Good conversations happen in the comments…

16 Oct


One of the reasons I’ve kept this blog going is that I can see people start to understand a different view, not so much from the blog posts, but the comments and conversations by many different people.  I love the conversations that happen in the comments, whether they stay on topic, or wander completely away.  I struggle sometimes to write posts in a fully authentic voice, because I worry too much about whether it will be heard by those who can gain understanding, if they can only hear it.  So, I temper my words too much to make them softer, when I am a plain speaker at heart.  Comments though are different, it’s easier to talk one on one.  I was reading an old post and the comments it sparked, and thought I’d put a comment and response into a post to show that often the best part of this blog – is in the conversations that happen after.

A prospective adoptive parent commented on this post, Finding Common Ground, very respectfully I might add, and her questions are ones I have come across many times…that applies the concept that adoption isn’t what caused the loss so why the anger.  I’ve copied the first part of her comment below, and in my reply I have included her different questions that were part of her comment…(otherwise this long post would be a book)

Hi I’m someone who has been researching adoption for a few years now and as a hopeful future adoptive parent I have tried to look at both sides of adoption for both adoptive parents and adoptees. Ive come across several adoptee blogs where they discuss the pain loss grief and anger that they feel behind their adoption and I believe that those feeling should absolutely be validated and acknowledged. The entire idea of having to be grateful and indebted to your adoptive parents because they rescued your poor pitiful soul is just ridiculous. I kind feel the same way about how some people feel about conception, be grateful because I chose to get pregnant with you and give birth to you but in adopted childrens cases I think its definitely worse. Now I feel that you should be grateful to your parents for being good to you, loving you, caring for you (birth or otherwise) Ive been taught you should be grateful to the people who are good to you no matter who they are. [ questions that are posted below ] Please do think that I am judging or trying to be mean, my heart truly goes out to adoptees and their suffering. Im just trying to learn as much as I can. I will greatly appreciate your response thank you so much.


My answers are mine, not to be universally applied across the board. I know this isn’t a question but I would suggest that you consider using appreciative when speaking about what anyone (adopted/non-adopted) should feel for what they have been given. In my opinion – the problem with the grateful term is that it is linked to indebtedness (and no adoptee should ever be made to feel that way) vs. being appreciative as a general consciousness/awareness – we all should have – for all that is good in our life. Now to your questions…I have broken them down into individual stand alone questions because I think it is easier for me to answer that way. Remember these answers are just one voice from many…

“The anger many adoptees say they have towards their adoptive parents for trying to shove this I took you in gratitude down their throats I can understand but is there a possibility that some of their anger is misdirected.”

I do think that anger is also caused by the numerous societal and societies view of the saint taking in the unfortunate mentality. I can’t begin to tell you how many times I was told how lucky I was to have mom and dad (and I was – no doubt) – but what they glossed over, omitted, was that first I lost everything before I gained. The disparity between how people in general view the adoptee, and that of the child whose mother died at birth, or was killed in a tragic accident, and is now being raised by a loving step-mom, well that was a tragedy that happened to her but thankfully she got a good mom to take care of her. Society recognises the latter and deletes the former, would they ever use the lucky term with the latter?

“I mean its seems as though and not all but some adoptees blame all of their suffering on the fact that they were adopted.”

I think this delves into the distinct differences between those looking in and those living in. Whether it is voluntary domestic infant adoption or foster care – up until the adoption is final, there is, was, still a chance of resolution. Once the adoption was final – it’s done, no going back. Especially in voluntary domestic infant adoption – there is a definite cause and effect, it would be the rare mother who just surrendered her baby if she didn’t know an adoptive home would be waiting – the surrender happened because adoption was pending, therefore, they are simply all part of the same.

“Is adoption the reason you were abandoned given up or orphaned is adoption the reason you feel you don’t know who you are.”

This is a hard question to answer quickly because it isn’t cut and dried, more adoptees seem to see it, feel it as missing pieces, missing the first chapter. The short version is when you don’t know why you were not kept, why mountains were not moved to keep you, why, why, it’s hard. I’m going to come back and link to a post that I think if you did with deep heart you might see how not knowing could be really hard, and it is more than that, it also involves how you view yourself is partially, if not primarily because of how you view others who share those same traits, where you got them from and what that makes you feel. It is a combination of not knowing many different facets of what makes you – you.

