Wow, I would never have known…

10 Jul


I met new people at class yesterday, and we talked individually back and forth, and the response I received several times was some version of “wow, you look great” or “I would never have guessed that you had that happen to you”.   I also had my hair cut by a new stylist taking over for my old one (thankfully she is good because I went for a completely different style) and we chatted, and I had to explain, and the same “I would never have known looking at you” type of response happened.

Last night, as I was thinking about my day that scene replayed in my head which was of course about my health – I couldn’t help but think of another scene that I could see play out the same way, it would involve me and be my story, but I wouldn’t be the one telling it.  My cousin, aunt, friend, neighbor only see that for me, being adopted worked out great.  They would be the first ones to tell someone else that I had no problems with being adopted into my family (which I don’t), and that I never felt any loss, challenges, or angst about being adopted (which I have and do), or concerns on how adoption works in the larger scope of things (I do).  Nor would I ever go there with them unless they brought the subject up, because my concerns aren’t about “my” adoption – it’s about how adoption can be practiced badly, very badly, and people hurt for life.  I wouldn’t go there for a couple of reasons – I would not allow anything to taint mom and dad, and when you are talking about adoption, regardless if it about how it is practiced and not your personal story – people always to go to the personal story in adoption, as in your adoption was done wrong by your mom and dad.  People have a hard time from separating the personal story from adoption as an industry, so unless they were adopting, or had a modicum of knowledge about the big picture of adoption – what would be the point?

The only time I speak up to friends, or an acquaintance, is about Adoptee Rights and how we as adoptees are barred by laws to access our own factual birth certificate.  How wrong that is, and how people need to speak up and rectify this wrong.

Maybe I should be more open in face to face conversations –  just from an education standpoint, but based on the reactions by the public when an adoptee speaks up the outcome is fairly predictable.  The words bitter, angry, bad experience, bad parents usually come out, someone will talk about someone they know who is adopted who is fine with it (you never know they may be talking about me, or, someone just like me), and truly believe adoption makes the loss of the family of birth insignificant – to be told otherwise baffles them because you had good parents so what’s the problem.  The problem is of course that families aren’t interchangeable like that without consequences, but with the cheerleading done in adoption, the public doesn’t think any deeper than – oh – adoption – how beautiful.  If they went deeper and tried to see how they would feel it would make them uncomfortable – so they don’t.  It’s easier to pretend there is no loss, and that the family who tried so hard for so many years finally has a baby.  I do see a move by some adoption educators, agencies, in recent years to be more open about some of the loss that happens in adoption, but I only see it to those adopting, not the public.  But at least it is happening now to a degree, and while I appreciate the effort, I also have to say what took you so long – it’s not rocket science, families aren’t meant to be replaced easily, or without impact, or really what is the point of a family if it is so easily replaced?


Posted by on July 10, 2013 in Adoption, adoptive parents, biological child


Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

14 responses to “Wow, I would never have known…

  1. Don't We Look Alike?

    July 10, 2013 at 9:44 pm

    It’s hard to educate people on a daily basis face-to-face for a whole lot of reasons.


    • TAO

      July 10, 2013 at 10:00 pm

      Very true – but then how do you explain that to the person who says they know a friend who knows someone who was adopted and they are just fine with it and most adoptees are too…how can people say that with a straight face? And why to other people accept that as truth and the whole truth? I know it wouldn’t fly if I said I knew a friend who knows someone who had to deal with infertility and they are just fine with it and most others dealing with it are fine too… (for the record I don’t). Why so easy to accept one but not the other?


      • gsmwc02

        July 11, 2013 at 11:51 am

        Two reasons, one our society has a hard time with being empathetic and also recognizing a grief/pain they don’t understand. Second unless you have first hand experience it’s impossible to understand it.

        While I have no personal connection to adoption and outside of having a close friend who was adopted, I recognize that there is a life long loss that adoptees have. Even if on the surface they may seem fine in their everyday life it doesn’t mean they don’t hurt.

        I think what you are doing is all you can do and that is get the message out there. The hard part is getting it out to everyone. To be honest for me if it wasn’t for IF and me researching adoption, I would still be just as ignorant as the rest of the population. Not that I am some expert on the topic but I am more aware now than I was just four months ago. I am embarrassed on what my perception and attitude was on adoption back then. It was through reading birth/first parent, adoptee and some adoptive parent blogs that I became better educated. For me the sad tough stories with the most hostility and anger were the ones that I have learned the most from.


      • Don't We Look Alike?

        July 11, 2013 at 4:06 pm

        That is one of the mysteries of social interactions, I think. Some people are so unable to understand what it’s like to be in somebody else’s place. And are so obtuse. Of course, we don’t notice the other people because they don’t say stupid stuff. A lot of times they just don’t say anything. But it seems like there are plenty of the obtuse ones around. Good analogy by the way.


  2. eagoodlife

    July 10, 2013 at 11:39 pm

    Because children were always thought to have no feelings so to be a blank slate was easy and a great solution for all.Despite the findings of Bowlby et al it takes a long time to get rid of these things from our thinking.They say it because they think adoptees are fine and often we act fine.I always give Brodzinsky’s 5 stages of adopted life as an example of how today’s fine adoptee is tomorrow’s angry adoptee. You just never know what comes next……


  3. c

    July 11, 2013 at 3:11 am

    “People have a hard time from separating the personal story from adoption as an industry, so unless they were adopting, or had a modicum of knowledge about the big picture of adoption – what would be the point?”

    That is true. Unfortunately, even those planning on adopting or who have adopted often seem a hard time separating the personal story of the industry, in fact, one might venture that in many cases, they don’t want to.

    One can see this in the way online adoptees are treated by many online Aps.

