Perhaps I just don’t get it…

12 Feb


A comment by an adult adoptee on this Huff Post article on CNN Michaela Pereira Opens Up About Her Adoption…

I watched the segment yesterday, and thought she did a great job describing her feelings about both sides of her. The pull to know where she came from – regardless of how wonderful her family is.  No digs in either direction, just honest heartfelt feelings of an adult adoptee.

Here is where I run into not understanding (the comment): “There’s some of us that feel that our adoptions were blessings and gains rather than losses and that our identities were formed out of the love of our real parents, the people who raised us.”

Not only did Michaela not say anything negative about her family – in adoption, how can you a gain a new family, if you haven’t lost your family first?

Why can’t you have gained a new family, and, also lost your first family?

Why can’t you want to know your other family?

Why does it have to be either / or when you get your nature from one family, and your nurture from your other family?  Isn’t that proof both made you who you are today?  That both matter can be integral to who you are?

Why is it still seen as disloyal by some to want to know both sides?

Is an adoptee who doesn’t want to know a better type of adoptee to others?  More worthy?  Is that type of adoptee – the one most desired?  And if it is, what does that really say about love?  That love is limited?  That you can only love conditionally?


Posted by on February 12, 2014 in Adoption, adoptive parents


Tags: , , , , , , ,

22 responses to “Perhaps I just don’t get it…

  1. Don't We Look Alike?

    February 12, 2014 at 4:18 pm

    Sharing on FB.


  2. Debbi Gould

    February 12, 2014 at 4:20 pm

    I believe adoptees who deny the innate need to know are coming from a place of fear of rejection. I have found most of my birth family and when I began the search I was fearful that my adopted family would ‘vote me off the island’ if I looked for my birth family.

    Finding and getting to know some of the birth family did change the dynamics between the adopted family and myself and that change was at times uncomfortable.


    • TAO

      February 12, 2014 at 4:41 pm

      Hi Debbi – I agree that fear of rejection could be a major reason on both sides of the coin – you see the fear in any adoptee even considering a search, and it accelerates the closer they get because it is a reality for some. I also think some will have other reasons or no reason whatsoever.

      It’s all so complicated – I don’t understand the denial of reality though – I’m a logic based thinker vs an emotional thinker – and to me that means you can’t have a new family in adoption, if you haven’t lost your other family.

      I never had to face the prospect of being voted off the island – even if that was just a fear – it just seems so instinctively wrong if your family says they love you and has shown that as well – that they wouldn’t love you if you searched. Insecurity in love from your parents benefits no one. I hope things are smoother for you now.

      Your comments will post automatically now. Welcome.


  3. eagoodlife

    February 12, 2014 at 8:43 pm

    Reblogged this on The Life Of Von and commented:
    “A better type of adoptee”?


  4. Mirren (@newhall89)

    February 12, 2014 at 11:27 pm

    I agree that it’s not an either/or, but I do believe that stories are shaped and super-mediated in certain realms. I wouldn’t even say for sure that this woman did feel that she had only one family. It’s what TV producers think listeners want to hear.

    I recently told my story of searching and finding my original father through 23andMe to a magazine that wanted to share how DNA testing helped an adoptee with health issues. I have *always* wanted to search. I have *always* hoped to have relationships with my original families as well as with my adoptive family. It was *never* either/or for me. I spent over six hours on the phone with the journalist, and even more with the fact checker. I am an anxious person at best, and even more so when it’s my story. I am an academic and perfectionist.

    I asked to read the profile/story before it went to press, and I was denied. I have worked in publishing, and I do understand the privilege of journalists.

    I was more than upset, then, to see my story last week published in a form that was nearly alien to me. It was put in a spin that made my search seem as though I was interested pretty much only for health reasons and only for my children. WTH? Not to mention the medical errors in telling: my RN hackles went up. On the one hand, great to have my story out there, encouraging adoptees to find their families, but really NOT in this way.

    I get angry by the mediation of people’s stories, especially when, as a friend said, they become “feel good soap operas.” But that’s the media for you. It’s about entertaining and keeping to the so-called “wisdom of the tribe,” which is so horrifying to me.

    I blame myself. Why did I think that my story, as it was, without unnecessary flourishes and drama, was interesting enough? There’s quite enough drama without inventing things.

    The final paragraph makes me really ill. I NEVER, EVER said this: “My adopted mom and dad will always be my parents and my main support system. They were there at my children’s births, at recitals and parties.” My kids don’t even play instruments! What recitals? The author/editor HAD to put that before writing: “But finding my birth family has helped me have a homecoming with a part of myself I didn’t know was missing: it makes me feel like I didn’t just drop from the sky.” Umm, YES, I ALWAYS knew that part was missing.

