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What if “the vocal adoptees” are right?

31 Jul

The theory: That most adoptees are just living their lives and those who are vocal are not the norm…aka angry adoptees, had a bad experience, ungrateful, mal-adjusted, anti-adoption, etc.,…

I’ve noted before that I never brought up the challenges of being adopted, I kept silent.  I didn’t even share those feelings with my best friend, a friendship that has continued for 40+ years, until recently, but even then, just a few glimpses of the depth of my feelings came out.  My friend knew the challenges we lived with my sibling, she saw them, they were real for her.  She knew the challenges I faced in my long first marriage, she saw them, walked through them with me.  Yet, she didn’t know the challenges I faced being adopted.  She didn’t know, because how do you share challenges that are so foreign to those non-adopted that they have no reference from which to understand?  How do you find the words to share them in a way that they feel real, to them?  You can’t.  Add to that, society dictates with the adoption narratives that you are wrong to feel that way, so, you stay silent.

And that’s the crux of the problem.

How to make something real to those who have never lived it.  How do you make the loss of your biological family has on you real, while you live with your family.  How can you find the words that explain the dueling feelings inside – mourning the loss of being raised by the mother who nurtured you in her womb, the rest of your family – while having a mom, dad, family?

The only way those feelings could be understood, a visceral understanding, is if, the mother passed away in childbirth.  And that would be a tragedy then, the magnitude of loss that would shake anyone to their core, the thought of having lost their mother at birth.

A baby without a mother is a tragedy.

But when your mother is alive, but has chosen not to raise you?  Many can’t see it as a tragedy, if anything, it’s a lucky miss, because who would want to be raised by someone who didn’t want them.

Society sees adoption as the solution and a beautiful thing to behold.

So, when either the orphan or one given up gets adopted, it’s a full on celebration of what a beautiful thing just happened.  With adoption – you have parents, a family.  Parents who, with intention, chose to parent you, and how lucky and blessed you are.  It becomes a miracle.  And not just a miracle for the child, but a miracle for the couple too.  It’s beautiful.  It was meant to be.

That shift of the narrative to include adoption can make it hard, if not impossible for the adoptee when they process being adopted, to speak, to be heard, understood, related to.  Platitudes are common, understanding minimal, because you have a new family now.  Any potential feelings the one adopted may have are downplayed, quickly solvable, if not, you need help because it’s not normal.  The message is clear, those feelings need to be dealt with and done.

I doubt there is an adoptee alive who hasn’t processed adoption feelings at least once, if not many times over the course of their life.  Whether that processing occurs when they are 8, 14, 25, 46, or whatever the trigger was that started it, or again.  The question remains, how can anyone understand their feelings, because, to them, adoption is beautiful.  Some even say it is redemptive.  Our societal response is to not recognise the feelings of being an only, otherness, rejection, abandonment, feelings of loss, because adoption created you a new family.  It’s all good now.  Move on. When any of those feelings came to the forefront; whether it is a feeling of abandonment, low self-worth, loss of their biological roots, culture, country, language, lack of racial and/or genetic mirroring – whatever needed processing, can’t be explained to people who can’t conceive you having them. Society has chosen the miracle of adoption narrative, because, in it – everyone wins.

So, when natural feelings come up, how can you expect others to get it?

I wonder what the the long-term impact of today’s adoption narrative in society, complete with life books, adoption story books, the she loved you so much selfless narrative will have on the one adopted.  Will it make it even harder to be truly honest with others.  Will it be the panacea, the same challenges for them, or harder?

So, does the theory hold water?  That most adoptees are just living their lives and those who are vocal are not the norm?  Or did the internet provide the tool we needed to find a voice, a community?  A place to find others like us, who’ve also been silent about being adopted for decades, while living their lives, and now, we have others who we can relate to?  Will adoptees today find their voices sooner because they’ve grown up with the internet? Will they face the same theory, or will their voices be heard?

 

 

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36 Comments

Posted by on July 31, 2016 in Adoption, adoptive parents

 

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36 responses to “What if “the vocal adoptees” are right?

