What made you the expert on which adoptees can be heard?

19 Jan

If you know me well, the title tells you this is a post where I’m going to vent a little, blow off steam that’s been percolating for nigh onto a week. 

Othering adoptees is not okay.  Us old-timers can take it because we have btdt and can see what you say comes from ignorance, insecurity, or just plain old hypocrisy.  Younger adoptees can’t and you are making their journey of discovery harder than it needs to be.

It doesn’t matter if they are anti, pro, or middle of the road adoptees – othering them is not okay.  Deliberately holding up your friend of a friend who is adopted and never thinks about being adopted and is too busy living her life to be one line – is not okay.  Telling them adoption is so different from it was in their era (despite it being the same) is othering them.  If you don’t want to hear their views, scroll on by, block them, just don’t other them.  When was the last time you heard an adoptee who knew a friend of a friend who was an adoptive parent who felt the opposite to whatever you espoused and used that to shut you down and invalidate your voice?  I’m not going to say that never happens, but it certainly doesn’t happen at the rate adoptive parents other adoptees in the same room happens.

And it’s not okay not only because you are pitting one adoptee against the other, you are deliberately being mean-spirited, and you are missing the point completely.  Being adopted and interested in adoption and engaging in adoption conversations is not something abnormal.  When your life trajectory is fundamentally changed by an event it’s pretty normal to be interested in it, want to talk with others about at different points in your journey.  As a child at camp the ones adopted sought each other out the first day, and spent the week together, commonality of the shared experience, and it helped being around others adoptees.  Today, there are camps designed to give space for adoptees to spend time with each other because they realized it’s good for our souls.  As an adult, both the history of adoption and the current process and practices fascinate me, the areas that are better are good, the areas that have travelled down the slippery-slope make me mad.  The topic fascinates me, and others like me as well, the friendships made, I value.

Your words, posture, actions in regards to discussions tell your child far more about how you personally feel about adoption, and in this case their peers, than anything else.  And children pick up on everything that has anything to do with adoption, even if you don’t think they do, we do.  And, if you think asking their view helps your case, regardless of how they feel at that specific age, doesn’t mean they will always feel the same.  Your goal here should be to be ready to walk alongside them at all points in this journey of being adopted, your role is to be neutral.  If they know going in that you get you feelings hurt about anything that doesn’t laud being adopted and adoption, you won’t ever have the chance to be a safe shoulder to cry on, the person they turn to, they’ll find another shoulder or way to process their feelings.

There is nothing abnormal about adoptees talking about adoption, unless talking about being a mom in mom groups is abnormal, or talking about being an adoptive mom in an adoption group is abnormal.  Or talking about any of the many life challenges and events in a group created for that purpose is abnormal.

If adoption is so beautiful, how is being defined by being adopted bad?  Ask yourself why you think that when we are all defined by our lived experiences, the professions we choose, the lifestyle we chose, who we associate with.  Ask yourself hard questions like does the reason I don’t want them defined by being adopted have anything to do with the fact that we had to adopt to become parents.  If it does, you have your own work to do.

I’ll close with this: how you treat adoptees online today, is how the next generation of adoptees (your children) will also be treated.  Be a leader and stand up against othering adoptees today.


Posted by on January 19, 2018 in Adoption, adoptive parents


Tags: , , , , ,

9 responses to “What made you the expert on which adoptees can be heard?

  1. Heather

    January 20, 2018 at 4:56 am

    Well stated as usual.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. cb

    January 20, 2018 at 9:06 pm

    I hate the othering that goes on. There are times when one can’t talk about any sort feelings of adoption loss without people the following:

    * I know lots of adoptees none of them feel loss.
    * Most normal adoptees are out in the world enjoying their lives, not wallowing in their feelings like online adoptees.
    * (in reply to above) Yes those online adoptees who moan and groan about being adopted probably would moan and groan about anything in life. (one doesn’t actually have to being moaning and groaning to be accused of that btw)
    * They’ve allowed themselves to be defined by adoption – none of our IRL adoptee friends define themselves that way, they are out there enjoying life. *
    * I’ve told my adopted son/daughter/relatives about the online adoptees I’ve come across and they have told me that they can’t understand why those online adoptees are so tortured.

    Of course, all of the above is usually one member talking to another member rather directly to the online adoptees on the forum. Thus if one of the regular adoptees responds, they are then told “you are so oversensitive, why do you think we are talking about you?”.

    One might then be told about those other members losses and how those other members moved forward in life to be the awesome person they are now and that rather than wallowing in and revolving everything in our lives around adoption, we should “move on” as they have.