    I hate it when people take liberties with other people’s stories and lives. So awful. My life is not a novel!

    Anyway, don’t hate on me too much when you read the story. At least half of what you read isn’t true.

    All this to say, I feel like there are scripts for adoption in the media, and no, those scripts don’t make sense to us because they’re written by people who don’t begin to understand our lives. Or care about us. It’s about selling things.


    • TAO

      February 12, 2014 at 11:40 pm

      Mirren – sometimes I’m not clear – this was a comment left to the Huff Post article – by an adult adotpee so it wasn’t scripted – it was left as a rebuttal to wanting to know.

      I knew from reading your blog you were worried about how they would script your story – I’m appalled – very appalled. They let you down so much. I am SO sorry they did that to you – ie the last paragraph part especially. I’d be fit to be tied. As to getting the medical part right – edited do to misreading – people don’t understand everyday diseases – when you are rare – everyone is clueless – especially if you look fine. I’m so angry on your behalf. Hugs…it’s not right.

      Bloody hell I can’t type today…


      • Mirren (@newhall89)

        February 12, 2014 at 11:56 pm

        My apologies. I didn’t read the comment at HuffPo. I am with you all the way. I don’t understand why it’s an issue at all for us to have two families, or why it’s a contested issue in the first place. We have to fight so hard to be heard at all, screaming into a gale, and to what end? We are labeled, labeled, labeled. This ongoing sense of enforced gratitude is exhausting, at best, and fury-inducing, at worst. When, oh when, do we get to define who our families are for ourselves?

        And as you say, why can it not be simple rationality, addition of another family? Not emotional, not an argument, not guilt. Why is what’s normal for everyone else (blood ties, for example) not normal for us?

        I appreciate your rhetorical questions. Thank you for this discussion, and for fighting the good fight.


        • TAO

          February 13, 2014 at 12:08 am

          Exactly – rational…

          Have a great night and don’t worry about the article – we all get exactly what is expected in an article about an adoptee and if you don’t say it – they will darn well insert it for you. sigh


  5. Fran Whelan

    February 13, 2014 at 9:02 am

    Maybe adoptees who don’t choose to search are actually not prepared to deal with a second rejection from the same source that has already rejected them once.


    • TAO

      February 14, 2014 at 6:45 pm

      Hey Fran – sorry I missed your comment. Here’s hoping you are doing okay as I haven’t heard from you in awhile. Your comment – oh so true.


  6. Scoopy

    February 14, 2014 at 6:19 pm

    Thank you always for your words and insights. I love learning here.


    • TAO

      February 14, 2014 at 6:43 pm

      Thanks for stopping by my little space!


  7. heatherrainbow

    February 16, 2014 at 2:34 pm

    I think it also comes from a place of insecurity. I think this place is created by those who have raised said adoptee. The need to fill the blanket of false security for the parent(s) who were insecure.


  8. Nara

    May 18, 2015 at 2:14 pm

    Hello! I’m new to your blog and reading back through past posts. I find it really interesting and so much better than previous internet searches I’ve done! Before I started searching on blogs (for a different reason I guess, because I started one), I’ve only ever been able to find out the usual media story about adoption that you described above.

    I think I come from a slightly different place: I was adopted transracially and I have always known, and I probably have always seen this as a no-ways-back kind of thing. I’m naturally quite curious and I like doing my research but I also know that I came from a country where I have no link other than birth and no commonality of language (I live in Europe and I was adopted from another continent). So I have never searched more from a basis of “What would we say to each other? How would we communicate?” pragmatism rather than a fear of rejection.

    I guess I’ve also always thought that my birth parents – if I’ve inherited anything from them – would be quite pragmatic. My birth father wasn’t on the scene but my birth mother specifically put me up for adoption and handed me over to my parents. From what they say (and I realise they could be lying but knowing them I don’t think they would, as they can be a bit brutally truthful at other times!) she was “happy” with the situation… She had made a definite decision. Maybe that’s a bit of adoption mythology. But I guess my question is: If there is really very little chance of being to find my birth parents and even if I found them I couldn’t communicate with them – is it wrong for me to be uninvested in finding them?

    I speak from my own point of view only. My partner was adopted from the same country and reunited with his birth mother and family. We’ve discussed adoption at length. From my point of view it is definitely more about the pragmatic options available and the level of curiosity I have. I guess because it’s always been off the table, I’ve never chased it. I don’t feel like I’m repressed in this way, but perhaps I am?


