Is it just the words used, or is it something else?

27 Dec

I’ve listened to adoptees who say that they never experienced trauma or felt loss.  That they don’t dwell on being adopted.  That they love their families (adoptive) and don’t understand why other adoptees had such a bad experience.  That many have known their family of birth for years, if not decades.  That’s the shortened version of the divide between adoptees online, on the same websites, adoption websites to be specific. 

I’ve watched this ongoing divide now for the last decade.  And yet, when I read conversations, in-depth conversations they are part of, I can’t see any difference in their stories, compared to those who speak of having felt/feel loss, have been, and may still be challenged by being adopted, and all the feels that come with growing up in a different family than you were born to.  They speak of going through phases growing up, having big feelings that had to be worked through, some included counseling, just like those they say had a bad experience.  If you drill down, they also see problems in how adoption is practiced, too.

And, I’m wondering, why, then, is there a disconnect, a divide, between us.

Is it the words commonly used by adoptees to define what they’ve gone through, felt?  Does saying you felt/feel the loss of your other family, somehow, challenge their perception of their family (adoptive) and mean they should view them differently if they felt the same?  Does the word trauma mean something different to them, or does it make them think their family is guilty (or culpable) for adopting them, when they hear it, name it?  Does naming their feelings instead of just describing a time they were challenged by being adopted, make them feel wrong for loving their adoptive family, or disloyal to them?  Why?  I can separate my family, my feelings for them, from my being adopted, the effects of being adopted, be critical of the way adoption was practiced then, and now. Is the difference really based on the individual’s ability to separate family from adoption in their mind and words?

Does it have something to do with knowing their family of birth for years, if not always, play into it at all?

And I’ve left that term dwell for last.  They are on adoption forums, whether it is a message board, blog, or facebook, talking about adoption, their experiences.  Yet, they don’t dwell on adoption, but feel other adoptees do dwell on it, adoptees, who, typically seem to have experienced the same feelings they have, and came out the other side, just like they did.

I can’t see any difference, can you?  Have you pondered this, or do you see a difference I can’t see?



Posted by on December 27, 2016 in Adoption, adoptive parents


Tags: , , , , , ,

29 responses to “Is it just the words used, or is it something else?

  1. L4R

    December 27, 2016 at 8:34 pm

    I don’t know….. I do know that we’re not all going to think alike. And, that’s fine. But, it is so odd to see people who are professing how fine they are with being adopted, yet they choose to go onto adoption websites and speak to adoptees who aren’t as 100% okay with it as they are. Makes you wonder why they’re on that site in the first place.

    I know there isn’t a 100% positive correlation with this. But, I do think that adoptees who are raised in very religious adoptive families tend to be more pro-adoption. When I hear a fellow adoptee was raised in a very religious family, I tread lightly.Chances are his or her views will greatly differ from my own.

    Liked by 2 people

    • TAO

      December 27, 2016 at 8:48 pm

      It be odd if we all thought alike – I just decided to start listening to all their comments, not just some and it really surprised me…

      I do agree with a very religious family perspective today. It seems the opposite of the low-keyed very religious family I was raised in. I’d written it off to different generations – mine being face reality we were raised in the depression parents vs parents raised after. Who knows.

      I’ve missed your voice L4R – hope you had a good holiday, and how’s school?

      Liked by 1 person

  2. ginny09

    December 27, 2016 at 11:59 pm

    We must remember that the separation of the mother and infant is a traumatic experience, and too overwhelming for some adoptees to revisit. Reports around reunions have been mixed, so no one can predict and outcome. However, I truly believe it is in the best interest of all adoptee’s to know what the adoption took place, health history, and to examine their family of origin. I also believe it is the duty of society to undo the social injustices, and reinstate ethical standards in public policy.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. shadowtheadoptee

    December 28, 2016 at 12:19 am

    I think, dare I say it, that word that can start WW III, in the world of adoptees? Denial, in its truest form?

    Liked by 1 person

    • TAO

      December 28, 2016 at 3:13 pm

      But I don’t see denial of the challenges they went through, just the lack of recognition that what they dealt with is what other adoptees are saying to – that we are all basically agreeing, yet the divide exists. Maybe I’m not seeing something.

