The Art of Dismissing the adoptee’s voice…

05 Aug

This old post showed up in my stats so I went to see what it said, sadly, it’s still relevant today 5 years later, so I’m posting it again with just a few minor word changes.

The Art of Dismissal must be part of adoption 101 – How to negate any valid information you do not want to hear, especially from ‘adoptees’. It does not matter what we do or try, the defense mechanism raises that shield and they refuse to read and listen to what is actually written. I can almost see them composing their reply, while skimming the words.

  • I am sorry you had a bad experience.
  • Not all adoptees feel the way you do.
  • How do you know it is because you were adopted – biological children have issues too.
  • Studies show adopted children do just as well as biological children.
  • The reason more adoptees access mental health services is because we worked so hard to be parents that we are more aware and seek help, unlike parents of biological children.
  • How can you feel loss for what you never had?
  • Why can’t you just be grateful for what you have now?
  • My children will not feel like you do.

We try gentle words of wisdom gleamed through experience. We try harsh words of anger born from being told to shut up and just be grateful. We try reason, analogies and ongoing conversation as ways to get our point across, carefully measuring each word to not dismiss, negate or hurt them. We try to focus on both the good and the bad in adoption, as in everything in life, there is both positive and negatives.

And yet to them we are simply children and the adoptive parents know better. It does not matter that they are 20-30 years younger than we are. They know better than those who have lived it, felt it, and both loved it and hated it.  We were little ones smiling, playing, enjoying the moments in life – being happy, we still enjoy being happy. But some of us did not share the painful side with our parents because we could not, or would not hurt them with the dark feelings that can go along with being an adoptee, somebody older and wiser who had been there, and done that, needed to do that for us.

That is why some of us talk about it.

We know the haunting questions that were never spoken aloud. The unanswered questions of why was I not good enough. The feelings of not being good enough, the silent tears slipping down our face when we were alone. The feelings of belonging but not belonging, seeing the biological relatedness in others, and yet, never seeing ourselves in another. The knowing we had another whole family we would never know. The heritage and stories of ancestors that we could never have, or celebrating the holidays following family traditions passed down each generation steeped in the traditions of the countries of origin. The knowledge ‘they’ were out their somewhere, that we could pass ‘them’ on the street and never know it. The subtle and not so subtle remarks we overheard about ‘our circumstances’ or being a bastard or illegitimate. The snide remarks about single mothers, young mothers, uneducated, lower class, fathers not marrying the mothers and there must be a reason for that.  That we were part of someone else and that we had been given away for some reason. That despite all the words spouted by others about love – we were not kept…how do you begin to know who you are if you do not know where you came from and why you are like you are?  (and I’m not convinced that openness will make the above much different.)

But the Adoptive Parents know all…

  • They have taken the classes to teach them what they need to know.
  • They have read the required 10 or so books.
  • They have read selected studies carefully reviewed by their agency as ‘acceptable’.
  • They know someone who was adopted and they are happy.
  • They ARE the experts – they are the parents.
  • They know that their love will conquer all…and that we just had a bad experience.

But at the same time many adoptive parents have broken ranks and listened, actually listened to the words and pushed down the insidious defensive feelings because they recognized the truth in the message. The penny dropped for them so why not others? I am glad the children of those parents will have the right and encouragement to talk when they feel sad. To know their parents will listen and will still love them even if they talk about their other family.

I still wish adoption did not have to happen…that I did not read articles bemoaning the demise of adoptable children…


Posted by on August 5, 2015 in Adoption, adoptive parents


Tags: , , ,

25 responses to “The Art of Dismissing the adoptee’s voice…

  1. eagoodlife

    August 5, 2015 at 11:18 pm

    Reblogged this on The Life Of Von and commented:
    A reblog of a reblog and well worth the read…..


  2. ellecuardaigh

    August 5, 2015 at 11:22 pm

    Reblogged this on elle cuardaigh and commented:
    Amen to all of this.


  3. stephjms

    August 6, 2015 at 8:51 am

    So accurate. I was just discussing this very thing with another sister in adoptionland. Quite often, a “trigger”, or topic will instigate a debate or even arguments (I see these mostly on various Facebook groups, and I actually love them).. Anytime I read these threads, or decide to add something -that adoptive parents always perceive as negative- it’s responded with, “I’m sorry you must’ve had a bad adoption experience. Ours is perfect so you’re wrong…” Or something along those lines. Because it’s happened so often, I always feel the need to preface everything I say now with, ‘my adoptive parents are amazing and so is the couple that adopted my daughter’ so they can’t use that in any argument against me.