    • TAO

      May 18, 2015 at 2:31 pm


      Many of us grew up knowing we’d never know. I think it is like anything that is your norm, you accept it, and live your life. I did passively sign-up on registries, and such, but I didn’t actually expect anything to come from it. The thing though, is once you’ve been handed that golden key that says here is your information, you just have to take it. A 180 happens in your brain. Suddenly, a possibility to know actually exists, and it changes something inside you, the mere curiosity you’ve had from time to time, becomes a must know, yesterday would have been better. It’s hard to describe – what it was like knowing that I had the key to all the answers…

      The language barrier – I didn’t have to deal with that. I think that would complicate everything exponentially. It’d be hard to even have a surface level conversation, much less, a deeper level one.

      As to mothers. What I’ve found is that it isn’t either/or, it can be both, and often is. She can be at peace, believe it is the right decision, she can also have her heart breaking into a thousand shards of glass at the same time.

      I’m much more pragmatic than emotional, just wired that way. I would expect my mother was that way as well, but giving me up, changed her, and not for the better by all accounts. I doubt it doesn’t change every mother in some fundamental way that lasts forever.



      • Nara

        May 18, 2015 at 2:53 pm

        Thanks! I think the whole adoption thing is exponentially complicated when it’s an entirely different language and culture. What is the point of hoping for something that’s just not possible? Or very unlikely? I can compare that with my partner’s experience where it was much more tangible, where they could have a conversation. I don’t foresee a time where I could have that sort of connection or reunion because it would require an expensive trip to a country I don’t know, a third party to interpret… It would be awkward… I don’t know how we could communicate.

        I guess that’s why I have never hoped for it.

        If I found out my parent(s) had learned English or lived on my side of the world maybe that would change my view. I guess I would need to know that they really wanted it, otherwise it would be a massive undertaking with a really low likelihood of success.

        Or maybe people think it’s my responsibility to go and learn my birth language. It’s not very similar to English and I just never have. Maybe that is selfish on my part but I would resent the implication that it is incumbent upon adopted people to have to make that effort to try and appropriate/join a culture and language they have not been brought up in… This seems to put a burden upon the adopted individual that they never asked for.


        • TAO

          May 18, 2015 at 3:07 pm

          Nara, I’d be hopeless trying to learn a second language. I don’t think it is the adoptees responsibility.

          I do want to say this gently as food for thought – whether it is applicable where you come from, or not. Here mothers were counselled and told over and over that they WEREN’T supposed to look, contact, some were told it was against the law. The same could be what was told there, they also could have a different view of what adoption means other than the western definition. For my peace of mind, knowledge, I’d want to understand what adoption was then in your home country, and what was expected.

          Perhaps, if you are even the tiniest bit interested, concerned, curious, talk to the adoption agency if they are still around, ask if there is anything in your file, and/or to leave a letter that tells your mother by birth you are okay. I don’t know if that is possible, but, it might be a way to open the door a crack, but puts the onus on her. Even if it is never picked up, or answered, you can say you tried to make sure that if she was worried, that she knew you were okay.

          Please don’t feel like I’m trying to push you to do something. Just giving you something to mull on to consider if it is right for you.

          If you want to know more about adoption and the type of adoption practiced in your country of birth / era – I can help point you in the right direction, although it may take a few days to dig up. If you are interested, let me know in a comment, and I will put you back on moderation temporarily, so your comment with details doesn’t get published on the blog.

          Liked by 1 person

          • Nara

            May 18, 2015 at 4:15 pm

            Hi there… I really appreciate your thoughts. I’ve never really thought about it before (for the reasons I mentioned above, and yes, possibly a bit of mis?placed loyalty to my family and non-bio siblings) – I really am appreciative of the challenge!

            I’ve looked for my adoption agency online and it doesn’t seem to have an online presence (or didn’t the last time I looked). I’d be happy for you to send me more info if you have any on my country of birth if you want to put me on moderation for a bit! 🙂

            I think it’s a really good idea to leave a letter. I’ve often thought about writing something to say I’m okay… I like that sentiment that I’m not asking for anything in particular, just letting them know the door is open if they’re interested in communicating. I’ve never understood how I might be able to do that. Maybe I should try harder!

            PS Have ordered a load of books you’ve posted on other posts!

            I really do appreciate the challenge! (I mean to my timeworn ways of thinking and the mythology… I guess I’ve always found the mythology comforting.)


            • TAO

              May 18, 2015 at 4:17 pm

              Give a couple of minutes (5?) to put you back on moderation…have to remember where to do it.


            • TAO

              May 18, 2015 at 4:20 pm

              It was easy – you are now on comment moderation. I will delete the comment you send before removing moderation.


            • TAO

              May 18, 2015 at 4:34 pm

              You are now off of moderation. Give me a bit of time to research. There may be adoptees who could translate your original birth certificate if you ever want to pursue this…


              • Nara

                May 18, 2015 at 4:51 pm

                I do have an English version but not sure it is a proper translation as it refers to me by names that aren’t my name! (The church decided I needed a middle name as I didn’t have one!)



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