  1. eagoodlife

    July 31, 2016 at 11:44 pm

    Spot on!!! It seems today some young adoptees are more vocal, others as bound up as we were, often those who were adopted where there is a Christian adoption ministry. They are hog-tied by the narrative. It may take decades to see the truth.

    Like

     
    • TAO

      July 31, 2016 at 11:52 pm

      Thanks Von – I’m hoping the internet will be a source of community for young adoptees – like it has for us…

      Like

       
  2. iwishiwasadopted

    August 1, 2016 at 1:09 am

    I know speaking out is very hard. I’ve been told to get help more times than I can count. As if there is a place where I can go, get fixed and then come back with the correct feelings about my adoption.

    Luckily, I’ve grown a pretty thick skin regarding other’s feelings about my adoption.I can still be hurt, but I know that society has been sold a bill of goods by the adoption agencies. The adoption narrative has changed, during my lifetime.

    It used to be an unmarried girl in trouble gave her baby away,and no one spoke of it again. Now mothers go on TV and the internet and brag about how they made the loving, selfless choice, and they are applauded by many. Applauded outwardly, but inwardly I think society still sees adoption as an aberration. A sign of motherhood gone bad. It’s just not PC to admit this.

    It’s considered bad form to bite the hand that feeds you,and that is what those of us who speak negatively about infant adoption are seen as doing. But we must. We must speak out.

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    • TAO

      August 1, 2016 at 3:19 am

      Thanks Iwish…

      Like

       
  3. yan

    August 1, 2016 at 2:07 am

    Damn. This is so powerful.

    I was “FINE” for decades. Except that the relationships in my life showed otherwise.

    I did get help. I got help because I couldn’t fix the distance between what I was “supposed to” feel and what I did, and because no one in my life could wrap their heads around the complexity of those feelings — that I could love my adoptive mother and still be SO REWARDED by the acceptance I got from my maternal natural family. That I could have had a reasonably happy (i.e. “normal”) childhood and still feel loss when meeting the family I was born into. That I could be both elated and crushed by reunion.

    I educated two therapists about adoption before bowing out. Both of them helped me in many ways, as most therapists are good at listening and helping one to see patterns, maladaptive coping strategies, and find some life skills solutions. I do wonder what an adoption-competent therapist could do for me.

    Still, being vocal about my adoption, at least in safe spaces, means that I’ve change my whole life. Embracing my own truth as I discover it, I’ve found complexity instead of platitude. The relationships that have survived have been enriched.

    SO POWERFUL.

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    • TAO

      August 1, 2016 at 3:18 am

      Thanks yan…I appreciate your voice…

      Like

       
  4. ginny09

    August 1, 2016 at 2:15 am

    All of you, all ages, are “right-on.” YES, all adoptees should speak out and often.
    I just wish a group of you would find a way to get on Oprah, Ellen, etc, and often..
    Anything you say is supported by the First Amendment in the Bill of Rights.

    The only chance infant-stranger-adoption (ISA) will become illegal in the United States, is if adoptees publish their feelings world-wide daily, and on every social media available.
    Fill the world with the knowledge of being adopted..
    I believe Nancy N Verrier’s book The Primal Wound: ISA is a social injustice, labels children as something that can be bought, and dehumanizes their Moms.. ISA Adoption is an emotionally abusive practice. Lets work to make the UN declaration to the rights of the Child become a law everywhere.
    http://www.unicef.org/crc/files/Rights_overview.pdf

    Adoptees have earned their PhDs in ISA and the stage is theirs.

    Like

     
    • beth62

      August 2, 2016 at 3:26 pm

      oprah, ellen, whoopie, dr phil, blah blah blah etc……….
      Has anyone ever, ever heard any of them mention closed records? Ever?
      I’ve looked for it, waited on it, when adoption or reunion topics\ guests are being discussed.
      Still waiting. I believe they believe and like the narrative.
      Ever since the View came on I have written at least once a month requesting they discuss equal access to birth records. Sent info on new states that opened.
      Nothing, and never a response. Not a Hot Topic.

