From 2014: Question I’ve been asked.

30 Jan

Lightly edited.

This post is going to focus on the opposite of what people have asked adoptees like myself who are vocal, that really ignorant question that means; “what did your parents do wrong so we won’t make those same mistakes your parents did”. How’s that for a slap in the face to your parents and to you all at the same time…

Hopefully, this post will make some people pause before they ask adoptees questions like that in the future; and show that how an adoptee feels about the many different aspects of adoption, really, can have little to do with what their parents did wrong, that maybe it’s what they did right. I hope that it makes you stop and think that perhaps you should just listen to what they are saying, instead of assuming they just had a bad experience, or parents.

Just like every parent out there my parents had good points, some bad as well I’m sure, but for mine, the good far outweighed any potential bad. Areas dad may not have understood, mom did, the reverse also true, they didn’t have the adoption knowledge you have access to today, they just had their instincts to guide them in that area.

Following are some of the lessons/values mom and dad taught us and isn’t that what parenting is all about? I think a lot of parents today, would have a hard time matching what mom and dad taught us, often, without saying a word.

They taught us to respect everyone or at least try be polite. To understand that it didn’t matter how much a person had, what type of education they’d received, how they spoke, or any unintentional mistakes with words they made. That everyone was deserving of the same rights; dignity, care and compassion whether they lived on the streets or in mansions.  They also taught us there was always room at the table for anyone who needed to be there, wanted to be there.

Flowers by TAO 2014

They taught us how to live a good life; whatever that life looked like, wherever that life was. They taught us respect for the planet; to care for the environment, why it was important to recycle, reuse, return. They taught us how to garden and care for your property through hard work and that a commitment to continuous care was all that it required.

They taught us to live simply; that we didn’t need all the newest bells and whistles to have a good life.

They taught us to remember to be kind, even when it was hard. That if we failed we needed to try again, no matter how hard it was, or how many tries it required to get it right. They taught us the value of practice, that repetition and study was the only way to get better at something we wanted to do well, whatever that may be.

They taught us to be mindful. To care for animals and why it was important to take care of those animals who needed our help, whatever that help may be. They also taught us responsibility to other people around us and especially for our own actions in that respect. To remember to give freely, whether monetary or with our time and not be boastful about it, that whatever we offered, no one needed to know we had done it.

They taught us how to accept whatever life threw our way and to pick ourselves up and continue on with grace. They taught us to live our lives with dignity.

They taught us the value of not just accepting what others said as fact; to research, think deeply and critically, to accept what was good in something and work to fix the bad. They taught us to speak up when something was wrong instead of being complicit by being silent.

They taught us what family was both in good times, and especially, in bad times. They taught us that being family meant you didn’t kick other family members to the curb when the going got rough. That family could disagree and they’d still be family. That you stand by your family, you lend a hand when needed and that’s how being a family works.  Family is family – no qualifiers, no removals, just family…

I don’t know that any of these lessons/values were the ones they deliberately set out to teach us, but these were the values they taught us by how they lived their lives every single day. Now, I can’t say I have reached anywhere close to the level they achieved in any of the above values, some I think I’m naturally more inclined to mirror, others are a struggle I’m still working on, I still fail, and yet, I’m getting better at all of them, every single day.







Posted by on January 30, 2020 in Adoption, adoptive parents



14 responses to “From 2014: Question I’ve been asked.

  1. BOOKS: Sexual Assault, Loss

    January 30, 2020 at 5:31 pm

    A wonderful tribute to your parents. Yesterday, my grandmothers came to mind. They died too young for me to know them. I have heard some good stories about the influence of grandmothers.

    Liked by 1 person

    • TAO

      January 30, 2020 at 5:34 pm

      Thank you, I was lucky enough to have grandma’s too.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. beth62

    January 31, 2020 at 6:45 am

    Thanks TAO, that was lovely. I’m lucky to still have my parents on this earth, and absolutely dread the day I don’t. I’m visiting them now, have been able to see them everyday, and back to my grandsons house every night. Having a hard time finding a real reason to go back home or anywhere else anytime soon…

    All that you wrote, I could say the same about mine. I feel like I could never measure up to them, like you, I continue to try. I worry they are a “dying breed”, I hear that often. Then I look at their kids. And now my kids, and watch how they live and raise the first of our new generation (I’ve been in their home for a month) and my worries diminish quickly. Times have changed so much, I’m thinking they’ve also stayed the same.

    We all make mistakes, we all have reason to be disappointed in another. It’s forgiveness, continuing to try to do better, learning to let live, to let go, and never giving up the belief in family, that makes our relationships endure.

    A bad experience? Just because I can speak about all of it? I think that is a ridiculous assumption, and to me, one deserving of a punch in the nose. 😉 but I’m trying to do better

    Liked by 1 person

    • TAO

      January 31, 2020 at 1:54 pm

      Love that you always get me and see deeper. You’re right that there will always be good people, some days I agree, other days…I question it.

