From 2016: Adoptee loyalty…

02 May

The feelings of loyalty that I feel (and expect others feel in varying degrees) can play a significant role in how we talk about our adoption experience; both to our parents throughout our lives and as adults to others. I’ve wanted to talk on this subject for a while, but worried, I couldn’t tease out a cohesive post explaining why I think it happens. This is my attempt to explain many of the different factors playing into it that I see around me. 

When I was young, I often thought of my other mother, I also had the typical childhood fantasies that go along with it. I never shared either with mom or dad. I never brought any of my deeper feelings up. I didn’t talk about the feelings of loss. If I did mention anything at all it came out more of a curiosity than anything deeper. But I had those feelings. The feelings of not being good enough. The feelings of being rejected, and expecting everyone to leave me. Believing there had to be something wrong with me they could see, that I couldn’t to answer why they (she) didn’t fight to the end of the earth to keep me. At the same time, logically, I understood why. I never brought any of those feelings up out of feelings of loyalty. My loyalty was to mom and dad and you don’t hurt those you love.

As an adult, I’ve wondered if I’d have been less reserved, less protective of their feelings, if the dynamics within the family had been different (a sibling with mental health challenges). I might have, but I also doubt it, because of my personality, who they were to me, combined with the fact that they couldn’t have children and the recognition that they didn’t have to adopt any of us. To me, that’s why the public’s continued onslaught of telling people adopted they better be grateful makes an adoptee angry, as if, we are so befuddled, ignorant, less-than, that we don’t have the ability of understanding all that, that we need others to explain it to us.

That adoptee loyalty can extend outside of the personal familial relationships, into how we talk to others about our experience being adopted. When I read comments by some adoptees; I look at the carefully formulated responses about their experience, and I hear, my own modulated responses within their words. I don’t hear pain or joy, I hear protection for their parents against a world made up of biological family norms. I hear the adoptee protecting their parents because adoptive families are different compared to biological families. Other, different, not quite good enough. Our parents are seen as either suspect or saviors, pitied or held up as saints, never just as parents, and us as families. Adoptees are often seen as troubled, and some are, either from the trauma that they’ve been through, or mental illness, but the broad brush strokes paints all, because we aren’t part of the norm, we are other.

I don’t know how to fix the public perception, what people have done to date hasn’t helped, that much I know, and perhaps, made it worse looking at how the media has covered adoption since I was little. I think they’ve made it worse for the adoptees, they removed the tragedy of losing a family from the narrative and only focused on the outcome, being adopted. I think that started in the era I was adopted in. Before then, wars and the depression were to vivid in everyone’s mind, to not understand the calamity that befell families, the damage done to more than just the one adopted. Solutions were found, but they weren’t seen as a win, just a solution.

I don’t have any wise words, I just wanted to talk about how loyalty can also silence us, moderate our voices, stories. There are brave adoptee’s who can open up with their deepest feelings. I’m not one. I wish I was, but then, I wouldn’t be me.

Have a safe week and let me know what you’re up to, what you think.


Current day 2 May 2020…I’ve been reticent about talking about today’s reality here because I don’t know what’s happening with you right now and I didn’t want to ask and cause anyone pain, but I would like to know how you’re doing.


Posted by on May 2, 2020 in Adoption, adoptive parents


Tags: , , , , , ,

11 responses to “From 2016: Adoptee loyalty…

  1. Laksh

    May 2, 2020 at 11:18 pm

    Hugs! Your posts make me a aware parent and I am always grateful for that.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Dannie

    May 3, 2020 at 3:14 am

    We (individuals) can only speak of what we know and anecdotal stories etc…..I feel loyalty with individuals that are adopted have even more and intricate layers as all children are loyal in some form to their parents. It just looks different (as everything is) for non adopted and adopted children/individuals

    Good food for thought.

    Liked by 1 person

    • TAO

      May 3, 2020 at 3:30 am

      Thanks Dannie.


    • beth62

      May 3, 2020 at 3:24 pm

      There is an ugly difference that can be found. My now old younger brothers, aparents born sons, who are my brothers, who I am extremely loyal to, proud and protective of (Don’t mess with my little bros. It won’t be pleasant for you. You’ve been warned. No joke)
      They both have expressed a view that I have an additional duty to show my loyalty to our parents, and an extra duty to care for our elderly parents – than they do. As-if I’m different…
      In my situations I can easily reduce that down to bastardism, and sexism too of course.

      If I’m being a positive, loyal and proud Adoptee, as intended, who has been told over and over and may even believe that I am the same as any son of daughter of my family, I may fight for it.
      I see it as my loyal duty, especially within the family.

      So, Yes, my still dorky little brothers scrambled and ran, got trapped in the corner and dropped all their weapons surrendering out of fear, like they always have. (They were warned a long long time ago 😇 They know how this works)

      My chase still works LOL They opened up their wallets and calendars an inch more.
      It was probably just round one in this fight tho, I hope.

      That’s about as nice as I can say all that, I tried

      Liked by 2 people

      • TAO

        May 3, 2020 at 4:23 pm

        Expectations because we are other than…


        • beth62

          May 3, 2020 at 5:03 pm

          Yep 🙂 assumed expectations, that’s what othered does everywhere.
          Good thing I choose to believe I am proud to be different and the same, or all that madness would be even more extremely upsetting!

          Liked by 1 person

          • TAO

            May 3, 2020 at 5:13 pm

            I chalk my oomph up to being old and grumpy by nature when I see wrongs.

            Liked by 2 people

            • Lara/Trace

              May 7, 2020 at 1:35 am

              I am going to think about this but I too am grumpy and may say the wrong thing now.

              Liked by 1 person

      • Pj

        May 7, 2020 at 3:34 pm

        Beth62, I’m a VERY literal person so trying to decode 🙂 although think ? I get it.
        I’ve a different, yet in some ways similar situation. Me and hubby care 24/7 for my 96 yr old adad with dementia, fortunately a kind and grateful soul. Older abro and his ex provide respite support and regular contact. My ( economically advantaged )twin has been AWOL for decades…apparently he can’t find his wallet or his calendar. Never any conflict…he just went away and now apparently has his own family. Adoption is so $&#*ing complicated. That’s about as nice as I can say at all that 🙂


  3. BOOKS: Sexual Assault, Loss

    May 3, 2020 at 6:55 pm

    In response to Beth 62:

    “A son is a son till he takes him a wife,
    A daughter is a daughter all of her life.”
    In our American culture, a girl is often adopted because of the belief she will keep close ties with her parents into their old age.

    After having three biological sons, Cate Blanchett adopted a daughter. Cate claims she did not get to choose whether she would get a boy or a girl. “It was potluck,” she said.
    Cate Blanchett was 45 when she adopted.

    Blanchett wanted to share the family’s fortune with a child less fortunate. She was recently seen displaying her very attractive daughter on an outing. Also, the daughter came on camera when Blanchette was on the Colbert show.

    “With her mop of bright blonde curls, Blanchett’s adopted daughter seems to share mum’s striking looks.”

    I have to wonder if this is a closed adoption.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Judith Land

    May 7, 2020 at 4:43 pm

    Many adoptees have an emotional need for a curative and breakthrough reality that would finally make sense out of their disrupted life stories.

    Liked by 1 person


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