Finding a community

12 Jan

What has helped me most with my deepest feelings about not just being adopted, but the unintended consequences that have played out in my particular story?  A community of adoptees who share similar feelings, questions, loyalty conflicts.  For me, nothing I’ve done has helped more than feeling I’m not alone in this journey.  What made me realize this now?  Recently, I saw a clip on the need to talk about mental health challenges by Howie Mandel, how talking to others going through the same journey of mental health conditions helps you not feel alone or weird.  That got me thinking about how having someone to talk to who gets it, whatever the it is, that isn’t there to judge (you’ll see what I mean later) has helped so much, so, that’s what spurred this post because it made me think about all the different ways and different aspects of my life that have benefited from having a community. 

After my health events, when I’d try to talk to my family and friends, you could almost feel them comparing how I was before with the now, and not trying to discern what I was trying to say.  Only mom spoke about the difference flat-out, not just the struggle to get the words out, but that my tone had changed, I think they call that a flat affect or something like that.  When I’d go see my doctors, they’d assess how I was progressing, health wise, cognitively, verbally, and note it in the chart or their consult letters.  Today, my speech is night and day different than it was at first, but I still struggle.  But where the talking about it to others came into play first, was going to cardiac rehab classes, the other participants were my peers who had no prior knowledge to judge how I spoke, not in words or tone.  It was freeing, they weren’t comparing the before me and now me, nor were they assessing whether I’d improved, if I’d continue to improve, they were just my peers, we’d all gone through something terribly traumatic, being with them helped so much.  Looking back, without that group to talk to, openly talk about my/our fears, our experiences, root for each other, be empathic with each other, even just be, I don’t think I’d have fared as well as I have.  I still take advantage of getting together with them more than a decade later, it truly was, and is a community bonded in our experiences.

The concept of feeling alone, being overwhelmed with big feelings can also be part of the adoptee experience, feeling like you are the only one who feels that way.  These unique to the person, but similarly complicated, hard to reconcile feelings, can leave an adoptee feeling alone and uncomfortable trying to talk to non-adopted people about those feelings, even to a counselor.  Those feelings of being alone can start early, one reason why I loved going to summer camp as a child, by the end of the first day, all the adoptees seemed to have found each other and we were inseparable for the week.  I don’t remember how much, or if we even talked about being adopted, but we needed to be with other adoptees, just being together was beneficial and we couldn’t wait until the next summer when we’d return and see each other.

Having had that experience at summer camp for multiple years in a row, finding other adoptees and hanging out with them for the week was helpful to me, so, it came as no surprise to see the same play out online in forums, blogs like this, Facebook, twitter.  Finding a community of others like you, makes you feel like for the first time, that other people get it, even if their experience didn’t mirror yours, the underlying event made you one of them.  Giving voice to those feelings in a discussion that meanders whatever way is needed takes away the feeling there’s something wrong with you for having those feelings you’ve felt at different points in your life.  It tells you that you aren’t weird, or the only one, that the conflicted feelings, the complicated loyalties, the questioning, the curiosity, the need to know is normal, and they aren’t wrong.

It’s a gift that is priceless.

And one of the primary reasons it helps to have a community is because even today, there is a stigma against adoptees who feel anything other than wholly positive about being adopted.  That stigma against adoptees comes out in many ways, from others stating their fear no one would adopt if adoptees speak of anything other than praise the institution of adoption, and how what a good thing adoption is.  Words said about what happens to the children who would have been adopted, but didn’t, because the adopting parents read about the deep feelings that can be part of the adoptee experience and choose not to adopt.  That sentiment is a guilt trip to the sensitive adoptee, or young adult, a reprimand that they are responsible if someone doesn’t adopt, all because you voiced your feelings about such a complicated experience as being adopted.

It’s also a fallacy.