      Liked by 1 person

      • shadowtheadoptee

        December 28, 2016 at 3:51 pm

        The denial that, as different, as we are, we are all the same. The denial of, “I’m not like you.” “I’m not flawed, like you.” Maybe, it is just a need to be different, a need to be “normal”. Traumatized is such a strong word. Maybe they have not reached a point, in their own journey, to “feel” the trauma, at it’s depths.
        Do you remember when I first showed up on that one forum? I would read the threads, and think, ” That’s not me.” How many years did it take before I understood? What was it that happened, in my life, that helped me understand? Then again, some people just are not capable of, ever , understanding the depths of it. It’s just a place, maybe, their emotional capabilities, cannot go? I don’t know?
        Do you remember a, particular, adoptee, that was just a pain in the behind? She always argued that she wasn’t angry. Anger oozed from her every word. She never got it, and probably still hasn’t. I don’t know that you are missing anything.
        I remember reading those threads, and thinking, how manY times we all said the, exact, same, thing, just in different words. Am I understanding the point you were trying to make?
        In my opinion, and in my experience, loyalty to our families plays a major role in that denial. I, also, know from my own experience, admitting to the trauma, meant I had to feel “traumatized”. That feeling, when it came out, well, I wouldn’t wish that on anyone. You know?

        Liked by 1 person

        • TAO

          December 28, 2016 at 3:57 pm

          You are wise, you are right Shadow. Completely agree with the loyalty aspect, why I think it may come down to the ability to separate “adoption” from “family”, or perhaps it just makes it easier to get there.

          Liked by 1 person

  4. ginny09

    December 28, 2016 at 1:40 am

    I truly believe that denial can protects us. I equally believe denial can harm us. Denial can create an unseen anxiety-stress in our muscles, our bones, our physical health, and in our relationships. These physical and emotional reactions to denial can be interpreted by the public at large as a personalty characteristic. When in reality, all these stressors relate back to the trauma of detachment.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Pj

    December 28, 2016 at 4:35 pm

    Agree about the D word..also believe many are so ‘crazy busy’ these days they don’t take the time to just…be ( or feel) But maybe that’s all part of the denial…

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Lara/Trace

    December 28, 2016 at 4:43 pm

    What a topic. I always think it’s semantics. Or that gratitude attitude. We are stuck between a rock and a hard place. How can we not be divided?

    Liked by 1 person

    • shadowtheadoptee

      December 28, 2016 at 4:51 pm


      Liked by 1 person

    • TAO

      December 28, 2016 at 8:23 pm

      Semantics – great word, you are probably right! I just wish we could all just be…

      Liked by 1 person

  7. yan

    December 29, 2016 at 3:17 pm

    It just reminds me of how hard I fought the therapist who told me I was dealing with anxiety. I was so ANGRY with her. I also hated “The Primal Wound” when I initially read it, early in my reunion. I wasn’t traumatized. What the hell? The words and their connotations are big — and not only did I not want to claim them, but I also didn’t think I had a right to. “Trauma” is abuse or horrible events happening to you, right, not something you can’t even remember? How could *I* be a trauma victim? I grew up in a nice house, not hungry, with parents who weren’t perfect but did really try. The labels do make it more real, and I would guess that’s why some people resist them.

    Liked by 2 people

    • TAO

      December 29, 2016 at 3:27 pm

      Beautiful explanation yan, simply beautiful.

      Liked by 1 person

    • beth62

      December 30, 2016 at 3:06 pm

      I see the same thing happening with the soldiers who are dealing with trauma. Some are “good” at facing it straight on, some it takes a while to find the courage and strength to deal with it, and some resist or refuse to try and just continue to carry on. Soldiers are supposed to be strong ya know (adoptees too, it’s part of the job)

      It’s been my experience that when you just carry on, without facing the real, often things tend to go allllllll wrong, sooner or later.
      Sometimes a big part of the struggle is when people close to you refuse or resist facing the real too… cause they don’t really have to, it’s easier for them to deny the gravity of the trauma and insist that you heal, get past it like a “real” soldier, suck it up and carry on in the present.

      Liked by 1 person

    • beth62

      December 31, 2016 at 4:00 pm

      It took me a very long time to be able to claim that trauma, and the right to claim it.

