Can we stop being so shallow in the adoption community?

12 Aug

I’ve tried every which way to help people, specifically adoptive parents in the adoption community to move on from labelling an adoptee as having either a positive or negative adoption experience. I’ve failed in all previous attempts and I don’t like admitting defeat, so here’s one more try…

And no, I wasn’t the one labelled that sparked this post…

This is for adoptive parents who’ve reduced the adoptee experience to an either/or positive or negative, and those who stay quiet and/or quietly like the comment by your peer or soon to be peer.

Do you have any idea how dispiriting it is to still see some adoptive parents labelling an adoptee as having had a positive or negative adoption experience? No nuance allowed for the adoptee’s story, no recognition that an adoptee can have complicated, contradictory feelings that continue to evolve over time either way. Just either/or judgement applied.

Do you really believe this will be good for your child in the future if they dare to talk about their adoption or feelings about being adopted, critique the industry, the practices, or the laws when they’re adults? Or do you believe that you will offer the most magical and amazing life that your child will never once question, or feel anything less that positive in respect to their adoption?

I’m fed up with adoptive parents and those still waiting to adopt who make those snap judgements about an adoptee’s experience, an experience that has spanned decades while you’re still a newbie to this life.  And, to a lesser degree, to their peers who keep allowing others to get away with this without even a whimper of protest. You are raising the current generation of adoptees. They will face the same labelling that you apply to adoptees or watch happen in any mixed adoption group.

So tell me, what is it that defines an adoption experience to be positive for the one adopted? What defines it to be a negative one? Is there a definitive definition and a criteria list where you can check boxes off and based on your limited interaction with the one adopted can decide whether that adoptee had a positive or negative adoption experience?  Or does it just come down to the adoptee said something you didn’t like or want to hear – so you judged them to not be worthy of hearing because they didn’t have a “positive adoption” experience?

I refuse to have my experience of being adopted labelled in such a shallow way by others and certainly not by those who’ve only been part of adoption for a few years or so.

Do better. Start a conversation in your group on the ridiculousness of either/or, positive/negative labelling applied by others to adoptees in adoption land. Talk about how there can, and likely will be, both positive and negative feelings in an adoptee throughout their life, and how they feel about anything and everything interconnected to their adoption is what it is, and oh, to stop being an ass.



Posted by on August 12, 2018 in Adoption, adoptive parents


Tags: , , , ,

16 responses to “Can we stop being so shallow in the adoption community?

  1. Tiffany

    August 14, 2018 at 2:48 pm

    People who are incapable of empathy make bad parents, period, but when they adopt, this weakness is magnified.

    Honestly, it’s such crap to say humans can’t have conflicting feelings, even conflicting emotions that are diametrically opposed.

    My older daughter just had her first sleep away camp experience. I prepped her for the homesickness she would probably feel by saying “you can miss home and miss us and still be having so much fun you don’t want it to end.” And sure enough, that’s exactly how she felt. She missed us. She cried once, she said, a little bit. But she had such an amazing time that she also cried when we got there to pick her up! It was ok for her to both miss us and be having fun at camp. IT IS TOTALLY NORMAL. It’s part of life to have conflicting feelings about lots of things.

    For my younger daughter who is adopted, we always tell her it’s ok to miss her other parents. It’s ok to be sad about being adopted. It’s ok to cry. It’s ok to hurt. None of that means she hates her life with us or hates us. It means she is a human being with feelings and emotions that pop up inside of herself that she doesn’t shove down or hide. We cannot help how we feel.

    I don’t ever understand any parent who tries to frame feelings like some logical thing you can control. Who does that? It’s not math. Someone’s 2+2 doesn’t equal 4 when it comes to how you feel inside. These parents are only setting up a dynamic where they teach their children that the parents are not a safe space to share emotions or the hard stuff. It’s truly sad. You adopted child is going to fee whatever it is they are going to feel, and trying to shove it down inside of them or ignore it is like trying to pretend the sun doesn’t go down at night.

    Liked by 1 person

    • TAO

      August 14, 2018 at 7:34 pm

      This comment is exactly what every adoptive parent should believe. Thanks for making my day Tiffany.


      • Tiffany

        August 16, 2018 at 8:29 pm

        I’m glad to hear that, TAO. ❤ Thank you as always for being such a voice for adoptees. I comment simply hoping other APs may see it and see there is no reason to need to feel defensive about our kids' natural feelings.

        Liked by 3 people

  2. Cindy

    August 14, 2018 at 8:22 pm

    Oooh Tiffany, sooo many of your comments ought to be in a ‘tips for good parenting’ book! You make so much sense.