“Is it the reason you were in many cases impoverished, abused and neglected, or your family was simply unable to stay together.”

For my story, none of those were the reasons. Society had laws in place that discriminated against illegitimate people (from childhood through adulthood). Society was also very judgemental, good families didn’t let their kids associate with those born on the wrong side of the sheets (old saying meaning not born within the bonds of marriage). Society would not hire unwed mothers, rent to them, deal with them, they and their children were outcasts from those in good society. There were no mother’s pensions, help per se. Fathers were not required by law to support their illegitimate children. There were few to no societal supports where a mother could raise her child. There was also great shame rained down upon the entire family, why mothers were sent away and families paid the maternity home fees to hide it from their communities. It would be good if you read “The Girls Who Went Away” by Ann Fessler (you can find the link in my blog roll at the top there is also a documentary).

“Is adoption the reason you lost everything and deal with all of the feelings you deal with.”

Adoption was the death knoll that there was no going back. That I would never meet my mother or father. That I lost the right to grow up with people who I mirrored in one way, or another. I also lost my ancestral history, knowledge of who my ancestors were, where they were from, when and why they immigrated, what they did…I know some don’t care, I always did.

“Or is it everything that lead to you being adopted that caused that.”

It is both but adoption sealed the deal. I lost before I gained, some lost and lost again because they had parents who should never have been allowed to adopt – and everything in between.

“Is it possible that some of adoptees feeling are directed at their adoptive parents and adoption rather than the situation that caused it to begin with.”

Of course, anything is possible. But quite likely it is both for all the reasons I noted above.

I would also note that while not a question asked: No matter how you fancy up the language to make it more palatable – being given away sucks. Mothers are supposed to do whatever it takes, not being worth fighting for means you weren’t worth it. Try living your life with that as your starting premise, feelings of rejection, abandonment, they aren’t easily fixed. No matter how loved you are now, you were still rejected by the one who was supposed to love you most of all. It sucks…no matter what the reasons…you were still given away. That tends to sting for a long, long time and is part of every future relationship, parents – when will they have enough, friends – must make sure they like me enough to still be my friend tomorrow, romantic relationships…same story…when will they leave. That is the core of all the issues if you ask me – that very first abandonment…


I hope you to go read the post and the comments because Naqeeya had the grace to continue the conversation…

Thank you to all who read this blog and comment – because that is what makes this space very special to me…others who don’t comment please reconsider and start adding your voice too – if we can all listen and talk to each other – then the outcome can only be to make things better…


Posted by on October 16, 2014 in Adoption


Tags: , ,

25 responses to “Good conversations happen in the comments…

  1. Yan

    October 16, 2014 at 9:25 pm

    For me, the reason some anger gets directed at the Institution of Adoption and my adopted parents is that there were misconceptions (ha, unintentional puns) passed along that very negatively impacted me. Adoption, from the perspective of the social workers, case workers, and counselors my adoptive parents worked with (and therefore the perspective of my parents) was a)not a trauma, b) a one-time thing that happened to me, not a life-long alteration in my trajectory, c) not something we’d ever really need to talk about or deal with.

    So my trauma and loss were never ever identified or acknowledged. I was taught that they did not exist before I had words to protest. My identity as an adoptee was never acknowledged, and once we’d gotten through the childhood stages of “you’re adopted, that means chosen, loved, and loved enough to be given away,” we never talked of it again. But it was there, always, and when it sort of all came out in my 30s, I learned so much I didn’t know about myself. And sometimes, yes, I’m a bit angry about that. At the situation, not the people, but come on, anger doesn’t really discriminate all the time.


    • TAO

      October 16, 2014 at 10:02 pm

      Thanks Yan, I think it’s perfectly normal to be angry at what happened. I’m sorry your parents bought into the it’s done and over and everything is just fine and we never need to talk about it mantra…the chosen thing just annoys me…


  2. dpen

    October 16, 2014 at 11:21 pm

    This woman is asking good questions. the one that I want to respond to is one of anger. she seems to ask…why should we be angry and hold on to that anger when the adoption happened so long ago…very common question. Adoptees are asked that all the time, sometimes with a sarcastic comment or two attached. Can be many different answers. the one that comes to my mind is if an adoption was a truly not needed then the adoption should not happen. By the adoption not really needing to happen. An adoption does not need to happen unless their is real neglect and abuse. Thats covers drug addiction, sever mental illness and their is NO biofamily that can take the child. The fact that someone wants to go to school first, want to climb mountains, have a career, or make an infertile couples dreams come true are all bogus reason for kicking your kin to the door. Adoption hurts children, hurts human beings…these “available infants” are human not a thing to support someones dreams.

