19 Jan

I’ve been mulling on the reactions by the public, not only to the author of the article in my last post, but other recent articles written by, or about, adoptees.  The solution is to change the public view of adoption.  If it can be done, it will take honesty from the entire adoption community.  Right now, how the public sees adoption isn’t real.  I can see why they view it that way, when an article has a title about taboo topics of adoption, when it isn’t anything close.  The title intrigued me, so I read it, if those topics are taboo, then I now understand why anything hard in adoption is met with such dismay.  Dismay may be putting it too mildly, perhaps running screaming in the opposite direction is more realistic.  How can we ever hope to get the public to understand that adoption is complicated for the adopted person when people inside of adoption, think these are taboo topics in adoption?

If the adoption community joined in with the adoptees talking about the actual taboo topics in adoption, the world might well be a very different place to be an adoptee.  Articles would not be met with disdain, telling the adopted person in a superior voice of how terrible, and horrible, they are, if adoption was presented to the public as something that can be good for the child, and also, very hard at times throughout their life.  To have compassion for what has been lost, while acknowledging what is gained with equal sincerity.  Both are equally important.  The public needs to know about both sides, but one side seems to be taboo to the public, and even inside most of the adoption community.  Off the top of my head, here are a few of those topics.

Race, racism, transracial adoption, specifically white parents adopting children of color.  How growing up in a noticeable family affects the one adopted, not from the adoptive parent view.  How prepared they are for not having their parents white privilege protect them once they leave home.  So many more challenges and layers are added to being adopted.  This topic is not one I can speak about, but there are many who can, such as Kevin Hoffman at My Mind on Paper.  Seek them out, listen with the intent to just listen.

Family health history not available to many adoptees, the problems, stresses, and challenges that creates throughout your life.  There are also costs for early screening tests, or genetics tests need to be done, simply because, insurance doesn’t pay if you don’t have a family history of what they are testing for.  Even lack of knowledge for mental health or addiction concerns can impact the adopted person.

There is a segment of adult adoptees (adopted internationally as children), not having US Citizenship because their parents never completed the requirements for citizenship, I believe, this is still an ongoing problem for adoptions today on certain visas if the citizenship process doesn’t take place.  These adult adoptees are at risk for deportation back to their home country where they may not have citizenship, likely not speak the language, nor have any family.  When this topic is brought up, people say the right things, and then it is disregarded, not their problem.  The National Council for Adoption (NCFA) does recognise this problem, and addresses it each year in their advocate publication.  What I don’t hear from them when legislation is tabled, is a rallying cry to the adoption community to contact the legislators to tell them how important this is, like they do when the adoption tax credit is about to go away.

Adopted people at a higher risk for attempting suicide than non-adopted.  Read about it in this recent study here.  This is a problem that isn’t going to get better without a different view on how being adopted can affect the person.  We need more unbiased research, and knowledge, about what we as an adoption community can do. This topic deserves honest conversations and services made available.

Corruption in International adoption.  The most recent (but not the first) is the guilty pleas by top employees of IAG, read all the posts on this subject here.  I’m not saying all international adoptions are unethical, or corrupt, but I do expect (but don’t see) many talking about how to rid adoption of people who would do bad things, and make sure they can’t ever work in adoption again.  Where is the leadership, and where are the adoptive parents pushing the leadership to lobby for laws that really punish people doing this.

Father’s rights in domestic infant adoption continues to be a problem.  This is not right.  Laws designed to cut timeframes, or make it hard for a father to assert his parental rights, should be an affront to every person in adoption, because adoption starts on a foundation of loss, and no one should wish that loss on a child.

There are so many other taboo topics in adoption that I’ve barely scratched the surface with this post.  What I do know is that the public has this view of adoption on a surface level of what a good thing it is, how can they not, when ‘taboo’ topic articles like the first link above is published.  Adoption can, and is, a good thing – but it is also something very hard, complicated, and full of so many different complexities, that no one should ever be able to say adoption is always wonderful and good without acknowledging all the challenges the can come with being adopted.  You can’t.


Posted by on January 19, 2015 in Adoption


Tags: , , , , , ,

23 responses to “Taboo?

  1. Carol A. Hand

    January 19, 2015 at 7:17 pm

    You have raised such important issues, TAO. It never ceases to amaze me that people refuse to put themselves in the place of those who were adopted, to understand the wrenching trauma children experience and the life-long quest for answers and a sense of belonging that naturally follow for many adoptees.


  2. eagoodlife

    January 19, 2015 at 10:35 pm

    TAO my view is that any adoption in which money changes hands is unethical. Great post.


    • TAO

      January 20, 2015 at 2:46 pm

      In a perfect world – no money would change hands in a child welfare situation, it would be a government funded. Since that isn’t the case, middle of the road salaries paid based on qualifications and responsibilities across the market for the position, and lights kept on expense. No other stuff and certainly not finder fees…no one should be getting rich.


  3. eagoodlife

    January 19, 2015 at 10:35 pm

    Reblogged this on The Life Of Von and commented:
    Approaching the many taboos of adoption.


  4. L4R

    January 20, 2015 at 12:49 am

    Apparently, the author of that “taboo” article does not understand the meaning of the word taboo.


    • TAO

      January 20, 2015 at 2:47 pm

      L4R – I was stunned…


    • Vaguely Anonymous

      January 20, 2015 at 4:31 pm

      Exactly. I don’t want to think too hard about that for fear of scaring the bejeebers out of myself. Sometimes, how to communicate with people who have little to no understanding of the words they use seems like an almost impossible task.