      Liked by 2 people

  3. legitimatebastard

    January 31, 2020 at 3:54 pm

    It’s a strange feeling looking back. My adoptive parents died long ago, dad in 1982 and mom in 2011. Growing up, home-life was warm, loving. But then, I started to notice mom yelling a lot, and heard put-downs from mom to dad. He was quiet, he put up with her.

    By the time I was 16, the stress was getting to me. Still, I loved them both.

    Dad died when I was 24 and that hurt. I miss his gentle demeanor and his humor. He never got to see his grandchildren.

    Mom was angry at me because I was found by siblings she never wanted me to know. That was in 1974. Her unwillingness to see things my way, as an adoptee who was in shock from being found, and then having to cope with adopted extended family and my newly reunited family when I was still in high school….

    Through it all, I loved mom, despite her faults. She showed love in her cooking, handmade gifts, and toward the end of her life, a gentleness that wasn’t there since I was 16.

    It took years of therapy to heal. Through therapy, I learned that mom had un-diagnosed and untreated mental illnesses. Plural. So, how does a person cope with someone who yells at the drop of a hat, blames you for everything, and then expects me not to argue back? Life was hard, very hard.

    In the end, I was mom’s caregiver. For 20 years. I was with her when she knew she was slipping into a coma. I held her as she slipped away and continued to breath for four days and nights until her body gave out. The sadness and emptiness I feel for her not being here with me now fills me with tears. Yesterday, January 30, was her birthday 104 years ago.

    What did mom teach me? It seems odd to say this, but she saw that I was a withdrawn high school kid, so she recommended that I join the debate club. I hated it.

    But now, I look back to see that those skills are part of what I use today as an adoption reform activist. The very thing mom knew I needed, yet opposed me every time I wrote or spoke about adoption.

    Then one day, a few years before she died, she asked to see my birth certificates – the ones she threw at me in a fit of rage in 1974. I didn’t trust her, so I gave her copies. She kept them overnight.

    In the morning, mom said, “You’re right. I didn’t give birth to you. My name should not be on your birth certificate. Is this what your fight is about?”

    I said, “Yes, mom.”

    Mom said, “I thought you didn’t love me, but it’s about birth certificates.”

    I said, “Yes, mom. I do love you. The fight is with the system of adoption, not you.”

    If more adoptive parents would listen to what adoptees are saying, perhaps then they’d understand the message. And that goes for general society, too.

    Liked by 2 people

    • TAO

      January 31, 2020 at 4:35 pm

      Thank you – sad, hard, and yet beautiful too.

      Liked by 1 person

    • BOOKS: Sexual Assault, Loss

      January 31, 2020 at 5:29 pm

      Your adoptive mom was very lucky to have you as a daughter. Seems it was hard for her to accept that another woman gave birth to you…that you had a first mother. In your case, your adoptive mom’s mental illnesses may have influenced her inability to accept the truth. It’s sad when an adopted person is told they must choose between two families. I’m thinking that many reunions fail eventually because of conflicting feelings and the resulting stress. Some parents threaten to cut their “child” out of the will. Who holds the power here? Not the first family!

      Liked by 1 person

      • beth62

        January 31, 2020 at 10:17 pm

        Doh, I miss my real computer, taking another whack at commenting, in the right spot…

        Adult Adoptees have the power.
        Well, we can take the power if we realize it’s possible, and what we want. We can use it any way we choose, for all, either, or none if there is pressure all around.

        I think a lot of us find we can be seen as a traitor from any direction, by anyone we connect with, regardless of when, even strangers will chime in with that assumption.

        I sure did find it. It’s big fun being disappointed in people. Not.
        I chose all, told all to suck it up 🙂 and if they couldn’t allow it, then they chose none.
        And they believed me.
        It’s why I love this quote so much, and have shared it with everybody, myself included!

        “If I only knew…
        …that it was wrong to put others under my own expectations and make them feel guilty, I would have stopped manipulating them, and chosen love as the higher way.”
        -Lance Wubbles

        Liked by 1 person

        • BOOKS: Sexual Assault, Loss

          February 1, 2020 at 5:15 pm

          I understand what you’re saying, Beth, when you use the word “traitor.” The conflicting feelings caused by the so-called betrayal of the family in which you grew up are part of many reunions. Having to deal with all this while in high school must have been challenging, as the teenage years are loaded with changes and emotions even when adoption is not in the picture.

          Timing is everything!!!! Some reunions don’t have a chance because of poor timing. Let’s say a first family is going through a major crisis, e.g., a divorce or a very sick family member. Let’s say an adopted person is in crisis mode after being rejected by a fiancé. Not a good time to enter that person’s life. Of course the searcher may not know what is going on in the sought person’s life. Maybe that is the first thing we need to find out: Is this a good time or a bad time? Sometimes, we need to back off and let the person breathe, saying “we can do this later.” It is a loving thing to do. But patience…and waiting…are so hard!!!!!!! One who has not gone through it cannot understand the tension!

          The title at the top of this page is “Questions I’ve been asked.” My posts have veered away from this topic. Now I’m wondering if this is something I should avoid…please let me know!!!! Maybe it’s preferable to post only about the original topic?