      Bill Marr, nor the liberty loving Bill Oriely, Glen Beck……… have a word to say about it, other than the narrative. Liberty is not for all of the adopted.

      Sometimes I think the guests that are speaking about their reunions are told to follow the narrative, don’t mention sealed and amended.

      I’m working on Kumal Bell and B.Deep now. :). I love these guys! Maybe they might not be so controlled and scared to speak and show the truths.
      I think it would be an awesome topic to tackle, especially for a comedian. 🙂

      It’s rare to hear anything about equal access, let alone any feelings or emotions that are complicated.
      This is the narrative I most often experience…
      You have been given a good job, you lucky ungrateful thing, so stop your whining, suck it up, nobody cares, get a bandaid, a tylenol, and get back to work.

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      • TAO

        August 2, 2016 at 3:32 pm

        You go girl – don’t bother with Glen Beck from Utah and Mormon I believe…oh, and an AP too…

        Jon Stewart has a new show coming out Sept/Oct possibly – on HBO…if any of them…he might do something. Even if it was retro review of the whole Birther thing and how millions in the US couldn’t produce a Long Form Birth Certificate but no one cares.

        Or John Oliver…he’d also be able to show how wacky it is…

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        • beth62

          August 2, 2016 at 4:55 pm

          “don’t bother with Glen Beck from Utah and Mormon I believe…oh, and an AP too…”
          🙂
          You must know that I write Beck the most LOL
          Makes me happy to annoy that bunch as often as possible.

          Oh, I haven’t bugged John Oliver yet. Love his show. Now I have something to do today!
          Samantha Bee touched on it a bit from one direction, didn’t really go there, danced around it, but now I can’t remember/find what she said.

          I am really kind of surprised, the whole adoption world is full of such great material to work with.
          How can they pass that up? Good grief, “Adoption” has everything, religion, race, politics, health, family, relationships, all kinds of craziness, so many branches to climb, examine… and joke about. The numerous possibilities for documentaries or talk shows is astounding to me.

          I can only imagine most people are afraid to go there, go against the narrative. Especially if their bosses are oh so pro-adoption narrative. That and maybe they don’t know enough about the complicated to know what to say…. yet. I’d bet money that many are told straight out not to mention it on air.

          I confess, I have a huge crush on Kumal Bell LOL I can’t help it. He’s so brave! Did you see when he went to the KKK rally? omg, I’m a white chick and I’d be scared to do that!

          I hope Jon Stewart delves a little deeper, gets a little more pissed off at the madness.
          If I saw Kumal Bell and DMC on the same show exploring it, pointing out the madness – I’m pretty sure I’d pee my pants 🙂

          Like

           
  5. Terri

    August 1, 2016 at 2:49 am

    Thank you! You have given voice to those thoughts and feelings that I, as an adoptee have had and felt.

    Like

     
    • TAO

      August 1, 2016 at 3:02 am

      Thank you Terri

      Like

       
  6. Lara/Trace

    August 1, 2016 at 11:38 am

    Shared this one. I was thinking of a cousin who adopted three girls from China in a forever family situation. What can we give these girls? Your blog and others are the answer.

    Like

     
  7. lora

    August 1, 2016 at 1:46 pm

    It took me til I was 45 to begin to awknowlege my feelings and no one in my life was aware least of all me. It showed in my low self esteem, people pleasing, compartmentalization of my friends, poor relationship choices and moving half way across the country to try and be an authentic person.

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    • TAO

      August 1, 2016 at 1:48 pm

      Thank you lora – and that’s so many other adoptee stories, living my life and one day it happened. I hope AP’s are reading…

      Like

       
  8. Cindy

    August 1, 2016 at 10:38 pm

    “Add to that, society dictates with the adoption narratives that you are wrong to feel that way, so, you stay silent.” … “A baby without a mother is a tragedy. But when your mother is alive, but has chosen not to raise you? Many can’t see it as a tragedy, if anything, it’s a lucky miss, because who would want to be raised by someone who didn’t want them.”

