Was adopted vs. Is adopted

21 Oct

Lori has great post up about adoption not being a one time event, well worth the time to pop over there and check it out, if you haven’t already read it.  Of course, it sparked a thought that keeps popping into my mind when the subject is discussed based on the inevitable statement made by some prospective and adoptive parents – I don’t want my child to be defined by adoption, it’s an event that happened in the past.  That’s what this post is about.

The fear that their child will be defined by being adopted.  The way it is said, it’s their deepest fear about adopting, and I think there can be two separate reasons.

The first reason is that admitting to be adopted, that you will always be adopted, means you are different from other people.  We are.  Adoptive families are.  To acknowledge that being adopted is part of what makes you, you, somehow makes an adoptive family less real, which is nonsense, and your own internal projections of how you view adoption and adoptive families.

The second reason is the assumption that being adopted, instead of was adopted, will be the only thing that defines them, is also nonsense.  That it’s not possible to acknowledge your child will always be adopted for fear it will consume everything else about them, and only leave a shell of a human being defined solely by being adopted.  What utter nonsense.

Yet, often, those same people who don’t want their child defined by being adopted, also try to make adoption seem almost miraculous, you can’t have it both ways.

The over-the-top hype that adoption is beautiful, love.  Almost as if every mother should be so selfless to give their baby a better life instead of parenting, look at the beautiful happy families formed because of the selfless birthmother (father’s seldom exist in that world).  And not to forget the ‘chose life’ rhetoric that makes the adopted child, the poster child in a battle they should never be part of.  That poster-child effect actually does become the defining way other people see adoptees, aka, you could have been aborted.   Personally, if my entire being had to be defined by others as one of the two; I’d rather be defined by being adopted vs. you could have been aborted, but that’s a post for another day.

Nevertheless, the battle cry persists, my child will not be defined by being adopted, and they will be, if we admit that adoption is more than a one time event that happened in the distant past.

The notion that being adopted is so encompassing as to overwhelm everything else your child may be, I’d like to know how people could possibly think that could happen.  I’ve never met an adoptee whose entire self can be summed up into one word; adopted.  But apparently, they believe nothing else will make them who they are, not their profession, being a wife or husband, a mom or dad.  Not to mention all the other intrinsic parts of what makes you unique.  Everything about you, defines you.  Where you live, what values you hold, what’s important to you, what you’re interested in, who your friends are, whether you are an animal person, a reader or non reader, tidy or messy, outgoing or shy, the type of humor you like, the causes you support, the profession you choose, what life-altering events happened to you.  The list is endless of what defines who you are, what makes you unique to everyone else.  That none of that defines who you are if you are adopted, instead of was adopted?  Again, utter nonsense.

Yet, I truly believe they think – if you say you are adopted, you can only be that, nothing else.

Can people not see how ridiculous it is to think that way?  No one is wholly defined by being adopted, or anything else for that matter.  Being adopted does make a big difference in who you are, it changed the entire course of your life, there are many ways it affects you throughout your life (good and/or bad), but it is not the only thing that defines you.

No one can only be defined by being adopted.

If you think acknowledging that being adopted defines the person, you have some internal biases and prejudices that you need to work on.  Start with what’s wrong with being an adoptive family and go from there because if you can’t see you are a real family, no one else will either, especially if you keep bringing it up and wanting to be seen the same as a biological family.  It isn’t the same, it’s different, your view on what different means, just might be the problem.


Posted by on October 21, 2015 in Adoption, adoptive parents


Tags: , , ,

21 responses to “Was adopted vs. Is adopted

  1. Amy

    October 22, 2015 at 3:59 am

    So true! I commented on Lori’s blog also, concerning when I used to post on the no longer existing ivillage parentsplace adoption boards a long time ago…16 years or so now. There would be arguments breaking out over the use of “IS adopted” (which was mainly used by us bmoms when discussing certain things) and the aparents insisting that “Adoption is a one-time event. Proper terminology is now *WAS* adopted.” Well, besides being a “b”mom, my Mother is an adoptee. I saw FIRST HAND how she IS and WAS adopted! And, lo and behold, that was passed on to my brother and I…knowing nothing about her family or where we came from. Anyway, I digress, as is normal for me lol. But my point is…one doesn’t just stop being adopted after papers are signed. It goes on through the generations, and we pay the price, suffer the consequences, reap the rewards… whatever term you choose to use being the children/grandchildren/great-grandchildren of an adopted person. Not hardly a “one time event.”


