiences and my upbringing would not have been any different. When I found out at age 16 that I was adopted, my reaction wasn’t much more than “really? wow!” and then I moved on. Later in life I decided that I wanted to find my roots. It took decades. I’m not sure I understand the angst one sees or hears sometimes when a child discovers that they were adopted. I’m not judging then—I just don’t understand it…UNLESS they had been raised in an abusive environment, in which case the adoptee might feel like “why did I get dumped into this?” What if you had been born to those adoptive abusive parents instead?


    • TAO

      October 9, 2012 at 2:38 pm

      Hi Alex,

      I am not sure I am understanding your question but will answer what I think you are asking.

      If I had not been adopted then I would have no personal stake in adoption, and would quite likely not have have “ensuring adoption is done properly” as a cause.

      I reread your comment and if you are asking if I had abusive adoptive parents – then of course I would have had a different childhood story. I thought I had clarified that there were different types of [adoptive] parents and if you were on the good end of the spectrum it then it would be like…

      Please clarify what you are asking.


    • Elizabeth

      November 12, 2013 at 4:14 pm

      Alex, I totally agree with you. I’m an adopted adult, and I have zero negative feelings about being adopted. I look at it as I was born to my mom, just through a different person. I was always meant to be my mother’s daughter. I get so upset when I see all the negative adoptees out there… it does no good to dwell on being adopted and to use that as part of the way you view yourself. I’m a person. Adoption is part of my story, but it doesn’t define me.


      • TAO

        November 12, 2013 at 5:23 pm

        Hi Beth – and yet here you are on an adoption blog…did you even take the time to read the post? Actually read it and hear what I said? If yes, tell me what the post is about…


        • Elizabeth

          November 12, 2013 at 5:36 pm

          I did- and what I got out of it was that our stories are our stories- adopted or not. Is there some reason I shouldn’t be on an adoption blog? I’m doing research for a paper. I do have an interest in adoption, but from a different side than most people who are vocal about it on the Internet. I am interested in positive stories because mine is positive. I am also interested in positive stories because there is so much negative on the Internet about adoption, and I think unfairly so.


          • TAO

            November 12, 2013 at 7:03 pm

            Try actually listening because you completely missed the point.


      • shadowtheadoptee

        November 12, 2013 at 5:43 pm

        No negative feelings at all? I’m curious? Why do other adoptee’s negative feelings upset you?


        • Elizabeth

          November 12, 2013 at 5:56 pm

          They actually don’t upset me. What upsets me is their inability to accept the fact that I don’t have any negative feelings, or their insistence upon projecting their negative feelings onto every other adoptee.


          • TAO

            November 12, 2013 at 7:06 pm

            Like your insistence on who I am?


            • Elizabeth

              November 12, 2013 at 7:39 pm

              Wait…what? How am I insisting on who you are?? My only point is that I am a very happy adoptee, and there are lots of us out there. The problem is that any time we say so, someone from the angry adoptee camp jumps all over us and insists that deep, down inside, we must be angry or hurt or broken, too. And the truth is, we aren’t. And that’s ok. It’s really just all ok. I’ve read your post 3 times and I still don’t get the point you were apparently trying to make- perhaps because of where I’m coming from? I don’t know. I never meant any disrespect. Just posted because I agreed with Alex. Adoptees are children of loving parents, just like any other kids. My parents are my parents. I don’t have two sets of parents. I have one set- I just came to them in a different way. Which I think is beautiful. I’m sorry if you don’t like that I feel that way.


              • TAO

                November 12, 2013 at 8:33 pm


                No one on this blog has jumped all over you insisting you are whatever you assume everyone does…and it confuses me as to why you carry that around with you.

                Your inability to comprehend what was written astounds me – I thought it was clearly written, I’m sorry it went over your head. It is demeaning when they only want to hear is happy stories from our childhoods – not who we are now, which is usually, but not always, someone much older, and, wiser about how adoption is practiced than they are. I don’t blog to make them feel warm and fuzzy, I am blogging to bring much needed awareness to the real problems in how adoption is practiced, today. I want people to understand the slippery slope of adoption practices, which as far as I am concerned, has become a race to the bottom and trust me they don’t have much farther to go to get there. Adoption should be a race to the top in a humane and ethical world where family preservation is honored, and, society values the safety nets to help all mankind.