      I think it’s like juggling. Juggling the paradox with two valid seemingly opposing sides with plenty in between. I could juggle 3 tennis balls just fine. 4 threw me for a loop, but I got the hang of it. Same with juggling 5 tennis balls, eventually it happens if you keep at it. You’ll know you’ve got it when they spin in balance, continually, instead of falling all around you in chaos. It’s real hard to go from juggling tennis balls straight to juggling chainsaws. Takes much practice and experience to do it and not get hurt badly. Once you master juggling chainsaws… juggling tennis balls seems so very good and peaceful. But really, who in their right mind really wants to juggle chainsaws? 🙂
      I avoided it for a while, but kept getting chainsaws thrown at me, so, wth, why not go for it and juggle chainsaws too. Turns out, juggling chainsaws with tennis balls has become a very peaceful and balanced thing on this planet to me. Just have to pay attention! Be in the present LOL


  8. Anne Marie

    December 30, 2016 at 2:29 am

    I had the textbook “perfect adoption”, with happily married adoptive parents who were infertile, and had waited years for God to send them a baby and suddenly there was me, courtesy of Catholic Children’s Aid Society, a healthy new born baby who even looked a bit like them, with Irish blood like my new mother and red hair like my new father. Two years later we went back to the social workers to pick up my new adopted brother and we were a happy family; mom,dad, two kids, just like that. I always knew I was adopted, they told me all they could, all they knew, but by the time I hit adolescence it was a huge crisis all the same. I searched for and eventually met many biological relatives, including my first mother but after many years I am at peace with the life I have, the family I have, I have no regrets or wish for it to be different than what it is. No matter how trite it sounds I do feel I am “lucky” and I am “grateful”, all those emotionally loaded expressions are really true for me, but still I am often sad and grieving for the losses of my early life. My first mom was Catholic and her family would just not have accepted an illegitimate baby, it is that simple; I would have been a source of great shame to her and I would have felt it; I would not have wanted to grow up like that…Instead I was cherished and precious to my adoptive parents, they were proud of me, and felt the Lord had blessed them with a gift (They were Catholic too). I had a wonderfully stable and happy childhood that my birth parents could not have given me, it was basically a good deal for me really but does it make me sad anyway? Obviously, that is true as well. Truth is always more complicated. Why can’t I grieve my losses and also be grateful for the family I have now? I don’t want to pick sides and focus only on my pain or my joy, both are valid

    Liked by 2 people

    • TAO

      December 30, 2016 at 5:14 pm

      Of course both are valid Anne Marie. Being adopted adds many complex and sometimes completely opposite feelings to an already complex subject, that of life. Welcome!

      Liked by 1 person

  9. beth62

    December 30, 2016 at 2:21 pm

    Well, I just don’t understand why so many just can’t suck it up. Everything turned out fine right? Trauma, yeah, yeah, Wound, sure whatever, Angry, what good will that do. It could be much worse, I got lucky. That was then and this is now, and it’s all good, no sense in wallowing in it. The universe is throwing new stuff at me to dodge or catch now. Pay attention, Grab your boot straps, Paint your lips, Chin up, Shoulders back, Boobs out, Keep moving and don’t let anything get you down!

    I think I understand it fairly well 🙂 I just got tired of it. Became too much to carry. I was ready to admit things that I did not want to admit to myself, was afraid my weakness would show. For a long time I felt allowing that could be dangerous or deadly in many ways.

    I didn’t know how to balance it. I was afraid to balance it, was certain it would all come crashing down.
    When you admit things to yourself you almost always have to do something about it, or suffer. If you dont know what to do, why bother admitting it, yet, better to wait for the cure 🙂

    I agree that the religious attitudes fit in there somehow, even if the family isn’t “overly” religious.
    The positive, hopeful, faithful, loyal, honor thy mother and father and be grateful for the soul and life you have on this earth right now. Bloom where you are planted. Certainly not a bad way of thinking about things… when it doesn’t hurt you, or others.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. shadowtheadoptee

    December 30, 2016 at 2:31 pm

    Beth, you are still my hero. A song came to mind, as I was reading your comment. Miranda Lambert’s song, “This Ain’t My Mamma’s Broken Heart”.
    You rock!