It speaks to a lack understanding about adoption, and while I know that some adopting don’t get the necessary education about the adoptee experience from their adoption professional, they have ample opportunity at their fingertips to research, study the research and read about or talk to people who’ve adopted, and most importantly speak to the adoptees themselves.  If they believe that adoption is simple and the adoptee will seamlessly adapt and never look back, they are wholly unprepared to be adoptive parents, and shouldn’t adopt, they will cause more harm than good.

That stigma also appears when others paint with their words the reminder that the adoptee owes society something for having been given a home, they owe it to those waiting to be adopted, no matter if the words aren’t there, the message is clear, they are shaming adoptees for speaking about their experience, not just the good parts, but the hard parts too.  If it isn’t a subtle (or not so subtle) reminder of what is owed, there is also the reminder that you’re lucky you were even born.  So many different versions of that reminder are present within and outside the adoption community, be grateful you weren’t aborted.

Yet, over the years, I’ve seen adoptees push back and it’s immensely better than when I first found the adoption community.  So, I’m thankful for those who first started talking on adoption forums and blogs.  If they hadn’t spoken up and confronted the angry adoptive parent and agency voices pushing back at them, holding firm that these were normal feelings an adoptee may have, we wouldn’t be able to see progress in discussions today.  It is their voices who pushed adoptive parents and agencies to open their minds and be more aware of what an adopted child may feel at different points about being adopted, not just what studies showed, real, live, examples of the adoptee experience.  So, I’m giving thanks to those voices who first spoke up collectively online that has normalized, and given space for adoptees today, to be able to speak about their entire experience, not just the script provided and approved by society.  We owe them.



Posted by on January 12, 2017 in Adoption, adoptive parents


Tags: , , , ,

29 responses to “Finding a community

  1. Lara/Trace

    January 12, 2017 at 7:06 pm

    I am very thankful to you Tao I have been reading you since 2011 (?) I think, as a blog follower. Your voice has helped me immensely. It still does!

    Liked by 1 person

    • TAO

      January 12, 2017 at 7:11 pm

      Thank you, this blog though only works because others talk…

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Kaisa G

    January 12, 2017 at 8:16 pm

    Tao, i’m definitely glad to be reading your blog 🙂 as you say, having a community is soooo beneficial. we have so many different experiences, but, we do understand some things on a sublime level that non-adoptees cannot, and we can lend each other a wonderful empathy just by being there, listening, discussing.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. shadowtheadoptee

    January 12, 2017 at 9:06 pm

    I sure don’t know what I would have done, had it not been for you, and the rest of our friends.

    Liked by 1 person

    • TAO

      January 12, 2017 at 9:18 pm

      Me either Shadow…

      Liked by 1 person

      • beth62

        January 13, 2017 at 3:36 pm

        Me either. Thinking about what I would have done with out my fellow online Adoptees is… really sad, depressing and a bit frightening! Thank You for being here. We’ve come a long way, together, a long way. I doubt I would have ever found this healthy path that I am on now with out attempting to be part of the adoptee community.


        • TAO

          January 13, 2017 at 3:50 pm

          Love your heart Beth…and thankful for you guys for welcoming me way back when.


        • cb

          January 19, 2017 at 8:03 pm

          And I’m always glad I joined that other site when I did and got to know you, TAO and Shadow. Just knowing that one isn’t alone in one’s feelings helps a lot.


  4. weedragon

    January 12, 2017 at 11:32 pm

    Where are the Facebook groups?! I am looking for them,,…new in reunion, would love to talk to other adoptees

    Liked by 1 person

    • TAO

      January 12, 2017 at 11:39 pm

      Probably the best one to go to is

      She’s lovely person and while it is public (whatever you post will show up on your friends newsfeed) you can message her, ask her to post an anonymous question for you. You’ll get some good answers.

      She’ll also be able to better direct you to closed adoption facebook groups that are tailored to adoption and reunion where when you comment won’t show up in your friends newsfeed.