    The word *chosen* is where a great deal of the adoption narrative gets split off from the truth. How can there be truth and understanding of a tragic loss for the child when society is being told it was and is, almost every single time, a “loving” choice by the mother to walk away from the child? I wonder if the narrative for the adoptee will finally be understood when it is shown many times to be -not- a “loving choice or plan” by the mother but a serious lack of resources and desperation that sets her up in a position to have to surrender her child, or outright force (coercion is too soft a word). How can anyone take the adoptee seriously when it is made to appear –by the adoption narrative– that mother’s were / are just soulless, heartless, abandoning creatures? When so very often we wanted and loved our babies with every breath we took and thereafter struggled to take without tears. Also being told, “there must be something wrong with you, adoption is a beautiful thing.” A mother without her baby is also a tragedy.

    The demanded, expected, forced, fearful silence of so many mothers, and adoptees all this time is what allows the environment for a lack of understanding. The –adoption narrative– permitted and promoted by the adoption machine and accepted by society, has been and is being heard. The one’s of us who make “noise” are all labeled with, angry, had a bad experience, ungrateful, mal-adjusted, anti-adoption, bitter….and the list goes on.

    If only more could find the courage to stand up and speak. It’s so hard though to not just ‘give up’ and ‘give in’ because the force we are all struggling against is so very strong and powerful and it feels like our very survival is tied up in being silent/compliant. Yet in so doing we allow others to be taken into this vortex of ..what? non realness? Authenticity rocks!

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  9. cb

    August 2, 2016 at 11:50 am

    “Society sees adoption as the solution and a beautiful thing to behold”

    Although Society may act as if they see adoption as the solution for *us*, they really see adoption as the solution that kills two birds with one stone, i.e. unwed mother gives baby to childless married women – both societal problems fixed in one go – so simple in theory but not quite so simple when it involves actual humans. If the actual *problem fixer* aka the “adoptee” doesn’t like it then she is literally seen to by Society to be “spitting in the face” of those whose *problems* her transition from one mother to another solved. Today’s adoptees may feel even more like they are in an emotional straitjacket than adoptees from our era.

    I think also that an adoption system that is not truly built on what is best for the child but rather about benefitting others is one that is built on sand.

    Like

     
    • ginny09

      August 2, 2016 at 3:04 pm

      I believe adoption is ONLY seen to many as a way to save public funds and earn private money:
      Not as a humanitarian issue…but it is sold as such a practice.
      And the international adoptees? The South Koreans are returning home by the hundreds.
      Domestically,
      Single Mom and child are off the welfare rolls, and agencies, churches, and attorneys, make money. During this persons life, an adopted person also brings additional income for mental health professionals.
      So the “nice things” said about adoption is a marketing ploy..a coercion ..a branding of a product..
      This is why the voices of adoptees on the world-wide-web is so very important..

      Like

       
      • beth62

        August 2, 2016 at 5:40 pm

        If I had a nickel for every time I’ve tried to explain even simple concepts – of sealed records and rights to contact, reunion or issues and emotions found in it all – to the uninformed and was dismissed by them in this way, “But you got adopted right?” (meaning, oh bummer things aren’t quite right, but you got adopted right, I have no idea who adopted you but now everything should be fine. meaning – shut the hell up you lucky b, you’ll scare the children and the mommies you traitor) I’d have buckets of nickels.

        Liked by 1 person

         
  10. beth62

    August 3, 2016 at 5:38 am

    So, does the theory hold water? That most adoptees are just living their lives and those who are vocal are not the norm?

    Is that a little like assuming since a person is adopted they must have a great family and be happy?
    I know too many Adoptees that are just living their often miserable lives and don’t say a word about it.
    Is that the norm?
    Two of my neighbors, Adopted, are living alone in their dead parents houses, never married, no family, only child, unsocial to the extreme and very not the norm of general society. One doesn’t even have a clear path back to his house in the woods, let alone a driveway. Me and one other female neighbor are the only people he’s allowed close enough to talk in person to in years. And even then we stand in the yard and talk thru the front window., He doesn’t come out when we are there. And only one of us can visit at a time or he freaks and hides. He’s lived like that for over 40 years as an adult.
    The other one was adopted to be a farmhand. He don’t say much bout it neither.
    I’m glad I’m not part of the silent norm.