    They have usually missed the point that:
    1) many adoptees are on forums for similar reasons to them, eg company of people who have BTDS, interest in adoption in general, offering different perceptions of things and who are living life just as much as anyone else on the forum. It is also sort of amusing to be told this by people who spend far more time on the forum that one’s self. I also often think “Have you ever listened to a word I’ve said?” There is still the misconception that the main reason an adoptee has come online is to complain about their parents yet from what I’ve seen, many adoptees join forums because something in their life has changed where they’ve started to think more about adoption (eg for many, it is reunion)

    or 2) in the cases of those adoptees who may concentrate on talking a lot about their feelings and loses, it may be because those particular adoptees have never felt able to talk about them before except with other adoptees – many online adoptees have learnt the hard way that talking about one’s feelings with other adoptees with an audience of non-adoptees listening in will result in the adoptee being made to feel ashamed about having feelings. .

    In the end, too often it can feel like only one group of people on adoption forums is allowed to feel sadness or grief (APs), another group is allowed to feel sadness as long as they also say they feel joy and that it is all worth it (bmoms) and the tird group isn’t allowed to feel anything at all but joy(adoptees).

    Liked by 3 people

    • beth62

      January 22, 2018 at 4:21 pm

      cb, this one drives me bonkers

      * They’ve allowed themselves to be defined by adoption – none of our IRL adoptee friends define themselves that way, they are out there enjoying life. *.

      I think with people that say ugly head in the sand stuff like this….
      One. It’s about them, not you/me/us. I think they are attempting to define themselves – their position or title or dreams or way of being in the world. 🐰 But to do that they have to define their own Adoptee in their likeness. Not a very secure feeling when you are dependent on someone else’s opinion, outcome, makes sense that whole idea of the future would be easily threatened, hence the need for them to other us all – othering themselves.

      Two. It’s the beginning of a temper tantrum. (I recognize this very easily, in adults too, been married to it for 35 years, and I’ve seen it in dozens of our adult children, friends, family, myself, it’s everywhere!) Most of the childish fits are due to simple laziness. Waaaaa I don’t want to, it’s hard, it’s icky, somebody else do it for me, and do it the way I want you to, I’m not doing it, I’ll leave, better yet you leave, I don’t like beets not gonna serve or eat them, better yet you eat them if you like them so much, I’ll quit, I’m different, I’m special, I’m not like that, you’re stupid, you’re wrong, you’re sad, you’re mean, you suck, boohoo – Just Be Quiet.

      Oh, does it show? My growing impatience? I’ve been discussing many difficult things in life, like this, with dozens of twenty and thirty year olds a lot lately, at their requests. I can’t take It anymore LOL I’m hiding! The discussion and the othering comments seen here are entirely too familiar in tone…

      It feels good to be a tough old-timer, really good, for real! That’s about all I really know today. 🐻


  3. Jen

    January 21, 2018 at 5:53 am



    • TAO

      January 21, 2018 at 2:04 pm

      Thanks Jen


  4. Sunny J. Reed

    January 21, 2018 at 6:15 pm

    Love this. Adoptees, in general, are an unfortunate invisible minority, regardless of their race. They’re expected to remain silent once the paperwork is completed, but assimilation into families (especially for transracial adoptees) isn’t a done deal. There’s more to the story and silence isn’t the answer to pain.



    Liked by 1 person

  5. Cindy

    January 22, 2018 at 10:22 pm

    Sunny, you are so right. “..silence isn’t the answer to pain.”

    In trying to explain how unhelpful that approach is, I’ve used the analogy of a diabetic wound, covered up, hidden, in effect silenced. The, ‘out of sight out of mind’ tactic. It served my Dad no good purpose. He had a wound that after a long time of attempting to keep it covered/ignoring it, ended up bleeding enough to leave a trail in the house. On the carpet, the furniture..oh yeah. That did not go over real well. It took a lot of time and fastidious tending to get it to a better condition. Thereafter needing continual maintenance to keep it doing ok.

    Covering it up and pretending it didn’t exist did no one any good. It made a difficult situation worse.

    How many times has unheard pain led to the one in pain turning to another form of ‘speech’ to try to be heard. The list of alternatives is many. From eating disorders, addictions, crankin’ up the music when the words of a song or the ‘thump, thump’ of the beat, fits the pain in their heart, etc., to the far extreme methods; cutting, suicide, violence, and I wonder how many wars have been due to unheard (and unhealed) pain. One group or one person wants their way and they are not going to budge an inch, or yield to the other…government entities being a visible example of the ‘my way or the highway’.

    Oh if only we could all just listen, and hear, and sit with it awhile for each other and maybe start making some changes to what hurts others. But, it seems so few can follow the; treat other people like you want to be treated. All we seem to hear anymore is ‘shut-up I don’ wanna’ hear what you have to say cause you’re taking all my fluffy, sunshine and lollipop, comfies away’.

    I guess that derives from wanting or needing to remain ignorant of what hurts others cause..? the group/person would have to sacrifice some of their wants instead of getting just what they want?

    Oh, for the day we get this stuff figured out and can do it right.


  6. Dannie

    January 25, 2018 at 10:17 pm

    well said.

    Liked by 1 person


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