    I know that my adoption did not need to happen if my bmom was given the right help…BUT I also feel that babies were not important enough to fight for in her family. I get the reasons why I was tossed and could/have come to terms with that. The anger for me comes from how adoption, adoptees are treated after the fact. NO understanding on how a person needs to know where they came from..with no judgments attached, no guilt(HOW COULD YOU(your real mom is the one the wiped your nose, you could ruin your bio’s life by showing up etc). the fact that we are not allowed to acknowledge any pain or sadness on not being raised by our bio family…even if they were the worst of the worst….. The fact that society gets to decide if we can see our own birth certificates as if we are incapable of making the decision for ourselves, the keeping us children when i am now very much middle aged, as if i am incapable of thinking for myself. Of being told “Your lucky your alive…you could have been aborted( hey…you could have been born with 2 heads). the fact that adoptees are considered adequate replacement babies for the adoptive parents and by golly we had better understand that and never give them any hint that you might feel differently, an adoptees feelings don’t matter unless they are fulfilling the needs of the parents and to some degree the bioparents. This is only a short list…wait…forget to mention when my abrother went in front of a judge to open his records he was told that the judge would open them BUThe was told “IF you contact I will throw you in jail” So now my brother is a criminal and deserves to be spoken to as if he is …REALLY??? My brother still believes he is breaking some law if he tries to contact his mother and he is 60 years old…please!

    So ya…there is feelings of anger for some based on the initial toss /loss….but the real anger comes later.


    • TAO

      October 17, 2014 at 3:15 am

      I miss your voice dpen…it’s bizarre what that judge said and shows how adoptees are treated. Did you see this case, what kind of person would throw two brothers in jail for wanting to stay with their dad…but wait, they’re adoptees too…


      • dpen

        October 17, 2014 at 10:54 am

        Right, can you see that happening in a custody case where adoption was not invovled. these poor boys! they didn’t “bond” with the mother. Hmmm wonder why? It must be those kids fault….why is she fighting for them? Sounds like its just to win something….I agree very bizarre.

        TAO..I read all the time, sometimes I just don’t have the energy to respond! You folks do a great job.


  3. dpen

    October 16, 2014 at 11:30 pm

    About our feelings being misdirected…um no if the aparents are able to respect the child’s feelings and not get defensive and understand that the child’s feelings are valid, to be respected and understandable then the child may not have anger directed towards their aparents. If the aparents care enough to research on what is REALLY happening here and truly “love their child” they will. If the aparents have made true strides in healing from their own infertility and don’t try to misdirect THOSE feelings on an innocent child then maybe the adoptee will be be secure in their feelings towards their parents and not worry that they are their to preform a function of being so and so’s adopted child.


  4. Snarkurchin

    October 17, 2014 at 7:58 am

    “Is adoption the reason you lost everything[?]”

    Yes, it is. First, my records weren’t sealed when I was given up; they were sealed when I was adopted. Without that, I might still have been raised by people not my parents, but I’d know my name and my parents’ names. Second, if adoption hadn’t existed and/or wasn’t pitched for use as a societal “get out of shame free” card, I would almost certainly have been kept.


    • TAO

      October 17, 2014 at 1:36 pm

      and for some adoptions today, if there were societal supports for even the first year like maternity leave part of unemployment insurance and job security – I often wonder how many adoptions wouldn’t happen. Ours were shame based and financial – but today I think it is primarily financial for most (excluding of course those who wouldn’t be able to parent due to other things…)


      • everyoneactdead

        October 17, 2014 at 8:18 pm

        Compared to maternity home adoptions where babies were basically stolen–I have no room to talk. I had more choice in the adoption than those moms did, even if that choice was manipulated. I just wanted to point out that the shame still exists. These days it does have more to do with money than marriage, but it’s shame nonetheless. Single mothers are still reviled by many and called selfish and irresponsible. My whole life, I heard that having a baby before you are married and stable was incredibly selfish and spelled a lifetime of horrors for the baby. It would ruin my life forever and hamper me from achieving anything. And I wasn’t even raised religiously, yet my supposedly liberal family and community all thought this way.