      Good luck.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Jill Daviau

      January 13, 2017 at 7:57 am

      weedragon, you can look for me on Facebook under this name. I am in several closed adoptee support groups and would be happy to give you some invites. I was part of the now-defunct AAAFC back when, and now hang out in my Facebook adoptee groups. They’ve helped so much.


    • Debbie

      January 26, 2017 at 5:51 pm
      I just stumbled across your blog. Wonderful writings. I am a adoptee and also help run a search AND support group. We also have a few laughs. Its a private closed group so we can be safe to openly share.
      I am now going to read through some more from your blogs.
      Nice to meet you


  5. eagoodlife

    January 13, 2017 at 12:19 am

    Reblogged this on The Life Of Von and commented:
    ” giving thanks to those voices who first spoke up collectively online that has normalized, and given space for adoptees today, to be able to speak about their entire experience, not just the script provided and approved by society. We owe them”

    Liked by 1 person

    • TAO

      January 13, 2017 at 2:06 am

      People like you Von – thank you…

      Liked by 1 person

  6. eagoodlife

    January 13, 2017 at 12:22 am

    Nailed it!! So well put TAO! You did it again. x weedragon you might like to check out the groups ‘adoptees on adoption’ or ‘adoption information’ which are more for contact and information than discussion but you might find something useful there.

    Liked by 1 person

    • TAO

      January 13, 2017 at 2:06 am

      Thank you so much Von – hoping all is well and wishing I was in summer, it’s brutal here…

      Liked by 1 person

  7. maryleesdream

    January 13, 2017 at 1:11 am

    It’s been the same for me. I don’t know any outspoken adoptees IRL. I know 2, and they are both happy to be adopted. One, a childhood friend told me her adoption was so “under the radar” that she did not tell her husband! And they have a son. I can’t imagine living that lie.

    Thanks to all you wonderful adoptees, who have shown me that I am not wrong. My feelings matter, and adoption is not always a win-win-win. In fact, it really never is.


    • TAO

      January 13, 2017 at 2:05 am

      Having a place to just be is so important – I’m glad you are here Marylee.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Pj

    January 13, 2017 at 1:40 am

    Today I was watching a clip from recent Good Morning America episode- saw identical twins from China, adopted to separate families in US and meeting for first time on live ! television….sigh..I couldn’t watch the whole clip…went to check my email, saw a post from Tao ..and thought…yes, this is my community…Thank you….

    Liked by 1 person

    • TAO

      January 13, 2017 at 2:04 am

      No idea why you went to moderation PJ -strange. I’m glad this is your community – I love all my friends here 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Jill Daviau

    January 13, 2017 at 8:03 am

    I applied for my non-ID info and a search back in 1989 when I was 18. I didn’t know a single other adoptee, there was no Internet, and although I searched anyway, I felt so, so bad and ashamed. I am so grateful now for Internet adoptee support groups and others who have spoken up. May no other adoptee feel the deep shame and guilt I did in those beginning days in 1989.

    Liked by 1 person

    • TAO

      January 13, 2017 at 3:49 pm

      I so agree with you Jill!


  10. weedragon

    January 14, 2017 at 11:49 pm

    Thanks guys I will check all these out…..

    I just saw a post on Facebook with parents celebratiNg a “gotcha” day it made me feel so sad…


    • TAO

      January 15, 2017 at 2:09 am

      On FB you will be triggered a lot.


  11. Pj

    January 15, 2017 at 2:52 pm

    Tao, talk about triggers…felt the need to come back to my community 🙂 after reading about a new app idea on Kickstarter that would make adopting ” just a swipe away ” and the process ” more fun “…sigh


    • TAO

      January 15, 2017 at 2:54 pm

      I saw that, also saw people from all sectors being aghast…


  12. Joy Smith

    January 11, 2021 at 4:06 pm

    Having been in a facebook group for adoptees, for several months, I have now joined a group of 25 adoptees, and meet once a week. it is amazing and we do some really deep stuff. Totally recommend anyone joins a community of like-minded people. Thanks for this



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