    You did trigger me when you mentioned feelings and logic in the same sentence. Arrgh! 🙂 I was raised, part of the time, by a ‘logical’ parent and found it stifling. The problem with a parent who can’t deal with feelings and emotions is that the child doesn’t learn how to process theirs. I think that leads to so many of the dysfunctional “coping” skills many of us try to overcome in later life. It’s funny in a sad sort of way that now I get asked why I don’t share everything or hold back some things… I wonder why. (could it be that I don’t trust you with me? and that includes my feelings and emotions that you never could deal with.)

    I don’t understand people who don’t allow, can’t handle, or accept others feelings and emotions. Nor do I understand those that refuse to deal with their own. Often times these are the same people. Painful though some feelings and emotions may be, it’s never good to *stuff it*.

    We are living beings not plants, or granite, or preprogrammed robots. I love the way you said it with the “Someone’s 2+2 doesn’t equal 4…”. 🙂

    Parents ought to be the “safe space” for their children. I think society confused parents being a “safe space” for their kids with being their child’s friend assuming they would let them get away with anything. The phrase; “you aren’t your child’s best friend. you’re supposed to be the parent” mantra that was prevalent for awhile made me want to scream, -you BETTER be your child’s best friend-! You better be the one your kid can come to with ANYTHING and everything!

    How did things get so confused? Sigh.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Tiffany

      August 16, 2018 at 5:00 pm

      Thank you, but sometimes I’m just left wondering why everyone doesn’t get something simple like this… I don’t really think it’s that revolutionary to be respectful of another human being’s feelings??? Apparently is is sometimes. Sigh.

      “You better be the one your kid can come to with ANYTHING and everything!” SO MUCH THIS!!! I work so very hard to teach this to my kids. So hard! It’s what I put the majority of my parenting energy into because someday, the tough decisions won’t be “should I tell mama I cut the Barbie’s hair off or hide it?” but “should I get in this car even though my friend is drunk or should I call mom?” In the small things now, I try very hard to be their “safe space” so that they build up a trust in me that will be there for the big moments. I didn’t have that with my parents, and my feelings were never respected. I’m far from a perfect parent- I know I make a million mistakes!- but I try so very hard on these fronts to make them feel heard and understood.

      i don’t know how things got so confused, either… it’s so very hard being a parent. The hardest thing I have ever done! But it’s never been hard to be compassionate and loving…

      Liked by 1 person

  3. beth62

    August 15, 2018 at 2:38 pm

    “you BETTER be your child’s best friend-! You better be the one your kid can come to with ANYTHING and everything!”

    I remember that parent versus friend crap. It’s still around.
    I’ve had so many people insist on the parent warden side. They would say, about who their kid would go to when their feelings were bruised, “That’s what therapists are for” I don’t put up with that crap, they are grounded until they straighten up. ”
    Then they’d try to dog me and my “wild” teens/best buds.

    I wish I had taken all those bets, I could buy a house for somebody.

    I always wondered why such nice and cold hearted people even wanted kids in the first place, many make a huge deal of it too. All I can figure is it’s to make them look good, like a normal family in the neighborhood. Something you’re supposed to do, a duty, and this is how it’s done.

    Once they aren’t controlled little kids anymore and the minute the kids spoil the view for a bit, won’t go along with it, spoil it with their ridiculous feelings, they get sent away for treatment. Or dumped, kicked out, and then come stay with “people like us” to finish growing up. 🙂

    I’m old enough now to have seen the outcome of quite a few parents that chose against being real friends. I hope they didn’t have any grand ideas about their forever adult kids being around to be their forever friends, or think they’ll get invited to all their family events. Some I know are still hanging in there for the best inheritance, they don’t consider their parents to be friends, but a duty.

    Better have lots of money if you want to keep your non-friend forever children close to you, and spend it on them, or you’ll loose them for sure. Unless you’ve ground them down so far that they think they can’t survive without you. If you’ve managed not to take it that far, no worries if their calls and visits diminish, they’ll be back to see you before you die, or for the funeral. Maybe, if they aren’t too busy at work, or don’t have an important event with their kids or friends to attend, or aren’t living too far away, or don’t feel like they are coming down with something. But if they can’t make it, like a friend I know said, “It’s okay. That’s what lawyers are for”.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. beth62

    August 15, 2018 at 3:16 pm

    Isn’t everything on this planet involved in one paradox, or more?

    I can’t help but think of this part in the movie, Cloud Atlas, where the clone got out of line, thought differently than programmed. They needed to, um, fix that before it spread.


    On behalf of my Ministry and the future of Unanimity, I want to thank you for the final interview. Remember, this isn’t an interrogation or trial. Your version of the truth is all that matters.

    Sonmi 541:

    Truth is singular. Its “versions” are mistruths.

    I think it’s the same sort of answer many Adoptees give when asked the truth of how they feel about being Adopted.
    Millions of us have answered “I’m fine”.
    Millions of us know what the clone knows – the people asking already have their singular truth printed on the wall, and it’s their law. Anything other that we might say would always be a mis-truth, to them.