      • Jess

        January 20, 2015 at 8:39 pm

        ITA. The list was at least five, six, years out of date and ignored the most egregious problems in adoption right now. Plus it was AP-centric in a creepy way.


        • TAO

          January 20, 2015 at 8:43 pm

          You noticed that there were only two of the three groups in adoption too. That was my first thought – missing an entire group in the article…but then adoptees should be seen and not heard like all good children – not sure why I feel so snarky about that article…


          • Jess

            January 20, 2015 at 9:17 pm

            Totally. And when they mentioned “birthmothers” it was with a proprietary air. Did they ever mention adoptees as having an opinion?


            • TAO

              January 20, 2015 at 9:43 pm

              I didn’t even hear a whisper about adoptees…other than of course wanting to adopt.


              • yan

                January 21, 2015 at 12:21 pm

                Remember, we are not parties to our own adoptions.


  5. Jess

    January 20, 2015 at 1:34 pm

    “If the adoption community joined in with the adoptees talking about the actual taboo topics in adoption, the world might well be a very different place to be an adoptee.”
    I was just noticing that most of the pro-reform AP bloggers who were still blogging several years ago have stopped, myself included. Hard to say exactly why but I think the silent dictum for APs to shut the f–k up and let someone else do the talking was part of the picture. It’s not a sentiment I’m opposed to either. I think one adoptee summed it up by saying that if APs never said anything again from now to the end of time, it would still be an unfair situation in which adoptees, fundamentally, hadn’t been heard.
    So I think there’s a bit of a dilemma there because I agree with you that the adoption community could be involved in discussing some of the issues but just how . . . not really sure anyone knows anymore. One well-known blogger recently wrote to me saying she was debating with herself if she should be talking at all. But she’s very active in reform in many other ways.
    Of course, I’m not talking about the people who pimp their adopted children for blog copy. They’re still around . . . always will be, oblivious to the end . . .


    • TAO

      January 20, 2015 at 3:02 pm

      Jess, I like it when AP’s speak up and talk about the good and the bad. But then I’ve always enjoyed seeing and hearing all sides, but they have to be true ‘all sides’. You are right, many have stopped talking – I think for some, it has to be with being shut down by other AP’s – more of a shunning for speaking about what they learned. The evangelical adoption where some (most?) believe God would ensure all was done the way it should be – that sovereignty belief? To me, not only did they disregard knowledgeable AP’s who knew the way things worked, they added back into the rhetoric the saving and rescue memes that are two of the most problematic for the adoptees – that spawn the lucky and grateful belief.

      I do think AP’s need to never forget to listen, even when it makes them squirm – just in case – they see signs of the same situation or feelings in their child. They should also hold up and promote adoptees who are speaking… (words aren’t working today)…

      Liked by 1 person

      • Jess

        January 20, 2015 at 8:41 pm

        Yes, the oblivious ones are truly oblivious now, and more outrageous than ever.


  6. L4R

    January 20, 2015 at 3:42 pm

    Tao, Stunned is the perfect word.


  7. cb

    January 20, 2015 at 10:53 pm

    One of the problems with talking about adoption is that many of us have different views of what adoption actually is. Thus the conversation can fail at the first hurdle. Many people just consider adoption in a general way eg a child born into one family that is being raised in another – whereas others may consider adoption to be both about relinquishment and then adoption. Also, modern western adoption is very different to the traditional forms and that is often ignored – half of the problems in IA are because of cultural misunderstanding re what Western adoption is all about – it is a bizarre concept for many in the world. The very structure can be difficult for the adoptee themselves – they are “born to” one set of parents and “as if born to” another set of parents and it is something that they have to deal with themselves.

    I would like to see studies that actually asked the right kind of questions – although I am not saying that I know what the “right” questions are lol. Talking about studies, it worries me that some studies that may have been used for one purpose are then being used for other purposes. For example, on the “birthmother/expectant parent” pages of many adoption agenicies, they will quote from “studies” when show how happy an adoptee is. One very popular agency quotes one tiny bit from one study – a study that was based on asking adoptive parents (and ignoring some other parts of that study).


    • TAO

      January 21, 2015 at 5:58 pm

      Why you need to read the actual study, the conflicts of the researchers, if any, who funded it and any and all biases. JaeRan Kim wrote a great article about studies in Gazillion Adoptees Magazine – it was free at the time, perhaps it still is. Education is woefully inadequate to expectant mothers and why they aren’t all speaking up demanding more (even if it is after for others coming behind them) amazes me.


  8. cb

    January 20, 2015 at 10:54 pm

    Another problem is also that people may see some “positive” behaviours from adoptees that in the non-adopted would be considered a sign of low self esteem but, in an adoptee, are something to be encouraged.


  9. yan

    January 21, 2015 at 12:27 pm

    #10. Sometimes adoption is exhausting.

    REALLY? You try living as a legal child for almost 40 years, then we’ll talk.

    Seems to me that most of the “problems” listed stem from bad practices in the adoption industry, including lack of realistic information to both sets of adults/parents, and lack of learning anything at all from the many mistakes that have been made in adoption practice in the last decades. There also seems to be a severe lack of self-awareness in a lot of those statements.


    • TAO

      January 21, 2015 at 6:00 pm

      I agree yan. Knowledge is available, knowledge is ignored when it may result in less placements. It’s a conflict of interest when your own means of keeping the lights on is adoption.

      Liked by 1 person


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