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    • cb

      August 3, 2016 at 1:26 pm

      “I’m glad I’m not part of the silent norm.”

      I’m glad you’re not part of the silent norm either, Beth 🙂

      “That most adoptees are just living their lives and those who are vocal are not the norm?”

      I’m looking forward to the day that some commenter on an adoption forum decides to “other” an online adoptee by telling them they (the commenter) “has an adopted friend called X who is FINE about being adopted” and it turns out that the online adoptee and the commenter’s adopted friend are one and the same person lol.

      Also, one quite often gets people pointing to their 8 year old child’s view of adoption as being the ideal – I like to comment and say “Isn’t that cute, I remember being just like them at that age”.

      Like

       
      • ginny09

        August 3, 2016 at 1:58 pm

        Attended a neighborhood picnic yesterday..starting mentioning the responses of adoptees.
        They didn’t believe me. Most thoughts included: “they should grateful and say nothing; nothing is wrong with adoptees if raised by loving caregivers, etc.”
        “The public at large has no clue what adoptees think.” I know Dan Rather interviewed a surrendering Mom several years ago, but a group of adoptees need to get on TV and be interviewed often..Charlie Rose, Oprah, Ellen, and any news agency possible.
        And the WWWeb is now ubiquitous for every adoptee to use.

        With the South Korean’s adoptees returning to Korea, (New York Times Jan 2015), international adoptees are starting to speak up as well.

        Like

         
      • beth62

        August 3, 2016 at 3:11 pm

        I’m glad you are not silent too 🙂 very glad!

        You know it must happen, the silent one in real life types their fingers off about it everyday.
        How many of us here typing are very vocal about it in our social not adopted circles?

        It’s not like I am going to visit my family or friend with young adopted kids and start talking about all the difficult and ugly of it. No, I go to visit and play. I go to spy LOL and see if I see signs where I might be of some help to the kids or the parent. I do the same with my friends that don’t have Adopted kids. Moms are supposed to support each other right?

        I keep thinking about adoptees I knew and know in person. The silent ones. Most are not silent when alone with other adoptees or other people who get it and are safe to discuss things with. Most of us already know what Adopted parents want to hear, and the difficult ain’t it!
        I believe that is the norm.

        Before the internet, the Adopted ones that I talked to, that were at least vocal enough to mention they were adopted, I found them by the campfires, on the river, in the motorcycle clubs and at the bar. And I found them easily and often. There is a kinship there.

        My farmhand neighbor never mentioned it to me, he doesn’t tell. His Uncle made sure I knew he was adopted when we met…. didn’t want me to think they were blood related. He was very upset and hurt that his uncle does that. Didn’t want to, but I felt I had to tell him. Who does he talk to now? That’s right, the one he knows he can trust with it.

        Also keep thinking about those of us that have been silenced and dismissed at every turn, and many of those just didn’t make it any farther down the path with me 😦

        I hear so much about people getting bullied about many things…. I think that is what is being done. Bullied into silence. They say bullying can be deadly. I believe it. I guess it’s different since it’s adoption huh?

        Like

         
      • beth62

        August 3, 2016 at 3:27 pm

        That’s a good line, going to remember that one, so cute!

        Good grief, I can’t quit thinking about how much time, how many years, I have spent attempting to learn how to talk to the ….. clueless, the silencers and dismissers face to face. Arrrrrrrggggggg
        Not sure I have it in me to talk with my local save the orphan churches again, that nearly sucked the life outta me.

        Good for you Ginny, for talking at the picnic, feeling beat up and bruised yet? :). It can really be so aggravating, depressing and exhausting. Simply heartbreaking some days.