    What’s a clone to do 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  5. beth62

    August 15, 2018 at 3:24 pm

    I think a test should be in order. I wonder what kind of grade I could get? Guess it depends how I choose answer the questions each day!

    My answers to any kind of question thrown out, twisted or not, could truthfully range from Yay! to FU!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. beth62

    August 15, 2018 at 3:25 pm

    Are you a positive or negative spouse?
    A positive or negative parent?
    Dumb questions.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Sally Bacchetta

      August 17, 2018 at 5:28 pm

      Exactly! I can’t classify any of my experiences as solely positive or negative. My childhood, marriage, parenthood, job, school, neighborhood, hobbies, etc. are all a mix.

      Liked by 1 person

      • TAO

        August 17, 2018 at 10:31 pm

        Hey Sally – so why is this requirement for either/or for the adoptee? Are we not really real people?


        • Sally Bacchetta

          August 18, 2018 at 12:21 am

          Hi Tao, I don’t think or feel that way myself, so I don’t know that I have any useful insight. It reminds me, though, of parents who take credit for their child’s desirable traits, but not their undesirable traits. Academic excellence, talent, manners, ethics, dependability, trustworthiness, etc. in a child are presumed to be products of the environment (nurture). But addiction, laziness, meanness, antisocial behavior, etc., are explained as something inborn that expresses itself in spite of the parents’ efforts (nature). All the good is nurture and all the bad is nature. Doesn’t make sense.

          In terms of your post, some APs take credit for their child’s positive adoption experience as if they’re the reason it’s positive (again, good is a result of nurture). And if the child’s adoption experience is negative, well, that’s about the adoptee and their lack of gratitude or inability to bond or their refusal to appreciate the APs’ magnanimity (again, bad is nurture).

          The psyche of these APs can’t tolerate a blended experience, because that threatens their Skittle Unicorn view of adoption – that it’s always a right thing and they’re great for doing it. If an adoptee expresses ambivalence or any negativity, these APs must recast the entirety of that adoptee’s experience as “negative,” because then they can make it about the adoptee, not about adoption or the APs. They get to continue believing that adoption is always a right thing and APs are great for doing it; unfortunately once in a while someone gets stuck with one of those bitter, ungrateful adoptees who claims a negative experience. But that’s about the adoptee (nature) not the APs (nurture).

          If that’s not it… I’m at a complete loss. I cannot imagine either of my children feeling 100% positive about ANY of their life experiences all the time; especially an experience as complex and intimate as adoption.

          Thank you for continuing to talk about this. It’s important, but I don’t imagine it feels good for you.


          • Sally Bacchetta

            August 18, 2018 at 12:23 am

            Sorry, I meant to say “nature’ here: their refusal to appreciate the APs’ magnanimity (again, bad is nurture). Bad is nature.


          • TAO

            August 18, 2018 at 6:18 pm

            It’s frustrating for me to see it done to younger adoptees. I can hold my own now I’ve been online for awhile but the younger ones – just wrong.

            I do wonder though for some – how many of the dx labels applied liberally (without a true dx) happen because the AP’s aren’t seeing the gratitude / positive accolades…


            • Cindy

              August 19, 2018 at 8:48 pm

              TAO, if I’m not reading your shorthand wrong, may I add, …/ compliance /molded in our image, perfect clone /happily in denial of any other mother/father/family forevvvvvvver, I promise.

              Weren’t some of the kids in the immigration detention centers medicated due to being upset and maybe resistant to behaving “nicely” from being separated from their family. That and hey, they ARE kids and have a lot of energy, add severe distress on top of it and …whoo-hoo! They drug kids in foster care… kids are labelled with all kinds of bogus conditions that anyone with experience, eyes to see, and a heart to feel with, would KNOW was due to traumatic upheaval / the ‘my whole world has just crashed’ and nobody knowing how to, OR wanting to fix it and make it better!!!!!!!!

              Diagnose and drug ’em. Yep, that works. NOT!


          • BOOKS: Sexual Assault, Loss

            January 25, 2019 at 9:51 pm

            “It reminds me, though, of parents who take credit for their child’s desirable traits, but not their undesirable traits. Academic excellence, talent, manners, ethics, dependability, trustworthiness, etc. in a child are presumed to be products of the environment (nurture). But addiction, laziness, meanness, antisocial behavior, etc., are explained as something inborn that expresses itself in spite of the parents’ efforts (nature). All the good is nurture and all the bad is nature.”

            Well said! As a natural parent, I can admit that I’m responsible for both nature (genetics) and nurture. Of course, I could also blame my spouse’s genetics or his nurture. (But, I tend to look at the good things in his background.) Unlike adoptive parents, I cannot blame another set of parents for genetics causing what may be perceived undesirable traits in one’s children.



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