        The distinction is important because when you feel shame, it’s easier to be taken advantage of and to make less than logical decisions. Shame still exists.


        • TAO

          October 19, 2014 at 2:19 pm

          You are right Everyone…the culture of shaming women today is far from over and perhaps even going backwards again.


        • Cherry

          October 19, 2014 at 4:06 pm

          I also think that the shaming message is potentized by the simultaneous message that your child is guaranteed to have a better life with mature/prepared/experienced/married couple than with you. Those two messages are unpassable, without huge support. Both prey on your instinct to do the right thing for your child. Of course, in the cool light of day, giving your child up for adoption is so obviously not the right thing for your child. But in a crisis pregnancy, and with your self-confidence totally eroded, there is no cool light of day until it’s over.

          I’d also like to respond to this:

          ‘…not being worth fighting for means you weren’t worth it.’

          I think that, in very many cases including mine, not being fought for means that the person isn’t strong. Adoption preys on that lack of strength. Strong people don’t give their children up.


          • cb

            October 19, 2014 at 10:11 pm

            I don’t know that it was because our bparents were weak but many would have had a lack of confidence due to their young age. Also middle class white girls often knew very little of the world. I think that lack of confidence and lack of knowledge about life might have made many girls question themselves. Many would also have had that natural fear that many pregnant women have about whether they will be able to do a good job as a mum – if the pregnant woman was married, those surrounding her would have tried to put her at ease. If unmarried, perhaps the opposite might have happened, her natural fears would have been exploited. I don’t think that is a sign of weakness on behalf of the expectant mother and that is what I think is sad is that I DON’T think in many cases that our bmothers were weakwilled individuals that couldn’t stand up to society – I think they were normal women whose natural fears were exploited by others. They deserved proper counselling and advice and they didn’t get it.


            • Cherry

              January 29, 2015 at 1:45 pm

              Yes cb, I agree with you.

              In my comment, where I referred to the lack of strength in the expectant mother, I meant it to mean that they had been weakened by elements around them (pressure from family or social workers, lack of resources, shaming and other psychological techniques etc etc), rather than that they were weak as people.


  5. familyadvocate

    October 18, 2014 at 2:23 am

    I would like to respond to the overall question of is it the adoption or the relinquishment that is the source of anger by stating that if there were no DEMAND for babies to adopt, there would be FAR FAR fewer adoptions; fewer relinquishment; fewer families torn apart. So the anger is at all of it..

    Regarding the notion that children born into their families are made to feel grateful for being born. Not that i have heard, seen, experienced or read…especially not to the extent it exists for adoptees. The PUBLIC will say things to adoptees suggesting they might have aborted when that is never suggested to people born into their families though the likelihood is equal. International adoptees often come form impoverished countries and are reminded of that.

    Mirah Riben


    • TAO

      October 19, 2014 at 2:20 pm

      Thanks Mirah.


  6. Beth

    October 18, 2014 at 2:55 pm

    I get angry when people question my anger 🙂

    When they ask why I could be angry. Um, Duh! Entirely too frustrating some days, and I so understand why they often get some angry annoyed answers from others.

    When they ask why I am still angry

    When they insist on putting a time limit, a degree limit and choosing the proper direction for MY anger, for them.

    It increases my frustration and anger, especially when I answer and they want to argue because they don’t like my answer and want me to direct my feelings in the proper direction – which ever way that may be.

    I ‘like’ discussing the anger with people who seem to have a sincere motive to understand.
    Still makes me angry annoyed sometimes, but not as angry as discussing it with people who just want to control me/us and theirs.

    At this point I really do wonder how someone might not be able to know, or understand, how and why we could be “angry for so long”. There is so much explanation of the anger to read out there now. I assume when reading writings from adoptees that include the anger, that’s all some can see, is the anger, and it frightens them, the unknown, understandably. I can see how it would make some want to turn away from it, insist it must be misdirected, we are confused, not the right way we should be thinking/feeling.