    Liked by 1 person

    • beth62

      December 30, 2016 at 3:26 pm

      Shadow, when I first heard that song I laughed, and thought of you, laughing too LOL

      And that eagles song that says something about finding and kicking someone’s inner childs ass, 2 funny.
      There is a place in my world for the toughen up and pull yourself up outta the mud songs.
      And a place for the cryin in yer beer songs, love songs, singing in the spirit, monster music, high energy, workin man songs, ballads of all sorts, house cleaning bluegrass songs, mushy family ones…. omg the song that says something about looking his front porch window at his carrot top babies and mama does me in, and gave me great power in my early workin years. and of course the bluesssssss

      All Kinds Of Music Played Here!


      • shadowtheadoptee

        December 30, 2016 at 4:48 pm

        Ha, oh, yes, Beth, I relate a little bit, too, closely, with. So, so, many of Miranda’s songs. Lol. Must be an East Texas thing?
        Yep, all kinds of music gets played here too. I’d say that we are very well-rounded, and adjusted. Wouldn’t you?


    • beth62

      December 30, 2016 at 7:25 pm

      Powder your nose, paint your toes
      Line your lips and keep ’em closed
      Cross your legs, dot your eyes
      And never let ’em see you cry

      gotta keep it together
      Even when you fall apart…

      I can hear my sweet lil’ grandma now 🙂
      she’d pinch me if she saw me getting teary eyed about things… give me something to really cry about!
      A get up, get dressed, get going kind of gal. No matter what. And was as sweet as they come.


  11. Greg

    December 30, 2016 at 9:52 pm

    These are great questions, thought I’m not sure it all comes down to being an adoptee. It’s as if some folks are born to try to reconcile the world that created them while others don’t really see the need to do so. I’m sure many of us see it in our own families, with other adopted brothers or sisters who may feel little or no compunction to search or to wonder or to think obsessively, maybe even mildly, about an alternate reality that *could have* happened.

    Why my brother, also an adoptee, feels no real need to wonder about or reconcile his own creation is beyond me. Why I seem to obsess over it is also beyond me, yet it stays in the front of my brain, always there as a reminder. And there is no rightness in either way; as Anne Marie said, both are valid.

    Maybe it’s that some of us have a double whammy of introspective tendencies along with being adopted, of having an innate desire to seek but also accepting or allowing or burdening ourselves with an impossible task of gaining meaningful insight from a realm that will always be unreachable. It is the Ghost Kingdom BJ Lifton talked about. Some of us move relatively fine within that kingdom and even among its irreconcilable realities; others don’t. And yet others walk away from it indifferently and, it seems, without suffering any particular hardship.

    Liked by 1 person

    • TAO

      December 30, 2016 at 9:58 pm

      No idea why you went to moderation Greg. I love when you stop by, you always have something to say that makes me ponder more. Introspective tendencies – that’s me, mulling is something I do too much of sometimes. Thank you.

      Liked by 1 person

  12. cb

    December 31, 2016 at 11:23 pm

    It is very hard trying to get one’s view across on mixed forums because no matter how much others might say they respect one’s point of view and are listening to one’s views, there is often that feeling that they are thinking “I’m listening in the hope that my child will be nothing like you”, this feeling is usually most apparent when the “I don’t dwell on being adopted” adoptees post and the aforementioned APs are often all like “I hope my child is just like you”.

    What I do think is funny is that so many of today’s APs are in open adoption with their children’s bfamily but are often always referring to how they would rather listen to their “closed adoption adoptee friends who are fine about being adopted and have no wish to know nothing about their bparents” than us – the problem is that if they are in open adoptions then their children are already having different experiences to their friends. They are having different experiences to us too but I feel that at least adoptees in reunion have some experience of dealing with the different families in a way that their adoptee friends have decided not to do.

    Also people often seem to read or listen to adoptee narratives without ever really reading/hearing what is being said. The ideal adoptee is still seen as one who can play the comparison game, i.e. “I’m better off being adopted than being with bfamily” – this can put adoptees in a weird position that if they have both lovely afamilies and bfamilies and thus feel that their adopted life is a different life rather than a better life, they are seen to be negative because they refuse to play that aforementioned comparison game.


    • TAO

      December 31, 2016 at 11:35 pm

      “without ever really reading/hearing what is being said.” Yes, all that…it’s a weird dynamic being the one in the middle…so weird…Happy Already New Year Cath!



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