    • TAO

      October 22, 2015 at 1:09 pm

      Thanks Amy…I appreciate it…


    • beth62

      October 26, 2015 at 2:34 pm

      Amy, I agree that it goes on thru the generations.
      My daughter (and son) got to go thru reunion with me.
      She got to write nothing of my side of the family on her medical history page.
      She got to wonder where we got our looks, hair, eyes, feet, talents, just like me.
      She got to feel that lovely stuck in the middle feeling with me, especially at reunion, and still, and probably always.
      She got to ask new love interests who their parents, grands, uncles, aunts were to guard against dating her uncle, cousin, etc… just like her mom.
      She also got to taste the anger and disrespect, the discrimination of her and her family due to sealed records of birth.
      It’s not just one of us (me) that IS BEING denied, It IS all.

      When she self-defines, part of her description is Grand Adoptee.

      And yes, she capatalizes it. It’s a hard earned title she was given to live with, and she has.

      My sarcastic son says it might last for 10 generations like it says in the bible. Deuteronomy 23:2
      So, he says no need to do all of that church stuff since none of us can enter the assembly of the Lord for 10 generations anyway…
      He can always find the positive 🙂 I love that about him.


  2. beth62

    October 22, 2015 at 1:17 pm

    I can’t help but laugh at this idea, usually.

    You wanted me to BE adopted.
    You chose for me to BE adopted.
    But you don’t want me to BE adopted.

    2 messed up not to laugh at it. Laugh or give up, those are the options I’ve found that work for me.

    I think some parents are very confused or wrestling with acknowledging what was/is truly wanted.
    It’s pretty obvious to many!!
    I do wonder why it’s so hard to recognize for so many.

    An adoptee can still remain positive, proud and happy to BE adopted, proud and happy to have been.

    So many have been raised (quite often brainwashed, or expected) to BE proud and happy about it. Not WAS proud and happy, but IS.

    good grief, what a mess of illusions. A mess that people like me who are adopted can see right thru.

    It’s not the same.

    See how simple and true that is? For your children’s sake, please, get over your selves and move on to a more true and REAL existance.

    My heartfelt request – stop messing with your kids head!!

    It’s not very nice.
    Carry your own burdens, eat your own beets, don’t expect your kid to cover for you for the rest of their lives.
    It’s alright to BE adopted. It’s a normal thing in this world to BE adopted.
    It can be perfectly fine to BE adopted, especially when your parents accept and are not ashamed that you ARE adopted! duh.


    • TAO

      October 22, 2015 at 1:22 pm

      Once again Beth – you nailed it. Hope everyone reads your comment…

      Beets…fond memories just one word can bring back. Perhaps our favorite Beet hater will pop in to say hi…


      • beth62

        October 23, 2015 at 2:30 pm

        That would be awesome!
        Got beets? I have over 300 personal pickled quarts waiting on a shelf for a party 🙂

        We were able to gleen over 60% of our beet crop this year!!!!! Half of that went to the Food Bank.
        It was a good beet year.
        Plus what’s left of my Beet Money will easily pay for Christmas and 2 semesters of college tuition this year.
        Man, I LOVE BEETS!!


        • TAO

          October 24, 2015 at 9:33 pm

          Me too, unfortunately, I married a beet hater…


          • beth62

            October 25, 2015 at 2:42 pm

            Well, we all have our own individual deep seated beet issues to work with. I’m happy for him that he knows what he wants, and doesn’t want.
            As long as he doesn’t insist you eat his beets for him if he finds any on his plate, and he plans on giving handfuls of sugary goodness to all of the little organic goblins soon, he’s still alright in my book 🙂


  3. pj

    October 23, 2015 at 1:37 am

    Interesting conversation-I’ve honestly never heard about the “is/was” until now but when referring to my own adoption it’s ..”I’m adopted ” or ” I”m an adoptee”…not really even thinking about it…it’s what is it is..


    • beth62

      October 23, 2015 at 12:58 pm

      Maybe it’s just easier for the adopted ones to keep it as simple and real as it truly is.

      What is it they say? The devil is in the details?

      pj, can you imagine being told that you should now only say that you Were adopted? And that you are wrong, or that it’s “wrong” to say, I Am.

      When I first heard this idea I couldn’t not laugh. I even gave it a try.
      It’s not easy, I don’t see how it’s even possible. I would have to lie or omit the truth quite often. I just don’t see how that is “positive”.


    • beth62

      October 27, 2015 at 2:13 am

      It is what it is.
      Had to point out how difficult trying to exist in was-adopted-land can be.

      You can’t say things like “I’m an adoptee”
      That would be wrong,
      Would not fit.
      That would need to be erased or hidden.


  4. beth62

    October 23, 2015 at 1:33 pm

    Defined by. That one confuses me too.
    I want to be defined by all that is me.
    I do not wish to deny any parts of my definition. I choose to be well rounded.

    All of this omission stuff makes me feel dirty!