          • TAO

            February 1, 2020 at 9:55 pm

            No, veering to other topics is perfectly fine – everyone does it all the time.

            The comments and the comradery that exists here as a meeting place to just be is one of the main reasons why I keep the blog going, even though it seems like I often repeat the same thing. A meeting place to just be is needed, it also offers the non-commenters a deeper glance into a topic when other voices chime in.

            Why I don’t want deeply angry drive-by comments and have refused to approve some (only a few)+ – the comment section is reserved for those who want to be here and enjoy the company.


            Liked by 2 people

          • beth62

            February 2, 2020 at 2:43 am

            If veer and ramble isn’t cool I’m in trouble! 🙂
            Books, I just reread my comment, and can see that it might not be as nice as I could have made it. I’m glad you understand what I was getting at. Hope you didn’t take it as not so nice, that’s not what I intended!
            I sound a little bossy when I am talking about using my special powers 🙂

            Timing sure is a thing during a reunion. So many things can derail connecting with someone. If I had found my dad soon after my brother had passed it might have been just too much for him and his family. It was a few years later so that helped, still painful, and brought up grief, but it could have been worse. Very sad I didn’t get to meet my brother 😦 he was closer to my age and we had a lot in common. My other two bros are just a couple of years older than my daughter, and awesome. But the age difference is a thing.
            I was almost 40 when I met them all. I began my serious search at 18. I wonder often how well it would have gone in the late seventies and early eighties when I was a wild and free one. I can’t imagine too well for any dad that wanted to tell me where and how I should be.
            My adopted dad knew better long before I was 40, the other learned real quick LOL
            His wife told me he would have kept me on a short line, and pushed nurse or teacher. I told her to call my other dad and ask his opinion on that one.
            I know he would say “it was always as if her mother told her that she set her free in the world, and she believed it”. I did and do 🙂 and Dad can see the beauty in it now.

            My bio Dad also didn’t know how to have a daughter. Or a daughter that knew more than he did about building cars, motorcycles, boats, planes, buildings, fishing, traveling, jumping, diving….. I gave him a big learning curve. 20 years later he still tries to man-splain stuff to me.
            How about “questions I avoid answering!”?
            I do think I wasn’t as real as I could have been at first, I let him mansplain, didn’t correct him when he was wrong. Didnt mention motorcycles, because it was how my brother died. But then when he came to visit a few more times and “caught me” doing “man stuff”, I guess I embarrassed him a bit. I let him assume my business, shop and stuff was my husband’s doings for a couple of years, because he did. I was finally talked into pulling out old photo albums…. I thought I might have to take him to the ER!
            Yeah, poor guy didn’t know how to act for quite a while, uh, still.

            It’s hard to learn how to talk about some things, once you do I guess its hard to shut up.
            I should have known better, been dealing with that crap with men for decades.

            My mother was giddy about it all tho, she still giggles about stuff I tell her today. I’ve told her stories I’ve never told anyone else because she likes it so much, and reacts so well. ♡


            • BOOKS: Sexual Assault, Loss

              February 2, 2020 at 4:17 am

              Beth, I am sorry you did not get to meet one of your brothers. Your dad needed time to grieve that terrible loss, so it seems you came into his life at just the right time. He could open his heart to his daughter who shares so much with him. And how great it is to have awesome brothers. It sounds like you and your dad have a great bond — seems like he sees a lot of himself in you.

              I wasn’t offended by what you wrote about power. It did make me think! Though powerlessness is the common cry of many first mothers, it’s clear that adopted persons feel powerless, too, especially when they are expected to feel grateful for being “saved” by adoption and when others dictate there should be unquestioning loyalty to their “saviors,” that this loyalty should deter any interest in the people they came from.

              It’s silly that at one time some babies were labeled as “bastards.” It’s just as ridiculous that at a later time, babies could be “saved” from bastardy if adopted; but these babies had to be cut off from their roots forever. Now, adoptee voices are being heard and you are finding your power to associate with those with whom you wish to associate. At last, your human rights are being recognized, though there are still some diehards who would like to deny these human rights.

              Liked by 1 person

  4. beth62

    February 2, 2020 at 5:08 am

    Yeah, vulnerable mother’s and children have little power. In my world they deserve the greatest of protection. Unfortunately that hasn’t always been the case since… the beginnings of humans.

    Having pressure from any parent that they are the real parent to be most loyal to… isn’t very nice at all. No matter how long they’ve known them.I

    What does an Adopted One do when one of their grown children chooses grandparents X, and the other chooses grandparents Y to give their loyalties to?

    Or if they see their children struggling by being guilted, manipulated and pressured in that way?
    Believe me, it’s hard enough without any of that kind of stuck in the middle pressure.

    I tend to run. Too free to cave. It’s usually heartwrenching, even if I have power from anger.


    • BOOKS: Sexual Assault, Loss

      February 2, 2020 at 5:35 am

      Yes, guilt, manipulation and pressure can happen in many ways and it is heart wrenching. It is sad when people are blind to the harm it causes.



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