    For example, if one is an adoptee who posts on a forum that they have no wish to meet bfamily, they will get many APs telling them how wonderful they are, how nice it is to hear a positive story and how they hope their own child is like theme. It seems irrelevant as to why, however, they will get brownie points if they say that the reason they have no wish to meet bfamily is because they felt loved enough by their afamily. This gets on my goat because my wish to meet bfamily had nothing to do with my feelings for my afamily.

    Those who do wish to meet bfamily can receive brownie points on the proviso that once having done so, they proceed to state that their afamily is better than their bfamily and that they are so glad that their bmom relinquished them for adoption.

    However, for those who separate their personal adoption story from the adoption industry and thus may talk negative about adoption practices, even while talking positively about their own family, will still be roundly condemned. In fact, even when one proclaims how much they love their family, they will be doubted.

    If one feels that one’s life with bmother would have been different, not necessarily worse, one is accused of wearing rose-coloured glasses and thinking the grass is greener on the other side and will be told what “could” have happened to them if their bmother had kept them. Even bmothers don’t escape this – if they dare to say they might have done OK, they will be told that it is likely they would have abused their child.


    • TAO

      July 11, 2013 at 3:19 am

      So very, very true. What they can’t see is how that makes the adoptee the rope in a game of tug of war – that should never, ever happen. To please one side you must do x by not y although you are told x is normal verbally but the emotional cues even in the writing is blatantly no, don’t do it.

      Sometimes I wish people would understand the basic concept that love is not finite, you can’t use all the love up that is inside of you if you tried for your entire life, that no one wins when one is only allowed to love who another deems it is okay too…


  4. Valentine Logar

    July 12, 2013 at 12:36 pm

    I think it is an empathy issue. People have a very difficult time placing themselves in situations outside of their own experience thus they can only see/feel what they can understand on a logical level or based on what they know from other stories.

    I have my own story. It is different from others and thus it is the filter I see/feel through. Even with this my opinion filters through the story of both of my mothers and fathers and their circumstances. It also filters through many of the my family members including siblings who were affected by my adoption and a sibling who many years later gave up her first born in what was supposed to be an open adoption. I also have friends who are adoptive parents and friends who many years ago gave up children to adoption. So I see this issue from many sides.

    It remains though an issue of empathy, it is difficult when a person has no experience with adoption to have that conversation.


  5. Harriet

    July 13, 2013 at 3:30 pm

    I know that within the adoptive parents community (and by that I mean really the people I know and talk to – IRL and online), most a. parents feel an ongoing mixture of joy and sadness around adoption. We all know that our kids have lost something big and deep and important even if, as in my case, my son’s birthparents are healthy and whole and known to us. We do care about their biological connections and what it means and may mean to them in the future and not one of us is naive to the implications.

    THAT SAID, I agree that for the more part, from the public I typically get “oh he’s so lucky” or you guys are great parents and occasionally, a “why didn’t his “parents” raise him?

    I think the closer people are to adoption, the more they understand its complexity and challenges.

    HOWEVER (like the caps! – LOL), it’s really important that we as adoptive parents recognize that birth certificates for adoptees must be given to them – I find this mindboggling – it’s like the industry and institution of adoption is operating at standards from 40 years ago. Jeez.

    And… (tell me to shut up!) … however, or, I do sometimes feel beaten down by people who really don’t believe in adoption. I just want to raise my son to be caring and capable and good so he can go out in the world ready to face its many challenges with his head high and his heart whole.


    • TAO

      July 13, 2013 at 3:47 pm

      Harriet – there will always be a need for adoption for many varied reasons… What I can’t tolerate is bad practices that still exist in adoption…to many ramifications for the adoptee directly impacted…(I like dots!)


  6. eagoodlife

    July 14, 2013 at 12:42 am

    We will always have to believe in adoption…….it exists, has existed and we all live with the consequences of bad practice, good practice and the lack of ethics,fairness and equality. Adoption will always be the only option for some kids until biological parenting becomes safer, less dysfunctional and more reliable.For some adoption should never be an option because the damage has been so great that family life is untenable.Those kids could be so much better cared for than they are now Those who don’t be believe in adoption don’t know the real world and have not seen what is inflicted on kids by adults . Surely none of us beleive in the adoption industry with it’s lack of ethics, it’s profit making and in the lack of rights of so many adult adoptees.There is much to do……..
    Any good parent wants to raise caring, capable kids who can face the challenges of life, adoptees have those extra challenges to face which hopefully more and more adopters will take seriously and more and more adopters will be selected for their abilities not their bank balances.


  7. katie

    July 18, 2013 at 5:56 am

    I must agree with this post. As an adoptee who had a great upbringing by very well meaning and good parents…its hard to explain to anyone that adoption isn’t all flowers and cookies. I even have a good relationship with my birthfamily, and was adopted as a newborn so didn’t know life before adoption; but all of that does not mean I didn’t have loss and issues relating to my adoption as I grew up. I don’t talk about those issues because others do not get it. Thankfully now parents hoping to adopt are required (in most places) to take courses that are beginning the conversation about the harder or less pretty side of adoption, but you are right in the general public either has a very unrealistically positive idea of adoption, or a very unfairly negative view, both tend to miss the truth. I am a passionate advocate of adoption, as for many many children, it’s the way better option then being left on their own or growing up in foster care, but that doesn’t mean we should neglect to promote the children’s needs (in the processes as well as long into their adult lives) as real and a priority in each situation.


    • Greg

      July 18, 2013 at 3:39 pm


      May I ask whether either or both sets of parents support the grief and pain that came with your adoption? By your comments that they don’t get it I am guessing they don’t but I didn’t want to assume.



      • TAO

        July 19, 2013 at 3:22 pm

        Greg – if you change details in name or email address you automatically go to moderation.



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