        Like

         
  11. ginny09

    August 3, 2016 at 5:36 pm

    cbc-network.org The Center for Bioethics and Culture.
    Please share this with everyone using this blog…
    This is an organization to contact and share adoptee opinions..

    Like

     
  12. onewomanschoice

    August 3, 2016 at 6:44 pm

    Reblogged this on One Woman's Choice and commented:
    Good post…

    Liked by 1 person

     
  13. Ellen

    August 4, 2016 at 7:41 pm

    Well said! It was connecting with other adoptees on the Internet that gave me the courage to finally acknowledge my feelings of sorrow and anger over being adopted. Just to be able to put a name to these feelings I’ve had all my live has improved my life a thousand-fold.

    Like

     
    • TAO

      August 4, 2016 at 7:43 pm

      🙂

      Like

       
    • beth62

      August 5, 2016 at 4:54 pm

      🙂 absolutely agree. And it does give me hope that the young Adoptees out there with this resource will have an easier time with it than I did. Makes me feel better about the years of typing and putting our stuff out there for all to see. If I began my search, or my research into myself deeper, today – I’d have a whole lot more to work with. When I started there was basically nothing on the internet about it at all. Adoptees managed to find each other, figure things out more with more insights… and now, just a decade or so later, look 😂
      Hey, at least in the adoption realm online more people “get it”. Those odd comments or responses are more well known as myths.
      Makes me really happy to think if a person goes to an adoption social website and mentions searching now – no longer will they be attacked and called horrible things. Really happy about that, along with all of the support that is given. Really happy, has to make it soooooooooo much easier.

      Now it’s time to myth bust the general public.

      Like

       
      • iwishiwasadopted

        August 6, 2016 at 3:11 am

        When i was younger, there was no one to talk to about being adopted. Certainly not my adoptive parents. My non adopted friend though being adopted was just like being part of a normal family. I just kept it all inside, until very recently.

        I remember my adoptive Mother saying I could ask her anything, but her body language told a very different story,and I never asked her anything. Never expressed pain to anyone. I didn’t even allow myself to feel it, until i found my family,and the internet.

        Like

         
  14. lora

    August 6, 2016 at 3:04 pm

    Maybe it will be easier for the next generation. I have a friend with 2 adopted sons in their 20s. She is pretty open about adoption, and recently told me that one son joined a group of Korean adoptees ( although he says he is not interested in searching) and the other expressed interest in finding his sibling.

    So if young men are having a glimmer of curiosity and able to reach out and find support, maybe it will become more commonplace to express an interest earlier and find social media support.

    Like

     
    • TAO

      August 6, 2016 at 3:06 pm

      Yay…I hope so.

      Like

       
  15. Nara

    August 8, 2016 at 7:22 am

    I think what [transracial, as that’s my experience] adoptees tell their [white] friends and family differs enormously to the feelings and thoughts they might explore in safe spaces / online.

    If you asked my friends and family, I’d be one of those “perfectly fine” adoptees. I have a good job, a nice relationship, and by all accounts I’m a perfectly normal(ish) functioning adult.

    But until I started my blog (ostensibly about infertility rather than adoption – adoption naturally ended up being something I wrote about), I didn’t really have the voice or the vocabulary to talk about it. Because I had not really talked about it – not in depth – to anyone. I clearly had some sort of interest as I had read every book that had adoption in and I had searched and joined FB groups (as it turns out, the biggest ones are harder to find). So I did have some element of searching for a way to talk about it.

    But why would we talk to our white community about it? I’d only be told I was ungrateful and had a chip on my shoulder, etc. I internalised pretty much all the race hatred which stemmed from being adopted. And I do think the dichotomy is hard to deal with. Generally I am “fine” but when I talk about adoption I probably sound angry, and I’m someone who’s grown up with white people so as a female I’ve been taught not to be angry. So in general it’s much easier to say nothing in those circumstances.

    Like

     
    • TAO

      August 8, 2016 at 1:45 pm

      You described many (most) of us perfectly Nara – you have the whole other layer of being transracial on top of it that made talking about it that much harder.

      Like

       

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