                As to who you insist I am? Your words give you away, not-so-subtle sentences designed to make yourself feel superior, yet, tell me you assume I am one of “those adoptees”…but hey, if you want to play – I’m game…

                First comment: “I get so upset when I see all the negative adoptees out there… it does no good to dwell on being adopted and to use that as part of the way you view yourself.”

                Another comment: “I do have an interest in adoption, but from a different side than most people who are vocal about it on the Internet. I am interested in positive stories because mine is positive.”

                Last comment confirming I am not like you rather I’m the happy adoptee: “I still don’t get the point you were apparently trying to make- perhaps because of where I’m coming from?”


  11. shadowtheadoptee

    October 9, 2012 at 4:54 pm

    Late to the party as usual: Love it.

    In regards to the question on abuse: Children born to abusive parents do not like it any better than children adopted by abusive parents. Biological abused children may wish they had been adopted. Adopted abused children may wish they hadn’t been adopted. They all wish they had not been abused to begin with. Like AO said, it isn’t rocket science. That is why the whole dismissal of adoptee’s negative feelings, based on the possibility that they just had a “bad experience”, is such a load of crap.


    • TAO

      October 9, 2012 at 6:32 pm

      Hey Shadow – better late than never…got to love old time phrases…

      Thought you would get a kick out of a search query today “positive adoption stories”…


  12. shadowtheadoptee

    October 9, 2012 at 7:16 pm

    Ha, imagine that? Our blog showing up as a “positive adoption story”, who’d of thunk it? Gotta love Google. Lol

    My favorite of the day, “Who is studied in an adoptee study?”?Really? Who do you think is studied in an adoptee study? Could it be an, uhm, I dunno, “adoptee”? Maybe?


  13. TAO

    November 30, 2012 at 2:47 pm

    Hey – Facebook viewers – this post has been lighting up my stats for three days all from Facebook – would one of you please share what page?


  14. lopk

    June 8, 2013 at 9:41 pm

    the adoptee is not treated the same as the non adopted the adoptee is treated really badly while the non adoptee is treated real good not the same at all


  15. jgvansickle

    June 14, 2013 at 11:40 pm

    Very interesting post, I have to get to your last comment – “Next time you ask why you don’t hear more positive stories by adult adoptees about their childhood – ask yourself when was the last time you posted a positive story about your childhood.”

    I have never posted positive stories about my childhood. There are some great ones, and some not so great. I post the negative stuff, cause that is what people want to hear. I could post positive stuff about adoption but it certainly will not go over well, at least on the numerous anti-adoption blogs I have been reading.

    I have two wonderful mothers and I love them both equally. One mother accepted and loved me as her own, even though I was not, the other fell victim to I guess what I call none other than a glorified sales pitch, and perhaps a lot of parental pressure. I hold no-one at fault and have zero condemnation towards anyone.

    So here is a big question – Should I Post Positive Stuff About My Personal Experience With Adoption? or just focus on the negative, which is so attractive to readers. I know what my answer is.


    • TAO

      June 15, 2013 at 12:32 pm


      Your comment is very vague and I can’t tell if you heard something other than what the post was about or if you are just trying to say something else. I am also wondering about where all those “anti-adoption” blogs are that you are reading…or do you mean the blogs that want things done correctly in adoption???

      Regarding the start of your comment – that statement was directed at adoptive parents: “Next time you ask why you don’t hear more positive stories by adult adoptees about their childhood – ask yourself when was the last time you posted a positive story about your childhood.”

      The reason I did this post was because of the search queries about the subject. Before doing the post I then went to a fair number of AP blogs and searched their postings for stories about their childhood and mom and dad. If I remember correctly only one AP blog ever even mentioned current day stories that included their mom and dad – much less stories of their childhood. The concept that adult adoptees – many of us who are older, if not decades older, than the current AP’s being expected to post only stories about our childhood is frankly pathetic – the stereotype of never having grown up.


