Adoption has changed?

30 Nov


The longer I read adoption posts, especially this month, the more I think that little has truly changed in adoption since my day, except for the spin, whether it is openness, knowledge, or just talking about adoption.  One difference, we didn’t have social media that we have today that can instantly connect you with a community, a way to make contact.  We only had the personal section in a newspaper, or the people who handled the adoption, who mostly seemed to be firmly against the concept of allowing knowledge to be shared, or contact made.  They were the gatekeepers who held, and wielded the power, to keep everything under their control, it wasn’t the families that did that.

For the longest time I thought my family was the anomaly from my era.  I read post after post talking about how my era was one filled with secrets, and based on what is written today about back then – we were lucky if we found out we were adopted…and to be told, apparently, that seldom happened if you ask someone today.  I think the need to present that picture of yesteryear, is to make people think today they are so advanced, compared to the bumbling of adoptive parents of before.

The problem: It just isn’t true.

That belief has also been debunked if you only look at the number of adoptees who ordered, and received their original birth certificates when their state of birth reversed the law that denied them access to their factual birth certificate. The same with the sheer volume of on-line registry postings by adoptees looking to reunite.  Tens of thousands of adoptees searching for their family of birth, if not even more.  If few of us knew, how did so many of us know?  Not to mention that it seems as if everyone knows at least one, if not many, adoptees.  If it was such a secret, then why do so many know adoptees?

Something else that has changed, the knowledge of adoption has expanded.  How an adoptee may feel is known, how it is processed by the adoptee at different stages has been laid out.  The challenges of being adopted that may come up.

Has that knowledge been accepted and absorbed is the real question to be answered.

Look around at all the adoptees speaking out this month.  It isn’t the same handful you are used to, it is many, many voices that have emerged in the #flipthescript movement.  Look again though, and see how few adoptive parents are reading, listening, engaging in discussions that can be uncomfortable at times.  Go to any facebook adoption page and watch the difference in reactions by adoptive parents when someone posts something by an adoptee.  Is it welcomed, whatever the view?  Is an adoptee post dismissed, torn apart, or just ignored?  What does that tell you about adoption today?

Openness existed in my era, my sibling had an open adoption that has continued longer than many people reading this, have been alive.  Mom and dad managed to get some of my questions asked and answered.  They couldn’t for my other sibling.  All three levels of openness existed in my home, we all had our own adoption story.  It existed in other homes just like mine, that except for the gatekeepers holding onto their power, contact would have been made.  I doubt we were the minority, I know we weren’t.

To me, it is beyond belief that today people believe that adoptive parents from times past were all as ignorant, selfish, self-centered as the community paints today.  They paint that picture today when they explain to adoptees how sorry they are that they for their experience.  They state it when they use smug words such as we know better now, your experience, or feelings, will not be how adoptees of today feel.  They speak of being open and talking about adoption, as if none of us had that growing up.  They say all of this while I look around and still see ones who don’t want, or intend to tell their children they are adopted, some who still want closed for their comfort level to feel real.  Others who agree to open, or semi-open, and then look for any reason (or no reason at all) to flake.  The final group is those who honor and/or go beyond what they promised.  The adoption community says they are all so more evolved than any of our parents, and their children won’t have the same processing of adoption feelings we did (and do), and then want to understand why their child is struggling at the same predictable ages of when we struggled.  Adoptees that are now young adults are mirroring, and giving voice to the same feelings we had at different points in our adult lives.

Tell me how any of the above differs from my era?  My era has the same different types of adoptive parents that I see today.

I don’t think adoption has changed all that much…except for the fact that some, many, or most mothers wouldn’t choose adoption knowing they would never see, hear from, meet the child they brought into the world.  They wouldn’t choose the type of adoption that the adoption workers dictated the only way in my era.  They have more choices today, than mothers of my era had and agencies had to change.

If adoption had truly changed I wouldn’t be seeing so many similarities.  If you don’t believe me, get out of your echo chamber and look around…




Posted by on November 30, 2014 in Adoption, adoptive parents


Tags: , , , , ,

7 responses to “Adoption has changed?

  1. Jess

    November 30, 2014 at 7:13 pm

    I honestly think social media distort lots of things. Sometimes things seem flattened out, like when a-parents get predictably defensive about an adoptee speaking, or about the openness, which, as you say, undoubtedly existed in some a-families and is rarely described or talked about. Sometimes things get too polarized. There are truths and there are tropes. Methinks you do a good job of exploring the truths. I don’t know anything about adoption in the past–I only know the one I live in, and only from one perspective– but the only ones I ever heard about when I was younger were kinda talked about in hushed tones, and there was a decided reverence for the people who “took little Johnny in.” I do hope we’ve moved beyond THAT. But have we entirely when there’s a whole contingent of people ready to scoop up the orphans and baptize them . . .? You’re probably in a unique position to understand how much has really changed because of having lived it for so long. The one thing we could use a lot more of is respect for people’s individual stories. That, too, was lacking in the past, but seems to be on the cusp of breaking through. Babbling now, so I’ll stop.


    • TAO

      November 30, 2014 at 7:27 pm

      Thanks Jess for the compliment about doing a good job – I try very hard. Also, thank you for requesting access…

      Whether social media has helped or hurt – time will tell. I do think there are far more adoptive parents willing to listen and discuss the more sticky topics openly, than my day. But the idea that it was so different is just silly – or that some adoptee’s had real challenges like they do today, they did, they just didn’t have letters to add to the description like they do now…


  2. Heather

    December 1, 2014 at 9:28 am

    Your posts often inspire me to look deeper or think differently. I grew up with adopted cousins. I did not question, it just was the way it was. I think my experience (my naiveté?) made it even harder for me when my son’s AP stopped contact because after all, it i was 2011 and we knew so much more … well at least I thought I did. Thank you for sharing and for allowing me to take part.


    • TAO

      December 1, 2014 at 2:33 pm

      Happy to have you here Heather!


      • Heather

        December 6, 2014 at 9:42 am

        Thank you.


  3. Jess

    December 1, 2014 at 7:50 pm

    Was thinking again about this after breakfast when I happened on some hugely ignorant comments about LGBT people online and was reminded that it’s a question of literacy, as in literacy in a subject, whether it’s adoption, racism. gay marriage, what have you. So where does that literacy come from? It comes from immersing yourself in the subject totally, up to and including those ways that might make you feel uncomfortable or challenge your perceptions. It usually involves getting to know and listening deeply. And I think that is happening now with adoption as more adoptees speak. So I think there’s more “adoption literacy” in general toda, though not necessarily radically different adoption. Not sure if any of that makes sense.


    • TAO

      December 1, 2014 at 7:58 pm

      It made complete sense Jess. The more I delve into subjects the more aware I become of all the little things that add into the subject that aren’t noticeable.

      I also have found with awareness I see similarities between so many charged subjects – whether the other subjects are way bigger or smaller – how people react is very similar.



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