Both/And vs. Either/Or

21 Oct

It’s a rare adoptee who would fit into the Either/Or category people like to paint us as, instead try seeing us as Both/And.

When you see an adoptee as someone who can love their life, their family, and also be taken to their knees in a heartbeat when something triggers the harder feelings of loss caused from being adopted, you see us as Both/And.

Both/And allows us the dignity to be able to talk to you about both the good and the bad adoption and being adopted brings to the table.

Both/And does not believe that if you love your family you won’t have feelings of deep loss related to being adopted, it means both can exist and one has nothing to do with the other.

If you see adoptees as Either/Or you divide us into two categories:

a) if you’re a good adoptee you fit into your adopted family as if it was meant to be; that we love our family, that we never needed to process being adopted, that we never had feelings related to being adopted, because how could we, we love our family and being adopted is always good.

b) if we are one of those adoptees who ALSO dares to also share the contradictory feelings that also comes with being adopted, we are one of those adoptees who are angry, troubled, whatever term you can think of, and obviously didn’t have a close relationship with our family.

Painting adoptees as Either/Or in the adoption community is troubling and divisive, it seeks to divide us into Either/Or, a line drawn in the sand. The Happy Adoptee vs the Angry Adoptee, the Positive Adoptee vs the Negative Adoptee, instead of recognising Adoptees will process being adopted at points throughout their life, how they deal with it is dependent on who they are, but whether they love their family has no relevance or stake in the loss they are feeling, it just doesn’t.

No one challenges people in adoption the right to process all the different feelings infertility brings to the table, the genetic reproduction loss, the pregnancy and birth experience loss, the loss of seeing yourself reflected back in your children, and all the other ways it hits you and takes you to your knees. No one challenges an adoptive parent when grief directly linked to infertility comes out of nowhere. Grief does that, grief isn’t once and done, it awakens when life events happen and trigger a feeling deep inside related to your loss. I’ll never forget how infertility grief overwhelmed mom for a season after dad passed. I didn’t challenge mom with well you adopted so what’s the problem, you must not love me, instead I sat with her through it, despite that sting for me, her grief didn’t tell me she didn’t love me. I didn’t doubt for a minute she loved me, or that her processing meant she regretted parenting me, instead that her resurgence of grief over not having dad’s child was understandable and triggered by dad passing – Both/And.

We are all complicated people capable of deep feelings and are able to hold contradictory, complicated feelings about the losses in our lives, while also loving those we are with and living life. Start seeing adoptees as you see yourself, instead of seeing adoptees as being incapable of holding Both/And when adoption feelings surface triggered by life events.



Posted by on October 21, 2018 in Adoption, adoptive parents


Tags: , , , , , , , ,

15 responses to “Both/And vs. Either/Or

  1. Dannie

    October 21, 2018 at 6:25 pm

    Love! Then end. So true

    Liked by 2 people

  2. eagoodlife

    October 21, 2018 at 11:48 pm

    Reblogged this on The Life Of Von and commented:
    So true.


  3. beth62

    October 22, 2018 at 12:47 pm

    Our human knees may be bloodied and bruised, yet they continue to raise us up and keep us moving when that is our request.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Lynne Miller

    October 24, 2018 at 12:23 pm

    It’s true that people want to pigeonhole adoptees into “good” or “bad” categories, without recognition of the complex feelings adoptees can experience throughout their lives.


    • TAO

      October 24, 2018 at 12:45 pm

      Thanks Lynne – so agree with you, trying to break the stereotypes. Loving your posts about your reunion.


  5. taoistmindset

    November 3, 2018 at 12:09 am

    This was a refreshing change to read. I’m an adoptee and only been on wordpress for a few days now. I started a blog to work through what has been going on. I buried so many things from my past, now at 43 years old my biological brother found me. I met my birth mother recently. This all just happened the beginning of October, the questions and comments from outsiders range from asinine to heartfelt.


    • TAO

      November 3, 2018 at 3:46 am

      Welcome – ignore the outsiders and remember to breathe.


    • beth62

      November 7, 2018 at 3:08 pm

      Ditto on the breathing part! And anything else that can help calm the brain and ease the ache. Sleep, eat, move, breathe. Be kind to yourself, it’s all a lot to process, and can get a bit crazy to navigate sometimes. Good part is, you don’t have to handle it all today, or even this year, you have the rest of your life to explore it and find more peace there. I know everybody says to breath, that time will help. I used to hate hearing that, and now I’m saying it, but only because it’s true. I first met my mother over a decade ago when I was in my forties. And yes, I’m still thinking on it.
      I enjoyed reading your blog. I’d suggest to hug your wife often 🙂 looks like she’s been put stuck in the middle with you too! My Mom didn’t handle it too well when I met my Mother, either. It certainly didn’t help me any at all. She’s learned to deal, my kids and I learned to mention only what we think we have to. I did a lot of reassuring, she’s my Mom and nothing can change the years that have passed, no one can take that away. Told her she’s my Mom today, in the future and always. She liked hearing it. It is what it is. My reunion definitely taught me to be direct with everybody, to say things I’d never really said out loud before. To stand strong in myself and share what I felt with each person I had a relationship with. It wasn’t/isn’t easy, but I’m thankful for having to become accustomed to it.
      Mostly I wanted to say, Congrats on meeting your mother. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Robin

    November 6, 2018 at 1:53 pm

    This is a really good article, but I wonder about those, of us, who were orphaned. I am one of 3 sibs whose mom died when we were little, no paternal parent in the picture. Mom was 32. My adoptive home was a scary place, but loyalty to the adults, and their 2 bio kids, kept me smiling.
    I had my half brother with me, our half sister went elsewhere. Trauma, loss, guilt, fear, not being able to be my authentic self….
    Does any of this resonate with you?


    • TAO

      November 6, 2018 at 4:09 pm

      I’m sorry for your overwhelming losses. I think Only you can decide if Both/And describes you based on the totality of your experience.


      • Robin Templeton Forsberg

        November 7, 2018 at 5:32 pm

        I am Both/And. And so much more than the label this family pinned on me. They boasted about everything they did for me, and continued to introduce me as “adopted” daughter. Did mother say, “this is my biological daughter”. Nope. I was blessed to get a Grandmother who saw me for me!
        Her love was my solace. Lucky me❣️


    • beth62

      November 7, 2018 at 3:24 pm

      I think it might be safe to say that any kind of parent can think in the Either/Or type of way, forced to choose which is most Real. And they can expect any kind of child, especially the known Both/And are Real thinkers, to think in that limited, possessive and divisive either/or way as well.



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