    When will I stop being angry? When the things that anger me stop! My records are still sealed, same as the majority of TAO. I shouldn’t be angry about that, still? It’s not something I will ever brush under the rug along with the anger that goes with it, sorry. And yes, I will separate TAO from the rest until the day that it changes and we are ALL equal. I have found that that answer to why-my-misdirected-anger? annoys the crap out of the controllers 🙂 How could anyone really suggest I still shouldn’t be angry about that and all it has done, is doing and will do to so many?


    • TAO

      October 19, 2014 at 2:24 pm

      Good response Beth…and how can people not expect adoptees to stand in solidarity with others. I feel guilt that I have mine and others don’t, despite the fact that I played no part in them not having their OBC and nor did I deliberately choose to get sick and end up with what other people define as “good cause”…


  7. Beth

    October 18, 2014 at 3:02 pm

    Oh, sometimes I think I annoy aparents, and others, because I refuse to sweep it under the rug, no matter what good things I may have gotten out of the deal. I will not move on from it until it’s done.
    I think the good things they got out of the deal, and with the lack of the kind of loss an adoptee experiences makes it easier for them to sweep it under the rug than it is for me.

    So often I have heard something like: “We have a copy of the OBC, that is now sealed, so it’s all good.”

    Um, no, it’s not all good.


    • TAO

      October 19, 2014 at 2:25 pm

      Funny you mention this – have been working on a post addressing the we have a copy of the OBC so everything is wonderful…how soon or if it will be published, who knows but I was working on it apparently while you were writing this comment yesterday… 🙂


  8. Beth

    October 18, 2014 at 3:13 pm

    “There were no mother’s pensions, help per se. Fathers were not required by law to support their illegitimate children. There were few to no societal supports where a mother could raise her child.”

    Just wanted to point out that ^ this is not as old as I am. In 1984 when I was pregnant with my first, I was the one with the shotgun at the wedding. Unwed father’s were not required to pay child support or mother of your child support. I made sure if this guy left us that he would legally have to help us, this is why I chose marriage. The only help from the state was WIC. And the stigma of illegitimacy was still living well. All of my girlfriends with kids wore wedding rings then, regardless of if they were married or not, most were not. The only time you were really “safe” with it was if the husband father had died.


  9. cb

    October 18, 2014 at 11:25 pm

    “There were no mother’s pensions, help per se. Fathers were not required by law to support their illegitimate children. There were few to no societal supports where a mother could raise her child”

    In 1984, I was living in London and working as a housekeeper/sort of nanny. When I left the job, the girl who was to replace me was 17 and pregnant and had been kicked out of her 7th Day Adventist home in Wales. I think one of her plans was that the family would keep her on after she gave birth (she was a much better housekeeper than I was so it is a possibility), however, she had also looked into what was available from the government and at the time, there did seem to be very good support for a girl in her position who had no support whatsoever from family or the father (pension, government childcare and possibly a council flat). It did make me think about what I would have done if I had gotten pregnant – I remember thinking that I would have felt unable to tell my aparents at the time of the birth but would have raised the child in the UK until about the age of 5 (school age) and then gone home to Australia.

    About 3 years later, I applied for my OBC and discovered that my own bmother had been on a working holiday in NZ at the time of my birth in the mid 1960s. What research I have done over the year showed that there was absolutely no help at that time in NZ. It made me think about what I would have hypothetically done in the UK if the help available at the time hadn’t existed and if I had been working at my earlier job as a typist – being alone, extremely poor and with no possibility of pension, affordable childcare or anywhere to live, it would have been almost impossible to have been able to care for a baby short of leaving the child in a drawer while I went off to work. When I say “extremely poor”, my typist job was so badly paid that after rent for my tiny room in a house that was own by a married couple and travel into the city, I literally had only enough money to spend on food – which is why I ended up becoming a housekeeper/nanny with a live in position. So my experiences did help me to empathise with my bmother.

    What I’ve also discovered recently is that in the mid 1940s, the organisation that arranged my adoption was originally set up to help young pregnant single women to be able to raise their children by giving them a good start in life with childcare available (each new batch of expectant mothers would help provide childcare for those who had given birth) and jobs with people who supported the ideals of the organisation. Sadly, those ideals were no longer evident in the mid 1960s, the organisation was purely about adoption – none of that former assistance was offered to women – they realised that to get as many women as possible to choose adoption, they needed to offer the choice between adoption and parenting in poverty (yes, I realise some women would have had their child adopted anyway but it was about maximising that possibility). In fact, adoption was so successful in NZ that they ran out of adoptive parents and the organisation realised that they had to go back to their old ideals – by the time they closed their doors in the mid 70s, they were offering again what they were originally offering in the 1940s. Now I’m not saying that my bmother would have raised me if I’d been born in the mid 40s as the shame may still have been too great (I don’t know because she died so long ago that I’ll never know the answer to a lot of questions) but it seems sad that women in the 60s seemed to have fewer options than those 20 years before.

