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…