    Do you think when I/we state that we are adopted, or people know we are adoptees, that some can only see that part? It stands out for them, not so much us? Painfully glaring to many?

    I might wonder that because I had a thing happen. I was helping with a middle school art project, cause I am an artist and I enjoy playing. The teacher is a friend and a fairly new amom. Her “wants to be an artist” son is in the class, she leads me over to him and says, “This is MzB, she is here to help with our project, she was adopted too.”
    I thought it was strange that she said adoptee too and not artist too. Maybe since she knows, and is living with adoption in her life, it stands out to her more than anything else about me? I dunno, it was odd!
    Maybe she really wanted me to talk to him more about adoption than about art? I think I feel a bit used now!
    I offered free artist mentoring. LOL. Adoption mentoring is gonna cost ya!
    Now I wonder if that is the real reason she asked me to volunteer to begin with.

    I think I will have to ask 🙂


    • TAO

      October 24, 2015 at 9:34 pm

      I think it’s because they think being different is bad…


      • beth62

        November 5, 2015 at 3:41 pm

        I think you were right.
        I asked.
        It does seem, with this mom, that “Adoptee” is a deep issue that needs attending to. Maybe not bad, but certainly not good. “Artist”, not so much, if at all.

        I do understand. I know “mom worry” well!
        So I guess I will try to help MOM chill, find a little peace, and understand some things.

        And help son with what is Primally important to him at the moment – shading, distance, proportions, and how not to get acrylic paint all over the place.

        Believe me, Artist CAN be far more concerning than Adoptee, for an adoptee and those that may worry about them.

        Liked by 1 person

      • beth62

        November 6, 2015 at 1:53 pm

        I was looking at this young adopted artist fella and I see Artist in the Adoptee, and Adoptee in the Artist, easily see. I also see Adoptee in the Boy, Boy in the Adoptee, Boy in the Artist, Artist in the Boy.

        Those are three very primal things to him, not easily separated from him, in him.

        That’s how it works, try to separate those three descriptions, definitions, about this interesting young fella…. it just doesn’t work that way, it can work for others, but typically not so well for the defined.


  5. L4R

    October 23, 2015 at 8:15 pm

    Someone, I believe it was you, compared this to marriage. People were married. It was an event. But, it is also ongoing. They are married.

    I was adopted, and I am adopted.

    It’s a part of who I am, but it is not all of who I am. Just like being married is part of who someone is, but it not the sum total of that individual.



    • TAO

      October 24, 2015 at 9:35 pm



    • anenomekym

      October 25, 2015 at 5:27 am

      True, except marriage is generally a mutually agreed process between 2 consenting people – both people get married, are married, and marry.

      Adoption is generally an unequal process between 3 entities, where at least one of the entities cannot give legal consent or assent. One person gets adopted, is adopted, and was adopted but is not an active player in this process and didn’t agree or consent to be part of this process. Another person adopts or adopted and has the ability and power to proceed or not proceed.


      • L4R

        October 26, 2015 at 3:42 am

        Yep. I’m well aware that the comparison falls apart. I’d considered acknowledging that in my comment.

        But, I chose to stick with the similarities because the goal is to help others to begin to understand that it is both an event and ongoing by comparing it to something that most people do understand.


  6. Nige

    November 1, 2015 at 2:18 am

    Hi I am an adopted person, while I can agree that I am more than an adoption I am a person, the process of adoption has coloured my life and that of my children dramatically. I like so many other adopted people was told frequently that I was special and had been chosen. So special that I has 2 birthdays a real birthday and the day I arrived with my mother and fathers. Every time a less than pleasing event happened in my early life the fact that I was adopted would be proffered as a reason. My experience of adoption in the UK is that adopted people are meant to feel LUCKY. Although I fully understand and appreciate the sacrifices all parents make my parent got merely because they wanted a child. It is the people that adopt that define to a large degree what impact the adoption will have and an how much it defines the adoptee. Far too little education and oversight is given to these people the want a child, the support from professionals should in my view be continued right through the adopted persons childhood and not just the very early staged of the adoption. I was told I was adopted from an early age but it was subject that was never again mentioned and even though it wasn’t true I felt compelled to periodically say that I wasn’t interest in searching for my REAL mum. In fact I had been searching for 26 years, so that search on its own has somewhat defined me…..I don’t feel lucky to have been adopted, quite the reverse and I get very annoyed by people that think adoption is the best outcome for people like me. If adoption had not been available my mother would have kept me I know that now, it is currently to easy to give away a child and to easy to get one. The impact on the mother (for the rest of her life) an the child is not given enough air time in the race to give mainly middle class people what they want….

    Liked by 1 person

    • TAO

      November 1, 2015 at 2:17 pm

      Thank you Nige…



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