    That’s why, regardless of a woman’s reasons for considering adoption, I feel that women in similar positions deserve to have counsellors that can identify their situation and help provide pastoral care in order to get a woman to a place where she can truly make a decision. One thing that does worry me about having women making early adoption plans is that I don’t feel that they are always in the best emotional place to be making that decision at that time – to me, proper identification of the situation and pastoral care needs to be provided first to get a woman to a place where she can make a decision that isn’t as compromised by her circumstances. Some agencies and organisations do take this seriously but I am not sure that all do.

    Back to where I said this:

    “I remember thinking that I would have felt unable to tell my aparents at the time of the birth”

    It is hard in 2014 to remember what it was like in one’s younger days but I really do not think my aparents would have supported me if I had become pregnant out of wedlock. It is possible that if I asked mum now if she would have been supportive, she would probably say “yes dear, we would have supported you” but if she did say that, she would be speaking in 2014 hindsight – in reality, I believe that she would have said no back in the mid 80s. If I had become pregnant in high school, I suspect that I would have been driven to the abortion clinic. I’m not judging my aparents but that was just how things would have been. When I was about 21, I had my appendix out. I remember mum being relieved that I had appendicitis and not PID.

    **Disclaimer: My aparents were good in many ways – the above is just how things would have been for many in the 70s. So for those who are feeling the urge to say “I’m sorry you had a bad experience, not all APs are like yours, we would have been better APs and thus you would have been a much better, more grateful adoptee” – don’t.


    • cb

      October 19, 2014 at 2:42 am

      Oh dear, I suspect that my disclaimer makes me sound “angry” :). Actually, it is more frustration and irritation because I feel that I can’t say some things in “mixed” adoption company without it being taken out of context. I’m pretty sure a lot of “angry, bitter” online adoptees are actually just irritated and frustrated ones who feel like they are being placed in a box.


      • TAO

        October 19, 2014 at 2:30 pm

        I didn’t hear anger…

        “I remember thinking that I would have felt unable to tell my aparents at the time of the birth”

        This has been on my mind for awhile – do more adoptee’s choose adoption because so many were born to single mothers out of “it’s expected because we should have learned from our mother’s experience” and/or to afraid to tell their parents they’re pregnant and the underlying fear of not living up to the expectations and all…of course, it’s doubtful that will ever be answered seeing as adoption is still mired in secrecy…


        • cb

          October 19, 2014 at 9:58 pm

          Maybe that’s part of it. However, the main reason I said it is because it seems at least part of the reason I was relinquished was because her parents didn’t know that she was pregnant and I felt maybe it was because of fear and if so, I could understandit as both our mothers were churchgoing indiviiduals who had standing in their church communities. My mum said that the reason she attended church back then was for social reasons and in a way that would have made it harder than if she had been a true Christian (btw she, after a period of not attending church, now attends church again, this time because she really does believe – she is actually less judgmental now). I think my grandmother was a Christian but suspect also that back in the earlier days, it was also more about social standing. It is hardly coincidence that the majority of girls/women who relinquish their children came from middle class backgrounds as their parents social standing was always precarious.

          Of course, I may be totally wrong as to whether that was the reason because reading between the lines regarding some things that a few relatives have said, the early 60s was a time of low fortune for the family farm and thus she may have reluctant to burden them – maybe they might have said yes to her bringing her baby back home but she may have felt that they might have resented her for putting them in that position when they were finding it hard to put food on the table for themselves and their two young boys. It’s hard to know as I can only based what I think she might have felt on what has been said in my non-ID and from her family.

          My bmother was over 20 so I know that many people would say “well she could have parented if she really really really really wanted to”, yet I get the impression that she was very much surrounded by people who felt adoption was in the best interest of a child and so I am unsure as to whether it really had anything to do with wanting to or not wanting to.



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