    • Elizabeth

      November 12, 2013 at 5:39 pm

      Please, please write about the positive. You will get slammed by the anti-adoption zealots, but it’s important to post positive stories because the only voices out there are negative (for the most part) and what happens is that people assume that is normal. It’s not. It’s just that the negative people have louder voices.


      • TAO

        November 12, 2013 at 7:04 pm

        Really Beth – you have no idea who I am, or why I write – and your assumptions made about this post prove that.


      • mad momma moogacat

        November 13, 2013 at 4:25 pm

        I’m not sure what sources you are consulting, but if the only voices you are hearing are negative then you aren’t reading very broadly. The vast majority of voices that get heard are the rainbows and unicorns voices promoting “the beauty of adoption” to the hilt. It’s only in the last few years that voices of honesty and complexity have begun to be heard, and that’s thanks to the derisively-termed “angry adoptees” who have been brave enough to speak. You want positive accounts? Look at 95% of adoptive parent blogs. But know that’s not the whole picture. Adoption, at least in my very limited experience, is complex and can’t be tied up in a tidy, neat, positive bow. Many thanks to TAO and Shadow for having the guts to speak up and not be cowed.


        • Elizabeth

          November 13, 2013 at 5:10 pm

          Well that’s great, because in my experience it HAS been all rainbows and unicorns. That’s MY truth. I wish it was respected.


  16. lea

    August 26, 2013 at 11:43 am

    i don’t agree with this post the adoptees life and the non adoptees life is very different non adoptees have rights and are treated good where the adoptees don’t have rights and are not accepted by the public please I wish for once people would say how an adoptee really lives and is treated in this world adoptees are treated really badlt by people


    • TAO

      August 26, 2013 at 1:00 pm

      lea – perhaps you need to re-reach and listen to what I am actually talking about in the post. Have a good day.


  17. lea

    August 26, 2013 at 11:46 am

    ia so tird of people saying adoptees have a good life when we don’t adoptees are very unlucky plus adoptees have nobody who understands how they feel where isolted and unloved and nobody cares


    • TAO

      August 26, 2013 at 2:07 pm

      lea – YOU need to actually read what I wrote if you want to critique the post. You aren’t willing to do that apparently. The POST is about AP’s wanting to hear an adoptee’s childhood stories. I am asking why because:

      “We had childhoods identical to the non-adopted childhoods. Some great, some good, some not-so-good, some brutal.”

      I am NOT saying all adoptees had great lives. I am saying they are from GREAT to BRUTAL but asking adoptees to tell their childhood stories is ridiculous because wherever they fell on the spectrum from GREAT to BRUTAL so do adoptees so instead the AP’s can just look at ANY childhood story – not want adoptees to tell their CHILDHOOD stories.


  18. lea

    August 26, 2013 at 1:50 pm

    you cant shut me up just because i don’t have good adoptions storys its not right to tell me i have no right to share my unhappy life you know if you wanted me to have a good life them people should have supported me instead of trying to ignore me


    • TAO

      August 26, 2013 at 2:12 pm

      Lea – you are right, no one can shut you up although I can put you on moderation on this blog because it is MY space.

      You could try to initiate a conversation and choose to make friends instead of throwing out comments like “if you wanted me to have a life then people should have supported me”. I don’t know you so how in the world do you think I should have supported you?


  19. lea

    August 26, 2013 at 1:51 pm

    tao your not really on my side supporting an adoptee like me your one of the millions of people who just love to see the adoptee suffer so people can feel good about there life


    • TAO

      August 26, 2013 at 2:13 pm

      Yet another way NOT to make friends. What is it that YOU expect me to do for YOU?


  20. lea

    August 26, 2013 at 1:53 pm

    i am want to make my life better but it seems its all the non adoptees who want me to suffer so they can feel happy and good about there own lives that’s mean and not fair


    • TAO

      August 26, 2013 at 2:14 pm

      I don’t know the non-adoptees in your life. Have you talked to them about it?



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