  4. Paige Adams Strickland

    August 6, 2015 at 11:10 am

    So well said!


  5. firehouserox

    August 6, 2015 at 2:45 pm

    I enjoyed this article! Thank you for posting it! My adoptive parents never asked me about my past. They never showed any interest about my biological parents. My adoptive father was my second cousin, so, he knew my bio father and mother. He knew I had been placed in 17 foster homes prior to coming to live with them. However, I was never asked why I needed all of the doors locked at night, or why I had to have the hallway light on, etc. They just laughed about it and teased me. I did not have a very good adoption experience, however, I know that some have and for that I am encouraged.


  6. Tiffany

    August 7, 2015 at 5:04 pm

    You should be on my facebook right now. 🙂 I posted about people needing to respect that families can look different, and as a stranger, you shouldn’t push for an explanation as to why two sisters do not look alike. I had it happen three times to me just yesterday. I’m getting mostly supportive responses, but also the “they don’t mean anything by it” and “I get those same questions and my kids are biologically related” and “you shouldn’t let the little things bother you.” The conversation tends to get shut down and people, for some reason, don’t want negative associations to be with adoption. They don’t want to acknowledge the negative aspects that happen with adoption, and the public perception of adopted individuals as “less than” everyone else. I don’t understand, but somehow adoption is both perceived as a miracle and amazing blessing at the same time as adopted children are considered less than family compared to biological children.

    And I’m not even the adoptee! I can only imagine with how I feel, how much more dismissed adoptees feel in these situations. It’s so frustrating.


    • TAO

      August 7, 2015 at 5:09 pm

      Good time Tiffany, just popping in…

      Can you ask why they don’t want to acknowledge the hard parts of adoption and only see the good – but at the same time view adoptees as less than “real” kids?


      • Tiffany

        August 7, 2015 at 7:39 pm

        I did. No response.

        Likely the response would be “I don’t.” People rarely recognize subtle biases, especially when they don’t impact them. Men rarely want to acknowledge their inherent sexism, even when I explain that studies show women are usually just as sexist towards women- it’s conditioning from our social constructs that are taught to us our entire lives. Still, many people would rather insist that they do not view people that way, and refuse to acknowledge that their words and actions show otherwise.


        • TAO

          August 7, 2015 at 7:50 pm

          But they may mull on it…sometimes it takes time for stuff to sink in…and sometimes it truly is a waste of time.


  7. everyoneactdead

    August 7, 2015 at 6:24 pm

    You forgot the patronizing lie, “Adoption is different now.” I see a lot of older adoptees silenced with this, but it’s even used against post-BSE adoptees. Expectant mothers and PAPs are always told adoption is different now, but there is still lies, coercion, secrecy, and SEALED RECORDS, even in open adoptions! And there is nothing to ensure that ALL adoptions are ethical and above the law, even today. I really hate to see any of us dismissed when we speak up about adoption. I hope someday we will be listened to and understood.

    Liked by 1 person

    • TAO

      August 7, 2015 at 7:02 pm

      True enough, should have included…

      but not really all that different…


  8. gsmwc02

    August 11, 2015 at 4:56 pm

    Empathy is something many people in society don’t get. I wish more people would get it and hope that by you speaking out society can be more empathetic towards adoptees no matter what their feelings are.


  9. adoptedoutmemoir

    August 17, 2015 at 5:45 pm

    It’s extremely difficult when you grow up with a mom who is an adoptee, and she is in the fog when you’re not. You think they’ll understand you, but they don’t. It made me feel even more alone.

    Liked by 1 person

    • anenomekym

      August 18, 2015 at 5:35 am

      Or when you grow up with a brother/sibling(s) who are also adoptees, but still very much in their fog when you’re not. Different dynamics, but similar resulting feeling of isolation and lack of support I imagine.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. V.L. Brunskill

    August 18, 2015 at 11:23 am

    Reblogged this on adoptionfind and commented:
    I recently discussed this topic with a non-adoptee friend. The importance of the emotional toll of adotion cannot be stressed enough. In this excellent blog from, the author discusses how as adoptees, we are often forced to discuss our experiences with a defensive tone. Looking for one’s biological roots is often perceived as an insult to adoptive parents, and an accusation against the system.

    My recent novel ‘Waving Backwards’ explores some of the soul wrenching darkness that adoptees experience in search. No matter how good your assigned parents turn out to be, there is a sliver of you soul that is cut away with the cutting of heritage, blood bonds, identity. Thanks to adoptedones for this poignant blog.

    Blessings for a search that heals,
    V.L. Brunskill
    Follow me on Twitter- @RockMemoir
    Like my Facebook page-
    Buy Waving Backwards for Kindle $4.99 at
    Waving Backwards book trailer-


  11. Victor Johnson

    August 18, 2015 at 6:24 pm

    I pray that the day will arrive when the world matures to the point, in which infant-non-bio-adoption is illegal.

    Liked by 1 person

    • legitimatebastard

      August 18, 2021 at 1:38 am

      Thank you for this. “Matures” is the word here. It is immature to believe you can take someone else’s child, rename that child, demand your name and that of your spouse go on a replacement birth certificate, and you pretend everything is normal. It isn’t.

      If it’s really all about loving a child in need, then do so without owning someone else’s child. Love ought to be unconditional. The child in your care ought to be free enough to seek their own wants and desires. If that child, once grown and able to comprehend and make a choice, ought ot be able to know the truth of one’s birth, to know one’s parents. Without jealous adopters screaming, “No! You’ve mine!”

      It’s really that simple.


  12. Beth62

    August 19, 2015 at 12:18 pm

    🙂 I was having back to school woohoo lunch with some friends yesterday. There was one adoptee in her 30’s who has been searching for years now. I have heard the comments to her by her group of friends (none directly associated with adoption) about her search many times. I cringe of course and try to explain – but I’m an old lady = not relevant.

    The comments were exactly as above:

    •How can you feel loss for what you never had?
    •Why can’t you just be grateful for what you have now?
    •Not all adoptees feel the way you do.

    Well 🙂 one of her friends is trying desperately to get pregnant, and one of my friends keeps complaining she doesn’t have any grandkids yet, it’s about all you hear from these two. It went on and on, and those hateful things were said about other mother’s and what they deserved and what was fair, blah blah blah.

    She couldn’t take much more, and I can’t blame her, me either.
    She threw those exact same comments back at ’em and left.

    I’m so proud 🙂

    And of course they acted dumbfounded and insulted (imagine that) – what a horrible thing for her to say. Started coming up with ideas of what was ‘up her butt’ to say something so cruel and out of character. They didn’t even come close with their made up guesses. Their guesses really started ticking me off.

    I managed to quit laughing hysterically with glee at that point and said I knew exactly what was up her butt – it’s you two and your cruel comments to her.

    Told them maybe they should quit saying the exact same thing to her any time she mentions how her search is going for her EXISTING relatives that she’s lost. They have no reason to be upset with her or what she said to them, none.

    Yep, they absolutely denied doing it in the same way she did. It was different.
    Eventually they agreed that it may be somewhat similar, but they were much nicer about it at least. “It’s just reality” And said they weren’t ditching their loved ones in their efforts of “finding family”, that’s what makes it different.

    They couldn’t explain to me how exactly she was ditching her adopted family other than just searching for her other family. She is not in any way ditching anyone, her mom has often over-helped in her search, and has been to lunch with us before so they knew all about her support of searching.

    I let them know at that point that I really was ditching them for some more better friends and left.


    • anenomekym

      August 20, 2015 at 3:04 am

      Great teamwork Beth and searching friend!


      • Beth62

        August 20, 2015 at 11:56 am

        It was fun, I want to do it again!
        We were so strong and blunt.
        It’s so nice to have the words come out right, and with grace.
        I was shocked at what I was saying too, we both sounded so calm, smart and strong in what we were saying. I don’t think I’ve ever done it that well before.
        Practice, practice, practice!

        My (((searching friend))) did change one word in the last comment, and this phrase has caught on in my comical home.
        •Not all bitches feel the way you do.

        That one did me in when she said it, I could not contain my laughter, she said it so sweetly. The same way the adopted ones hear it usually, as-if talking about precious fragile forever moldable infants/adoptees that choose to think in the right way. She nailed it.

        Took us a while to realize the best part…. both of us forgot all about paying our bill as we left 🙂


  13. Lucy Sheen aka 4gottenadoptee

    September 3, 2015 at 7:05 pm

    Reblogged this on Lucy Sheen actor writer filmmaker adoptee and commented:
    A must read

    Liked by 1 person


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